Four Aches

I saw a coyote last night. I was standing at a bus stop near San Francisco State, a bus stop I have never stood at before, leaving an event filled with many folks whom I hadn’t seen in years. It was dark, though only about 6PM, and raining mistily. There were two other people waiting, all of us in our own worlds under umbrellas and hoodies. I was zoning out, and came to when I saw a coyote running down a median strip of grass, fast, focused, and maybe a bit scared. I must have made a noise, because one of my fellow bus stoppers looked up at me. Coyote, I said. We watched it lope down the median, then cross the street. A car was coming. I think I whined. The car stopped, and it ran onto the sidewalk, continued for a bit. The car sat there for a while, then continued. I watched the coyote, now a long block away, cross again, both sides of the median now, safely to the other side, and run up a hill. I knew it was entering the SFSU campus, and I hope it went to some of the wilder parts there, away from cars and humans and artificial light and concrete. It left me feeling guilty and sad and worried and like all I wanted in the world at that moment was that coyote and all the coyotes it knows to be free and have fun and hunt and eat and be alive and be coyotes. I wound up chatting with my fellow bus stoppers about animals and water and random stuff, and it was that good conversation you can only have with strangers you’ll never see again. The bus lumbered up, all wet and crowded, and we each got on to go about our lives. Thank you coyote.

I miss Either Or Bookstore in Hermosa Beach, one of the most important places of my life from about 8th to 12th grade, so from ages 13 to 17. I spent so many hours in that rickety, oddly-angled place, reading all the things, hanging out, sitting around, escaping from a middle and then high school life that continually left me supremely unsatisfied. I never spent a lot of money, and they never cared. Something hit me this morning, and I miss that place like I might miss a person.

My paternal great-grandmother died when I was 14. I was lucky to know her, but damn I wish I could go back to inhabit younger me for a minute and talk to her and hear more stories. I became a memory keeper for my family, a family which excels at living in the present, but back then I didn’t know what I didn’t know I would later want to know. I may never know. Related: My maternal grandfather, also a keeper, would have been 100 yesterday.

My right knee.


My great grandmother and fellow fam. Brooklyn in the 20s.
Four Aches

The Now

Feeling the pull away from some of my chosen forms of expression into new ones. Curious and scared to see what it will look like. Even the thought of changing what one has done for a lifetime is scary, though aging makes it easier as you realize time marches on. Trying to remember I don’t have to rip, tear, cut, sever. I can pull apart, stretch out, away, let the dough of it all pull apart, morph, take new shapes, bake or stay raw. Wondering if a clean, surgical, cold, calculating cut is the best, though. Like ripping off a band-aid, just fucking do it. Trying to stay open-minded, open-eyed, open-hearted, and remember that finding a place in a scene, appealing as that can be, is rarely all it’s cracked up to be in the long run, and finding a place you can live with when you are by yourself in the quiet times is the way to follow. Breathing. Staring at the wall. Watching the stars behind the swirling fog. Marveling at the blue. Excited, scared, at the edge of a cliff, floating on the river, going with the flow, middle fingers up, chin high, shining eyes down, riding the wave, trusting the self, going deep, staying broad, cutting out the chatter, laughing at the good jokes, side-eying the bad, calling it as I see it.
*sniffs* *whimpers* *howls*
Change is in the air.
Bring it.
Neighborhood fireworks show through the fog, July 4, 2017 ©Monica B.
Neighborhood fireworks show through the fog, July 4, 2017 ©Monica B.
The Now


I live in an area where there is something amazing going on every day and every night. There is something interesting to do at all times. No exaggeration.

I do little to none of it.

I used to go strong, events in the afternoon, something else in the evening, often I was performing at one thing then supporting another, then closing down the bar after it all. Now? Not so much. I can blame it on being older (true.) I can blame it on not gigging as a dancer anymore and just occasionally performing as a musician (okay, okay, as a percussionist) at the moment (true). I can blame it on happily nesting (true, I mean…I have a cat to take care of now!). I can blame it on cynical burnout (probably a little true though I hate to admit it). I can blame it on being overwhelmed by it all (true). I can blame it on shit being expensive (kinda true, but the rich folks have their sparkly shiny things, and there is still a lot for the rest of us even as the rich take over more and more spaces, plus it is scary/ego-gratifying/weird how often I can still get myself on a list in this town *snaps*).

I found myself wondering if I lived in a place where there wasn’t much happening if I would make more of my own happenings again. Or if I would be so grateful for something interesting going on I’d be there with bells on. I don’t think so, though. If I leave this city, and even the region, would I still find my nest so appealing? Do I love being home a lot because I know the thrum of everything going on around me is…there? Do I take comfort these days in knowing I could go do all the things right now if I damn well pleased, and since I mostly damn well don’t please, the joy in quiet time with sweetie and cat are made even more sweet?

I think that also just might be true.

But then, maybe the shiny happy rich part is ruining all the things just a little bit, too. Back in ye olde punke rocke days, we talked about posers. I know, I know, it is silly. But it can be a useful lens to occasionally peer through once in a while. In an area and a time where everything has to be monetized, and everyone has to make a lot of money just to have a roof and a meal, it changes things. You can’t have a hobby anymore, you have to be serious and try to make money off of it, or at least people will casually say ‘hey, you could make money off of that’. So people hustle hard to make you come to their thing, that they are so professional at now, and that they really need you to come to, okay, okay, please come out to the thing, it is what I do now. It is exhausting. You have to cut through a lot of, well, posers to find the ones with heart, often not the shiniest, prettiest, most athletic, youngest, or most popular and with a lot of likes or followers on virtual spaces. They are doing it because they have to, because it is how they grew up, how they live, what they live, eat, breathe, and it is real, and you want to go, even if you are not on the list, just to be near them. Not because they have good promo photos. But becasue they make you feel something in the land of noise and all the things, all the time. Them I go out for, and I would no matter where I lay my head. Them I want to be. Them? Not posers. Few and far between, though, few and far between.



Research ramble

Working with students on research papers is an interesting experience (it’s for film theory at the moment, but I get to cross genres quite a bit in my graduate student support work). They have scads of information at their fingertips, so it often becomes a matter of facilitating critical thinking about their sources (99% of which are weak as heck). Finding out about one nifty thing sometimes becomes an end point, and encouragement to keep delving and looking for more history and background for the “discovery” (oof) they’ve made is met with resistance. A thing gets shared, everyone says ‘ooh’ and any context for it is missing, ignored, boring, and that thing become a favorite for a minute again, and is forgotten soon after. I appreciate the excitement of seeing or hearing or reading or learning something new, but don’t always get stopping there (which I suppose says something more about me and what might be perceived as nerdiness about topics that get under my skin…yeah yeah).

It reminds me of how I found some of my favorite songs and bands when I was a kid. I would listen to a record or 45 or tape I loved, or hear a song on the radio (thank you KXLU, and then a bit later KALX and KUSF), then try to learn who that band was influenced by and go listen to them. Or I would find out that a song I liked was actually a cover, and then get my mind blown tracking down the original, then going back to what they were listening to, and on and on.* Backwards thinking? Maybe! But it often led to seeing both the forest and the trees, and knowledge that nothing exists or is created in a vacuum. I’ve done it with dance that way over the years, too, and with my other studies. Having had to do research, both as a hobbyist, academically, and for work, without the internet, I sometimes get bummed seeing what can be perceived as superficial knowledge taken for granted or as solid truth, with no critical thought or context required. A blog post or a facebook post or a you tube video does not research or education make, though it can be a great start and a most useful tool. But it is never an end.


Maybe I need to appreciate a sense of wonder in others more. It’s the stopping point that baffles me, I suppose, along with deciding you have heard or learned something as fact and then setting yourself up as an expert on it (though that is another post). What is wrong with being and staying a student for a long time? Every damn thing being monetized may be part of the problem.


Meh. Curmudgeonly (but well meaning, I promise) meandering random thoughts on a foggy but slowly brightening Sunday morning before I go to rehearsal to play music of Sayed Darwish for 5 hours! (Only going back to the early 20th century today!).


*For example, I was a huge Damned fan in my early teens. When I found out Looking at You was an MC5 cover, I ran to my record store all wide eyed to find out more. Mind blown. Best ever, you guys. Another example was Jim Carroll leading back to Patti Smith who led back to Rimbaud…and on and on and on. Granted at 12 or 13 everything is new and exciting, but ultimately it still works that way for new-to-me music, dancers, films, poetry, books.


Research ramble