Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lord Buckley in the LBC

The Shorn Lord reads Himself 

Last night, Sue and I scored some comfy chairs at the LBC's Hump Reading.  Great Gatsby Books hosted Lord John Buckley, who gave us thirteen minutes of his finest-- mostly new stuff, some classics.

He was tucked snug in the middle of some fine open mic'ers.  Spotted in the SRO crowd were local poetry royals, Gerald Locklin and Donna Hilbert.  The IE was well repped by K. Andrew Turner (who also read), Lloyd Aquino, Michaelsun Knapp, and of course, Sue and me.

Sue and I somehow missed the after-party at the grill, but the fresh strawberry pie at Hof''s Hut on PCH was calling our names.  At least mine.  What better way to celebrate JFB, and mourn his impending loss to an MFA program at UMich at the same time?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Trader Joe's Cherries

I was going to post yesterday, but knew I was too much of a drag.  I'm better today.

Father's Day gets me down.  I lost my dad sixteen years ago, before I understood that I was crazy about him-- it was his disease of drinking I couldn't stand.  I lost my Micha on June 1, before I had a chance to save him.  I lost my moral compass long ago, my work ethic in 2008 and my joie de vivre last month.  My thighs and ass went sometime in the mid-80s.  My flat stomach took a hike last August.

Loss paralyzes me.  At first, it feels like I'm wading through molasses each day.  Then, I feel like Trader Joe cherries, gelled with red wine, pecans and ricotta cheese in my mom's signature jello creation.  Then, I progress to a fly trapped in amber.

I'm irked at my Higher Power today; kvetchy cause we are put on this earth, struggle on this earth, are taken from this earth.  Why?  What's the point.  Time on earth is a showcase for disease, dysfunction,  dread, discouragement, and the ultimate strong conclusion-- death.

My friend, Patty, told me she looked at the piles lying on every surface of her house the other day and thought, This is what depression looks like.  I look at my kitchen countertop.  What countertop?  I try to find it through the rounded heaps of books, invoices, magazine clippings, lottery tickets, recipes, catalogues, receipts and cut-out coupons which expired three weeks ago.  The prehistoric mound peoples of Tennessee have nothing on me.

I resent customer loyalty programs which require me to return what I just bought to CVS, then re-buy it so I can get a $5 discount on a $15 purchase.  Thank you,  JCP for doing away with your bewildering maze of mailed discount cards, emailed coupons and receipts with discounts running along the bottom of the paper.  Why can't more retailers be like JCP?  Of course, I hear you can roll a bowling ball down the aisles at JCP and not hit a single customer since "the change".

I have no answers, only self-pity and a desire to eat everything in my kitchen.  Sugar, fat and dough will make everything better-- for about 30 minutes.  Then the horror will strike.  I know just the graphic for my terror.  Edvard Munch -- how apt.

Glad I waited till today to post.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Farewell to Michael Jurisch

Michael Jurisch and I visited Las Vegas together, never lovers ever friends, when we were in our early twenties.  I wanted to see Gladys Knight, and Micha agreed to drive.  We sat at the front table, close enough to touch both Gladys and her Pips.
After the show, we headed home in his trusty VW.  On the long uphill grind that led out of town, his Bug threw a rod.  It would need a tow, the repair would be expensive, and I had to be at work in L.A. the next morning.  I bailed on Micha.  He remembered it well.
“You grabbed your bag, crossed the road, hitched up your skirt and stuck out your thumb.  You almost caused an accident as the cars stacked up, wanting to give you a ride to the Greyhound terminal.  You abandoned me, but it turned out okay.  I got towed back to Vegas, waited for my Beetle to be repaired, and partied with my friend, Axel, for a few days. ”   
I felt uneasy, even guilty, about ditching Mike.  I didn’t offer to pay half of his repair bill, either.  I handled the situation by avoiding him.
I saw Micha at a spontaneous shindig at my parents’ house a decade later. I had a three year old son and Mike had a sleeping, two-year old daughter in his car. A blurry photograph from that party shows a swarm of happy Germans, standing in the living room of my parents’ home. Micha, my son and I are together in the front row.

Fast forward to autumn 2009, more than twenty years later.  We reconnected via e-mail.  Micha had moved back to Berlin and my mom and I were going to be visiting Berlin in a few months.  Micha and I would reunite and get caught up.
We hugged and the years fell away.  We had much in common-- too much. Failed marriages, riches to nearly rags, and chronic struggles, from which we were trying to mend.  
We spent almost every afternoon and evening together after that--  outside during the coldest winter on record, and inside at my mom’s, the warmth of the radiator and cozy cheer of her tiny apartment making us all merry and bright.  
 My mother and I forced Kniffle (Yahtzee) on Mike, a self-proclaimed “Kniffle Virgin.”  Good natured, he joined us at this mind-numbing board game to which many elderly Germans are unduly attached.  He and I kidded that it didn’t get much better than Yahtzee with hot tea and holiday goodies, in a warm apartment when outside it was twelve below.
We both knew it was a lie and, at the same time, true.  Now we knew what mattered most-- the people who loved us and whom we loved in return.
More than any of my other friends, Micha’s life paralleled my own.  We had that cross-cultural thing together.  Sorta American, sorta German, never quite fitting into either world.  He glorified the American.  I glorified the German.  He ended up almost exiled in Berlin.  I ended up almost exiled in Claremont, close to where we both began as friends, thirteen and fourteen year old kids, in Eagle Rock.
     When I heard he was gone, I first cried for him and his family.  Then, my tears began to fall for me.  He was my buddy, my Kumpel, my close confidante these last few years.  
     We called each other “Sweetheart” and shared our most shameful secrets, then promptly laughed ourselves silly over them.  We propped each other up and, when last we yapped on the phone, we said “I love you.” before we said goodbye.  
We made plans to rent electric bicycles this summer and explore the inns of the Berlin forest.  I planned to surprise him with the first twenty chapters of my new book-- the sidekick photographer character is based on him.
Plans-- the best laid plans. Man designs and God divines.  So much for our plans, Big Guy.  When You take people away, there is a period at the end of the sentence, not a comma nor a question mark.
Good-bye, sweet Micha, my dear, dear, beloved friend.  Your flaws and foibles are safe with me, and I was always safe with you.  How sad I am to lose you.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lummis Day Festival 7 -- June 3, 2012

El Alisal (The Sycamore), home of Charles Fletcher Lummis

Suzanne Lummis

Jeremy Radin

The volunteers from the  Historical Society of Southern California, Suzanne Lummis, local poets, artists, artisans, craftspeople, musicans and blackberry tart bakers made this day special with every small detail.  

Suzanne read us a fairy tale about the year the money disappeared, and Jeremy Radin struck gold when he breathed life and fire into his poem about bears and Teddy Roosevelt, not knowing that Charles Fletcher Lummis and Teddy Roosevelt were old friends from Harvard.  Sometimes, things just come together.  That's serendipity-- and it's a beautiful thing to witness.