Archive | Etiquette Matters

The Blue, Blue Bridge of Twelve Novembers

blue tears, white hat

I carry so much loneliness that sometimes I forget this is not how everyone moves through this thing called life.

I carry so much loneliness that sometimes I forget it’s there at all.

Then something comes along to amplify that loneliness–to sharpen it so acutely that it stops my breath and squeezes my heart–and I simply can’t bear it by myself.

That’s how this last month has felt. First because I was in so much immobilizing pain that it prevented me from doing many things myself.

And so I reached out to people I assumed were cross with me only to discover I’d read their momentary frustration as something far more damming. I reached out to people with whom I’d been out of touch for years only to discover a great sympatico between us still. I reached out to people I hadn’t known well until my need, primal and pure, deepened our connection. And I reached out to people whose hearts I steadily hold but had kept afar while I malingered on this bridge called my book.

Thus warmth flowed and it helped.

And then I opened a channel with a woman I’d admired online for months—a woman beautiful and butch and kind-hearted and quick-witted. And, lucky me, warmth flowed from her too and we found ourselves moving from friendship to something far more molten and engulfing.

And that helped a lot. Continue Reading →

The Coldest Home Is Memory

I woke on a whole river of sadness–an ocean, even. My apartment cold, my permakitten anxious, my heart heavy. Still not cast ashore.

In October we are capsized by abruptly cold weather no matter how much we long for it. The veil between this world and the next lifts just as abruptly.

I’d been dreaming of all the couches where I perched in my childhood–all the family homes where I briefly ingratiated myself, not because I craved the companionship of peers or the comfort of uncomplicated adults, but because I’d craved order and cleanliness. Coziness.

Even now, though my mother and I rarely speak, I hesitate to write about the disorder of my family home. It is sexist that the blame landed so resoundingly on her shoulders but the truth is it was mostly her fault. She and my father had one of those fucked-up divisions of labors that a creative person like her should never have attempted–he made money, she kept house. I knew she was bored, I knew she was unhappy, I knew she was profoundly ill-suited to this suburban pathology masquerading as mythology. I also knew she couldn’t think of anything else to do so she sat at the kitchen table day in and day out, drinking cold coffee, slowly reading the paper, looking out the window.

And, you know, not keeping house.

Keep in mind it wasn’t the 1940s but the 1970s. Women’s liberation was happening all around her. It just came too late for her purposes. Continue Reading →

Blue Is Beautiful

Evie playing chess with Duchamp to make boyfriend Walter Hopps jealous. My guess is that it worked.

Once upon a time, the brilliant essayist Eve Babitz was also a painter. In the 1960s she was not only known for her magical groupie powers but for some of the key album covers of that decade–most notably a collage for 1967’s Buffalo Springfield Again. And although she had limited patience for movie stars (she did deign to fuck a young Harrison Ford, but then he was mostly a weed dealer and shoddy carpenter), she hobnobbed with some of America’s most-touted artists–among them Annie Leibovitz, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, and Marcel Duchamp. (Only one of the aforementioned never saw her naked in person.)

But one day Evie put away her brushes for good. And the reason, at least according to every teller of the tale (including Eve, who is honest if not exactly truthful), can be traced to one seemingly offhand remark by Earl McGrath. A sort of Oliver Wilde-cum-Leonardo Da Vinci-cum Frank Abagnale Jr cad-about-town who quite possibly was her only true match and definitely her only worthy frenenemy*, McGrath gazed upon one of her paintings.

And after an exceptionally pregnant pause, said only: “Is that the blue you’re using?” Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy