Friday, October 7, 2016
Why did he invite me? Did he know she was going to be here? Stop being such a fucking idiot, Elisa. He invited her. You know that. Why did he invite you? Who the fuck knows anymore. STOP looking. You look like a broken-hearted 16 year-old at the Prom. You gonna make sure you have mascara running down your perfectly blushed cheeks? Smeared lipstick? Because that would be an absolute fucking travesty. This color of fuschia is on point. She looked away and closed her eyes, which in her state was maybe a bad idea. Her heart was racing...she wanted to know why. Why am I here? He'll never tell me why. That's why you sort of love him. Adore him. Fuck. Whatever. Heart racing, mind spinning. So upset her heart was pounding. Or maybe that was the coke. Who could tell anymore.
She would have paid every small dollar in her bank account for a friend. Why are they all so far away? She let that question linger and allow herself the space to be sentimental for a few moments...or was it hours? Didn't matter. He wouldn't come over anyway. They're all too high to notice. But seriously, how long had that been? Like...12 minutes? Or more like two.
She put her hands behind her on the large circular couch and let her head hang back.
As she stared at the ceiling, all the colors a wanna-be Miami club in what certainly, like, for sure, used to be a kid's roller rink, can afford danced around combining to make certain colors together. Green and Blue make Cyan. Blue and Red make...there it is, Magenta. Bet she doesn't fucking know color mixing. Wait, if you combine them all does it make black? Or white?
If he would stop attempting to hit on a 9 while he is absolutely a 5, and that's on a good night when he's being nice...Just two nights ago. Cum all over the bed, both exhausted, he practically crushed her to kiss her and ask...where'd you even come from? As she smiled. He inspected every cell of her face, not looking away once. He leaned down and held his kiss on her lips for a beautiful eternity. He slid his hand under the small of her back, his surprisingly muscular forearm tight by her side, and in one fell swoop, all one movement, rolled over to pull her on top of him as he looked into her eyes, ran all five fingers on each side into her hair to gently bring it back so he could look at her face and kiss her again god DAMMIT. Why.
Do all the colors make black on the lights? Fuck, I need another drink. Thank god I'm not driving.
OK. Here we go. Get it together. Don't look. Don't look. It's a straight shot to the bar. She stood in her skywalker leopard print stilettos pulling her skirt as she stood rather than pull all around after you stand see, little girl. You don't even know to do that yet. She rubbed her lips together and one foot in front of the other. Hold your head high, but not too high. Make him look. Look good -- Is...Michael giving me the eye? The sex eye? Oh my God he IS!!! His best friend? Oooooooooohhhhh. Toooooo tempting. Best get another whiskey just to be sure your judgement is spotless. Or correct. Or honest. Or fuck it.
She turned around, putting her elbows on the bar. Michael kept turning and giving The Look. That look. That 'I'm not looking away. I'm looking at you. I have to look at you.' That look. She reached for her Maker's Mark on ice in a plastic cup. Translucent. Bet she doesn't know that word.
No! It makes white. All the colored lights mixed. White. Yeah. It's paint that makes black. Right.
And then it happened. He stepped into her, one hand on her neck (oh god I loved that - that's our thing...oh god please not in front of me you fucking bastard), one hand slowly around her waist and to the small of her back as he kissed her. When he finally pulled away just to look at this new love as they both smiled. She blushed and turned away, her hair obscuring her face. He stepped away and looked around. She waited with her elbows on the bar and her Maker's cocked and loaded for her system. They locked eyes from across the room. She slowly raised the Maker's to her lips as he locked eyes with her across the entire crowd, people dancing and passing between their fields of vision. She took a sip, giving him a look that says: I know, and I see you, and I'm not moving. Because I know you know, fucker. I know you know how shitty you are right now. How do you like yourself? She waited until he was uncomfortable enough to look away and readjust his Yankees cap. She waited until he looked away to turn back to the bar, slam the rest and order another. When Michael slid up next to her. "Make it two." He looked at her with a slow crawling smile as he checked out her tight little ruby red skirt. She smiled as he laid down his cash for both and turned to the dancefloor.
"He doesn't know what he wants."
He smiled a wry smile and said, "Who do you think."
She inhaled and said, "Clearly not," and swallowed a big gulp of whiskey.
He looked at her, and she felt his stare but wouldn't turn. His best friend, Elisa. You're better than that.
"But I do."
Her heart took a high speed train up to her throat as she quickly turned her head to catch the moment where you could either tell if he was lying or vulnerable. Shit. He is 1,000% sincere. Fuck.
Well, she thought, never won any medals for doing the right thing anyway, and slowly smiled at him.
All the colors together make black.
Sunday, June 12, 2016
Unless you go here. Every. Day.
A good day consists of Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Etta James, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and the Temptations on Pandora. Ahhh, sing me back home my dear friends. Sing me back.
"My dear ladies, we have one goal. To persist." -Lauren Bacall
Rest in eternal peace, Ali. You fought so much more than your opponent only in the ring. You're a true hero and inspiration. And I love you.
Friday, March 22, 2013
On a foggy morning where I live, I walked to jury duty on a day where the ocean and the sky met in one universal haze of gorgeous grey and moving fog. I abhor the heat, as I suspect secretly that literally everyone on the planet does but attempts some forgery of fraternization/sororitization (ha, sorry, the first one is a word and the second one isn't. How bout that.) with what is commonly associated with getting out of school. But I was in Grade A in Colorado so my ass was in school all summer and through every Christmas/New Years break so I don't recognize these same seasonal patterns.
So I called in to jury duty and it is my pleasure. Because we should actually participate in the society in which we live, is my basic opinion. I will not be dressing like Princess Leia or pretending that I have a crazy undetectable illness or whatever else one can do to beg out of jury duty. The great state where I live barely recognized (did not, at all, in fact) that I had actually been living in an entirely different state for all of 3 years and needed me to assist in rendering justice in a case.
Arriving at 7:30 with enough time to buy a bottle of water, nobody was called for quite a bit. The usual paperwork and Introduction to Sitting In A Box Hearing Boring Stuff from Idiots by Idiots About Idiots For Days On End went on for about an hour. At 10am, the Jury Wrangler announced that this was a longer case. 16 working days, in fact. As I sat and silently said please don't call my name, please don't call my name, please don't - it was called.
In 1998 a woman was robbed. Or, it was attempted robbery. She was then kidnapped, taken behind closed shops near a highly traveled freeway, and raped. And then she was raped. And then she was raped some more. And then, she was impaled, internally, with what I will not even tell you here. And then she was beaten. And then it went on. And then it went on. And then it went on. And then they beat and tortured and tormented and raped her some more.
She was 45.
She had $6 in food stamps that she had borrowed from her roommate.
It was the 4 days after Christmas.
She was discovered by a CalTrans freeway worker.
She had 25 bone fractures.
Her ear had been torn off.
They dragged her to two different locations.
She begged for her life.
She did not live through the night, possibly the event. It is possible they left her to die.
And then what. They went to IHOP? They sent text messages about...what. How does that even work?
What do you wear to sit 4 feet from the monster, one of who even knows how many (5? 3?), who is capable of doing this? Who stood, turned around, and smiled, at the 34 potential jurors? A suit of armor? A backpack full of explosives? A really nasty look?
I'm not talking about what I looked like. Because it doesn't matter. I'm female. I could wear a burqua, I could wear a mini skirt so tiny my hands wouldn't cover it. I could wear an Armani suit. I could wear a hoodie and baggy jeans. Do I need to go on listing how many dress up doll outfits we have to say who we are? Does it matter? Does it matter if I look like a supermodel and wear the highest of heels and the tightest of dresses? Does it matter if I wear a fucking blanket and ten different kinds of head wear and mumble like I'm crazy? Does the same crime still happen? Because if you're not getting by now, the answer is yes. Yes. The same fucking violent, insane, fucking DARK AGES fucking crime still happens.
I'm saying, how you do live as a female when this is still happening to us, in what is purportedly a civilized country, in 20 motherfucking 13?
There were women there. Teachers, maybe. Mothers. Maybe the men felt something. If they did, I sure as shit didn't see it. I know, because I looked.
The rebel in me wanted to wear the shortest skirt, the reddest heels, fake eyelashes, pushup bra, and fishnet motherfucking tights. The student in me caught me evaluating even shaving and knowing that that doesn't make a difference, and wanting to don my nerdiest glasses, pull my hair back to nearly invisible, and wear something that would never get me noticed. The enlightened part of me knows that this is what I already do, every single day, and have, since I was ever noticed as a girl. The warrior in me wanted to reach over that 3' flimsy wooden barrier and do what damage I could before the bailiff even realized what day it was.
You are never, ever, ever safe as a woman. Not even married, not with ten men in the house. No, men do not make you safe. Nothing makes you safe. Not with a gun, that doesn't make you safe. It doesn't. Not if you're 90, as one local serial rapist was fond of grandma aged women several years back. Not being so young you just want to watch tv and eat candy. From the time you are born, until you die, if you are female, you are constantly, every single second, of every single day, at home, at work, walking to your car, going to the grocery store, taking the subway, saying goodbye to your friends, you are a walking fucking crime waiting to happen.
And I am so completely, insufferably fed up with it.
When I left the courthouse, I was hit on 5 times in 3 blocks.
It's enough to make one a violent criminal.
And on May 22, 2013, the jury gave him the death penalty. And it doesn't make one bit of it better.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
and i dreamed of sex for the first time in forever
we flew across high streets on hills, bars with mod orange and ocean bright lights
lived and kissed and
seeing, witnessing, living everything in sight
the tremors of dis-control
sleek pathways through city lights and gorgeous nights
the first love i've had in so long
so desperately, unbetrayedly long
and i watched you all day, knowing i don't love you in real life
even though you do have a way with a sweater and levis
last night is mine
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
And so begins the comedians (primarily male) vs. the "feminists."
Well you didn't think I was going to just lie there and take it, did you?
1. Yes, Tosh, and every other human being in the world, is entitled to Free Speech. Whether or not they get that where they live, we hold these truths to be self-evident and we should all fight for everyone to have free speech. This means that Tosh gets to say rape is always funny, and I get to say I sincerely hope you get raped someday. Like, violently. What? It's a JOKE! So, fair enough. Tosh gets his right to free speech and here is me exercising my right to free speech. Daniel Tosh? You're a fucking spoiled fucking white American male and you're a douchebag. Fair is fair.
2. He was making a joke on the sacred fucking hallowed ground of a comedy club, and if you don't like being raped, don't go to comedy clubs! Again, see item 1. Being a "comedian", being "onstage" (the fucking floor of the Laugh Factory), and holding a microphone does not make you fucking impervious. A comedian has the right to work out their material and FEEL that no subject is off-limits because if we start to "censor" (absolutely no one is getting censored here. This isn't Pinochet's rule. It's America and you can say whatever you want. Really.) You have the right to make any of these jokes, including ones about the Holocaust, and AIDS, and faggots, and lynching. But two things:
A. If you're a comedian, the GOD that you are because you've "earned" the "right" to "say whatever you want" because a comedy club is sacred fucking ground or something, then you have one job. ONE. To make people laugh. That is your entire job. It is hard and it's got to be humiliating at times and it seems to make one lose a bit of their sanity and quite a lot of their humanity, but that's your job, you chose it, and them's the rules. Your job is to make people laugh. You did not make this woman laugh, in fact, you made her feel uncomfortable, unsafe, singled out, and willfully hunted, which is a feeling that I can assure you, as a woman, is a place we have to live in DAY IN AND DAY OUT without rest no matter what. The comedian made a joke. It wasn't funny. I'd wage a bet that quite a few people, male and female, did not find that joke path funny.
B. You can say whatever you want. You can say rape is funny, you can use the N word, you can joke about Jews. But it HURTS PEOPLE. Jokes about lynching, the holocaust, AIDS, etc. Nothing should be off-limits in the realm of comedy (unless it isn't FUNNY), it is argued, because we need to be able to talk about everything and, eventually, hopefully, come together and laugh. Is, I think, I HOPE the ultimate goal of the really good ones. And they did it well. Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Betty White, Roseanne Barr, Bill Hicks...I think, ultimately, this was their desire and their deepest wish.
Tosh did not pull together humanity he said rape is funny. It isn't. It is horrifying. It is a terrible, awful, disgusting wage of war against women. I hate to use this argument because it shouldn't be a battle of who has suffered more. But if he had made a lynching or slavery joke, shit would not be ok. Blacks have suffered nearly insurmountable campaigns against them personally and as a group for about 500 years in America. Women have been raped and told to shut up for 2,000. It's horrifying, a male who has not been a victim (and, I'd argue, even if he has because he does not, then, have to continue to live in fear) has NO idea what it must be like, and...it isn't funny.
As Ice Cube says in the new 21 Jump Street, "yeah, I'm black and I'm angry. WHAT ABOUT IT."
Louis CK then went on the Daily Show to explain (lie?) that he was not defending Tosh on Twitter, but simply giving a very ill-timed shout out about how funny he is, to say this is a classic war. Feminists can't take a joke.
Saying that rape isn't funny doesn't make you a feminist. It makes you someone with an opinion. Where are the female comedians here? Where is Betty White? Where is Sarah Silverman? Where's Maria Bamford, Chelsea Handler, Lena Dunham, Tina Fey, Wanda Sykes, ELLEN DeGENERES? Hello? Ladies? Is this thing on? Because if you're a woman, and you say the joke isn't funny, then you're a feminist. You're playing RIGHT into their stereotype of "feminist" (oh, and we wouldn't want THAT god forbid, equal rights for everyone regardless of gender). But I disagree. I think it's HILARIOUS when a funny black man gets angry. I think it's funny when Will Ferrell gets angry. I think it's funny when Ellen DeGeneres does anything. I think most everything that Sarah Silverman says and does is wildly offensive and absolutely hysterical. Yes. Hysterical. Where all the (black or white) women at??
I'm a feminist and have been told I'm funny. I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. Once at a comedy show in Denver, there was an openly gay bear comedian that goes by "Ursa Major". He told a joke toward the end that he assured no women would laugh at, because: vaginas. It was about a dog wearing a shock collar that ran into his lit cigarette and couldn't whine or bark because the dog collar kept shocking him. Yeah, I didn't laugh either. The bit really wasn't much more intricate or subtle than this retelling. He just acted the poor dog out more.
I didn't laugh because I'm a woman.
I didn't laugh because the joke wasn't funny.
Bill Hicks, my all time favorite, said some of the most offensive shit about women and I absolutely adore him. He would never, ever say that rape is funny, I truly don't think so. And he has a joke that goes something like this:
"I'm dating a 16 year old and her cunt is amazing. It's like a papercut surrounded by cotton candy."
And I fucking love that joke. It is told with such desperate love and attention to detail that it sends me every time. I laugh, hysterically, every time. Rape isn't funny. But I'd love to see the women take a crack at it. And, furthermore, Tosh and the other desperately misogynistic "comedians" that get to spew ignorance and hate just because they have the mike. I don't want to take their mike away, I want to hear more people on more microphones.
And I want the fucking jokes to be funny. I'd love for rape to end. But in the meantime, let's work on the jokes.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Watching Lena Dunham's 'Girls', the much hyped (and thank god for that, because FINALLY, and thank you) HBO show as a follow up to Dunham's nothing short of Pure Genius (and possibly timing, and luck) "Tiny Furniture" I had...I had quite a few thoughts. I saw "Tiny Furniture" at the Denver Film Festival and was relieved, blown away, comforted, led to fits of giggles. It was one of the bravest, airiest, most subtly confident movies I've ever seen. In the film, Dunham shows a character reading Woody Allen's 'Without Feathers' or possibly 'Side Effects.' Maybe a wink to a knowing audience that she's fully aware that she could be a 22 year old Woody Allen or that inevitably, any movie with an NYC backdrop about human interaction might be compared to Allen's films. Regardless, she makes the case that inadequacy and self-perceived failure, or being at a complete loss for answers can be hilarious, and bravely goes where she clearly has been, but few dare to repeat even to some friends.
One, obviously, get a job. Seriously. The work will do you good. Any Buddhist monk will show you the path to enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. Having to get along in the world without your parents money doesn't make for a very long storyline or a very compelling drama. Especially in a timeslot directly following 'Game of Thrones.' It makes a little bit of comedy, and that all due to Dunham's great voice. It does, of course, beg for a very tiny whiny violin.
But it was the pilot and I'm no TV Critic thank god because who DOES that, and anyway I'm here to fully support the creation of art by women, and voice openly my disagreement with it if necessary. I hope that Dunham is given plenty of room to discover her voice and her artistry and that the haters are not even more harsh than they would be on, say, Two and a Half men, that is to say, not at fucking all.
But watching these young girls flail about is not just the right amount of squeamish needed for some comedy, it's truly painful. It hurts me to watch this girl get fucked and told to 'play the quiet game', but it's excruciating to watch her ask for his approval, forgiveness, and that he not be disgusted by her. I want to walk in, yank her up, slap her, tell her to leave the room, beat the shit outta the guy, let him know he will NEVER deserve a woman of this much talent, wit, and beauty, and then buy HER a drink. And set her straight. Or, at least, shed some light in the infuriating darkness that is being Female in your 20s.
The other thing that strikes me is that, with these girls, as with all women, there is a distinct lack of mentorship or older, wiser (?) sisterhood around them. Lena's character seemingly only has 1. girls her age in her similar predicament, and 2. Her mother. And this isn't just in the show; this is everywhere, at least in America. Where is Lena Dunham's Martha Gellhorn to me? Are these women only to be found in dead female writers and artists? WHY isn't there more of a network? Young people won't listen, and those who have been through their own knocks sigh wistfully at the audacity and lack of foresight of youth, and know that one day, they'll know as well. But wouldn't it be grand if we all, all of us women, had some manner of network, some sisterhood outside of family and condescending female bosses that you could really talk to and bounce things off of? Wouldn't it feel better to hear, in your 20s, from someone in their 30s (hi there!), that you just seriously won't give a shit about these things in a few years? Well. I'll do my best. For anyone reading.
Girls, girls, girls. Sigh. Your 20s are all about boys, and your body. Whatever thoughts you may have had in high school about either, they'll be magnified times 100 after college, or in your 20s regardless of higher education, no matter how many feminist theory books you've read or naked female bodily acceptance parties you went to. Because the difference is: now you're an adult. Now, you're supposed to get it. You're supposed to know.
You spend your whole 20s kind of thinking about your career, debating going to the gym, and ALL of the time wondering why he didn't call/email/text/whatever digital form of socializing torture they've invented. When you're 30? You just stop giving a shit. You know why he didn't call? Because he's a fucking idiot. You know why he treats you like shit? Because he wants to see if he can. You know why he fucked you? Because he thought he could. You know why he ran away? Because he fucking got scared and he's a fucking child and you should RUN the OTHER WAY as fast and as furiously as you possibly fucking can. It doesn't matter how much money you have, it doesn't matter if you do work out, it doesn't matter if you're skinny or fat or shave your legs or wear more eye makeup or wear less makeup the boys don't notice, don't care, won't remember, and DO NOT DESERVE YOU. Have a drink, have, like, LOTS of them, see if you can manage to forget about him, fuck as many as you want (SAFELY god dammit and if he won't wear a condom, beat the shit out of him and kick him out on the streets because it won't be him waiting to get that abortion now will it.)
I'm re-reading letters from Martha Gellhorn (famously and tragically known as Hemingway's third wife, but a writer and war reporter fully within her own right and reputation). I tracked these down from a New Yorker article (she also wrote for the New Yorker in the 20s and 30s) that I had vaguely remembered from back in MY 20s. I remembered one photo of Gellhorn, or somebody, I couldn't remember who, but of that ex-pat WWII generation, holding a rifle (must be Hemingway related, right?), with a quote underneath. I tracked it down in the NYorker archives and remembered the great cover, which, among many other paintings, clippings, photographs, and images I had pasted around my sweet 3rd Street Bachelorette in my 20s in Long Beach.
This woman burned herself into my memory like nothing else. That image of her holding a rifle, looking at the camera lens like "why are you even looking at me." And that fateful quote at the bottom, has been in my mind all these years since until I finally found it again.
I remember how painful it was, and I've never been the type of girl that needed a boyfriend, or a partner, or even a best friend. I was born to be alone, no matter how painful, and I'm best alone. And I still remember the books and books of journals and poetry and nights crying over red wine. Whyyyyyyy!?!? Why won't he love me? Why won't he call? Why her? Why not me? I look back. The journals have been burned (too repetitive, I felt it was time to finally leave the past behind. What a grave mistake. Never burn history. Never.), but they were all about two things: I only want to do what I was born to do, what I need to do to live, and get paid for it. And 2. WHYYYYYYYYY???? I've always been engendered with a pretty healthy sense of confidence and self esteem, but rejection is rejection. Now, I can't remember any of them that I was worried about, and I downright fucking god damn laugh at the others. THEY were the fools, and I was so much the better for not ever being any more involved than I was.
I was fortunate that I sook out women like Dorothy Parker, Martha Gellhorn, Sylvia Plath, Joan Didion...those rare women who dared to live and tell every last honest detail about it all. So that the rest of us could feel like we weren't alone, that we weren't crazy (although the world will continue to try to make a woman 'crazy' if she at all expresses herself).
Lena Dunham is one of these women.
She's just so young.
If the character doesn't learn to love herself, I surely hope that Dunham, throughout her career and travels and hopefully every once in a while, truly decent and deserving man, does.
The quote at the bottom of the photo of Gellhorn etched into my brain almost 15 years ago was this:
"Men wanted me and became furious when they found out that I was separate from them, with my own ideas, needs, plans, actions."
Make your own plans, girls. Make your own action. Have your own needs.
And get what you want. Because Honey, I can nearly damn guarantee he isn't worth a second thought. No matter how much thought you've already given it, it's too much.
Save yourself. It's the only thing that will matter.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
you remember the water mains
you remember the fires of '68
no one was ready
no one saw it coming
those sky licking red hot flames, furious with black smoke
seeking to destroy
fury and torpor all at once, reckless destiny
and a careless shrugging god
you remembered the mains. you knew where you had to pull from
you knew what it would take to stave this beast of conflagration: more than it had
you have to survive it. you have to pull from everywhere.
you have to look it in the eyes and dare it.
you have to match this monster.
as if every celebration were a war
as if every war
were a celebration.
Monday, April 19, 2010
"What're we gonna do, girl?" says Jen as if there were a choice.
Amelia inhales, searches the dead flat horizon beyond, and brings her vision closer into the lit windows of the houses on the street and good ol Mouska the cat, fat and furry, mozying down the street like nobody's business but her own.
She turns her gaze toward Jen and allows her eyes the pleasure her husband has had, to search and enjoy and examine the vision of Her. Jen's tan face, bare legs. Skirt hiked up just over the knees. Jenz always looked good. Dressed well. Took her damn near long enough, for Christ's sake. Town like this. Who did she think would come through and sweep her up? Nobody barely alive here, wouldn't so much as come through long enough to change a flat tire. But Jenz looked good. It was admirable, her dedication to vanity. Amelia would just think, 'maybe, someday. Maybe I'll look good' but in the meantime seemed to tend to the needling needing wringing hands at hand: trying to hear every second and survive every hour.
"Stick together," said Amelia.
Jenz looked at her with that look like she didn't understand a word she was saying. Amelia attempted an explanation, as if she was the one who should do the explaining.
"Yeah. I got you, girl. I love you."
Each of them searched the sky, the overhang of the porch, the grass, the breeze through the trees. Hope and destiny and the future and the past were contained within the connecting atoms passing between the bending of the boughs, the blades of grass, the exhales of mutual and intuitive surrender.
"You want another?" asked Amelia.
"Yeah. Fuck it. Why not."
Amelia swung open the door and kissed Em on her head as she sat in her wheelchair reading People magazine. She pulled open the door to the fridge, grabbed two beers, and walked into the kitchen where the small change purse knicknack with the lid that Gammy kept small unforgettable items in was, and walked through the living room to once again foot open the front screen and plop down, left hand extended with beer toward Jenz.
"Thanks, beeeeeyatch," Jenz took the beer and realized with a shot to the heart what else was in Amelia's hand.
Hanging from her palm was the gold cross necklace Jenz and Amelia had each received from Gammy when they were confirmed in the church. White dresses, full communion. An admission of sins, coming before God. Or whatever they told you to be pure.
"Where'd you find that?"
She could have done it. She could have blown the whole thing wide open. But that's not what she wanted. And if she had anything on either of them, it was that she knew what made her happy, what she was grateful for, why she was here, and What To Do. And What To Do was to keep the last remaining remnants of some life she was handed down to and not add any more fucking misery to this God Damned Fucking World.
"Musta left it here," shrugged Amelia.
"Oh." Jenz said. Act like nothing happened, and maybe, maybe, by erasing it in your mind, nothing did. "Thanks."
Amelia traveled the line of Jen's face again and smiled, smirking down some beer. "Sure thing." She laughed to herself and repeated it. "Sure thing."
After she left, the usual talk to you/see you later, meaning within a few hours, Amelia shut the front door with the final gratifying release of the cylinder to unleash the latch into the undying solid wood of the door jamb. Em was asleep and Will was cold-cocked out.
In the low light of the dining room, Amelia pulled open the drawer that nobody ever opens and pulled out the photo.
She sat and exhaled and looked out the picture window. A sliver of golden light under Em's door was reflected in the picture window. But she wouldn't come out. She couldn't.
Staring at the photo Amelia attempted to pin any understanding or hope about the event onto the grainy photo. Maybe it could understand. The only other person who knew, who would ever know. Like a wispy cloud over a dark sea. The tiniest spot. The tiniest spot that breathed, maybe. That pie shaped portion. That would have sucked it's thumb. The blackest sea. The darkest Maybe. The tiniest spot that couldn't breathe, couldn't breathe here. Especially not here. Amelia knew. And she would stop that pushing, pulsing, tearing pain from anything and anyone she could. No she would not have any more misery. Not this time around. Not now. Not while she was alive. Not while Amelia could help it.
It was nothing but blood for a day, and cramps.
And anyway, baby would probably have betrayed her too.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Amelia made it to college, Jenz didn't see the point in going. Jen stayed and did hair with her cousin Lori and made enough to have her own apartment in town. Amelia went up to Northern State and studied Philosophy, Modern Feminist Theory, and Psychology, but not necessarily in that order. Specifically, she was trying to figure out Why Everyone Is So Fucked Up but essentially just had to cut out of Spring semester, second year, and Go Home when the news came in about the accident.
Emma was thirteen at the time, that awful painful age where females go from girls to whatever and realize they are the trash of the world, if they haven't already been treated as such, will soon learn they are, somehow. Mama was most definitely drunk and only going the six or so miles from Bessie's Place back home where Gammy was already full of hate phlegm bile and life lessons painfully excruciating as a splinter under your fingernail. There to stay.
It wasn't Mama's fault. The semi bulled through one of the four or so stoplights in town and people gandered that the brakes had gone out, the man held no ill will. Mama, of course, didn't live. But Emma did. Of course. Of course Emma lived. All thirteen blessed flowering years of this soft gentle soul, to relive every minute, every second, to wonder why Jesus didn't take This Lamb of God, but chose Mama, who wished she would die every day anyway.
But you go on and you make tea and you make dinner and you praise another day and you wheel the chair forward and you make your way around and you just live on. It's just what you do.
Will had come along from Nebraska when his parents moved, and he and Amelia had met in the Library of the University, or at some party. Amelia remembered the Library, Will insisted it was at Joe's party. Either way, they met, and all their friends agreed It Should Be So and so they went on dates and did what those who are interested in one another feel like they should do.
Amelia had been back and taking care of Emma for about nine months when Will said he would be there, "Hon. I'll be there." Which Amelia shrugged of but accepted the same as she accepted pies when she was 20 at her mother's funeral, Emma still in traction in the hospital. Will took three and a half months to just be there, but when he got there and Amelia was looking out the picture window of the Old House and holding one of Gammy's old salt shakers, he came up to her and kissed her neck and put his arms around her waist, looking at the amber, brown, red leaves fallen on the ground. Amelia rested her head on his broad, strong shoulders when he came around to her side and exhaled long. It's going to be ok. Or something.
"Hey," Will said and shouldered Amelia toward him. "You know what?"
Amelia sincerely did not want to know any more What at this point.
He turned her body like you do with blindfolded children playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey toward the trees and leaves outside, and slung his arm around her neck like a yoke on cattle. "You n me? We're a team."
Amelia smiled a wizened smile.
He had no idea she knew that Will and Jen had 'been a team' for at least a year. That vanilla body spray was impenetrable, intractable. Jen loved that sick, sweet smell. Amelia had neither the desire nor the inclination to tell her how disgustingly, maskingly sweet that smell was. It might as well have been gasoline. Then you could set it on fire.
"BITCHES!" Jenz came from up the street to the left which was unusual, Will almost always made the first entrance. Jenz, of course, did the whole shower, do hair, pretend busy thing, as if a shower would wash off the fact that she had been fucking her best friend's husband for three years.
Emma waves and the smiles a wider smile than the red sea at the parting of Moses.
Jen hugs her and playfully pretends a kick at the wheels. Glances aside toward Amelia.
"You dry off?"
"You see me wet?"
"Guess not. Got tea? Nah, nevermind. I brought beeeers! Want one?" Jen pulls a six pack from her giant cloth purse. Could be a diaper purse. Should be a diaper purse. But Jenz just flitted from one branch to another, never long enough to get caught, never long enough to feel. Just enough to rest for a bit on the branch.
"Let's shotgun it. Huh?"
Amelia exhaled and giggled. Of course. What else is there to do. Went into the kitchen and slowly pulled the long butcher knife from the drawer. She pulled the steel sharpener and slowly ran the blade along to cut the blade sharper. I could cut you, but I won't. You could have hurt me, but you don't. I could humiliate you both, by I won't. One. Sharp. Blade. Run slowly along the steel.
Emma was ready with hers and shaking it like an ecstatic baby.
"Oh Jesus," said Amelia. Here. Maybe take a key instead.
"No! Knife." If anyone could handle the mechanics of a butcher's knife, it was Emma. She shook the can like a maniac and carefully punctured the bottom end with a twist. "Gooooo," she smiled and drank the boozy barley fuzz.
Jenz and Amelia looked at each other. "Oh I see. You've got yours."
"Yep, getchurz own!" said Jenz. Two seconds later was the shake, the eye contact, the Double Dog Dare of the shotgunning of the beer. Shake shake shake, shake shake shake, shake you booty, shake you booty, and the quick as lightning no eye contact or second guessing needed pass from one hand to another of the newly sharpened knife, both keenly aware of What Would Happen If, to carefully puncture the aluminum just so like all women know how to do. And take the shooting fizzing liquid into your mouth, as if any liquor would make it in. Jen and Amelia looked at each other with the same Dare, the Same Love You Forever Until look until Amelia spit out some beer onto her lap.
"Ohhhhhhhhh! You fired!"
"Yep," said Emma. "Fired."
It had only been three months.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
But she wouldn't trip. Not this day, walking the same path home from Sunday Funday with Jenz. No last ghost for her.
"You remember the pool with Bobby Flay? Remember how hot he was?"
"He would - oh GOD! Worst name. But he looked like -"
Amelia sucked on her cherry lollipop, every last tart sweet drip. There's a technique, we hope, to sucking every last drip out of everything that tastes of anything, right down to and including the paper stick. Every spot on the tongue receives a different taste: sweet, summery, sublime, surreal, seduced, surrendered. Cherried. With a cherry on top.
"He looked like fuckin Ken." Jen said in the Sat Down, Yes Indeed tone of agreement they do in the Midwest, flipping her hands through the water in sunglassed recline.
Flay. If we could have stopped to think what a ridiculous name, well anyway we didn't end up with him did we.
Amelia threw the last part of the stick over the fence into the gravel and god knows what cacti. It is literally called god knows what cacti. Well at any point, at this point it is.
Dives in, stays down, opens eyes. Burning chlorine eyes. She shoves her upper body down to hand plant on the bottom of the pool, and fights the water's urge to bring her up to where she belongs. Melia fishtails and points her legs in the opposite direction, opening eyes to see the 3' tile on the other side bathing and waving in blue. She achieves the perfect handstand, accomplished only when the water holds you still enough. Tiny circles like whisking a cake mix, she spreads her hands an inch and pushes till she is fully upright, upside down. Crosses her arms over her chest then extends her arms to swirl her body around underneath. Looking.
Jenz through blue. Legs, motion. Nothing like the motion of water. Her calves and wrists and ass, in a blow up raft bluer than this blue, in contra to, motioning but going nowhere. Going nowhere, going nowhere...
The blunted fluid watery sound of her voice through the water.
Up and harsh air, quiet has gone, replaced by distant sirens, splashing, the kids a few apartments up screaming, television roaring.
"What are you doing down there. Come up and get a tan."
Amelia tries to clear her nose of chlorine. Nothing gets rid of that sting. You just have to let it take its course just like Gammy said. In time, Darlin, it'll just pass, won't even notice that stung anymore.
"You find any pennies? Give me some. I'm fuckin broke." Jenz didn't even crack a grin. Poverty isn't funny unless you really release yourself to it, laugh at the ridiculousness of counting pennies to see the afternoon movie together. Fuck pennies.
Exhale and back float. Cloud watch. Thin strips dragged faintly, whispers across so much blue. Listen to your own breath. Breathe. Float. Listen. Sink. Inhale. Hear the muffled sound of voices through water. Flip over. Breast stroke over to plastic full of margarita juice gone melty and sickly sweet. Still got tequila. Backflip underwater, swim to other side, touch, turn & go, race yourself to the shallow end. Go fast. Keep it shallow.
"Hey what was that bitch's name, the one that stole Mark from you in tenth grade."
Clear nose, half submerge, let the fluid water pull your hair back, pop up half a body in the now sunny cool air top half only.
"AIMEE fuckin Frisbee. Oh god that's right. I guarantee you she got knocked up."
"Yet another ridiculous name. His last name should have been..."
What should it have been. Underwater again, shark attack on Jen. Jen, underneath, grabs her sunglasses still on. All bangles of easily greened gold painted wrists of hers figure 8 to come back up. Amelia smiles underwater and Jenz gives it long enough to flip her the bird, come up, and in one fell swoop scoop the raft under her arms and frog swim around. Slowly paddle toward the other side to palm her melted margarita in the bright lime green plastic cup.
Amelia climbs out and lies on her towel, warmed from the sun baked concrete.
"Fucking Will," Amelia says as she lays a towel over her eyes.
"Oh now it's fuck Will?"
"He doesn't know what he wants. Including me. I'm gonna ask out the hottie that comes into Swoozie's. He lingers."
Jenz laughs. "You are going to ask HIM out." And then, curious, "He lingers?"
"He lingers. Longer than he needs to. Which either means he has brass balls or is doing the I'm-too-shy-to-ask-you-out thing. He's gonna make me do it."
"You gonna do it?"
Amelia removes the towel from her eyes, the world turning red to orange to yellow to normal in the sun as her eyes adjust to the brightness, sits up, downs the last of the sickly sweet now warm margarita, looks at Jenz.
"What the fuck have I got left to lose?"
They laugh like it's the funniest thing in the world but looking in different directions, a private inside joke to each, separately. In separate ways.
Loneliness eradicated. Connected forever. Warm in the sun. Pleasure forever. Unending cocktails. Best friends forever. Memories that fade like sunburns weeks later, to peel and die and skin changes anew. Temporary and transparent, like looking through water. Absence of pain. Laughter abound. The myth of summer. Everything fades, like names scrawled with a scarlet polished fingernail through the water. The temporary crackle and spark of sparklers on 4th of July, write your name only to have it disappear forever, like it will disappear from their lips. The sting that lingers as the seasons change is the constant. Let it live. Change is the one thing you can count on.
Monday, March 22, 2010
you never learned
how to lie like me
stilling the sadness
thistle stuck throat
white pastures cut with barbed wire
teaching yourself not to be the wanderer,
gathering the fabric
slowly under the table
tasting it with your fingers
under that immutable oak
tempting it with a tease, the gentle pull, temptation of the never pulled-off party trick
but wouldn't the place look great
you knew what this stone was for.
and whispering wonders
to forge your tomb under the covers
well i'll tell you what you reckless despot
silence knows what speaking is for.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
This band is so fuckin amazing I can't believe more people haven't heard of them. It's lonely out here.
Anyway, Under Byen is releasing their latest album, Alt Er Tabt in April, and the great people over at Stereogum gave an update and the video for the title track, which is fuckin amazing. You can view Under Byen's "Alt Er Tabt" video here.
I caught them when they came through LA at the Knitting Factory and it was, to say the least, a pretty inspired show. Any band that includes playing the saw, electrically, is at least worth checking out. They were amazing.
My review for LA Record of Under Byen.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
count your blessings that we will never be in the same building. car. kitchen.
train to D.C.
underground through New York City
and despair the chance it should happen in Paris
exhale at the thought that we will not see these eyes at the same gathering, any gathering, that I never feel your breath that close again
whatever forces you believe in, expansion, contraction, adhere to their laws and stick close to the walls
come to know Faith.
that you’ll never have my fingers touching your neck, beguiling you with the only charms I’ve learned and some I’ll come to know, opening your closed book with my smile.
because if I ever see you again, I will inhale every breath you breathe. I will swallow you and hold you inside; I will extinguish your doubt. I will linger on your thoughts until decay. I will seep into your heart like ink spilled on clean white paper, never to be written on again.
you will never see the light of day.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
For the record (haha, get it?!? GET IT?), the final lines as I wrote them were:
If one were to compare, say, Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem, The Knife, or Ratatat in a live setting, I would say, humbly, that Julian Casablancas is in a whole other game now. And if he wants to keep up, then he needs to do just that.
But whatever. Editing!
Writeup for LA Record here.