You Want It Darker

You Want It Darker
Leonard Cohen

 

Back in 2009, Leonard Cohen played at Coachella. He was on my absolutely-do-not-miss list, and of course, most of my crew didn’t understand why.

Still, I insisted. I dragged them all kicking and screaming out of the Sahara tent and over to the outdoor stage. They asked me, “Who is this old man?” and I just smiled knowingly.

By the time he got around to “Hallelujah,” my friends were jaw-dropped. Some were in tears. (I certainly was.) We sang together and swayed together and when it was all over we held each other, grateful for the experience.

That’s how powerful it was seeing Leonard Cohen perform live. I’m still grateful.

I’m grateful

Coke Talk of the Day


It’s been an interesting few days. I’ve been traveling. Business and pleasure, often at the same time. I’m back now, and feeling particularly grateful for all the new people and all the new purpose in my life.

Despite all the gratitude, I couldn’t help but notice a strange new feeling when I finally got home and my head hit the pillow. I was all by myself, and I didn’t want to be. It wasn’t the feeling of loneliness. It was the feeling of not wanting to be alone, and that’s not the way I’m used to feeling when I crawl into bed.

Part of it was because I’d been on the road in the close company of others. Part of it was because almost everyone I know here is coupled up. Part of it was because I knew a certain person wouldn’t be sleeping alone that night. (Yes, they’re still seeing each other. Yes, it looks like it’s going to last. Yes, I’ve come to terms with it.)

Anyway, I didn’t want to be alone last night. That being said, I didn’t want to be with anyone else either. I could’ve found a big spoon, but I wasn’t in a little spoon mood. It wasn’t about having a warm body in my bed. It was about acknowledging this part of me that’s been slowly developing over this past year, the part that wants to start sharing my life with someone special, the part that everyone else around me always seemed to have, the part that made me feel like a little bit of an oddball for not having until now.

I have so many wonderful things going on in my life right now. I’m happy. Happier than I’ve been in years, and maybe that’s why I’m ready for this next thing. It’ll happen. Or it won’t. I know better than to expect it, but I’m also hopeful in a way that I’ve never been before too. We’ll see. In the meantime, I get to enjoy myself. I get to challenge myself. I get to do some actual good in my day-to-day life, and I get to do it surrounded by some of the loveliest human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Like I said, I’m grateful.

Year Zero

Coke Talk of the Day

 
After an extended period of international adventuring in lieu of the typical springtime music festival rituals, life is finally about to return to something roughly approximating normal.

I’m looking forward to sunshine. It will be my first summertime out of Los Angeles in as many years as my average reader has been alive. I’m looking forward to finding a new poolside scene, or whatever the equivalent is in whichever city I decide to find myself.

I have a few lunatics to keep me sane, and for now they’re who I’m calling friends. Well, that’s not fair. They are friends. Good friends, and I love them, but it’s all very ephemeral. That’s okay, though. At least I’m having a good time.

Also, bizarre coincidences are starting to happen. Now that I’ve wandered out into the fray, I’ve met several of you who have written in to me. It’s a very surreal experience to shake someone’s hand who thinks I am a stranger when the truth is that I know their deepest, darkest secrets.

It’s quite beautiful, really. It makes me feel immediately protective. As far as they can tell, I’m just being polite, but if that horrible person they wrote to me about were to suddenly walk into the room, I would eat that bastard alive with a little hot sauce and a side of fries.

There are people in my life now who are devoted fans of my work who have no idea that I’m the person they credit with their relationship choices and career paths. It freaks me out a little bit when I hear them tell me they grew up reading my advice.

Then I think about how long ago 2009 really was. When you click on All The Advice, you can pick from eight different years. Eight. And it’s true, the teenagers who started with me at the beginning are in their mid-twenties now. The twenty-somethings have become thirty-somethings. It well and truly blows my fucking mind.

Not too long ago, I discovered that a therapist who had been recommended to me by a mutual friend was actually a long-time reader who had chosen to become a therapist in part because of my influence. Needless to say, I chose not to set up an appointment. That would have been way too weird for both of us.

Still. I’m open to whatever extraordinary shit comes my way. 2016 has been a profound loop around the sun so far, and the lovely bow at the end of it will be the election of our first female President. I refuse to be cynical about that. I’m genuinely looking forward to it.

On My State-Issued Permission Slips

When I lived in Los Angeles, I had a medical marijuana card. I carried it around with me at all times. I didn’t even smoke weed all that much. It’s just something I kept as insurance, a sort of “get out of jail free” card that was nice to have that I knew I would never really need. It also served the dual purpose of being a smirking reminder of American hypocrisy. (Honestly, that was the real reason I bothered keeping it.)

When I moved to a different state, my medical marijuana card became as useless as an unused drink ticket. It lost all its validity. In fact, it became a liability, something more likely to get me into trouble than out of it. The card was still a reminder of American hypocrisy, but it had gone from smirking to bitter.

When I removed it from my wallet, I knew I had to replace it with something else, something equally ridiculous, something that made a similar statement about how fucked up this country of ours really is.

Well, it finally came in the mail yesterday. After jumping through all the hoops and paying all the fees (just like I did to legally smoke weed in California), now in the place that I used to keep my medical marijuana card, I proudly display my very own concealed carry permit.

Yes, It’s official. Instead of an eighth of weed (something that would get me jail time in this state), I can now legally walk around with a handgun in my Balenciaga (something that would have most certainly gotten me jail time in California.)

I don’t necessarily plan on carrying a gun around. Then again, I didn’t walk around holding weed all that much either. Taking advantage of the privileges afforded me was never really the point for either card. It’s the privilege itself that I find so amusing. I have two little pieces of plastic from two different states, each one giving me permission to do something that would be felonious in the other. How fucking insane is that?

I almost want to frame them next to one another, or better yet, glue them back-to-back to form one double-sided piece of magnificently ironic identification, my own little piece of private performance art.

Not yet, though. I paid good money for these privileges, so there’s no point in defacing my state-issued permission slips until they expire. After all, I do own a gun. Who knows? Maybe one of these days I’ll feel like walking around strapped just for shits and giggles. And hey, I’m sure I’ll be visiting LA again sometime soon. Maybe I’ll feel like stopping by my favorite dispensary on La Brea. Either way, I’d better have my card on me. Otherwise, someone might think my behavior was criminal.

My New Favorite Book

I recently ordered a book on Amazon. (To be honest, I’m constantly ordering books on Amazon, but this story is about one book in particular.)

You see, every once in a while, I’ll find a used hardcover being sold at a lower price than the paperback, and as much as I love Amazon Prime, I’m always willing to wait a few extra days for a deal on an old-school hardcover edition.

Naturally, I forgot about it, so it was a happy surprise when it arrived a little over a week later in one of those “we’re not Amazon, but we’ll still get it to you” padded yellow envelopes.

As as I ripped it open, I was smacked in the face with the thick stink of old smoke. It was slightly sweet, most certainly tobacco, but different from the stale funk of dead cigarettes.

In those first few moments, the fumes were so strong that I could barely turn the pages without it making my eyes burn. Still, I didn’t mind. Something about it was oddly comforting. I could easily imagine some old smoker’s study where this book sat quietly on a shelf being slowly infused for decades.

The bookseller had claimed the condition of the book to be “Like New,” and I suppose technically it was. Aside from the smell, the only indication that the book had ever been opened was an embossed seal on the title page that read “From the library of” followed by the previous owner’s name, middle initial included.

Of course, when I saw the seal, I immediately had to know more. The book had shipped from Michigan, and with the man’s full name, it was less than a minute before I was staring at his obituary from a small local newspaper.

He had died over the holidays in his sleep, peacefully, as they say, at an age when the loss is felt by friends and family, but it’s not quite a tragedy. He was survived by his wife, two daughters, and enough grandchildren for me to know that he had lived a full if not happy life.

The obituary had a link to a remembrance guestbook, and naturally I clicked through. There amidst all the condolences and digital memorabilia was an old photograph of the man, not quite posed, but certainly aware of the camera, and I could see through my computer screen into his home, into his life, and into his eyes.

He had a kind face, but it was clear he was a little uncomfortable being photographed. Either that, or whoever took the picture made him hold his smile a second too long. He seemed equal parts blue collar working man and college professor, but then again, maybe that’s just the way people dressed in a small town with cold weather in what looked to be the late 1980s.

He was wearing a zippered cardigan sweater, thick knit and hideous, the kind that would make a vintage store hipster go weak in the knees. His shirt underneath was unremarkable except for the fact that the collar was pinched closed with a chunky bolo tie. He wore big ugly wire frame glasses, unforgivable even by 80’s standards, and his slacks must have been some kind of corduroy. The man had zero style, but he definitely had a look.

It didn’t take me an extra second to notice that in his hand he was cupping a classic wooden pipe. I wasn’t expecting it, but it hit me hard. When I saw the pipe in that photograph, I suddenly became very emotional. My eyes were already glassy from the fumes wafting off the book, so it was easy to let go with some genuine tears.

For a brief moment, I sat there crying. I was holding this beautiful, stinking old book that had very recently belonged to this man, flipping though its pages, my senses overwhelmed with this powerful remnant of his presence. It was like being visited by someone’s ghost, and I wept for a complete stranger who had smoked a pipe and died in his sleep and had by random chance bequeathed me this possession from his personal library.

Over the next few days, every time I picked up the book to read it, I was reminded of him. Then gradually, the smell of pipe smoke began to fade. By the time I finished reading it, the tobacco had mellowed into a top note of that pleasant but generic old book smell.

I finished it last week, and the book has taken up residence on my bedroom shelf. No doubt that’s where it will stay, slowly absorbing a whole new host of chemicals and perfumes.

Today for some reason, I wanted to be reminded of that old man and his pipe. I had to crack open the book’s spine, put my nose directly into the pages, and inhale deeply like some titillated bibliophile.

The smell of tobacco was still there, but barely noticeable. I was lucky to catch the slightest trace. It won’t be much longer until that scent is gone forever.

It’s my book now, almost completely.

This Will Destroy You

They Move On Tracks of Never-Ending Light
This Will Destroy You

Maybe it’s the cold weather. Maybe it’s my recent move. Maybe it’s just time, but I think I’m in a place where I want to fall in love. Hard. For real. Mutual and deep.

I want to feel a closeness with another person, a perfectly comfortable yet irresistible attraction. I want it to be more than sexual. I want it to be more than spiritual. I want it to be elemental, as if billions of years ago, all of the atoms in our bodies were somehow forged from the exact same star.

I know that’s probably asking for a lot, especially from an ever-expanding, infinitely indifferent universe, but it shouldn’t be too much to hope for. Or maybe it is. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to acknowledge such a simple and profound desire for the only thing that makes the human condition worth anything at all.

Coke Talk Of The Day

This past year, I fell in love with another city, which for the moment shall remain nameless. I spent some time there visiting friends over the summer, and on a whim, I found an adorable little apartment and put down a deposit.

When I got back to Los Angeles, I packed up my shit, tied up my loose ends, kissed everyone goodbye, and hit the fucking road.

It wasn’t difficult. I thought I might be emotional as I drove away, but I wasn’t. Not a bit. Los Angeles isn’t a sentimental town, and the wild and shimmering version that belonged to me, it ended years ago. I’ve had plenty of time to let go. I still love Los Angeles, but I’m over it. This was the perfect time to leave.

I’m still getting used to my new surroundings. This place that I’ve found is beautiful and mysterious and deeply satisfying. I’m happy here, but this city doesn’t belong to me yet. It probably never will. For now I’m the one who belongs to it, and I’m content to yield to all the raw and uncertain adventure.

Coke Talk of the Day

The best part of having been kicked off tumblr is that now Dear Coquette has a blossoming, vibrant comments section. (I technically had comments before, but interesting discussions inevitably peeled off into reblog oblivion.)

I’ve really enjoyed watching this new layer of communication grow over the past few months. I gotta admit, I’m kinda proud of how thoughtful and positive everyone has been.

You guys rock.

Coke Talk of the Day

Another one of my exes is leaving Los Angeles. It’s not something I’d usually let bother me, except that I see a pattern forming here. This is the fourth time.

A year or so after our relationship ends, my old boyfriends just pick up their entire lives and move to a completely new city. I don’t know if that says anything about me. I suppose it might, because I’m the only common thread with what are otherwise very different dudes.

I’ve got exes stashed in San Francisco, New York, New Orleans, and now Nashville. I suppose it’s a good thing. I’m still close with all of them, but not in an everyday sort of way, so it’ll be nice to hang with them when I travel. The bright side is that I have four very cool cities with safe places I can crash.

Hmm. Los Angeles seems to be losing it’s gravity more and more every year.

Coke Talk of the Day

I went on a bad date last night. It was with the kind of guy who describes his loft as industrial, yet clearly has never worked a day of hard labor in his life. Not that he was a bad person, just a little too dainty for my tastes.

He took me to a low-rent art show, the kind where disapproving gallerinas refuse to pour more than two sips of wine into cheap plastic cups. On the bright side, the people-watching was epic. There was no crowd control whatsoever, and the tiny gallery was choked with hipster lunatics with zero interpersonal skills. Watching them constantly violate each other’s personal space was far more interesting than anything on the walls.

The face-palmiest moment of the evening came when I learned that one of the show’s artists was my date’s ex-girlfriend, a fairly important bit of information he chose to share with me right as we were walking into the gallery.

It was pretty obvious he was using me as arm candy, which normally I don’t mind, but I absolutely cannot stand being bamboozled, and dropping an ex bomb at the doorway is one of the oldest bamboozles in the book.

The dude’s fate was sealed when I realized I liked hanging out with his ex more than him. Turns out, she was the cool one. We bonded over how little either of us gave a shit about the date.

So yeah, I guess it wasn’t a total loss. She and I traded numbers. We might hang out. I dunno. I’ve built friendships in this town on a lot less than a bad date with someone’s ex.

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