Friday, October 30, 2009

Moki Cherry

Today, Oct. 30, is artist Moki Cherry's memorial/party at her loft in Long Island City. Sadly, I'm not able to be there but trying to remember that last night with her...

After the performance, we went out drinking at a local pub in LIC, got smashed on Johnny Walker Black, and wobbled home holding onto each other. Moki had fallen and broken some ribs earlier in the summer and now had bad sciatica, walking with a limp. When we got back to her loft, she warmed up leftover spaghetti and meatballs, the best damn meatballs I'd ever eaten, and we talked late into the night. But it wasn't until the morning, after a breakfast of caviar and hardboiled eggs, that she finally opened up to me, telling me she had given up drinking alone. That winter had been the hardest of her life, holed up in her loft, spending days in bed, not talking to anyone, not going anywhere, just fighting the demon drink.

She pulled it off too. After that long winter, she totally stopped drinking on her own, but still allowed herself a drink with friends. In retrospect, how lucky I'd been, sharing a night with her on the town. That was Moki, incredible, generous Moki, with her deep ha-ha laughter and thick Swedish accent and remarkable dead-on-arrow-wit aimed straight at your heart. When she died suddenly, her friends found out just how many people loved her: many hundreds over the world. And how she loved them back, everyone of us. She died at home in Togarp, Sweden, after a breakfast of porridge, resting on her favorite couch, looking at a map of Greece.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

This is Me!

Ehsanolah M., my Persian student from Isfahan, can no longer keep up with the advanced English class. Last night we arranged for him to go to David's intermediate class, something I should have done a long time ago. I will miss his soft puppy dog eyes and gentle ways. Sometimes it was hard to tell if he was sleeping or about to cry— both possibilities. He was once a designer of fabrics, with a prestigious Engineering degree from Iran. Since losing his job eight months ago in downtown Los Angeles, he has spent long days schlepping a garbage bag full of cheap garments around Santee Alley looking for any kind of work.

One evening we were reading an article about the South Korean relocation camp, Hanowan. I was worried Ehsan wouldn't be able to follow or understand, but when we began to read about one refugee's memories of the mountains and rivers of North Korea, Ehsan sat up, all ears. "I was surprised at the reality of South Korea compared to my anticipation," the refugee told the reporter, "I thought it would be the start of my happiness, but it was the start of a hard life." Ehsan's eyes brimmed with tears. "This is me. This is exactement me!" he said, "Missing too more, too more."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Frying Fish, Little Tokyo

A week ago I was dining with my son at our favorite restaurant in the West Village, a place we've eaten at many times before. We do that, my son and I, find a restaurant we like until we're sick of it, then move on to something new. I'm thinking of Frying Fish in Los Angeles, or "flying fish," depending on how fast the conveyor belt delivers.

Frying Fish is a sushi fast food joint in Little Tokyo, a place so cheap you can pile plates of food in front of you and still walk out paying under 40 dollars. You sit at a counter as a conveyor belt goes round and round, with sushi, sashimi, tofu, and seaweed passing by. The fish can be really fresh or yesterday's leftovers (Do NOT eat the yellow tail!). But it's consistently good enough that you'll find LA Times journalists there, Moca and Japanese American National Museum staff, tourists, office workers and mothers like me, who go there to introduce their kids to the finer points of dining on raw fish. My son and I grew tired of Frying Fish just about the time he went off to college five years ago, but the few times I've been back, Alice, the waitress, is always excited to see me and asks about my son.

Frying Fish Restaurant
120 Japanese Village Plz Mall

Los Angeles, CA 90012-3909
(213) 680-0567

State Fair

After our trip east, we attend the State Fair in Pomona at the beginning of Oct., a first without the kids. We hop on the sky ride, followed by a suspicious pair.

I've never realized how quiet it is here, in my house, in my neighborhood, in LA, now that my daughter's gone. I've been living in denial, thinking I wouldn't miss her, but she's left a huge void. How do people do it? "Stay busy," my cousin says. "Meditate," Thicht Nhat Hahn says. I walk around the loop and sit on a bench, off the beaten path down a small incline. I hear people above me talking about scripts, TV pilots, breakups, unemployment. I hear dogs sniffing around, some find me, some slide down the hill, their owners in a panic. I try to meditate: maybe I should get a dog, but then, I'd have a dog and wouldn't have the freedom I have now without the kids. A paradox. Meditating some more: Aha! I should get going on all those big writing projects, the ones I started in the last years and never finished, and now with both kids gone I can begin. But when I sit down to write, all I want to do is write, talk, think about them.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Coney Island

I just joined facebook after years of indecision. What the heck do you do with it? Will it fill up this time without the kids? Here's the picture I posted for fb, taken on the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island, in a swinging car at 150 ft. above the ground (the Bethlehem Steel structure was constructed in 1918-1920 by Herald J. Garms and the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Co.!). Between dropping Maya off at college and saying good-bye to Mekko in Brooklyn, we lost ourselves on the boardwalk.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Look at the Rat's Nest

I'm calling this blog The Rat's Nest, defying the notion that ours is an empty nest. More, it's filled with the detritus of years of accumulated stuff that never got the attention it deserved, was for so long seen as an impervious block of junk that fit together, making sense only in relationship to other piles of junk. When the kids left that all changed. The piles no longer made sense. Nothing made sense.

But now that they're gone I don't
need to keep the giant teddy bear that my father gave my daughter just because it was the ONLY toy he ever gave her. He's gone and now so is she, off to her first year of college. So, so goes the bear. I can clear away her cosmetics, the nail polishes from eighth grade sleepovers, the perfumes, hair sprays and rollers that she'll never use again. I don't need to keep my son's room intact— he's 3000 miles away, living and working in Brooklyn. I can move the Mad Magazines and the how-to-be-a-famous-cartoonist books to the garage and clear the space for an office, my own space, where I'll sit down to write about life... without them.