“I just wanna be somebody to someone” – Banners

The booty call, I don’t even think I can call him that since we only hooked up twice and it was several months ago, went swing dancing for 5 hours last night followed by an additional 2 hours of salsa at another club. I had considered going to both dances and ultimately went to neither. I was so anxious to get back from Montana to dance and return to a “routine” and yet I’ve been back for 3 days and have done Jack and Shit.

I purchased books in the airport, one on Winston Churchill (I’m a history buff and a closet fan of that complicated man and the era he led in) and another book of recently published scraps of stories and plots from F Scott Fitzgerald ( and it may forever remain unbeknownst us how much is plagiarized from his wife). I remember a time when I devoured books and now I can’t remember the last one I made through its entirety. It’s not that I’m disinterested, it’s that I struggle to focus. It doesn’t matter the content, my attention Trails off after a few pages and then I can’t recall what I read. As if I can’t even comprehend the words on the page. What is wrong with my brain? How will I ever find another decent job if my mind is mush? And I’m pretty sure I blew both interviews this week. One for saying the wrong thing out right and the other, the dreaded brain fog or hiccup, words escaping me all together. I used to be unfailingly articulate. Now, its as if English were a second language.

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“Every me and every you” – Placebo

Montana was a bust. I spent my birthday and the following week trapped on a porch, breathing in smoke from the burning mountains and counting down the days and hours until my flight home.
I went to visit a recently retired Army friend-turned-frazzled mom. Her daughter adored me but the son was unfriendly and fussy. My friend was too exhausted and unmotivated to hike although she had the gear and her kids were perfectly content to ride on our backs. In 7 days, I may have spent a total of 2 hours on foot in the terrain. I was stir crazy, unaccustomed to being sedentary. I cleaned house (which made her mother uncomfortable, I learned), walked the short stretch of road to and from the local grocery store and lunged around the yard when no one was around. We did make it to a bar one evening and bored local cops stalked us as we walked home sober. Ive never been stalked by cops before. What option do bar-goers have in a town too small for cabs and Uber?
Although it was nice to discuss music again (I failed to agree that Ben Gibbard of Death Cab ripped off the sound of Placebo from the Cruel Intentions soundtrack). And it was endearing to meet a family with roots. Sisters, uncles, countless cousins…they were bickering, loving land barons with thick paper deeds dating back to the mid 1800’s. My friend has history. She can trace her lineage even without the help of the Mormons. I know nothing and can learn nothing beyond my Ashkanazi gypsy horse thief great grandfather.

But back to my friend. In her desperation for children, she compromised on love. Perhaps forfeited is a more appropriate word. A willful, independent, forceful personality saddled but not tamed by parenthood. She seethed resentment though dare not voice it because it’s hard to complain to a lonely, childless woman. My mother said “It will get easier in a few years when they get into school and she has a few hours to herself again”. But watching her struggle and I, bored to actual tears, wondered if this was a lesson for me, G-d reminding me to be careful what I wish for. What is worse? Living, sleeping, and dying alone or being trapped in an unhappy marriage and mommyhood?

It’s okay if Harry and Sally never hook up

That’s what I’m thinking about, last nights conversation with my Asshole Best Friend (ABF). As I’m pre-flight cracking: folding myself in half to release my back, then shoulders, then lift my legs like dog-meets-tree and the sounds of my hips popping is loud enough that the man beside me in the line to board the plane remarks on it. It will be long day of flights to reach Montana. I’m visiting a friend there for my bday. Because you know I always grow desperate around my bday and need to get the hell out of town. Scotland last year, Alaska year before (and looking back, you recall how those went). Montana is a foreign land to me and I wanna make those mountains my bitch but these days, my appetite for adventure is bigger than my physical capability. Also my friend has 18mos old twins and is in full-time mommy mode. I told her we could split them up, pack them in papooses and ruck them up the mountain with us. Not sure if she’s down but she used to be fearless. Freshly retired from the Army, I’m dying her hair pink. We’ve been obsessing over Guy Tang colors and I’m going to follow one of his recipes for a 5 part harmony of rose gold and pink. My mother will be next with varying shades of silver and dusty violet metallic.

But I digress. The Flake called again and it went straight to  VM because he is still blocked. He just wanted to apologize.  And I’m thankful for the apology. It eases my resentment.

But my asshole best friend. We may only talk on the phone once or twice  a year but that’s partly becsuse I hate talking on the phone and he traps me for hours. Last night, it was 4.5 until my phone died. By then he was drunk, rambling and repeating himself. Telling me he attempted suicide again on his birthday and, unsurprised and a bit less sympathetic than I had intended, I advised him to take a tip from me: take birthday weeks off, run far far away and go check something off the bucket list. He also lost his recent radio gig in a blaze of dramatic glory. Frankly, I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did. On the upside, He started writing short screenplays again. One is nearly finished and he bounced a few other ideas off me. One is based on us. A key scene being a memory that he holds dear (and I was too drunk to recall): at a concert, he says something to upset me, of course, I lash back and he apologizes. I sit next to him and lay my head in his lap (I do not remember any of this, by the way. I can’t even recall what concert we were at). He’s stroking my hair, thinking about how much he loves me and wonders if he should kiss me. But he doesn’t and instead, puts me in a cab and sends me home, like I requested.  And that’s the scene that haunts him, he should have kissed me, he insists. I’m on the other end of the conversation, shaking my head amd flapping my arms like my brother in an autistic fit thinking “Nononono!!!” But my voice is calm as I say “Well, thank you for not taking advantage of me when I was drunk. If you had, we may not still be friends”, he replies “Of course we would. And we’d be married with kids” I cringe and flap again, “You know,” I try to joke, “its okay if Harry and Sally never hook up” but he isn’t listening. He’s again describing this kiss that could have altered the course of our futures, that will be the alternate reality played out on video. And  I hear my mother’s voice “See? I told you men and women can’t be friends”

A Eulogy

My Trusted Agent closed down his blog over a year ago because instead of catharsis, it fed a dark, destructive need. But sometimes he needs to get it off his chest. So I offered to ghost-publish his e-message in a bottle…

 

I drove by a familiar spot in my past. (It’s been awhile)
Just a random restaurant with a private parking lot.
What made this place special
that I would meet “Marti” there from time to time.
We were like two teenagers in heat. Kissing, grabbing at each other and when possible,
fucking like crazed rabbits.
I met Marti while on a business trip a 1,000 miles from home. I was still recovering from a recent death  of a close family member.
We were both in a dry spell in our marriages.  We filled a basic need for each other.
No promises, drama, plans or chains.
We made sure each one finished, at least once.
When it rained was the best.
The droning on the windshield, and the extra layer of privacy made it even better.
We would meet at my office after hours, at each other’s house when everyone was away for several days.
We were a perfect “fit”.
Our rhythm was always spot-on.
Whispers and moans, encouraging each other to do this and that.
Complimenting on how something felt or how long it had been.
When she was on her knees, she was shaped like an elegant musical instrument.
Her hips and back were a thing of feminine artwork.
The line of her spine and dimples on her lower back were burned into my mind.
She tasted sweet.
She always loved it on top.
I mention this not out of cheap sensationalism, but in the fact she would hit her perfect spot and would come several times. She would roll her head back with her eyes closed and had a half smile on her face. Sometimes her face would contort and she would gasp from the tremors and convulsions in her body. She would always tighten up. Her wetness was always just right.
She knew exactly what felt good and how to get there. It was a goal and she was determined.
She was one of the few women with whom I could go twice around with without stopping.
It was like fucking the Sun at times.  The warmth and danger always present.
We drifted apart as life got in the way. We had our own lives to focus on.
A few years later we managed to catch up. (Years before that these calls/texts would lead to on-the-fly hookups)
She told me she had major heart issues and surgeries.
I wished her well and said goodbye.
Today as I drove by that parking lot, I looked her up online to see if she still worked at the same office (I just wanted to say Hi) and that’s when I found her obituary.
How do I grieve for someone I should have never knew or touched?
I’m empty.
These days I’m trying to be a good person…husband…
But this is such a sudden hole in my past. Like a page ripped out.
I feel ashamed at the same time.  A familiar guilt of not deserving certain people in
my selfish life.

But enough about me, let’s talk about what you think of me

I re-blocked The Flake yesterday. Did I tell you he took a job in Monterey, CA? My dream (our dream) to live on the Pacific Coast and he got there before I did. Last month when he was going through the interview process, I took his calls and texts, to offer encouragement and advice, to be the “better” person. But it’s always about him, only him. He called again today and when it went straight to voicemail, he was compelled to leave a message to say “Either you blocked me again or your phone is off…” Fine. Here is my next letter to him:

“I encourage you to re-read those letters I sent you last year explaining why I cut off contact. The one-sided fact of our “relationship” (I can’t say ‘friendship’) and me wanting (and deserving) better, than you were willing to give meant that I could not be “just” your friend. Now, I don’t want that from you but the one-sidedness remains. You only reach out when you need something, when it’s convenient to you. You never look at MY pictures when I travel or ask how school or treatment is going or ask about my dancing or ask to see the video of me singing or how my mother is doing…it doesn’t even occur to you because my life simply doesn’t interest you. If it doesn’t affect you, it doesn’t matter to you. You’re so wrapped up in trying to impress others that I wonder if you know what real friendship is?

My phone is often off or on DND because I am usually in a class or otherwise busy. I return your calls and texts if they genuinely important because I care about you. But I am not here to entertain you and fill the silence when no one else is available. I have neither time nor interest in investing extra effort in someone who only thinks to reach out to scratch his own itches.

I also don’t appreciate the manipulation. A picture of you wearing my shirt NINE months after you took it off me, coyly asking “Is this yours?” You damned well know it’s mine. Followed by the Google Earth picture with a circle around your new home on the Pacific Coast… I don’t know, and you may not even be self-aware enough to know, truthfully if you are gloating or sharing. But frankly, your intent doesn’t matter at this point. All that matters is how it makes me feel, which is like crap.

Nothing has changed except that I no longer have any hopes or expectations with regards to you. Not as a friend or anything else. You are still not good to or for me. And every time you contact me, it picks open a scab. Or perhaps you are not the man I thought you were.

I hope your mother is doing as well as can be expected. And congratulations again and good luck on the new job and fulfilling the dream of living on the Pacific Coast. Hopefully I’m not far behind but you won’t know if and when I am. Mainly, because you lack the interest to ask.

Please do not reply. At all.”

 

In other “news”, I aced my law final. Maybe the difference is I was engaged and interested in this class so I grasped the concepts better. Or maybe I tried harder because I was starved for approval from my professor, a federal judge teaching for the hell of it. When he said my work was “among the best I have seen in many years of teaching…I am very impressed. I commend you on your effort and skills”, I ate it up. My friend “S” reminded me that he thinks I’m incredible too and I said “Thanks but that’s a bit like my mommy telling me I’m pretty”. Of course it counts but we also crave external validation. Not exactly Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs but my emotional pyramid of Love/Acceptance needs includes, from most to least important, from close friends and family, then from respected peers/authority figures, and then the least important but still registers like a pebble thrown into the lake, love/acceptance from strangers.

And my inner voice asks “Can’t you just say ‘thank you’…?”

Veteran entitlement?

http://www.breachbangclear.com/signs-of-veteran-entitlement/

I have mixed feelings about this. Yes could be an attention seeker or a leech on the VA teet. I’m a bit of a history buff and I’ve seen enough footage of World War 1 and 2 to know I had I had it “easy. Even picking through the remains of the Alfred P Murrah building and Khobar Towers. Or getting knocked out of my bunk once or twice by bombs that were much closer than a mile away. Or staring into the faces of the enemy Dead. They looked distorted like when I was a kid and would pinch Barbie’s head. I’ve lost friends to cancers that I suspect 50 years from now will be revealed to be a result of years of radiation and possibly all the crap that was pumped into us. I thought I’d have three-eyed babies from all the anthrax shots but instead I’m just sterile and in remission. And now long-term studies are coming out about those orange malaria pills that we ate like candy. I wake up in tears from nightmares about those I couldn’t save, ours and theirs. But Fireworks don’t bother me too much. Except for the whistlers. Those fuckers do sound like incoming, incoming, incoming..

“You know the sun is gonna shine in my back door some day” Aretha Franklin

Went to a West Coast meets country dance. Country in one room, West Coast swing in the other. Truly, I went for the country room to brush up on my 2 Step which is horrendous. Don’t use it for 20 years, you definitely lose it. Well, at least I did. The leads had to “insist” rather than “suggest”. By 11:30pm all that was left were the Regional West Coast Pros. I guess everyone else didn’t feel like dancing around them so they left. I hung around a little longer watching but frankly, I was not feeling the music or the dancing. It was like spoonful after spoonful of icing with little cake. All styling and tricks and no Foundation.

My friend “S”, the one I have Frank conversations with on a near-daily basis. I met him in the Army. He’s one of the reasons why I say joining the Army was not a mistake no matter how much I joke about it. When he was telling me about his latest would-be romantic encounter and the reason he’s going to die alone, I reminded him that we should at the very least, make sure we end up in the same nursing home together. Provided we both live to a ripe old age which as a matter aside I never intended on. But just in case I do we should be roommates. “I’m a quiet masturbator. Hell, I’ll even let you have the top bunk” (John Lyshitski). Let’s Go to Prison, one of the best, underrated comedies since John Candy took funny to the grave with him. Although between Deadpool and Just Friends, I have found renewed comedic hope in Ryan Reynolds.
I finished a law assignment in the 11th hour and felt pretty good about it. This instructor (retired military JAG and current federal judge) is engaged and I respect him, which motivates me to make an effort to give him something worth reading (looking at, listening to). I want to give as good as I get. I’m celebrating with homemade pizza with a cauliflower crust (in hind-taste, I do NOT recommend it), some wine (okay, a vat of wine), Rain, Candlelight, and Aretha Franklin. I was feeling so good (and a little tipsy) that I flipped my phone the bird rather than answer it when my The Flake called.

I’m going to paraphrase something I saw on a church billboard that struck me. No, not that “worry is a mild form of atheism” although that has lingered in my brain for years. This one is less profound but still struck me: Either you are in a storm, coming out of a storm or heading into a storm. The point is, there is always a storm…

“Don’t get me wet because the bandages will all come off” ~ Dresden Dolls

Maybe it’s the rain that smells like ocean and keeps the heat at bay. Maybe it’s the caffeine as I allowed myself Mountain Dew for the first time in half a year. Maybe it Grouplove, Band of Horses, The XX and Modest Mouse mixing through my stereo. Maybe it’s the comfort of a well-fitting bra after finally admitting to being a 40D and no longer a 38C. But I think it’s the people.
Hospitable human interaction. From the friendly folks at the car dealership where I mooched Wi-Fi and fresh coffee and worked on a laptop with my dog beside me as my car was getting serviced. To popping over to the dog park where the guys playing tennis next door tossed over fresh yellow balls for my pup to chase. And down to a new gourmet sandwich shop curated by a couple of cheesemongers from Detroit and Brooklyn respectively. I was content to sit outside under the awning until the drizzle turned into a torrent flying sideways. Even my dog was looking at me like “What the fuck?” until the owner came out and invited us inside, saying “Don’t worry, everyone here is dog friendly and the health inspector isn’t due for five months”.

Heterosexual men and women cannot be “just” friends according to my mother. She said there is always a sexual tension between them and at the time, I argued, using my best friend “Dirty” as an example. He’s like a brother to me. An asshole Big Brother. And there is zero chemistry between us. Or so I thought until two years ago when he proposed us having children together since both of us were feeling that biological clock chipping away at our fertile years. I thought he was proposing IVF but no, he wanted old-fashioned sex. Perhaps in his loneliness and desperation, he even entertained the idea that the two of us could be something more than friends or even co-parents. We always joked that When Harry Met Sally was us, minus the sex and happy ending. But now I realized wasn’t opposed to that. So maybe my mother is right and I’m just clueless as another one of my closest friends admitted to me in a frank conversation, as our conversations always are, that if I was itching for intimacy on our upcoming trip that he was all for it. I told him I valued our friendship as is, entirely too much to muddy it with sex. Which is partly true but the other half of the equation is I am not sexually attracted to him. Or to my best friend either.
And yet I wanted Amanda and Brian from the Dresden Dolls to hook up. Or Suzanne and Ben from HoneyHoney to live happily ever after. I encouraged it even, as they both laughed and looked away during an radio interview ten years ago. You’re telling me “Lets Get Wrecked” wasn’t about hooking up with your best friend and bandmate out of convenience and loneliness? “Pulling at our jeans now, honey, and biting at our necks…”
“I am the girl anachronism…” Kat von D bad girl looks with a June Cleaver sentimentality. A freak in the bed who wants to meet your parents. But I’ll drive you crazy like the rest of them. I ride with the windows down and air conditioning on. I steer with my knees not because I’m multi-tasking with lipstick and the cell phone (although I might be doing that too) but just because I can, curling my arms behind my head rest flaunting it to passing traffic. “You can tell from the scars on my arms, and the cracks in my hips, and the dents in my car, and the blisters on my lips that I’m not the carefullest of girls…”

“I wasn’t even in the running” ~ Haim

I feel like I’m always operating in the red, physically and mentally at a deficit.
There were two Gregs. The under 30 homeless-by-choice biking gypsy yogi without a fuck in the world and the other one who pretended not to recognize me. Oh, you know what you did, motherfucker. Ten years ago, this “friend” tried to steal my civilian radio job while I was in Iraq and got fired for it. The one time the company did right by me and we haven’t spoken a word since. Although all he did was jump across the street to the competitor where he still works today so maybe Karma is waiting to kick his ass in his next life. But he spent half an hour pretending not to notice me sitting 10 feet away at my favorite local coffee where I go for a change of scenery while working on school assignments. I forced a smile while homeless Greg happily rubbed my dog’s belly but kept thinking, this is just one of the reasons I need to move: I’ve been here too long if I’m bumping into assholes from my past. Time to go meet new assholes, make new enemies somewhere else.

But it looks like The Flake will make it to the West Coast before I do. He flies this week for the final round of interviews and contract negotiations for a job out near Monterey. He’s texting me links to the luxury apartments near the national forest where he is planning to live. Meanwhile, I’m looking at the red line that is Highway 1 in Google Maps after much of the coastline slid into the Pacific in the last few weeks. Road closure until at least late August. I might not make it into Big Sur at all this year as planned. But that asshole is moving there.  In all my self-righteous glory, I utter encouragement and congratulations to him while making my apologies to G_d for secretly being bitter and green. What is the line between sharing and gloating? Is it the intent? Because it feels like he’s gloating.

Or maybe this is another example of how I’ve lost my perspective. Because I live in Paradise too, 10 minutes from some of the most beautiful beaches in the nation. I need only open my front door to the smell of saltwater and the sound Of seagulls. It’s a source of peace and he is an unwitting thief. I give him the benefit of the doubt with “unwitting”. But if he is unwitting then that makes me solely responsible for my discontent. No, he can’t be that stupid. I’ve told him we can’t be friends, that my feelings haven’t changed. He knows he’s still using me. And I let him.

“Your insecurity makes you unattractive”, he once told me. I recall hateful things he’s said to me in the past because ripping that wound back open motivates me to rebuild The Wall. Not the healthiest coping mechanism and certainly not very forgiving but it’s a line of defense that works.

But I danced and sang a bit this weekend. Even if I was just faking it for the crowd, the point is, I did it. And that’s progress.

Which one of these is not like the other…?

Guess who’s not performing samba this weekend as scheduled? Just me. Big girl out. I guess the client didn’t want a fattie in feathers. Nearly 3 months of rehearsals and $400 sunk into sequins, I even nailed the routines in our “school play” but 3 days before the gig, informed of client aesthetic preference. I was hurt, embrassed, begging for vindication on social media and asking who wanted to buy my hot pink and black feathers (only worn once). I soothed my ego with comments like “Youre a wonderful dancer, their loss” and “So you’re not a tiny dancer…” but then my mother put it in perspective: You can be the best dancer and performer and you still wouldnt make the Rockettes. Thats show business.
Shes right. Ive been passed over because I didnt look the part before. Close your eyes and I could sound like Stephanie Mills or Karen Carpenter bur I didnt look like them. Still, try not to take it personally when you’re excluded from performing because of the way you look. Although two years of ballet and zero cellulite, my ass looks good in a thong, thank you.
Maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, after my body image insecurity at our dress rehearsal but I watched the video and it didn’t translate to my performance. I shook it with abandon! And I do love this costume. It’s beautiful and I worked hard on it but I told the group leaders that I’m going to take a break until they either have a new routine to learn or there is a paid performance opportunity that would not discriminate. We’ll see if that call ever comes.
The next day someone posted a video of me doing a sexy as hell bachata routine. I was wearing my Samba heels so the investment isn’t a total loss.