Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tin foil rockets

Tonight's been strange. First off, I found the dude I lost my virginity to on facebook. I sent him a message saying, "Woah! Hi! I lost my virginity to you." then, feeling that in itself was a strange message to send, added, "Glad to see you didn't grow up and sell out." I sent it, then wondered if I lied. Was I glad? Did I care?

I thought back to the day umpteenmillion years ago that I asked him to give me a mohawk. He told me that he would ONLY give me a mohawk if I promised to stay true to punk forever. I swore up and down, but he didn't believe me. I thought of this as looked at my main profile pic on the top left hand corner of the screen. It's me singing for my punk band. And I looked at his pictures, him singing for his punk band. I realized then that I did care  and I was glad that he didn't grow up and sell out. It makes what happened all those years ago somehow more important, more pivotal. We weren't just spewing teenage pomp. It was real, and that's good to know.

And secondly, I've spent the last 3 hours reading over old journals and now I feel strange. Before I stopped writing in my journals (so that I could write other stuff) I spent about a year completely fixated on penning my feelings on dudes. But not dudes I cared about really, just dudes I cared to be with from time to time (if you get what I mean.) And reading over it all from start to finish, it became really clear to me what I was doing then. Of course things always become clear when you stop trying to figure them out and stop caring. But anyway... here's what I realized:

There was a particular fella who rejected me (after we had spent some time together.) This had never happened to me before, and it shook me like a blast-off shakes a tin foil rocket headed for mars- it just blew me right apart. I became a fragment hurtling through space. Unattached, soaring rapidly down an unpredictable path, feeling free save for when I looked down and noticed that I was just a shred of my former self.

I did anything that struck my fancy. Ate french fries twice a day. Slept with candy in my mouth. Bought one way tickets to where ever I felt like going. Fucked who ever I felt like fucking. It was all to baby myself. It was all a comfort. I was sticking the pieces of myself back together with lolly pop sticks and used condoms, soldering with the hot sense of liberty that comes with carelessness and disregard. It wasn't a lifestyle I would stick with. It was just... healing. How lame is that?

It was complex beyond that of course. But really, and this is what is making me feel strange, I spent over a year in various stages of explosion and repair over a guy I barely knew. I've always been tone-deaf with romance. It plays out one way, I hear another. But it all just seems pathetic, and... embarrassing now. For anyone to have that kind of sway on me, but especially some schmuck who was little more than a few calls, a few days, and a few songs on a mixed tape. It was a fun year most definitely, but unlike my oath to punk rock, it seems somehow less real now.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Red carpets for a trash lady

I'm going to start posting shorts since apparently that's all I have time for these days. A glimpse into my life. Here's today:

The janitor rolls his dumpster up to my counter and tells me he's going to take me on the ride of my life.

"I'll roll out the red carpet!" he says, as he unfurls a huge white trash bag and lays it down for me to walk on.

 "GIRL, if you hopped in here I'd have the bossest trash around! Everyone would say, 'Look at his trash! Wow!' Girl, the dump wouldn't even take you, you're so pretty! Come now, don't be shy, just hop on in..."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Word of the day

My Dad and I went to see Pee Wee Herman on Broadway a few days ago and it was... transcendent. When the curtain went up and Pee Wee's playhouse lay before me and Chairy (yes, Chairy herself) I cheered and I screamed, and, I'll admit it, I cried. Superfan? Um. Yeah.


PS. Check out my friend Aldo's friend interviews at oozed.blogspot.com (where Mean Pete, Hatebreed's merch guy, and I all talk about ourselves. Thrilling shit, I assure you.)

Also, xkingdomx.blogspot.com is filled with new stuff.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A day.

"Oh! I've got it! It's 3 day old Chinese leftovers mixed with cigarette smoke mixed with dirty laundry off a basement floor!" This was my big moment of the day, where I identified the smell of the foul person sitting next to me on the bus home. Every time he moved he sent a little gust of scented air my way. By the time we reached West Philly I was nauseous, by the time we got to South Philly I was leaning back with my eyes closed thinking to myself, "Don't gag, don't gag, don't gag."

This is how my day went: I woke up with just enough time to miss my bus and be late to work, where upon arrival someone told me they didn't much like my name and advised I go by my middle instead (unsolicited advice of course), I called my Aunt (who has cancer) and when I asked how she was she said, "Oh... not too good...", then I waited for the vet to call me to tell me if Pippi (Ella's sister, and my other feline friend) has early onset kidney disease- and she never called, and then I got home (after walking in the rain- can't script this shit) to make midnight ramen (I hear eating in the middle of the night is the best way to stay trim), and tried to give Pippi her antibiotics while she boxed me and smeared the amoxicillin all over her face.

In other news, I haven't been writing here because I've been writing for something I'm gonna print (a zine), and in the Kingdom blog. I just popped in to whine. Later.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Skeletalize

A skeleton, 2 ways
(1 with  a little time, 1 with next to none)


 (with a koala)






Monday, September 27, 2010

Slice of Villiany

On my way home from work yesterday I got an idea: I would film my bike ride home for my Dad to give him a little slice of my Philadelphian life. It'd be great! I'd start it in the sketchy area I work in (look Dad, broken glass and barbed wire!), go through the middle of the city (Love Park! City Hall!), then the quaint, quiet neighborhoods (The Gayborhood! Antique Row! The Italian Market!), and end at home sweet home: trash strewn South Philly. 

I immediately gave up on filming in "unpleasant" (to be diplomatic) North Philly because I needed both hands to navigate broken bottles and dodge careless pedestrians and cars. But at City Hall I pulled out my phonecorder and started making magic. This "magic", however, was short lived. In fact before I could record a single note from the gospel concert that was taking place across from me, a wail of sirens stole the stage. Fire truck after fire truck sped by and the distinct scent of burning plastic filled the air. I looked up and the entire block was blanketed in swirling gray smoke.

Topless teenage dudes skated down Market St. toward the source of the smoke, shirts tied around their faces. I, using my hand as a nose guard (btw- this does not work in the LEAST), did the same (well, biked.) In hindsight this was a bad idea as running AT fire is, well, DUMB, but I did take this video:

video

What astounded me- I mean, beyond black smoke billowing out of a high rise in the middle of Center City, was that the firemen were in uniform, knocking open hydrants, and attaching thick burlap bag textured hoses to them. It didn't seem real. Fire hydrants serve a purpose other than sprinklers for city kids in the summer? They're not just for cartoon dogs to pee on? Or to annoy people looking for parking?
I'm constantly marveling at the odd age we live in- futuristic in so many ways yet crippled by the most primitive problems. We have iPads but NYC is falling apart over bedbugs. We have global positioning systems but when buildings catch on fire we scramble around with ramshackle tubes blindly shooting water at them.

After I finished my bout of voyeurism, I hopped back on my bike and rode a few blocks before I remembered my "Slices of Life Collection" for my Dad. I pulled out my phone and started recording as I left the Gayborhood and headed into Antique Row. But it was not meant to be. Tragedy struck again.


video

What happened, in case you didn't piece it all together, was that cab broadsided another car in an intersection behind me (which is the loud crash you hear.) The hit car then spun out of control onto the sidewalk, taking out newspaper boxes and a bike rack (with bikes. You can hear me lamenting this loss in the video.) The cab driver tried to drive off, but was missing the front half of his car so he stopped, leaking fluid and smoke all over 10th St. In the video you hear me ask the driver if he's ok, then walk off like a dickhead. What you don't see in the video is that he looks fucking furious, grabbing his steering wheel, staring straight ahead. He did not respond to me at all. When I got up to the bikes, people from the local Japanese restaurant were outside shouting (I'm assuming those were their bikes) and a crowd had started to form around the sidewalk car, which was completely smashed in on the driver's side. The driver was stumbling around in a daze, holding his chest. I left when the ambulence came.

Not for nothin', but I'm really glad I didn't go through that intersection 10 seconds later.

After the crash, I gave up on filming my ride. I gave up riding completely. During the 2 miles I walked home, my mind raced with supernatural possibilities. Did my Blackberry, which can't even receive picture mail, cause disasters when the video option was used? Or was it able, despite freezing up when I play brickbreaker, to tap into some latent power I have?

I got home and told Dave about my possible super-villainy and/or other worldly phone, and he shared a slice of his Philadelphian day with me, which I will now share with you. Meet the folks of the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge, a non profit faith-based group based in Upper Darby (juuuust outside Philly.) These gentlemen may appear to gothic pirates, but they are not. They're a very loud, very vocal, very hateful, very homophobic black power group. Perhaps they have more than that going on but due to their fixation on the word "faggot" and such catchy slogans such as, "All white men are peophiles!" Dave wasn't able to catch it. As you can see, their opinions are not appreciated by everyone.



Home sweet home. I don't know how I'm going to live without it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The sweet 16 rent's due mugging, featuring Smilin' Jon and the NY thugs (in 2.5 parts)

Act one: Smilin' Jon

After Dave and I got off the China town bus in Manhattan, we headed to Washington Square Park to chow some dosas from an all-vegan south Indian food cart. After eating, we went looking for the bargain district to buy my little sister a 16th birthday present. It was an innocent day in New York City with the boy I love. It was, anyway, until we got a block from the park and I got a phone call from a Seattle phone number.

Now let me rewind a little bit. Dave and I have had some terrible luck with roommates this year. First we lived with a racist German (awwwwkward), then with a "truth-twisting" professor (to make a long story short), then we got a really nice kid from Seattle, Jon. He was 25 and moving out of his hometown for the first time. He'd lived in lots of roommate situations, and seemed sane (not that we gave him a rigorous test, we just figured he couldn't we worse than the last guys), and swore he'd been to Philly and knew what he was getting himself into. He moved in July 1st and was PERFECT. Best roommate I've ever had. We were thrilled. He loved Philly, he was clean, it was great. Then one day at the end of July he came downstairs and said,

"Uh hey guys! Um... my unemployment got cut and I don't have a job, so uhhh... I'm moving in with my parents (in Seattle). Sorry!"

On August 2nd he gave me a rent check then left in the middle of the night, his room still full of his things. As he stood in my doorway waiting for his cab out of town, he told me that he wasn't even sure he was moving out but he would call in a couple of days (after he went to court to try to get his unemployment back) to let me know. He said if we found a roommate, cool, but if not, maybe living with us would work out. He said that of course he would send us money for bills for the month he'd lived with us as soon as he got home. In return, I told him that if/as soon as we found a roommate I'd send his money back to him for every day the roommate lived with us. We agreed that him paying for August was fair (since 2 days notice is not, nor is staying into the month and not paying), and that us finding a roommate as fast a possible and refunding him was also fair (since he was a nice guy, a good roommate, yada yada yada.)

The next day I got a text from him saying not to cash the check because he needed to deposit money. Since he was traveling I didn't think anything of it. Then he texted me AGAIN the next day not to deposit it (and rent was due) which is why when my phone was buzzing in Manhattan and it was a Seattle number, I answered. But it wasn't Jon's voice on the other line. It was a woman.

Now I want you to brace yourself for this next part. It's unbelievable. This nice, 25 year old guy who had left my house smiling, apologizing, and saying he may move back in, had his Mother call me. And this is what she said,

"Yeah hiiiii, this Jon's Mom. I put a stop on that check he gave you. I think you're taking advantage of my son."

Now for those you who know me, you'll know how the next part went down. For those who don't, let's just say I laid into her and within minutes had her tripping over her ill-thought out words. When I asked why SHE was calling me instead of HIM, she said, "Well, he's just very stressed out about all of this." (Awww poor little guy.) At the end she decided that she would give us half the rent and "2 weeks notice." I asked when we should expect the money in our paypal account since rent is due, and she said, "Oh, well that's Jon's responsibility."

What a big boy! He may have his Mommy call but pays his rent all by himself! What a good Mom making him take responsibility for himself at the age of 25!

Act two: "I wanna talk to you"

Infuriated, Dave and I marched on toward the bargain district grumbling to each other about cutting umbilical chords and never living with roommates again and what the hell is wrong with people and blahblahblah and then Dave stopped, looked around, and said, "Does any of this look familiar?"

We realized that in our anger we had walked right by our turn. So Dave pulled out his his trusty iphone, checked google maps, and we walked the two blocks back to the street we'd missed. But we didn't make it to our turn on 1st Avenue because one block in we were attacked by two gigantic dudes.

Here's how it happened:

We were walking and two muscle-bound shaved-headed tattooed dudes approached us. One in front of us, one behind. They were in NY Mets shirts and jeans. The dude in front walked between Dave and I and said to Dave, "Hey bro, I wanna talk to you."

Now we live in Philly. Here, when two dudes try to separate you from your friend and get you to "stop and talk" it means you are about to get robbed. And if this happens you get away as fast you can, avoid talking, avoid eye contact, just GO. So, Dave and I (without communicating this to each other) both assumed these dudes (one of whom was like, no joke, 3 times my size- he'll be known as 3Xme from now on) were trying to rob us. So Dave declined his invitation to chat, I waved my hand dismissively, and we kept walking. This didn't go over well.

The dude (The Dude from now on) turned and got in front of Dave and said again, louder, "I want to to talk to you, bro!", and Dave declined the invite, again, and tried to push the guy aside. (The Dude had walked in between us, shoulder checking Dave as he spoke and staying close to him as we walked, so the push wasn't unjustified.) With the push however, 3Xme came out of nowhere and lunged at Dave, and seconds later The Dude was on Dave too.They pulled him around and to me, since I was panicking, it looked like a slow-motion wrestling match. Dave tried to get away, pulling and struggling against them both, while I focused my efforts on The Dude (the smaller of the two,) trying to push him off the man I love. The Dude screamed at me while 3Xme screamed at Dave and, since I'm not exactly a warrior, I got out of the wrestling match and went for my phone to call 911.The Dude came at me and screamed for me not to move, and then terrified (he was big) and feeling totally out of options (and I am not,) I started crying. Then 3Xme screamed at Dave that he was going to mace him, and that's when Dave and I both realized:

These guys were cops.

Seems strange, doesn't it, that they failed to mention that?

If they had, we would have stopped to talk. If they had, we wouldn't be pushing them and trying to get away. If they had, I wouldn't be trying to call 911 to try to get the COPS to come stop these guys from robbing us.
They made Dave and I stand against the wall with our hands out, and I started going into shock (since I had thought we were being attacked in daylight by 2 thugs, then realized we were being attacked by obviously crooked cops which was way, way scarier.) We asked over and over why we were being stopped and they wouldn't tell us, instead asking us over and over what we were doing, and despite us telling them that we had just eaten Indian food and were heading to buy my sister a sweet 16 birthday present but got lost because we're from Philly, they asked again and again. (Me: "We walked 2 blocks too far, *sniff* and we checked google maps on his iphone, and... and.. *sniffle sob sniffle* then we turned back the right wayyyyyy!!! We ate some dosas and we're, we're... *sniff* getting my sister a present... she's *sob* turning 16 this weekeeeeend..*sob*")

After a long round-about questioning that felt like an Abbott and Costello skit ("Where are you going?" "1st Avenue" "Well 1st Ave is that way" "Yes that's why we were going that way" "So why were you going that way?" "Because 1st Ave is that way" "Where are you going?!?!"), and after the cops got angry at me for being so upset (!!), and one cop berated the other for not telling us they were cops (which they finally understood that we didn't know after we responded to "Why were you trying to get away??!!" for the hundredth time with, "WE THOUGHT YOU WERE MUGGING US!"), then immediately blamed us for not knowing they were cops ( "You didn't you see our badges?" "No, you were attacking us."- their badges, by the way, were dangling at the end of a chain hanging around their necks which were either obscured completely or swinging wildly when they grabbed us. I'd see an anklet about as well,) and their back-up came, and they ran our ID's, and they searched Dave ("What did you throw in the trash can, huh?" "What trash can?! What?!"), and they tired of trying to get us to admit we knew we were in a drug area ("We live in Philly! We don't even know where we are! We got lost! Like we keep telling you! Iphones! Googlemaps!"), they came over and said,

"We stopped you because we observed you walking down the street, stopping, and coming back the other way. That's suspicious."

Then they shook our hands (?!), The Dude looked at Dave and said, "You can console her now.", and they left.

Now, I've been in some upsetting situations in my time (someone tried to use me as a human shield in a drive-by, for example) but I have NEVER been that terrified in all of my life.

I know we should have got their badge numbers but I was in no position to ask (since I was a blubbering mess) and Dave was so busy consoling me (thanks for the go-ahead, assholes) that we just let them leave.

But I was thinking. If I carried a weapon, which is something I've been meaning to do, I would have used it on them. I had no fucking idea they were cops, they just looked like random thugs attacking my boyfriend. I really hate to think what would have happened if I had tazed The Dude, or pulled a gun on 3Xme. I'll tell you one thing, we certainly wouldn't have made it to Brooklyn for vegan cheesecake...


Seconds after 3xme and The Dude left us

Act 1, scene 2: Outed assholes

After Jon's Mom made sure he sent us the half a month of rent (leaving us to scramble to cover the other half with about 6 hours notice), we asked him about the bill money. He promised to send it right away. When it didn't come, we asked again. He said he would send it right away. When it didn't come AGAIN, we asked AGAIN. He gave us the same story, and of course, nothing came. Then, sitting in the back resting my tired feet during This Is Hardcore, good ol' Jon popped into my head and I sent him the following text:

"Last text you're getting from us. Are you paying your share of bills or are you fucking us over? If you don't respond I'll assume the latter, and spread the word."

The next day I got an amazing response, via email.

"Hey Davin, I lost my phone a few days back and just wanted to let you know the money should be in there by today."

What remarkable timing huh? That he felt compelled to email me the day after I texted his lost phone threatening to out him as an asshole to the world?

More remarkable yet is that he still didn't pay. Not for another week and half. Not until TODAY. I would respond to his emails with "NO MONEY YET," he'd respond, "Today I promise!" and as I knew I could rely on, his word was unreliable.

Paid or not, it doesn't matter. I'm writing this because I spent weeks struggling because of this schmuck. I had to borrow money to cover him. I stressed constantly that he wasn't going to pay. I'm writing this because someone who leaves in the middle of the night with a smile on their face while handing you a (for all intents and purposes) fake check to cover their responsibilities, leaving their room full of things (for you to clean out), trying their damnedest to dodge their share of bills (which is basically telling you that they feel YOU should be the one to go to work for 8 hours and come home exhausted to cover them and they should have to do nothing), is a god damn asshole. And a grown man who has his Mommy call his roommate is pathetic. And someone who doesn't answer their "lost phone" (which is miraculously still on after being lost for over a week) is a coward. And someone who continuously lies to people who have been nothing but nice to him is despicable. And, Jon, that's you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Drive this 7" wooden paint brush through my Philadelphia heart

The year was 1997. I was a 15 year old hardcore kid living in Polyglot flyer-plastered room in rural Maine with nothing but a small and dear record, tape, and zine collection connecting me to the outside world of what was then called the "hardcore community". Through various means, including but not limited to a hardcore radio show from New Hampshire that I picked up once a week by holding my boom box's antennae at just the right angle, zines I picked up at the shows I could convince my Dad to drive me to ("... it's only 45 minutes away Dad and BLOOD FOR BLOOD is plaaaaaying! Pleeeeease??!?!"), the bands who toured up to Maine (Blood For Blood, Hatebreed, and 25 Ta Life mainly), and most importantly my Very Distribution catalog, I learned about new music.

This is how it went: Once a week I would hear new bands on the radio. I would write down the names of those I liked on my "to order" list. If I went to see a band I dug and they shouted out a band I'd never heard, I'd also add them to the list. (For example, I can thank 25 Ta Life for introducing me to Warzone through endless "As One" covers.) And lastly, I would read through my Very Distribution catalog, highlighting any band that sounded interesting (using various colors of highlighter to signify my varying level of interest) and throw them on the list, too. Then I would comb the streets for cans to return for a deposit, or wait for a holiday to get a little money and then make the huge and arduous decision of which of my listed and highlighted bands would get ordered. 

There were always oh-so-many bands described as "heavy", "metallic", and "straight edge" (instantly earning them a yellow highlight), and I had been burned several times by betting on the wrong record (Plagued With Rage's 7", for example), so I ordered carefully. On one particular ordering spree in '97, Ink and Dagger's "Drive This Seven Inch Wooden Stake Through My Philadelphia Heart" had piqued my interest with its odd title, made the cut, and arrived at my little home in the middle of nowhere... just in the nick of time.

All of us have bands that represent pivotal moments in our lives. For me everything is always politics, that's just the way I am (and maybe why I've always loved Feminism so much- "the personal is political"), so my "important" bands are those that led me down a more resistant path. (I guess you could call it "the path of resistance"... heyo!) Ten Yard Fight pulled me out of drug and alcohol addiction, One King Down led me to veganism, Boy Sets Fire made me see the connection between animal and human suffering, Trial reminded me that hardcore could be a place for intelligent (radical) ideas, 25 Ta Life (hate all you want) made me realize that for angry, poor, ripped-off kids like me there could be "strength through unity", but there was still an element missing for me in hardcore. Something punk rock (a scene I never felt was mine) had that we didn't. A lawless side.

Hardcore was very by-the-rules. It was a particular band playing a particular sub-genre singing about a particular selection of regurgitated (but somehow never tiring) topics. Tough guy bands sung about fighting and hardship. Straight edge bands sung about drugs and sell outs. Emo bands whined. Political bands sung about politics. It was like a corn field planted in straight lines. Very few surprises. I was ok with that. I was like an Idahoan. I liked livin' in the corn. But sometimes you need a little adventure in farm life. And so entered Ink and Dagger, the band that left corpse-painted crop circles in the neatly growing ideas I had of what hardcore was.

From "Drive This Seven Inch Wooden Stake Through My Philadelphia Heart":
You are now able to do whatever you want, because you are in control of your energy, and feel free to expand and manipulate that energy into positive accomplishments. Being the new vampires, we wield our thirst for "energy" (blood) into a weapon that sees no boundaries aside from the total obliteration of the old mindsets handed down from the Gods Of Punk long ago. The new vampires set our own traditions. We have emancipated you from these chains of mortaldom. Punk is about doing whatever you want, therefor we wish you, the new vampires, to take personal meaning to this, and build upon your powers every single day.
That was it. Ink and Dagger represented the creativity I craved. They were the unselfconscious boundary pushers I needed. That I felt we all needed. They became a band so meaningful to me that I carried their 7" in my backpack all the time. I would pour over the lyrics, over those words above, and I would feel connected to and inspired by the hardcore community which I saw now as whole and rounded.

Being from Maine I never got see Ink and Dagger. When the singer died, I thought I never would. Then the line up of This Is Hardcore was announced and who was on it, but them. And not for money like so many bands (cough BOLD cough) but as a fundraiser to help a friend (good ol' "hardcore community"), which is something I could respect. And get way fucking excited over.

I do not make very much money so I don't have much to give, but I wanted to do something to honor the band I love so much. Then I thought... gee what can a face painter do for a band that used to play with their faces painted in corpse paint? Hmmmm maybe... paint faces?

So I made a plan to paint every Ink and Dagger fan at the fest in corpse paint before their set, worked it all out with the dude who set up the fest, and the morning of Ink and Dagger's set I rolled out bed, packed my brushes and my paints, and rode over to the Starlight Ballroom.

I set up my little corpse painting station at the front of the venue before Ink and Dagger's set. My friend Martine went to round up some "new vampires" for me, and much to my surprise they came. In droves. In fact the line for Ink and Dagger corpse painting became so long that Martine had to help out and we only did maybe half of the people who were there before we ran out of time. She whited faces, and I blacked them. We moved so fast I barely had time to think about how extraordinary what we were a part of was. But then I painted this one dude, and I did.

As I blacked and whited him we chatted about our love of Ink and Dagger. He seemed to get a little choked up, which confused me, until he told me that the old singer of Ink and Dagger (Sean) was a friend of his. I stopped painting and, still holding his face in my hand, expressed my sympathy for his loss. I continued to blacken his eyes as he told me how he and Sean met, what an influence Sean has been on him, and how he was getting his face painted to honor both the band and his old friend. I painted in silence for awhile, taking in the depth of what was transpiring, and then he broke my thought with, "Sean would really like this, that you're doing this. He would."

I had a sad but, for lack of a better word to describe it, kind of special moment then where I felt connected to a guy I never met and a band I never saw who had, despite the distance, helped shape a scene for me that had helped shape my life. 13 years later in an absurd hypo-allergenic theatrical way, I was able to give something back, to contribute to the immortality of the band that tried to give us immortality.

I painted my own face and jogged through the crowd to get near the stage. Their set started with an explosion of sound and light. The strobe lit up the white faces around me, I watched them stage dive and scream and throw their arms around each other in a camaraderie I rarely witness anymore. As I climbed up some one's back and crawled and rolled my way over the heads of the crowd in a desperate attempted to sing ANY of "The Road To Hell" into the mic, the world flipped and spun around me, the multicolored lights flashed and glowed, and I felt the wet spray of fake blood on my face I thought,

We wield our thirst for "energy" (blood) into a weapon that sees no boundaries aside from the total obliteration of the old mindsets handed down from the Gods Of Punk long ago. The new vampires set our own traditions.

I fell back into the crowd, into the corn field, and looked up in admiration through what seemed like the haze emanated from a freshly landed space ship, and stood amongst the new vampires in the circles that Ink and Dagger had cleared for us.

Thank you Joe, Ink and Dagger, and the hardcore community for a fantastic night.



(photos below from nikki sneakers)
the corpse paint assembly line (me above center, martine in the right hand corner, me below)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

BDAY IRL

"Do you get good reception?"

Aging Acid (a birthday post)

I was 19 years old and sitting on a bench in Richmond, Virginia when an old man came over to talk at me.  I say "at" rather than "to" because he was one of those babbling old guys that hangs out on streets all over America... you know, the kind that use their verbal diarrhea to inspire guilt and annoy people into handing over their pocket change.

I was enjoying some time alone (which is how I enjoy most of my time), book in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other, and the sun shinin' down. It was lovely. I have no idea what exactly the man said to me but it was something along the the lines of ,"Whatya doin', baby?" and decidedly not lovely.

Without looking up, I lifted my nose ever-so-slightly from the pages and said "Reading." Somehow, he took this snubbing as an invitation to pitch me his (probably fabricated) story, which didn't call for the usual cash donation but rather the other thing that these street-yackers always want: a chat with "a young pretty thang."

I remember finding the accusation of being "pretty" "young" and a "thang" incredibly amusing because behind the eyes he was attempting to gaze into was nothing but a pit of boiling acid encased in a bitter old soul, and was, by no means, a thang. I felt momentary pity him having gotten that far into his life yet still being unable to identify a terrible witch like me. I tried to take this pity out for a stroll, but he was right... I was young and I had not honed that skill yet. So I put down the book, looked over at him for the first time and said, "I'd like you to get up and walk away. I want to be alone." He stood up silently and looked me from my big toe to my cow lick as if he had never seen such a foul woman in his life and said as walked away,

"Girl, you'll always be alone."

Today is my birthday. I'm 28. I've spent the last 10 years as an adult and for the last week I've been reflecting on those years. Overall it's been a pretty stellar decade, but it seems that I have not refined myself much in certain situations (like when I'm annoyed, which is frequently.) I've been wondering if I should work on that. But despite my acidity, I'm completely optimistic, generally happy, and usually caring. And I'm older now, my pity and empathy for other human beings take strolls all the time.

However there are still times much like my day on the bench where I bubble and boil and seethe. Take yesterday at work for example.

A man asked me where the McDonald's was located. I told him that it was just on the other side of the (not very big) building. He asked me how far that was. I told him I didn't know (because I don't.) Then he got angry because he thought, apparently, that I was withholding the precise distance from where he was standing to the McDonald's. So he asked me again, this time rewording it as, "You don't know?!"  And that's where my caring, happy and optimistic nature moved to the back burner.

"What kind of question is that?!" I asked.
 
He stared at me, slack jawed and agitated.
 
"You want me to guess?! Ok. It's 180 paces down that hallway." I pointed down the hallway next to me.

He threw his arms up in furious exasperation and stormed down the hall.

A few minutes later, a man walked back by me stuffing a hamburger into his mouth. As he passed me with his trap stuffed with mystery meat, he mumbled something. At first I thought it was a greeting so I smiled and said hello. He gave me a look that made me think I had just acted wrongly, and then I realized that he was the McDonald's guy from moments before.

He repeated himself, bits of food flying out of his mouth.

"Too many faces."

Too many faces? What could that mean? Then I thought he must have meant me. I'm two faced. I'm a dickhead giving shitty directions with a sarcastic smirk one second, and a smiling sales-girl the next. And he was right. I shouldn't be so cruel, I shouldn't shut people down, I shouldn't...

He repeated himself one last time as he neared the end of my counter, hamburger an inch from his face, bits of bun stuck all over his lips,

"Too many paces."

And then I thought something else. Whether that meant I had overestimated the paces to McDonald's or that he had felt there were too many to make it worth his pacing over there, that man was a fucking shithead. And I was two faced, but that because there are two kinds of people in this world. Motherfuckers who harass you while you're reading on benches or while you're at work, and those kind, understanding people who don't expect you to measure distances in case they someday might want to traverse them and who know that sometimes, you just want to be left the fuck alone.

So here's to another 10 years of multi-faced solitude.

Friday, July 9, 2010

mental traffic

I look and feel like shit. I'm on my period. My jawline is dotted with zits so big I feel like my face spent a night as a foot in an ill-fitting shoe and in consequence my jaw (the heel of the head) is now covered in blisters. I'm wearing blood-stained Blood Stands Still mesh shorts and a tattered old wife beater and i'm not even being intentionally ironic. My hair is growing out into an unflattering shag and has been bleached by the sun into an extremely unnatural shade of orange, which I'll tell you, is not my color. Anyway, on to other things...

Kingdom (my band) is doing shit again! After taking winter/spring off we got off our asses and wrote some new songs. We're recording at the beginning of August. Writing lyrics is taking its usual toll- I'm stressed out, having trouble sleeping, and am hovering closer to depression than I ever have before. When I write lyrics I let myself get swallowed up by the topics I'm handling, and since I mostly write about the horrendous oppression and exploitation that takes place on this planet, it's, to put it lightly, a fucking bummer.

For example: in the new record there's going to be a song about human trafficking. This is something I knew a bit about before but it wasn't until I started reading up and watching documentaries and news clips that I realized the breadth and gravity of the situation. Now it's all I can think about. I have nightmares almost every night that I am being trafficked, and it's so horrible I wake up feeling sick. I'm so upset, so overwhelmed, so... horrified that I don't know what to do. Dave has stopped me twice in the last week from detailing yet another trafficking horror story to him because, for some reason, he thinks it's not good dinner talk. The other day I was at a restaurant watching a film on sex trafficking  on my laptop and I had to pause it so I could throw up. I literally fucking threw up. (Lesson learned. Food + learning about or educating others on human trafficking do not mix.)

I get caught in the cycle of outrage-into-frenzy-into-overload-into-hopelessness and back into outrage every day. (Which is exhausting.) My Grandmother told me to take it easy on myself, and I asked her how I could when just last week there was a trafficking bust in Philly. 30 people (trafficked from other countries) were "kept in virtual bondage by threats, intimidation and rape" working 16 hour shifts for a cleaning business for the last 7 years. (Quote from this article about the bust.) I can't take it easy. Or rather, I am taking it easy by the little I'm doing. What I really want to is bust down doors and liberate people myself. Anyway... take 10 minutes and check out Free The Slaves and Transitions Global (a very cool aftercare program for sex traffic victims in Cambodia), read up, watch a couple videos, and lose your mind.

Dave and I may be leaving Philly this fall. I've been here a long time and I love this city, but I think it's starting to change who I am in a negative way. I'd been thinking I needed a break for awhile, then on the 4th of July when I flinched at every fire work because I thought it was a gun shot, then noticed people around me do the same, then heard numerous people say, "Shit! I thought those were shots!", I realized I absolutely need a break. So we may be moving to NYC (which is actually far safer than Philly.) I texted one of my friends in Brooklyn the other day to talk about his neighborhood and asked if he heard gunshots every night, or saw people getting beat up on the street on a regular basis, and if, in general, he'd call his area "chill". He said, "I haven't been in a fight in 3 years." and coming from him, that means a lot. So we'll see...

And on that note, while people scream and curse outside my window at 1:30 am (as usual), I'm off to bed.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Glamour shark

"Sorry Dave, I'll be ready in a second...", I shouted from my room as I tore off my usual black jeans and black tank top.

(10 minutes later)

"Sorry Dave, just one... more... sec..."

He sat reading next to me while I checked myself out in my 4th dress of the hour- a shimmery deep gold vintage number paired with a pale gold satin belt. But I don't know much about pairing, or matching, or color (even varying hues) so I dove back into the closet.

(10 minutes later)

"WHY DOES NOTHING LOOK RIGHT ON ME?!"

(5 minutes later)

"Ugh, I'll just wear this."

We hopped on our bikes and went on our way. In the end I managed to ditch the jeans, sporting a high-waisted blue skirt with bronze buttons, but since that was already something beyond my uniform I didn't see the point in pushing it... I matched it with my usual black tank top. The wind blew my skirt and tousled my hair as I rode, the sun reflected off my rhinestoned sunglasses and left me feeling like a lady from more glamorous era. ("Dahling, don't you just looooove riding bicycles?")

Riding down 7th street, I watched the rays of sunlight that filtered through the trees shift along the pavement like scales of fish shimmering under water. I glided onward toward Whole Foods slow and steady like a sting ray. It was a beautiful day with my loved one. Blue skies, calm seas. Then suddenly everything was white.

This was because I was crashing into a white SUV door that had been opened before me just seconds before.

I and my fabulous blue skirt flew through the air then lay crumpled in a heap on the street. I may have hit the ground in a new outfit, but I jumped up seconds later wearing something far more familiar: fury. I lunged at the man who opened the door. I screamed and I closed in, disregarding his every word with a precision of speech that I find only in anger. His only response was to apologize and ask if I was ok, over and over and over. It was infuriating. These were not concepts I cared for nor questions I thought important to answer. My mouth snapped open and shut hurling hateful words beyond what was necessary. I was a shark trying to engage another shark in battle, my jaws putting on a show of power, spitting out bait for the other shark to bite. And one bite... one word... but he just kept apologizing.

In the middle of my jaw-show Dave, without moving his eyes from my hand (which was holding my hurt shoulder), piped in with a distracted "You should.. look..." directed vaguely in the guy with the white door's direction. It sounded silly to me. The guy behind the white door agreed ("Yes, I should have looked!!"), and stared at me and my shoulder with the same concern that Dave did. They were both silly. Why was everyone such a wuss? Why was no one yelling with me?

Out of ideas of what to do with my one-sided fury I looked at the shark-man, evaluating my opponent. There was nothing but worry and shock in his eyes. No burning rage. No attitude. Nothing I could I fight, nothing I could resent. He asked again if I was ok and I realized that I wasn't really sure, I hadn't even checked. Really hadn't seemed like a priority.

I fell silent, looked at my shoulder (a little road rash, a bit of my tattoo eaten away), the dirt stuck in my palm, the bike grease on my pretty blue skirt. And then I started to cry. Like a lady from another era. ("My beaut-i-ful skirt is ruined!" *whimper, sniffle*)

I sulked off with tears streaming down my cheeks without another word to the man with the white door. Dave put his arm around me and down the we block inspected my (minor) wounds.

Dave had been so distracted by my (potential) injuries that hadn't joined the shark fight. And the man with the white door had been so busy trying to accept responsibility for his mistake that he didn't join either. I was a lone-shark, a shark with out cause, an angry shark who'd been fighting predators for so long that she herself she'd become one.

People make mistakes. And sometimes they feel terrible about them, apologize, try to make amends, try to right the wrong. This is an excellent way to be. And so few people are like this, that I forget anyone is at all. So I approach every mistake the same, just like I approach getting dressed each morning the same. Black jeans, a  black tank top, and if mistakes are made, pure, unadulterated rage. But sometimes people are genuinely good, I wear a blue skirt, pair it with wrong attitude and find myself a shark out of water.

Which is where I really need to find myself more often.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Caricatures

Dave and I were sitting on the edge of my bed eating dinner and watching Breaking Bad when a gunshot rang out so loud and clear that it sounded as if it had been shot from our stoop. We both jumped to floor as a second shot answered the first, trying not to spill our rice noodles into our laps. Without discussing it, we finished the episode without getting up.

A couple months ago I noticed a bullet hole in my bedroom window. The shot had come in, not gone out. 'Round these parts you hear stories all the time about people catching bullets in their guts while sitting in their living rooms. A drive by, someone running and shooting (shots tend not to be very accurate that way), or the ever-present shoot-in-the-air-because-a-Philly-team-is-playing-and/or-it's-a-holiday stray bullets. This doesn't do much for putting one at ease in their bullet-hole speckled house.

Last week I was taking the train to New Jersey to visit a friend. I had just come from work (where people chew me out all day for asking them politely to wait in line. Example. Me: "Excuse me, would you mind waiting in line please? It just gets too crowded around the entrance if we don't have a line.Thank you!" Them: "Fuck you! I'm not in no one's way! I'm just looking! You're telling me I can't LOOK? You're unbelievable! You're gonna hear about this! Screw you!"), and I was purchasing my ticket at the ticket machine. A loud group of people came in screaming at anyone who would listen about how they FUCKING NEED TO KNOW WHERE GET A FUCKING TICKET and HOW THE FUCK MUCH IT COST and WHERE THE FUCK WE GET ON and blah blah etc etc.

Next to me an entire wall was plastered with a route-map which was also in miniature on the machine I was using. One of the guys from the group came over to me, still yelling back at his friends, and started touching the map that was inches from my face, totally ignoring the one that wasn't in my personal space.

"Yo dude, there's a bigger map right there." I pointed at the wall beside me.

"Yeaaaaah but I'm lookin at dis one." He said as he sized me up.

"Well I'm using this machine right now." I said, trying to maintain civility.

"YEAH WELL I NEED TO KNOW WHERE THE FUCKING TRAIN GO!"

Civility abandoned.

"YEAH WELL I DON'T WANT YOU IN MY FUCKING FACE SO FUCKING TAKE A STEP BACK!"

At this point I had turned to face him. I just dealt with a face painting line. This dude, however tough he was, was chump change to me. This feeling was obviously apparent in my tone or my body language because he quieted down. There's a lot to be said for size verses determination. (Determination usually wins.) We exchanged a few more (much quieter, but still unpleasant) words and I went on my way, uneasy as usual.

A few days ago I was sitting where I am right now, at my mustard-colored desk typing away on my netbook, when what sounded like a shoot out started happening. I hopped off my chair and sat on the floor, wondering if I should lay down, checking where my head was in proximity to the window. As shot after shot echoed down my block, I curled up with Ella (who had been napping at my feet.)

Yesterday I was attempting to come home from work. I was already 30 minutes into my wait for the bus (which never came), standing on the median on Girard Ave (not an ideal place to stand around), trying to sort out something frustrating on the phone with my roommate, when a guy on motorcycle to my right yelled something at me. Thinking he may need directions, I turned and shot him a questioning look. He shouted something about my tattoos. I was obviously deep in conversation, I had been pacing and gesticulating, and this guy thought that I would be willing to stop a call that I was so deeply involved in to answer his stupid fucking question about my tattoos?

Exasperated, I sighed and rolled my eyes, and started to walk away. Once my back was turned, he yelled, "Don't you (wompwompwomp) me!" I didn't catch what he said but the fact that it he sounded irritated with me (HIM irritated with ME!) and that he had spoken to MY BACK fucking infuriated me. I excused myself momentarily from my call , walked over to the dude on the motorcycle and said, "WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY TO ME?"

From there, all I can tell you is that I made a scene. In the street. Blocking traffic. Screaming, cursing, neck tendons bulging. Right as I thought, "I'm going to push this guy off his bike right now", he zoomed away, shouting his last idiotic word over his shoulder at me.

I got back on the phone to deal with my roommate, who had undoubtedly overheard that entire "conversation",  who said that mayyyybe we should talk in person later (why would he suggest that? I was being totally rational!) and I got off the phone with him, burst into tears, and grabbed a cab.

You develop a method being uneasy all the time, a way to make being unsafe feel kind of safe for you. It's more than just developing an instant diving reaction to loud noises. It's almost like you have to become a caricature of yourself. Your lessor points get blown out of proportion and you use those as a shield. So if you're naturally shy, you walk like a ghost down the streets, invisible. Or a mouse, scurrying in a panic, eyes darting around watching for cats. Or if you're like me (impatient, react without thinking things through, irritable) then you become a screaming lunatic who diffuses situations by escalating them to comic proportions, and I guess that's fine. I mean, it is what it is. We all gotta find a way to cope, right?

My problem is that I feel like my caricature and my undistorted self are starting to blur together indistinguishably. I mean, it makes sense to me that when someone interrupts me and gives me a slight attitude because I blew them off, that the reasonable reaction is to run into the street and try to push them over. I can't even think of another way to deal with that. And I'm having trouble understanding why getting in a guy's face and calling him idiot when he's with a bunch of angry thuggish friends and we're the only ones in the subway station isn't the best idea. What was I supposed to do? Ignore him?

I always liked how abrasive this city is. But, as yesterday demonstrates, it's taking it's toll on me. I can't imagine living anywhere else, but I can't begin to fathom staying.

In conclusion, I need a vacation.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Dainty little death dealers

So a few months ago a friend of mine got mugged in my neighborhood. She's 5 foot 1, 100 pounds wet, and about as intimidating as a newborn kitten. Walking home from Acme (the local supermarket) at 8 pm, two guys walked past her. For some reason they seemed sketchy to her, but when she looked back and saw they were walking away, chatting, and generally not giving a damn about her, she felt silly. Who doesn't look sketchy in this city? Shouldn't she know better?

Then she heard coins fall at her feet. Assuming they fell from her pocket, she bent over to pick them up. When she straightened herself she found one of the two guys waving a gun in her face, screaming, "I'm gonna blow your head off! I'm gonna blow your head off!"

And she said, and I quote,

"Are you serious."

An hour later and down her favorite (cashless) wallet and a bag of oranges, she told a cop what happened. Of course this wasn't the first time for her, she's always getting robbed. Newborn kittens are an easy target I guess. When she finished giving her account of the events the cops gave her some advice on staying safe in the city. He told her to get a gun.

I've considered getting a gun. I've considered becoming a dentist, getting facial tattoos, and moving to the Louisiana swamp, too. I've got my reasons for each. As for being a dentist, I've got a steady hand, a love of dental hygiene, and other people's mouths just don't creep me out. Facial tattoos I'd get because occasionally I'm an idiot. And the swamp, well that's obvious. It's the only way I'd become an expert on "'gaters", cooking gumbo, and playing banjo.

And as for the gun, my life contains all the necessary components that drive one to gun ownership. Stalkers who know no limits? Check. Threats made on my life? Check. Living in the middle of a city with one of the highest murder rates in America? Check.

But my friend who got mugged and I agree on reasons why we should not own guns. What the hell good would guns do us when it would take someone less than a second to overpower us?  Why would we get guns just we could then get shot by them? And did you know that like half the time the guns you (you the reader, you that dumb cop, you whoever) get robbed with are either not real or not loaded? And that said, what the hell sense does it make to add real, loaded guns to an otherwise airsoft robbery?

None.

Or at least I thought so until I watched Men In Black the other day. Turns out they make guns as tiny as the one Will Smith handles in the majority of the movie. Real, death-dealing, dainty little guns... just perfect for a threatened, city dwelling, dainty little girl like me. Oh hell yeah.

I played around with this idea for a couple days, imagining scenes where I got mugged by people who didn't realize I have a tiny gun, and I'm mad dangerous.

I'm on Tasker St, walking home with my bag of groceries.

"I'm gonna blow your fucking head off!"

"No way I totally have that little gun from Men In Black, motherfucker!!"

"Give me your bag of oranges from Acme!"

"No way dude! Eat lead!"

KAPOOOW! Green goo everywhere. (Obviously an alien.) Justice served.

This idea amused me. Or at least it did until I was at work, talking to some 6 foot 5 built-like-a-Roman-statue guy about weapons. I mentioned the MIB gun and he told me that I should sooooo totally get one ("they're so feminine and manageable!"), then all about his guns. Of which there were many. Like, enough to fill an arsenal.

I asked if he had seen the movie Tremors. I hate to be one of those people who references TV and movies in real life but it was appropriate. I explained the basic premise of Tremors (giant human-eating worms chowing down on a small town) and asked if, like the character with an arsenal which came in oh-so handy with worm-shooting, he was collecting all those guns just in case something like that went down. "I'm serious, are you afraid of giant, carnivorous worms? Come on man.What on earth do you need all those guns for?"

He told me, plainly, "To shoot people."

 I laughed, "Ahhhh 'to shoot people', of course! And how many people are you shooting in this fair city, may I ask?"

"So far, 3. I only killed 1 though. Actually, he was in your neighborhood...."

Uhhh.

The guy told me the stories behind each shooting (2 getting mugged, 1 in a drive by), and he was matter-of-fact, detached, and cold. It was survival he said, and I believed him. And that scared me. ("... he laid there in a pool of his own blood...") That shit was not an abstract green goo alien bust up. It was like, near where I sleep, and red, bleeding, and dying.

So far there have been over 100 murders in Philadelphia this year. A couple years ago the city was almost declared in a state of emergency because, put simply, it was warzone. In fact there are more Americans getting murdered every year in Philly than dying in Iraq. (In 2008 314 Americans died in Iraq, and 333 died in Philly. In 2009 149 died in Iraq and 305 died in Philly.*) It's scary.

...And so are stalkers. And death threats. But more than anything the streets my life take place on terrify me. Because you can almost lose your head over a wallet with no money and a bag of oranges. Because as much as I can beat with the rhythm of this town ain't shit can beat after it's been shot. However, I'd rather face that fear and that reality than face getting to a point where I could be speak so flippantly about taking some one's life. That's just me. I understand the harsh reality of becoming harsh, but I can't (and won't) do it. Maybe I'm just a hippy.

Instead of getting a dainty little gun, I'll just keep doing my best to avoid the wrong moments. And when I can't, I'll try to keep my wits about me. And I'll get some pepper spray. And maybe a taser. Which I'll now relate to a movie, because I'm one of those people...

"...scuse me, I'd like to get by now..."

*statistics taken from icasualties and The Philadelphia Inquirer

Friday, May 28, 2010

Esscape

I was sitting in the Planned Parenthood waiting room. A toddler was screaming and thrashing (which he had been doing the entire hour I'd been there...), the air conditioning wasn't on, and I had brought nothing to read. Misery is a low income clinic in a city. It doesn't matter what they specialize in, they're all the same. Desperate, angry places where you stop feeling bad for the poor and the sick because they are breathing your stale air, because they're somehow in line ahead of you even though your appointment was 2 hours ago, because they can't afford a sitter and you're feel like you'd rather go deaf than hear another minute of their baby crying. And I'm sure my natural deodorant that works only half the time and my solo in the choir of "do you know how long I'll be waiting?"s only added to the atmosphere of aggravation. There're no angels in hell.

But there was a redeeming moment of my stay in the padded mauve chair. Like a single white hair sparing a black cat during the days of the witch hunts (where pure black cats were burned alive), my visit found redemption in a sign that read, "Non surgical sterilization- Essure." Non surgical? As in no needles AND no babies? Whaaaaa?

When I got home I went to the Essure webpage to see if it could really be all I hoped.


"Essure procedure does not require cutting into the body or the use of radiofrequency energy to burn the fallopian tubes. Instead, an Essure trained doctor inserts soft, flexible inserts through the body’s natural pathways (vagina, cervix, and uterus) and into your fallopian tubes. This gentle procedure can be performed in a doctor's office in less than 10 minutes."
Hallelujah.

As I've mentioned before, my disinterest and disgust in child bearing has been common knowledge in my family since I was about 3 years old. I almost had my tubes tied when I was 18, but right when I was going to apply a friend of mine had complications with her surgery and I got scared. I decided then that if I ever ended up with anyone long term, they would get sterilized since I couldn't (vasectomies are much less invasive surgeries than tubal ligations.) And why the hell was birth control left up to females anyway? We don't make pregnancies happen on our own. Yep, any boy I ended up with would get snipped. A-C-C-O-U-N-T-ibility. Hell yeah. (I was a budding feminist...)

I never dated anyone sterile. And I stopped resenting that it was left up to me. In fact the more I thought about getting sterilized, the better I felt about it. It was a fuzzy, all over sort of happy that I couldn't really pin down, until I called my Dad to tell him the good news.

"Dad! I just heard about a new non-surgical sterilization for women! I really hope it's something that would work for me. I want to rid myself of this burden."

That was it. The ability to host a baby in my innards was a burden. I never asked to be able to give life. Had I been given the choice I wouldn't have taken it. This "ability" makes me feel at odds with my own body. Like I have something that's a part of me that was meant for someone else. It's foreign and icky.

What I want isn't just to not have children because I'm using condoms or the pill or sleeping with someone who shoots blanks, but because I can't have children. Because I'm not made for it. Because that ain't me. I'm not breeder. It's more than just prevention, it's about my identity.

Even though my desire to be barren is old news, I wasn't sure how my Dad would take hearing it was becoming a possibility. This side of the family dies with me, maybe he secretly wanted a grand kid to carry on our name. In the pause before he responded to my "I was born into the wrong body" speech I was filled with doubt and guilt. Ending the family line. Being a girl that doesn't want to have a baby. Tisk tisk tisk, what kind of daughter are you?

But my Dad understands me totally and supports me fully.

"Well Dav that sounds perfect for you!"

It does. Well, it did anyway. Further research on Essure unearthed too many horror stories for my liking. So I'm back where I started. Fertile. And I have another appointment at Planned Parenthood coming up, which will now be even more agonizing. Not only must I deal with the abject gyno patients in that humid, florescent-lit cell, but also the Essure sign, tantalizing me with promises of freedom.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Postcards from Bali

So my friend Neal is a vegan chef. Long ago in a far away place he organized for Food Not Bombs, I organized for the Animal Defense League, and we met when our groups got together for National Meat-out Day. Somewhere between homemade veggie burgers and getting banned for life from a particular McDonald's, a friendship was born.

The first time I hung out with Neal he cooked for me- vegetables and olive oil on pasta. I was a ramen noodle and toast vegan at the time so this totally blew my mind. Garlic came in non-powdered form? Neal eventually taught me how to cook (thank god), but he also taught me to appreciate the art of food, which is something I'll be eternally grateful for, and something he has become quite good at. So good in fact that he just left his restaurant in NYC (Pure Food and Wine) to help open a restaurant in Bali.

See it?

So that's where he is now. Bali, Indonesia. He got there last week. And he's blogging about his stay- what he sees, and eats, and thinks. So far it's a great read, so if you've got the time check out...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hairy funny

As I stood in the window with my compact mirror raised in one hand and my tweezers poised in the other, the clouds parted and the sun shone through my window in an almost religious way, and I saw it. White as God's heavenly robes, there upon my head a single, 2 inch long, shimmering ivory-colored hair.

This first thing I thought was, "What the hell?! This is so unfair! Mom didn't get her first grey 'til she was 30... I'm fucking 27... and this is white, not grey.. are you kidding me?!" I stared at the hair for awhile, turning my head this way, then that, trying to see if the sun had deceived me. I thought maybe it was a cat hair since Ella is less a cat and more a sleeping cap. Or someone else's blond hair that had attached itself to my head and started growing. Or that an elongated piece of glitter was stuck to my scalp. But as I got a hold of it, I saw that what I had doubted was true. It was my own white hair, bursting forth from my own aging follicle.

Wow.

I considered embracing its presence, letting it grow, being fearlessly salt and pepper. But since it was just 1 hair and only the roots grown out from my last dye job were actually salty, I plucked it out. I sat on my bed and stared at it for a spell, thinking of what could have led me to this point at such a young age. Stress, poverty, touring in a hardcore band (more stress, more poverty.) I wanted to analyze those things, to wonder why they were they way they were, and if I should have done something different with my life (taken yoga, got a steadier job, stuck with metal) but I saw no point. No going back.

I used to love my Grammy's wrinkles because I knew they had formed from a life time of laughter. There was a beautiful story in her face. My face? Maybe not so beautiful but my story nonetheless. So what was adding a single hair to the tale, really? It was just another souvenir from the road.

I got up, walked across my room, and tucked the hair into the smallest of the nesting dolls I bought in Russia. I stared at it laying in the base of the doll for another few minutes, feeling older, feeling old, then I closed it up and went back to the window to finish my tweezing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

coin jewelry

Staying up late lurking Etsy lead me to these cut coin earrings/pendants. Unreal. So rad. (If you want, you can check more here.)


Friday, May 21, 2010

Summer hair

Compliments of Fringe Salon and my crappy webcam, I present you my spring-to-summer transformation.

This morning:
(I'm wearing a tube top, I'm not shirtless...)

This afternoon:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Surprises of all shapes and sizes



When I was 7 or 8, there was a toy that was aggressively marketed to little girls like me around the holidays called "Puppy Surprise." If you're not familiar, it consisted of a plush "mommy" dog ripe with a litter of puppies- but how many were inside her velcroed womb you didn't know until you opened her up. It could be anywhere from 3 to 5. They could be girls or boys. Mystery. Intrigue. Pink bows. Oh my.

At first I wasn't crazy about it. The mom dog's Pebbles-style top-of-the-head shitzu pony tail was unappealing and I wasn't really sure what I would do with her. Her face was made of hard plastic and what was the point of a stuffed animal that you couldn't cuddle?

Despite my disinterest in the toy itself, the jingle was whole different story. It was infectious in a way that only TV theme songs, commercials, and Disney tunes can be. It went, "...How many puppies are there inside? There could be 3, or 4, or 5! And they're all different! Surprise! Surprise! It's Puppy Surprise!" and after maybe 1 viewing lodged itself in my mind's turntable for all of November and into December ("... how many puppies are there inside... la la la la...") and finally I got to wondering. If I got Puppy Surprise, how many puppies WOULD there be inside?

Puppy Surprise fever began.

That Hanukkah... or Christmas (I don't remember which and I celebrated both- which a traveling Rabi recently told me sounded like a "very confused childhood.") I got a Puppy Surprise. Dreams do come true. But once I finally had it, I was afraid to open it. What if, I wondered, the puppies weren't just toys, but plastic-faced bean-bag-bodied messages from the universe? How was the amount and gender of puppies decided? Was it random? Were certain mom dogs fated for certain children? If you got 5 puppies rather than 3 was it because you deserved more? If you got 3 were you a bad person? If you got more boy puppies was it because you were a "tom boy"? Were the people who packed the puppies the same people who picked the messages that went in fortune cookies? Did this have to do my "karma"? Was this related to my horoscope? I was born in July, would effect my puppy count? Was this more than I could handle??

I opened the cottony abdomen of my mother dog and reached into her womb. I had 3 puppies. Only 3.

I've been thinking more and more about Puppy Surprise lately. It pops up in my head about once a week subconsciously to pull my life into a shape I understand (ugly stuffed dog.) Example: I think, 'Which part of my life should I focus on right now- music, writing, work, or education?' ("How many outcomes are there inside?") Dave tells me he's making me dinner, and what we're eating is... A SURPRISE. ("Will it 1 potato dish and 2 green vegetables?") and finally, the one comparison that made me realize how fucking much I think about Puppy Surprise: my Aunt's cancer.

My Aunt was diagnosed with cancer 3 or so weeks ago. After hearing that it was inoperable, my Mom and I decided to drop everything and make a road trip up to see her. As I sat with my Aunt through her first chemo session, I asked the nurse loads of questions and dutifully took notes (so I could research side effects of the medicines and learn more about lung cancer.) I asked what stage my Aunt was in. In response, the nurse gave me a string of code and told me what webpage I could go to decipher it. As I wrote down the mysterious digits that stood for tumor size and lymph node infection and thus, my Aunt's fate, I thought to myself,

"Oh my god this is JUST like Puppy Surprise."

How much cancer IS there inside?

I was never upset that I only got 3 puppies. I tossed the Mom Dog into my closet (after birthing my puppies she was rendered totally useless) and carried my 3 puppies with me everywhere. I loved them so much that I had convinced myself that their hard plastic faces were scented like candy. I slept with them at night giving them so much of my pillow that I used only 3 or so inches in the far right corner, afraid of making them uncomfortable. They weren't all I could have gotten, but they were what I had. Just like cancer is what my Aunt has.

So who knows? Will you play music and tour the world? Will you eat mashed potatoes for dinner? Will you find yourself hooked up to a chemo drip? Reach into the womb and find out. I don't know if it's fate, if some little girls are meant to get 3 puppies and some grown women meant to get cancer. I don't know if it has to do with their karma or their horoscopes. I'm unsure how July birthdays factor in. But I do know that we can't control where the puppies fall ("... there could be 3, or 4, or 5!") We can't always decipher their meanings ("And they're all different!") But we can rejoice in what we've been given, whether it's 3 puppies, or a long and happy life that makes it way, eventually ("Surprise! Surprise!") to radiation therapy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Almost Done" and other such nonsense

I knew that it was going to be an off day when I woke up with chest pains still lingering from yesterday... which were lingering from the day before that... which were lingering from the day before that. It was off, but salvageable. Discomfort I can deal with. But the second one of my customers (an 8 year old girl) and her Dad made a special request for dog related cheek-art, I knew the day was shot. I didn't have a chance.

My day, in 2 parts.

Act 1: The Blue Dog

I called out for the next person in line and a little girl no more than 8, with a messy blond page-boy cut clad entirely in blue approached my face-painting station with her Dad. The Dad told me that his daughter would like to have a dog's head painted on her cheek. This is not something we offer nor something I thought would come out well, which I explain to him as I ticked off other possible cheek-art options (since he was obviously full-face-paint-a-phobic.)

"I can do a spider, dolphins, hearts, or oooh! Flowers. They're really beautiful." (Addressing the little girl directly, hands on my knees to bring me to eye level for her) "Would you like to have some gorgeous little sparkly blue flowers on your cheeks to match that cute little outfit of yours?"

And she said, and I quote, "Nah, I'm a tom boy. I'll just be a dog."

The women in line behind her exploded into fits of laughter. The Dad glanced back reproachfully. The little girl looked at me eager for paint, oblivious to the ridicule. My heart ached, separate of my chest pains.

As my brush made the first strokes (around the eye for the fluffy brow look, down the sides of the mouth for the whiskery look), I decided to make some small talk with the girl. Dogs seemed to be a good subject for her as she was becoming one. Gender expression is a complicated subject but a love of dogs is pretty straight forward, right? How can you screw up with puppies?

"Do you have a puppy at home?"

"Yeah..."

This was good. (Puppies: the universal language.)

"...Well, I did. She died yesterday."

FAIL.

Act 2: "Almost Done"

I had promised that I would go to hospital after work. So after some delicious falafel at Alyans, and grabbing some chai at The Bean, Dave and I walked over to the ER.

I felt silly going into the ER for chest pains I'd been having for days. It was like calling 911 over cars parked in the bike lane. Not really urgent, but the only choice (as an uninsured person  not feeling sick within walk-in clinic hours.)

As I checked in I was immediately scolded by the woman at the front desk for not coming in sooner. Chest pain is S-E-R-I-O-U-S, she said. Yeah, I explained, but I am L-A-Z-Y and didn't want to sit through the Saturday night bar brawls spilling into the ER waiting room. (which has happened before.) Within minutes a dude in blue scrubs came to sweep me out of my special "urgent care" chair to start testing my thumper. There were 15 or so sick people sitting in the waiting room behind me who would continue to wait as I was being seen, and I thought of them as the dude in blue scrubs beckoned me into the healing interior of the hospital. Looking out at the coughing kid and the crumpled woman, I protested.

"Hey uh... this isn't really that urgent. I've felt like this for days. I'm prepared to wait. I ate a big meal and I brought a book just for the occasion. These people look really sick, why don't you help them first?"

This was immediately shot down by the dude in blue scrubs, who told me that chest pain was S-E-R-I-O-U-S. (Alright, alright.) I gave in, and with a final glance back at the people in the waiting room, passed the threshold of the double swinging ER doors.

The Dude In Blue Scrubs (Dibs from now on) adjusted heart monitor #1, and I approached nervously. "This is just like... electrodes... right? Like... no needles or prickly things?" I sounded like a 12 year old.

He told me that yes, it was a basic EKG and there would be no needles... yet. I laughed. Funny guy. Then a thought struck me.

"You were uh... kidding... about the needles... right?"

He turned around to face me. He was not smiling. "No. First we do the EKG, then we need to take your blood."

The room spun. I sat down. "T-t-t-t-take... my... b-b-b-b-blood?" I felt nauseous. (You can read about my last blood-draw here.)

THEN Dibs laughed. Funny guy. He stared my sleeve and screwed his eyebrows up in a way that meant, "seriously?!" Yeahhhh har har. Very funny. The girl with tattoos is afraid of prickly things. After a long bout of seinfeld-esque banter about my fear of penetrative needles, his fear of sharks, and the absolute necessity of my blood being drawn, I announced with great bravado, "I WILL BE BRAVE!" and stuck out my arm.

I immediately recanted this statement (and withdrew my arm) as he reached for the needle. Was I fucking mental? No way was I getting my blood drawn. Not on my life! Only... it was on my life. I white-flagged with reluctance.

I hounded Dibs about his background in blood drawing. ("Is today your first day? Are you new? How many times exactly have you drawn blood?") I asked if he would miss my vein. ("No.") I made him promise not puncture the other side of my vein. ("I promise.") And finally, I made him promise not to make fun of me in the event that I acted foolishly once the needle was in my arm. ("I'll try.")

Dibs suggested we "look at the needle" to gear up for the big event. This was disastrous and ended in slight hysteria on my end. Once I cleared that up, and apologized, and blushed... we sought a new approach.

He suggested we just "do it!"

Just "do it"?! I thought of every possible way to make excuses out of that room and back home. But, a blood test was the only way to sense damage to my heart (tears, past heart attacks, etc) so I, remorsefully, agreed. Gingerly I gave him my arm. He complimented my veins. I told him about the Gynecologist that once complimented my cervix while taking a pap smear. "What's with you medical people!? I have nice veins and a beautiful cervix? What do I say to that? 'Thanks I've been working on them'?!"

After the awkward laughter broke he counted to three, the needle slipped into my vein, and I sobbed hysterically. Drooling, whimpering, sniffling. But here's why I didn't really lose it (like I have in the past): from the second he put the needle in, Dibs chanted in a calm and soothing voice, "Almost done. Almost done. Almost done." This, as I told him later, was exactly what I do when I paint kids that won't sit still.  "Almost done" has no  connection to reality. I will say "almost done" before I've completed the first line on a batman. "Sure kid, you're almost done. I just need to start and finish. That's all." I knew exactly what he was doing, which made my embarrassment all the more burning. I was the blood-tech's nose scruncher. I was the occupational annoyance.

When it was over I almost passed out, and then almost vomited. Dibs thought this was all very funny, which it was, and I knew it was, even as it was happening. ("Yo man cut me some slack, I've just been though some MAJOR TRAUMA here and suffered MASSIVE blood loss, so it's only natural that I'm freaking out. Hahahaha... oh my god I'm going to puke...")

From there I did the usual x rays and meet-n-greet with the doctor. 4 hours later got my results: I'm perfectly healthy, my heart is fine, my chest pain is a mystery and I need to see another doctor later this week about it.

Basically: they don't know.

For this, I gave blood. Mom, Dad, Dave.... I hope you're freakin happy.