Thursday, October 27, 2011


I lived in Oakland for three years, but always as a transient.  I was from somewhere else.  I was going somewhere else.  I just hadn't done it yet.  Oakland was never mine, and I never loved it.  I complained about weather, and BART hours, and politics, and weather.  And then I did leave, four years ago, and I stayed gone. 

And yet I find now that I am from Oakland, as much as I am from Poway or Baltimore, or when I travel these days, and say that I am from Iowa.  The place is embedded in my history, my habits, my expectations of the world.  When something happens in Oakland, to Oakland, I take it personally.  Even from 2000 miles away.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Palm Trees

You know how sometimes the last thing you said starts echoing in your ears until it's unrecognizable and awful?

So here is Mission Beach, San Diego.  Look!  Palm trees!


Doom Girl 2: The Return of The Doom

What I'm trying to say is that just because I am insecure doesn't mean that I'm wrong.  

It's not a unique position, but it's not universal either.  Some people have insecurities that relate to other problems.  Some people go out and think "I look hot," and mean it.  They might doubt their social skills or intelligence or worth as a human being, but they know that people find them attractive.  Some people doubt their appearance, but with far less reason.  I think that my attractiveness to other people is below average, which by definition means that half the population is better at it than I am.  So that half of the population either knows it, and feels less doubt, or doesn't know it, and their doubt is less rational.  Either way, it's not the same thing.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Doom Girl

He texted back immediately, and I thought so maybe it's not over.  And then in the 30 minutes since then I have managed to convince myself that it really is over.  Because, obviously, a 30 minute wait between texts = doom.

This is, apparently, my MO.  I predict doom.

I wish it wasn't.  It's kind of tiring, really.  All this doom.  Or rather, the back-and-forth between maybe-he-wills and no-he-won'ts is tiring.  I wish I could stop.

Except I don't think I'm being entirely unreasonable.  Thinking that THIRTY MINUTES WAIT = HE WILL NEVER CALL AGAIN is silly.  But the only reason I think that is because the underlying trust isn't there.  And I'm not sure that's unreasonable.  I think that my odds are slim.  I think that existing trends do not support the hypothesis that things with Alex will work out.

And trust?  Trust is just another kind of faith.  I don't have any of that kind, either.

coffee table

I made this today.  Well, some of the handle I made yesterday.  But I made most of it today. 

Still needs a lot of work.

Friday, October 14, 2011

this post is in dire need of a conclusion

They are going to take the tooth.

I've had teeth pulled before; I'm already missing eight of them.  But this is my fucking front tooth.  (Fig.1, tooth #9.)  I'm going to look like a six year old or a meth addict.  And, yes, they will make me a (horribly named) "flipper," which is like a denture for a single tooth.  And it will match my much-yellowed existing teeth.  And eventually they're going to drill a new tooth directly into the bone.  But I will be toothless for at least four months, maybe more.  The entire process is expected to take about nine months.
                                            fig 1: YOUR TEETH                                  
And speaking of drilling into bone, I'm getting a bone implant from a dead person.  Which, according to the literature, should be tested for disease.  I'm faintly disturbed by the fact that not only will the literature refuse to claim with certainty that my dead-guy-bone will be disease-free, they won't even claim with certainty that it will have been tested.  Seriously?  My periodontist assures me that the bone-procuring procedure is totally ethical and safe.  Despite rumors I may have heard.  No Chinese prisoners. No diseases.

(I actually think the dead-guy bone implant is pretty awesome.  I'm more bothered by the literature than the actual procedure.  Or, rather, I'm bothered by the procedure because it involves knives, and me, and being conscious, but not because of the dead guy.  Just because it doesn't hurt when being cut, doesn't mean it doesn't feel awful.  And then there's the later, which does hurt.  Dammit.)

I think I have to stop biting my nails.

My periodontist is Dr. M.  She is young and pretty, with cold, slender hands, and sleek brown hair.  My endodontist tells me in the hallway that they are dating.  I think he was trying to say something about how he wants to save teeth.  He really wants to save teeth.  But my tooth can't be saved.  Also, he's dating Dr. M.  Apparently, she is not good for his ability to make coherent transitions, because I have no idea what those two things have in common.

Dr. M was actually the second of three periodontists I met yesterday.  After Dr. M was the head of the periodontics department.  Then I met the director of the prosthodontics department.  (Are department names considered proper names?  Someone help me out here.)  And then there was a second grad student who came to take some extra pictures before I left, because they'd be great for teaching.  I have an appointment next week with another prosthodontist, but I haven't met him yet.  And I'm pretty sure that department heads, capitalized or not, usually don't come to look at everyone's teeth.  I asked my endodontist if my tooth was unusual in some way, but he looked at me earnestly and said that no, this was perfectly normal.  I asked Dr. M, and she gave me the same answer.  I think that they think I want to hear that I'm normal.

I don't want to be normal.  If I'm going to go through a nine-month, $4000, treatment plan, I might as well have a freakish reason for it.  If I'm going to get 3rd degree burns I'd much rather them be from a flamethrower than a campfire.  Instead I'm getting a nine-month, $4000 treatment plan because I knocked my front teeth when I was 12 or 13 which caused a slight horizontal fracture in my left front tooth.  For 19 years the fracture has been extending and expanding in an un-savable-fashion.  My tooth was doomed almost from the start, I just didn't know it.
fig 2: 14 years old

I'm sure there's some sort of metaphor to be made here, about things we unknowingly set in motion years ago, or how we never really escape our childhoods.  Maybe something that plays into the whole teeth-falling-out-insecurity-dream that I've heard about but never actually experienced.  I don't know.  I am relieved to think that this isn't my fault, not in a way that matters.  I may have tripped and fell.  I may have accidentally walked into someone's elbow.  It wasn't even really me who was so clumsy or accident-prone, it was some other, earlier me.  Someone I don't have to take responsibility for.

Because there's something embarrassing about sitting at the dentist as he points out what is wrong with my body, see, here is where the bone is losing density, and here is the crack that is causing it.  All medicine is kind of embarrassing.  Andy says I shouldn't replace the tooth;  I could learn to whistle.  Instead, I am getting teeth-whitening strips in a last-ditch effort to give my mouth some respectability. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Speaking of how I got from there to here.

Almost a year ago, I was approached on OK Cupid by a 19 year old who wanted to improve his oral sex skills, and would I help him practice?  I turned him down, but offered some advice for the future.  Such as: start with women who are interested in casual sex, and try to not sound like you're looking for a second-rate girl to practice on so you can get the first-rate ones.  There was much thanking, and apologizing, and occasionally he shows up on IM to say hi, how's it going. 

Skip forward a bit to a month ago.  September 13th, to be exact.  I am going out of my mind with unfulfilled lust.  And I know, because I've tried, that casual sex doesn't make me happy, but it might get me through the night.  And there's something appealing in the idea of having someone there to do exactly what I want.  And I do want.  All I am is want.  So I message him to say that I might be interested, if he still is.

A week or two passes, and I have written a video essay about online dating.  I have written a fantasy dating montage that shows a multitude of relationship scenes, including a "making out in bed" scene, and I can't think of who I would ask to film it with me.  And I think, Babylingus (as Cassie has named him) makes kind of a perfect choice.  There's no risk in asking, because he's not a friend.  And because he's not a friend, I don't have to see him again.  He's nonthreatening.  He's already expressed interest.  He's already made a crazy proposition, why not match it with one of my own?  I can do him a favor, he can do me a favor.  Quid pro quo.

I proposed.  He dithered.  I explained.  He disappeared.  He came back with conditions.  (The boy has some spunk!)  I refused them.  And now, we are negotiating.

plotting the curve

I am trying to remember how I got from there to here. I know that twelve years ago, I was miserable, and I know that I am not miserable anymore. But I don't know how, when, why, that changed. Was it an even upward slope? Was it imperceptible for years before sweeping quickly up in a surge of sanity? I have points I can plot on that graph, but they are few and far between.

Marking the lowest point: Sitting on a sidewalk in Rome, in July of 2000, my back pressed against the side of a building. Trying to make myself small. Most of my memories of Europe are memories of the photographs I took, and so I don't know what that street looked like. I fill in the holes with the images I do have: pale gray columns in Venice, curved and elegant, lining gray stone steps. Gray cracks in a gray sidewalk in Berlin. I shot everything in black and white. I have three rolls full of the Roman forum in splendid despair, and half a roll of the Colosseum. But the only photo I have of the Vatican is a quick snapshot while crossing the street, the dome of St. Peter's bright in the distance. I spent that day crying on the sidewalk, cross-legged with my camera bag in my lap, determined to never be happy again.

(Jeriah tells the story differently. He charts "rock bottom" a week or two earlier, in Paris. We were on the fourth or fifth floor in a cream colored apartment building in Monmartre. He says that there were days when we never left the building because I couldn't bear to uncurl my spine. But all I remember is a little white-walled room where we ate bread and cheese and I read Stardust aloud at night. I'd forgotten to reset my film speed, so in my memory, the room is always overexposed, almost too bright to be seen. I have no memory of being sad in Paris.)

Marking the highest point: Walking down Jefferson Street in January 2009 with John Englebrecht, the sidewalk treacherous with secret icy patches and lumps of iced-over snow. I told him that I thought I could do anything I wanted.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I want to think that I'm grumpy for some other reason.  Hormones.  Or drugs.  But I don't think it's hormones, and I think I've remembered to take my drugs.  I've decided, for no good reason, that Alex is over.  Which I have decided before, but this time I care.  This time it makes me sad.  And I'm sad-eating, which makes me feel un-want-able, to go with the feeling of being un-wanted.  And I'm totally annoying, even to myself.


Chicago, broken-down car, blues dancing, strangers asking me for a dance, Jeriah and Malibu Black and orange-pineapple juice and lives that didn't happen, dim sum with carts like a proper restaurant, plotting the curve between Rome in 2000 and today, new car, for reals, new car, Alex, Andrew, wedding, Alex, Alex, Alex