winning strategy

You brought wrath to me today, a cloud of fire that rained acid hatred on my skin. I'm still smoking. (The dog is confused, thinks someone barbecued, can't find the meat.)

And the thing I gave you in return was even more enraging than had I shot back flaming arrows of my own. The thing I gave you in return--calm--infuriated you further. I don't know what to say about that. I'm sorry? I'm not.

You said, .....
You said, .....
You said, .....

And I am tired, so tired, of helping you protect the picture that you hold of yourself.

But enough about you. Today in spite of your spite, I felt unafraid to be alive for the first time in a long time. For the first time in a long time, if someone had offered to shut off the lights, I would have said--

Maybe wait? Maybe leave them on for now? I'm okay with them on. Thank you.

That is the spark I need to nurture. A tiny flame I will shelter with my whole being. I will curl myself around it and give it all the breath in my lungs. Which is why I have none to spare for spitting acid.

the queen and the viscount

The queen is fucking the viscount, and the whole court knows about it. We do our best to act like we don't, but they're getting sloppy. Unsealed missives. Garden dalliances in the full glare of moonlight. We look away when they exchange simpering glances, keeping our own faces blank. But the stink of their self-satisfaction--that we cannot escape.

Honestly I think she wants everyone to know. Everyone but the king, of course. One by one she draws aside her handmaids, demanding to know what we've seen, what we've heard. Oh, nothing untoward m'lady, we lie, and the sluttish twinkle in her eye betrays the delight she takes in this facade. But we value our heads, so we keep the lips on them sealed. We don't tell her what the viscount does when she's away. Which is much, and ugly. There are casualties of his "affection" from the galley to the stables.

The queen fancies herself a coquette, but too many years have passed for that. Too many babies born. The velvet at her waist pinches, the rouge creases on her cheek. The seamstress told us she's had the lace of her cuffs lengthened to hide withering hands. No more is she the apple-cheeked ingenue freshly arrived at our shores, her dowry the promise of war avoided.

And the viscount, well. Have you ever admired a stallion far off in the paddock, only to see when it approaches that it is, in fact, a gelding?

Then you know our illustrious viscount.

behind it all

I have some thoughts to share that are pretty high up on the vulnerability scale. Things about myself I don't love at all, and am working on. But I'm going to share them anyway, because I also had an idea that makes me happy--or at least more at peace--about those things. The idea is a visual concept, a really simple metaphor I guess, and it might be useful to someone else, perhaps? I don't know. But here goes. First I have to establish some context. Okay a lot of context...

Do you remember my friend Cameron? I sometimes called him Wally, which became his nickname after a hilarious autocorrect fail. He and I were extremely close, and we spent a great deal of time together between 2010 and 2013, before he moved to Texas. We met around the time of my divorce--he was a neighbor in the building where Mike and I lived before we split up. I think the last time I mentioned Cameron was on Instagram. I believe it was a post showing a bounty of food and treats he'd brought over to me when he came for a visit. At the time I had just broken my foot. I wasn't very mobile and I was still in some occasional pain.

Well, Cameron and I broke up immediately after that visit. And "broke up" is not typically a phrase you use when discussing the end of a friendship, but for Cameron and I, it's really the only way to put it. And anyone that knows us, knows that too. We were tight. Really, really tight. Absolutely best friends. We'd spend hours upon hours together only to wake up and do it all over again the next day. We texted constantly. He was my confidant and my partner in crime (literally sometimes). When I went out of town, it was he who'd watch Chaucer - sometimes for months on end. When my husband insinuated to me that he was gay (fuck it, it's been six years, statute of limitations has been well bulldozed past as far as I'm concerned...plus he got remarried to a woman he was dating while he was still married to me), it was to Cameron I turned, devastated. When I got into an abusive relationship in Arizona, it was Cameron who got in his car and drove, overnight, to come rescue me. Cameron introduced me to gay bars, some of which became our go-to hangouts. I spent so much time in the gay bars of Silverlake and Hollywood that to this day, they are more comfortable to me than straight bars.

But Cameron and I had our problems. We would fight sometimes. Absolute ragers. We are both highly opinionated people who are unafraid to get angry. And having spent so much time together, having gotten so close, we had a lot of emotion invested in our friendship. That's a beautiful thing but it can make for a powder keg, too.

The reason Cameron and I broke up was simple: he wanted me to accompany him to the wedding of a pair of friends of his up in SF. I'd planned on going with him for months...but then I broke my foot. Long story short, we disagreed on how easy or comfortable it would be for me to go. I didn't want to. I was afraid of being away from home, injured and uninsured. He really wanted me to. Really, really. It was a gay wedding, one of his very best friends, and it meant a lot to him for me to come. He promised he'd take the utmost care with my foot. That he'd rent a damn wheelchair if need be. That we could go as slow as I needed. He saw that I was able to get about with crutches and a scooter and didn't see the difference between limping around in LA and limping around SF.

Well, we argued. And argued. And finally I just had enough. I felt completely justified in telling him to take a flying leap.

Oh, and conveniently? I had just started dating Terence. What the fuck did I need a stubborn, demanding jerk like Cameron around for when I had this amazing, loving, gorgeous new guy to fawn all over me??

Yeeeeaaaah.

I ripped Cameron out of my life ruthlessly. I wrote him a scathing letter and then blocked his email. Blocked his phone number. Blocked him on social media. To this day I don't know what came over me. Why I reacted with so much anger. Why I felt it was okay to obliterate from my life one of the few, loving constants in it. Sure we had some issues, sure there were things we could have worked on in our friendship, but really Ellie? Blocking him, like a cold-blooded bitch?

Time went by. Regret is like quick sand. You don't even know you're standing in it at first, and then you're suddenly sinking deeper and deeper and deeper. And the one person who could pull me out? Throw me a branch and haul me to shore? Well, I'd made myself invisible to him, and him to me. Pride. Ego. Shame. I assumed he hated my guts, too. And I buried my sadness underneath the new joy that was Terence.

Can you see where this is going? I told you--not proud of this side of me. The side that claims her friends are her family and then sometimes proceeds to treat them like dogshit.

To my credit, I waited months. Of course I'm talking about how long I waited until after Terence and I broke up to reach out to Cameron, tail between my legs. Because of course I would do that. Of course I would be so predictably basic. Of course I would wait until MY hour of need to invite him back into my life, knowing nothing whatsoever about the hours of need he may have had in the interim.

The letter I wrote was simple and short. I'm sorry. I was wrong. You were a wonderful friend to me. I think of you often and hope you are well. 

He answered. And so proceeded a month or so of polite back-and-forthing while he, understandably, got his bearings on the roller coaster that is Ellie's emotional regulation and decided that yeah, sure, he'd give it another shot.

Fast forward to last week. Those of you who follow me on IG maybe saw my post of him, though I don't know how many of you understood the import. I sort of quietly stopped talking about him after our fight, so maybe you assumed we'd just fallen out of touch? I dunno. Anyway, he came to LA last week, for work. And I spent three glorious nights with him.

I won't go on and on about what it meant to me to see him again, because if you've read this far you already get it. But it was like my entire world shifted back onto its proper axis. Cameron is one of the great loves of my life and talking to him again? Laughing and sharing and catching up and crying and forgiving and drinking and watching Netflix and getting Nutella and cookies at 2 am from the grocery store? Best thing that's happened to me in months.

Of course, he still lives in Texas. He comes to LA often but Houston is his home. And anyone that's read my blog for any length of time knows that I have other very close friends who live either in AZ or in other cities in California. Bottom line: my nearest and dearest are not very near to me at all. I see them a few times a year. Mason I see maybe once a year.  And this is very, very difficult for me.

How difficult? Well, sometimes I lose my ever-loving mind about it. Sometimes I get so down, so unbelievably depressed and angry that my friends are elsewhere, that rather than turn to them I turn on them. I grow incredibly demanding and unforgiving. Unforgiving that they have the audacity to live elsewhere and have their own lives. Jobs. Partners. Hobbies. Sometimes? These bastards? They group text without me. Sometimes they even travel without me. Together. They take trips without me. Can you believe it?? Don't they know how much I need them? How much I need to be included? How much love I need, because I suffer from depression and have been through some hell?

DO THEY NOT UNDERSTAND THEIR OBLIGATION TO MAKE ME HAPPY??!

K. So. Has the picture formed sufficiently, of how needy a friend I can be? And let me freeze right here to disclaim, with utmost confidence, that any one of my close friends would be the first to tell you that I am also fiercely loyal, loving, selfless, fun as fuck, and awesome. They would tell you that they adore me with their whole hearts, and they would mean it. I know this, because every time they pick up on the fact that my self-esteem is in the shitter, they swoop in and reassure me with the most unbelievable love and support, you'd melt to hear. It's real, true love, and I know it. Which is why I want more of it, more often than I can reasonably have, from people that live states away and are damn busy. And the last thing I'll say in my defense is that I am NOT the kind of "friend" who only ever cares about her shit, and never participates in the details of other lives. That's kind of the whole problem. I want so much to participate in my friends lives, to know what they're doing, their challenges and triumphs, how I can support them, etc. But again. Jobs. Partners. Hobbies. State lines.

Recently I took a really bad dive, emotionally. The details don't matter; suffice to say I was making plans and not for a vacation. I just felt really, really alone. I reached out to my friends with a mixture of pleading, punishing anger (why don't you call more often! you know I depend on you!), fear, and self-nihilation, and I ended up having one of the hardest but most necessary conversations of my life, with Mason. In a nutshell he told me I could have every last breath of his love and friendship, but that if things with me were so bad that not hearing from my friends was enough to make me suicidal...then no amount of love and friendship would matter. What I needed was a reframe, in the head and the heart. He then said a series of things that did fix me, as far as I was concerned, because my T-Rex brain was only focused on getting the love I needed THEN not the healing I need OVERALL...but the first bit was what was really important. Talk about your tough love.

I'm still thinking about all of this, still trying to figure out where the truth is. Because while I know that no one but me is responsible for my happiness, I think that fully needing and loving another is part of what makes us richly human. For a much better, clearer articulation of what I mean by this, see The Moral Bucket List, a NYT article by David Brooks that I can't stop thinking about.

And now I've come full circle. I started by mentioning that I'd had an idea maybe worth sharing. It's this:

Once, at Disneyland, I took a tour of the animation studios. I remember being fascinated by animation cels, and how they were created. An artist would paint on a stack of clear cellulose sheets; depending on whether what was being drawn was part of the background or the action, he would either lift the stack of sheets or lower them. So for example, if the animation called for a background of trees, the sheet painted with those trees would stay, stationary and constant, under the layer upon which characters would run, or jump.

I realized my life is like that. No matter what I'm coloring in on the top sheet, whether it's a new job or a new home or a new boyfriend, whether it's something scary and ugly I'm going through or something thrilling and fun--underneath it all is my same background. Friends I've had for years, decades in some cases. They're there, behind it all. And they're not going anywhere, as long as I don't erase them. They're sturdy and strong and they are in my life, always. No matter what else isn't.

It's a thought I can hold onto, to make the lonelier times less lonely.

I'm not very good at opening up to new people, which is precisely what I need to do in order to have more close friends locally. Especially now that Kerry and Ross are gone. I try, in small bits. See: Krista, who is truly a lovely, loving person. It takes me a while, but I do open up in a real way, eventually. I'm working on it.

Action and background. A richer, more complete picture. I'm working on it.

PPRL: Alice Adams, by Booth Tarkington (winner, 1922)

DISCLAIMER: Posting this abridged review (minus discussion questions) through the fog of a cold. Not the best place from which to think or write, but there are only so many podcasts I can listen to, comatose on the bed, before my brain turns to jelly. Worst part of being sick isn't the cough, the aches, or the chills, it's watching life steamroll past as usual while you fall behind. 


What I found wonderful about Alice Adams is how at home its protagonist--the frivolous, self-absorbed, but mostly well-meaning Alice--would be in today's society. But that's also what made me most uncomfortable. I related a little too well to Alice, some ninety-odd years after she was conceived. Twenty-two, shiftless, vain, and entirely too dependent on others, Alice is a cautionary tale, albeit one with a happy ending. Her warning: don't wait for life to happen to you. Make it happen for yourself. Have a plan. Have a back up plan. (Hint: neither should require the participation and/or goodwill of men.)

It's a compact story, almost parable-esque, outfitted with the requisite rise and fall of a heroine you'll love to hate, but ultimately will have to love. When Alice, having finally grasped that gumption and self-reliance will take her further than good looks, dusts herself off and steps bravely into a future of her own design, you'll want to cheer. That is, if you're not too busy trying to do the same thing yourself.

A taste of Tarkington:

He was conscious of the city as of some great creature resting fitfully in the dark outside his windows. It lay all round about, in the damp cover of its night cloud of smoke, and tried to keep quiet for a few hours after midnight, but was too powerful a growing thing ever to lie altogether still. Even while it strove to sleep it muttered with digestions of the day before, and these already merged with rumblings of the morrow.

She was a large, fair girl, with a kindness of eye somewhat withheld by an expression of fastidiousness; at first sight of her it was clear that she would never in her life do anything "incorrect," or wear anything "incorrect." But her correctness was of the finer sort, and had no air of being studied or achieved; conduct would never offer her a problem to be settled from a book of rules, for the rules were so deep within her that she was unconscious of them.

a therapy session, a time machine, and a Penseive

How well do you think you know your parents? How much of their past--their deep past, the one before you came along--do you know? Do you understand who they are, and why they are the way the are?

By the time I reached my teens, I had my parents pegged. And my portraits of them weren't all that flattering. My mother was the needy, morose, passive aggressive alcoholic; my dad the stubborn, ill-tempered cynic. Family dysfunction, addiction, and occasional violence prevented any kinder or even just more nuanced characterizations of them from ever emerging. As far as I was concerned, they were a mess--and the reason I was a mess. It's so convenient to have it all figured out at sixteen.

Anyway, my father's cynicism, for as long as I can remember, was absolute and all-encompassing. Politics, culture, romance--you name it, he scoffed at it. Romance in particular was a subject for intense jeering. No matter how excited I was about a boy, from the time that boys were something to be excited about, my dad would find a way to cut down my happiness. That sounds cruel, I know, but I won't pull the punch. He did. I still loved him.

To him I suppose it was a form of teasing, though underneath there was probably some warning being issued. Be careful honey. Love will hurt you. Maybe he was only trying to toughen me up. Whatever his motives, I would never, ever, ever think of my dad as the romantic type. In fact when I told him I was getting married, his critical and dismissive response upset me so much we wound up not speaking for nearly three years. I walked myself down the aisle to greet a husband he hadn't even met.

My father thought marriage was a terrible joke of an idea. His divorce from my mother had nearly killed them both, so acrimonious, expensive, and protracted an event it was. Anyone having gone through such nastiness could be forgiven some Scroogitude where relationships are concerned. It's just really hard to see that when it's your dad.

Of course, despite being the Anti-Romantic, he still pursued women. He'd occasionally share his dating site matches with me, show me the letters in which he wooed would-be lovers. My father was nothing if not clever; these flirty missives were something else. But flirty is where they stopped. I'd even describe them as wary. Chary. Once burned, he was twice shy about climbing back into the fire. And he made it clear to the women he was dating: expect no Romeo, and certainly no ring.

Then my mother died. And a new window into my dad's personality cracked open just the tiniest bit. He did something that caught me completely off guard, it was so uncharacteristic and unexpected. He asked to have her ashes. His ex-wife's ashes. A woman whom he'd been bad-mouthing to me for the better part of twenty years. He promised he had no nefarious intent whatsover, that he would safeguard them for as long as he lived. What the hell.

I didn't question it. I chalked it up to nostalgia, to late-life sentimentality. And I obliged. It's a very odd thing, signing off on having your cremated mother FedExed to her ex-husband. But so it went.

Then the window, through which I had already glimpsed a softer side of my dad than I'd suspected existed, swung open further. And revealed was a man nothing like the one I'd grown up with.

Here's what happened: I found, among my mother's things, a stack of love letters he'd written her. They were dated from May of 1966 through December of that same year. When I came across them I spent a good minute just frowning in confusion. Wait, what? What is this? Someone wrote all these sweet, romantic letters to my mother and signed my dad's name? I don't get it.

It just didn't compute. He wasn't that person. He'd never. Only, here was the proof, right before my eyes. Immaculately kept and bundled neatly with a bulldog clip (which raised all kinds of questions about my mother in turn, like why on earth were these so precious to her when she so hated my dad?). Chronologically ordered. Neatly typed with my father's address in Alaska heading each page. Things started to click into place when I saw that header. Holy shit. This...this was during their courtship. When he was working in Fairbanks and she was still back in NYC. These...this was before they were even married

I thumbed through the stack and let my eyes fall on a random paragraph. As luck would have it, though I wouldn't know it for nearly seven years, I just so happened to land on the one semi-explicit sexual reference in the whole set of letters. Nothing too crazy, just a little kinky. But oh my god, that was more than enough for me. Nope nope nope. Not my business, boundary needed here, don't wannna know. I dropped them as if they were a smoking gun.

But the seed of a thought had been planted: maybe my father hadn't always been a cynical hardheart after all. Maybe a long time ago, before life had its way with it, his heart was full and open.

I mentioned the letters to him casually during our next phone call, keen to hear his reaction. Curiously, he didn't seem all that surprised. Maybe he'd known she'd kept them. Maybe he understood their post-divorce relationship better than I did. At this point I didn't know what to think. But when he asked in a quiet, hopeful voice whether I'd mind sending them to him unread, at least I knew what to do: send them to him, unread.

Fast forward three years to, this time, my father's death. Spring of 2012. Along with the rest of his estate, the letters come back into my possession. There is no one else to pass them to. (My brother would tear them to shreds without hesitating.) But grieving as I am, reading them seems impossible. It's not that I don't want to know what's in them, it's just that I can't yet. I can't. So I put them away, among my other personal memorabilia. I leave them untouched and unread for three years. I don't forget about them, I never once forget about them--but the time doesn't feel right. Until that is, yesterday.

Why yesterday? Well, that...that's difficult to explain. Suffice to say it was a really, really, really bad day, and I spent most of it casting about for a lifeline. Something to make me feel less alone, and more connected to the parts of me that I'm okay with. Something to center me. The letters, I remembered. It's time.

Terence was asleep. It was past midnight. I stood on a chair to reach the shelf above the kitchen cabinets, and pulled down all three of my stuffed-full memorabilia boxes. The letters were in the first box I opened, in as near-mint condition as when I'd found them seven years ago. I grabbed my glasses, took the letters over to the rug, and sat underneath an angled task lamp.

I read the date on the top one: 31 May 1966. Almost fifty years ago. I did some quick math: my father would have been 27; my mother, 25. I curled my feet under my legs, took a deep breath, and discovered a man completely unrecognizable from the one who raised me. A passionate, dreamy, tender romantic. An optimist, through and through.

It took me less than an hour to get through them. There are only sixteen. But they are lovely. They are so lovely. They are sweet and funny and playful and hopeful. They break my heart and then fill it and then break it again. They are exceedingly well-written. They describe in direct terms my father's life in the remote Alaskan tundra, and in indirect ones the life my mother was living concurrently "down south" in New York. They paint a picture of a couple desperate to reunite and reignite a flame they'd only just lit--my parents spent a mere month dating before my dad landed a work contract that took him across the continent. These letters are their courtship. They are full of references to things that would later be a part of my own life. They allude to planned vacations the pictures of which I saw time and again, in photo albums that lined our living room shelves. They shed light on aspects of my mother's character that I would come to share. They are a therapy session, a time machine, and a Penseive.

I am, perhaps understandably, more enamored of them than would be a stranger. But I believe anyone with a heart would find them at least a little charming. So I'm going to share them. I'll either transcribe them or just scan the letters themselves. I might post them here or, if I can find time, give them their own simple website. I'm thinking about adding to them somehow. Annotating them, using them as a starting point for my own essays, creating short fiction to complete them--I don't know. I just want to do something with them. Both characters are gone now; it's been almost four years since my dad died. I believe it's okay to do this. There's nothing overly personal and beyond a few playful moments nothing explicitly sexual. After all, they barely knew one another at the time.

You have to spend a lifetime with someone, to really know them. Sometimes longer.

since we finished

Back to back beach days this long weekend. Venice today and Manhattan Beach yesterday. Yep, we spent Valentine's Day together. We just sort of tacitly agreed to, without acknowledging the occasion.

"Weather's supposed to be incredible Sunday. Want to go to Laguna or something?"

"Hell yes. That sounds wonderful." For one thing, if I don't make a point of getting out of downtown, well, I don't get out of downtown. For another, we still have fun together. That's undeniable. And while having fun with your ex might be a bad idea, as far as I know it's still legal.

Sunday came and we got a late start, ending up in Manhattan Beach instead. We found street parking a few blocks above the water just as the sun began to hang. Terence waved me ahead, indulgent and smiling, shouldering a tote stuffed with hoodies we'd be glad for later. I bounded down to the pier, conscious as always of the crinkly feel of the bones in my left foot. It broke, it healed; I swear it still crunches, though. A small bank of photographers and lovers--and lover-photographers--had staked out spots along the shoreline and were firing off shot after shot of the waves crashing against the dock. I crouched down out of the way, a bit to the side. I'd come later than everyone else. Prime real estate wasn't mine to claim today.

The next five minutes felt solemn. I grinned at a white-haired woman who glanced my way, carefully backtracking in the sand to get a better view. Her camera had a massive, glossy black lens that I could see myself in when she faced me. "This light, right?" I shook my head to indicate amazement, awe. Respect, too, as I suspected this was her turf. But she just gave me a tight-lipped nod. No chatting at Manhattan Pier at sunset. Got it.

When I'd gotten my fill of the pier, I joined Terence at the water's edge. We watched children scramble in the sand, screaming as the foamy waves caught their ankles. I tried to angle them out of the photos I took, but there were too many. Tiny silhouettes, drunk with sunshine and play. We watched the horizon bloom and took pictures that we didn't show one another. We sent texts to friends and family that we didn't share. I noticed him writing a poem in his phone's notepad; I didn't ask to read it. But after we'd rinsed the sand off our feet, we strolled the length of the pier arm in arm and felt as companionable and relaxed as every other couple we passed.

A lone surfer bobbed on mild, rolling waves near the pier's south side. Mostly he floated, paddling into or against the waves as necessary to maintain his position. But every tenth wave or so, the gathering swell apparently promised to deliver the momentum he needed, and he worked his board alongside it. Nothing much doing, though. He just sort of coasted inland a bit, then paddled back out again. Later than night, long after Terence had fallen asleep and I couldn't, I followed a couple of surfing accounts on Instagram. An entirely foreign world that fascinates me. The crush and curl of the wave just before it collapses. The fearlessness and balance. The lush, sunny, aquamarine cool of it all.

The sun died spectacularly. Lovers paired up along the railing took selfies, giggling as they adjusted themselves to frame the streaks of pink and blue over their shoulders. Other just clung to one another and watched. We did a little of both. I curled my fingers into a heart shape, but when Terence tried to snap a photo of the sunset behind them, I couldn't get my pinkies lifted the right away, and my heart was squat and broken. A job for Photoshop and a metaphor I won't touch. When we switched places, on the other hand, Terence's heart was full and perfect. Oh, did you believe me when I said I wouldn't touch that metaphor?

We got dinner on a quiet stretch a few blocks from the crowded boardwalk. Oversized meatballs with pomodoro sauce and micro basil; ahi tuna wontons with wasabi crema. I ordered a cider and Terence had wine. We teetered back into the night full and tipsy and dangerously happy. We made a dumb Vine video that had us in stitches. We put on our sweatshirts and pulled the hoods up for one another. We got ice cream and a frosted cookie the size of Terence's hand. We laughed and bickered and window-shopped our way back to the pier, now fogged over and cold. At the end of it, we huddled and spoke in hushed tones, honoring the mood or the moment or maybe just not daring to be loud in our joy. We gazed out at the offing and wondered about the deep, dark water. We braced ourselves for the intermittent shuddering of the dock as thunderous waves smashed into it. It was the closest we've been to where we started, since we finished.

We stalled going home, but eventually we did. And when we woke up, since Terence had the day off and I myself am on hold for several weeks while a piece of equipment I need is customized (I will explain soon, I prooooomise), we decided to go do it again.

I checked: definitely not illegal.




puppy/party/pasta

In the throes of some serious Saturday laziness but here's a quick phone dump...

A rainstorm (ok some wind and a mild sprinkling) devested one of Chaucer's favorite trees at the library, and he quite sweetly gathered up some blossoms for me. So thoughtful.

We hit Sleepless again last night, which is a free late-night dance/chillout party held in the opera house literally up the street. The event could definitely stand some improvements, but did I mention the free part?

I'm systematically working my way through a couple of Cooks Illustrated recipe books - All-Time Best Pasta and All-Time Best French, and amazingly I've neither poisoned anyone nor burned down the building yet. Below are my (fairly successful) attempts at cappelini al limone, cappelini with tomato-basil-onion-cream sauce, steak au poivre, and asparagus with brown butter and balsamic-soy reduction (not from a recipe book).






And with that my brain has reached its maximum creative output for the day. Happy weekend, lovelies.

jostles and shouts

Do you ever feel invisible? That no matter how many times you politely clear your throat and repeat yourself (louder this time, come on now), it just doesn't matter, because there are so many others jostling and shouting to be seen, heard, and felt themselves? And please, don't embarrass yourself with that clunky, outdated megaphone. They don't even use megaphones anymore. They've got this incredible new technology--all they do is think some ones and zeros, and everyone they've ever known shoots a thumbs-up in the air while elsewhere, a dollar plunks into their bank account. You should probably just take a seat. Maybe if there's a lull in the action we can sneak you in for a few seconds, no promises though.

Only there's never a lull. There's just an endless flow of jostles and shouts. Good luck.

---

Last night there was a street festival of sorts downtown. Part of the effort to revitalize Broadway, an erstwhile vibrant theater row, now populated by cheap electronic stores, quinceanera shops, and taquerias. It was a free event and drew thousands. Music, cultural exhibits, art, performers, food trucks, a Ferris Wheel, and a Silent Disco. Yep, that's right. My favorite dedicated dance floor, the irresistible black hole of every Bonnaroo, and the bane of my bladder (if you leave to pee you have to wait in line all over again): Silent Disco.

I didn't know about the event at all until the day of, when Krista mentioned having trouble getting a Lyft due to road closures, and I didn't know they had a Silent Disco until I literally walked into it. I'd been texting updates to Terence (doing a show in Hollywood) and Krista (chilling at home with hurting knees), alternately threatening to leave because I felt lonely and begging them to hurry up and join me. Then I stumbled into the crowd of headphone-bedecked revelers and forgot all about my friends. Not really, but sort of. Silent Disco is my jam.

Long story short, I couldn't lure Krista off her couch but Terence got back downtown pretty quickly after his gig. We stayed an hour and a half and were starving, sweaty messes by the time we left. It was so much goddamn fun. Terence and I are inching ever closer to severance--emotional, geographical, financial--and the ways in which we detach a little more each day are heartbreaking...but holy shit do we still love listening to music together. It feels like something to hold on to, while it's there. Something still warm in an otherwise cold room.

Later we went to Casey's, to watch the band of a guy who lives in our building--someone we've exchanged a year's worth of elevator chat with. It was unexpectedly fun; a few other people from the building were there, and I socialized more than I have in a while. Those muscles atrophy fast for me. I get lazy about expanding past my close circle of friends. Scared, too.

Anyway, it was a good time. I made people laugh. My sneakers were complimented. Someone asked to take a picture with me. Another person asked to see me again. (Getting hit on with Terence next to me was a weird situation but to his credit he was the picture of grace and humor and we didn't come close to fighting about it, which, had the roles been reversed...)

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News about Chaucer that is difficult to write. He's been limping for a couple of months now. The vets (we've seen three) suspect the onset of arthritis, which is unsurprising considering his age. He's coming up on nine--a little old for a mastiff.

Options include injections and, if they can pinpoint the place of the issue, laser therapy. We talked to him about it and his vote, quite emphatically I might add, is for lasers. In fact he talks about it all the time. He wants to know everything. "Can I shoot other dogs with the lasers?" "Do they lasers come out of my eyes or my paws or both?" "What about food? Can I cook burgers using the lasers?"

We tried to explain that's not how it works but he's so excited at the prospect we've let it go for now.

In all seriousness, it'll probably be (Adequan) injections. From what I understand those will give him immediate and noticeable results. The vet actually raved about them, says it turns elderly dogs into puppies, essentially.

Sounds good, as long as I still get to keep every single memory we've made on his way from puppy to my old boy.



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I will--really and truly--have news to share very soon. Days away now. In the meantime, hello from The Land of WhatthehellamIdoing. I hope you are all healthy and happy and feeling more fearless than me.