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?


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...."


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


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."

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.


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.