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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.