light to dark

I went to a show over the weekend, and it's very important to me that you know an adorable 20something named Julie who wanted to be my Insta buddy thinks I'm a good dancer:

It's marginally less important that you know I don't actually shuffle. What I do requires vastly less skill and coordination, and is basically a very fast stompy kicky dance that looks impressive only because I can move quickly and hit on the beat. And when the break is long enough and I can feel where the song is going, I can fold in fancier moves like twisty kicks and spins that look a lot harder than they are. It's all a massive con, shuffling is much harder, but no lie - I do look pretty cool when I'm on it. 

All this to say I had a fucking blast. I went for Morgin Madison, planned to bounce after his set, but No Mana was the surprise that kept on suprising, so I stayed much later than was responsible for a school night. Rest of the work week was brutal, as I never caught up on sleep.

Worth it. 

---

Work is a challenge at the moment, as my no-longer-new chef and I are butting heads in a very problematical way. It reached the point of us needing to have a Sit Down with my boss and my boss's boss. Reason I'm telling you this is the highlight of the meeting, which was something my boss's boss said about me...

In an effort to compliment my chef in the spirt of Let's work together by playing off one another's strengths! Yay, us! I was talking up her skills in the kitchen. And bless her, in an effort to give the same back to me, she very haltingly replied, "Ellie...is...very good on the computer." L O fucking L.

The best part about this: she wasn't trying to throw shade or act like I have no skills. She actually, truly, thinks I have none. Five years with my company, managing two stores and thirty employees, and she thinks I'm a good typist. Maybe. To excuse her, you have to understand: professional chefs have no use for anyone who can't cook. And I can't, much. I am however, insanely hardworking, conscientious, organized, considerate, cool under pressure, supportive to my team, and responsible. 

But this person is so religiously focused on what her role is that in the past four months she's barely noticed a thing I do. Just oblivious to exactly how much behind the scenes administrative work, organization, and time management it takes to run two restaurants. And I can't hold her against herself; it's one of my rules.

Anyway. When she said this, I just sort of sat there smiling, amused, because I know my worth - and I know my bosses do, too. And sure enough, my boss's boss - the number two in the company - immediately came out from my corner. Talked about how multiple times I have turned entire stores over in terms of staffing, and brought in "literally the nicest people in the company." Talked about the gift I have for finding and keeping the right people. Talked about how "people want to work hard for Ellie." (Didn't talk about my gorgeous spreadsheets, because he doesn't see them very often. But rest assured, my spreadsheets are gorgeous.)

None of this matters to her, of course. But it matters to me.

---

Been a rough go lately. Crying at the drop of a mask. 

Cried at the picture of the dead salmon in the river in Northern California, cooked by the heat. 

Cried at the picture of the dead baby flamingos in Turkey, killed by drought. 

Cried when a beloved regular customer we've been serving for months came in with her newborn baby. Saw her sitting on the patio with family, rushed out to congratulate her and meet the little one. She reached into the bassinet and pulled the blanket back to reveal a tiny, perfect little girl whose name I already knew. "You've been feeding her for nine months," the woman said, smiling at me. The group laughed, but tears sprang to my eyes. Babies do nothing for me. But pre-apocalyptic babies born during pandemics who could conceivably never see flamingoes in the wild or taste wild caught salmon -- or who might, if the world gets its shit together, and are therefore an incredible symbol of hope and optimism? That's a different story.

And if this is dark to read, imagine what it's like to feel. 

So why am I extra-extra emotional right now? 

1. Delta variant + piece of shit anti-vaxxers. Die in a (California wild)fire, you selfish fucks.

2. My financial goals are both tantalizingly within reach and seemingly years off. Discouraged at how long things are taking.

3. Relapsing on some things I thought I'd moved past. 

4. But mainly, how very alone I feel, save for a few dozen climatologists on Twitter, in knowing that shit is going south a lot faster than people realize or want to admit to themselves.

Some days you soar through. Some nights you dance through. And sometimes, just surviving your own thoughts is an accomplishment worth being proud of.

and now you know what my bewbs look like

Just got home from getting my first mammogram, which was nothing like what I expected. I don't know where I got the dreadful vision that's been playing in my head for months, involving some ancient, steel torture device that was going to smash my tits together then make loud, scary, shuttering noises for ten minutes while I kept my arms raised above my head in surrender to my own mortality.

No steel; the piece that touches your breast is plastic, and flexible. No raising your arms above your head; you hang one down and wrap the other around the machine, depending on the image being taken. There's even a handle if you want. (I did not hold the handle. Holding the handle made it feel like I was in a sports car, and I did not want the tech to see how quickly she could go from zero to sixty.)

And it's one boob at a time. What the fuck. That's so easy. I don't know why, but the instant I realized that, all of my fear and anxiety melted away. 

Didn't stop me from deadass interviewing the technician, however, like I was the new Cedars Sinai hiring director. 

"What's your name?"

"Lupe, it's really nice to meet you. How long have you been doing this?"

"Cool, cool. So like, how many of these do you do a day?"

"This form here refers to 'some discomfort'. Can you tell me more about that? Are we talking during or after or both."

"And this bit about ruptures. Can you expand on that? How many times has that happened?"

"Never on your watch, you say? Lupe, I'm really glad you're working today." 

"This machine looks pretty new. Is it?"

"How much do you think this thing costs? Are we talking hundreds of thousands or a cool mil?"

"Yeah I'm definitely nervous, but I mean. Cedars Sinai. Doesn't get more cutting edge than here, right? Lupe? Right?"

We did stop twice because I got a little dizzy, but that's just because all I'd eaten all day was a Red Bull, because self care is my jam.

And now just for fun, just for body positivity and all that, here is the single solitary photo of my naked breasts in existence, because believe it or not, I literally never take topless photos. But for whatever reason, I took this one just before leaving K-town last year. In fact if you look carefully you can see at least three teenage roaches jerking off to me in the background:

y the hat tho??

Who knows. In a week when I get my results, they could say Sorry, lady. There's something rotten in them thar hills, so I'mma enjoy them for now, just in case. 

namesake

I hired a kid who shares your name. 

I almost didn't. "What's his name?" I asked the friend who referred him. He told me and I groaned. No. But he's down to earth, and earnest. He has a good sense of humor. He's been a good find. 

It was weird at first, to say. To write on the schedule, and so forth. 

But it's been four months. And now when I see that particular arrangement of letters, I think of him, and I see his face in my mind. And when he texts, there's no question who it is.

It's like he took a thing from you, slipped it behind his back, worked some magic, and handed it over to me, a different thing. And I can hold it, and it doesn't hurt. 

I'm lucky in the weirdest ways.

tommy baynen: elderflower


Virtually undiscovered gorgeousness from an emerging artist. So much beautiful music everywhere lately. 

just one perfect song

 Hi hello, the new Ben Bohmer track is so jaw-droppingly beautiful it requires its own post.


Happy Friday.

collecting maxims (not the lad mag)

I am officially old. Only old people collect maxims. They post them on their GeoCities pages and send them to coevals in chain emails, in hotlink blue, thirty point font. 

Anyway, some of these I picked up somewhere. Some I've made up. 

1. Create before you consume.

There's little that throws my creative game off more than the creativity of other people. It isn't a comparison thing. It's just an welp, now my brain is full thing. I need to be brimming with my own ideas.

2. Don't hold people against themselves.

At least not in small scale interactions, or low stakes relationships. Inconsiderate people are inconsiderate. Neurotic people are neurotic. Don't let the quiddities of others bother you. 

3. Keep your crazy to yourself. 

If I get caught in a really bad anxiety spiral, I try very hard to stay calm and self-contained. It's all too easy to throw myself onto someone like a lifeboat. 

4. Ignoring toxic, conflict-seeking, gaslighting people is a superpower. 

When you don't respond, your silence says that you are perfectly confident in your last communique, and that you don't need the last word. You show that preserving your inner peace is more important than they are. And that's infuriating and intimidating as fuck to people like that.

5. Write weekly or write weakly. 

Self-explanatory.

6. The less you need to be happy, the more powerful you are.

This has been a fascinating life lesson. I've known so many terrible, tribalistic rich people in my life. And the desperation with which they consume their own wealth in seeking happiness is truly wild. Meanwhile if a nice sunset and a phone call with a friend is all you need, you're set

7. In this house, we try things. 

This is a thing I say to myself all the time. It's important to me that I explore new things - new habits, new interests, new approaches, new systems, new whatevers. It's important to me that I never stop trying. You never know what small, simple thing could level up your happiness. 

8. Recognize exit ramps.

I have a habit of holding on to people longer than I should. I tend to linger around broken connections. This has never once led to anything good. So I'm learning to recognize exit ramps. An exit ramp is when a person who is bad for you does something that perfectly encapsulates exactly why it is you don't want them in your life anymore. That's a gift. That's an opportunity to let that be your final, lasting impression of them, and move on.

An exit ramp can be something they do, or say. It can be a memory you decide to stake them to. You have complete control over what the exit ramp is, and that's a real power.

9. Pity is a weapon for which there is no defense. 

People hate to be pitied. It is a secret, lethal weapon you can deploy at will. They don't need to know. But you know that if they did know, it would inflame them. Let that be enough. 

10. Let feelings find you.

Don't hide. Don't self-medicate. Don't distract yourself. No way out but through. 

the schadenfreude buffet

When you dine at the Schadenfreude Buffet, you must show restraint. 

Heavy platters of exquisite food will be passed around. No matter your appetite, you must take from them lightly. To gorge yourself would draw scorn and shame. So though you may relish what is served, remember to disguise your delectation in an air of detachment. You are a civilized being, after all.

But should you drop your napkin, under the table will be a sea of legs dancing in delight. The Schadenfreude Buffet is always full of hungry dissemblers, savoring every bite. 

turns out vellum is cheaper than CBT

Every so often I have a really bad emotional crash, usually too late at night to text anyone. So I'm making a sort of toolkit. I already have a virtual one - links to various media that always soothe me. But I wanted to make a physical one. Being off my phone is always > than being on my phone, and the act of touching something tangible and engaging my senses is a good distraction.

I'm calling it a D.E.C.K. A Depressive Episode Comfort Kit. It's going to have at least three components, all along the lines of resetting my thinking in a more positive direction. And I wanted to share the first with you, since it exists because of you. 

I've been very online for a long time now. And while I turned off comments years ago, I have quite a collection of letters from readers who've reached out to say thanks or to express appreciation. At one point I was considering making the blog private, and I asked anyone who wanted an invitation to send me their address. A lot of these are from then. People didn't just shoot me a quick email. They took the time to let me know who they were, why they read, and what they got out of it. It was actually very overwhelming.

For years I have wanted to do something with them, print them up in their own little mini book or something. But now, this toolkit I'm putting together is the perfect repository for such encouragement and gratitude. 

When I'm having a bad episode, a big component is feelings of worthlessness. Reading reminders that the things I've written mean something to people - have helped them in some way, or even just entertained them - that is very strong antidote to feeling worthless. So I went through and clipped small snippets of these letters and printed them up on cards, so I could flip through them anytime I'm feeling low. 

Vellum, card stock, gorilla glue, and lots of kindness:













There are twenty-five of them, but I will content myself with these. Endless thanks to those of you who contributed to this. You are a reason I stay whole.

in which a(nother) wild Libra appears

Texting with my friend Joe last night. I asked him to explain a line from one of his poem, and what do you know:



It's really just ridiculous at this point. Every time. Every damn time. 

sandpaper fact

Denial is a kind of friction, when the thing you cannot accept continually, relentlessly rubs up against reality - which never budges.

And every piece of evidence chafes, and hurts, and blisters.

I have been guarding a certain fiction with every fiber of my being. And now every fiber of my being is worn threadbare by merciless, sandpaper fact.

Eventually, I guess, acceptance will win, when that protection has been scratched all away. When there is no more friction. When I am just gossamer on the ground.

alone for now and okay with it

Tonight I went to my downtown work location to use the printer for a personal creative project, and as I was leaving I saw a friend at the patio bar around the corner. I stopped to show him what I was working on, because he himself is a professional creative whose opinion I value. And when I say "professional creative" I don't mean your standard LA bullshit (no offense, standard LA bullshitters). I mean this person is a former creative director for Disney who now works for Virgin Galactic, designing what will be the training environments for civilian astronauts. And yes, he's very happy his boss is safely, successfully earthbound once again. Sunday was the one and only time I've ever used the rocket emoji to denote an actual rocket, when I texted him congratulations.

Anyway, as you may have guessed from the contextual clue that is this man's incredible resume, he's older than me. Not by a ton, but he does have me by twelve years. That's only relevant as it bears on the topic of conversation we had over a drink, which was our respective romantic lives. In sum: his lately has been stop/start, whereas mine has been stop/non-start. And the longer it goes on like this, the more I am kind of loving it.

My friend didn't really know my recent dating history, so I gave him the broad strokes on Timo and then Kenny. But what happened with either of them, or even with Terence before that, really doesn't matter. What matters is me knowing - and hearing myself articulate simply, unemotionally, and almost proudly - why I'm single, and why I should be single. At least for now. 

"I'm a mess," I said, and he asked what I meant. "I'm dysfunctional in relationships. When a guy is good to me, when he's available and caring, I will either lose interest or find a way to sabotage it. But when a guy is unavailable and withholding, that's what gets me going. That activates me, or the fucked up part of me, rather."

When the subject switched back to him, he disclosed a fear of ending up alone. His voice got low and he waxed wistful about how much he missed waking up in a woman's arms. How much he wants someone to garden with. Someone with whom to celebrate good days and hug away bad days. And as I listened to him touch on all these deeply human desires, I braced myself for some kind of triggering. Some kind of thought along the lines of Shit, he's right. Being alone sucks. And who do we know that's totally alone? Oh that's right, it's YOU, Ellie. Shall we go home now and have a cry? But though I nodded with understanding, I felt something different rising up in me: relief at not feeling any of those things.

But back to our conversation.

"Do you know the philosopher Alain de Botton?" He didn't, so I told him about the School of Life, and how much it's meant it to me. "I think it's in one of the videos, or maybe his lectures, that he postulates you only truly become fit to be a romantic partner when you've completely accepted the fact that you might never find the right person to be with -- and you're okay with that realization."

My friend nodded. He'd heard some version of that before.

"The problem with being in a relationship when you really want and need to be in a relationship," I went on, "is that you put that need onto the other person. And they feel that. And it's oppressive. I do that," I told him. "I put my need on the ones I really, really want. And that just pushes them way."

Our talk meandered a bit from there, but when I said goodbye and walked back home, my head was full of all of this. 

Fact: since I was a teenager, the longest I have gone without a boyfriend is right now. Kenny left at the beginning of November. That's nine months ago. Nine months is my PR, and I'm in it right now. And yes, months one through six were utterly devastating. For whatever reason, that boy just...he just checked a lot of boxes. Good ones and bad ones. And if he showed back up in my life one day, ready to try again, the sun itself couldn't outshine my happiness. But for now, I have moved on, though I truly thought I never would be able to. He took more of me with him than anyone has, including guys I dated for years

But.

Somewhere around May to June, something shifted. Something so tectonically deep I didn't even feel it, until I started, like, luxuriating in the fact that there is no one else in my glorious king sized bed when I wake up and want to kick all my limbs out. That when I come home from a long day of work, I have peace and quiet and self-restoration, instead of blaring lights, TV, and dishes in the sink. Then, more recently: that I can take myself out on an innocent date and end up on something quite the opposite, with no one to say boo about it. 

Another fact: this is the first time in my adult life that I am living entirely by my own solidly reliable means. I don't count dancing as adulthood. I was a lost child when I was dancing, developmentally-arrested but with access to much more money than was good for me. Now, though: no inheritances, no help from friends, no scraping by as a creative gigster. And I had no idea how the empowerment of making a good living would bleed out into other areas of my life. But it has. Financial independence has boosted my self-esteem in a way that's changed how I look at relationships. Like, I'm good, thanks. Just over here, doing me, working away at a life of my own design and figuring out what makes me happy. Kindly explain how you'll be a support to this effort and not a detour? Cuz, uh, you're really cute - but you look an awful lot like a detour. 

Of course, I know eventually the department running my simulation will put one such detour in my way again. And all I can hope is that by then, I will be better suited for better partners, with better results for both of us. But until that happens, I will blissfully starfish the fuck out of my big, empty bed.

real true events

Some things that happened in the past week:

1. I hugged a ~65 year old Russian man named Mir when he miraculously - and at a very reasonable price! - fixed our AC at the restaurant, on a Saturday, in the middle of a heatwave. Accent thick as borscht. Old school AF. Insisted I learn how to change the rooftop unit filters myself so he wouldn't have to charge me an extra $95. Used a bungee cord to lower his equipment down off the roof to me, yelling at me when I wasn't being careful enough. Total character, I loved him.

2. Someone for whom I did a kindness returned it with more psilocybin than I have ever possessed at one time in my entire life. Truly, I gasped when he handed it to me. I am now sitting on small forest's worth of penis envy. No fucking clue how I'll ever get through it, as none of my friends do shrooms. When it gets just a little hotter, I think I'm going to trek out to Malibu on a quiet Monday, use the awesome beach shade I still haven't touched, watch the sunset and invite the sea lions to discuss the meaning of life with me.

3. On a packed bus ride home, I sat next to a homeless man who spent the entire time methodically, menacingly sandpapering a rusty hammer. He himself was so filthy, so caked in dirt that when he periodically turned to stare at me, the whites of his eyes glowed. He wore his sweatshirt's hood up over his head and stayed hunched over in concentration for the entire 35 minutes we were beside one another. People kept glancing at me to see if I was okay. I was fine until he started gaping at me, at which point I normally would have said something or moved but I was scared if I set this guy off, said rusty hammer would be the last thing I would see in this dear life. When my stop came up, I had to climb over the back of the seat because he wouldn't move. People think I'm crazy, but in spite of these occasionally bizarro moments on public transpo, I still love not having a car. 

4. I bought myself a VIP Dreamstate ticket, and am kiiiiinda thinking that might be my last California festival. At some future date, in a few years, I might venture back for Coachella. But I think Dreamstate will be a good goodbye for now. Dreamstate, by the way, is a trance-specific electronic festival that happens every year around Thanksgiving. It is therefore lovingly nicknamed Trancegiving. It has pure trance (my least favorite), progressive trance (my mostest favoritest), and psytrance (my secret love). CANNOT WAIT.

5. My friend Joe who left LA years ago texted me out of the blue to say hi and he missed me. He had moved to Rhode Island with his boyfriend, but now they've just relocated to Fort Lauderdale. Joe and I have had a strangely parallel trajectory through life - personally, emotionally, creatively, and even professionally. Anyway, he's an even later late owl than me and now we have a semi-regular engagement to share writing (he's an amazing poet), songs, and whatevers. It's been a happy, unexpected little re-connection. 

That's Joe behind me, in the pirate eye makeup:


6. I was walking home last night in such a fantastic mood that I started singing a made-up song with the refrain "Life is beautiful" when the second biggest cockroach I have ever seen came full tilt at my ankles (no seriously, he was at least six inches tall). Brief interruption, then I kept singing. 

Roach: 0, Ellie: 1.

yes I know how pronouns work, it was just a cute exchange at whole foods, okay?

 [ butcher counter ]


"Hi there, how can I help you?"

"Hey, can I get that small piece of the king salmon right there?"

"This one on top?"

"Yeah, the little guy."

He pulls it from the case. "How do you know it's not a girl?"

"Oof. You got me there." We smile at one another. 

"Could have been a female fish, right?" 

"Yeah, I don't know her pronouns. They / them..?"

Big laugh. Then, as he's wrapping it: "Actually, I think this was a boy."

"That's a relief."

Hands me my filet oh fish. Very direct smile and eye contact. "You have yourself a great night."

Holding up my dinner: "Thanks, we will."

gabriel II

(continued from here)

He didn't touch me for what felt like forever. We watched the ridiculous Deadmau5 visuals, we danced, we talked and joked around as best one can, when one can barely hear anything above the live music. He was fascinated with the upper level VIP area, where girls in cocktail dresses and high heels leaned out over the railing. "It looks so boring up there!" He shook his head, disappointed. I saw the girls watching him. He was tall enough and good looking enough to stand out easily. 

"Let's get a drink," he said, and took my hand to lead me through the crowd. He held it tight and the mere feeling of being touched, chaste as it was, absolutely sent me. At the perimeter of the dance floor he quasi-introduced me to someone he'd met earlier. I couldn't make out any names, and our proximity to the speakers made for some confusion between us and the bartenders. We ended up being helped by two, who looked annoyed when we all realized what was happening. I paid, tipping heavily.  

Back on the dance floor, Gabriel was playful and sociable with everyone around us. I was still completely sober, not a drop or a dose in me, so I was self-aware and a little self-conscious. I didn't know what the rules were. I wanted him to lead, and I was fully prepared to follow. But Deadmau5 wasn't playing the music of his that you can really couple up to. He was playing the bouncy stuff. And it was great. Then he dropped into My Pet Coelacanth and I screamed and jumped, and Gabriel hugged me. That was the shift. He moved behind me, lightly touching my hip or brushing against my lower back. I wanted to make sure he was feeling it, so I looked back over my shoulder to read his face. Up to this point we'd just been endlessly smiling and laughing. But his expression now was serious, and he pulled me sharply against him. I lost my breath and when it came back, I sighed deeply and leaned my head back on his chest. 

That's how it played out. We'd be apart for a few minutes, then he would pull me to him, moving my body comfortably. Possessively, even. By the time Deadmau5 played Imaginary Friends I was flirting back, hard. Plucking at his shirt, twisting it in my fingers, barely touching his stomach and then letting go and stepping back. Looking in his eyes the whole time. 

It was a lot of fun to say the least.

Before we knew it, it was two am. "Clock's running out." 

"Yeah, but you live four blocks from here," he replied, throwing back one of the first facts he'd learned about me, two hours earlier.

"I do live four blocks from here," I confirmed. 

"So we could leave and go start a new clock." 

"We could start a new clock," I agreed. Knowing, already, that I would never see him again after tonight. Visiting from San Francisco. Much younger. This would be it.

"Let's go do that."

---

Outside was depressing. The homeless, the mentally ill, the filthy streets. He assured me that SF isn't much better. We turned on Seventh, walking by bodies passed out on the sidewalk and boarded-up restaurants. I read his thoughts. "Bleak, huh?" 

He tilted his head back to look up at the skyscrapers. "I like the buildings."

Halfway there he objected that we'd gone at least four blocks already. "Yeah, but 'twelve blocks' doesn't sound as sexy." I was nervous, and filled the walk with chatter. We had not even kissed, yet here we were on the way to my apartment. I mentioned that he might want to check in with his friends so they wouldn't worry when he didn't show up back at the hotel, then peppered him with questions. Had he and his friends just driven down for the Deadmau5 show? Partly yes, and partly to surf and camp on the coast. Was he from San Francisco originally? No, Atlanta. Had he been to Bonnaroo? Yes, plenty of times. 

When I asked what other musicians he liked and he said ODESZA was his favorite, I refrained from telling him they were one of mine, too. 

"There might be dishes in the sink," I warned him suddenly.

"I don't care about dishes, but do you have a foam roller?"

"I have multiple foam rollers," I answered triumphantly. 

When we got to my place, I immediately dipped into the bathroom to shower. On the way I grabbed a pair of thin black lounge pants and an oversized, cropped, short sleeve sweatshirt. I hadn't eaten in hours and my stomach was as flat as it ever can be. May as well keep up the crop top theme. When I came out, Gabriel was on the floor by the door, working his back out with one of the aforementioned rollers. "Oh my god, at least come over here on the carpet."

It was then I remembered that one entire side of my platform bed's support slats were broken or missing. I'd been sleeping carefully to one side for months. 

"Soooo, my bed is kind of broken," I announced. We had not yet touched one another.

"Broken how?" He looked at it.

"The slats under the mattress are fucked up."

Gabriel raised his eyebrows at me. "How did that happen?"

"Someone was trying to be funny and threw themselves on the bed."

"Is it usable?"

I made a face. "Depends on the use."

"Well, we're gonna try." A beat, then: "Do you have an extra towel? I kinda wanna shower, too."

While Gabriel showered, I did a quick once-over of my apartment. In the refrigerator was leftover salmon, some spinach, and an open pack of hot dogs. Gross, but throwing any of that away would just make my place smell bad. I realized my daily work to-do list was posted on the fridge. Embarrassing, but pulling it down after he might have already seen it would be even weirder. Then I remembered that the small dry erase board on the side of the fridge had a motivational message written on it. I grabbed a dish towel and wiped Your future self will thank you for not giving up out of existence. 

Knowing there was a very real possibility that Gabriel's weight alone would finish off the bed entirely, I laid down on the shag rug that covers most of my bedroom area floor. Plenty of room for both of us. From the shower Gabriel called out updates. He had figured out which of my unmarked toiletry pumps was shampoo. He liked the drawing of my dog. His back was really tweaked from surfing today. 

He emerged shirtless, in his boxers, to find me laying on my back, listening to the ODESZA playlist I had put on during his brief absence. I smiled a sheepish smile. Look! I'm on the floor! Isn't that cute and campy? Who cares that my janky-ass bed is broken!

He smiled back at me and I had a split second to realize his body was even better than I'd expected before he lowered himself down on top of me.

"What's 'Monrow'?" he asked, referencing the graphic on my sweatshirt.

Monrow is an expensive loungewear brand. I had bought the top I was wearing used, off Poshmark. "It's a city," I lied.

"A city?"

"Or a brand or something? I don't know. Would you like me to change?"

"No," he said, moving his hands under my shirt, "but I want you to take it off, because holy shit these are fantastic..."

---

The bed did not hold. The bed gave us about seven or eight glorious minutes and then physics got the best of it. There was some comedy in the scene, but underneath I was furious with myself for not having fixed it yet. We clambered around naked, attempting to correctly reposition the incomplete line of wooden boards. But they just kept falling. I went to use the bathroom and Gabriel tried valiantly to replace the massive king mattress without disturbing the precarious boards underneath.

"Fuck!" 

I came out of the bathroom to find him standing frustratedly next to a sunken-in bed. "Can we just put the mattress on the floor?" He seemed defeated.

"We absolutely can." We slid the mattress down to the ground directly at the foot of the bed. By now it was well past three am. The vibe had changed. It was bedtime. 

---

The next hour was my favorite of the entire night. The next hour was what I didn't know I had needed so badly. The next hour was the kind of sweet, fun, uncomplicated but intimate connection I have been missing. Talking, teasing. Silly voices. Cuddling. Gabriel was exhausted from his SoCal adventure but he couldn't sleep. He'd try for a minute then turn back to me for more attention and talking, which I happily provided. He was young and restless and beautiful, and all mine for a few more hours. I ran my fingers through his hair, stroked his back, and listened to him talk. Commercial real estate. Competitive league soccer. Surfing. Wealthy friends. Finance and economics, startups and cryptocurrency. His monologue dropped a lot of clues suggesting a definite avoidance of girlfriends, which I called out. 

"You're extremely independent, aren't you? Like...it's just you, isn't it?"

"Yes," he said simply. 

I was too hungry to sleep, so I got up to reexamine the fridge contents. I could feel him evaluating my half-dressed body in the half light of the room. His age had come up in conversation - 29 - but mine had not. The silence around our age difference was not uncomfortable though. It was just a thing, unspoken and neutral.

I microwaved us hot dogs which felt like the most unsexy food I could possibly have made, but it was really the only option. When I handed him his (on a plate; I had no buns), he got excited. "Mustard? Oh hell yes."

"That's just the juice from the hot dog. I don't have any mustard, I'm sorry."

He finished his quickly. "Honestly that was the best hot dog I've ever had in my life." I believed him.

---

Neither of us really slept. He blamed his hurting back and being overly exhausted from the day. But I knew the real reason was the same as mine: neither of us are used to sharing a bed with someone. We've both lost that comfort level. 

We tossed and turned until ten am, when there was no denying the invasive summer light or the fact that he needed to go back to his hotel, his friends, and his life. He kissed me goodbye, and I fell asleep within minutes of him leaving.

---

Do you remember the other day at the beach? You took yourself to the coast, to have a think and a feel about life. To remind yourself that good things are coming, even if you can't see them yet.

This was such a thing. This was a small moment in your life, insignificant in the scheme of things. But what did it teach you? What did it make you feel and remember?

Connection happens, if you put yourself out there for it. 

You are beautiful and outgoing and people are drawn to you. People choose you. They choose your energy.

And if you keep putting yourself out there, soon enough someone will choose you and you will choose them back, and that connection will be full of all the things that, in your hardest moments, you think are gone forever.

They aren't gone at all. They're just waiting to be made again. That's why we keep going and trying. 

So keep going, keep trying, keep dancing. But fix your goddamn bed already.

gabriel

Deadmau5 on Sunday night. I have every intention of rolling in later, showing up just in time for his set. But then comments on social media warning attendees to arrive early spook me, so that's what I do. I walk up just past nine, and the line is already around the block. 

Once inside, I move quickly through my usual routine. Trip the bathroom - huge tip for the attendant. Bottle of water from the bar - huge tip for the bartender. Then it's into the main room to see how crowded it is, and how soon I'll need to stake out a spot. 

It's filling up fast; people have already planted themselves against the stage and others are pressing up close. Normally I don't want to be anywhere this densely packed. But in seven years of going to Deadmau5 shows, I haven't once yet been near enough to see his actual face. And his music means a lot to me. After the past year + of personal, professional, social and romantic hell, tonight is a celebration. Tonight I want to see the face of the person whose music always helps me through. Just for a little bit, then I'll drift back. That's the plan, anyway.

The first opener isn't really my vibe, but I stay put. If I give up my place now, before I've met anyone to anchor myself to, I'll never get it back. But it isn't long before a couple of kids, absolute babies, adopt me. Matt and Nate. Matt looks like he just wandered out of a Kinko's, circa 1998. Long blonde ponytail, light blue oxford, pale, short and slight. Nate, also smaller than me, wears a short sleeve pink button down printed all over with palm trees. Matching my anticipation, Nate makes it his job to update me every few minutes on how much longer we have to wait for the headliner. "Thirty-seven more minutes." "Sixteen more minutes." "Four more minutes." They are friendly and unthreatening, and they are simultaneously fascinated and concerned that I've come alone. 

"We'll take care of you," Matt assures me with the confidence of the blissfully high. 

Everyone having more or less settled into their real estate for the night, we chat up our neighbors, dancing and laughing. This is the scene I've been missing. The second opener, Morgin Madison, is spectacular, and the visuals for his set are the most beautiful I've ever seen. Psychedelic swirls of color, geometric then organic, endlessly hypnotic. I'm 100% sober, people are jostling me continuously, but I don't care. Matt and Nate drift away and back in their engagements with the crowd.

Then: a booming voice over my right shoulder: "GIVE US THE MOOOOUSE!!" Everyone turns to see the culprit, which is a tall guy in a red soccer jersey. Seems to be with the couple he's standing beside. Early thirties. Athletic build. Brown hair and bright brown eyes. He doesn't look high or drunk. He just looks like he's having a fantastic time, and I smile at his mischievous energy. He sees my smile, smiles back. My heart thumps a little, and I turn back towards the stage, now keenly aware of his presence. Very, very rarely do I pay any attention to dudes at shows or festivals. I'm there for one thing and one thing only: the music. But the reason I very, very rarely pay attention to dudes at shows?

Because very, very rarely do I not have a boyfriend. 

Not half a minute later: "WE WANT THE MOUUUUUSEE! BRING OUT THE MOOOUSE!!" This time when I turn back he's waiting for my look. His grin is playful, daring. That one was for me. Our eyes lock and somewhere in some dimension of this occasionally ruthless, occasionally gorgeous universe, something clicks. I hold his gaze long enough to say, wordlessly: yes. Pretending to return my attention to the stage, I can now feel him watching me. He's moved up closer; there's just a single body between us. My movements become deliberate. I straighten my shoulders, arching my back in time to the music. I casually adjust the bottom of my cropped t-shirt to draw his attention to my stomach and lower back. 

The musician onstage appears to be winding down, then doesn't. Then does it again. "How many times is he gonna dooo that??" I shoot a look over my shoulder. He's angled such that he could have been speaking to me. So close I could touch him. I decide, Fuck it. I'll go first.

"First time?" I tease. 

He laughs. "What, seeing Deadmau5?" I nod. "Second." I scoff and make a face. That's nothing

"And you?" The stranger that was positioned between us has suddenly moved off. 

I hold up my right hand and splay my fingers. "Five times." My expression says I win

"Well excuse me, Miss...Miss..." He looks down the length of my body for something to make fun of. "...water bottle."

I point my water bottle at him and say with mock seriousness, "Hydration is very important."

"No kidding. I wish I had some of that." 

Wordlessly, I offer my bottle to him. A year and a half ago, this gesture would have meant nothing. Sharing water at electronic shows, even among total strangers, is very common. It's a caring community, and everyone knows the dangers of getting locked tight into a crowd without water. But tonight? Less than a month since re-opening, on the heels of a global pandemic that still isn't over? We both know the significance of swapping spit. His eyes don't leave mine as he drinks and hands the bottle back. "Thank you," he mouths.

A tap on my shoulder. Matt has been watching this interaction and is fulfilling his promise to watch over me. "You good?" He gives me a meaningful look and questioning thumbs up, which I return. "You sure?" I nod vigorously. "Okay." And with that I am left unchaperoned for the rest of my evening. 

Red jersey and I barely have time to register that yes, we are definitely going to watch this show together, before the show suddenly starts. And it's loud. Really, really loud. He correctly hears my name when he asks but I can't make out his, despite how close his mouth is to my ear. I take out my phone, open the notepad app, and write NAME while watches, laughing. When I hand him the phone he spaces down a line and then types F - backspace - G - A - B. 

"Gab?" He nods, then leans close again. "Gabriel," he says, pronouncing it with a short 'a'.

"Gabriel," I repeat back. The pronunciation throws me off, so I say it again, slowly. "Gaaabriel." We are both smiling way too much. Now that I'm next to him, I can see the way his clothes drape across his body. Mostly, though, I'm noticing that he has the warmest, deepest brown eyes I've ever seen. 

I'm pretty sure it's going to be a great night. 

your friday, my wednesday

Just a couple of really beautiful songs today:

Close Enough, by Corren Cavini (feat. The Ultraverse):

   

 Kolkata (extended mix), by Dekkai: