I feel like I should re-learn to write/think/feel something else.  Or else bury it to put it to rest, deeply in the soil of my words.  Allow the 27 to fade/sprout/pale into 28...

For to beget flowers, perhaps?  For to forget the unmemory of it all, and to pretend once more?

Or if not in pretending, then as an unwilling witness, remembering again what it feels like to see.  To see something other than that thing - that thing she can't not see.

-L (12/10/12)

"We. Featuring the words of Arundhati Roy." (Revisited.)

The grief is still deep. The rage still sharp. The tears have not dried. And a strange, deadly war is raging around the world. Yet, each person who has lost a loved one surely knows secretly, deeply, that no war, no act of revenge, no daisy-cutters dropped on someone else's loved ones or someone else's children, will blunt the edges of their pain or bring their own loved ones back. War cannot avenge those who have died. War is only a brutal desecration of their memory.
It's not a clever-enough subject to speak of from a public platform, but what I would really love to talk to you about is loss. Loss and losing. Grief, failure, brokenness, numbness, uncertainty, fear, the death of feeling, the death of dreaming. The absolute relentless, endless, habitual, unfairness of the world. What does loss mean to individuals? What does it mean to whole cultures, whole people who have learned to live with it as a constant companion?
Another world is not only possible, she's on her way. Maybe many of us won't be here to greet her, but on a quiet day, if I listen very carefully, I can hear her breathing.

(From Come September, by Arundhati Roy.)


Just in case you missed it the first time.

-L (11/10/12)



Two years today.  Two years too late.  "I'm sorry but you missed her, Mr. Mystery to me.  How lost you seem to be."  This year, like last year.  None like the year before.  Everything, being changed now - and then what happened next.

Rather than fading or dulling or making sense, my missing you has become an empty thing, hungry like nothing living is.  No memories seem able to fill it.  And how limited they are, from the very get go.  Sometimes I have to not look at them at all, knowing this well that they do not look back.

I'm sorry that I'm not lighter by now.  I'm sorry that I've yet to let your sweet life make up for your bitter death, here in my own broken heart.  So many things have happened that I'd like to share with you.  But also, no time has passed at all.  It's like you took it with you.

Every day I love you more.  Everything feels exactly the same, and is altogether different.

"Still here.  Still loving you more than life."

<3, -Sister


[How she's just gone.  How her absence rings truer in the presence of the context in which she belongs.]

[How the loneliness of missing her is compounded by the fact
that she was the person in this life who would have been able to lighten it.]

[How the places that comforted morph into reminders.]

[How the line between love-for-love and love-for-purpose is drawn
with as many peaks and descents as a machine upon which a life is measured.]

[While the living life still lives.  Even if only slightly.]

[-L (9/10/12)] 

"Out west is the only sky that's blue. So tell Katie that I'll see her soon."

That Much Further West (4:27)
by: Lucero

I tried but I can't run no more.
So tell Katie it's her that I adore.
As long as I love her best,
I'm that much further west.

And since she's been gone,
I've done less right than I've done wrong.
But I ain't that much worse than the rest,
just that much further west.

And the boys, they don't need my help.
They can play these songs by themselves.
Well I ain't that much worse than the rest,
just that much further west.

Out west is the only sky that's blue.
So tell Katie that I'll see her soon.
'Til then the thoughts that I have left,
are that much further west.

-L (8/10/12)

"We cannot relinquish butterflies and return to uninterrupted road." -A.L.

Birthday number twenty-eight.  And three days from taking the bar exam.  Not the most mixable of substances, but we're pulling it off anyway, nonetheless.  Not that time gives us much of an option in the matter.

Things like the essays in this book help: http://www.scribd.com/doc/93144782/Things-That-Are-Essays-by-Amy-Leach

As do sunset sailing trips, and celebratory supportive words, and demonstrative love coming from (almost) all directions of our life.  And books, too.  Lots of books.  (Books that aren't legal treatises.)  Promising themselves to us - in now less than five days and counting...

Counting down to being fully present again.  Maybe you'll notice when it happens.  Maybe you won't.  Maybe I can say the same about me.

And maybe we'll just have to wait and see.

-L (7/21/2012)


[One year and nine months later, and today I found myself faking an exam, taking a risk, and getting a re-taste of perspective.]

[I went to my sibling grief group tonight. And A, who doesn't say too much, said this - speaking of her brother, dead at 14: "He missed everything. Everything. All the milestones. So then you just live them alone..."]

[Her voice breaking, right alongside my heart. It fell/twisted/pumped with understanding. Long after his had stopped beating.]

[She was 16 at the time. Seven years later, and her oft-held back tears flowed now just as freely, knowing what she knew. What she wished she didn't. Like how to this day, she said, she'd never been able to picture him as an adult. Or how her parents' ugly divorce had just kept right on going, even right after...]

[The sun this afternoon felt like it had a hot bone to pick with someone, and ignited all who dared cross its crosshairs. Was it you there? There behind the heat? I'd like to think that only your rage would deserve to burn so brightly.]

[-L (7/10/12)]

In considering acceptance. And Sugar says...

"Dear Sugar,

I’m transgender. Born female 28 years ago, I knew I was meant to be male for as long as I can remember. I had the usual painful childhood and adolescence in a smallish town because I was different—picked on by other kids, misunderstood by my (basically loving) family. Seven years ago I told my mom and dad I intended to have a sex change. They were furious and disturbed by my news. They pretty much said the worst things you can imagine anyone saying to another human being, especially if that human being is your child.

I cut off ties with my parents and moved to the city where I live now and made a new life living as a man. I have friends and romance in my life. I love my job. I’m happy with who I’ve become and the life I’ve made. It’s like I’ve created an island far away and safe from my past. I like it that way.

A couple weeks ago, after years of no contact, I got an email from my parents that blew my mind. They apologized for how they’d responded when I told them about my plans for a sex change. They said they were sorry they never understood and now they do—or at least enough that we could have a relationship again. They said they miss me and they love me.

Sugar, they want me back.

I cried like crazy and that surprised me. I know this might sound odd, but I believed I didn’t love my parents anymore or at least my love had become abstract, since they had rejected me and because we’ve not been in touch. But when I got that email a lot of emotions that I thought were dead came back to life.

This scares me. I have made it because I’m tough. I’m an orphan, but I was doing great without my parents. Do I cave and forgive them and get back in touch and even go visit them as they have asked me to do? Or do I email them and say thank you, but letting you back into my life is out of the question, given our past?

I know what you’re going to say, Sugar. I read your column. But I need you to say it to me.


"Dear Orphan,

Please forgive your parents, sweet pea. Not for them. For you. You’ve earned the next thing that will happen if you do. You’ve remade yourself already. You and your mom and dad can remake this too—the new era in which they are finally capable of loving the real you. Let them. Love them back. See how that feels.

What they did to you seven years ago is terrible. They now know that. They’re sorry. They’ve grown and changed and come to understand things that confounded them before. Refusing to accept them for the people they’ve become over these years of your estrangement isn’t all that different from them refusing to accept you for who you are. It’s fear-based and punishing. It’s weak rather than tough.

You’re tough. You’ve had to ask impossible questions, endure humiliations, suffer internal conflicts and redefine your life in ways that most people don’t and can’t even imagine. But you know what?

So have your parents. They had a girl child who became what they didn’t expect. They were cruel and small when you needed them most, but only because they were drowning in their own fear and ignorance.

They aren’t drowning anymore. It took them seven years, but they swam to shore. They have arrived at last on your island.

Welcome them.



(Sometimes I think this is the most beautiful thing ever written.)

-L (6/27/12)

Mental Meanderings & Such

What all, what all...? Graduated law school, now on to the Bar. (If only that meant what it might have meant.)

Meanwhile, M is leaving for Amsterdam and then Switzerland as of the day after tomorrow, to be gone for the next 4+ months. Not much to be done there. We've decided to call it a break-up, since god only knows when he's coming back -- and by the time he does, I'll most likely have disappeared to L.A. (Hard as it is to imagine now, but 5 years and 4 months later, and that's apparently that.)

This week I filled the two empty rooms of our house with roommates -- including the room M and I had been sharing. For the rest of the summer, I'm officially bunking down with Ms. T. (And for the record, I'm still telling myself that this is a good idea. So don't ask.) What's this mean for Bar study? A brief plummet to an unforgivably low production rate, at the moment. But I'm also still telling myself that this will change for the best during this upcoming week, when every lovely little distraction in my life shall be sadly stricken from the record, leaving nothing but myself and my brightly colored Barbri books behind. And only one thing left to talk about.

Also, I started a bi-monthly sibling grief group. Strange meanderings, this be. I skipped the first meeting due to its falling on the same night as the very last exam of my short-lived law school career. Have since attended the two others. Not sure how I feel about being on the receiving end of a support group yet. Strangely enough, I'm experiencing some friction with the older of the two co-facilitators. 'Strange' because I never have friction with strangers...and especially in this context. Or else, maybe it's the context that explains it?

At any rate, RoboB0b released the Alpha version of Gnomoria to the public, two days ago. (!!!) He's been working on it full-time and nearly non-stop for the past eleven months. I'm so excited for him, and I relish every positive word the world casually tosses his way. So much so that between this, my house's new living situation, and M's impending departure, I've been more or less useless in every other imaginable way...

Of course, it's also the 10th today. Meaning that we're now at 1 year and 8 months, to the day. Not much to say, except that I never have much to say on these indelible days. (Though these attempts shall I continue to make.) The 10th burned into my psyche, like a fire dancer burns symmetrical shapes into the darkness. No thought to atonement.

I started a more stable site to store her beloved, now forever limited memories -- but have yet to return to finish the migration from 1,000 Memories, what with everything going on. So I wouldn't have got much done today either way, is what I'm saying. Even without the temptation of ephemeral distractions. And aren't they all?

-L (6/10/12)

"You learn to live on less."

The Crow
by: Dessa

That old crow came back today.
Sitting in my window, like a prophet,
out on the fire escape to say,
"Anger is just love, left out, gone to vinegar."
You wake up a stranger to yourself
and then you learn to live with her.
Sit in her clothing 'til you fill out her figure.

You know life's no bella telanovela,
the tightrope bows with your weight in the center.
The slide show, don't put all the pictures together.
You try to do it right though,
right though, until you let the kite go.
Death and romance, the riddles of our lifetimes.
Tryna get a slow dance, middle of a knife fight --
you get up and you, you give blood,
even on a good night. Even on a good night out.

You send signal, you listen for an echo,
and at the first splinters you run to tell Geppetto.
And in the worst winters the whole thing feels untenable.
Crow took me by the shoulder
and he told me, "Honey, don't let go."

Nobody fears the height, you all just fear the fall.
Go up to the edge some time
and prove your body wrong.
You land badly, but you crash standing.
You land badly, but you crash...

He took me to the workshop,
showed me where they built the bodies.
A blacksmith, a mason, a carpenter.
And in the darkroom, where the whole assembly started,
all the clothesline where the hearts hung to harden.
You come as fragile, soft machines,
and you're bound too fast, you're bound to grieve.
But you're built to balance on two feet,
so why you living this last year from your knees?

"Oh, please put me down again."

I know you lost a bet,
you had to catch your breath,
but when the worst relents
you learn to live on less.
You learn to live on less.
You learn to live on less.

You duck some, you take some square.
Your luck runs out, you're there in midair.
And when the big one comes
you'll know by the snare roll --
you can be too careful,
ignore all the scarecrows.

Time flies like the crow does,
no regard for the grid.
I can't ask you to show love,
but would it kill you if you did?

Nobody fears the height, you all just fear the fall.
Go up to the edge some time
and prove your body wrong.
You land badly, but you crash standing.
You land badly, but you crash...

-L (5/10/12)


[Learning how to live with death is like learning a new language. It's a lesson in immersion. One must use every medium to get herself there -- that is, to the place she's now living -- and to do it consciously. Deliberately.]

[It's true that the language of death feels awkward on the tongue, sounds ostracizing to the ear. But even when you're in a place that's surrounded by strangers and ghosts, time plays the game of familiarizing, even with you.]

[Now all songs you hear sing it; all sights you see show it; all words you read say it; everything you feel tells it. Somehow it's happened, and suddenly you're fluent in a foreign language. And looking around you notice, now you're the foreigner.]

[-L (5/3/12)]

"Happy Katie's birthday."


I've lost your pink pen somehow.  Sometime during the last move.  I'm using the small silver one now, with "The Ritz-Carlton" written along the side.  The one I ended up with after your memorial -- our celebration of your life -- from the hotel where we'd held it.  I live in fear that the ink will run out; this is only the second time I've ever used it, here a year-and-a-half and seventeen days after your death.

"Your death."  So wrong.  Still.  I keep envisioning the following exchange: "How are you today?"  "Okay.  Just a little sad since it's my sister's birthday."  "Why should your sister's birthday make you sad?"  "Because my sister's dead."   ("... Oh.  I'm sorry.")  I'm not sure how to avoid both this scenario, and also the alternative, which would be me not mentioning it at all.  So instead, I've set a little red blanket out in the back corner of the yard, and am lying here in the intense sun with its occasional breathy breeze, writing to you.  Thinking about you.  "Not forgetting."  I've set-up that water-stained, not too old photo of you to my right, in my line of sight, and am listening to the songs which have by default and best guess become yours.  I'm wearing clothes you gave me, which I can remember you once wearing yourself, and am drinking air-cooled, sun-warmed morning coffee.  Trying my hand at allowance.  Faking it 'til I make it.

(A spider just crawled up from the grass onto my leg and paused to cackle at me.  Then she sped back off again.)

Sometimes I feel misunderstood.  Which is typical of me; of anyone, really.  The sadness in it only strikes at me now when immediately following this not-so-new feeling, I begin to feel with an awful new certainty that you would have understood.  My eyes tear up to attest to the truth of this, because I miss you so much as it is...  Why'd you have to be so utterly irreplaceable?  To leave me feeling so suddenly sister-less, so much of the time; like an irredeemable tragedy before we even got started.  You know the kind.  The kind that began as a fairy tale, making the dark twist of an ending that much more impossible, and altogether disturbing.  And yes, tragic... 

But of course, this is the story where I play the lead.  So what about your story?  Jake texted this morning to all of us, "Happy Katie's birthday."  23, would be.  (Should be.  Still not over that old resentment of mine.)  "Your life was 21 years long."  Your beautiful life... 21 years long.  (For better or worse.)  But I wish I knew how your death is treating you.  Especially on the day that marks your sweet birth.

(Later I will run along one of our beaches with Sierra; buy you pink and white balloons; Skype with our little nephew and most of our brothers; cut the crook of my finger while cutting a mini cake that should have been for you; and release a bright orange-colored Sky Lantern into the California night sky.  On it read the generic but almost fitting inscription, "In Memory Of ______.  In memory of those who have left us, may this light rise to the heavens to shine with you through all eternity."  And then this, of course.  A place for the hopes we had.)

Happy birthday, beautiful girl.  Our well-loved, and greatly-missed, little sister.  <3 <3 <3

-L (4/27/12)

"When I'm at the pearly gates, this'll be on my videotape...."

"This is one for the good days,
and I have it all here
in red blue green,
in red blue green."

[A year-and-a-half today.]

"You are my center when I spin away.
Out of control
on videotape,
on videotape."

[And the month of your birthday.]

"This is my way of saying goodbye...
Because I can't do it face to face,
I'm talking to you after it's too late."

[What should have been 23.]

"No matter what happens now
I shouldn't be afraid, because I know today
has been the most perfect day
I've ever seen."

[Now just a song I can't stop playing.]

-L (4/10/12)

"And then one day they were done worshipping the landscape, and they just put down their hands, and moved into the sky."

Soft Shoulder
by: Ani DiFranco

I don't keep much stuff around.
I value my portability.
But I will say that I have saved
every letter you ever wrote to me.
The one you left on my windshield
outside of that little motel,
is in the pocket of my old gig bag
from back when life was more soft-shelled.

Letters littered with little lewd pictures,
drawn by the ghost of Woddy Guthrie,
who would use your big thick hand
just to draw one two for me...

And I think of your letters as love letters,
which is how I think of songs,
in that it is the writing of them
that tend to carry us along.
And I dance to one of your old tunes
with my true love on our wedding day.
And your voice sang the way my heart would sing,
if it finally knew just what to say.

Two people pulled over on the same night
to look up at the same stars.
And they both found their wheels were spinning
in a soft shoulder when they
both got back into their cars.
And they missed fate's appointed rendezvous,
and then a whole lotta time went by.
And then one day they were done
worshipping the landscape,
and they just put down their hands,
and moved into the sky.

And they had barely said 'hello'
and it was time to say 'goodbye'.

-L (3/21/12)

The Battle of March 10th, 2012: An Unlikely Tribute (Part II)


When Mr. Blackshirt-Asshole-Raucous-Friend-#4 stumbled slowly back up from ground to knees to bent-over-hands-on-thighs once he'd finally climbed to his feet, his friends swooped down on him - half-checking-up, half-coat-checking him, to keep him from doing anything additionally stupid. That is, all of his friends but one. My very own biggest fan, Mr. Hippy-Ass-Skank-Steeze, instead ran back up to me and R.  We'd caught up with M by then and completed our own - albeit more righteous - friend-check

Mr. h.A.S.S. got my attention by coming up to stand directly in front of me, then took hold of my hands and stared beseechingly into my eyes... and proceeded to grovel. (So bizarre, right?! I know it's wrong and totally biased of me, but I was starting to suspect him a Gemini. =P)  He says to me, "Hey, listen, listen, listen, I'm so sorry, okay? I take back everything I just said, please accept my deepest apologies. We're drunk and I didn't mean any of it, let's just be cool. Okay? Please just forgive me, okay? I swear we won't let our friend do anything else.  He's just really drunk, he doesn't even know what he's doing. I'm sorry for everything I said, okay? Will you please forgive me and forget all about this? We're so sorry for everything, okay?"  And so on and so forth.

At this point Friends #1 & #2 had come up to us as well, basically agreeing with everything Mr. h.A.S.S. was spouting (and to be fair, neither of them looked much like heavy-weight fighters so much as weepy lovers, to begin with), and I think we were all just kinda reeling after this bi-polar-like shift in events, anyway.  As a matter of fact, the only one arguably consistent in sentiment was Mr. B.A.R.F. himself, who even now strained with drunken half-heartedness against the first tree-peeing guy's hands, as the second held the first back from charging R, who stood beside me.

Seeing this sudden transference of directed aggression, R piped up and said loudly to Mr. h.A.S.S., "Look, even now your friend's trying to attack us! Swear on your honor that this is really over, and walk away. Swear on your honor that you'll calm him the fuck down and get him the fuck outta here, and we'll be done, too."

Mr. h.A.S.S.: "I swear it on my honor! I give you my honor. He's not gonna do anything, okay? We're leaving now, okay? My deepest apologies. Have a wonderful rest of your night, you guys."

Still half-shocked and with adrenaline a-pumping, nonetheless I do my best to take it in stride and firmly shake his hand after I nod my head in acquiescence. Again, pointedly looking at the single female friend who's finally starting to de-panic a bit now, I tell them back, "Deal.  You guys have a good rest of your night, too, okay? BE SAFE. Stay outta jail tonight, okay? Seriously. Be safe. Have a good night."

And we back away without turning around.  And they do the same.  And then we all turn our backs to each other and go our separate ways: us heading back to the hostel; them to wherever their fates might lead them.

After a few strides a cop car pulls up to the intersection of the street that'd we just moments before been standing in the middle of with our new-found enemy-friends. Immediately M runs up and starts explaining how Mr. B.A.R.F. had just chased and assaulted him, etc.

Now, to be fair, M was the only one of us who'd just had his physical safety most directly threatened, and true, he wasn't exactly privy to the truce we'd just made with Mr. h.A.S.S. as representative for Mr. B.A.R.F. & co. But nonetheless, a truce we had made, and cops certainly played no part in our acceptance of their apology. With all this weird honor-y stuff swimming around in my head, I run up to where M is heatedly making his case into the window of the paused police cruiser, which carried two seriously hesitant police officers. As I walked up one of them glanced at me and asked us collectively, "Have you guys been drinking tonight?"

I replied, "We had two beers between the two of us all night. We're not drunk, but they certainly were. Nonetheless, everything's fine now. We worked it out, no one got hurt, and we're from out of town, anyway, so we won't even be around by tomorrow. So thanks for stopping but it's all good now." Although I'm not entirely sure why, I could see relief in their eyes as though I was letting them off the hook somehow.

M clearly didn't want 'that to be that', and he'd yet to catch up to my 'let bygones be bygones' attitude.  But he accepted it, and with grace.  Mostly because when he tried appealing to the cops one more time, one of them responded with something to the effect of, "But y'all are going your separate ways now, right?   So then the situation's resolved, sounds like..."

And so M and I returned to where R stood waiting for us on the sidewalk of the intersection, and we continued our short pedestrian journey back to the sleepy little hostel we'd booked the morning before.

Our minds and emotions and bodies buzzed with the unusually heightened level of excitement they'd just been exposed to, and it was hard to fall asleep that night. We verbally replayed the experience to each other and to ourselves, analyzing each move and word and counter-action we'd felt and seen and acted upon. Shit like whatall went down that night, definitely makes a soul stop to consider... just about everything. And especially that which comprises human nature: our own or "the other," in many ways really just the same, differently colored.

(Anyway, that there's one way to ring in the 10th. Of course, if I were pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty Katie Sue, I'd probably have left some bloody lips behind me, rather than just bruised egos. But then, that's just one more reason to miss her. And heaven knows we already have too many.)

-L (3/18/12)

The Battle of March 10th, 2012: An Unlikely Tribute (Part I)

"Woah, look who's circumcised," M wise-cracked to some guy pissing on a tree as we strolled down the warm downtown pavement of San Luis Obispo after midnight. It was Friday night and the streets were crowded with excessively well-dressed college students and non-collegiate twenty-somethings, teeter-tottering all over town, and the cowboys and marines were out in abundance.

A few steps later and we realized that the guy to whom Mike had commented, hadn't quite liked being commented-to. "What'd you say, faggot?! Wanna come back and say that to my face? My pants are zipped-up now, so come on back here!"

The guy had a relatively slight-build and was hardly taller than my own 5'7, and since he seemed to have some friends around I wrote his comments off to saving-face, trying to ignore their loathsome content. Glancing back but without stopping I spoke up before anyone else could and called back, "Hey don't worry about it, he pees on trees all the time! We got nothing but love for you over here! He was just kidding; have a good night."

Unfortunately, the dude ignored me and continued to catcall M. After about five more seconds of the taunts he said something extra douchey (god-knows-what exactly, now) and both R and I turned back simultaneously because it was suddenly not okay to still be walking away. Admittedly a little pissed-off by now -- mostly because this was the second all-balls-out, proud-to-be-an-asshole, hyped-up-on-testosterone-type-brain-damaged dude of the night -- still my plan was to diffuse the situation, thinking I could do this by calling the guy on his challenge in a de-railing sort of way, since it wasn't exactly me he was inviting.

So I turned back around. And I started strutting back to him. Half-grinning and using a faux-masculine voice, I hit my chest with my hands as I walked toward him and announced, "What? You think you can take me? I'll take you right now, unless you're scared to hit a girl, huh?!"

I could see it in his eyes as I performed my little diversion, trying to break the ice-cold tension in the suddenly-not-so-warm air: a flicker of doubt as his eyes shifted to me, back to M and R, and then to me again. Before he could say anything in response, two of his friends stepped up to his confused defense and started to tell me not to mess. One was a pretty worried looking, cute girl; the other was a tall, blonde guy who was either sneering or smiling, depending upon the angle - I'm not even sure he knew the difference.

The worried girl started to say something to the effect of, "Listen, please don't make this an issue," to which I smiled a bit bewilderedly and replied with something to the effect back of, "Hey, I just wanted to lighten up the situation. Your friend was making it an issue; I was just trying to diffuse it..." But then out of far right field came Ultra-Douche-Bag-Friend-#3.

Like the tree-pissing-guy this one was only about my height as well, or maybe just a bit taller, but he had a much broader chest and shoulders. Looked like a gym-junkie with a buzz-cut and reeked of alcohol and military-affiliation. (Not that military-affiliation necessarily has to reek, but in this case it certainly did just that.) This guy stepped-up for real, and shit got real serious, real fast.

"Why don't you and your hippy-ass friends turn the fuck around and get the fuck back out of town, you long-haired, hippy-ass skank! You're not welcome here, you ugly hippy bitch! So step down, stop antagonizing, and get the fuck outta here!" And so on and so forth. Rather than coming up with more material, the drunken grunt just kept up with more of the same, clearly being used to intimidate folks into submission with his size and volume. Instead, feeling the shift in the air turn to serious, and hearing the change in the conversation turn into a challenge that just became impossible to laugh off, my body went still and my ears began to buzz.

Half-incredulous, half-deadly sure of myself, I stayed exactly where I was even when the dude got too close, and I stared into his eyes until he stopped talking. When he did, I said without raising my voice, "Are you fucking kidding me? Antagonizing? Your friend runs his mouth and when we try to make light of it you start talking shit like we're the ones turning this into a fight? So if it's a fight now, then quit talking shit and hit me already. I dare you. Go ahead. I'm a domestic violence lawyer; I see pieces of shit like you everyday. Go ahead, do it. I'll take your ass to court so fucking fast--"

Frankly, I don't even know where I was going with that line of discourse; what I do know is that at that point I absolutely wanted him to hit me, but I also knew that he wouldn't. Because his rage was pretend, and mine was all-too-real. I wanted him to ride out his stupid, pretend rage, so that I could then destroy his real life after the fact, in the real world, and put an end to his stupid game. It's not okay to be an asshole indefinitely, or to get your way at all costs to anyone else; he'd figure that out one day, might as well be tonight, right?

But then, there was a reason I stopped talking. Out of the corner of my eye, the very last friend, who I'd been totally unaware of up until that point, came out of the woodwork. This one was tall and barrel-chested and so drunk that he could no longer walk in a straight line - assuming this was ever a strong point. Without saying a single word, he up-and-charged M, who was still standing just a bit behind me with R.

Apparently M was less surprised by this turn of events than anyone else, however, because he turned around and booked it, and the chase was on. All along every one of the leftover friends - even my personal favorite, Mr. Hippy-Ass-Skank-Steeze - were calling out to the drunken charger to stop, and R turned and ran after M and Mr. Blackshirt-Asshole-Raucous-Friend-#4.

Still not totally out of my first movie, I started to follow R, but not before turning back to my original assailant and the others to reiterate, "Oh yeah? And now your friend is fucking chasing my boyfriend?! Who's antagonizing now, huh? Now who's being the fucking aggressor?" and addressing the now-altogether-terrified and only other female present, I said with genuine frustration, "What the fuck are you hanging out with these assholes for?" And then I turned around again to run to where the chase had been happening, but had just prematurely ended with the drunk guy running hard into two different poles - which M had almost casually weaved around - before falling into the street with a bloody nose and god knows what else...


-L (3/10/12)

A Luncheon Adventure

Your locket falls open again.  I close it absent-mindedly; half-heartedly.  Feeling traitorous.

Yesterday I was in Berkeley proper, eating a late lunch with a by now old friend.  Afterward, the car I half-inherited from Grandma broke down, gently and anticlimactically, on the side of a lolling suburb street.  This is the car Dad insisted that I trade for with Uncle Rick, to swap my hardy 300,000 miles for his measly 30,000.  Sounded reasonable, sad as I was to see my old truck go.

And of course, how could I say 'no' to Dad, after what happened to you?  When his only interest was in keeping his last daughter safe.  (As if we have nearly as much control over this variable as we'd like to think...)

At any rate, Grandma's car pretended to be out of gas, and refused to go any further.  We tried to persuade the engine to turn over for us and fire up, but refuse it did, until I began to worry that I'd exhaust the battery by keeping it up, and make my friend late for work in the mean time.  So instead, he walked the 11-minute, 0.6-mile trek back to work before being too late, and I got to wander around in the wrong direction, in search of a gas station with a red-plastic gas can in hand.  Forty minutes and a few miles later I was there and back again, and between a quart of oil and a gallon of gas, this time she fired right up.

The silly thing is that when I drove back to Valero to fill up the tank in earnest, it was only a bit over half-empty -- exactly as the odometer had indicated to begin with.  I should have had another 100 miles or so before running out of fuel.  So, as to why Grandma's car decided to stop cooperating without any provocation, whether for reasons relating to a faulty fuel pump or the fiddling fates, know I do not.  But I have faith in nothing, if not in you, so I'm operating under the assumption that this seemingly needless detour was in fact needful, and good.

For throughout it all, your touch on everything: your sweet face in the locket, refusing to stay hidden; the amount-per-gallon of gas, set at $4.27;  10:10, the time the clock read when I turned on the car that morning, frankly reminding me.  As though I could ever forget.

All said and done, the long ride home was quiet, filled mostly with thoughts of you.

-L (3/4/12)

In thinking of her sister.

by: Joanna Newsom

The meadowlark and the chim-choo-ree and the sparrow,
set to the sky in a flying spree, for the sport of the pharaoh.
A little while later the Pharisees dragged a comb through the meadow.
Do you remember what they called up to you and me, in our window?

There is a rusty light on the pines tonight
sun pouring wine, lord, or marrow,
into the bones of the birches
and the spires of the churches
jutting out from the shadows.
The yoke and the ax, and the old smokestacks, and the bale and the barrow,
and everything sloped like it was dragged from a rope
in the mouth of the south below.

We've seen those mountains kneeling, felten(?) and gray.
We thought our very hearts would up and melt away.
From the snow in the nighttime,
just going
and going.
And the stirring of wind chimes,
in the morning,
in the morning.
Helps me find my way back in,
from the place where I have been.

And, Emily, I saw you last night by the river.
I dreamed you were skipping little stones across the surface of the water.
Frowning at the angle where they were lost and slipped under forever,
in a mud-cloud, mica-spangled, like the sky'd been breathing on a mirror.

Anyhow, I sat by your side, by the water.
You taught me the names of the stars overhead that I wrote down in my ledger.
Though all I knew of the rote universe were those Pleiades loosed in December,
I promised you I'd set them to verse so I'd always remember...

That the meteorite is a source of the light
and the meteor's just what we see.
And the meteoroid is a stone that's devoid of the fire that propelled it to thee.

And the meteorite's just what causes the light
and the meteor's how it's perceived.
And the meteoroid's a bone thrown from the void that lies quiet in offering to thee.

You came and lay a cold compress upon the mess I'm in.
Threw the windows wide and cried, "Amen, amen, amen!"
The whole world stopped to hear you hollering,
and you looked down and saw now what was happening.

The lines are fading in my kingdom,
though I have never known the way to border them in.
So the muddy mouths of baboons and sows and the grouse and the horse and the hen,
grope at the gate of the looming lake that was once a tidy pen.
And the mail is late and the great estates are not lit from within.
The talk in town's becoming downright sickening.

In due time we will see the far buttes lit by a flare.
I've seen your bravery and I will follow you there.
And row through the nighttime,
so healthy,
gone healthy all of a sudden.
In search of the midwife
who can help me,
who can help me.
Help me find my way back in.
And there are worries where I've been.

And say, say, say in the lee of the bay, "Don't be bothered.
Leave your troubles here where the tugboats shear the water from the water."
(Flanked by furrows, curling back, like a match held up to a newspaper.)

Emily, they'll follow your lead by the letter.
And I make this claim, and I'm not ashamed to say I knew you better:
what they've seen is just a beam of your sun that banishes winter.

Let us go, though we know it's a hopeless endeavor!
The ties that bind, they are barbed and spined and hold us close forever.

Though there is nothing that would help me come to grips with a sky that is gaping and yawning.
There is a song I woke with on my lips as you sailed your great ship towards the morning.

Come on home, the poppies are all grown knee-deep by now.
Blossoms all have fallen, and the pollen ruins the plow.
Peonies nod in the breeze and while they wetly bow
with hydrocephalitic listlessness, ants mop up their brow.

And everything with wings is restless, aimless, drunk and dour.
Butterflies and birds collide at hot, ungodly hours.
And my clay-colored motherlessness rangily reclines,
come on home, now, all my bones are dolorous with vines!

Pa pointed out to me, for the hundredth time tonight,
the way the ladle leads to a dirt-red bullet of light.
Squint skyward and listen,
loving him, we move within his borders.
Just asterisms in the stars' set order.

We could stand for a century,
with our heads cocked,
in the broad daylight at this thing.
Joy.  Landlocked
in bodies that don't keep.
with the sweetness of being,
'til we don't be.

Told take this
and eat this.
Told the meteorite is the source of the light
and the meteor's just what we see.
And the meteoroid is a stone that's devoid of the fire that propelled it to thee.

And the meteorite's just what causes the light
and the meteor's how it's perceived.
And the meteoroid's a bone thrown from the void that lies quiet in offering to thee...

-L (2/10/12)

III. He exhaled his brewing anger, trying to let it leave him.

He'd been working on his patience.  He'd been working off his pride.  But he hated her being right about him.

Trying to let it go, he began, "Okay.  The way this conversation just went, I guess we both know by now that we're coming to our end.   You know?  It's just...we've been going different directions lately.  I've decided we should make it official."

"Ha!" she laughed bitterly, now despite herself.  "You've 'decided to make it official'?  You mean, the fact that you're leaving because I'm still grieving, and you're over it?  Rad.  How magnanimous of you, dude.  Well let's then.  'Make it official.'  We can start with you getting the fuck out of my shop.  How's that for official?"

By now her voice had risen in anger.  She was pacing the limited floor space unconsciously as she spoke, and had absent-mindedly turned the lock on the front door entrance to engaged, as well as the sign hanging from it to "Closed."  Locking them both in out of habit, despite what she was saying.  That freezing her from a moment ago he still couldn't handle; this boiling version he could.  Almost blind-folded by now.  Even with his hands tied.

He walked to her then and positioned his body directly in her orbital path.  She nearly ran into his chest before she realized he was standing there, and her instant hesitation was enough for him to infiltrate and redirect her quick-breathed pounding heart by wrapping his arms around her and pulling her tightly against him.  She didn't even struggle this time.  Just tightened for a moment before letting herself fall into him.  Not wrapping her arms back around him, of course, but no longer fighting either.

He wondered how it was possible to know someone so well, and still be able to let that person go.  Love or not, really being beside the point.  He supposed he'd find out before long.  He supposed they both would.

-L (2/5/12)

II. And when he went the wind called him on his game.

The narrow beige leaves fell insistent on his shoulders, called by the persuasive gust.  He nearly turned back.  Maybe he should have.

Too late.  Indie came out of the shop saluted by a jingling bell atop the door.  Her smile was bright; her eyes were guarded.  As  defensive as she always seemed to be, now.  She gave a slight wave of hand inviting him to join her inside, then slipped back in again without waiting for him to respond.  He followed her through the jingling door.

The bookshop gave off the appearance of having just been born, as it always did.  Stacks of books on the ground piled as high as his waist, ranged from classic literature ever-more-real-than-life, to stranger-than-fiction nonfiction.  Indie picked each one by hand, and the endeavor had gradually become her entire existence during the past year-and-a-half.   That's why he was here, really.  Because she was different.

"I know why you're here," Indie announced suddenly, default smile gone.  Her tone already sounded spiteful.  Deadened.  Resentful.  Maybe rightfully so.

"Is that right?" he answered automatically, already feeling defensive.  This is why he had to do it.  He hated it when she challenged him so pointedly like that.  It felt too dramatic.  Almost embarrassing.  And he resented her right back, for doing that to her otherwise lovely voice.

"Yes.  You've been sitting on that park bench across the street, staring at my shop all morning.  You've been steeling yourself.  Why else?"

"You tell me," he replied, annoyed despite himself.  Despite the whole morning he'd spent preparing himself against it, as she noted.

"No.  Let's just call this one your fight, shall we?"

"So we're fighting now, are we?" he shot back.

"Mitch, please.  Just tell me why you're here.  Let's just get this over with.  Please."

-L (2/1/12)

All rise for the vacancy.

The house across the street is vacant now. It's viiisible... Gone. Viiisible... Gone as she watches its image fluttering over the roof of her own house, jumping on the oversize trampoline in the back yard. She expects that it's forlorn enough to be gathered up and scattered by the wind, after all that it had and had lost - but it just sits there, steady as nothing is.

It is an atrocious house, to remain so unmoved.

Living in that house, one can come to believe of the leaves to cackle as they fall. She too has surpassed her salvation - the sucker - like pencil marks invisible on skin but felt nonetheless. Like Jesus, even, or as poised as this moment seems to think it is. She's lost her unknowing companion, so that she might now remember that it's cold.

The in-between is what she wants. Its darkness. Like writing the words for their depths, or wondering about truth.

She sat in her car a few days ago and saw an old man walking, as slow as you like with his hands behind his back as though pondering. It hit her, then, the beautiful intricacy of this life. The excruciating frailty of this web that at times is the last strength in the universe. The only truth: that this life will go on; that hers won't. Whether it tears or shatters or snaps, or is tossed from some traitorous vehicle.

Her life had seemed so complicated, but that old man...she knew his life must be complicated as well. It would consume him. He had needed a change of scenery just to comprehend the one from which he'd come. It was surreal and perfect. That was it. Astounding, the sheer perfection of all these fumbling attempts to attain something already possessed. Like bus-ride snippets of conversation, conveying the almost-magic of the everyday. Just that there wasn't any to begin with, all along.

-L (1/29/12)


They drove through the silence together, and out of it again when the beach came into view. The waves roared and licked the shore like a pride of lionesses.

"I feel like I'm starting all over again," she told him in a low voice. He felt like he was starting new; they felt the same then, but reacted to the feelings in different ways. "I can't seem to focus wholeheartedly on anything anymore."

"Maybe you don't need to now - maybe you're not supposed to," He told her with an undetectable edge of desperation to his words. He wished he could lend her his acceptance of the way things are, however they happened to be.

She pulled the lumbering beast of a vehicle over, killing the engine the moment the back wheels hit the gravel of the shoulder. The headlights extinguished themselves under her demanding hand even before the truck glided to a stop, and they immediately began to drown together, submerged in the wake of the heavy darkness dimming the cab.

-L (1/27/12)

I. Trying on an old suit, to see if it still fits.

Women walked past him on rubbery legs. Their back-forth sway leaving nothing to be desired; their bodies teeter-tottering down the street. Somewhere in the sky he was sure that wars raged and songs were sung both in victory and defeat, honoring the fickle results. Here at his feet, just the same. An endless battle cry.

Across the street, he knew he had a problem. He could visualize it; taste it thick in the back of his throat; it tingled his third eye. The realization that a proverbial set of cross-roads hung in the balance, four-dimensional-like, held no end to irritation for him. Who the hell asked for mid-life-crisis damage-control at the age of 29? "Not I, said the Frog!" Not while he had no intention of passing himself off as a Princely prick.

But 'change is inevitable,' so the drowsy people say, too stoned to not let it happen to them. Again and again. And again, again. He never asked to evolve, doing so always just seemed to roll into life and back out all at once, without ever giving him a chance to protest. And so it goes, the changing happened; he'd let down his guard and the stones swept in and knocked all his doubts on down. His proverbial barriers disintegrated like the faceless, formless theories they all along remained - not standing and then falling so much as shifting outside existence's own idea of them. And anyway, he can't say he's anymore sober than the next guy. Or gal, for that matter.

In any case, she sat across the street. Behind that front desk; atop that rigid redwooded chair. And behind her, atop the stepping stool the two used to re-shelve books, he was sure stood the other her. The her whose heart he'd have to break, sooner than even he preferred. Or so he thought, hoped, expected, understood would likely be the case. But then, you never know with people, do you? Even those people about whom you know everything else.

Perhaps every heart-break breaks differently, no matter how many times one's heart is broken. For all he knows, she'll learn to use it against him as a way of gaining some inward advantage in the face of her newest new life - the one she'd soon be living without him. Or maybe she'd crumple like a tipsy teenager, all the way into herself, while watching her prom date suck face with the high school whore. Or fade away as already gone as today's front-page headliner, into the void of ever-hungry boredom.

He wondered which form of heartbreak could seduce his own heavy heart back in love with hers. He wondered whether it was worth it. He supposed it didn't much matter, either way. Soon, he'd be going in.

-L (1/25/12)

Typewritten touch, tainted.

Morning. Sort of. 10:40am and m'love is in the bathroom, trying to talk to his sister and shit at the same time. Being efficient and therefore incomplete with his Zen mornings, in the interest of pleasing everyone. Thing is, 'everyone' doesn't include me, for better or worse, since I'm his Zen enthusiast rather than temptress - so of course, now I'm always also incomplete.

Yesterday we went and saw his sister at her new, unwilling home, locked under the staff of a supervisor's key in a shipwrecked inland mental (health) institution slash drug rehab and treatment center. Heavy. Sad. She looked and felt as though she didn't belong (thank god), so the problem was that she was there nonetheless, and for an indefinite length of time. Watching him not watch her was hard. He would stare beseechingly into her face as he spoke to her, but when she answered back his glance would unfailingly wander out toward the (caged) freedom represented by the wide windows. They overlooked a lack of civilization; green lolling hills speckled and graced with indigenous trees.

Here, the sun is finally starting to break free of its shady gray confines, and his typewriter and mp3 player still wait patiently for his return. His water cup is drying and his coffee cup remains in his grasp, away yonder in the lavatory where he's perched. I sit pseudo-meditative with my sight fixed on the waxy leaves of a ficus plant arranged in a strange horizon-line perspective before me. A tiny beige spider flinging itself up and down its swinging strand, so like dancing rather than weaving its wiry web. My water glass not empty; my coffee mug getting there.

The view is of the drained and covered spa out back on the patio, and the bizarre black dog doing her secret deeds behind it - something about plucking unwitting quarts of half-and-half from high counter-tops and surreptitiously burying their corners just an inch beneath the dark soil.  Cartons still fully intact on account of the gentle grasp of her bite.

-L (1/23/12)

"Never so alone as when the familiar is haunting."

She was working to remember what more there was to say. She hoped something would come soon.  But the walk home was wet and the memories slipped into each other with finality, dismayed by the plight of hazard lights. By morning all would likely be lost except the urge to try again.

And it always came back to this: this walk. Along the bike path by the levee, following the flow of a premature stream.  The issue as it stood: what ought to happen next?  This phase in her life coming to a gradual end, with an endless slew of options opening up ahead.  Of choices waiting to be made or unmade, or else needing to be made manageable.  The whole lot of 'em were hard-pressed to appear savory since darkness scampered in now so early in the evenings. But when the winter went away, she will have had to make a decision.

The problem was, none looked much better than the next.  A stark similarity had struck all future dealings that claimed to come into her mind, and the overall feeling was gray.  Not good anymore than bad, but then, not much of anything else either.  Hard as it was to admit, she felt at her best when pretending.

"And maybe, somehow, this scam will still save her soul."

But then the night went torrential in the instant next.  Her pathway bled steam in a trickling upward vapor, clearing the way for her feet to rush headlong ahead, meaning to beat the downpour. She began to believe there was none so complete as those at peace with their past.  Still her feet took her all the way home, in just the same way as they always seemed to.

-L (1/21/12)

Maybe moving on just means selectively forgetting, and collectively remembering.

Jukebox (4:27)
by: Ani DiFranco

In the jukebox of her memory
the list of names flips by and stops,
as she closes her eyes
and smiles as the record drops.

Then she drinks herself up and out of her kitchen chair
and she dances out of time.
As slow as she can sway,
as long as she can say,
"This dance is mine."
"This dance is mine."

Her hair bears silent witness
to the passing of time.
Tattoos like mile markers
map the distance she has come,
winning some, losing some.
She says, "My sister still calls every Sunday night
after the rates go down.
And I still can never manage to say anything right,
but my whole life blew up
and now its all coming down."

She says, "Leave me alone,
tonight I just wanna stay home."
She fills the pot with water and then she drops in the bone.
She says, "I've got a darkness
that I have to feed.
I've got a sadness
that grows up around me like a weed.
And I'm not hurting anyone
I'm just spiraling in."
She closes her eyes
and hears the song begin again.

She appreciates the phone calls,
the consoling cards and such.
She appreciates all the people
who come by and try to pull her back in touch.
They try to hold the lid down tightly
and they try to shake well,
but the oil and the water
they just wanna separate themselves.

And she drinks herself up and out of her kitchen chair
and she dances out of time.
As slow as she can sway,
as long as she can say,
"This dance is mine."
"This dance is mine."
"This dance is mine."

-L (1/10/12)

"We. Featuring the words of Arundhati Roy."

I feel like I ought to post this link once every six months for the rest of my life.


So there's once, at least.

-L (1/1/12)