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.

Falling Back Into Orbit

Coke Talk of the Day


I fell back into close orbit with my ongoing romantic complication after five months of genuine friendship. More specifically, I fell back into his bed. One night, the planets aligned, and we went out together, and we ended up having warm, comfortable sex, and then we slept together. We woke up to another round of fuzzy morning sex, and then went out for breakfast. It was a perfect night, and even though at that point I was no longer vulnerable, I could appreciate how special it was.

Then I left town for a week, and while I was gone, he met some random girl on Bumble and saw her for four straight days in a row, and when I got back she was the first thing he told me about. He was crushing so hard, and it absolutely destroyed me. I thought that I was no longer vulnerable, but the juxtaposition of our night together combined with this freak accident where he suddenly catches feelings for some random girl. It devastated me. I want those feelings. Those were supposed to be my feelings. Bitch came along and snatched what should have been his crush on me.

It all came to a head the other night, and it hurt. A lot. I was suddenly thrown back into this fragile, vulnerable place I was in earlier this year and I fucking hate it. I bawled my eyes out yesterday like I haven’t in many, many years. I’m still emotionally numb from this whole situation.

He’s so amazing, and I thought I was over him — no, I was over him — but then we fell back in bed together and he immediately fell for someone else. I mean, for fuck’s sake. How am I supposed to deal with that? I’m tough, but I’m not made of fucking stone, you know?

The good news is that every time I come into his orbit it gets a little easier to escape, but as quickly as I’ll recover this time around, it really fucking hurts. I’ve already started the all-too familiar process of emotional detachment. I’ll punish myself with diet and exercise. I’ll go on as many dates as possible to keep myself distracted. Every once in a while, I might even meet someone who’s worth my time, but the worst part of dating is the constant reminder that nobody else has ever come close.

Soon, this vulnerability will pass, and I’ll be even stronger for it. Maybe I’ll get to go a full year before this shit happens again. In the meantime, though, I am long overdue for someone I love (or could potentially love) to fall hard in love with me.

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.

Lost in the Light

My ongoing romantic complication continues to be complicated.

This thing of ours has gone on long enough for me to recognize the larger patterns of its push and pull. It’s lunar, almost tidal. There’s an elliptical orbit to it, and we’ve completed another revolution around one another.

I’m back in the heartache phase, but only briefly. It’s not nearly as bad this time. There’s not as much gravity. It’s as if we’re hurtling further away from each other on each go-around, which is a good thing, because I’m finally fucking ready to move on.

We got close there for a minute. It felt really good, but it also never felt right. I mean, shit. There was a reason this thing was never supposed to happen from the beginning, so I don’t know what I was expecting.

We weren’t meant to be together. Almost, but not quite. So yeah, I’ll have this one night of frustrated insomnia where I write a cryptic post and lament the fact that we had another near miss, and tomorrow I’ll wake up and realize that it was actually a disaster averted.

Our relationship will still be ongoing and complicated. Neither of us have a choice about that, but I do have a choice to no longer be emotionally available. Quite simply, it’s time for me to focus my romantic efforts and energy elsewhere.

I’ve done this before, so I know how it works. This next phase will be good for me, because there’s about to be a shift in our power dynamics. I’ll be the one in control again, no longer vulnerable.

Of course, that brings on a whole new set of complications, but I can handle those.

Emmanuel (Stwo Remix)

I woke up this morning naked in bed next to my former crush.

As with everything about our situation, last night was totally unexpected. Still, there was purpose behind it. Nothing about our evening was a mistake. There seems to be this bizarre inevitability that we both finally acknowledged, and yet at the same time, last night changed absolutely nothing.

One thing’s for sure, this continues to defy any label I try and ascribe to it. We’ve gone from brand new, totally inappropriate, never-gonna-happen crush to almost-happened crush to former crush to whatever the hell this is now.

I’m not crushing anymore, which is good, but at the same time, I’m certainly not without feelings. I dunno. This is mellowing into something altogether new to me, and I’m kind of amazed at how cool I am with not knowing what will happen next.

I’m thinking for now I’ll just have to call this my “ongoing romantic complication.”

It’s not the snappiest label, but hey, at least it should last me for a while.

 

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.

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