Saturday, April 12, 2014

Shine Guys

Had kind of a surreal night----there's no one here to talk to so I'm going to gibber at the box.
The mural party was great. In a life of social media posts and stories that come and go one after another, like calendar pages flaking away sped up (like in a movie where the director couldn't think of any better way to show time passing).... it's nice to be a part of something you feel like has a chance to last a few years.

Socially I felt like an alien, but I am an alien, so I'm used to it.

As I was leaving a mostly stranger said, "I knew you when you were young," which was weird, since I've only lived in Norfolk for five years, and we hadn't met before that. "No, I know," he said. "But you were young and hopeful then. Now you're beaten down like the rest of us."

1. Going from 29 to 35 are probably the years most people go from looking *young* to non-young. So that's fine. Being stripped of our youth is a horrible affliction we've all got to deal with.
2. But it's true though! At some point along the way I did leave a hunk of hope at the door. I can see the last 5 years on my face, too. They're not the lines of a fight I lost, but some points of impact never fade. Scars that mirror knuckle creases. I'm listening to Lana Del Rey in my headphones--she's right though: we are born to die. We're born with a will to survive and a drive to procreate, yah; but are those Truths? The only universal truth of life is death. No matter the drugs, money, sex, children, legacy, all paths lead to forever, and we're not taking these bodies with us. Some of that hunk of hope left at the door, maybe, is the hope of eternity. If not for everything, why anything?

I was supposed to have a date after but I got stood up. Which was weird. She'd sent me all these texts the day before about how even though we'd only hung out once she adored me. Her mom said I was the kind of guy she should be with. All those sweet and lovely selfies where it felt like she was looking right at me and only me---I've been missing that. So what the fuck, right. I've had that happen a handful of times recently. A woman will reach out, tell me she's stoked to hang out, and then bag out when the time comes. What could it mean, what could it mean. Bah, anyhow. I don't expect love these days. Maybe that's what the guy saw in me at the mural party. Maybe that's part of what being an adult is all about----------the potential for love's not at the next lunch table; it's not in the eyes of the next cute girl who smiles at the bar; it's simply a potential less palpable as you get older, like being able to feel on your skin it's not going to rain that day.

I went by Bob's to check out that mural. So many colors, shadows that look like you could climb on them, purposefully disorienting, insanity falling from the sky in color bricks. I got to talking to a guy outside the tattoo parlor who seemed pretty fucked up. He was telling me how Norfolk doesn't want mom and pop shops or local culture---that the City sets the rules up that way. Well, fuck, right. At least there's a little body electric on Bob's now. atleast.

I stopped by Cure to wait for official word that I'd been stood up. The guy next to me at the bar knew who I was. "I've had a lot I've wanted to talk to you about," he said, and then to the barista, "this guy, whatever he wants, on me." He didn't want to talk about Norfolk or writing or any issues. He wanted to talk about me. "You're a shine guy. Shine guys need people's eyes on them," he said, counting one with his finger. "They need money," he said, two. "Or they need pussy. You seem like you've got two out of three. I hope you do, on the last one. You can't tell me you don't like the eyes on you when you walk in a room. I know there's some ego there, but you're a shine guy. You're special."  I tried to explain to him that I don't like the eyes---and while there's some ego there and I can guess what it looks like, it's the other side of it for me. I feel like I have to prove myself every day, multiple times a day. I always need to re-earn the love. Self-love is that rabbit the dogs are chasing---a rabbit rigged to always be just out of reach.

"Nah," he said. "Then there's something wrong there. You're a shine guy. You shouldn't feel that way." And then he got it in his head that what I needed was to get into a fight. With him. Right then, in his backyard around the corner. "It'll be good for you. You need it. Trust me."

"I'm not going to fight you."
"Fight me."
"I'm not going to fight you."
"You can have the first shot."
"The first two shots."
"I do believe your intentions are actually pretty good in this fucked up proposition, but I'm not going to fight you."
"Yes you are," he said. "Fight me."

The place was closing. He promised me he wouldn't try to fight me and we went around the corner to sit in his backyard. "I'm kicking my wife out of the house tonight," he said. "That's her car." He was Saran-wrap over the world drunk by then. I probably was getting there too. He was a rich guy---after talking for an hour, now he started talking about Norfolk and working together. "You're not where you're meant to be," he said, meaning what I'm doing with my life. "You can't be happy."
"I just hope the ship is pointed in the right direction," I said.
"Bullshit," he said. "You're a shine guy. We need to figure this out for you."

A light on the second floor flickered on. I motioned towards it.
"Your wife's awake."
He nodded.
"You got anything to drink in there," I asked.
"Nothing she knows about."

We talked about drinking, jealousy (pity the man his wife's been talking to if he ever has to face this guy, FUCK), the 4-way nature of forgiveness (both have to forgive the other and the self), and what a motherfucker it is to process the fact that the woman that you love has loved other men just as much. I asked him if he wanted to make it work with his wife.

"It's too late."
"That wasn't my question---do you want it to work?"
"Then it isn't too late," I said. "What are the first three things she's say she needs you to change to make it work."
"Drinking and women."
"Can you give them up?"

Except he wouldn't know himself without them. Except all of his hope is at the door. Except the road to nothing may as well be lined with liquor and women if that's where it's headed. Except there's no one here to gibber at except this box, with Lana Del Rey taking Jesus off the dashboard, and an entire day ahead of me, wide open, my face a year younger for the knuckles that didn't hit me last night.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Women I Have Loved

Somewhere in the shared space of memories and dreams. 


When I met K she was in New York to audition for American ballet companies. I've never made out with a stranger in a bar like that before or since. We fell in love that night, we fell in love again at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the next week, we fell in love again every time we saw each other. When I hear this song I remember us---we'd be holding hands as we walked and we'd come across a bench and I'd squeeze her hand and she would jump on top of it, dance the length, and then float back down next to me, still in step. It incited the most lovely smiles from strangers. We didn't know it, but her ballet career was already over. K is forever dancing around the frame of Washington Square Park in my mind.

H was like a firefly, except the whole world was the jar she was captured in. I'm serious though: you couldn't develop film with H in the room---I'm surprised people didn't ask me to put her away when we went to the movies together, she had that kind of brightness. I was going away to South Africa for 4 months. We both knew I loved it there. We both knew K was there. But we were also crazy in love; if we had ever had children, H+J could have provided the reaction necessary for our kids' active volcano science fair projects. We were in the parking lot at the airport, not ready to go in. I sang her this song and then she put me on the plane. 

A was dancing by herself at The Beauty Bar in San Diego. She had some great line, something like, "I think you're cute but I don't dance with boys." They had a row of those chairs where women sit under those clear domes, waiting for their hair to curl or dry or who knows what. We exchanged MySpace information--a fact I ask both reader and writer to ignore at this moment in the name of romance. I might have looked at A's pictures once a day for a year. Women like A are why so much of humanity's great art is meant to represent the female spirit and form. It was a damn tough year for me; for moments, looking at A's pictures, she was hope as distinct as a hard candy on my tongue. She came to my sister's wedding but it was just after my dad died and I didn't realize how far I had to go and I shouldn't have been dragging any woman through the mine field of my space (I know), no less a woman as sweet and lovable as A. She made me a mixtape. This is the song from it I play on repeat when I'm trying to write somewhere between my mind and whatever's on the other side of it. 

4. Teasing the Koi at the Pagoda. Camping in Charlottesville turned into couch surfing turned into sleeping on the floor of an empty house with the back door unlocked. S took me to this church in the country where the people were passing out in the name of Jesus. "Drunk with the spirit" was the way she put it, though I had a feeling a few of the true believers were proper drunk too. S and I dreamed about what it would be like to run an orphanage together. She went away on a mission trip and called me one day, possibly malaria high, and broke it off because I didn't share her faith in the way she wanted from a partner. Love falls from grace. Love resurrects. S's dream now is to live at the 24/7 prayer chapel they broadcast online from somewhere in the Midwest. Her beautiful brown eyes closed, long eye lashes curved like dancers, palms stretched toward a camera she feels--no, knows--is a portal to God.

L is too fresh. Wilco will have to be enough. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

what I want in a girl

So this is feeling like my last single phase, and I kind of believe the nonsense that when you're aware of what you want in life it's more likely to happen, so this list.

1. I want a girl that smells like a girl.

(This could be the entire list.)

2. Well, she ought to be pretty smart or else I'd get bored with her---but I don't even know if that's true anymore because so clearly the next one is what I like the most in women (also people, but they don't count).

3. Earnestness. Tied into earnestness, I think, are sweetness and curiosity.

(This list is already somewhat pointless. Who is ever going to say they're looking for an insincere, harsh person who isn't interested in anything? Nobody. But I will charge forward!)

4. A lady who enjoys touch. I couldn't hang with some WASPy gal who was worried about me wrinkling her clothes because all I want to do is wrinkle her clothes, in hay, on a couch, even standing up at a formal event. Always. Touching. Cuddling, etc.

5. I've come to appreciate a little vanity in a woman. Self-conceptualizing as beautiful. Liking being/feeling/making oneself pretty. I'm okay with all that. I like women who look like art.

6. Ambition. It's okay if this week she's mopping the floors cause next week she'll be on the fries.

Tied to ambition--maybe the source?--is passion. I want a woman who believes in things. Has a cause. Who sees herself as an agent of change. 

7. I want to put having a yoga practice on this list but I will not. But some sort of fitness or sport. Like dancing. Oh, dancers. Oh. Oh. Dancers.

8. Religion is a tricky one. I've hung out with some Christian girls and I've found their faith to be world expanding. The downside there is I don't want to have to go to church and Jesus is alright with me but we'll never be close like that. I want a spiritual woman though. Life is not self-evidently worth living enough to not have some sort of faith.

9. The New York Times. Even if it's just the nonsense sections, she has to take some enjoyment in the paper or it all devolves into madness from there.

I did kinda briefly date a woman who didn't like The Times because she said it was an establishment conservative rag, and instead she read more revolutionary things. That's the only exception---I loved that about her.

10. She does have to genuinely like my writing. It feels like a long time since I dated someone who I felt was, like, excited to read my stuff. I want that. I maybe need that.

11. Sex, right? I want a woman who likes that and who feels free in that (or who at least wants to like it and feel free in it.)

12. Here's a big one: giving the benefit of the doubt. Because I will say dumb things that I didn't mean to come out like that.

13. Forgiveness is another. On the spot, when one sincerely apologizes, the other forgives. And apologizing, of course! Fuck pride----it's about love.

14. I want a girl who tells me when I've had enough to drink, but also who tells me when I need a drink.

15. I'd like a girl who enjoys hosting dinner parties with me. I want those to be a big part of my life, no matter what else is going on. I want our relationship to feel like something grounding for the people we care about.

That about sums it up.

Now I'm going to start enjoying this single phase because not enjoying being single is far too much of a drag anymore and one day married Jesse is going to shout back at this phase Jesse for being a sulky tit in his/my apartment when there was so much fun to be had out there.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What I've been writing lately

In case your deranged childhood, perverted heart, CEASELESS boredom, or an inexplicable sense of guilt and/or foreboding has led you to enjoying my writing, I've done a bunch of it lately. Here are some links, if that's what you're into.

From dis blog:

answers to the questions people ask me. 

The only thing more narcissistic than a personal blog is commissioning a giant oil painting of your head on the body of a silken purple puma that's riding a motor scooter along with my baby girl Kim. But it's a close call.


My New Year's resolutions for 2014. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal got into a bidding war over this one which was so fucking tiresome that I just published it here and then ate a whole thing of peanut butter in one gulp.

20 Stray Do it Ourselves Public Art Concepts for the Arts District 

Because the arts district.

the aperture and the whale 

I stole most of this one from that Clint Eastwood speech with the chair.

a blog not about when the lid flies off the blender

I heard on NPR that this is the last thing David Foster Wallace read before he killed himself.

Somebody hold me to this

You may as well not read this one. I wrote it from the bottom of the bathtub half asleep, all I could hear my mom's shouting at me to dust the blinds and 7th grade me bouncing a basketball into the tub over and over and over again.

In other news, the other night I was sleeping with a pillow between my legs. I woke up and that pillow was soooo warm and I realized, I can totally turn around and pretend this warm pillow is a person spooning me while I fall asleep. It was awesome. I'm so whole.

My last few months on AltDaily, which I'm kind of editing again:

Obama Acknowledges Marijuana Prohibition Hypocrisy, Says Weed No Worse Than Drinking

Thoughts on Guiding America toward the Revolution It Has Been Waiting For

Did you hear the one about The Pushers starting a comedy theater and improv school in the Norfolk Arts District?

Norfolk's History & Future Weaving Together: Fort Tar Lofts, on the Edge of the Arts District

Coming to the Arts District: The Parlor on Granby

It's Real this Time: Hurrah Players are Officially Coming to the Norfolk Arts District

The Texaco Building is Under Contract

Call to Artists: $10,000 Mural in the Norfolk Arts District
Your Chance to Curate a Gallery at The Chrysler

AltDaily Buy Local Only & Forever Shopping Guide

Local Guy Directs Video for Beyoncé, Named Most Legit Out of Maury Ever
There's an Ancient Ocean Underneath the Chesapeake Bay. No Biggie. 

Revels with a Cause

Interview with the Curators: Humanus Spiritus Animalus
The Magic of Mandela

How do we get more regular people to recycle?

Downtown Norfolk Scuttlebutt 

Video: Booker T. Washington Band Surprises Local Recycler

5 numbers that will make you question how America honors its veterans

The Conservative Movement and the Perversion of the Christian Ideal
Fun Timelapse of Downtown Norfolk
Freemason Rallies Around Its Small Businesses
Unsung Heroes in the Hampton Roads World of Arts & Culture

Top 10 Reasons to Come to Fight Club Tonight 

How I feel about this post: 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Somebody hold me to this

Somebody hold me to this:

I won't have another conversation about abortion, but I'll talk endlessly about ways to keep all (undeniably living) children safe, fed, and educated.

I won't have another conversation about gun rights, but I'll talk all day about how we can improve mental health care so we can cure everyone crazy enough to think they have the right to zap away another life.

I won't have another conversation about the 'truth' about God, but I'll talk all night about how to live the way any old God would want us to.

This is a little different, but I won't have another conversation about marijuana law reform with anyone who a) drinks or b) has never tried it and is only talking crazy about stoned boogeymen.

I won't have another conversation about standardized tests because maybe if we ignore them they'll go away--that's how they teach teachers to deal with problem students, anyhow, ignore them.

I won't have another conversation about laws with anyone who believes that people learn from punishment, or who doesn't believe in the power of personal redemption.

I won't have another conversation about the social safety net with anyone who thinks a child born into poverty has equal opportunities to someone born middle class or wealthier because it makes me feel too crazy and sad.

We only have so much damn airspace to talk about anything! As the oracle said, ain't nobody got time for that.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


For 2014

1. care about other people's problems more than my own.

2. know that if the primary values are to be present, humble, and grateful all positive outcomes will flow from there.


4. more jokes with little sister, more good talks with big sister.

5. call mom 10x as much.

6. do yoga with eyes closed--- find the light.

7. don't be embarrassed about talking to God.

8. advocate for art that ignites a sense of wonder + whimsy in people who don't feel those things enough.

9. think about girls less. ex-girlfriends. future partners. getting laid. flirting. all of it. fuck all of it.

10. less comfort, more exploration.

11. find a way to be useful with marijuana law reform.


13. find a way to spend time with Fish, Jake, Alistair, Brown, Ronnie, Jojo, Knoxxy, Johnny, Kevin, Ken Mark Waslh, Fabi, Sundari, Beth Uriel family, Mayhew, Adam, Mikey.

14. consider being a vegan but don't do it.

15. be a more careful copy editor.

16. never get fat. never be angry or raise my voice. pay as many bills as possible. don't look like a schlub as often as possible.

17. cry more.

18. live in the eternal simultaneously with this realm.

19. but definitely make love, tho. honestly, man.

20. stop worrying about being a weirdo and just be a weirdo.

The picture came from here.