Saturday, June 29, 1991

Journal entry, 6/29/91, Oleg calls from Indio, California

 6/29/91 Oleg calls from on the road, Indio California. I tell him he’s in the San Andreas Fault bed. The Salton Sea, the Sea of Cortez. He asks if the San Bernardino Mountains are the Rockies. He has no idea. No, I say the Sierras, simplifying geography a bit. I tell him how the peninsula of Point Reyes came from there along the fault, though it was probably from the Tehachapes, or at least that’s what geologist say. But most of those same granite outcroppings extend all the way to Cabo San Lucas. At Point Reyes I saw the same kind of rock as I did in Cabo. How I love the story of rocks.

Anyway, finally, I think I made a geologic impression on him after all this time. He’s never fully grasped the magnitude of the idea of how living along the fault line has shaped our culture and our coastline. He doesn’t think of the earth is moving because we can’t measure it with the naked eye.
When he called, he said he was in Forestville, he said he couldn’t leave me, then he amended it by saying he was in Indio. It was a joke maybe not in the best of taste, considering the circumstances. I had mixed reactions.

I was willing to go and pick him up, but I had a pang of dread, thinking of all I had to do before I left for Hawaii at 5 AM on Monday morning. Both of us were trying to pack at the same time. It wasn’t working. So I said squelched my needs in order to meet his needs. I still haven’t physically packed though I did all my bills and chores.

I couldn’t pack with him in the house. He was ending a way of life, while I was merely preparing for a short respite from the interruptions of the past nine months.

Having Oleg in my tiny house was definitely a pattern breaker. So, my life was turned upside down. Rather than face the emptiness of his not being here, I opted to get out of the house. A complete change of scene. Hawaii. The eclipse will take my mind off the past year’s events, and hopefully it will launch me into the next stage of my life, whatever that is.

And so, his call was welcome, though I fought down the guilty beasts rising within myself. Why don’t I like to answer the phone? Fear of responsibility, and of what is to come. I hated it when he called, asking me of my plans and is pathetic hangdog voice. I’d love to make over his telephone voice too, because I knew I always had to come and get him wherever he was. Beck and call. I was always responsible like a mother to a child, and I hated it. I loved it when he was self-reliant, which wasn’t often, but it seems we fight too hard to get there. My secondary emotions, resentment and anger included all the primary emotions.

I just re-learn the word sublime from the ground up. To pass from solid to gaseous state without going through ice to steam. Turner’s paintings are sublime landscapes, Wind, steam and fog. I too learned to pass from one state to another, bypassing logical progression, into the sublime state. Pavlovian emotions. How to stop the roller coaster heart now?

He forgot five rolled cigarettes In the Bugler can on top of the clock radio. Women are more sensitive to smell, than men—it’s biogenetic. We are born that way. It makes sense—food, danger, sex, all carrying odor with a message of one kind or another like the on/off binary code of computers. Pixels. Danger/no danger. I hated the smell of tobacco, rolled, unrolled, loose, burnt, etc. Nothing to do. My nose smells the minutest particles. I could smell him rolling cigarettes in the kitchen while I stood in the bedroom doorway 8 feet away. Sometimes it made me sneeze.

The past few months I’ve had to take allergy pills day and night to suppress my allergies as it was an unusually bad pollen season. His cigarettes, my down comforter, and pollen were too much for my immune system. I kept getting short term viruses with a duration of a few days to a week, the worst part is the low grade fevers and the night sweats. Of course it scares me, AIDS foremost on my mind. None of us can completely rest assured when it comes to our sexual past. I saw a gripping documentary Absolutely Positive, how HIV affects lives, both straight and gay. I guess the hardest part is to get to the no blame section as the I Ching says.

No, I never got to the no blame, or at least it was pretty rare. I did it times achieve that state, saying to him, no blame, but when you do A, B, or C, this is what happens within me…
How can we avoid this möbius loop? Issues of time being the most prevalent.

I took Oleg to meet my family after we went to Point Reyes. He said he wanted to. I didn’t suggest it, but I pointed out landmarks dear to me— my hill, Mount Barnabe, and the Olema Hill Road. We were on our way to Bolinas and Mount Tam for the solstice. As it turned out, we hiked to the other end of the point, Chimney Rock at 4:47 PM, or whenever the precise moment the solstice was, and missed it. I wasn’t aware that the solstice happened at a certain time, I was waiting for sunset to celebrate.

At the solstice I was alone, enclosed within the circle overlook, a wooden fence, very much like a wooden Stonehenge watching the sun set due west behind the lighthouse. I was alone on the edge of the continent, celebrating the sun, something far older than me within, and across the naked fields, a small black dot, man’s torso, Oleg always lagging far behind.

I had gotten tired of waiting for him and forged on ahead, alone, but this is the way I experience the openness of nature best. Alone, elemental. Surrounded by sea and sky, light, wind, earth. But he came into my circle. And we watched the waves crash below us, I pointed out Point Reyes, to the west, Drake’s Bay, and the scalloped cliffs to our right. I’m on an island in time, we were on another island, it seems like Scotland or Ireland. Nova Albion. I get it.

I wore a nylon jacket from the 20th century and there were boats in the harbor, but it was as if time itself didn’t exist. My determined pilgrimage, my mindlessly running to this place, only to have the uncanny sensation of having had a similar experience before, unnerved me. But my relationship with Oleg has been filled with déjà vu from the very beginning. He was supposed to stay this long, I guess.

I remembered another useless dream about schedules, etc., fragments of conversation, meaningless in the dream, but they still came true nearly two years after the fact. Because I write down what I remember of my dreams, I have a running fact sheet of images. The earthquake dream came true too. The rubber band dream with the red carnations defied logic. Oleg had rubber bands around his neck with me helping him to adjust them.

In another dream, we were on Highway 101 by Cotati, heading north to Santa Rosa. Instead, in real life, I took him to the San Francisco depot late at night, I had placed a red carnation in his food bag. And there were plenty of rubber bands around his luggage items, as it seems. In fact, he took all of my fat rubber bands, only Leaving two behind, just like in the dream. I have the elements of the dream right here. The order may be out of sync or it hasn’t happened yet.

And so we went to my grandmothers house, had dinner with Jane and my mom. So many cornflowers or bachelor buttons in bloom in the field below. Oleg said they grew among the rye in the Ukraine considered a weed, but to describe a beautiful girl was like cornflowers among the rye, all blonde hair and blue eyes. I realized my darkness, my hair and my eyes were the opposite of assumed beauty in the Ukraine, with its predominance of blue-eyed blondes.

Home, this land I love, and roses filled the path to the upper garden. We struggled in the tangle. I showed him plants. Huge bushes, rosemary and flowering peach that I had planted in the rocky, barren soil as a child. I season our food with sprigs of rosemary from the parent bush of my grandmother’s garden. I’ve made many progeny. Several here in Forestville as well as elsewhere. Rosemary the blue sea rose of my name and of remembrance. Roman cliffs, Italy, the sea.

We said goodbye to the sun setting in the northerly gap on Mt. Barnabe. Fitting that I should come home, appropriate accident. Later, my mother tells me that my uncle Bill has lung cancer. I am so angry knowing he was missing a half a lung from TB and yet he continued to smoke. I’m surprised it took this long to catch up. Jane, Oleg, and my mother continue to smoke as she tells me the details.

The open window and the air purifier is for my benefit, the asthma that comes from inhaling cigarette smoke, will not help their lungs. I flash angerly at Oleg. See why I want you to stop? I say it just brings more death. He continues to smoke. I pointed to my mother, saying how our family is riddled with cancer. She had breast cancer, an,uncle died of melanoma, and my aunt Toddy has skin cancer and breast cancer. My grandfather’s throat cancer from the cigars. In defiance, he draws another halo of smoke around his shoulders, the pleasure on his face is unmatched even by sex. Even with the knowledge of death, they enjoy their guilty addiction, subtle, thorough and lasting.

I want to mail those last five cigarettes to Oleg just to get them out of my house but I am aiding and and abetting by mailing them back to him, or am I? Grim reminders of death. I leave for Hawaii soon. When my uncle be alive when I return on 21 July? I talk of returning to my childhood home, living in a trailer in the garden. Oleg says it would be coming down in life to live this way, it would be regressing, that I’m better off staying in Forestville. Wow. I didn’t see that one coming. A middle class Soviet.

I never liked my uncle Bill, especially when he tried to sell our land right out from under us. My grandmother crying one summer evening as he laid down the news. Who was he, living in a tract home, to tell us what to do with our land? In a rage I attacked him verbally. I wasn’t even 12 years old and he never for gave me for my adult anger in a child’s body.

And I never forgave him for manipulating us, trying to break up our family. Put her in a nursing home, what happened to me and Guy? The enemy was a man all right, within the family. Eldest born son with the arrogance to match. Shades of the dream. The white cylindrical tubes, the glistening silver lines—what significance can I attach to the number four?

Sarcasm is the first form of humor. I think of the word sarcophagus. Phagos. The body devouring itself. Cancer. Give me another fag. I can hear my uncle asking, as he lies, so white and pale on the bed. I want to tell him, the Little League coach, that the bases are loaded this time, and who is left to steal home?

Journal entry, 6/29/91, dropping off Oleg Atbashian

6/29/93 12:38 AM, what better time than to start a new journal, having just dropped Oleg Atbashian off at the San Francisco Greyhound station, the end of relationship, end of a project—and a new beginning with my art. I am really ready to be done with him.

Sad to report it since Oleg’s been here, I’ve only filled one journal. Nine months of relationship absorbing all my free time. So much conflict with us, the useless arguing, we even managed to contradict each other on our final ride to San Francisco. He’s on his way to LA, then to Fort Worth, New York, and then home to the USSR. He was definitely saying goodbye forever, and I guess whatever we had, the experiment that failed, it’s gone forever, though we told each other I love you, what is there really?

He goes back to his kids and wife in the Ukraine. What of her? Someone said Nadia went to the authorities to report him missing, having abandoned his family. I can’t help but wonder what horrors he will face when he gets home.

All his American loot will bring much excitement. Two heavy suitcases, a backpack, and a Macintosh. Between the two of us, we could barely carry it all. How will he managed if no one meets him in Fort Worth, or New York? I can’t imagine him in the Moscow Airport trying to get to Kiev train station. But that is no longer my worry.

When I think of my lover leaving, it makes me cry. When I think of all the technical difficulties, I remain dry-eyed. I can’t imagine why he so easily riles me up. Yesterday, after making love, we finally talked a little bit about ourselves, and the relationship. The scary part is how alike we are. So, even though he was from a completely different culture and language, we managed to find a twin of ourselves. Dysfunctional match. He said I was like his grandfather and I said he is like my grandmother.

The constant contradictions in arguments over trifles—we both became our own worst enemies, and exorcised our personas on each other with predictable results. We’re both equally guilty of something we had little control over. I often felt possessed by a demonic urge to challenge, to be hard, and he really brought out a side of me from my childhood that I don’t like at all. He says we’re too alike to have a relationship. We are two pluses, we each need a negative to balance us out. He thinks similarity is a bad thing. I think it’s positive.

Stalemate. Checkmate. Guilt is a motivating factor, feelings of inadequacy. He says I’m more of a male-female while he is a feminine male. The problem is, it’s easy for him to not develop and grow, he lets me take the role of responsibility and he becomes a parasite, like the male parasite fish attached permanently to the side of the colossal female, so huge, that scientist at first assumed they were two different species.

He said he learned a lot from me, not necessarily positive. He said he learned that he needs to be kinder. I probably tenderized him enough to make his relationship with his wife better, such bitter  irony there. Where does love fit into all of this conflict? He says to remember the bad times when you wanted me out of the house, it’ll make it easier.

So easy for us to cry, and to hold each other. In bed we were friends, better lovers than workmates. A reversal of our role in Cherkassy. Emotionally, it was a roller coaster, though I seemed to retain a clarity as to why I reacted, and felt the way I did, but I was helpless to prevent the emotional upheaval.

What do tears mean, and those three words, I love you? Values. Sex wasn’t enough to make the relationship work—really work. We both wanted something more tranquil and supportive. Instead we got chaos, and fireworks. I felt angry because I was having to do so much work to keep us physically afloat. Maybe having him in my territory was the real problem. We talked about the conflict there too—we both want to occupy the same territory and I’m not used to sharing that space, and neither is  he. He thinks he began to recognize some of my criticisms were based upon truth after all.

It’s going to seem strange sleeping alone, our silly mammalian talk, horses and rummaging rights, penguin talk and blue sky acts. Once he rubbed my ass saying blue sky! And the sky turned blue. It stuck and every time he wanted blue skies to appear, he’d rub my ass. Silly things that lovers too. I’ll miss the affection and the sex it was satisfying—for the most part.

His odd quirk, his dislike of my breathing on him never changed, it continue to hurt my feelings when he turned his head away. He had enough phobias, it sometimes made life difficult. He was so intolerant of my animal love noises, my licking and biting and scratching. I was surprised when he asked me to scratch him very gently the other day. It took us a long time to trust each other sexually.

His changeability, apparently a cancer trait, was very unhealthy for me, creating a whole scenario of mistrust. We never quite molded each other into the likeness that we each desired. We never quite accepted each other the way we are, flaws and all.

Luis says there’s a danger in trying to remake someone, codependency. I was definitely trying to remake Oleg over. The entire fucked Soviet system of co-dependency equaling love. And to his credit, he did improve in many areas. I told him how difficult it was for me to have someone entirely dependent upon me. How it drained me. He really was foolishly wise. Childlike in so many ways. We really were from different eras, time travelers. But the hourglass shattered.

Saturday, June 22, 1991



from a drawing by Marsha Connell, White Sands Guardians

When Marsha drew 
rock formations at Stallion Gate,
naming them White Sands Guardians,
she knew nothing of their history
witnesses to Ground Zero, 
and the new green desert glass, trinitite
On July 16th,1945,
the sand fused for miles
by Trinity; a destroyer of worlds,
said J. Robert Oppenheimer.
This is the place 
where Billy the Kid 
& Pancho Villa last rode
on The Trail of the Dead.

This is the place
where ghosts of the Cold War 
swarmed in hissing sands, 
where fathers and sons listened 
to the sounds of war 
growling across a cloudless sky
announce the birth 
of the nuclear age.

This is the place 
where blood stained white sands, 
and the threefold nightmare 
of a black flower bloomed,
riding across the world 
at the speed of light.   

6/91 & 7/16/92                                                                        

Saturday, June 1, 1991



The silhouette of a bird on a telephone pole
a raven, a vulture, a hawk? Too big.
I swerved and braked the truck—
in the sunlight, a golden eagle,
too close to civilization, and I understood
why they're called golden; they are luminous.
Spotting eagles within city limits
isn't reason enough to write a poem about it.
What am I supposed to do now?
Tell the world I hang eagle feathers
from my ceiling to keep away bad dreams?
We feel compelled to talk of more human things
site-specific, but now I've seen rare eagles
where they're not supposed to be.
We've come to expect vultures and crows
with whom we co-exist so beautifully.
The raptor who faced near-extinction
isn't reason enough to celebrate;
our sights are limited to an occasional red-tail
on the fringes of society, and we are satisfied.
We always have trouble imagining
anything beyond our own limitations.