Back Flips Into Birthday Cakes (2)

I noticed he fumbled a little opening the deadbolt on 1006, tossing the door open and ushering me to the bedroom threshold — which would have been weird I guess had the bedroom had a bed in it.

Jordan paused, waiting to flip on the light until I’d gotten a lingering view of the glittering juxtaposition of  a twinkling Los Angeles and the blinking magnificence of two 4′ racks of vintage outboard gear.

A u87 hung from a massive boom stand to the side of small desk. I tried to sit calmly on the dark brown leather couch across from it and looked up into his almost honey brown eyes as he moved beside me.

I pointed out his Pultec, how do you like the Wunder Modules?  Is that really an 1176?  If only I could get my voice on that microphone… oh, were those drums in the living room?

He loved to record, he said, but drums were his passion.

The living room was large and held his queen-sized bed in addition to a full set of living room furniture and a massive (to me) 60″ television.  The drum set sat half assembled in a far corner, underneath another window open to the city.

My 5th floor view of the parking lot had never seemed so bland, so lackluster as it did that day, looking out onto the bustle of Hollywood Blvd.  For a moment I contemplated asking Jordan if he’d like to go finish our talk on the roof.  It had a wonderful, 3 foot wide ledge, and anywhere you sat gave you a 360 view of Los Angeles all the way out to the ocean.  But, as my phone buzzed impatiently with a text, I remembered that I was now 10 minutes late to my date downstairs.

We exchanged numbers, stopping ourselves from a hug as I smiled out of the front door and skipped to the elevator.

Sitting at the bar, trying to choke down the damned Beam and coke in front of me, I couldn’t remember almost anything Chris said.  I think it might have been about his mom’s epic snoring, or the hassle of dealing with Medicaid.  He lamented not being able to invite me to his place, he hadn’t gotten laid in like months he blathers.  He’d like to come to my place, but I try to explain that I’ve got a roomate, and we live in a studi0.

I’d also like to explain that she’s sort of insane, too, and that even if I did like him at all she’d be a major buzz kill.  We’d be better off trying to get down in an alley.  I looked over my drink into his pale blue eyes, framed with gaudy black plastic frames, far, far too big for his face.  His shaggy unwashed hair flopping over them a little on top.

I’m just saying yes to another drink as some people I know plop next to me at the bar, saying hey, do you want us to put anything into the Jukebox for you Jane?  Oh great, Jamie is playing darts again, lets see how long that lasts.

I can only giggle in reply because I’ve felt my phone start to vibrate in my pocket, and the surprise of it takes me suddenly, and inexplicably out of the moment.  I flip open the flimsy Motorola, reading the text over and then over again, the words not fitting, not taking meaning — like when you repeat egg until the sound of it feels foreign in your ears.

“Jane, it was so nice to meet you.  I just, I had to tell you that I felt something with you that I haven’t felt before.  I think you know what I mean.  I think you felt it too.”

My chest feels tight, the short text from Jordan swimming loudly in my head.  5 minutes later I’ve closed my tab and left the bar, speed walking back to the Madison, sending the elevator back to 1006.

Back Flips Into Birthday Cakes (1)

It was nearly winter and I was about to head out to the Powerhouse, my usual haunt and a deliciously gritty dive bar a block from my place off Highland.  I had a date.

Chris was nice and all, but I couldn’t figure out whether it was that he lived with his mother or that his mother lived with him and whether or not I liked the way he seemed to shove himself at me and always ordered me double Jack and cokes when I always asked for rum.

I was wearing an almost gaudy shade of lavender, a shiny faux satin button up that seemed to perfectly frame my tits and ruffle in all the right places.  Adjusting a straining button, I wasn’t really looking as I stepped into the elevator to head back to the studio I shared for a coat and handful of cash.

When I looked up to press my button the first thing I noticed was a delicate coif of salt and pepper hair glittering into my unfocused eyes.  A sweater over a crisp, starched collar.

He looked at me, but we didn’t converse.  I smiled and got off on the 5th floor as I watched a slender, long finger press for 10.

Another guy I was dating at the time would bitterly call this the moment a man in the elevator did a backflip into a birthday cake and wooed me away.  But really, you know, he just smiled — we never even said hello.

A few moments later I was back to the elevator, peering at my self in the mirror wall adjacent as I waited.  I didn’t feel shock or surprise in seeing my 10th floor neighbor again as the doors slid jerkily open.  One or the other elevator was often down.  I nodded and stepped back into the 5×5 box where, you know, he was meant to take another flip into frosting at any time…

Instead, he just asked me my name.  Did I live here?  Ah, the 5th floor, his ex lived down there.  Oh, you’re going out?  I’m just grabbing my mail… I always forget, he says.

We realize that we’d both gone to the school down the street, Musician’s Institute — a pricey private place his oil millionaire dad had plunked down for and that I’d taken out a hefty loan to attend.

Recording Engineering, I’m telling him, is the program I just finished — and his eyes shine.

“Well then,” he says,”I’ve got something you’ll want to see.”

Well hey, I think, that’s not one I’ve heard before — and then, before I realize we’ve changed direction, the elevator is opening on the 10th floor and I am stepping out without the slightest hesitation.  I look over my shoulder and I lilt, “oh hey, what’s your name again?”

Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me

Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me… [Jazz Standard Cover]

A favorite because well… it’s just so damned cheeky init?  However, I am so tired when I record this that I am a little sure Ima fall over.  Thought I needed something to share this week, tho.

Also, note that I am dressed like a bee.  I was proudest of that. (Bzzt!)

Oh, the places you will go

… and the places you will stay.

There’s nothing like hope to expose the gaping hole you’ve been ignoring in some terribly exposed and obvious place on your body.

I think we’re all a bit conditioned to submit our case for cause to whatever particular thing is happening at the time.  I’ve related awful dips and spectacular rises in my life to people, places and things that likely were only coincidentally available at the time and have very little to actually do with changes that occurred for me.

I often wish I had a dimmer in place of what feels like an emotional on and off switch.  It’s as if I can only feel everything or nothing at all, and as I close back down and toss the switch to “off” again I can’t help but do it with some melancholy.

My life has to change, it can’t be this.  The past few weeks have woken me up, and reminded me of who I was before I let it all get clouded and settled under layers of shit.

I’d seen glimpses occasionally over the past 2 or 3 years when I’d sit down with an old friend, or find myself in the company of someone new.  I didn’t know what to make of it, though.  Didn’t know what to think of the words and the gestures that were coming out of my little body — the way my laugh really sounded, the way it felt to lean into my past and taste it like it was just yesterday I’d left it behind.

And the new and the old, it all feels delightful and beautiful to me again. But it’s also crushing and decimating in its way because with those memories, with the knowledge that my heart is once again beating… comes feelings I am entirely unprepared for that I have little ability to coordinate with any skill or organization.

I find my mind wandering to impossibilities, relating my racing thoughts to things that can’t hold the weight.  I’ve found a table made of plywood, topped it with a fancy veneer and thought it might look nice with an anvil on top of it, for example.

The veneer is pretty, but it has no real use.  And the plywood is solid, tangible in it’s way, it certainly exists… but for my purpose?  Well, it won’t sail any oceans… that’s for sure.

So, they haven’t made a dimmer for my impulses, no taper for my excitement, no pad for my thoughts.  I’m just here, bothered, wound entirely tighter than is necessarily, a finger on the button preparing for the emergency stop.

Because something has to change, but it’s really got nothing to do with you.



It’s funny, because even though I said goodbye many years ago I still find an opportunity now to let you go.

Tomorrow I will take my little packet of paperwork to the police station, and I will file a report — just in case.

The terrible person you were before died at some point long ago, and the person you are now is very sick… but there is nothing that I can do about it and nothing that can be gained from watching you fall finally and entirely apart.

It isn’t satisfying to see you suffer and writhe.  It isn’t funny to watch the illness play out to its gory end.

I will imagine you as you could have been, though, when I have to at all — a bright, sociopathic success.  I’ll pretend the last thing you sent were photos of your first little girl with that wife you found so soon after I left.  Blonde, svelte, foreign.  Wears uggs even in the summer, hates Hollywood even more than you did.

You both keep a pristine place in Beverly Hills, and always have brunch on your Sundays in town at Kate Matallini’s.

You’re cruel, but she is cold — and so you are happy.

That’s where I’m going to leave you rather than where you really sit, your fingers smashing furiously into a dingy glass screen in the tepid heat of a cheap hotel room. You are lost, you are utterly and finally alone.

Refresh.  Refresh.  Refresh.

Worth it

I wonder sometimes, when I allow myself to think about it at all, if it was worth it for you.

I wonder if you understand that I am not going to spontaneously return to your life.  That you will probably never see me get married or meet your grand-children.

And I just think… was it worth it?

I don’t believe in god, but I do believe in redemption and I believe in forgiveness.  I believe there is a distinct possibility that there will be growth in your hearts and lives and that all is not lost for us.  We don’t have to repeat history.

But just remember, if for some reason it ever does hurt, if for some reason you question what you’ve chosen to give up…

If you were going to suffer, you sure as hell wanted to make sure I did, too.

Good luck and have another glass of wine.

When Lily calmly canceled her twice weekly therapist appointments, the receptionist just barked a swift thank you.

When Lily stopped going to her weekday evening meetings, she worried the first few days that her phone might fill with unwanted remonstrations.

Lily’s phone was silent.

To many people, the details of Lily’s life were spectacular.

It could be worse, they murmured at her like she imagined zombies might.  After they extolled her many virtues, Lily imagined they would lunge for her sweet, sweet brains.  It would certainly be easier if they did, she mused.

And while Lily was certainly one for advise when it was good — the bumbling repetitions of  these thoughtless asides were coming from people who could not relate.

Lily understood she was not made for better, brighter stuffs.  She had come to understand that of those people that could do and be the things she loved — she was not one.  Lily had no specific talent, and she rarely made a mark on anyone save for a few scars.  Scars that were worn with distaste and regret,  and not in fond memory.

Had Lily been able to make any friends, had she even been able to retain the attentions of even a single member of her family, she was sure she would feel different.  But at 30 years young, Lily realized that of all those things people find worth in, she had none.

She was uninterested in sitting on decorative pillows and crying at the description of a life that afforded her many choices, but no paths that veered into particular passion or success.  Lily had no reason to continue to sit in recovery rooms, turning her ears to people who did not listen in return — who paired themselves deftly and left her standing awkwardly around them until she quietly fumbled her way back to her car.

What of love?  What of it, indeed.  Lily lived alone, unmarried and childless.  She bought herself tokens of her life’s progress. She bought her own birthday meal and she imagined she might have bought herself a cake — but had decided not to bother.

Lily dreamt of many things, she dreamt of a family that was her own, of supportive parents and clingy siblings.  She imagined what it might be like to have friends and plans on a week-end.

Lily swirled herself fondly in the idea of a life spent surrounded with warmth and kindness.  With a bad day being when the deli made her sandwich wrong, when she was too happy to get into a sadder song she meant to perform.  She tossed herself into and over all these unfamiliar situations, and as they burnt deep and dark in her belly she closed her eyes and pushed the chair out from under her feet.

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The last things I have left

I imagined all sorts of things were going to happen both before and after I said it.

I usually do.

But all there really was was a misplaced tone of surprise, and then nothing.

He understood, he said.

But all I heard was:

Well, if those are your terms, then I don’t want to be in this relationship either.

It’s like when you think you’re silly for thinking your parents will be cruel or spiteful to you when you are hurt and need help — and then they call you names and set your life in a motion contrary to anything you wanted and in-line with your wildest nightmares…

That’s what it was like.

I called with a broken heart, hoping that he would offer a correction.

But he just told me I was right, and hung up the phone.

I like to pretend I have an ego, and that I have worth in this world sometimes.  But the great thing about this life, is that it makes sure to remind you when you’re nothing.  A dominant force waiting to put you in your place.

I wish it was only about some relationship difficulty — but it’s really not.  That just happened to be one of the last things I had left.

When everything is on the line.

At some point the most severe tension runs out of space to boil upward. If you’ve fastened the top tight enough it has no choice but to bubble down and dissipate into an edgy calm.

Once I boarded the plane, my chest calmed and my thoughts took on a strange and meditative quality. At the other end of the line waits everything. 40 hours will, in large part, determine the only parts of my future that I care about.

I am not saying they should be the most important parts to me by any stretch, but they are. And however much it might change in the coming years, right now, these priorities are solid.

30,000 feet in the air it’s hard to think about much. I’ve got a seat to myself and the captain says we’re running early. I’m not sure what brought me here, and I don’t really know what I’ll do when we land but I do know that it’s going to be just fine even if it turns out to simply be my way of finding the strength to let go.