all that is solid

Railway timbers would be stacked four high nestled between about eight sets of tracks on my way to my studio. The pile was even except for one timber missing along the top row, giving the whole stack a bit of a creosote-sticky grin looking down rusted rails to discarded cars, each missing doors, windows or sometimes the entire side of the car. If I could zoom out a bit, the air would be paint the color of loose pollen and beeswax; stuck between two hills, one presenting a church with black towers like a piece of coal struck hard into a sidewalk and the other some peek into rolling hills melting over a rock formation. 

I spent a lot of time walking back and forth across these train tracks, from bus stop to studio door, headphones in which fortunately only lead once to me almost getting leveled by an oncoming train. (This was written about a bit before.)

There were iterations to the walk. 

The first walks happened while attached to a place that was new and hung with static electricity on parts of my body that didn’t know current. I would walk from an apartment with one bed built from two and balconies bobbing on air thick with possibility; boats above abandoned properties and stone walls. There were tall ceilings, cobblestone and forgotten parks and graveyards.

There were times of walking with love heavy and needy in my heart, glancing to windows I knew contained a person I loved: up in that corner studio with ugly green carpet and seemingly little light, although many windows. Sometimes we’d walk the rails and place metal in piles and sit inside cars seemingly cut in two in more ways than one: acting on a stage of a more modern stagecoach. (You always smelled good. Once we lay in bed and something like the smell of steamed broccoli drifted through the room, pungent and somewhere between good and bad, and you quickly put your hand between your legs and then smelled it declaring, “nope”.)

And then there were the last times I’ve walked those tracks where I wonder about wanting to keep things alive that are already past.

There was a moment once, when I laid up on those railway timbers, pretending like I was one. I had long hair and it stuck and matted into me and I lay there on my back head turned upside down looking at the ruins of a building on the horizon.  The air was thick and felt like somewhere you’d find a lot of grasshoppers, but there were only trains. I thought of weddings and kites and bobbing on the surface of the ocean where just my eyes would be above the water. I thought of times I smiled to someone in my kitchen and times I sat on night buses alone. 

It felt good to be in that stack of railway ties.

5 Stories from the Farmer John mural at Soto/Vernon

Lauren and Jean-Pierre met at a sex club in Berlin in 1996. They ended up on a three day bender that concluded in an old sewing machine factory in the former East. Both were blurry eyed and coming down from various pharmaceuticals. At that point Lauren was wearing only a ball-gag as a necklace and a single sock. Jean-Pierre was wearing a tiara full of fake diamonds, fake eyelashes and also a single sock. They realized the socks were a pair, as were they from that day onward. In the mural the ball-gag is puckishly referenced through shading around Lauren's neck.

Martin used to be a bouncer in a bar in downtown LA. He was a pretty heavy drinker and passed out one night while on the job, knocking all of his teeth out on the railing that cordoned off the outdoor smoking section. (Some people that were there that night claim to still have some of his teeth. A regular, Nadia, says she wears one around her neck as a good luck charm while flying, but no one has ever seen it.) Martin arrived at the dentist the next day, but only had enough money to replace two of his teeth. He decided to just replace his bottom canines, which he now refers to as his "gothic towers" as the incident also brought with it a revelation about the existence of God.

This was the last known picture of the Demala family before they boarded a train in rural Montana heading towards the interior of Canada for a family ski trip. A coupling issue between train cars caused the last car, which they were seated, to detach while the train traveled along an isolated area of its route. When the error was noticed and rescue workers rushed to the scene, they found an empty car stripped of all personal belongings except for a single ballet shoe. To this day the incident is still referred to as the Canadian Ballet Car Mystery. (It should be noted that none of the Demala family danced ballet and they were the only passengers assigned to that car.)

Monica believes that she has never seen a river in her life, but this is entirely due to her desire to always peck at the shadowed side of the fence post near her nest, causing this same post to block her view of the nearby river. Everyone in town calls her Short Sighted Monica. What they don't know is that the river that Monica sees in her head is beyond anything they could possibly hope to ever see.

Raymond accidentally pushed Hannah off a pedestrian bridge while running from what he believed to be an oncoming winter storm. Hannah fell onto the log jam below the bridge and had her left arm crushed between two large timbers. Surgeons tried to save it, but unfortunately it had to be amputated. Raymond was so distraught from the incident that his skin turned a ghastly blue/grey. To this day Hannah tries to comfort Raymond and let him know he is forgiven by bringing him a flower every year on the anniversary of the event, but he only walks away to the site of the incident to sulk on his own.

the sun has teeth

Your house was in a partial state of either moving in or moving out. There was a printer by the door, a broken cat post attached from floor to ceiling and some suitcases laying about that were full of pans and books. I can appreciate the idea of wanting to move only with an iron skillet and a bunch of books by people whose ideas seem to be woven into all you think about. You liked Murakami, who I think maybe writes too many words at once, but you also had a thing for Didion which is sort of how we matched in our likes/dislikes: 50/50. But it was the kind of 50/50 that works between two people, where you figure out a way to place the 50 percent you don’t really care for in a bin, maybe not labeled “love”, but at least “something I can now tolerate”. It’s a 50/50 that allowed for Adderall and champagne during an entire afternoon of sex, as well as morning breakfasts in hotel bars where annoyance seems high, but we still skipped in delight to the bathroom, swooning over the other in absence.

That was the first day we met really, in that hotel bar. I mean, we met the previous night, that bled into the hotel morning, dancing (swaying?) to some dark synth in a fake sex dungeon, where your friend slept through most of the night on a bed with a plastic mattress cover. When she woke up at 5am she was manically stoned: a mix of uppers and downers that left her not in a middle ground by more like a small fishing vessel teetering from side-to-side on unexpectedly violent swells.

 A few weeks later, we’ll be in this friends apartment as she asks me to hang pictures; in a living room that seemed to have layers of furniture stacked against the wall as if the purpose of furnishing a room was to see how many couches could be between you and the hung artwork. The answer at this point was 2, but that number was going to grow. When I went to the bathroom after hanging some art, your friend yelled, “BRING ME A CAT! THE ONE WITH WHITE SPOTS!” and when I opened the bathroom door there were 3 kittens rummaging around among tattered boxes and various loose clothing items. A skid row of kittens.

In your apartment, though, there was a natural walking stick on the ground that an ex-boyfriend had left. There was some back story and the possibility of a friend of his that was a witch that was going to pick it up at some point. I remember sort of nodding through the witch comment, because I take a Pascal’s Wager on that sort of thing and think best not to make any waves with witches, whether they’re real or not. I had an ex-girlfriend who claimed to have witch-like powers, and when I broke up with here I was later with a friend helping print sections of an abandoned factory and the sickly-sweet smell of a neighboring yeast processing plant made me vomit uncontrollably for the 3 hours we worked. I would help him print a section of floor, and then run to a window and vomit. Repeat. I was convinced it wasn’t the smell of yeast, but a spell had been cast on me by my ex. It ended up it was the yeast.

Back in your apartment. There was a lot of warm afternoon sun across bedsheets. Light cut hot and lazy in that way that southern California light seems to drag its feet and then sucker punch me, but still declares its love in a rumbling sort of way; light through broken windows, with blue-eyed cats hanging out in some ledge/tent contraption that suction cups to the same window as if the cat was sleeping on the face of El Capitan, the cracks in the window fissures in granite that were made some time in the last ice-age. I dislike cats, but am happy to watch the room as a sundial while you tell stories of the guy that smoked crack in the laundry room for many weeks before finally getting kicked out.

We talk about the square root of 2.
You try on dresses.
I swear at one point in those weeks I see you battle-dance a friend of mine, who when you first met thought was trying to roofie you.

Anyway. I'll go ahead and wander back out into this lazy, beautiful disaster of sunlight.

square logs. (day 2 of 30)

To get to a studio I had for awhile I used to run across these railroad tracks behind a fence where the bus dropped me off. There were a lot of tracks, maybe 10, and to the left the tracks bent sharp to one direction so I had to always listen really carefully to figure out if trains were coming. Like all things, I eventually got a bit too careful, and my commute changed from one of careful listening to one of me listening to music and texting as I hopped from one track to the next. One day I stopped short between track 5 and 6, or maybe it was 7 and 8, and as I tried to update my Spotify playlist a train screamed by in front of me. It was so close and happened so suddenly, I thought at first it was something weird with my eyes, because suddenly the scene just looked so dramatically different, but then my brain sort of added in all the sound and vibrations, mixed the whole scene into a dish called Now, and I thought to myself, "I almost got hit by a train."

It passed quickly (a commuter train) and I was left in spring time air on empty tracks. Everything was a bit hazy. There were a pile of railway ties stacked just past the last track and I climbed up on them and laid down as if I was the next tie to be placed on the stack. I imagined myself covered in creosote, thick and sinking into a group of logs. My eyes were open at a blue sky and my clothes stretched with the spots that stuck into the creosote, the smell hung like old coats in forgotten closets, and I thought about if this was my new home.