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if pretention was pretending
my other homes:: The LunchBreaks / The BadCore June 2008
Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 01:30 pm

When grief comes to you as a purple gorilla
you must count yourself lucky.
You must offer her what’s left
of your dinner, the book you were trying to finish
you must put aside,
and make her a place to sit at the foot of your bed,
her eyes moving from the clock
to the television and back again.
I am not afraid. She has been here before
and now I can recognize her gait
as she approaches the house.
Some nights, when I know she’s coming,
I unlock the door, lie down on my back,
and count her steps
from the street to the porch.
Tonight she brings a pencil and a ream of paper,
tells me to write down
everyone I have ever known,
and we separate them between the living and the dead
so she can pick each name at random.
I play her favorite Willie Nelson album
because she misses Texas
but I don’t ask why.
She hums a little,
the way my brother does when he gardens.
We sit for an hour
while she tells me how unreasonable I’ve been,
crying in the checkout line,
refusing to eat, refusing to shower,
all the smoking and all the drinking.
Eventually she puts one of her heavy
purple arms around me, leans
her head against mine,
and all of a sudden things are feeling romantic.
So I tell her,
things are feeling romantic.
She pulls another name, this time
from the dead,
and turns to me in that way that parents do
so you feel embarrassed or ashamed of something.
Romantic? she says,
reading the name out loud, slowly,
so I am aware of each syllable, each vowel
wrapping around the bones like new muscle,
the sound of that person’s body
and how reckless it is,
how careless that his name is in one pile and not the other.


duncan died may 16, 2008


Sat, Jun. 28th, 2008 09:08 pm

it took 3 days after i went home
to sleep through the clattering of the train,
the cars churning by, the protest of the cats.

the key in the door, the movie dialogue -
turned to pitch and timbre through the wood of the door.

how strange these sounds had become that
i could not but start at each and
ask how i'd slept through them before.

i learn these cues to stand your opposite,
and nevermind the warning of the rails.


Sat, Mar. 29th, 2008 11:21 am
this has been left alone for some time - mostly due to my having had to relocate my life and other things obviously taking precedence, though now i do wish i had chronicled the last few months.

i have moved from bedstuy to prospect heights to a beautiful apartment with stenciled walls and a ton of light, and while my walls are empty, it's more and more a home to me as the sun starts coming alive sooner in the day.

i had a dream last night that i was sitting in a train or subway car, but more or less unable to move from my seat. a wrinkled old woman dressed like a gypsy or a fortune teller came up to me and put a white napkin across my lap, then stared me in the face. she took the napkin and flipped it over and it was black. she stared at me again, and then tossed a handful of little wooden dowels onto my lap. she stared at me and flipped the napkin over and over again while people around me were telling her to stop. at one point instead of the little wood bits, she tossed what looked like an old bottle-opened which had one piece sharpened to a point. i only remember these objects but feel like there were more.

it seemed like a symbolic enough dream that i should write it down somewhere.


Tue, Jan. 8th, 2008 11:00 pm
there is always room to make improvement on a decision once you've lived through its consequences. and here i am, packing my things once again, preparing for a few months out of a suitcase, wondering once again if i've made the right decision to move once again. there are far worse problems to be faced with than wondering if the path you've chosen of many options is the right one, but it never makes this any easier. i could just stay rooted to the ground and sleep in and miss my flight, and that would be the end of it, and i wouldn't worry anymore for the next weeks about my family and my home, and whether i can call it that anymore. for all the romance and importance of travel and experiencing different places, it still is no easy thing when my father asks 'are you sure you don't want to stay?', because he wants me to, and he knows that part of me does, too. he says 'you could just keep working at poggio', and it sounds so easy to do. i know my life here, i know my home and my work and my surroundings don't appear fearsome at night, because i have been around them for so long.

i'm not sure i get all the fuss about making your own life and home, when you begin to do it after already having lived 20 odd years of it. many of us need new beginnings, but very few can ever truly start from scratch. we have already come from somewhere and had our loves and losses and our warm memories and trials, so why escape these things? variety? i love to experience what i can, but we are all tied to somewhere, no matter how nomadic we fancy ourselves.

"i wanted to be the one with road dust on my boots. ... all i ever wanted was a world without end."

it all sounds so good in theory, and by the time i've lived through it, it probably will be.

but sometimes i just want to stay home and hang out with my mom and dad.


Mon, Jan. 7th, 2008 01:28 am

a string has broken.
i can never again play
how i did for you.


Sat, Jan. 5th, 2008 03:29 pm

PapaKazakov: dude oh my god
PapaKazakov: i dropped a piece of jerky on my lap, and somehow at the exact same time one of these fuckin little beetles that got in through my window i guess was on my lap
PapaKazakov: i picked it up wasnt even looking
PapaKazakov: and fucking put it in my mouth and bit down on it
PapaKazakov: ive drank like 4 cups of apple juice i still cant get the taste out of my mouth


Wed, Jan. 2nd, 2008 02:29 pm
after spending many long weeks in tokyo avoiding my peers and the crowds, i set out one afternoon to get to know the neighborhood i had so carefully refrained from acquainting myself with. for those with lovesickness, there is no room in their life for anything but the exact science of nursing that pain and the avoiding of meals and friends. i wasn't interested in escaping self-pity—it was familiar and consistent at a time when i was anything but.

though there were several routes from the akasaka international weekly mansion to the school, i always took the first one i had been shown, and the several streets just blocks from my home remained almost entirely unexplored since my first day, when i visited a starbucks for the sake of familiarity with another student who'd also arrived early in tokyo. it was pouring rain, but it was warm and we both subscribed to obliviousness with regard to the weather. i bought a coffee for social purposes.

by the time the weather had turned colder, i had gotten used to walking down to the konbini or the vending machines to get some crackers or a dr pepper, which had inexplicably become my drink of choice for the exact duration of my stay. the weather was unpleasant by the general public reckoning—misty, grey and cold—but i always have found a certain comfort in foggy days when the clouds are low. the world shrinks to your immediate surroundings, and the sky doesn't seem quite so vast and distant. sounds don't travel as far, and the silence seems more to surround you than it does leave you exposed—everything is close at hand and concerns can only come from so far away.

on my way home from the sake vendor, i passed a darkened bar, with a facade that couldn't measure more than 5 or 6 feet across, including the door. there were 5 stools lining the hammered copper bar top, and barely enough room to walk around in, but i decided to come back that night. if nothing else, it was extremely close to home, and that can be quite the important factor in finding a haunt to imbibe at.

mitsui was the name of the bar and the owner/bartender/resident. his face was creased like wrinkled newspaper, but it was clear that these were marks of smiling and laughter, and not time's cruelty. i'm sure he must've been close to 60 or so, but for his exuberance and warmth, he was younger than most people ever get to be. he had somewhat of a feminine quality that i could never quite pinpoint... it may have been the way he held his cigarettes, or his cadence of speech, which was kind and articulate (an unusual combination for an older japanese man), or the fact that he reminded me of a character from 'tokyo godfathers' who is a slender, older man who moonlights as a crossdresser... but it complimented him and the style of his bar.

i can't separate the times i spent there anymore, because every night we spent there we always felt the same—taken care of. mitsui was an instant friend and someone who, through whatever means, will always be tied to a very specific emotional chord for me.

mitsui's place was right down the street from the american embassy, and as such, he would occasionally ask us about words or phrases we used that he didn't understand. between 3 or 4 americans, these explanations grew inevitably longer and more convoluted as he poured us sake or shochu or beer, and inevitably shorter when he would, completely unsolicited, cook us something and insist we eat. "mitsui special", he'd say, and wouldn't let us pay for it, and rarely would let us pay for all of our drinks. one night, when we walked in, he poured us sake flecked with gold leaf he had received as a gift from some folks at the embassy, and we joined in conversation with whoever was taking up the other of the 5 seats. i met a dance teacher with long hair and a penchant for spandex, a tv producer, a warm couple enthusiastic to talk about how tall we were, and all of them were just as open and warm and kind as we were wont to be when we came through the door.

there is something quite elegant and immediate about talking with someone over a language barrier that, whether truly or not, gives the sensation that you're cutting through to exactly who this person is. someone who will sound like a child willingly and make mistakes willingly and laugh at themselves willingly had already proved a genuineness that can take years to garner from people you can speak with in well-composed, articulate sentences. i sometimes feel that i will be hard-pressed to find a man as generous and heartfelt as mitsui. i can easily blame this on a lack of understanding, or diminishing sobriety as our hours together grew long. i sometimes find myself thinking about people like mitsui i have come to know—people that have impressed me with their warmth and humanity—and i wonder about their darkness. undoubtedly mitsui has hurt and been hurt in his years on the earth... maybe he had a son who died and he bought the bar to escape this hurt... maybe he really was a crossdresser escort, and this bar had been bought for him by a patron...

but i can not wonder if he really meant to befriend a group of tall foreigners who broke his ceiling lights by walking into them—he was certain that it was the right thing to do. and when the time came for me to leave japan, saying goodbye to him was the moment i realized that in spite of my best efforts to keep my heart away from tokyo, i was leaving home.


happy new year to all. i'm moving to new york in a week. see ya there.


Wed, Nov. 21st, 2007 11:37 am

a new episode of 'it's ok to cry' is up, with lots of awesome music guaranteed to make your lottery tickets more likely to win.



Thu, Nov. 1st, 2007 01:23 am
i am faced with one of the most daunting decisions i have ever come across. while i live by the ideal that whatever path i choose will be right for me, i know that these are majorly diverting paths, and i can only walk one at a time. sure, i could go to new york to test it out and see how it goes. sure, i could stay here and live around people i love and work in an industry that i hadn't considered. i could move to colorado or japan or portugal or new zealand. as naive as it seems, i feel as though i am choosing a path i will commit to for a good portion of my life, though. i try to look at them and how they will be if i decide i want to change the course of my life, just so if and when i get there, i can have meditated on it before... but how do i apply restaurant experience to anything else? how do i apply music industry experience? what good is my degree at this point? i love my work in the restaurant industry and could easily continue, but i'm afraid it will be at the expense of other portions of my identity in that since i've started, i've forgotten how to play songs i knew by heart. i've spent evenings and days off just decompressing and not being productive. as management, i can only assume my commitment will deepen, and my time off will decrease... but then, isn't that the case with any job at this point? maybe i have to simply surrender to it a bit and work out new ways to maintain a semblance of these parts of me i like so much.

staying in ca almost seems like giving up and doing the easy thing to me, but i can't avoid the logic in it and the sense it makes for me... the people, the work, the place... they all click... but i sometimes feel a compulsion to do the hard thing some more - to go to the new place or the harder place to live and crank it out while i'm young. but i can't understand that idea all that well... why not live the place that makes me happier and commit to the lifestyle that i find easier when it's available to me?

i'm terrified of giving up my freedom to drop everything when i feel the need, but more than that, i'm worried that once i do agree to grow up, i will start to be old. i don't mind working hard and making a life so much, but i'm scared to let it beat me down and make me submissive, complacent, and otherwise idle. i already have spent too much time not running or biking or writing or playing or networking or bonding. i always have to wait until i can get a gym membership or the weather warms or my commute is more reasonable or the next piece of gear arrives.

i am terrified that i will spend all my time in preparation for a life i don't ever begin to live, more than anything.

being at school gives you a relatively absolute direction and timeframe, and if anything has been made clear to me, it's that you can give months up in the blink of an eye to nothing more than sitting on craigslist and hoping for a break that may never come.

my opportunities here grew, though... as i'm sure they might anywhere else... but the future without moving again is easy to envision and attain. i just beat myself up as i consider it to be the path of least resistance, but what is so wrong with continuing to live without fighting?


Mon, Oct. 22nd, 2007 02:32 am

new episode of it's ok to cry available at thegunsel.com

so seriously, go get it.

come on, go get it go get it go get it.

tell people who you love.

tell people who you hate.

then tell me you told them, and i'll send you 5 dollars.