The Beginning is Near

It’s been awhile. I think this is because I was sad for a few months. It is much harder for me to write when I am sad. I’m not even entirely sure what I’ve been doing with my time. Where it’s gone. What hole it slipped into and never came out of.

A friend of mine often makes jokes about how I use Twitter as a diary. This is true. But it is also not true. There is so much I can’t and therefore don’t tell my Twitter diary. Mostly what I am not saying is about love because everything I need to say about love involves other people, and so it is not mine to say. Everything else I am not saying is about the battles I’m fighting inside myself that are too amorphous to articulate.

It’s been a very strange year. It began strange in a heated ballroom outside in Aspen in negative 13 degree weather with Win Butler singing a song to me, for me, laughing, while a room full of people richer than I can possibly comprehend swarmed around us unconcerned, inattentive, glittering.

What I have thrown away recently:

1. My half empty pack of cigarettes from the tail end of my one month return to smoking.

2. A blood orange that, while deep red and truly bloody in its pulp, actually tasted like nothing at all. Vaguely bitter and dense air.

3. The envelopes of a couple parking tickets I paid online.

4. A few pair of underwear my dog chewed through while I absentmindedly wandered my small apartment in the middle of the night, in the middle of the day.

5. Food gone bad. And its packaging.

What I’ve been doing lately, I suppose, is reading poems, listening to songs, sitting outside, sitting inside, running from one place to another, but in a practical way not in an exercise way. So maybe I don’t mean running. Just, driving. Biking. Walking, sometimes.

One thing I did do was go out to the desert. Pioneertown and Joshua Tree and the Salton Sea and Slab City. It was everything I needed and then it was everything I needed to run away from. Joshua Tree pulled me back to earth and then Slab City sent me speeding back to LA. There is so much to say about this, too, but it’ll have to wait, since it’s going into this project I’m working on. {That’s a lie. I’m not working on anything. I’ve barely written in a month.}

Prince and Phife Dawg and David Bowie died this year. And I have said often that I’m worried all the magic has been vacuumed out of the world. But this is of course untrue. There is magic all around in the way this city talks to me. There is magic in the way new possibilities are blooming. ‘Cause, like Frank Ocean says, I been thinking bout forever.

New music has come into the world. Lemonade has come to fill my heart in a way these dead artists used to {or still do, really, because their music isn’t dead}. Some days this spring, I wake up and feel grateful to be alive in a time when Beyoncé is making music that both appeals to a mass audience and is still gorgeous, smart, and that puts black women at the forefront of everything. This is what I want the world to look like, and maybe this can be where we’re heading.

Radiohead also released a new song. Their first new song tied to a pending album since Jake died. I went over to X’s house yesterday and we played the video once without visuals and then a second time with the creepy, fucked up video that accompanies the song. I cried, which is pretty standard with me. Both because it is so exciting and beautiful and makes me feel about Radiohead like I haven’t felt since Hail to the Thief, but also because it is hard to know that one of the few people with whom I shared a deep love of this band isn’t around to talk to me about it. This song has been a long time coming. Any 90’s kid remembers back when Radiohead had that weird website, maybe circa 2003, with all the words scribbled on the homepage, where it said in huge letters, Burn The Witch Burn The Witch Burn The Witch. I remember being 15 and writing those words in my sketchbook in silver ink on top of blued and blacked out newspaper print. A song decades in the making.

I am sitting outside at a coffee shop in Silver Lake right now next to my best friend. There is a copy of YesYes Books’ A New Language for Falling Out of Love sitting on the table between us. I write this because context is everything. I’ve been working on my first dissertation chapter and it is very grounded in the context of how my ideas came to be, where I wrote them, what informed them.

I just finished teaching my Los Angepocalypse course, which is the last course I’ll teach for at least a year, if not two, as I am now on fellowship.13124524_10100104399055722_9177304412064135388_n

One of my very talented students {they’re all crazy talented, actually} drew a bookmark for each book we read. This class’s attention to detail and commitment to curiosity and change blows me away.


Everyone keeps asking me what I’m going to do with the next 15 months. A few people have told me they don’t think I’m gonna make it through the next six months, let alone 15. I think what they mean is they’ve seen me at my worst these past six months and they think without structure and a schedule, I’m going to indulge in all my most destructive vices. But I’ve had structure and a schedule the past eight months that I’ve been slowly unraveling, and I have a feeling, maybe just a hope, that May is the beginning of things coming together again.

More specifically, I am going to spend the summer writing my second dissertation chapter and finishing one of my book projects. I’m going to spend the fall auditing a course at school and taking some art classes up the street from my house and down in Chinatown. I’m going to do all the things I haven’t had time for since I started my PhD. I’m going to find the ground again. These plans are all tentative. I dwell in that space Keats calls Negative Capability where I am comfortable with uncertainty. Because I’ve done certainty before and I’ve been so wrong and my ego is only now recovering from a lot of that.

Books I’ve been obsessed with lately are the following:

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That last book I got because I decided to get a tattoo from a poem published in a book that was put out by Black Ocean Press. I was in the bar one night with the press editor and he said if you get a tattoo of something Black Ocean, you get their whole catalogue for free for life. The lines I got are are from one of my first favorite poems. Zach Schomburg wrote it and read it when I was 19. I bought the book immediately back then, maybe 2008? and it was on my nightstand for as long as I lived in Denver. It is a poem about a lung and a haircut. It is, for me, about longing and not being on the same page but maybe being on the same page. The possibility of being on the same page. And the struggle to express a feeling quietly. Something I struggle with a lot. There is this small poem at the end of the prose poem and it reads:

Death is
onto all our collars
and it is spreading out
on the floor.
It is one thing
and then
a million things.

So I got this tattoo:


I have been able to spend the first third of this year with people I love so, so much. And we have had adventures all over Colorado and LA. My dream life is one where I get to see everyone I love any time I want and we all have enough money to eat the best food and do the most fun things and take the best pictures. Cause let’s be honest I have to photodoc everything. Someday when we’re all old and far apart, y’all are gonna thank me.

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Part of the reason I got to see everyone is because AWP was in Los Angeles this year, so my friends were everywhere for a few days and I threw financial caution to the wind {or down the toilet, rather}, and my life felt closer to my dream life and it was everything.

I don’t have much else to say. That’s a lie. I have so much more to say, but instead I will leave you with my favorite photos from my March trip to the desert. Here’s to hoping fellowship year looks a lot like desert + AWP + relaxation.

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