emma b. says

Friday, September 30, 2005

I wanna be like that

So M and I argued through dinner because he's a git and I'm a twit and because we essentially agree, except for nuance, also he's a thousand time more well informed than I, because he prefers histories and I prefer fiction.

But somewhere between the snapper and the second bottle I found myself in the awkward position of having to defend my particular faith and my particular morality. All the more precarious since my falling out with God, it was a red state/blue state thing and also general disappointment, that is, I would imagine, mutual.

Since I was a child I have been talking to God, or She/He/It/They. Shit for short. Or if the weather is clement and I am feeling expansive I might love the Pantheon. And why not. I like the idea of mystery, I like the idea of a force stronger than the ruddy peaks and more ravishing than the deep, deep ocean. I have talked to that energy, in buses and in bed, on airplanes and in the bath tub, and I felt it, and I believed. And then I stopped.

And I freely admit that it was a sort of childish punishment, and also because I had to stop and re-evaluate the state of shit and SHIT in my life.

Over dinner I was trying to explain how I am baffled by (oh don't, it's going to sound so precious and naieve) how you become corrupt. How many baby steps and corners shaved before Ken Lay. And maybe you think your path is righteous, maybe I am just as morally bankrupt, there are certainly those to the right of me who would think so. It is enough that I can freely admit to my foibles, though I wont list them here. And can even the lowest echelon claim expediancy as a means of justification?

I watched Crash the other night. And sure the critics and blah, blah, blah and narrative inconsistency... OK, fine. Flaws aside, I sat rigidly through the entire film, and was provoked. And what I saw is that the finer points of racism and the culture wars are quiet and insidious, seemingly benign. And it's the tragic smallnesses that pile up and pile up, that, and all of us, even we who prize our sophistication over the plebes (strike one) careen wildly over the meridian, sideswipe. And then I don't really understand how you could live in another country and not learn the language (strike two), I did learn to speak french in france if only to undertand what the boys were saying behind my back. Also why so Chinese ladies of a certain age favor perms and mixed knits (strike three). And why do a certain caliber of lesbian always where trousers and sensible shoes (strike four) Young black men everywhere, why must you subject me to three-quarters of your boxer clad ass, you are oh so, oh so ripe for pantsing, I don't because I am afraid of being shot at (strike five) . Ladies, ladies, you with the highlights and the Seven jeans, you all look the same, I honestly can't tell you apart, and why do you speak in your noses and carry the same purses, you shun food and for that I have nothing but scorn. (strike six)
Goth Girls, enough said (strike seven)

Anyone who waxes ecstatic over being born again or Rush Limbaugh (strike eight)

French bureaucrats, I'm looking at you Vichy. (strike nine, pardoned)

Russians, Russians pretty much freak me out, part of this is due to being a bartender in the seat of the Russian mafia's outpost in the outer Richmond. But they are armed and dangerous in Versace. That, and portly, that, and they dont tip. (strike ten)

And I could go on, and the strikes would continue and I will surely be remaindered to a special section of hell, since I didn't even get to the tards (I jest, sort of). But I am trying to get to bed early so I am not hung over for the wedding tomorrow.

You know what I really hate, dress shoes and white socks, or tube socks in dress shoes. Oh yeah and, panty lines drive me fucking berserk, I get fixated on a bad panty line and my eyes clench like a bull dogs jaws. It's bad. When I finally shuffle off this mortal coil I'll be relegated to Dante's seventh circle of VPL when I only want to be in fag heaven, if only for one re-mixed disco song.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Driving Down Insouciance

There is a quarter moon low slung and grandiose on the edge of night tonight, and the stars glisten and the air is warm and October is nearly on the morrow.

And night windows are lit by lamplight and a passing silouhette.

Tonight we were celebrating an almost marriage, a mixed group in heels. Wine in shades, food in pomp, too much romesco and I fucking hate cooked carrots in any incarnation, too many flashes and too many photographs and constant reminder of how I hate myself in pictures. All of my imperfections enshrined in pixels and then there is all that weight to be lost.

Once upon a long time ago on a night like tonight when the quarter moon was skimming the headlands I thought that I just might be a little bit beautiful, not thought, believed. Once upon a time when I was twenty I might have foolishly believed that the world was my oyster and I was youthfully carefree enough to string my birthright at my leisure. Ah, life. And all of those saccharine indulgences, when you turn twice and get the shit kicked out of you for your trouble and for good measure have your heart extracted thrice from your chest, still beating and without anesthesia.

And then you sort of movie star wink to an omnicient camera and ten years have passed and you haven't been laid months and you are pooling in directions you thought not possible and laugh without mirth, because, blondie, the joke is one you.

How fast time has begun to race, gone are the days of whiling away the interminable summer days of a bookish girl spying on the boys deep in the forest with their sticks for guns. In these quick days I blink three times and two months have passed along with a season. And I stand reluctant and mouth agape amid the winter coats at Banana Republic gimping hither and thither like a great drunken fool despite my magnificent sobriety in the late afternoon. Tottering on my fragile ankle and giggling between courses from the depths of my evergreen soul.

So we might as well all be sunflowers pacing the sun on his firey sojourn, take a good look at homogenity, we all track the sun. Who was it who said "go west, young man" what do you do when you cant go anymore west than the sea, and when west is all you have ever known, when you have seen dawn rise in Manhattan and seen the sun expand drop and extinguish in the mighty, savage Pacific. I don't know my stars from contellations, but I know all about inky blackness, and I am well acquainted with the absence of love. Not the kind of sustaining love that radiates from the friends and family, the kind that makes your limbs function, I am talking about that kind when limbs disfunction, where joints and muscle are in disaccord, and everything is sugar powdered and volcanic and fraught. But I wouldn't know about that. I told D the other night that I might just sell my soul for a spark, and ember or even an unlit match. Yes, yes, there I've said it, my kingdom for an unlit match, all of the heavens and the contellations for an ounce of love, a tiny bit of respite in the rain of hard candy. Only connect, just like Forester says, if but for a fleeting nanosecond, a hungry moment, transluscent, incandescant candid desire.

I am nobody's fool and I know the odds. How do you think I got so good at being impermiably alone. Then again, everybody has an achilles heel.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Out in the business park, between the expensive cars shoveled into parking slots and the bright, glancing diamonds on the baylet flowing freely under the freeway, I had my afternoon cigarette. The priviledged Marin youth were crewing and dragging their oars, several snowy egrets balanced stoically on a single leg, and the swallows sang and skimmed the manicured lawns and emerald humming birds hummed in the hedge and it was bucolic save the north/south rumble of highway 101. And it was quiet but for the skittering of those heart wrenching augurs of darkness and rain, those lovely autumn leaves, dropping out of trees with suicidal abandon to clutter gutters. Several times within the tinted confines of my office I heard the landscape men, suited in forest green, fire up the leaf blower, and blow all those fucking leaves into oblivion. But where on earth do they blow to, and why must they trail those noxious clouds of spent gasoline.

My father used to go totally OCD on leaves, mind you, being a Californian, we have only a passing acquaintance with Autumn, it's more of a concept then a season, a cursory handshake between late summer and the earnest chill of November. Especially in San Francisco, since the only summer we ever know is indian summer, which seems to summarily dismissed all of us sun starved souls this year. But even in my golden foothills, most our trees are not diciduous, and most have needles in lieu of leaves, my father would be strapped into the blower, blowing all of those brittle needles into slipshod pyramids on either side of the drive.

And then there is the fragile dogwood, bare through all fall and winter, to tentatively unfurl in the first blush of spring in the first blush of pink, in all the brazen magesty of hyper-fetishized virginity. The blossoms bruise easily and drive chattering bluejays to distraction.

I had something to say before I got lost in the trees. But I suppose that if a girl were to run out of words on a Friday night being lost under the trees is not such a bad place to be. Laid out on the red dirt under the parched manzanita with the sun dried sweet tart berries. Sucking in your stomache in the shadow of a cypress. Writing haiku under a japanese maple. Feeling perfectly English at the trunk of a willow. Remembering history at the base of a redwood. The art of thirst with an acacia. Music and smoke with Mahogany, and all of those massive, matronly magnolias, everybodies grandma as a tree, weathering hurricanes and general chicanery and axes of we dogged parasites. I've got a favorite magnolia in the park, she's pretty fat and sassy and prone to blooming on a whim, I don't know why I insist on anthromorpwhatever - well you know what I mean.

So there is another hurricane coming, Rita. Rita conchita. Lovely Rita. We've all gone a little hurricane mad, I'm still not finished grieving a city I only know in literature and song, and it's people, and it's pets, and Southern Gothic and Spanish Moss and trees with well endowed branches, we (I) are all waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm all keyed up with doomsday prophesy, I am going all Cassandra on your collective asses, and FYI I have no water should an earthquake come tonight and I have got remind myself to start wearing pyjama's. No more naked in the 700 count sheets without the presence of a lover (ha!). I could run to the Panhandle but the heady, brittle Eucalyptus won't shield me, and my ragged, windswept californian pines could give a good solid goddamn.

But enough of trees and shallow allegory, I need the affordable luxury of a hot bath, and should cataclysm strike as the heat is leeching all of the malingering ill will that my muscles had memorized, let the the cieling cave quickly, or my reflexes be spritely and shoot out my front door like a naked, shameless canon. I am not a hundred percent sure that I could die easy knowing that my faith in hope had been one hundred percent misplaced, that's some mettle that I'd rather not have tested.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sea Saw

And then updside down again and round and round again, and adjectives and adverbs and history singing a rousing chorus, and in the absence of drugs and liquor , when the hour is waning and the work day looms, what can I do but praise all that water under the bridge, and all of the water spilling over the levees and all of the twelve foot deep lakes and all of the hurricane dreams in earthquake country, and the pain of tomorrow morning and the pure fire of atonement, and we atone and atone like polished obsidian, black and shiny and atone still. Burning and twirling, driving through man made ridges, where the earth falls to the sea so verily, so easily.

There, not far from the gables, next to the last hole, sun at my back, calamari at my front, date at my side, pelicans sleek in the headwinds, a wisp of fog here and a wisp of fog there, desultory tendrils lapping at my swollen ankle. And yet for all of me, I can't take his hand, and I am not going to drag him into the parking lot, because I am not fifteen anymore. But rather I drive north on one with the windows down, cliffs rising on my left, land falling to the sea on my right, striated dirt, wind in my hair, and the sweet momentum of driving everywhere fast.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Spurting Stangeness Everywhere

Sometimes the telephone is a conduit for time travel, one moment you might be chopping broccoli and in the next you are talking to a friend from long ago and faraway.

It happened to me twice tonight, which is strange because my phone never rings, stranger still was the lenghth. With few exceptions (hi! DW in Austin) I don't talk on the phone. My face and my eyes do a lot of my talking and they don't get much play on the telephone, also, I am prone to silence. Good listener, not such a good talker. A lot of that has to do with being exceedingly wary about what might fall out of my mouth, my Pandora's box, bats might fly out and such, that and being diligent about keeping the best and worst down. Secretive that way.

So the first call was surprising, hi DW in Austin!

And the second call was as well, until upon reflection I realized that your evil garden variety gnome was at work form of a high school girlfriend.

So there I was on Saturday, in my home town with my highschool posse. As I am the sole single childless lady the hens must cluck and scheme to get me wed and knocked up in short order. But goddamn if they don't work fast.

So we are arrayed in deck chairs with drinks and very small children screeching when Jah says, well J- is single. And in perfect Jah timing says he's perfect (beat) except for that skin thing. Right.

Once upon a time when I was fifteen going on sixteen I had sex in the hallway of Jah's parent's house with her older brother's best friend. I am not sure what I was thinking exactly except that I clearly was not, add to that the humiliation of being caught out by her parents on their way in (ahem, we had migrated to their bedroom) and you have a chapter only dimly remembered and subject to much razzing twenty years later.

So J- is single and perfect (beat) except for that skin condition - leprosy, gangrene? Still the best friend of one of my best friend's older brother and the evil hennish gnomes gave him my number and bade him to ring me and he did, tonight.


I have not spoken, nor thought (excepting ancedotal razzing) in 19 years, and it would seem that I have agreed to a date on sunday. I must be out of my fucking mind. Seriously. This is what happens when you cease to date for two years, your highschool girlfriends resort to setting you up with the boy you accidentally on purpose fucked in the hallway of your girlfriend's parent's house, and then got caught. Dear reader, I shit you not.

We reminisced for an hour and he kept asking me if I was still there and I couldn't quite explain that my eyebrows were working overtime and my cheeks were aflame.

So I will be driving south on sunday as he lives in C by the Sea, he offered to come to the City, but as I am only amenable to a lunch date I will meet him midway. Seems fair. He suggested the Ritz, I smiled inwardly and concurred.

Two things, how on earth to drop five pounds between now and Sunday and whatever shall I wear!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A grave lesson in apples and oranges

My house is dry, I feel empty.
Your city is soaked, teeming in emptiness.
We all have rodents.
My city is cold and damp, I've not broken a sweat in weeks.
Your city
is perfumed and rank, then again so is mine.
Your city
is bloated ghosts on street corners and the absence of rum. And the nameless and the dead clasping extinguished gas lights.
My city is hills rolling to the sea
Your city is roiling to the sea.
My city is on land fill
Your city is on wetland
Your city sits beneath a lake, a river and a sea. Your city sinks in metaphor as does mine, so let us clasp hands.

My city gazes upon the breakers, woe to us always looking down and never up.

Our cities together framing the cultural landscape from ocean to ocean, from inundated gulf to the slightly silver tinged lonesome shine of semi forgotten towns in half forgotten states across desolate landscapes, parselling out their meager pay checks to support an alien lifestyle, like we have, like we do, with particular northern stoicness, if that's a word and if it isn't too bad.

Your city is muddied, my city is blinded.

In your city, your fragile underbelly has flipped to the sky, seems your city might not be able to run from it's achilles heel. It's alright New Orleans, it's no better anywhere else, wouldn't be the first time that the poor would be referred to skittering cockroaches.

The extravagant myth of our cities is bachannal, and who on certain days could deny it, but on the other days when we hang stupified on the rungson the bus on the way to work, past the shunned and the cast off with their hands out and their permeating hunger, and the tourists, our life blood, our dollar riddled bane, with their gaping bellies full of bubba gump's shrimp dump, and the self congratualtory loving up the local merchants with their insatiable appetite for banal t-shirts.

In your city you have many more topless co-eds, but in my city we have way more gays.

So apples to oranges and oranges to apples , it would seem that the distance between us is not so great, hurricanes and earthquakes and earthquakes and hurricanes, but the sun will always melt over orange county over the indigents and the gays and we solid squalid, squaled blue denizens of the left coast.

But you in your city you get the best of both worlds, split between the sunrise and the sunset forever and not quite asleep waiting in twilight's swampy recesses for the lubricated ease of a big easy.

Your city might be the promised land, but my city is the promised end, and that is for anyone who has stood at ocean beach under a full moon and heard the ocean make lapping reproaches to the jagged end of the continental shelf.

Friday, September 02, 2005


What ever drivel leaked out of my mind and onto the page I would like to take back, partcularly anything about red states and the the wrath of God which I may have less than tacitly implied. In the age old battle of man v. nature will out, as she has proven time and again recklessly, dispassionately and dangerously. Then the rest of it is up to us, and whatever perogative of survival which compels us to rape and pillage at the dawn of lawlessness, to be king of the sewer rats, to surrender decorum and piss on the streets.

I am having a very hard time articulating the myriad of emotions, I can't quite reconcile anything that I see and read, it doesn't gel, it doesn't gestate, my middle class sense of justice is alternately appalled and offended, I have a tinkle of glee that this calamity, this catastrophe might be the mill stone around the neck of this administration. And Our Feckless Leader who so violated stone faced diplomacy be declaiming in his best red neck drawl that he was lookin' forward to his tour of the gulf, and later noted that he was lookin' forward to sittin' on Trent Lott's rebuilt verandah, and all those "good people" in "that part of the world" (read: poor and largley black) would have to suck it up, meanwhile Dennis Hastert was talking highway expansion in Illinois, Pat Robertson duct taped his trap shut, and Anderson Cooper lost his cool on CNN.

I feel we are on a sort of tipping point here and the sulfer is starting to smoulder, and it's not so much as Katrina who cut a gaping swath out of the gulf as it is that perhaps now we will be forced to take a good, cold, hard look race and class. How many americans are really ostriches and how many of us, myself included, will stick our heads in the dirt, because 600,000 of the poorest of the poor are coming to a city near you and how long will our charity last, just about as long until the next celebrity scandal, is New Orleans dead, or can it rise from the mud.

I am torn by turns, and sit helplessly in thrall of CNN pedaling to nowhere fast on the stationary bike at the gym, and even then the irony is not lost on me, and donated to the Red Cross and my employer generously matched. For those of you who work for financial institutions or large corporations do inquire after donation matching programs, many have them, or if they don't in times like this it behooves them to be harangued into being bullied, because it's really up to us, up to we the people, because our government in enslaved to partanship and paralysed by pork and with few execptions I think they all deserve a spit in a BBQ pit in Biloxi. Feed the fucking people, they are thirsty for blood.

We can't keep shifting them from stadium to stadium, think of all of those NFL dollars and advertsing budgets shot to shit by the blind man defecating next to the hot dog stand, think of the lice and the scabies and the lingering stench of vomit and a long lingering case of the heebeejeebees who slumped and died in your 150 dollar NFL seat, which child died of dysentary, what malignancy festers in that poisoned water.

What is going to become of us? Four years and a week shy after September 11th, life, love, death cycles on, and will and should and does day in and day out, from season to season, to cities of sand and cities of mold, from my skeleton to the exoskeleton of my city. And from my comfortable perch on a fault line I write, glass of wine within reach, lit cigarette in the ashtray, bathtub full of steamy, scented water a comfortable financial buffer between me and them, and a big empty. And then there is the water bloated, undignified corpse floating by in the too large t-shirt in the Big Easy. Comparison is futile.