neighborhood · people

Vignette 10 1/2

He has dreadlocks that—like Stevie Wonder—are beaded, just in gold. Cuffed pants, striped socks. Perhaps on something, because he’s clutching a selection of golf clubs and an iPad while sitting on the staircase next to the bar at 8 in the morning.

I am nonplussed. This morning I said my mantras, and the sun peeked and warmed me.

“What’s up, Brother? That’s a good song,” I say because he’s playing Vampire Weekend and I like Vampire Weekend.

“I like this song, too,” he says flashing a smile while wielding a nine iron and wandering a circle.

I like this song, too.

Cayden · neighborhood

Vignette Nine

My hand has developed a new crease from where it rests on the laptop, and a new callous.

Cayde’s mouth hurts; he stays home from school, where Jenn, too, is sleeping.

We go to Luigis for some pie and billiards. The table is out of order, so we play shuffleboard.

A police officer walks up and at first I think truancy, but the guy just asks if Cayde wants a sticker; I say ‘yes’ and he goes to his SUV and delivers Cayde a badge.

“Thank you for your service,” I shake his hand. Because my cousin-in-law is blue and has seen people crumpled accordion in their car and has also been tasked with finding decapitated heads down the freeway markers. He shakes my hand with a grip that is as hard as the grip I lend to him.

We play shuffleboard and Cayde comes back to beat me: 11-10. He is a whiz.

The veggie pizza is the best and we leave badged and better, pie in the belly and loving this place we call home, life precious.

Cayden · family · Findlay · home · wife

Hummingbird Heart

hummingbird heartTwice in the canyon today. Once at daybreak when it was 37 degrees and the birds were waking; second time in a more crepuscular hour when an explosion of parrots dominated the eucalyptus, conure hybrids from escaped cages happy to be alive.

Cayde was away in the desert with his cousins, watching the jet planes do their practice runs, and there was a particular ease to the day. I had Finn for the better part of the morning and—typical—he asked for ‘Wench Wies’ (French Fries) so I atypically took him to the fast food joint where we could get a cheeseburger to share, and where he could get his potatoes. We sat in the breakfast nook, and passed the burger back and forth, exchanging bites. Later, when I was writing, he snuck into my closet and—discovering some foot powder—gleefully antiqued the house with aplomb, dusting everything in white. Little imp. Too tired to clean things up, me having been awake since three, we just retired to bed leaving the house white as an Elizabethan mask, his stuffies and rugs resolutely covered in talcum snow.

Jenn and I cleaned things up later—together—a quiet team, and it was then that Jenn showed me the mail. We received some monies—substantial monies, monies with promised and residual return that will change our lives.

And I celebrated by taking a walk to the canyon where I would see the paraques and warblers, but first I passed the bar where Mac was working and I swung around the countertop to hug and kiss her because she is beautiful and teaches piano to children; still I said: “just passing through.” And Mac gripped my hand seeing that I was happy and because my life is an Altman film starring Richard Gere, and I sat in the canyon with the leaves all fire-shot and stared at the beauty of a telephone pole which peeks out over the canyon rim.

On the way home, I serendipitously ran into Jenn who was just leaving in her car to pick up Cayde and I climbed in so we could all be together. Once in the backseat Cayde said all these bodhisattva things, my little foul-mouthed empath, who also said: “Mommy—you have a shitty memory—sometimes you say things to me twice in a row.” My little bodhisattva boy whose head is matched by his heart and who remarks to me that he wants to help the homeless and cries at movies when families get separated.

We went to a chicken joint to celebrate where we sat beneath space heaters and were warmed inside and out, me enjoying a bed of chicken oysters and celebratory libation, and where I looked lovingly at my bride, my champion, my girl, my Isolde, the love of my life (and I’m the Story of hers); and felt the contentment of being in absolute control of my destiny, no longer feeling lost as the setting moon, wanting only the sunshine of better days.

Every day is a new day, some better than others, and today was a day writ in giant red letters, like the Beatitudes, and I was happy for everything in my life: napping with Finn in a talcum-dusted house; hearing Cayde, my backseat Buddha, speak his compassion; working together with my wife in loving our family; the explosions of birds, which not only populate the trees but which explode thrice in this, my hummingbird heart.

bipolarity · city · Delaney · mania · neighborhood

Dear Delaney (1)

Dear Delaney:

1) The day begins in the devil’s rain, and I am bodhisattva outside and my kid is spinning in it while my other one crawls into my lap on my perch on the porch.
2) I help walk Nic’s dogs and I take her into the canyon. She has a hummingbird tattooed on her right forearm and I want to show her the baby hummingbird that just learned to fly. They’re her spirit animal, and the dogs run around the canyon and we speak poetry sitting in a think spot while having coffee and the two hawks are there in attendance.
3) I chat with Elaine and it’s gotten to where we finish each other’s sentences and we share writings back and forth.
4) I have a great date with Frances Hap-Top. (she’s my laptop) I write prose with a stopwatch as challenge. I make beauty in ten minutes; I make beauty despite my name being writ on water, and with there being a need for permanence.
5) I meet Sara at Thorn St. and it’s like we’re new old friends, and we have some Japanese lager and chat furiously and I’m able to close out my tab while still sober, and I go home to where I’ve decorated the house in clippings of yarrow and lavender and where my wife is home.
6) Our friend Gary sends me menus and today I got the prize from Gary’s venture at Robuchon; Sara does the same thing: all this collecting of cookbooks and menus and today I scribble down suggestions for Ottolenghi; she collects Lucky Peach just like the t-shirt Gary sent me from Momofuku, but despite her husband being a chef doesn’t know Ottolenghi so I underscore the titles she needs to buy.
7) I bathe with charcoal and pine tar. I have a shrimp burrito with griddled cheese and chipotle mayonnaise. I have a burger with avocado and jalapenos, bacon and mushrooms. I know you appreciate the details.
8) I go see the Globetrotters with Cayde. Not sure if you’re aware of them, but they are the best. Cayde signals to me that the courtside seats are unsold, so we spend the last half of the show in the front row and high-five all the players. You’d totally dig this Delaney since you could do back-flips off a bar-top, but they set up a trsmpoline in front of a backboard and did somersaults and forward flips while shooting dunks. I yelled till I was hoarse.
9) I wrote part of a song today and am going to collaborate with my musician friends to grow it.
10) I make coffee for Jenn and sit with her as she applies makeup. “You’re the love of my life,” I say; “You’re the fucking story of mine,” she says, as we kiss in the rain.
11) Nic tells me a funny joke: “How do you tell when a blonde’s having a bad day?”……””When there’s a tampon behind her ear and she can’t find her pencil.” I know you’d find that funny. I tell Nic what Freud says about laughter, that it’s the id breaking through.
12) I go on a late night walk and get some ginger bee from Ricardo and we discuss cooking and the proper way to make a stesk. We shake hands compadre.
13) My cat keeps waking up my kid with her yowls; she wants my attention.

It was the best day, Delaney. Thought you should know. Love you, my Friend. Wings out and xo.


Backseat Buddha

rosecrans_st_eb_at_pacific_hwy_02The man in the magenta sweatshirt wanders across the freeway exchange to stare quizzically at the interstate sign, as if marveling at the number five for the first time, some neanderthalian wonder at the curious hashmarks and curlicues that signify, signify something. He stands there staring at the five and we have to slow the car to allow him his confoundment and our instant reaction is to laugh: WTF?
But our little backseat Buddha pipes up at the sound of our nervous chuckling.

“Mommy,” Cayden says, dead on sober, “Don’t laugh. That man’s just struggling in life.”

And Jenn and I look at each other, completely schooled by a ten-year old, who empathically noted that the man reading the sign was signing to us that his brave walk across the freeway and his cock-headed study of the interstate marker was not exactly normal, and despite the sardonic humor of the situation, was signal to Cayde that the man was not well. We all struggle.

Cayden · home · mania · mental health · neighborhood

I Open My Coat

t’s a devil’s rain and I stand outside in the back alley enjoying the devil’s rain, with the sun shining low beneath the cloudfront and everything illuminated while also it showers on the new growth—the yarrows and lavender, the new and red growth on the ficus tree—and, in the moment, in the moment, I feel like repeating everything as if in a mantra; that I actually slept last night wrapped in my grandma’s quilt wherein she confessed to making one mistake, that one of the flower patches of the quilt is upside down, and I slept well knowing that I told her: “GG, Persian rugmakers would always leave one loop undone because perfection is only supposed to belong to God.” And she comes to me in my dreams, just like Delaney, and she tells me again she has cancer, and I say, “I know, GG”; but she watches over me from her place in the mausoleum wall, and I clutch her hand like a bouquet.

Jenn tells Cayde that it’s ‘rainbow weather’ and he joins me in being outside and he spins in the rain, filming himself while playing ‘Singing in the Rain’ on his phone, just gloriously being a kid; I sit and watch him from my perch on the porch and think to all my friends, the bodhisatvas who would otherwise have their nirvana were it not for remaining on this earth out of compassion, and I tried calling all my bodhisattva friends last night and was met with answering machines. Not that it matters. Finn crawls into my lap and plays with my face and makes funny expressions and he laughs. I am at last rested having been awake what seems like for days, and I just enjoy the moment of him touching my face and sticking out his tongue and shouting, “Bye, Daddy!” though it’s not yet time to go, not yet time to go, and I hold him while Cayde spins like a modernday dervish in the devil’s rain.

I kiss Jenn goodbye while it rains, and as always I tell her she’s the love of my life, and she responds: “You’re the fucking story of mine”; and I feel beautiful and Joycean, all the six derivations of love and the Sermon on the Plain at once; and after they leave I walk down to the corner store and wish Gabe a good morning, where we exchange niceties and exchange currencies, and I look outside and tell him, “It’s beautiful out.” And he says, “The rain is nice.” And as I walk home with my wares and notice the flowers, it is then that I open my coat.

bipolarity · city · mania · mental health · neighborhood


;Life is good on the right-hand side of the semicolon. Writing and talking and knowing everyone in the neighborhood by name. But I like quiet, and I enter into a canyon every morning just past sunrise and watch the birds. My neighbors include two ferruginous hawk, which the crows bother; a hummingbird family; a score of mourning doves; and twittersome warblers that bounce around the logs as if on fire.

Today my feet hurt so bad from my job that I limped up the canyon, but I wouldn’t miss it: the sunrise, the early morning scavenge, the minutes I take just being present.

I’m up at 3:30 most mornings, still rested, and make my wife coffee, have 5:30 a.m. conversations with my son Cayde. It’s all commune with my own small galaxy, me and the twittery warblers; my kid and me.

“Good morning, Steve.”

“How are you, Thom?” replies the shopkeeper.

“Fantastic as always.”

“Good to hear.”

We exchange greetings as much as we do currency, and—in this life—the courtesies are more important.


Weird Fucker

“You’re a weird fucker,” she says and I kiss her eyelids as they are closed, and I am bound, looking to feel safe; and I sit on the felled tree to be with my birds—Buddha on the rocks—and remember lying awake in a river watching the clouds and wanting to be a weird fucker, lying awake in a river wanting to feel safe looking to be bound, to feel safe.



Vignette Two: In Shinto, and Christianity, the Trinity is important. I get Korean baths, and the masseuse claps my back three times to seal in the exchange. It’s spiritual.

In yoga, we Namaste. Seal it in, catch and find your breath. Rather, find and catch your breath.

I come home; I’m too high. Three breaths doesn’t work. I’m changing meds, I’m pharmaceutically high: I’ve caught every sunrise in two weeks over ginger ale and coffee. Orange things, with clouds.

I’m too high, and my wife puts me in the bath and washes me and shampoos my hair. Trinity: she washes me, she washes me.

I seal it in, know that I am loved and that were my breath to stop, the love would live on forever forever forever.


Love Story

loveThis is a love story.

I came home late last night having worked charcuterie and I was driving home and feeling the margin markers and at some point I pulled off the freeway because I didn’t want to be unsafe. I think often to Karina, who was ejected from a split car as a teenager, and that she’s reason for me to be reasonable. I slept in my car and in trying to navigate home once awoken I got lost because it was an unfamiliar neighborhood, still four miles from home. I ran out of gas, 2:35 in the morning.

I pushed my car to the curb and called Lyft after having called my wife.

“You’ve a lot of work to do tomorrow,” my Lyft driver said.

“I know.”

We all have a lot of work to do.

My wife: “I’m going to be a mother to you today.”


Sleep sleep sleep.

I don’t do enough of that.

My wife finds my car, and she finds a gas canister, and she refills my tank, no questions asked. She loves me; I love her. She drives me to my car so I can drive to work today where I love the people and can be happy. Elenya is at work, one of my favorites, and she is having a convo about meditation with another co-worker and she mentions me as I walk up because I meditate and pray daily now; and I take Elenya’s hands in mine and we close our eyes and we pray to the Universe together.

My wife refilled my gas tank, because she loves me, and in getting ready for work—me on new meds and reeling with tiredness—she offers to bathe me again like she did the other day and it’s the sweetest thing, just like this morning when I saw a hummingbird teach her fledgling to fly, just like holding Elenya’s hands and praying to the Universe in threes, and living loving and being madly sweetly in love. Yes.