Friday, June 29, 2012

Semper Fi

On the way back from the beach we used to stop at the Bradford Bridge so all the boys could jump off it. We were like clowns in a circus car getting out of the VW.  “Ow”, someone said. “Quit it”. All the boys got out: Miles and Geoffrey, Pete and Eric while the rest of us stayed in the back seat, sunburned and sandy, our hair tangled stiff from the salt water. We shared coloring books and drew with melted crayons that we had peeled from the pack. My aunt Nancy sat sideways in the front seat smoking a joint and dancing with her shoulders and head.

What's for dinner?
Poop Sandwiches.
Poop Sandwiches with relish and corn on the cob.

When Miles yelled we all turned our heads together to look out the back. Nancy jumped out and walked towards them, her towel still wrapped around her waist. What is it?
Oh! we pointed. Someone gasped.
Pete was in between Geoff and Miles, an arm over each shoulder, hopping on one foot. Blood was pouring out in streams above his ankle. 
He hit a rock on the way in, Miles said. He seemed more upset than Pete who wanted to sit and examine it. He was half laughing.
We all got out of the car and circled around him. I remember Erin, the littlest of us, rubbed his back.
Do you need stitches?
Nancy pulled her towel off and set it under his foot. No I think it's ok.
Is it broken?
I don't want a cast.
Then you can't swim!
Can you move it?
Pete flexed his foot this way and that.
I think it's good.
Nancy wrapped her towel around it. Now it looks like you have a head growing out of your foot, she said.
Can I go in one more time? This from Geoff.
Ok, but hurry.
We all shuffled back to the car and piled in. Three of us squeezed in the front seat. Pete was wincing a little. It's ok, he said. Nance beeped the horn for Geoff to hurry. We all turned to watch him standing on the bridge. He looked at us and gave the thumbs up, then with a knee forward he jumped out, turning to salute us on the way down.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Route of My Funny

I have a weird slideshow of images that pops up whenever I think of the word “school”. None of them have a connection to specific memories, happy or otherwise, of my time there, and they all, oddly, are from middle school.
In one, there is the hallway where the two sections of 6th grade had classrooms. Just the hallway, empty, with two doors both cracked open a bit. I know it sounds ominous, but it’s not. I didn’t have a weird experience with the janitor. I wasn’t bullied or reprimanded or sent to stand out there because I was being disruptive. It’s just a hallway with two doors but like an empty stage, quiet, un-peopled, waiting.
It’s like a dream. 
But then when I think about it I do remember a few specific instances that happened in those rooms. And maybe these instances do actually have something to with my development. Maybe they have something to say about how I became the way that I am.  One of them happened behind the door on the left. This was Miss. Watson’s classroom. She was the teacher, a former nun, who said that when a child died it was for a reason: that if he had grown up he would have committed crimes or been a bad person. This made no sense to me and when I asked why, if that were true, were there criminals and bad people who existed anyway, she stared at me for (what seemed like) a full minute of satanic silence and then changed the subject.
Anyway, one day in her class, she used the word prostitution (WTF, Miss Watson?... I don’t remember what we were talking about, maybe The Scarlet Letter?). I quickly raised my hand and said “What’s prostitution?” and everyone laughed. In my memory, at this point, there is the loud sound effect of a head-on two-car collision starting with the sound of brakes and ending with the actual impact, I look slowly to my left, looking for someone, anyone, who might be on my team, then to my right, hoping to see someone else who was shrugging and mouthing the words I don’t get it, but all I can see are slow motion Happy donkey faces laughing and laughing and laughing. I remember feeling completely ashamed and confused and instantly getting a lump in my throat. Miss Watson, who assumed I was being a smart ass, again, explained it and then I felt doubly mortified.
But still.
People were laughing.
People were laughing, so I took credit. When people treat you a certain way, most of the time you can rise to the occasion.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


From my bed this morning it sounds like someone is mowing his lawn right outside my window. I know this can’t be true because 1. It’s 4:30 in the morning and 2. My window overlooks a sidewalk. I consider for a second whether or not I am imagining this sound, whether it spilled out of my dream, instead of the reverse. I decide to get up and have a look.
It’s a truck.
It’s a truck, but it’s so dilapidated it might actually be a lawnmower with a cab on the front and some rotted wood panels duct-taped on the back. Some guy is routing through the garbage cans lined up on the street, while the driver slowly inches forward behind him like a hungry pedophile following a pack of cheerleaders.
This is how I wake up.
I have a good yawn and a stretch and a scratch. I wish I could be that industrious. They are looking for pieces of metal, these pirates. It can’t be a big moneymaker but there they are, driving through the nabe, searching for bits and scraps to trade in and hustle a couple of bucks.
Lately I get stuck in the morning trying to think of things to write about. I think maybe I should post a few photos. I think about how I should write more about myself, and my secrets, about my relationships and desires and what’s happening with my career. About one person I miss so much I get a pain in my chest when I think of him; about how I wish things didn’t have to be so difficult. And then I think in an odd way I already am writing about those things, that they may sound like one thing but really they’re another.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Watching From Across The Street With a Pair of Binoculars

I recently got an email at work about an offer to join a website that has 11 million horny members. I don’t really have a concept of 11 million people so all I can think of is some sort of mob scene at a football stadium where people are climbing all over each other like some weird anthill cluster of pelvic-thrusting zombies. It’s not really something I want to be a part of. Ok, maybe if I was in a building across the street with a pair of binoculars. Then, you know, I might be curious. But it doesn’t sound like that much fun; feet would get stomped, throats punched, hair pulled. And before you start calling me a party pooper, let’s narrow the view down from the football stadium to your own little neighborhood, to the 100 or less people you see every day. I mean, yes it’s a given really, everyone you see is horny for a fraction of time during the day, but what if they were, you know, really horny. What if you were walking your dog down the street and you noticed your neighbor leering at you from his porch and pointing to his lap.

Hey Mr. Garcia, how's it--oh!

“For people who know what they want and want to take it to the next level” This is the next thing it says in the email. What if you know what you want but you don't know how to take it to the next level. What if you're not sure that it has anything to do with being horny, but may have something to do with being hungry. I was afraid to click the link for fear of opening up some sort of (literal and physical) virus so I just left it at that.

I want to think about things that are important to me, I want to try to figure things out. I want to have a good relationship and have a nice house and be able to pay my bills. I want my children to be happy and healthy. I want to see my friends and take vacations and finish things that I start. I don't know where or how 11 million horny members taking things to the next level fit into to all this but I can't help being totally distracted by them.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Way All Old Time Wild West Conversations Must End

“You must really love tin foil,” the 13 year old said to me. She said it to me the way an old time wild west cowboy says it to his victim before he shoots him right between the eyes with his colt 45.
I didn’t know how to respond, “Yes, I do?”
She exhaled a puff of air through her nose. Why isn’t dinner ready yet?
Mom I’m starving!
Me too! 
Mom, I’m really hungry.
I am too?
That's enough Mom.
No more joking.
No more question marks.
All right.
Just put your hands where I can see em.
I'm trying to-
Uh-uh-uh. Just get the food and put it in the pan.
Come on.
No talking, Mom.
But I'm just trying to get the--
I told you. No talking.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Amar- All Great Achievements Require Time

This vid is almost 10 minutes long but it's worth it. It's a documentary by Andrew Hinton that follows a day in the life of a 14 year old Indian boy who has two jobs, goes to school and lives with his family in a single room. I like the details in this: Amar polishing his shoes before school,  holding a small mirror while he combs his hair; but mostly I just like Amar who just keeps on keepin on despite all the energy and spirit crushing hustle around him.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


The lady told me she saw a coyote and then I didn’t hear anything else she said. She said it like it was just two syllables, the first of which rhymed with joy. It disturbed me. It temporarily disrupted my ability to have any further exchange with her. I know. It’s weird. What can I tell you? All I could do was fade out and watch her mouth moving. I carried on a different conversation inside my head.

“She just said coy-oat.
She did.
What the hell is going on?
I think she’s Hispanic.
She doesn’t have any other accent.
Maybe it’s her one word that she likes to say with an accent.
Like the guy on NPR?

She went on to tell me that she thought the coy-oat had killed her cat. She was sad about it and while usually I feel sympathetic to this sort of thing, I was thrown. It was the sort of conversation you have occasionally when, once it’s over, you think, I don't know what just happened but I hope I said the right thing and behaved well.

People mispronounce my name all the time. They say Deedra or Deardree or Deedree. Sometimes they just say fuck it and call me a whole different name like Desiree or Deardorfer. Through my life history I've gone from being confused by this to being sad to being annoyed, feeling like the person was lazy or mean, and judging him because of it. Now I'm mostly indifferent. Although I never give my real name at coffee places. Maybe it's because of this I am stumped at all other mispronunciations.

The coyotes in my neighborhood come out at night and trot down the middle of the street like the cool kids in high school. They yip and howl so you know that they are there. They kill small animals and hide all the evidence. Occasionally the pack will break up and one will stand alone in someone's yard waiting. When they see a pet they say "Hey there little kitten, what's happenin? I'm just a wild and wounded animal. Come on, we can be buddies". Then the cat or the little dog will go to them and they will play for a while until the coyote trots off, luring the little guy after him, leading him straight to the pack who is waiting down the hill with their saliva drenched fangs exposed.

I don’t think they care how anyone pronounces their name.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


About 12 years ago I lived in a loft next to my landlord's office. He lived with his mother who had Altzheimer's and when he came to work he'd leave her outside in his truck with the windows cracked. Sometimes for a couple of hours. You're probably thinking oh, that's horrible. I did too, until I went to chitchat with her a couple of times and each time she'd start the conversation with a variation of "That nigger stole my purse". After that I didn't really care what he did with her.

He was always in a rotten mood. I would hear him sometimes through the kitchen wall. I could hear him let out a groan and say "I don't care", each word a sentence by itself, in a voice that sounded simultaneously perplexed and enraged. Sometimes I just wished they could both go be miserable somewhere else.

And yet.

There were afternoons when I would take her to the park with Darla and me. She would sit on the bench and look off into the distance, trying to hold onto the things inside her head. Every once in a while she'd say, he was such a nice boy or "oh no, my hair is a disaster, I simply can't" and then laugh shyly, and I could see a glimpse of her fading story.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Spending Time in Stores

I noticed a couple having a loud awkward conversation in Target. It was awkward because while it seemed like they must have been married (there were kids hanging on to the cart) the lady was speaking in  the kind of voice you use with someone you've never met before. She was talking about sun tan lotion.

I always use 100 spf, although they say over 50 it doesn't count for anything. Why take risks though. I have fair skin.

I think I actually stopped my cart to stare at them. If they were really a couple, wouldn't he already know that she uses an un-necessarily high spf sun block. Certainly he'd have to know she had fair skin, wouldn't he? She was talking in a loud voice though, and she did have two small children, maybe she was just batshit crazy.

I have always liked going to the store with family members and friends, (not children though usually they are begging and it's too exhausting); you get to see whether they are efficient and speedy, reckless and sloppy, or confused and lost; how they talk to strangers; how they handle their money.

I am in stores every day it seems; the grocery store is so familiar it feels like it's mine somehow and while most of the time I just plod through, sometimes it's fun to set up a scene for yourself. Lately I've used this song as my grocery soundtrack. I just put on the earphones, imagine 3 or 4 helicopters circling the parking lot and go in.

Friday, June 8, 2012


My neighbor Mike was standing outside watering his car (as Darla puts it), spraying the dust off because on our street everything gets layered with the stuff, but really he was just checking out the scene.

Hey Mike, what's going on.

Mike lives in the same house he grew up in: a duplex with his wife and his son on one side and his mother and grandmother in the other. God bless him. His grandmother is one of those old ladies who you only ever see behind the screen door and she's usually yelling. She really gets set off if you touch her trash can. I think she sits in a chair by the door listening for someone to lift the lid and then she's up behind the screen yelling in Spanish.

I'm just looking for a poop bag, Mrs Perez, hi! (get back inside, you old crab) Beautiful day!

They have a dog, a miniature pinscher named Gwenyth. She's the loudest, and smallest, goddam dog on the block. I'm pretty sure she thinks she's a full sized Doberman and it's too bad she's not because she would have been a beautiful champion. She gives it her all with the barking. Her bark is so aggressive and vicious it actually causes her tiny body to become stiff and lift off the ground. I love that sassy little thing. Couldn't hurt a flea.

I'm still standing with Mike while he's watering the car.
Where's Gwenie?
She's inside resting.
She's on her period.
She's bleeding out her whistle.
Mike! Jesus.
For real.
She's like 16 isn't she?
Happens every year.
Wait, isn't it-
Fuckin dog. (he says it with pride)
I thought dogs...I mean, don't they--
Bleeding all over the place.

I watched him watering. He seemed a little melancholy. He must have known then that something wasn't right.

A few days later I saw Gwenie walking around two blocks away from my street.
Hey Sassy!
She looked up and growled at me but I wasn't sure if it was her or not, so I went straight to Mike's house and knocked on the door. Gran yelled from the back of the house, Who is it? It would have taken half the energy to just walk to the door but this is how she does.

I think I just saw Gwen over on Kensington.
She died.
Yeah three days ago. Ok see you later.

She closes the door in my face before I have time to speak. I just saw her a few days ago! I walked back to the other street to see if she was still there or if I had seen her ghost. I'm hoping it was, I like to think of her walking through the neighborhood, itching for a fight.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Circle of My Imagination

                                                      This guy.

The ocean and the highway and the fans at Dodgers Stadium have a similar sound; listening to one, you can imagine the other. It’s weird. It’s the sound of coming and going. All I can say really is that it’s a nice sound to hear when you’re lying in your room in the dark. It’s a nice sound to keep coming back to when your mind starts chattering like an agitated monkey in the jungle. One of my favorite sounds comes early in the morning from the guy delivering papers: slow rolling wheels, plop, slow rolling wheels, plop. He always comes at the exact same time, I assume it’s a he, and he is the best distraction of all. Not only is the sound kind of funny, it’s a direct link from the inside of your head to another place on the other side of the world: there’s you in your bed under the covers, to the guy in the car, to the voice on the radio station in his car, to the man who is reading that news, to the subject of that news, who is a soldier in Afghanistan, who is walking down a hot street with his gear and his helmet wishing he was back in his home in his own bed under the covers. And then the birds start singing.

Friday, June 1, 2012


 I'm reposting an oldie and I'm sorry if you read it before. I promise next week I will have all new all the time. But this one has the added bonus of a joke. Tell it to all your friends (if you can find any that haven't heard it) and you'll be the hit of the party.

I am not afraid of insects. I can scoop up a spider and calmly walk outside while everyone else is screaming. I can sweep up a pulsing mound (I said pulsing mound) of termites or ants. But if I see a mouse, I am the first one up a table crying. Yes crying. The fur/scittering/bulging eyes/naked tail combo is too much for me. Once a long time ago I lived in an apartment on top of a pub and we'd get armies of mice in our kitchen. I was not afraid then, mainly because I never saw them, I only saw the "clues" they left behind. I could hear them squeaking at night and tip-toeing around the counter tops, though. When we used the broiler, the whole place would smell like warm toasting mouse turds.
At first I bought "have a heart" traps which were tiny rectangular boxes with an open door, and when the little guy went in for the cheese, the trap would tilt like a see-saw causing the door to gently close behind him.
I went through a half pound of cheese, enough to feed a hundred extended families of mice, before realizing that they had figured the thing out after the first night. And then really what would I have done if he had been trapped in there? I would have put him outside and it would have only been a matter of hours before he navigated his way back through the pub and up through the ceiling, across the floor and back to the kitchen.
By the time we agreed to get the snapping traps, my boyfriend and I were so fed up with the turds and the smell and the midnight squeaking that it didn't feel bad crushing their tiny skulls beneath a metal bar night after night after night.
I was reminded of all this when I saw the above photo and read the joke below. I hope I can be forgiven.
Three mice are sitting at the bar arguing over who is the toughest. The first mouse orders a shot of Scotch, drinks it and says, “I’m so tough I trip mouse traps with my foot then do 20 bench presses with the trap bar and eat the cheese.” The second mouse orders 2 shots of bourbon, drinks them and says, “When I see rat poison I grind up as much as I can carry and mix it in my coffee.” The third mouse says, “I don’t have time for this, I have to go home and bang the cat.”