i’m sitting in the dark because sometimes it’s the only place i feel comfortable.

it was raining today and i stood out in the rain doing my job even though i was seething inside and didn’t want to be there. i didn’t want to be anywhere. i saw a black man on a bike, red baseball cap, sitting at the intersection watching me. he had a beautiful, kind smile. i smiled at him, an instinctual response to light, but i refocused myself because the last thing i wanted or needed was for him to come over. i continued scanning the crowd, picking out the english speakers and the ones i needed to draw in. i saw him ride away slowly, continually turning to smile at me, trying to catch my eye. i wanted him to keep going, keep going and not look back.

i am sick with darkness right now

the day continued, and while water kept falling, i wasn’t getting soaked so i stayed, scanning and scanning the crowds, trying to outlet the seething silently, careful not to let it draw attention. smile, genuine warmth. i will people to say thank you, because in a way, i dare them not to, and they do and i smile warmly, genuinely. i want the positive to outweigh the dark that i feel, the slow burning with emerging pools of blood, so fucking angry, like a razor cut that just won’t end.

the important players i met yesterday all appeared in the new chapter today.

i remember being stationed for work in the red light district yesterday, which is like sending a recovering alcoholic to work in a bar. the red light district repels me, destroys me, as strongly as it allures me and promises me more of my sickness that gives me that metallic taste of blood that makes me crave more and more and makes me so goddam fucking thirsty. i hate it, i want it. it destroys me. i want to burn the whole fucking place down if it weren’t made of so much goddam brick. i want to destroy it, turn it into blackness the way it does me. i want to fuck it, hurt it, remind it that we were all children once, every one of us, and a long time ago, that innocence meant something.

i want to mean something again.

i stood there, staring at the sky, sometimes a sky within the sky as it has a way of opening up the longer you stare at it. i wanted it, i wanted to confront whatever it is i have to confront to get it over with. its grayness draws me in, wraps me in its multiplicity, disorients me.

when i looked down, a man of absolute blackness walked by. black pants, black leather trenchcoat, black dreads, black skin, black hat, black eyes. eyes like an alien. eyes like a snake. eyes of darkness only someone with knowledge would have. he walked by, never breaking his stride, never breaking eye contact. he’s fixed on me. he knew i knew what he was, and he knew that meant he could try to scare me. i was prepared to take a stance against those eyes, but inside, it sent a cold surge of terror inside me. i would fight someone like that to the death if need be, but i wasn’t going to let him see me scared. i looked away, saying hello to an italian couple who was completely unaware of me. i didn’t acknowledge his existence anymore, though i knew he would be back.

i needed help.

i saw a dark-skinned guy with large eyes who looked vaguely familiar. i had seen him in the crowd earlier and remembered scanning his t-shirt in hopes it was a school in the us. i asked him if he wanted a free guide and he came over.

he listened to my pitch then he asked about me, wanting to know about me and why i was here. i told him about quitting my job and traveling to europe and he said he had a friend who did the same, got sick of america and traveled the world. he was a good energy, a safe energy, a familiar energy. i knew he wanted to connect with me positively and i needed it, especially out of the corner of my eye, i saw the snake man take a slow pass back, staring at me.

i talked with this guy who had gone to illinois, and told him that a lot of my cousins went there. i told him i went to michigan and we talked a bit, then he told me where he was staying and wanted to know when i got off work. i knew where he was going, but while i was thankful that he had been there for me when i needed him (i could feel the snake man’s energy was gone), i didn’t want to get in a complicated situation in real life, so i told him i had to go home and cook dinner for my boyfriend. i did offer to walk him back to his hostel which was on my way home, so he asked me if i spoke mandarin and i said yes. he said, i love you, in mandarin. i said, aww, that’s so sweet, in english. he said, i want to kiss you, in mandarin. i laughed. did you understand what i said, he said. yes, i said. you want to kiss me. that’s pretty good, he said. most people don’t understand what i’m trying to say.

did you actually study mandarin or do you just know a few useful phrases, i ask.

i dated a girl from taiwan for two years, he said. that would explain his fixation with me, i thought.

that’s the girl who took off and traveled the world, he said. you remind me so much of her.

ah, i thought. that definitely explains his fixation on me.

he invited me to the happy hour at his hostel and i declined again. he said he was leaving the next day.

well, i said. good luck with everything.

in hindsight, can i say that it felt like it wasn’t goodbye yet? in some ways, i feel like i should know better. but there is this blissful ignorance in those moments that later helps you realize that maybe life is in the plot after all. but back to the story.

i leave, walking away. i decide to try one more shopping area since promoting has been shit lately. i’m standing at a dark corner, again fixated on the sky and how the gray of the opposite building blends into the sky. i look over and i see three guys walking towards me. their clothes tell me they’re american. i offer them a guide and ask them if i can help them with any directions. they ask me where the nearest smartshop is, and i write out recommendations, as well as the best coffeehouse and wherever else they might be interested in. as i doodle on the map, i find out that they’re from florida, alabama and philadelphia. the outgoing one mentions he wants to get another tattoo, he already has 7, but he’s a gemini. my ears perk up and i say, really. when. may 29th, he says. i’m june 14th, i say.

the quiet one on the right suddenly pipes up. i’m june 3rd, he says.

i look at the third guy, the one on the left from philadelphia. he has a shaved head, smooth skin and clear, penetrating hazel eyes that are intimidating in their stillness. when’s yours, i ask him. april 1st, he says. good birthday, i say, but i think, aries. i just had a dream the night before about meeting an aries and having a conversation, but right after he left, i remembered something but realized i had no way of getting in contact with him. i take a closer look into his eyes, but his steely gaze unnerves me so i look away.

the outgoing gemini wants to know about me and what it’s like to live in amsterdam, and i tell them that it’s cool. a lot of americans come out here for a few days, but somehow meet someone and end up living here for a decade. it’s just what amsterdam does to you. he asks me what i’m doing after work but i tell them i’m working all night (a lie) and he asks me what i’m doing tomorrow night and i say that i’m going to be out in front of the theater promoting the show. mostly, i just want them to consider seeing the show because that’s how i get paid. they’re gonna go check out other things so they say bye, but the one from philly lingers back, taking a last look at me as he walks away. he wasn’t that friendly to me when they were talking to me in that he hadn’t really said much, and his eyes unnerved me, but then it occurred to me that some people hide themselves well even when they’re interested, when they’re connected. i put it out of my mind because i’m just really over standing out in the co
ld talking about a comedy show, and i just want to get home.


woke up today and was feeling bright. was feeling close to david. we had a serious and open talk last night. i wanted to talk about the red light district. i wanted him to know that it consumes me. he told me he doesn’t want me hurting myself anymore, but he also understands that i’m writing a book and he wants me to write a book, but he also doesn’t want to see me hurting myself. i know he understands my pain, but i also feel like he doesn’t understand my pain. because wouldn’t he have explained it to me if he knew so i could stop searching for its name? he’s afraid that i’m only going to find bad things there. that i’m only going to draw a bad experience to myself. will you still be there for me even if i did, i ask him. he has to think about it. yes, he says quietly. i think neither of us is sure whether when the shadow leads, if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. i remind him that it was the shadow side that urged me to quit my job, travel to europe and that ultimately lead me to him. that it was the darkness in me that was drawn by the darkness in him. so does that make the darkness bad? there was some intense staring on his part so we dropped the subject and had a beautiful night.

and the morning started the same way. i missed him as soon as he was gone. went to the gym, did the dishes, then surprised him at work with soup and his favorite candy bar. but then somehow, the other girl in the shop brought up anal fisting, and i brought up testicle weights and we were in a full-on, one-up battle of crazy sex shit. david started railing that these things weren’t real and just videos people made to shock people and we insisted that there’s a market for these things because people do get off on them. he kept saying he didn’t believe people were into this and i swore up and down that people do a lot of crazy things behind closed doors and they do it because they get off on it, not because they want anyone to know about it and be freaked out by it. i don’t know why the conversation upset me. i don’t know why his stance upset me. i felt like we had just talked about this stuff the night before, that people did some messed up things to each other sexually, and knowing that disillusions me. but i was angry that he was denying their very existence. when david walks away to help a customer, his coworker said to me, david’s so naive. no he’s not, i said. and i meant it.

i was quiet as i started thinking again. i started getting dark again. what are you thinking about, he asked.

you know, i said. the red light district.

he looked tense, like he wanted to say something but knew he shouldn’t.

i looked away. i decided i wanted to go write rather than spend time with him after he was off work. i was overcome by a sudden, overwhelming urge to leave. he walked me out and said goodbye. i knew he didn’t know why i was suddenly turned away, disappearing before his eyes. i’m not sure i knew why either. i said goodbye and walked away. i wondered if he knew. i wondered if he was conscious that i was walking in the direction of the red light district.

its energy both enraptures and repels me. it destroys me as it compels me. it feeds me and it breaks me down down down. this energy is the worst drug i’ve ever been on, the greediest drug. i can feel it like a slug slowly eating its way up my veins, burning, but giving me a satisfaction with no name. it makes me want to give it more of myself, feed myself to it. and the worst thing about it is that it’s familiar and i don’t unwelcome it. it’s something i’ve always known since my earliest meetings with darkness, a shadow i have met before, perhaps have known even before i knew myself.

i sit at the edge of the water, at the edge of the district and think.

i don’t want to keep hurting myself.

but there’s something here that i need.

there is something here i need to find, that i need to know.

i put my head in my arms, closing my eyes, needing the black to help me think.

it’s so hard to unravel, so hard to untangle.

what can’t i let go?

why is julia so angry?

it starts to rain again and i have an hour before my shift so i start walking. at the outskirts of the district, i see walking towards me the guy from yesterday, the guy who speaks mandarin. i say hi and he looks shocked. i ask him if he’s on his way out (he has his suitcase with him), and he says he can’t believe he’s seeing me again. he introduces me to the guy he’s with, some old dude from california who’s got a huge mustache and skateboard, and he comments again that he can’t believe he ran into me, that he had missed his train. we talk. he wants to know if i want to share a joint with them and i don’t. they start talking about the area, about the district, and i ask him if he’s tried it out. he says no like he would never do it and he makes a joke about if i’ve tried, and i tell him that stuff messes me up in the head. i tell him about the sex club in la and going there so i could write an article about it, and how it fucked up my head for a couple of years, how disgusted and disillusioned i was about sex and people. especially since while i was there, i’d run into someone i’d gone out with, and he was there fucking two girls. his friend leaves, and we’re alone, and he’s buying what i’m selling, even though i’m not sure what it is exactly that i’m selling.

i hate the red light district, i tell him. but i only write what’s true, and i’m writing something and i need to see what goes on in there. so i’ve been trying to get someone to let me go in with them so i can write about it truthfully.

even this is kind of a lie. he’s the first person i’ve broached the subject with. i’m winging it.

you should totally do that, he says. i’ll do it with you.

you would?

he has a train to catch in 45 minutes. i don’t mind because his energy is safe.

let’s talk while we walk, he says, and he’s excited about the idea. now the truth comes out, when earlier he was feigning complete innocence about the district. he wants to go to a specific alley where earlier one of them offered a blowjob for 30 euros. all he has on him now is 25. and he admits he’s gotten a blowjob in belgium before.

personally, i don’t think that qualifies him as a badass just yet. i tell him he should fuck her today since you get both for the same price.

no, i would just get a blowjob. a blowjob’s like nothing. you’re wearing a condom so it’s not like they’re even really touching you, he says.

secretly, i want to know if he’ll fuck her. i want him to answer a question for me. i need to know if he’ll fuck her. so i press on.

i say to him, you know though, one day you’re going to meet your future wife, the person you’ve spent your life looking for, and she’s gonna wanna know all of your skeletons. and she’s gonna find out you’ve had sex with a prostitute and she’s gonna freak out. so would you tell her or would you lie?

why would i tell her something like that, he asks.

because she’ll want to know about your past and she’ll want to know the truth, and you’re going to want to tell her. and if you lie, you’ll have to live for the rest of your life knowing you looked someone who loves you in the eye and lied, but to tell the truth means you have to face the truth. what if she straight out asks you, have you ever had sex with a prostitute?

but i haven’t had sex with a prostitute, he says. i’ve only gotten a blowjob.

well yeah, technically, you could say no because you haven’t actually had sex with a prostitute. but what if you had? would you lie and be able to live with it or would you feel you had to be honest? the knowledge could break her heart.

he considers this.

do you think she would just be happy that i’d gotten that stuff out of my system so i could completely be with her?

ho knows, i say. i think mostly she’s just going to wish you hadn’t done it. there was a lot of stuff i could have done in my life. a lot of things i had the opportunity to do, a lot of things i could have done just to know what it’s like, for the experience. but a lot of times i didn’t do it because i would think that one day, when i meet my future husband and he wants to know everything about me, i don’t want to have to lie about anything, i don’t want there to be anything that i’ve done that could potentially break his heart if i could help it. there’s often a choice.

that’s a really noble way to go about things, he says.

not noble, just idealistic, i say. but i get fucked in the head because of it. sometimes i wonder if i should have just said fuck it and let the outside world taint me. sometimes thinking life is more beautiful than what it is, thinking that devotion and faith could be more precious than what it is, makes me feel like my whole life has been a giant idealistic delusion. who the fuck did i think i was that i might be better than this.

we see girls in the windows and he’s asking them how much they would charge for a blowjob. i know they won’t go under 50. i tell him i’ll subsidize him 25 if he fucks a girl. he thinks about it, and i repeat it a few times as we talk to the girls, and he considers it, though he mentions to actually fuck a prostitute is weird. he says he doesn’t think he would be able to come, that a blowjob through a condom is barely touching but to fuck her is so much more and he doesn’t know if he can do it. it means he knows he’s crossing a line, and somewhere inside me, i feel a twitch of something pure that might still be alive inside hungry blackness. bleeding and dying on its knees, but possibly still alive.

he knows there’s a line.

while he ultimately has free will, i know that i’m willing to push him but if he goes through, i won’t be willing to catch him. a part of me has no idea how this would end, but a part of me is hoping that it won’t come to that. for the salvation of both of us, that it won’t come to that. he had asked me to add him to facebook and i will, because whatever happens, we’ll be friends after, because without any other choice, we’ll be connected. but the money is on the table. he doesn’t have enough to get just a blowjob like he wants, and we both know that, so he has a choice and i need to know what he’s going to do.

as he’s thinking about it, i have the strong urge to remind him what’s at stake. once you do it, i say, you’ve done it. it’ll be a permanent part of your personal history.

i really mean this. i mean this because as much as i’m his devil right now, i’m also his friend.

we stand there, on the cobblestone walk that connects to one of the oldest churches in the city a few hundred feet away, connects us to what this area once stood for–hope, faith, a belief in something bigger, better, more pure and holy than the darkness that human hands and hearts create. in a way, i think i know what i’m hoping he’ll say, but i know he has to make the decision on his own.

what time is it, he asks me finally. i pull out my phone and i tell him.

let’s just go to the train station, he says.

i smile, in some ways, proud of him. sure, i say. follow me.

i lead him back to the train station and he asks me about my writing. he asks me why i wanted to experience that and i told him because if we had gone through with it, it would have hurt me tremendously. so you were using me to hurt you, he said. that’s fucked up.

only because you were willing and only if you got something out of it. because it’s something i need to face. once i’ve seen it, i can’t deny it, i have to come to terms with it because there’s nowhere else to hide, i said. i would have had no choice but to look into it, to confront it, to live with it for the rest of my life. but it would have really hurt me.

i can understand that, he said.

it’s starting to rain again as we cross out of the district, back into the real world.

we’re quiet for a bit and then he says, sometimes when i’m mad at a girl, i’ll go out and sleep with three other girls. but it never makes me feel better. it just makes me feel sad about the first girl.

i look at him and smile, sad, happy, who knows on days when it all feels the same.

would you ever cheat on your boyfriend, he asks me.

i don’t know why but the question makes me sad, though the answer is strong and clear and as close to the truth as anything about me.

never, i say.

we get to the corner where we part.

it was really nice meeting you, he says. he holds out his hand but i tell him, i’m gonna give you a hug.

we hug, and it’s strong, like long-time friends saying hello and goodbye in one tight, drawn-out note.

thanks, i say.

good luck, he says, and then we walk away in opposite directions.


the shift was bad. all the positive energy from earlier had dissipated and i was left with just me, my echoes and a feeling of not wanting to be there.

the kid behind the bar knew i was standing out in the rain and came out of nowhere, bringing me a hot coffee drink with a curl of whip cream. i was astounded and touched. it was so cold and miserable out there, it felt like the coffee was saving my life and i was so thankful to him.

the other guy on the shift, a japanese guy from canada with massive dreads, told me to come in and sit, that it was too cold out. so i sat and talked with one of the actresses who was from nebraska. i had half an hour left to go and i was anxious. i didn’t want to go home. i didn’t know what kind of energy i would be bringing home. i was talking with a couple i had talked to a couple of times earlier, and they wanted to talk to me about weed, so i gave them some recommendations. i noticed someone step out of the shadows to my left, and i thought it was him but i wasn’t sure…he had a hood on and was moving fast. i stared at him and then i said his name:


how the hell did i remember his name. he put his hood down and smiled. it was the guy from philly from the day before. i was talking with the couple and he was waiting there, so i asked him if he was here to see the show.

what time does it start, he asks.

in 15 minutes.

i have to check with the other guys, he says. but he stands there and waits, and in a way, i’m glad he does.

i finally convince the couple to get their asses into the theater and see the show, and ryan asks me if i’m getting off soon. yes, i say, and i know for sure now that i’m not going home anytime soon. i ask my partner if i can leave and he asks if i want to stay and share a joint with him. i would like to, but i need to see what ryan wants, so i say no thanks and i leave with ryan.

as we walk, he tells me that he overheard me tell the couple that i’m a writer, and asks me about it. he mentions that he also likes to write. as we talk, he apologizes for not answering my questions faster because he’s on shrooms. i tell him that it’s okay.

he wants to find his two friends so i go with him back to their hostel. the outgoing gemini is on myspace and listening to his ipod, and he’s almost orgasmic over how good his music is. ryan informs me that his friend is on mexicans, and their other friend is upstairs on hawaiians. oh crap, i think. hawaiians are the strongest ones and most visual ones. they’re the ones most likely for people to freak out on.

so we go upstairs and indeed his friend is standing outside of their room, looking a combination of terrified and confused.

you guys left me, he said.

you were sleeping, ryan says.

i didn’t know where you guys were.

says he wants to get into the room but he tells ryan that he has to open it and gives him the keys. ryan opens the room and asks him what he nee
ds from the room and he just says, he’s really confused.

c’mon, i say to him. you have to get outside.

we go down the stairs and i’m asking them when they took the shrooms and how much. i’m worried about the kid on hawaiians. we get downstairs and the first guy is gone. i had loaned my lighter to the owner at the door and he lights up when he sees me again. did you see a kid in sunglasses talking about how good his music is?

he went that way, the guy points out the door.

the three of us go looking for their friend. i hand the guy on hawaiians 3 sticks of sugar that i happen to be carrying. if it starts getting too intense at any time, go buy a bottle of water, pour these in, shake it up and drink it, i say. it will help you come down.

he takes the sugar and nods solemnly. i think it’s funny that i sound like i’m an expert when i’ve never done them.

we search mcdonald’s and then the comedy club. they see a latin dance club and ask if maybe he went in there and i ask them if he’s maybe too high to be able to read at this point. finally we see him walking across the tram tracks towards us, giggling and almost skipping.

these guys don’t really know what they want to do so we just walk around. one of them wants to go to the red light district and i flat out say no. why, they ask. because it makes me evil, i say. but it’s because of ryan. there is something beautiful in him, a belief, a hope. a belief in innocence. and i don’t want him to go near anything that could threaten that. as cynical as the mind can get, as devastating as the eyes can see, they must never tell these things to the heart so that it becomes what the heart believes.

as we walk, philly talks to me about writing. he’s a little bit awkward and shy, and it makes me tell that he’s young. he reveals that he’s written a novel, and that he wants to take a dead writers trip across the country, visiting the graves of writers and drinking what they drank. he tells me about one of charles bukowski’s poems that made him cry, and i take out my pen and take down the name of it, because i really want to read it so i can understand what moves him. i tell him that i would like to read his work.

he sees one of the more majestic buildings in the city lit up against the night, and he stops and admires it. it’s beautiful, he says. i grew up in a bad neighborhood. i’m not saying the hood or anything, but it was an ugly neighborhood. so i love seeing buildings that are beautiful. he laughs, embarrassed, and walks away. i don’t want to lead them too far, but i don’t want them to go drink beer or smoke weed like they want to. again, i’m worried about the guy on hawaiians. so we double back and i lead them back towards the area where their hostel is.

philly asks me questions about what made me move here and i tell him it’s because i met someone. i tell him that it’s really true out here, that a lot of people come out here to visit for a couple of days, but then they meet someone and they end up living here. he asks me how long it took for me to decide to live in europe and i tell him a few months. he says that he wouldn’t mind living in europe.

i take them around, but it’s getting late and they’re still an hour away from when i think they should hit a dance club. before i go, philly wants to know if i like the same music as him, so i look through his ipod and see enough that i recognize to let him know that i understand and appreciate his music taste. he wants to add me on facebook so i promise him i’ll look him up tonight.

i had a question though.

i ask him if he happened to walk up to the theater and run into me, or if he had gone specifically looking for me.

i was looking for you, he says without hesitation.

that’s really sweet, i say, and i’m astounded by the honesty between us. good luck with writing.

he reaches out his hand but i give him a hug, then give the others a hug and say goodbye.

be careful, i tell them, and in that moment, i’m really happy for them, happy to have met them. i get to the tram stop just as the tram i need is pulling in, and i get on, happy for no complicated goodbyes today.

now in the dark again, i feel safe, but i am also afraid that after i sleep, tomorrow will be an entirely new, invigorated beast.

how to separate the head from the tail of darkness.

how to believe in innocence again.

From 3/19:

In one of my dreams last night, I was hanging out on a lazy afternoon with a good friend of mine. I told her, marriages are like pancakes–you screw up the first one, but the next ones are better. You do it, you figure out your mistakes and the second time around, you know who you are, you know what you want, and you know what’s achievable and what’s not and it’s better. While there are plenty of first marriages that do work because they’ve been built on strong foundations, this learning curve is a major reason why so many first marriages fail and second marriages succeed.

I woke up amused. That was totally a conversation I would have in real life.

I think in hindsight, I was driven by that knowledge. As it neared the end, I secretly hoped my relationship with Reggie was a close enough simulation of a first marriage, because in a way, in hindsight, I did view it as a sacrifice in hopes that whatever came next would be the sum of efforts, knowledge and giving up something that was of great value to pave way for something amazing. Maybe it’ll turn out to be an idealistic pipedream. I don’t know. But I have to be open to the possibility instead of knowingly settling.

I’ve also learned that your history, your memories, your life as you live it now, not as you always imagined it would be…these are all yours. You own it so you have the ownership to do what you want with it. Your life is not perfect because there’s no such thing, but it’s yours. And as with everything, you can either choose to accept it or not. It’s much easier to make changes though, if you accept it. Everything that you’ve experienced, everyone you’ve known, every interaction and thought, belongs to you for better or worse. How you decide to cherish it or not, is also a personal decision.

Some days when I’m alone, I think about my life and I wonder if I’m a good person. I know my core motivations are pure. Nothing makes me happier than making another living person smile and feel warmth. I like protecting those who are not as strong as others, and I like reminding people of their hopes and dreams and personal potentials when they seem to have gotten sidetracked. But these are just these psychic hugs I give people that for whatever reason, seems to make them blossom. The sincerity is real, but the person isn’t exactly there. You’ve been touched by a projection. Because the only thing I ask for in exchange, occasionally demanding it when necessary, is for no attachment. I know that comes off badly sometimes. I know some people have gotten hurt. But the thing is, we had a positive experience together, you got something and I got something, but I can’t be in everyone’s life to the same degree as these interactions. I don’t like getting too attached to too many people because at the end of the day, caring deeply is a responsibility I take seriously.

I need the freedom to get out and meet a lot of different people, to understand human hopes and dreams despite disappointment and pain, and how to use my energy to bring about positive change. I care about people and I love everyone in a broad, spiritual way, the way someone admires the view of a sprawling forest without having to own the trees. But there are always individual people who I’ve accepted into my life, and whether they suspect it or not, to be accepted in my life means I’ve woven you into my emotional fibers. It means that I’ve accepted that someday, when death separates us, it will be a deep and sorrowful loss, but I’ve accepted that consequence, borrowed against a future debilitating pain for the pleasure of caring about you and having you close to my heart. I’ll take your well-being as personally as my own, and I’ll always see the beauty in you and want you to attain everything you want out of life, putting out my energy in ways you may not realize to move you towards that.

It’s important to me that I surround myself with people I truly care about, people I would go to war for, but it doesn’t mean I’m not sincere and genuine to everyone else. I just don’t want to be committed emotionally and spiritually to too many people. And the problem is that after one of these random connections, people don’t always want to let me leave and it becomes messy, sometimes ruining the positive exchange. In turn, that makes me not let as many people in. But if everyone promises to behave and not cling to me and pull me into weird little repressed dramas where I don’t belong, I’m going to try to get more involved with people. Just please…separate the message from the messenger.

Let’s make this a positive experience.

From 3/20:


i’m back.

like i said, i’ve been taking a final. it’s not so much an exam as a practical.

the good news is i found another one of my soulmates and as comforting and difficult as it was, i know that the experience changed me in a way that i know i can never go back to where i was. the flipside is, i have much work to do.

berlin was interesting, not so much as the city itself, as it was the place that allowed me to break open a side of myself that had previously been buried. it’s a wonderfully artistic, creative city and they’ve left remnants of its previous life and the scars it bears as a reminder of where they’ve been, and a place they hope to never return.

like me.

i look at it though, and i am not sure that my scars are things i can leave behind in the past, even though emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, i have dealt with my pain and left it behind. my body will never let go.

the experience that i have never talked about directly in a coherent manner, i relived, as a ghost in the room hanging over me, demanding attention. it brought me to my knees and despite the presence of a stranger, albeit one who felt like he’d known me his entire life, i wept uncontrollably as i grasped the way the shadow of my past has followed me throughout my adult life, even into this new awakening as i’ve harnessed my power.

i need you to know something.

secrets have secret lives. they burrow into you in ways that you can be consciously aware, even if you refuse to admit the extent of the universes they’ve established inside you. no matter how small or insignificant, a secret can sometimes carry itself to the point that all those around you who care about you can feel it, yet with an intimate psychic agreement, they’ve agreed out of respect and feelings for you never to touch it and bring it out into the open.

but you keep a secret in, and it will kill you.

location: berlin
now playing: radiohead – kid a


i don’t even know where to start.

i should probably start with yesterday, my last full day in amsterdam.

i stayed up the entire night the night before because i’d taken a marathon nap in the afternoon and was wide awake. Ventured out for the first time at night. Everything was closed in my neighborhood except for the coffeehouses and it was drizzling, so after 30 minutes of exploring the area, I sit in a coffeehouse and order an amazing mocha drink, reading Man and His Symbols.

I spent the rest of the night in my hotel pod, listening to music and thinking.

Until you find the meaning you seek, you shake every hand.

I was starting to find myself a bit indolent and wondering if this trip was more a rebellious quirk than an existential quest. i was feeling a bit frustrated. figured i would get up whenever, but to my surprise, still dutifully got up at 8am.

i was determined to see sights today. saw the anne frank haus which was interesting, but it didn’t have further emotional impact on me than the book. the house has been cleansed of the energy. there were signs printed with diary excerpts everywhere, but nothing captured the soul of her story. i was hoping to catch a glimpse of a soul, something that vibrated with powerful emotions and inspiration. she was a fellow gemini who by being who she was, gave the world something very important.

went to the rijks museum whose most famous piece is rembrandt’s night watch. i couldn’t focus because this wasn’t what i was looking for.

wandered back home. stopped into a coffee shop that’s supposed to be famous. i told the guy i wanted to try some hash but i was leaving tomorrow and couldn’t take anything with me. he offered to sell me half a gram to try and showed me how to use it. I put it away and took it home but didn’t touch it. was told later that that’s very unusual that they break up a gram. i said, i was nice when i asked. i also seem to be exerting my will pretty gracefully.

on the way back, passed that shop that i’d gone into twice my first day here. the guy was outside pulling a display in. i told him i decided to buy something he’d recommended. (i didn’t really need it…it was an impulse event). he told me he was closing but he’d let me come in. inside there was a girl on the floor surrounded by friends, and a moment later, the paramedics came. what happened, i asked him. she smoked for the first time and freaked out, he said. i let her come in here to try to calm down because she was laying on the street, but she thinks she’s dying. it was dramatic and he was pulled away when the police came so someone else rang me up. he came back and asked me if today was my last day in amsterdam. tomorrow, i said. i asked him if he knew any fun, safe clubs or bars in walking distance. he recommended some but they were kind of far. i’m afraid to walk too far at night, i confessed with a laugh. aren’t you here with your friends? he asked. i was in germany and this is just a side trip, i said, not really answering the question. the paramedics wanted to talk to him so he walked away. the girl finished ringing me up and told me a club suggestion. she said bye and i thanked her and walked towards the door.

wait, he said and hurried over. if you want, i can take you somewhere tonight, and be like..your guide. i get off at 3:30.

what time do people usually go out, i asked, suddenly shy.

around 10 or so, he said.

i was thinking about going to see boom!chicago first, but we can meet up in that area after.

i’ve always wanted to see that show, he said.

so…you’re saying you want to go too…

yeah, he said.

i freak out inside. I have problems.

i can give you my number, he said. i don’t know how to use the phone here, i confessed. he laughed. we arranged for me to meet him at the store at 3:30 to have coffee then go to the show. my name is david, by the way, he said, extending his hand. i heard his name and was surprised. something crinkled in the back of my mind, the spark of something i should know. but it was gone as quickly as it came.

i do some writing in the meantime.

i met up with him and we go to a coffeehouse and talk over a couple of beers. he had a soothing english accent and had grown up in england. he said today was probably one of the weirdest and worst days of work since he started there. He told me the saga of the girl–basically a coffeehouse had kicked her out for freaking out from smoking, so she was in the street. he let them bring her in so she wasn’t in the street, but she thought she was dying, and the boyfriend was freaking out too and kept digging in her mouth because he was afraid she would swallow her tongue. she ended up throwing up everywhere. then when the police and paramedics came, they laughed and said, she’s just stoned; there’s nothing we can do. they were going to take her to the hospital and sit her in a chair to sober up, but she would be charged 700 euros. the girl obviously didn’t have money like that so he talked them out of taking her, then asked the place next door if she could lay down in the owner’s living quarter to sober up while he could get the shop cleaned up and reopened. it sounds like you had quite a bit on your shoulders today, i said.

i asked him if this kind of thing was common because i kind of assumed it would be (i imagine that amsterdam is europe’s vegas complete with sloppy escapism) but he said it’s never happened. then he said he hoped the night would be a good night to balance out his day. when he mentioned that he felt like he was at a point in his life where he felt stuck in a rut but felt he needed to make big life changes, i knew it would be a good night. i’ve noticed that people at this exact place in their lives tend to be the ones i interact with.

he told me that he didn’t believe in magic, that he was afraid to because when he was a kid, he had these dreams of minor events that would come true the next day, and they had frightened him. i told him that magic, as in things that seem coincidental or like there’s an explanation beyond linear time/space, is real and if he is willing to see it, the universe will show him that it’s woven into our lives. the universe wants you to believe it’s out there, i told him.

the conversation was really good. after a few hours, he was leaning in very close and looking at me quietly and smiling, creating lulls in the conversation which made me increasingly shy. we headed over to boom!chicago for dinner and a sketch/improv show. when we left the theater, there were all these soccer fans congregated in the square outside with police in riot gear. the aig fans fight, he said. it can get dangerous. so we ducked into a pub and had coffee while we waited out the rain and the potential riots. the bar closed at 1am but there was a club around the corner so we went there to check it out. then we left and talked until it was well into the morning.

i think it’s true. a different person in me comes out around 2-3 am in the morning. i always felt like, 2am is for work to be done on me, 3am is work to be done for the universe. but i’m always dropping knowledge around that time or making discoveries around that time of night, but as morning breaks, i turn into an impish jokester again.

we started talking about some deep shit. about life, hopes and dreams and secrets. he told me about his stepfather and i told him about the cycle of pain and how children wear their father’s insecurities and failures, which they may or may not pass on to their children. but how even if you decide not to perpetuate the cycle and not project that energy, you also can’t carry it inside. we ha
ve to refuse to give any power to that voice until it’s only a part of your history, but not a part of you.

he told me that in 7 years of working at that shop, he’s never run after someone and asked to meet up later. he said that he’s never met anyone like me, and he knew for a fact how he felt about me. i didn’t question what those feelings were and he let the subject drop.

we talked until i had to check out of my hotel, then went and got coffee. i appreciated that he had a very witty sense of humor and from some angles, gave off a big brother energy of someone strong and dependable, and from some other angles, when he smiled, he seemed like a sweet kid. he was trying to think of a plan to get me to stay, even though my hotel was booked in berlin. i took one of his cigarettes from the new pack he’d bought last night but hadn’t smoked from, flipped it upside down and put it back in.

lucky cigarette, he said. i haven’t done that in years.

you’re going to smoke all of these cigarettes until you get to this one. then after you smoke this one, you’ll have forgotten about me, wondering if our meeting was just a dream, i said.

i don’t believe that, he said.

it happens, i said. then you’re going to quit smoking.

after a couple of coffees, we realized we’d been up all night and were screwed in terms of staying hallucination-free. i had 3 hours before my train and it was raining, so we went to his place to wait it out and nap. i woke up to find my head on his chest, lulled by the steady beat of his heart, and his arms around me to keep me warm. i was caught between a waking and dreaming world where everything seems familiar even though i had no idea where i was. i let my eyes follow the lines of his angular shoulder under the blue threads of his sweater, my eyes having been drawn to his shoulders all night, and then suddenly… deja vu. i shot up and stared at him. have you ever seen me in your dreams?, i ask, very seriously. i’m gonna dream about you every night, he said. no seriously. did i seem familiar to you? i don’t remember my dreams, he said. i put my head down again, thinking away the thought.

it was a bitter, freezing rain coming down making the walk to the train station miserable. he was very quiet, as he had begged me all morning to find some way to stay at least another day. suddenly, he stopped and squared me by the shoulders. his eyes were intense. i need you to know this. i want you to stay. you can say it’s about your journey, but it’s also about whether you want to stay another day and spend more time with me. but the reason i’m not being more forceful about keeping you here is because it’s your choice and you needing to do what you feel is right. last night was one of the best nights of my life and no one can ever take that away from me. but if you leave today, know that my doors will always be open to you, whether you want to come back today, next week, next month or next year. i know how i feel about you and i am sure of my feelings. i’ve never felt this way before or said this to anyone. i need you to understand this. this is important, julia. do you understand?

i nodded, the moment stripped so emotionally bare there was nothing you could do but take it very, very seriously.

but i also remember the one word that resoundedly landed in my head.


he walked me to the station and made sure i got on the train, then said goodbye. it was the longest hug i’ve ever had with a one-night spiritual stand, a hug with teeth that gnawed on the hidden zipper within my chest. yes, i was scared to be here, scared to leave. the knowledge that this could be the close of our window, a surreal blip in reality where we had plunged into darkness together and found a familiar light within each other, hung over us. when i got settled in on the train, i was surprised and frustrated to have tears stinging my eyes. i knew he was sitting on the bench outside the train, because when i’d passed by the window, he’d been sitting there, long legs sprawled out, looking so sad. the train sat unmoving on the tracks for a good 5 minutes. i could have easily gotten off and changed the course of events.

but the point of the story is, i didn’t.

even though i knew the moment i sleep and wake again, it will be a reset of my reality where the surface gleams and everything underneath could very easily be the colors and shapes of a dream.

3 meetings, two of them unintentional because i’d gotten lost. one night. two sane, intelligent people communicating their deepest thoughts. and yes, i showed him the real me. how is it, that these people can fall so hard and be sure they want to be with me with such intensity and sincerity, and yet i still feel so hollow? because i promised myself i would never let anyone ever catch me again?

what is the meaning of these things? what is the meaning?

i feel like a ghost, radiating the light of a broad, spiritual source, but in essence, just a tiny, forlorn paper lantern who doesn’t know what she is outside of her function, blowing uselessly in the wind when the day breaks.

the message is real. everything i’ve said and communicated has always been out of a deep love and it’s always been real.

even if there’s a chance i may not be.

Now Playing: U.N.K.L.E. – War Stories

It hailed on me today. I was trying to ride a bike and it was like having these searing heat-seeking missiles pop in your eye. I trooped through it until I couldn’t see and it started feeling like a personal attack. Took cover and had myself some coffee.

This city is crazy. Very complex. I’m still wary of talking to people here. It’s kind of like I can’t understand where they’re coming from yet so I don’t trust them.

I finally hung out at one of the coffeeshops. Having a professionally rolled joint is like a fine cigar. It was a pleasant, tasty smoke and then the music seemed to be increasing in decibels. I looked up at the lightbulb and I could see halos around it and a sudden sense of euphoria. Then the room began to darken, and I saw the people walking by as these metallic silhouettes. I started to get really hot so I took off my hat, which made me feel exposed to the room. Now I had to smile at people who walked by and looked at me. The waitress took a good 20 minutes to make a coffee with cream, but my God, it was delicious. I stared out the window for a while, writing down words and phrases that popped into my head. An American asked if he could share my table. He sat down and pulled out a journal. Hmmm. We were both scribbling away and I took a peek at his. His handwriting is a scrawl, secretive like mine, a code read only by the writer.

I caught him looking up at me a few times but I would look away. His friend showed up and they switched to another table. He glanced over from time to time and I’m sure there was at least a cursory discussion here. But I ignored it. I got up and left without making eye contact.

See, when I start storing up energy the way I have the last few months, it means a connection is coming in. A big soulmate connection and an important lesson/test to be co-created. This person and I have a life-changing experience to share, and much work to do. Since you don’t know who it is until you know, it’s kind of like picking up a foreign exchange student you’ve never met at the train station. When you find the person, you’ll just know, but until then, you question every person. These connections can be good or bad. They’re intended for you to grow, but sometimes it takes a difficult experience for you to grow.

I was having disruptive dreams last night. It seemed like no matter where I went in the dreamworld, I would keep running into faces from the past. These were people I’d known and had both good and bad connections with, and even if I woke up and switched to another dream, there would be someone there waiting for me, ready to turn whatever corner I decided to walk up to find us face to face. I saw Reggie with his hair cut short again. I saw Andrew and his brother, two halves of a whole. I saw old coworkers and family members. At the Desperate Housewives’ supermarket. In houses in distant lands I was touring in hopes of buying. Every dream I kept running into someone. I woke up. Pondered how it is that there are people in my life that I may never see again, yet somehow, in the deep recesses of my mind, they go on living as these perfectly captured moments that I almost believe are real. No wonder I still like mankind.

I just decided to kill sleep all together and wake up. Saw that here, it’s 2:55am. Almost 3am. Why not.

Starting thinking.

Now playing: Plaid – Spokes

Yesterday was cool, but creepy. I went to this little town along the Rhine suggested by this guidebook. It said it’s a tourist-oriented town, but when I got there, there wasn’t even a platform to get off on. It was a stretch of grass. I had no idea which way to go to find my hotel, so I just followed the main drag. Every store was closed, including a theater that displayed some kind of comical puppet diorama with an old lady talking to a guy in a military suit and it looked suspiciously mocking of WWII. I finally saw two elderly tourists up ahead so I was relieved that there were people in this town. It was starting to feel like the town had battened down the hatches and was awaiting the annual horde of vamperewolves to descend upon the town for their feeding. I started channeling I Am Legend.

Found the place I would be staying. turned out to be a b&b, across from the oldest building in the city, a crooked Smurf-like affair. I had to ring six times to get someone to answer. This tall man in his 40’s looked mildly irritated and utterly befuddled that I was there. I showed him my reservation and he asked me if I wanted a single or double. I didn’t want to answer so I showed him the reservation which just said 1 room (later, I think I didn’t want him to know I was alone). So he led me up these stairs onto the top floor, into this corner room that was a double but told me, there’s only one key. Even if he didn’t believe there was another person, I just felt it was better than admitting I was alone. He disappeared down the hall. The room was cozy with a tiny bathroom a dominating yellow motif. The wallpaper, the pillow, the bedspread…all yellow. Yup…everything yellow. And the memory of Tina in the back of my head whispering, “Yellow is a hostile color….” Had to repeat to myself, this is not Psycho. this is not Psycho followed by This is not The Shining, this is not The Shining.

I put down my stuff quickly and left to explore the town. Opened my room door to a hall that was completely dark. The place echoed with stillness. It felt like sneaking out of someone’s attic.

I walked around the city trying to follow the guidebook’s self-guided tour suggestion, but it was boring. So I just walked around, up and down stairs, paths and back alleys, exploring. I found this steep trail that led towards a couple of landmarks and a view overlooking the city & the Rhine. I encountered maybe 12 people the whole afternoon. I grabbed a donar sandwich at the only place in town that was open, along with a beer/cola mix that I got just to try. It just tasted like soda with a bitter edge. Headed back to my room and was asleep before sundown, preparing to defend my room and wait out the night. The first sounds that woke me were construction sounds. People sawing and hauling heavy tools. I checked the clock. It was 11pm. At around midnight, the whistle announcing a crossing train blew, but as the train rumbled by, there was a shriek of tires and a large crash and the sounds of shattering glass. I got up and looked out my window, but the way the room is set up, there’s a fake balcony with two chairs and a planter outside that you couldn’t get to. They’d sealed the doorway with a vertically-tilting window. I heard voices arguing so I figured it was a minor car crash, not a train having struck something.

But a part of me was creeped out by the fact I couldn’t see anyone, but could hear echoes of people milling about down below. What if this were a ghost story, and all those voices are ghosts who go about their daily lives at night.

I decided just to stay up for the night, reading and watching DVDs. As I prepared for a shower, I noticed there was a dead spider on one of the towels. Luckily, it wasn’t touching the one on the top so I just took that one and put the others in the corner. I was stoic. I have no emotional room to deal with my arachnaphobia right now.

I’d looked up the train schedule so I wanted to take the first train back to Frankfurt instead of the one I had for the afternoon. May as well get to Amsterdam sooner. I had packed up by 6am for the 7:30 train, then sat watching a DVD with my shoes on until it was time to go. I knocked on the office door but no one answered. I tried knocking again, then a third time. I ended up just leaving the key in the mailbox.

There were a few other people at the station, looking to be on their way to work or school. I was relieved to be leaving. This town had a really creepy energy. I didn’t relax until I was on the train and we were moving, and not completely until I was firmly standing in the Frankfurt station.

Changed my ticket and got on my train to Amsterdam with no problems.

I finished The Memory Keeper’s Daughter during the long stretches when the landscape was obscured by graffiti’d walls. I was drawn into the parts of the book that dealt with how secrets grow trees of loneliness within people. She was richly melodic with her words at times.

Could feel the city before I saw it, tension–a beautiful city with a dark undercurrent. I was amazed at the architecture. I realized I knew nothing of what Amsterdam would look like. As usual, I didn’t want to ask for directions and just wandered until I found my hotel. These streets are insane. I probably went up and down the same street 4 times, but I did find it.

My room is a porn palace. There is the most beautiful piece of phtography that serves as my headboard, and I can change the lighting behind it into about 9 different shades. I could live in this room. I mean, I honestly want to make it my second home. My dragon could live here.

I walked around for a bit and accidentally walked into the same shop twice. The guy working there was cute and we’d smiled at each other the first time I walked out and the second time, he walked around with me, chatting. Very nice guy, we talked about the weather and some politics. I told him I wanted him to know we were embarrassed of our government right now but we’re trying to make things right. He asked me if I thought the democrats could pull it out.
We’re trying, i said. we have to stop fighting each other, but we’re trying.

He looked like he wanted to say something else, like it felt like there was more to say. but i didn’t chance the moment so i said bye, smiled and walked out. i heard him yell out the door, “Bye! It was nice meeting you!” And I almost turned around, but the point of the story is, I didn’t.

Talked with a guy with piercing eyes who told me, creativity comes from inside you. You can access it any time you want. I started laughing. You’re a wise man, I said.

It started pouring. I don’t mind walking around in the cold rain without an umbrella. I actually really like it. But I’ve got a long trip ahead of me and need me on point so I went back to the hotel.

Had a litt
le photoshoot with my headboard. Got to thinking, got to writing, then fell asleep. And that’s when those dreams happened.

Which brings me to today. My today is your tomorrow.

when i go home i want to make this t-shirt.

whoever designed these streets was fucking high.

I get it.

The universe brought me here because I’m taking a final exam right now.

Holy shit.