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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ex Files: Special Edition

         The only bones the universe had been throwing me were literally thrown at me as I was walking through the alley behind my house to get to my car.  My neighbors didn’t see me from behind their fence but still, can you keep your greasy fast food chicken bones to yourself?
            I was coming home from the worst date ever with a great guy and just before his text was delivered, Can we just be friends? I was hit in the head by a thigh bone. 
            Sure, we can be friends, I texted back, examining my jacket for BBQ sauce. 
            We had met at a mall to get coffee or a drink before catching a late movie.  I opted for coffee, feeling guilty that he was sober and not wanting to drink around him.  It felt like eating cheesecake in front of your vegan friend. 
            “It’s just a personal choice,” they say.  “Everyone should eat what they want.”  But you suspect they don’t mean it. 
            “Totally,” you say, wiping a drip of whip cream off the table with your finger.  “I mean, I don’t eat this way all the time.” 
            “As long as you’re educated about what corporations are doing to your food, you can make your own choices.”
            “I couldn’t agree more,” you say, swallowing your guilt, your very delicious guilt. 
            Colin said he didn’t mind if I drank, that lots of his friends drank and that he partied all the time, just with Red Bull.  I thought it’d be nice to have a designated driver for life but I also felt it was like giving someone else the upper hand.  How can I win an argument if I’m slurring my words?  Will he think my silly dances are funny when they’re clearly whiskey induced?  But how can I hold sobriety against a person?  I should be thrilled he doesn’t smoke weed every day!
            I was excited to see him because our second date ended with a sexy kiss in his car.  I didn’t want to move too fast but I was hoping for a little action after the movie.  I thought he was funny, extremely intelligent and one of those people who just seemed to be living a semi-charmed life.  Plus, he was the only person from Ok Cupid that I’d ever gone out with more than once. 
            We walked to Starbucks, got chai lattes and sat at a table outside near the parking lot.  He showed me a YouTube video of Bon Iver covering Bonnie Raitt’s song “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”  We watched the first minute or so while Colin told me how Bon Iver’s first album was written and recorded all by himself in a cabin after him and his girlfriend had broken up.
            “That’s so intense,” he said.  I felt that he was referring to his own break up, the one I suspected he wasn’t over.  On our first date he had mentioned living with his ex in Sweden.  When I asked how long they’d been broken up, he said,
            “Fourteen and a half months.”
            “Fourteen months, two weeks, three days and four hours?” I joked. 
            “I can be more vague if you like,” he said, slightly insulted. 
            I ignored this red flag because he was funny, the fastest way to my heart. 
            We took our lattes to go and headed towards the movie theatre.  Colin got up slowly, complaining of back pain.
            “I need a massage,” he said.
            “Me, too.  I only get one once a year or so but I wish I could get them monthly.”
            “That beats me,” he said.  “I haven’t had a massage in five years!”  He paused.
            “Well, that’s not true.  My ex used to give me massages all the time.” 
            There she is again, the Swedish ex, guest starring on all our dates, massage oil in hand, ready to ease all your aches and pains in no time!
            “TMI, Colin!” I joked and that upset him.
            “I don’t get it,” he started.  “Why is it we’re not supposed to talk about our ex’s?  I was with this girl for twelve years and now I’m supposed to pretend she wasn’t a part of my life?  Are girls really jealous of that?” he asked.  “I mean, I don’t have any feelings for her anymore.  None, I have no more feelings for her.” 
            I looked at him.  Really?
            “I know,” he said.  “I’m sorry.  You were just kidding.” 
            Then we watched a movie about a girl getting sexually assaulted in the back of a fast food chicken restaurant.  I kept wanting to hold his hand but the actress on screen would be being strip searched, humiliated from doing naked jumping jacks and it just didn’t feel right.   
            Amidst all of the evening’s blunders and missteps, I wanted this to work.  I was tired of looking through profiles, smiling at bars and having friends in great relationships tell me what a catch I am and scratch their heads about who they might be able to set me up with. 
            Colin and I rode the escalator down to level 1, where my car was parked.  We put our tickets in the pay machine and figured we had about fifteen minutes before we had to leave.  I hugged him and lingered a moment, hoping I could get a kiss out of this awkward evening, something that would let me know, there’s hope.  Love is alive!  That maybe we can try this again and cut the ex out of the script.   See a more hand holdy/less rapey movie next time.    
            “Um, okay,” I said.  “Good night, I guess.”
            He planted a kiss on me under the florescent light.  It was quick and rushed and uncomfortable. 
            “Bye,” I said and then in a last minute desperate attempt, a strange impulse came over me and I called after him, “Colin, I think you’re really special!”   I did think he was special.  I found him kind and empathetic, extremely bright with a touch of sadness, the kind funny people always carry with them.  He was completely unavailable but still… I wanted to believe.  I saw his face make a question mark, then it got lost among other movie goers and shoppers. 
            A few minutes later, in my car, Colin called me. 
            “Did you just call me special?  he asked.
            “Yes,” I said.  “But not in the retarded way.  I mean, you’re special.  You’re smart and funny and interesting,” I rambled. 
            “You think I’m a weirdo?” he said. 
            No, I mean it.  You’re just one of those people…”
            “Alright,” he said.  “I’ll just have to believe you.  Talk later.”
            He hung up. 
            If someone called me special, I would be so elated.  Finally, I would think, someone is noticing!
            The palm trees whipped past me one by one as I sped across the 10 freeway. I thought about how exotic they seemed to me when I was a child.  They grew where movie stars came from and where beaches were, where people stayed in hotels instead of motels and all the women wore high heels and big sunglasses.  That night, the palm trees off the 10 leaned slightly to the right as if to say, yeah, we’ve seen better days.
            I pulled into my parking place and sat in my car a minute.  I tried to decipher the graffiti on the back of my neighbor’s garage.  I was pretty sure it was gang related.  I got out of my car and texted Colin. 
            Maybe I should have just said I like you.  After all, that’s what I meant.  Thanks for the rapey movie!  Talk soon. 
            No problem, I’m you’re go-to rapey movie guy!  Okay, that sounded creepy. 
            Can we just be friends?
            A chicken bone flew over the fence.  I was hit.  Seriously, neighbors?  Isn’t it enough that it’s midnight and your kids are jumping in a bounce castle and listening to top 40 hits at maximum volume?  Another text came in.
            You up for a drink?  It was from my friend Chris. 
            Sure, we can be friends.
            Another chicken bone flew over the fence.
            “I’m standing right here!” I yell. 
            “Sorry!  So sorry!” 
            I get back in my car.  What’s up with chicken today?
            Yes, I text back.  Let’s meet at Good Luck Bar.  I could use a drink.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

There's Nothing Like Crying While Your Gynecologist Asks You About Your Dead Parents

Every time I get a pap smear, I think this would be the worst time ever for an earthquake.  I imagine the floor shaking, the framed poster of the female anatomy rattling, the bird mobile swaying back and forth as it clings to the ceiling.   The doctor in a state of panic yells, “It’s the big one!!!!” and sprints for the door.  Not the doorway, like they teach you in school but the actual door and I’m left lying spread eagle with a speculum sticking out of me.  This is what you get for not having insurance, I think.  Fortunately, it has yet to pass.  I store this fear in my Probably it will never happen but you should have a game plan just in case file section of my brain.  It sits snuggly next to What if there is a fire while I’m dying my hair and I can’t rinse for several hours?
There are certainly bigger problems in the world but I find them best left at the mercy of experts; firemen, policemen, politicians, scientists, nuns, conspiracy theorists living off the land in Montana.  It’s a long list and an imperfect world.  Make a lot of friends.  Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.  I repeated this in my head as my gynecologist asked me to scoot down the table.
“Come on,” she said.  “Move your booty.”  I liked her light heartedness.  This was our second appointment together and the last time she assured me that my ingrown hair was not a Herpes sore or a genital wart.  For this, she was my hero.  I starred at the bird mobile hanging from the ceiling.
“Just breathe,” she said.  “Relax.”  I did as I was told.  “You’re going to feel my finger and just a slight pinch.”  She slid the speculum inside me.
“It’s cold,” I said.  They always are but what else are you going to talk about while a stranger is examining your vagina?
“So,” she said casually.  “I forget, are you from LA?”
“I’ve been here for four years,” I said.  “But I grew up in Seattle.”
“Oh!” she exclaimed.  “It’s pretty up there.  I took a trip there in college.”  I felt a swab swipe my cervix.  I took a breath.
“Yeah,” I agreed.  “It’s beautiful.”
“Your family still up there?”
“Yep,” I replied.  “My sister and my grandma.”
“What about your mom?  Is she in Seattle?”
“She passed,” I said, immediately wishing I had just nodded in agreement.
“Oh,” the doctor said.  “Oh, my.”
“It was two years ago,” I added.
“I’m so sorry,” she said.  “Have you seen a grief counselor?  How have you been dealing with it?”
“Um, no,” I said, feeling another swipe.  “Not specifically a grief counselor.”
“You really should,” she advised.  “I did, when my father died.  Horrible car accident.  I was about your age, too.  What are you, twenty-seven?”
“Oh, good for you!  Keep moisturizing!”
My face was getting red.  The sweat from my palms had gotten the tissue paper they always line the examination table with wet and it ripped a little.
“What about your dad?” she asked.  “Is he still in Seattle?”
“He died when I was sixteen,” I blurted out.  I’m so used to telling the story.
“Oh, my god!” she cried.
“He drowned.”
“Oh, my god!!!” she repeated.   “I’m so sorry.”  She stopped the exam for a moment and looked up at me.  I could see her concerned face from between my legs.
“You’re just so young to have no parents.  I really hope you’re getting counseling for this.  I can’t believe both of your parents are dead.”
There’s nothing like crying while your gynecologist asks you about your dead parents.  Now, would be a great time for an earthquake.
“We’re all done down here,” she said, as if my vagina had whistled and we’d all be drinking tea in a minute.
“I’m going to remove the speculum now,” she said.  I inhaled slowly.  
“There it goes… and… it’s out.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“Well,” she started.  “Everything looks good.”  She took off her gloves and threw them in the trash.
“That’s good,” I said, sitting up.  She handed me a tissue and gave me a worried stare.
“You want kids?” she asked.
“Maybe.”  I wiped my eyes.
“Now’s the time to start thinking about these things.”  She picked up her clipboard and made a note.
“I don’t even have a boyfriend,” I mumbled, standing up.  I grabbed my pile of clothes, unfolded and disheveled on the chair.
“I’ll give you some privacy,” she said, closing the door.  “Remember to put your urine sample on the table at the end of the hall.”
Still in my backless, paper gown, I grabbed a handful of tissues and wiped myself clean of the lubricant gel.  I stepped on the small pedal, popping the garbage lid open and tossed the wad inside.  I grabbed another tissue and blew my nose.
“Don’t use so much paper,” my mom would say.  “It doesn’t grow on trees.  Well, it does but you get the point.  It isn’t cheap.”
We always had some insane amount of toilet paper on the shelves in the back hallway by the bathroom.  Next to three or four 1 gallon size bottles of Listerine, it looked like we were preparing for the end of days.
The sicker my mother became, the more she hoarded.
One Christmas when I was home visiting, I opened a kitchen cupboard and found fourteen jars of olives.
“Mom-” I said.  “How many olives does a person need?”  I had just noticed over two hundred jigsaw puzzles stacked neatly in the living room closet and her collection of peanuts, lollipops and tootsie rolls were growing as well.
“I like olives,” she said.  “They’re salty.”  She had been volunteering at a local food bank and enjoying the perks of the job.
“But, Mom-” I started.  Her eyes looked like wounded puppies.
“I like olives,” she repeated.
“Oh,” I said, shutting the cupboard door.  “Okay.  I guess I didn’t realize how much you liked them.”
I put on my jeans, buttoned my shirt, slipped my shoes on and grabbed my urine sample.  I walked down the hall and placed it on the table next to the others and headed towards the lobby of the clinic.  Two girls sat separately, reading magazines.  A guy was filling up his water bottle from the big upside down jug.  A young mom was playing count the birdies with her baby in his stroller.
“One…” She held up one finger.
“Two…” She held up two fingers.
“Three birdies are flying,” she said.  She took a little toy, a small blue jay and traced figure eight’s in the air with it.
“Weeeee……  Goes the birdy!”
An earthquake must be like nothing to a bird, I thought.  Buildings collapsing, trees falling down, cars being overturned while birds just circle the sky, witnessing it all from a distance, waiting it out, soaring through clouds until it’s safe and the earth is still again, as still as it ever can be.
“Four birdies…” the mother said and held up four fingers.
“Five birdies flying through the sky.”
The baby laughed.  He clapped for the birdies.  I smiled as I walked past them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Please don't touch my boob, sir!

It’s always been a pet peeve of mine when I meet someone who claims to be from Seattle and when you ask where in Seattle they’re from, they say Everett or Enumclaw or Auburn because those aren’t neighborhoods in Seattle.  Those are dirty suburbs where going through the drive thru at Jack in the Box is a fun night out, where kids smoke cigarettes at 7-11, where Bud light Lime and Jagermeister are popular cocktails.  Just because Kirk Cobain is from Aberdeen, WA doesn’t make it a cool place.  That only happened one time! 
I am a city snob.  My whole life, I’ve prided myself on being from Seattle.  Actual Seattle, Seattle.  So, when I moved to New York City, I thought I would have no problem blending in with other city dwellers.  I would know my uptown from my downtown.  I’d walk fast, know the best pizza place and be able to hail a cab, no problem.  I’d hate Time Square and alienate outsiders.  I was sure that soon, I’d meet my three best girlfriends and everything would be just like it is on Sex and the City! 
The only problem is, Seattle is nothing like that.  We drive slow, dress warm and complain passive aggressively when someone accidently cuts in line at Starbucks. 
My first week in New York City, I felt like a small town girl.  I tried to not notice how tall the buildings were, how there were rats everywhere.  I pretended not to like the musicians on the subway and kept my nose in the paper.  When the beggars walked from train to train, I starred forward coldly or sometimes gave a dollar like it was some sort of transportation tax.  I moved fast and never let my Metro Card expire.  I tried hard to be hard. 
I got an apartment in Greenpoint, which is the neighborhood right next to hipster Williamsburg in Brooklyn.  My place was not cute or convenient but it was cheap.   It was about a mile walk from the G train, which all New Yorkers agree is the worst train ever.   Usually, I would get off at the Bedford L stop and walk home from there.  It was an even longer walk but still much faster than waiting for the ghost train.   Eventually I’d start taking a six-dollar car service just to get to the subway but my first week in New York city, I was still feeling optimistic and positive about my move and new home.  I was living in New York City!  The center of the universe!  Mecca for city snobs!
On my fifth night of living in New York, I went out for drinks with some friends to celebrate my move from Seattle.  I was walking home from the train and I had to walk past McCarran Park on Bedford Ave.  Normally, McCarran Park is filled with hipsters and families but being new to the area, I didn’t know that yet and it looked like crack head park to me.  It was midnight and the streets were pretty empty.  I started to feel scared but like any good city person, I knew to be aware of my surroundings and that if anything dangerous ever happened, I would just scream for help. 
I was walking down Bedford Ave right alongside the park, attempting fearlessness when I noticed a drunk, homeless guy with his shirt off coming towards me.  He was mumbling to himself and walking a few feet this way, than that way.  He swung his beer bottle in his hand and from far away I couldn’t tell if he was angry or just really drunk or both.  I was terrified but I didn’t want to show my fear by crossing the street to avoid him.  I convinced myself that a real city person wouldn’t do that.  So, against my instincts, I kept walking towards him, playing it cool.  Then I noticed coming up behind the drunk guy was a nice looking man about my age who I thought if anything bad happened would save me.  I don’t know why I put my faith in this stranger but he seemed nice, or at least, he didn’t seem like a drunk, homeless man that was potentially really angry.  The drunk guy passed me.  I starred forward not even acknowledging him and nothing happened.  He went on his way, I went on my way.  I relaxed.  I was just paranoid.  The nice looking man was getting closer.  When he was about six feet away, I nodded politely and said,
He nodded back but right as he was about to pass me, he jumped in front of me and grabbed my boob.  My purse was wrapped around me like a shoulder bag so it was actually separating my boobs.  One boob.  Two boobs.  He grabbed one, squeezed it hard and then ran into the park. 
I threw my arms up. 
“What the fuck?!”  I yelled. 
I wasn’t scared anymore.  I was angry.  Who did this guy think he was?  He ran into the park about fifty feet, then stopped and looked at me as if I was supposed to chase after him.  I wanted to.  I wanted to yell and hit him but some part of me knew that that was not a good idea and instead all I could find it in me to yell was,
“Please, don’t touch my boob, sir!”
I immediately called for a car service because I felt that this incident justified spending six bucks to get home safely. 
“I’m on Bedford Ave,” I yelled into my phone.  “By the high school.” 
The operator asked for the cross street. 
“I don’t know,” I said.  “By the high school!!” 
At this point, the homeless guy started swaggering towards me concerned and asked, 
“Are you okay, Miss?” 
“I’m fine!” I snapped because I was in survival mode and everyone was the enemy.  Abandon Ship!  I was no longer afraid, I was just angry. 
The car service arrived and I quickly got in.
“Take me to Driggs and Kingsland, please.  Some guy just grabbed my boob.” 
I could see the driver’s eyes in the rear view mirror.  He chuckled.  I turned to look back at the boob grabber nice guy and the drunken homeless man through the car window.  They were both still standing where I’d left them.  The boob grabber in the middle of the park waiting for his next attack and the drunk standing in the street watching me drive off to safety. 
“Where are you from?” the driver asked me. 
“Seattle,” I said. 
“It rains a lot there,” he said. 
“Yep,” I replied.  “It rains a lot but there aren’t any rats.”
“Every city has rats,” he said.
“Well this city has a lot of them.”
We spent the rest of the drive in silence.  My boob felt cold, like an orange from the refrigerator.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Pacific

Starring out at the Pacific,
The seagulls, hundreds of them,
Floating in the water like a broken string of popcorn
From a Christmas tree.

The sea lion popping up to say Hello,
Then Goodbye,
Then Hello.

I suddenly remember that I am a writer,
A dancer, a dreamer.
Every day I work.
I work and I feel stupider.

How could I have forgotten about the ocean?
It’s waves crashing in,
Saying Hello,
And Yes, things change.

Now Presenting... Cheesy Self Help Inspirational Quote #7

"To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it."


Monday, March 5, 2012

New Orleans Night

I walked the streets of New Orleans,
Hot, sweaty, drunk and beautiful.
My blood pumping with nicotine,
Survived the night, a miracle.

A belly dancer in my face,
A cold mint julep in my hand,
I wanted badly to embrace,
The culture of the Southern land.

The smells of Bourbon Street were strong,
Like piss and garbage, poverty.
Signs of history being wrong,
Showed in local faces, in me.
White boys and black boys watched intent,
On stealing, scamming, social ills.
Everyone needs to pay their rent.
Everyone needs to pay their bills.

A homeless man looked in my face,
I placed a quarter in his hand.
I wanted badly to embrace,
The culture of the Southern land.

A tarot reader read my cards,
Told the brilliant future ahead,
Of wars and scandal and bombards,
Or so the fortune teller said.

The night ended self-satisfied,
A drive by shooting in a blink.
No, don’t go out there, stay inside.
The bar man said fixing my drink.