Tag Archives: nostalgia

Strange Bedfellows.

Last week, my parents discovered they had bed bugs.  In their bed.  Only their bed.  I wasn’t bitten up and my brother wasn’t bitten up; just Steve and Barbara.  They don’t know how it happened.  They’re both rather fastidious people.

On Monday morning my mom had someone spray the house with all-natural, yet highly allergenic whatnot in order to kill the little bastard bed bugs.  The night before the insurgence, my mom brought a gray suitcase into my room and dropped it on my sofa.

“Ya may wanna pick up the stuff piled next to your bed,” she said.  “They’re gonna be spraying your carpet.”

I took her suggestion.  The suitcase is 3/4 full.  Its contents?  A veritable cornucopia of Dorky.

I shall now list for you the “stuff piled next to my bed” that has now been transferred to a gray suitcase on top of my sofa.

1. The Godfather Trilogy DVD Collection. 

Fully remastered.  The bouquet Johnny Fontaine sends to Don Corleone is so damn COLORFUL.

2. A Bag of Crackers

My mom brought this to me the night I came home from work after spending nearly two hours in the nurse’s office battling dehydration and low blood sugar.  Mom had also brought me soup, but I kept the crackers in case I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.  Rather, still feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.

3. A Burned DVD copy of A Streetcar Named Desire

No one, but NO ONE, is sexier than Marlon Brando in his skin tight t-shirt.  I fell asleep to this movie every night for a good six months.

4. The Complete Works of Arthur Rimbaud

It has the English translations and the original French.  I memorized “Sensation.”  I was determined to memorize it in French, too.  I still haven’t done that.  I bought the book last October.  Damn.

5. An Illustrated Copy of The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle

Some people keep The Bible by their beds.  And so do I.

6. A Green Journal with a Butterfly on the Cover That I Bought at Logos Bookstore in Santa Cruz, CA

Page One:

2-20-11

In Santa Cruz for the weekend.  This paper is incredible.  I can’t tell if the guy next to me is cute. Ya know, this bar isn’t ideal for writing.  Well, the vibe is, but the position I’m in is slightly uncomfortable.  I saw an absolutely beautiful guy downtown.  He was playing guitar and singing his heart out.  He looked and sounded so gorgeous. 

7. The Favorite Game by Leonard Cohen

Picked this up last November.  I found it on eBay.  The last time I picked it up was one day in December when I was sitting in the waiting room of an Urgent Care in Westlake Village waiting to talk to a doctor about a bizarre ailment I was convinced was killing me.  It didn’t kill me, and I never finished this book.

8. Planet News by Allen Ginsberg

I bought this book of poetry in San Francisco.  I was there last February for five or six days.  I spent my first day there walking around North Beach.  After having a few beers at Cafe Vesuvio I wandered over to The Beat Museum to ask if they had copies of the poems I submitted to them for a poetry contest they held back in 2007.  They didn’t have copies, but the guy behind the counter searched the internet archives for a good twenty minutes trying to help me out.  I felt kinda guilty for making him look, so I bought something.

9. A Black, Ringed Journal My Parents Bought for Me at Citylights Books When I Was 19

The opening lines of “HOWL” are printed on the front cover.

Page One:

3-06-06

When I get angry I feel my shoulder blade muscles tense up and form a knot that hurts for days.

I can feel it pinching back there whenever I try to write

or type

or just fucking hold a book.

I once tried to work out the knot by wearing Icy-Hot bandages at night

But they just soothed the area around the hubbub of angst.*

I’d peel the bandage off in the morning and my skin would

smell like chemicals.

God knows what kind of cancer it’ll give me.

Maybe the doctors will prescribe me some pot.

Then I could sell it on the streets and use the money to hire a masseuse. 

(*I feel like kicking my own ass for “hubbub of angst.”)

10. Light Blue Journal I Bought from Paper Source in Santa Cruz, CA

I’m not sharing Page One.  I can’t.  I will, however, reveal that it was written on Friday, October 16, 2009 at 12:54pm.

It was interesting to read Page One of this cute little unfinished journal, because it’s my retelling of the beginning of what turned out to be a very frustrating, rather sad story.  It was all so seemingly innocent at the time, but now that I’m looking at these scribbled words written by the 22-year-old version of myself, it’s obvious that this very frustrating period of my life left a rather sad impression on my ability to trust people.  Perfectly sweet people.

Perfectly sweet male people.

That Fucker.

11. A “One Line A Day: Five Year Memory” Journal from Barnes and Noble

I am so bad at keeping up with this thing.  There is literally just enough space to write one sentence per day.  I thought it seemed interesting.  I haven’t written any memories in it since January 9, 2012.  I wrote, “First unemployed Monday.”  That was a fun day, actually.  Mom and I went to the zoo.

12.  A Tennessee Williams Collection

Includes Summer and Smoke, Orpheus Descending, Suddenly Last Summer, and Period of Adjustment.  It also includes a personal essay by Tennessee that spoke to me so profoundly the first time I read it that I literally threw the book across the room.

So much for the past and present.  The future is called “perhaps,” which is the only possible thing to call the future.  And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you.

13. Perfection by Julie Metz

A memoir I had to read for my writing group.  I was intrigued for the first few chapters, but the whole thing became so damn indulgent after a certain point that by the end I found the narrator annoying and stupid.  I must take great care to never become an annoying, stupid narrator.

14. Another Tennessee Williams Collection

This one includes Battle of Angels, The Glass Menagerie, and A Streetcar Named Desire.  I read this one on a flight from JFK to LAX.  Despite having watched A Streetcar Named Desire a dozen fucking times, I still teared up while I was reading it.  Tennessee may be damn easy to lampoon, but he’s also really fucking hard to beat.

15. The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 by Richard Brautigan

There are sex scenes in books that make you want to have sex, but not often do you come across sex scenes in books that make you want to cry.  Cry for what?  I don’t know.  Nostalgia?  Longing?  Loneliness?  Wishing and hoping that somewhere out there someone remembers you and your body just like Richard Brautigan saw this girl and her body…

It’s a hard decision whether to start at the top or the bottom of a girl.  With Vida I just didn’t know where to begin.  It was really a problem.

After she reached up awkwardly and put my face in a small container which was her hands and kissed me quietly again and again, I had to start somewhere.

She stared up at me all the time, her eyes never leaving me as if they were an airfield.

I changed the container and her face became a flower in my hands.  I slowly let my hands drift down her face while I kissed her and then further down her neck to her shoulders.

I could see the future being moved in her mind while I arrived at the boundaries of her bosom.  Her breasts were so large, so perfectly formed under her sweater that my stomach was standing on a step-ladder when I touched them for the first time.

Her eyes never left me and I could see in her eyes the act of my touching her breasts.  It was like brief blue lightning.

I was almost hesitant in a librarian sort of way.

“I promise,” she said, reaching up and awkwardly pressing my hands harder against her breasts.  She of course had no idea what that did to me.  The step-ladder started swirling.

She kissed me again, but this time with her tongue.  Her tongue slid past my tongue like a piece of hot glass.

16. A Light Blue Guitar Pick from Amoeba Music in Berkely, CA.

I’ve now been to all three Amoebas.  The one in Hollywood is The Best.

17. Jason Webley’s Only Just Beginning

This is his favorite album of his.  This is also my favorite album of his.  It’s just his best album of his.  “Music That Puts Everything Together” brings me to my knees.  Oh Jesus, and “Map.”  And “Icarus.”  And “With.”  And “Coda.”

Of course they’re all better live.  I’m damn lucky that I know that firsthand.  Jason Webley live is more life affirming than…anything, really.  Except maybe Leonard Cohen live.  Speaking of which…

18. Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen

This is a Hell of a novel.  There is a scene where two men — The Narrator and his friend, F. — are driving at top speed in F.’s car down a dark highway.  F. is pleasuring himself while he drives.

F., put it back.  Enough is enough.

Never put it back when it gets like this.

My God, I’ve never seen you so big!  What’s going on in your mind?  What are you thinking of?  Please teach me how to do it.  Can I hold it?

No!  This is between me and God.

Who but Leonard Fucking Cohen would come up with “This is between me and God”?

I had Jason Webley sign my copy.  I knew he was a Leonard Cohen fan and I wanted to impress him with my dorkiness.  Because, ya know, traveling to Seattle to catch his 11-11-11 show wasn’t dorky enough.

Stephanie

I’m glad I remember your name.

And I’m glad that you came so far for my concert.

And I’m glad that you like this book.

♥ jason

11-11-11

approximately

18. And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave

Nick, I love you with all my heart and soul, but this novel is no Beautiful Losers.

19. Scattered Poems by Jack Kerouac

Gotta love a poem called “Pull My Daisy.”

20. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita, light of my life.  Fire of my loins.

‘Nuff said.

21. A DVD Copy of the Remake of Alfie Starring Jude Law

I bought this from the Blockbuster in Westlake right before the damn thing closed down for good.  Ya know what?  This is a terrible movie.  It is.  But damn, I really get a kick out of it.  It’s so atrocious it’s funny and Jude Law is just POSING the whole Goddamn time, which is all at once hilarious and fucking hot.  He’s so hot I wanna punch him in the face.

22. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz

An award-winning play my mom read earlier this year that she insisted I read as well.  Still haven’t gotten around to doing that.

23. Writing the Memoir: from Truth to Art by Judith Barrington

I have a lot to say about this book, but right now I am completely distracted by the fact that the author’s last name is Barrington.  I purchased this book before that last name became such a significant part of my life.  Co-workers of mine who are reading this, I’m sorry.

24. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Patti Smith is really into this book.  I found a copy of it on my mom’s bookshelf on a rainy day last November.  I read the first page, and then I decided to go buy a ukulele.

I attempted to make a video for you of me playing the ukulele, but my mom interrupted when she came in to ask me if I wanted anything from Lassen’s.

25. A Blue and Black Leather-bound Journal Given to Me by My High School Journalism Teacher

Page One is humiliating.

Here’s something from Page 12:

12:00am August 10, 2005 Wednesday

I bought a CD today.  I’m listening to it now.  It feels great.  Not as great as kissing.  Music makes me think of kissing — probably because I sometimes kiss to music.

26. A DVD Copy of The Graduate

Two nights before I moved back to my parents’s house after living in Santa Cruz for five years, I downloaded this movie and bought a bottle of Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon.  At this point, I had already moved 99% of my furniture out of my apartment.  All I had was my twin-sized mattress, which was, at that point, pathetically sitting on the floor of my bedroom.  I sat on my pathetic mattress, drank my pathetic cheap wine, and watched Benjamin Braddock try his best not to be pathetic.  I cried a lot.

27. A DVD Copy of The Road to God Knows Where

Behind the scenes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds touring the United States after Tender Prey was released.  They’re all so young and beautiful.  I fall asleep to this one a lot.  Nick is such a jerk to journalists, but not in a Bob Dylan in Don’t Look Back kind of way.  All the journalists that appear in this movie are such idiots that it really isn’t Nick’s fault that he comes off as so smart and so snide.  The people interviewing him really have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about.

28.  A DVD Copy of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

I will defend this movie until the end of time.  If, someday, I find myself with some spare time and some spare money (by the way, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!), I plan on writing an in-depth analysis of all four (or, by then, 15) Pirates films.  No one will publish it and no one will read it, so I’ll probably just send the manusctipt to Johnny Depp and wait for his reaction.  Maybe I’ll get to become one of his various best friends and I’ll start getting invitations to parties at Keith Richards’s house.

29. A DVD Copy of The Ruling Class

Just watch it.

30. The Complete Fawlty Towers

This show never got boring or bad because the British know when it’s time for a television show to end.  There are only 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers, but they are all perfect.

31. A DVD Copy of Blue Velvet

I watched this not too long ago.  I had a 103 degree fever and I was sitting on the couch in my empty house shivering and sniffling and coughing.

A video is worth 1,000 words:

32. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live DVD: God Is in the House

It’s pretty good, but Warren Ellis had joined the band by this point, and it’s upsetting to watch Nick try to divvy up his affection between Warren and Blixa.  And Blixa just looks BORED out of his mind, even during “The Carny.”  It saddens me.

33. A DVD Copy of The Darjeeling Limited

I can’t listen to people criticize Wes Andseron.  It’s a sin.

34. A DVD Copy of If….

My Malcolm McDowell obsession was one of the best things to ever happen to me.  He made a lot of crap movies, but it doesn’t matter, because he also made If….

This movie should be shown to everyone everywhere.  Politicians should watch and be warned.

35.  The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

I read two chapters of this self-help book in May right before the training period for my new job began.  I had been diagnosing myself with various terminal illnesses every day for two weeks and I was losing my Goddamn mind.  I had been unemployed since January and I was at my absolute wit’s end.  Two chapters of this thing had me back to normal.  (As in, I was suddenly cured of my lung cancer, throat cancer, liver cancer, brain cancer, and Parkinson’s Disease.)

36. A DVD Copy of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live at Brixton Academy, London Thursday, November 11 2004

As long as I can shut my bedroom door, sit down by myself and watch this shit, then I can never really lose sight of the fact that my life is rather good.  And that I’m a bad motherfucker.

So, yeah.  I’m thinkin’ I’ll just put all this stuff back where I found it — piled up next to my bed.

 

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My Back Pages.

This is a facebook post written to me by my friend, Ellanee, circa January 2008:

i hope that one day, i am as cool as you. i hope that one day, i make convenience store clerks fall in love with me while i am wearing pajama pants and i hope that one day, i own a [VHS tape] of malcolm mcdowell as a paraplegic. and that i can drink 500 glasses of water in 2 seconds.

I copied the post and saved it as a Word document.  I was that touched.

I can’t believe it was four years ago that Ellanee and I solidified our friendship one afternoon over too much Captain Morgan and too much burnt popcorn.  It was Sunday.  The plan was to watch the Tim Burton version of Sweeney Todd.  That was it.

“Want a drink?” became, “Want another drink?” which became, “Pause this, I have to pee” and, “Pause this, I have to smoke.”  Finally, it was, “Pause this, we’re out of popcorn.”

We walked down the street to the neighborhood liquor store.  At the time, I found it obscenely convenient to have a liquor store so nearby.  Looking back, it was just obscene.

The walk to the store was really something special.  It was raining and we looked ridiculous.  My hair was thrown up in a messy, greasy excuse for a bun, and I was wearing black pajama pants with hot pink bunny rabbits printed on them.  I also had on a black t-shirt with cartoon monkeys playing guitars.  I believe Ellanee and I were both wearing fuzzy slippers, but I may be thinking of a different occasion.  Ellanee was struggling to light her cigarette while avoiding puddles and remaining upright.  We weren’t just two tipsy college girls — we were poetic.  We were divine.  We were a scene from Withnail & I. 

We were Rain Dogs.

We exploded into the liquor store like a Ralph Steadman cartoon.  There was no one else in the store, which left us free to stumble down the aisles in our solitary fancy examining the tiny plastic bags of gummy sharks, debating whether or not we should buy apple rings, arguing about Swedish Fish versus Sour Patch Kids, etc.  We managed to look through the entire store without finding any popcorn.

I ran up to the counter and roared, “Do you have popcorn?

The hippie behind the counter smiled.

“Yeah,” he said.  “Over there.”

Our brief interaction was sobering.  I noticed he was young.  Then, I noticed he was wearing a beanie.  A beanie.  And he looked cute in it.  He looked damn cute in it.  A young, cute hippie in a beanie was smiling at me, the pajama-wearing, obscenity-spouting asshole who was drunkenly demanding popcorn at 3:00 in the afternoon on The Lord’s Day.

I managed to formulate a “Thank you,” and then stumbled in the direction of the popcorn.  I found Ellanee in the candy aisle.

“I know where the popcorn is,” I said.
“I want Red Vines.”
“Get some,” I said.
“Will you eat some?” she asked, raising her voice a bit.
“Maybe.”
“You have to eat some!”

I slammed the three-pack of popcorn down on the counter.

“You found it!” said the hippie.

“Yeah,” I managed.

He didn’t say anything; just smiled his hippie smile.

As soon as we were outside, Ellanee exploded with, “He liiiiiiiikes you!  He was kinda cuuuuuuuute!  He looooooooooves yoooooooou!”

I denied any and all accusations of winning the affection of the hippie behind the counter.

“It’s truuuuuuue!” she continued.  “He was lookin’ at you and smiiiiilin’ at yoooooou…”

“Bullshit.”

I used my hands to block the wind and rain from Ellanee’s lighter while she lit her cigarette.

“Nope,” she said.  “He fell in love with you.”

When we got back to my house we microwaved a bag of popcorn, mixed another pair of cocktails, and watched Johnny Depp kill a whole lotta people.

I was a junior in college and every little thing that happened to me was important.  All-nighters were news-worthy.  Class presentations were news-worthy.  I rewarded myself for making it to my 8am classes.  My idea of stress was having to write an essay and do laundry.  If I had a free evening, I spent it writing poetry or preparing for my radio show or watching some documentary about Bob Dylan or Nico and crying over music and history and my love for all that weird shit called “art.”

On January 17th, I will officially be 25 years old; my New Year’s Resolution is to act like it.  At the same time, I need to get back in touch with an earlier version of myself.  I don’t mean I’m going to casually get plastered on Sunday afternoons and start dating liquor store clerks (again), but I think it’s time I started taking myself seriously (again).  I want to think that what I do is important.  I want to reward myself for my hard work.  I want to set aside time for creativity.  I don’t want to cry about Bob Dylan and Nico because I feel shitty, but because I love Bob Dylan and Nico so damn much.

I hope that one day, I am as cool as 21-year-old Me.

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COLLEGE POEMS IV

I feel a little strange about posting this poem.

I’m not embarrassed.  Honestly, I’m having a great time sharing all of these dorky college poems with you.

Still, I feel a little strange about posting this poem, because this one was once very important to me.

I wrote it sophomore year, which I’ve come to realize was a time when everything was important.  I was 20 years-old — the oldest I’d ever been.  I was hundreds of miles away from mom and dad.  I was in charge of making my own meals and doing my own laundry.  I had my own room.  I was taking feminist studies classes and reading The Bell Jar in my spare time.  I was obsessed with Bob Dylan and Shane MacGowan and I felt so cool when one of my professor’s said, “Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Laurie Anderson.”  I loved my roommates and my apartment and my school.

In January, I started seeing a boy I’d been friends with for a few months.  By “seeing” I mean sneaking around with, and by “boy” I mean, ya know, a fellow consenting young adult.  We secretly kissed one night after a party, and instead of just leaving it at that, we had to repeat our mistake and make things complicated.

We liked each other and I knew that and he knew that, but for some reason we never really got it right.  One of us was always afraid of something and the other was always worried about something else.  One day we’d say, “Let’s just be friends,” and then after two days of being the kind of friends who stay up all night talking, one of us would say, “I can’t just be friends.”  We’d start over.

It was frustrating and painful and yeah, frickin’ exciting.  It always hurt a little bit after one of our “we need to stop this” discussions, but we’d always change our minds, which always meant a few more days of sneaky bliss.

We finally decided to commit, and things immediately soured.  I don’t know whose fault it was.  Maybe if I had just let him ignore me instead of barging into his apartment asking, “Where the fuck have you been for five days?” things would have been better.  Maybe if he had actually told me what it was that made him want to run away things would have been better.  Maybe it’s because we were both 20 years-old?

I tried to end it a few times, and both times I was talked out of it.  It was confusing.  It was frustrating and painful and I hated every second of it.

Things came to an end over the summer when we both had to go back to our respective suburban homes.  He broke up with me.  When he called me that day, I knew exactly what was going to happen — it had been ages since we last spoke.  He said, “I have to break up with you,” and I said, “Haven’t we been broken up for weeks?”  I was sad, but I wasn’t hurt — I had gotten all the “hurt” out of my system back in Santa Cruz.  Furthermore, I wasn’t about to let him think I was surprised to hear that we were through.  Looking back, I shouldn’t even have been that nice.  I should have just blurted out a big, loud, “DUH.”

I’m a huge fan of monogamy and commitment and intimacy and all that, but, I have to say, the best part of this relationship was the “sneaky bliss.”  It probably shouldn’t have gone beyond that.  Maybe we’d still be friends and I wouldn’t be posting a poem I wrote about him.

I wrote this one night after visiting him in his apartment.  A few weeks later, I decided to submit it to a poetry contest that was being held by The Beat Museum in San Francisco.  I didn’t think that I was going to win, nor did I really care.  The only reason I mailed the poem off to the city was because it seemed like a fun little creative outlet.  Despite my lighthearted feelings, I still decided not to tell anyone.  This was just for me.

A month later I called my mom one Sunday morning to ask her something — I really don’t remember what.  My older brother answered the phone.

“Hi Bobby!”

“Hey.  I just read your poem.”

Pause.

What poem?”

“The one about the diabetic boy.”

Yes.  My mother, being a Beat Museum enthusiast, had gone to their website that morning just for kicks.  Across the screen, she saw the names of the winners of that month’s poetry contest.  Honorable Mention went to Stephanie from Santa Cruz, California, for her poem “Sweet Love.”

March 2007

HONORABLE MENTION
Stephanie Callas Santa Cruz, California
Sweet Love

I know this guy who’s diabetic

Whenever he’s at my apartment

he has to go home every couple of hours

to check his blood sugar levels

I miss him during those few minutes

and I’m always overjoyed when he comes back

sipping his Capri Sun.

Once a long time ago at his apartment

he checked his blood sugar

right there in his room

and when the results were in

he shot insulin into his hip

I asked him if he needed a Capri Sun

“No sugar this time. Just insulin.”

He called me one night while I was

trying to write an essay

for some silly class

that I didn’t really care about.

My priorities don’t involve textbooks

“I need you to come over,” he said

“I had a seizure today at 4am.”

I was over an hour later

with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s

Double Chocolate Fudge Brownie

“Cause this time you where low, right?”

He grabbed my hand and said,

“Do ya ever have days when you

only wanna see specific people?”

Curled up on his bed

with the ice-cream close at hand

we watched the first half of a movie

and then we kissed for nearly two hours

Then I went home at 2am and stared at my

blank computer screen and told myself,

“I could love this guy.”

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COLLEGE POEMS II

It’s time to share another embarrassing poem I wrote in college.

This one is actually still kinda funny.  To me. 

I found it on my MySpace blog, and it says in huge letters:

Written whilst sitting on a bench at the Stevenson knoll.

“Whilst.”  Oh, Steff.

Now, the Stevenson Knoll is one of the most beautiful places on our planet.  It is near the dorms at Stevenson College at UC Santa Cruz.  It is a grassy knoll that overlooks the ocean.  It is the perfect place to sit and watch the sun come up.  Or read a book.  Or stare out into space.  

It’s a holy spot…  ::Sigh::

As SOON as the sun comes out in spring, it becomes Bikini Central.  Everyone suddenly switches gears from “Let’s go to the knoll and sing songs” to, “Oh my GOD I’m so PALE!  Let’s go to the KNOLL!”

One day, when I felt like going to the knoll with my notebook, I encountered a group of giggling bikinis.  After observing their behavior for awhile, I wrote this poem.

March 19, 2007

“Spring Got Sprung”

Skinny, bikini-clad girls are
all over the place.
Can’t escape ‘em!
Everywhere I look
there’s another skinny white girl’s ass
in a skimpy bikini bottom.
BRIGHT pink, BRIGHT red,
and some blue or green.
I’m stuck in a tornado of tiny tits.
A scrawny chick in black is
playing with a lighter as if
to tell the world,
“I have every intention of
eventually smoking
a BAD ASS cigarette.”

I’d like to make her a sandwich
and take away her cell phone.

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COLLEGE POEMS!

I used to write a lot of poems. Like, a LOT of them. I’m not sure if they were good or bad, really. I may even go so far as to say that some of them showed potential.

Good or bad aside, they REEK of college. Absolutely REEK of it. They are all about, in the [poetic] words of The Rolling Stones:

“Laughter, joy, and loneliness
And sex and sex and sex and sex.”

I used to share these poems with ENTIRELY TOO MANY PEOPLE. ENTIRELY. I read them to my classmates, posted them on my MYSPACE BLOG, submitted them to poetry contests and WON…

…Well, ya know, I received Honorable Mention…TWICE!

Here’s one I just found. I will definitely share more of these.

Posted on my MYSPACE BLOG on March 19, 2008. At the time I was a junior in college, and I lived in a tiny blue house in Midtown Santa Cruz. I may have been dating a cannabis-growing, pot-selling convenient store clerk at this point — I’m not sure when exactly we started dating.

Anyway, I was a really happy, creative kid. And I wrote this poem.

“The Palace Flophouse”

A tiny blue house sits off kilter
at an angle
tucked between two much more substantial buildings.
The cars in the drive way virtually
tower over the beach shanty and
the blue paint is faded from years of
sunshine and rain
and the rust-colored mailbox creaks loudly
every time it’s opened.
The plants in the front yard
are sparse and shriveled.
They enhance…nothing.

The tiny, comfy living room
has an ugly white sofa
with a horrid floral pattern
and there are two brown corduroy chairs
on either side of it.
There’s always a glare on the television screen
because there aren’t any shades
on the gigantic glass windows
that make privacy impossible.
And the room is freezing…all the time.

A tiny, dirty kitchen
has a stove that never ignites
and a dishwasher that never works
and a huge, white counter
that’s never clean.
The floor is made of red bricks
and no matter how much anyone sweeps
it’s always dirty
and littered with crumbs, dust, hair,
and bottle tops.
It’s still swept everyday…anyway.

A tiny, horrid patio
has three white, plastic chairs
and two stools that have both been
destroyed by monsoons and heat.
There are green weeds growing like mad
between the slabs of gray granite
and they are slowly taking over.
A dirty shell sits on one of the stools
and it’s used for cigarette butts
and it’s always overflowing.
There’s ash…everywhere.

A tiny, stupid voice in my head says,
“How the Hell have you survived here?
“There’s no heating or air conditioning
and the bathroom’s full of spiders
“and the front door doesn’t really lock
“and your bedroom is so crammed
“and there’s really shitty lighting
“and the parking lot around the corner
is so damn loud at night
“and the beach is cold and windy
“and raccoons run on your roof.”
But I wouldn’t trade this place for…anything.

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The Scuzzy Sons-of-Bitches Who Light Up My Life Part IV: Jim Morrison

John or Paul?

Jim.

Mick or Keith?

Jim.  With all due respect.

Page or Plant?

::Yawn::  

Jim.

 Hendrix or Clapton?

I want “Bold As Love” to be played at my wedding, and I don’t even want to hear “Sunshine of Your Love” at my funeral.  

Anyway, Jim.

 Cream or The Who? 

Go away.

Beatles or Stones?

Doors.  

Scuzzy Son-Of-A-Bitch #4:

 Jim Morrison

My Black Clad Leather Patronus

(2003)

Part One

“C’mon people, don’t ya look so down 
You know the rain man’s comin’ ta town
Change the weather, change your luck
And then he’ll teach ya how ta…find yourself “
 

My Jim Morrison idolization began on a hot afternoon in August, 2003.  It was the last day of summer vacation, I was sixteen, and I was about to make out with my new boyfriend for the second time.  It had only been 24 hours since our first kiss, and due to our youth and lack of experience (and, perhaps, to his Catholicism), we decided that one make out session equalled monogamy.  Despite our official relationship status, I was a bit nervous about that afternoon’s proposed itinerary, and my nervousness only increased when my boyfriend suggested we put on some music.  I sat down on his couch, and he began browsing through his record collection.  Of course I knew that the music selection ritual was a prelude to hormonal teenage madness, and while that delighted me, it terrified me just the same.  In my opinion, it was awkward enough that we both knew we were about to make out — why prolong that in-between phase of the process?  How was I supposed to act?  Seductive?  Casual?  What if he lost interest during his hunt for the perfect tunes?  What if he forgot what we were there to do?  What if he didn’t like the way I looked sitting on his couch?   Should I strike a pose?  I wondered.

After a few minutes he held up a record that had a dark reddish brown and yellowish gold cover.  “All right, herewego.  The Doors,” he said, pulling the record out of the sleeve.   He looked at me, and I feigned approval.  The truth was I hadn’t listened to The Doors since I was in 8th grade and wanted to listen to some “cool” music while I did my math homework.  For as much as I enjoyed “Break On Through,” I soon had to turn off the music and concentrate on pre-algebra.  Naturally, I didn’t bother telling him this — I didn’t want to say anything that might make him second guess his selection.  Plus, I had only been his girlfriend for 24 hours; it was too early to start losing my allure.

He admired the record for a second, and then, all of a sudden, he looked up at the ceiling and said, “Of course we bow down to you, Jim Morrison, in all your rock and roll glory.” He put the record on the player, set the needle down, and turned up the volume.  It was “L’america” — track one, side two of L.A. Woman.  Four minutes and thirty-eight seconds later, he skipped “Hyacinth House” and went straight to “Crawling Kingsnake.”  Whether this action was sickeningly smooth or just plain sickening is up for debate.  Either way, it worked; too well.  In the midst of all that was happening, I found myself wondering if my parents had any Doors vinyl at home.

When “Riders On The Storm” had long since ended and I arrived back at my house, I went straight for my dad’s record shelf.  Sandwiched between Donovan and The Dream Academy was the dark reddish brown and yellowish gold record.  I pulled it off the shelf and brought it upstairs to my room, where it remained for many, many years.


Something had shifted, and I knew it.  After that day, there was no going back.  I devoured the entire Doors catalogue with the kind of voracity that only a 16-year-old girl is capable of.  Soon, the aviator sunglasses showed up; then the boots.  I’d leave my hair wavy not because I was lazy, but because I realized I actually liked the way it looked unkempt.

For me, Jim Morrison’s music (and I say “Jim Morrison’s music” because it was Jim Morrison who made the music matter) was the perfect soundtrack for adolescence — dark, flawed, and endlessly libidinous.  When I felt fantastic I’d put on “Roadhouse Blues,” and when I felt like killing someone I’d put on “The End.”  This is not to say that Jim was the first musical artist to speak to my tortured teenage soul; for example, my first two years of high school would have been Hell without Lou Reed.  Still, there was something about listening to “Not to Touch The Earth” on a bad day that resonated with me in ways that made the second side of Berlin seem irrelevant.  For as much as I loved Lou’s weirdness, I needed Jim’s ferocity.  After all, I was a straight edged 16-year-old living in suburbia; a savage hero was a necessity.  

Part 2

“When the music is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
Music is your only friend
Until the end” 
 

While Jim’s premature death automatically made him a rock and roll legend, that does not appropriately explain his allure.  What it comes down to is the fact that even while he was alive, he was something of a supernatural being.  What other popular musician — and I mean Tiger Beat popular — sang about patricide?  And “dead President’s corpses”?  And horses being blinded with whips?  And dared to ask, “What have we done to the earth?” It takes guts to willingly scare the Hell out of your fans, and to do it without the use of fake blood or creepy masks or lighting effects, well, that’s just genius.  So much of Jim’s music is dark, and when it isn’t dark it’s twisted.

There are, of course, some safer Doors compositions.  Even when they’re safe, though, they’re not that safe.  “Light My Fire,” which was originally brought to the table by Robby Krieger, is one of the most well-known Doors songs.  Just because it is popular, however, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have teeth.  Jim added a verse to the song that rhymes  “wallow in the mire” with “funeral pyre” (From Wikipedia: A pyre (Greek: πυρά, pyrá, from πυρ, pýr, fire), also known as a funeral pyre, is a structure, usually made of wood, for burning a body as part of a funeral rite. As a form of cremation, a body is placed upon the pyre, which is then set on fire), and his delivery is nothing short of primal.  When Jim wails, “TRY TO SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE,” there’s nothing safe about it.  He’s not just asking you to light his fire, he’s demanding it; who knows what he’ll do if he doesn’t get his way?

His seduction power, his theatricality, his animalistic passion — THIS is what gives The Doors staying power.  THIS is what sets Jim apart from other notable front men.  THIS…  ::sigh::

 

 Although it may feel like it was only yesterday, my junior year of high school was a long time ago.  I may not be 16 anymore, but I still wear big black boots, I still hate hair products, and I still love Jim Morrison.   I still look forward to the day I can listen to “The Unknown Solider” without feeling angry, I still recite “The Movie” to myself when I’m sitting in dark theaters, and I still listen to “When The Music’s Over” while I’m driving around at night.   Sometimes, I wonder what my world would be like if Jim were still alive.  Maybe he would have graced the cover of Rolling Stone one more time.  Maybe he would have had a minor role in Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  Maybe he would have written a book.  And Lord knows, his take on George W. Bush’s presidency would have been priceless.  Would The Doors be worth seeing live?  Would Jim be giving Mick a run for his money?

For as phenomenal as it would be to hear Jim mutter, “Fuck George Bush” on national television, I have no illusions about the situation.  Jim was an alcoholic and a drug user, and everything I’ve read about him suggests that he had some kind of chemical imbalance (phrases such as “Manic Depressive Disorder” and “Bipolar Disorder” weren’t spoken as trippingly on the tongue during the 1960′s). Yet, somehow, by some miracle, Jim’s legacy is nothing but rockin’.  The image of him in tight leather pants will always overshadow the image of him in his puffy latter-days, and he will always be a vibrant young superstar and never a washed up burnout.  The fact that I will never see him live is overshadowed by the fact that I will also never have to watch him perform a painful rendition of “Touch Me” on American Idol.  As my younger brother said to me when we watched Bob Dylan mumble his way through his set list at the Santa Monica Civic in 2008, “It’s moments like this when I realize it’s better that Morrison’s dead.”  Yes, he’s dead, but he’s not dead dead.  He was so full of life he never really died.

Epilogue

“It hurts to set you free
But you’ll never follow me…”
 

One Sunday night in November of 2004, I sat down at my desk to fill out my University of California application.  At that point, I wasn’t completely sure where I wanted to go to college.  To be frank, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go at all.  Why move away?  Why leave all the people I loved?  More importantly, why move away and leave all the people I loved just to go to school?  I didn’t understand it.  To me, all college represented was “Goodbye,” and that was torture.

I got through the “Name, Age, Social Security Number” crap in record time, and then, suddenly, I was face-to-face with an essay assignment.  TWO essay assignments.  The first essay was only supposed to be around 200 words, and the prompt was so simple I don’t even remember what I wrote.  After I finished the first assignment, the doorbell rang.  When I opened the door, no one was there.  I looked down at the ground, and sitting on my doormat was a chocolate bar, a white envelope, and a Doors pin.  Inside the envelope was a note that said:

 “This fine European chocolate reminded me of your fine European figure.  
I hope Mr. Morrison keeps you warm on this cold evening.”
 

I smiled.  I knew my boyfriend had left me the present, but not because of the flattering note.  The Doors was still our band.  When I got back inside I read the note again, and, quite suddenly, the idea of going away to college seemed ten times as miserable.

Reluctantly, I went back to my room and sat at my desk.  The second essay prompt was glowing on my computer screen:

Open-ended

Rationale: This question seeks to give students the opportunity to share important aspects of their schooling or their lives — such as their personal circumstances, family experiences and opportunities that were or were not available at their school or college — that may not have been sufficiently addressed elsewhere in the application.

• Is there anything you would like us to know about you or your academic record that you have not had the opportunity to describe elsewhere in this application?

I was flabbergasted.  “Is there anything you would like us to know about you or your academic record“?  This pissed me off.  Me OR my academic record?  In my opinion, those were two very different things.  What had I not “had the opportunity to describe elsewhere in this application”?  The application asked for my email address, my nationality, and my GPA — none of those things were a reflection of the real ME.  Just who the Hell did these UC people think they were?

I was so angry I could scream.  I was about to spend a decent amount of my precious time trying to convince people I already hated that they should let me into one of their disgusting establishments.  I took a deep breath, unwrapped that bar of fine European chocolate, and took a bite.   When I was ready, I placed my hands back on the keyboard and let loose:

Before I sink
Into the big sleep
I want to hear
I want to hear
The scream of the butterfly  

The End?

      

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The Scuzzy Sons-of-Bitches Who Light Up My Life Part I: Mark Renton

Yesterday, I got to have a good, long Skype session with my friend Zach, a former KZSC comrade.  Our conversation, I am happy to report, was quite brilliant.  We discussed the rise and fall of Microsoft and Nintendo, the inferior design of Facebook, and Yahoo’s inability to even try to compete with The Google Overlords.  During a brief moment of non-internet related banter, Zach mentioned that he was planning on teaching himself how to play the accordion.  I said that I could imagine him playing at The Poet And The Patriot; a bar in downtown Santa Cruz that only serves the finest beers and the cheapest wines.  We then got to talking about how fantastic it is to sit at the bar at The Poet and watch the frat boys and sorority girls order shorts of Jaeger and Patron, only to be turned down by the hard-assed, Irish bartenders.  “It helps keep out the riff-raff,” said Zach.  “If they want that shit, they can go to The Red.”

The Red is as trendy as it gets when it comes to downtown Santa Cruz drinking establishments.  There are drinks with funny names, or “signature cocktails,” if you prefer.  The girls are wearin’ mini-skirts, and everyone looks like they’ve showered.  The place smells of cologne and sugar cane, and it’s impossible for bums to sneak inside.  Despite all this, I could still walk in wearing jeans and a t-shirt and no one would glare at me.

There is a lower-level of The Red that is quite unlike its upstairs counterpart.  The lower-level allows smoking.  The lower-level isn’t as well-lit.  The lower-level isn’t the place to go for a neon pink “signature cocktail.”  The lower-level attracts girls in mini-skirts with tattoos on their arms.  The lower-level…just…feels more like home.  I used to hang out at the lower Red with my good friend, Ellanee, when we were in college.  We’d stay until closing time, having a blast being total assholes to all the poor fuckers who offered to buy us drinks.

“Ya know what I always loved?” I said to Zach, “The lower-Red.  It’s scuzzier.”  Zach laughed and said, “You would like the lower-Red, you classy, classy lady.”  I knew he was being ironic, which I found rather funny.  I also found it a bit perplexing.  In what ways, I wondered, am I not perfectly classy?  I burp in front of people, and I don’t give a shit if I’m caught grocery shopping in my pajama bottoms, but I don’t consider myself especially unclassy.  I had to settle this.  I said to Zach, “You know what?  It’s because I’m too much of a chicken to actually be scuzzy, so I’m attracted to people who really are.  I live vicariously.  It’s like I’m Lawrence Ferlinghetti and I’m just chillin’ watching all the Neil Cassadys run around.  They’ll all die, and I’ll be an old person riding my bike to my prestigious bookstore.”  Zach just laughed and said, “Imagining you as an old lady on a bike is funny.”

***

Scuzzy people.  Scuzzy fuckin’ low-life people.  I love them; especially, you guessed it, the males.  Yes, I am a Good Girl who loves Bad Fuckin’ Boys.  Not just any bad boy, mind you.  I’m talkin’ vagabonds.  Drifters.  Rockstars.  DIRTY HIPPIES!  The poets, the painters, the shitty novelists, the song-writers, the filmmakers…All that bullshit.  I love ‘em stoned, I love ‘em drunk, I love ‘em strung out in the street quoting T.S. Eliot.  I love ‘em in torn clothing with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths and knowing smirks on their lips.  I love five o’clock shadows and dirty coats that smell like bourbon and old shoes.  I love long hair and bare feet and sage-scented panchos.  I love paint-covered hands.  I love foul mouths.  I love bar fights and run-ins with the police.

Oh, how we danced away all of the lights, We’ve always been out of our minds…

I know, of course, deep-down, that I could never ever have a meaningful romantic relationship with a scuzzy son-of-a-bitch.  I know that.  I really, really do.  However, until I find my sensitive, loyal, well-mannered family man who makes six (or more) figures per year, I plan on continuing to fall in love with all the wrong men — at least the ones I see on the silver screen and hear on my shitty speakers.

I am not sure what my love for scuzzy men means.  Is it purely voyeuristic?  And why?  Am I rebelling against my suburban upbringing by idolizing vagrants?  Do I think that I have the power to take a starving artist and transform him into a well-to-do member of society?  Do I just wish Nick Cave’s “Hard On For Love” were about me?  Is this my specific take on penis envy?  Again, I am not sure.  All I know is that pictures of young Marlon Brando are great, but stories about young Marlon Brando living in his dirty New York apartment with a pet raccoon excite me even more.  I can’t explain it; I can only explore it.

Let the exploration begin!

SCUZZY SON-OF-A-BITCH #1:

Mark Renton

The Derelict That Started It All

(2002)

Those skin-tight jeans.  Those red Adidas.  That thick Scottish brogue.  That foul mouth.  Yes, Mark Renton is definitely my kind of sexy motherfucker.   Add to the mix a debilitating heroin addiction, and I’m in Good Girl Heaven.

My friend, Melanie, and I fell in love with Ewan McGregor via Moulin Rouge!  It wasn’t long before we had the damn movie memorized (including the u2/KISS/David Bowie mash-ups) and were desperate to see more of Ewan McGregor’s work; I have no idea why we chose to watch Trainspotting after months of  singing along to the “Elephant Love Medley.”

It was a Sunday afternoon.  I was 14-years-old.  When I saw Mark Renton overdose on heroin and sink into The Mother Superior’s living room floor while Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” oozed through the room, everything suddenly made sense.  “This is it,” I realized.  “I’ve always loved this stuff, and I’ve never known it.”

 NOTHING was the same for me after that.  Eve6 and Blink 182 and Dave Matthews Band were replaced by Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and David Bowie.  If a book involved heroin, I had to read it.  My poor mother had to listen to Nevermind The Bollocks everyday as she drove me home from school.  I found a dusty old copy of Naked Lunch on my parents’ bookshelf.  Everything that came out of the UK was kickass, and everyone who made music in the 1970′s was a God.

Conversely, everything that was popular sucked.  It sucked hard, and I wanted nothing to do with it.

Thanks to that period of my life, I own way too many obscure Ewan McGregor movies on VHS (if anyone would like to join me to watch Lipstick On Your Collar or Scarlet & Black, please let me know), way too many books about punk rock (still haven’t read Lipstick Traces), and way too many copies of The Velvet Underground & Nico (CD, vinyl, two-disc remastered, burned copy of the two-disc remastered…).  Clutter aside, when I think about what may have happened to me if I had never fallen in lust with a fictional drug addict, I get very Existential.  For example, if I hadn’t fallen in love with Mark Renton, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with old music, and if I hadn’t fallen in love with old music I wouldn’t have fallen in love with old records, and if I hadn’t fallen in love with old records I wouldn’t have fallen in love with Jim Morrison (MORE ON HIM LATER), and if I hadn’t fallen in love with Jim Morrison…Would I have gone to UC Santa Cruz?  Would I have had my own radio show?  Would I have met half the people I consider my friends?  Would I have seen Patti Smith live?

Would I be into GAGA?

Life is just extraordinary, isn’t it?  If it hadn’t been for a little crush on an actor that turned into a tremendous fascination with various human subcultures…I mean, there’s nothing else I can possibly say, really.  I can’t possibly add more profundity by writing a few more measly words, can I?

How about this: thanks, Mark Renton, for being so Goddamn tragic.  And HOT.

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BloggityBloggity

My last day of living in Santa Cruz has arrived. Well, it’s done more than arrived — it’s nearly come and gone…

I always thought that my last day here would be a sort of sentimental scavenger hunt — get kombucha at New Leaf, people-watch at Pergolessi, give a bum a nickel, etc. Instead, I woke up early and got right to cleaning my apartment. My fridge is officially empty except for my liquid calcium and my caffeine-free diet Safeway cola, and my bedroom is completely cleared out except for my mattress, which now sits on my floor. (There’s something so pathetic about my current sleeping situation, I feel. I never thought about it before, but now that my box spring is in the dumpster and my comforter has been dropped off at Goodwill, I can’t help but feel overwhelmingly lonely at night while I do my damndest to bundle up under one thin, dirty sheet and wonder why it’s been such a gloomy, cold July.) My shower tiles have been doused in bleach over and over, and yet there’s still mildew in one unruly corner. Everything must be spic and span for tomorrow morning’s walk-through inspection with my landlord.

No. I did not have quite the sentimental scavenger hunt I had always thought I would.

It’s okay, though, because right now I’m at The Best Place In The World: KZSC Santa Cruz. Yup. Never again will I have access to hundreds of CD’s that I can store on my iTunes for free. It would be stupid of me if I didn’t take advantage of this privilege one more time before my long drive tomorrow.

It’s strange. I was worried that coming here this afternoon would depress me. That I would feel like I didn’t belong. That things would have already moved on without me. That my presence here no longer mattered, and never really did.

Not true.

I feel as comfortable here right now as I ever have. In fact right now, I feel more comfortable here than I do at my own apartment. I mean, my apartment is completely torn apart and in the middle of a hardcore sterilization process. I’ve had enough of that for now. It was time to get out, and I know that I made the right choice by coming here. Everything is on pause. I’m surrounded by excellent music in a tiny cabin in the redwoods. There’s a candy machine and a coffee maker. (Yes, I’ve had a mug of coffee. I had to, for old time’s sake. Hopefully I won’t fall off the wagon and have ten more.) There’s internet access and a couch. And yeah, there are memories. Tremendous ones. Some magnificent, some heinous, but all of them important.

At this point I could label this post “Masturbatory Self-Indulgence,” but let me save myself by saying this: if you have an inkling to try something new and creative, do it. You just might fall in love with it. That’s how it was for me with radio. One day before I went back to school for junior year I decided, “I’m gonna be on the radio.”

I tried it. I got hooked on it. I’ve now had the experience of total unadulterated artistic freedom, and I’ll never be the same again.

(I’ve now had three cups of coffee and my heart is beating a bit fast and I can’t stop biting my nails and I think it’s time to have one more fun-size Milky Way before I head back to my apartment to continue scrubbing the shit outta every room.)

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