Tonight the sun is a dark red dot in the sky. The fires that burn here in California have left a haze that seems to have swallowed the valley. From the hills it descends and keeps us muted, unnerved and on edge. I see people craning their necks and blinking stupidly at the copper toned sunlight as it muddles its way down to us through the heavy skies.
I wish you were here to see this. I know you would have a story to tell, an anecdote to recall, and that the artist in you would find the whole thing beautiful even in the danger and devastation. I remember that night in Elko when we burnt that entire pack of cigarettes, just to watch them burn, and you kept telling me that even these disgusting things had a sort of beauty in their ashes.
I find myself missing you more as an adult than I ever could have imagined missing you as the headstrong teenager you knew. At the time, I thought I would never stop hurting… I thought the pain of loosing you would be unbearable and that your shadow would follow me. I was right, and yet I had no idea.
I didn’t know that I would miss you while sleeping beside another, that in my dreams I am always back in some random hotel room along the Nevada highway naked between crisp white sheets, my legs interwoven with yours. In the final moments before sleep when you would sing to me, your voice heavy with fatigue and your words slurred slightly I felt at peace… a peace I have never felt again.
Its been ten years, but I still feel you near me. It’s the movement out of the corner of my eye, the shadow that doesn’t really belong, the sound of someone breathing nearby… and if I just move fast enough, if I just look close enough I know I will see you.
Funny, its not the big moments when I need you. Graduations, weddings, long lonely nights in the hospital… in these moments there were plenty of other people, plenty of other distractions and when I thought of you it was with a vague sense that really you should be there, but the fact that you weren’t simply slipped by, the almost unnoticed movement of fabric between fingers.
No, I need you most on quiet nights like tonight. I miss you in tiny dressing rooms while trying on something pretty for the man who’s affection I hope to inspire. I miss you when I open a bottle of red wine and breathe in the first musky aroma. I miss you when I slip into daydreams while bagging groceries. I miss you when I see the sunset.
My father always answers the phone in the most polite way possible. Its always “good morning” “good afternoon” good evening”…. Never ever the more common (and less intimidating) “Hello!” of most of my friends. I tend to rely on my caller ID and change my tone and inflection appropriately. “Bon Giorno!” “HEY!!!!” “Hi ya!” and even “Yo Bitch!” all can be a totally fine way to answer the phone in my opinion, providing your caller ID is working.
But I called my dad, so I am more polite, “Hi Daddy.”
“Hello?” My father, refuses to say my name out loud and always sounds surprised when I call. I call often.
“”Its me, hi”
“Oh hello! Yes?”
This is why I will sometimes write notes before calling. The acceptance of wasted time and space on the phone for my father is minuscule.
“I just wanted to call you, to wish you a happy father’s day.”
“Oh? Well thank you.”
“Sure, I got you something, maybe I’ll see you sometime this week… or something.” I am actually quite proud of what I got him… It was a random impulse buy at a Santa Cruz book shop… something that he will either love and appreciate the sentimental value or else be mildly confused but polite in his thanks.
“Well that’s nice. Thank you.” He could be talking about anything… in his case, he is talking about everything.
I love my dad… In the last few years I have even grown to like him as a person. The estrangement from my rebellious teen days is enough behind me to offer perspective… and the fact that when he was my age he was dealing with a troublesome child… and I can’t be trusted to keep plants alive, has given me a certain amount of respect for him. I have gotten over any parenting issues he may have had. At 25, who wouldn’t have parenting issues?
The pause goes on.
But the thing is… I have a hard time talking to my dad. I don’t always know what to say. Usually that is, I usually don’t know what to say.
The pause goes on, still.
And the other thing is, that I know he doesn’t really know what to say to me either. We have fall back conversational topics, my job (and how I am not ambitious enough), my romantic life (and –again- how I am not ambitious enough), my health and general eating habits (where my lack ambition is traded for a sever case of apathy when it comes to keeping track of my iron and protein intake, something that I know continually saddens my father the chef).
In the background I hear the hose running, I can picture him on the sidewalk washing down the cars. I know they are probably covered with ash… the fires in the valley left the entire area with ash laden cars and a decidedly apocalyptic hue in the air. I know my father can’t stand a dirty car. I know he was fascinated by the smoke in the air and the smell of fire on the wind. I imagine that it reminded him of the yearly burning out at the ranch. I wonder if he remembers taking me out with him and my uncles (me being thrilled at being included) to watch and maintain the burn piles. I wonder if he knows how much it meant to me.
I wait for him to speak because I have too much to say. He clears his throat.
“So, what’s new?”
This is my moment… and I weigh my options.
I could be sentimental. I could tell him that I love him, that I value his steadiness, that I am glad he is my father, honored that he chose to be my dad.
I could be emotionally open and slightly vulnerable and tell him that I broke up with my boyfriend (who was never really my boyfriend), or that one of my closest friends found a lump and we are all scared shitless of what that may mean.
But the mushy stuff always increases the awkwardness.
“I was in Santa Cruz the other day and a bird attacked my head.”
When in doubt …. Pull out the most recent anecdote from “my chaotic life of continual adventure; true stories brought to you by Kay, weirdo magnet extradinare.”
“What?” I can almost hear him almost drop the hose. The whooshing comes to a halt.
“Its true… I was walking down the sidewalk and this big black bird swooped down and then I felt something big and sharp on the back of my head.”
It actually is true… Santa Cruz has been nothing but interesting for me… and it had actually hurt quite a bit not to mention that it had scared me beyond words.
“Why? What do you mean?”
I have his attention now, but its fleeting and I rush to tell the story before I lose it.
“I know right? It was so scary, I don’t know what it was doing or why, but it hit me, or clawed at me or something… a few guys came out and waved newspapers at it and it flew away, but it was horrible.”
My hand gestures are lost to him but I wave my arm anyway as if this nonverbal show of agitation can somehow travel inter-line and get to him.
“It just flew near you?”
“No, it flew at me… it hit me in the head. I’m ok and everything, but it was so strange.”
And that is that. The hose whooshes back on. I lack the words to tell him anything of substance and even my “exciting story of the week” has really failed to impress him.
“Yeah well, it was interesting, but I’m fine.”
“Well, ok then,”
“You guys doing anything special for father’s day?” I know the answer even before he says it, but sometimes people need to hear the question.
“Having some steaks” And then, “Do you and Jessica want to come over?”
I resist pointing out my status as a vegetarian.
“Can’t today… I just got home, Jessica is out, and I am pretty tired, just going to go to bed. It was an odd weekend… you know, with the bird and stuff.”
I can hear him nod, I don’t think he is surprised. But still, the offer was made and I appreciate it. I want to tell him that I am just too emotionally raw right now to do the family thing, that I fear turning into a puddle of tear water pathetic messiness at any moment. Instead,…
“But thanks, some other time.”
He shifts the phone to his other ear. I know what’s coming and I beat him to the punch.
“Anyway, I have to go, but I just wanted to call and say Happy Father’s Day!”
“Ok, thanks for calling.”
“No problem. Love you Daddy.”
I have always called him Daddy. I am 27 years old. I doubt it will ever change. Something else that will probably never change:
It’s a quiet night and I am pacing in the living room. Candles are lit, there are apples and bottles of dry white wine, I prefer the dry to the overly fruity, a preference I have known since what seems like the beginning of time even though the reasons behind it have never been discussed or even considered. This bottle was a gift; a birthday gift from a friend who I thought I had lost but no, lo and behold she came to my party, with a bottle of what is proving to be a delightful bottle of wine. The apples were also a gift, this time a Christmas gift from my boss’s boss… one of those gifts that is thoughtful and thoughtless at the same time. I had rolled my eyes when I opened the box and had actually put off eating many of the apples because after all, they are just apples and I might be a part time vegetarian but that doesn’t mean that I have to eat piles of fruit… or even boxes. The box came complete with a paper map insert that would helpfully tell you what sorts of apples they were, where they were cultivated, and what exactly made them oh so very special. I threw it out without even glancing at it; the symbolism not lost.
I had debated re-gifting the entire thing to my super but in the end I thought that after the holiday rush I would eat them slowly over time… an apple a date as the new year began. I had a vague notion of starting a new dating diary (the old one already hopelessly full of his name) and using the apples as metaphors for the men themselves. “After diner and coffee with Michael I returned home and chose a smooth rosy apple. Its overall dumpy appearance seemed in line with the man I had just spent the better part of the evening with and if there was a bit of mushy sweetness to be found under the blemished skin, well that would be fitting as well….”
Tonight though the apples had called out to me and seemed the perfect companion to my wine and so I am working my way through the box. Another “brilliant” writing idea lost forever due to melancholy and an empty fridge.
There is music of course, because I am me and the me that I am needs music… the background sound, the inner soundtrack made public, the temptation to get lost in the vibrations, the words or in some cases just the emotions for a moment and forget everything else. It can be so freeing to borrow someone else’s emotions, even if it only lasts three minutes. I wander through the tiny rooms of my apartment nodding my head, swaying my hips, raising the bottle again and again I am not a wino, I just don’t happen to own any wine glasses and for some reason drinking straight out of the bottle seems to make more sense than drinking white wine from a coffee mug. I have a lot of coffee mugs and no wine glasses… a bit ironic since I only drink coffee in paper cups from coffee shops and I drink a fair bit of wine.
A bit more than a third through the bottle and I am starting to think more and more about sex and less and less about loss… which was the point of drinking this particular bottle in the first place. Had I wanted to wallow in sadness, missed chances and long lost loves I would have opened the merlot. (Also a gift, my friends know me and I love them.)
A new apple, this one has pale pink skin and bright pink insides… it was one of the smallest in the box and I tossed it between my hands before biting into it… toss… toss…. The sound it made against my palms lost in the pulsing beat from my stereo. I have it turned up loud so that even if my phone were to ring I wouldn’t’ hear it… Later I will check and be sadly disappointed that there are no missed calls of declarative love and apology but for now I can trick myself into the delusion that I am busy and not caring at all if he should call….
I dance by myself under the white Christmas lights and wait for the poetry floating around in my mind like an errant butterfly to land, to pause in its flight even for a moment, only for a moment, just one little moment… (True that my poetry laden mind is more of a hummingbird, but butterflies are prettier and don’t remind me of my ex mother in law, so lets stick with butterflies okay?) I know I can lose myself in the wine, the poetry, the lights, and the incense, did I mention the incense? It is vanilla and sweet. So is the blushing apple who’s insides so aptly mirror its outside.
f only we could all be an apple, even for a day.
An apple a day, an apple a date, an apple for every memory.
Suddenly tears threaten and I spin away back under the lights, bottle lifted high, the faint acidic taste of wine left out a tad too long forgotten as I drink….
The bottle is half gone and I consider getting a glass of water… it would take the edge off, but isn’t the edge the entire point? It would be easy… there are two sinks in this apartment and an entire army of dusty coffee mugs waiting to be used. It isn’t like at a bar where you have to find your way to the bar, maneuvering your way through the crowd, getting a rush and simultaneous sense of disgust as you squeeze your body between the other sweaty customers waiting their turn until you arrive at last at the stools and booze soaked counter… then there is the waiting for the bartender to notice you, the flagging down, the lean in whisper shout for water and then the wait…. Because you don’t always have to pay and they know you won’t tip, they only give you water out of a sense of duty or a desire to clean up less puke later on. The other people at the bar don’t want you there, your water desire has reminded everyone that we are human, we get drunk, we fall down, there are limits and freedom has a cost… they want you to go away with your water so they can go back to pretending. No, here, at home it would be easier to get a drink of water. For a moment I wonder if drinking alone in my home is really what I pretend: the responsible less expensive option… or if it is just a bit sad and depressing. I settle that it is a bit of both and pick another apple from the box.
This next one is big, must be one of the biggest in the box and I almost can’t bear to bite into it. I picked it at random, just stuck my hand in to the inner darkness of the box and moved bout until at last there was the deciding moment of “yes, this is the one” and out came the apple. The kitchen is dark, the light hasn’t worked since I moved in almost a year ago, and even though I knew at once that it was a big apple I knew nothing else about it until I got it under the lights, near the candles. Fortifying myself with stale wheat thins (to offset the nauseating feel of the slick insides of apple after apple) I study it and am impressed by its size and girth. Like so many things in my life, there is a moment of abject concentration, of intense focus and then … its gone, just something that lingers in memory, hesitating on the edges of consciousness but not really there anymore except in memory’s shadow. I suddenly realize I don’t care that this apple is big, that the box of stale wheat thins was in fact a box of stale wheat thin crumbs, and that the level of wine in the bottle is dramatically lower than just a moment ago. All I want in this moment is to devour the fruit, to rip its outsides with my teeth, to let its juices dribble, to slurp and gobble and ram it into my mouth at chock hazarding speeds. If I can move fast enough, or with enough dramatic intent, surly I will not be lost.
I am feeling the wine now. My face is slightly numb and my hands want to wander. The music is random and yet I find secret hidden meanings in all the lyrics of the songs that play,. “yes,” I tell myself “this is the song that sums up my entire life… or at least the part that relates to him, at least as far as right now… I should email it to him without any comment or explanation, see what happens.” And then of course I realize that not only would that be breaking the rules of “no contact” but it would be almost as pathetic as a drunk dial at 10:30 pm. Oh my god, its only 1030.
The neck of the bottle is sticky, my hands are sticky… somewhere in the back of my mind there is poem about sticky clinging hands, the hands of a child, a petulant child being needy and clinging to another out of a false sense of hope… that the other will make it all better. All better it could be with a word, or rather, a grouping of words that would have the curative meaning that I yearn for. I wonder about this poem, is it even worth writing? Would it even matter? But writing as a child, filled with childish needs is too close to home and I use a bit of spit (not mommy spit, but spinster spit) to clean the sticky apple and wine drops from my hands.
In a flash I realize how gross that is, how desperately sad and horrific… For a moment I am stunned and then repulsed I wash myself in the bathroom avoiding eye contact with the mirror. My mind is understandably moving a tad slower so it just now occurred to me that the wine will run out, it will be early yet… there are hours before dawn will come and save me from the darkness.
The next apple taunts me. I could eat this apple, but it is so big and for some reason its size is intimidating… it was king of the apples and if I eat it, it will be nothing more than saliva coated core… like the others in the kitchen, relegated to nothing but the barest form of its insides. Who wants that? Not me. I feel instantly a sense of camaraderie with this apple, and yes I know that is the wine talking but I don’t really care at this point. I will go eat a different apple, maybe even some cold cereal (raisin bran!) but this apple needs to stay right here next to my computer waiting for its moment. It deserves that, it should be looked at and appreciated, even if it is just for a moment, even if it is just for a moment by a silly drunk lonely girl.
Who better to look at it?
Who better to understand its beauty and short life span of being important and special?
The raisin bran box is as empty as the fridge and the cracker box was and in a moment of slight spinning (was the sink always on this side of the kitchen?) I wonder if my entire kitchen (home, life) is just set dressing… a model home… am I just a random stop on the tour “look kids… go to college, but for god’s sake don’t major in English…” “look kids, on your right you will see what happens when you marry too young, divorce too late, and then fall for an emotionally unavailable man…. And for gods sake when you buy yourself a set of silverware, pick up a set of wine glasses.”
I have lived on my own for seven months but I don’t own silverware.
The wine is down to about 2 inches left and I am starting to wonder if the freedom moment will ever happen.. .maybe writing while drinking has ruined what I like to call the “magic moment”… the wonderful moment of loss and total surrender that usually happens when I drink. Although, that usually happens with more up beat music, more hard liquor, and lots of lights and dancing people.
The rules, the self imposed rules tell me that I can’t call him. I can’t write to him, I know this. I accept this. I understand this. But oh my gods I don’t like this.
I pace below the lights, a mistake I am sure because I want nothing more than to lay down in his arms and rest but I can’t seem to stop…. I am running and I don’t even really know why. No wait I know why. I just don’t know where I am running to.
Good god, I am a bad typer sober, and drinking doesn’t really seem to have that much affect on it. Is that a good thing? Only difference seems to be that sober me would probably know that “typer” wasn’t a word and that it should be typist. Bah
And for no reason at all I am suddenly in the middle of t a flashback to high school. You scared me for life. It took me years to not hate you, I am better now.
Whatever happened to April?
Face is fully numb now.
There were bubbles in the wine bottle as I drank. I know why of course, but for some reason I am fascinated. Ahhh the joy of being tipsy. Drunk? Nah… but tipsy yes.
I don’t trust myself to get up and pace. Falling, even onto my carpet, is out of the question. I have fallen before, I have the emotional scars to prove it. I refuse to fall again. (My, my, don’t I sound confident?)
It has been 12 minutes since I last looked at the clock. The bottle is almost empty.
Nope, no more almost, all empty now. My first whole bottle to myself… and gone. No one to blame, no one to share the hangover with (not that I get them, but you know what I mean)
And the desire to dance is strong, the desire for sex even more… Oh okay,… yes that sentence was a bit more vulgar a moment ago, but I am not that wasted and I changed my mind. There was a beep and I don’t actually know if it was the music (really loud) or my phone. I am almost afraid to look. Not to much though. There is always the Merlot. But no, I know better. My heart couldn’t take it.
30 is not too old, so says Liz Phair.
So yes, I am tipsy, having trouble waling a straight line. But I am the good kind of tipsy girl, all safe in her apartment, I should go take the “oh hell no I don’t want kids” pill, then there will be nothing left to worry about except finding a comfy place to stop moving for when sleep takes me.
I settle for the easy chair, laying sideways and watching the lights reflect themselves against the window pane… like parents at a school play… or not, wow that made so much more sense in my head…
I find myself glaring at my phone, willing it to ring even though there is a very large part of me who would want to pretend to be too busy to answer it should he call.
Drunk now, or tipsy, who knows, who cares.
The lights are still glowing, how come I don’t care?
Time for bed, disquieting dreams and a new day that will dawn in unbroken clouds.
In answer to SHYguy, the lists of late have been anything from chores, to plans, to favorite things, to vacation options, to “things I might like to try cooking for someone special”… although earlier today I listed the books I have read so far this year over on my myspace page… and no, there aren’t reviews or recaps of these books… I didn’t even rate them (because that would take away all the mystery!) but I did add the list over on this blog as well… although for some reason the authors didn’t make the migration… will work on fixing that.
I know a discussion of fiction would be more relevant on this blog… but instead I have decided to share another recent list.
Welcome to another list
Movies that you might have missed (or know nothing about) but that you really really should see, Post Haste!
Brick London Happy Endings Playing By Heart Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter Gone Baby Gone Hard Candy
Brick: I am a slight fan of film noir… and this movie made me a full blown fan. With its gritty depiction of a story that will keep you emotionally invested as well as stylistically intrigued Brick manages to pull out all the classic (and wonderful) elements of true noir while maintaining color and youth. Don’t let the setting fool you, this movie goes above and beyond what anyone could expect form a description of “teen drama.”
London: The anti romantic comedy, this movie deal with the aftermath of the break up as our protagonist seeks closure. Shot in close quarters, it relies on the acting and the dramatic dialogue to pull you in and keep you watching. Remarkably, Jessica Biel doesn’t totally suck. Jason Statham makes an unforgettable appearance and stays fully out of “ass kicking mode” to become one of the best second string characters ever.
Happy Endings: Lisa Kudrow is unrecognizable (in a good way) as the leader of an ensemble cast in a story as complicated and soap opera as it is poignant and touching. I am a sucker for connecting storylines that don’t simply rely on the element of coincidence in order to provide a connection…. And this movie delivers a deep sense of connectedness even while acknowledging the truth of separation. Plus the narrator is a series of snarky title cards.
Playing By Heart: Another ensemble cast again with surprising results… this might just be one of Angelina Jolie’s best jobs at actually acting not to mention that Jon Stewart and Gillian Anderson are completely believable as a budding awkward new relationship. Despite its classic romantic drama and somewhat hokey happy ending, the movie manages to still touch the viewer and leave a few loose ends because nothing really ever is as perfect as the beginning of a love.
Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter: This movie is bad… in fact its downright horrible, but it is so horrible that it becomes good again… actually it becomes great. Don’t understand what I mean? Well, lets put it this way, the movie is Canadian, features a random musical number, atheists in a clown car, magic advice giving ice cream, Jesus doing Kung Fu, and vampires preying on the mysterious powers of lesbian skin. True Story. I guarantee you, you have seen nothing quite like it, and you will never forget it.
Gone Baby Gone: Ahh one you all might have heard of! I like this movie because it made a point, it made me think, and its overall message was “Being Catholic Will Fuck You Up.” Plus it had some great acting and some really good direction from someone I wish people would quit ragging on; give the guy a break already. He is better than he is given credit for. Oh, and you know that feeling when you are waiting for the other shoe to drop? This movie is all about that… in a good way.
Hard Candy: Okay, I know I have written about this one before, but I couldn’t let the chance pass by without writing about it again. Gritty, intense, and superbly acted this movie will make you very uncomfortable and challenge your concepts of right and wrong. It will also make you bite your nails and wonder how in the world they are going to end it. One of the those times when an indy film with a lack of background music, much of a cast, special effects, and anything “normal” really really works… while staying quite clear of “artsy.”
There you have it! Let me know if you agree with me… and please (as always) feel free to drop me a recommendation or two.
Lately I have been doing most of my “writing” in my head… which really doesn’t help anyone but myself. Although, I did write a parody of a Mark Knophler song (Boom Like That) for Matthew which he enjoyed and a teeny tiny blog over on my myspace page about… well nothing really. Mostly though my recent writing has been curtailed to just a lot of lists, emails, and such.
Other than that, I have been watching Dr. Who, playing an insane bit of FreeCell, and generally thinking about writing… which as stated before doesn’t really help anyone, including myself.
And would you like to know why I have been having trouble writing? Because my current idea was something that was hopefully going to be funny. Yes, its true, lets spread the wings a bit, try to fly in a new direction…. And that , wait a sec, my alarm is going off. Ahhh… no wonder I overslept this morning. I woke up with the vague feeling that something was wrong. I rolled over, found my glasses, then my phone and lo and behold it was 6:36…. I had exactly 4 minutes to get ready!
Because I am the awesome low maintenance gal that I am, I did manage to get ready in four minutes flat: jeans, bra, tank top, shoes sweater, brush teeth, brush hair, DONE! A quick trip to Starbucks for a mocha and apple fritter fix (omg sooo good) and I get to work right on time.
And now you all have the excitement of my morning. Aren’t you glad you clicked over here today?
Back to writing: I think that I am going to be putting more time and energy into my longer projects this summer. I have four basic novel ideas 9well, I think they are novel anyway) and now I am just trying to figure out which one will take the least amount of research, err, I mean, which one will be the most fun to write. Either way.
Look for the prologue, or perhaps even a chapter to appear here at some point soonish.