Strange Bedfellows.

Last week, my parents discovered they had bed bugs.  In their bed.  Only their bed.  I wasn’t bitten up and my brother wasn’t bitten up; just Steve and Barbara.  They don’t know how it happened.  They’re both rather fastidious people.

On Monday morning my mom had someone spray the house with all-natural, yet highly allergenic whatnot in order to kill the little bastard bed bugs.  The night before the insurgence, my mom brought a gray suitcase into my room and dropped it on my sofa.

“Ya may wanna pick up the stuff piled next to your bed,” she said.  “They’re gonna be spraying your carpet.”

I took her suggestion.  The suitcase is 3/4 full.  Its contents?  A veritable cornucopia of Dorky.

I shall now list for you the “stuff piled next to my bed” that has now been transferred to a gray suitcase on top of my sofa.

1. The Godfather Trilogy DVD Collection. 

Fully remastered.  The bouquet Johnny Fontaine sends to Don Corleone is so damn COLORFUL.

2. A Bag of Crackers

My mom brought this to me the night I came home from work after spending nearly two hours in the nurse’s office battling dehydration and low blood sugar.  Mom had also brought me soup, but I kept the crackers in case I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.  Rather, still feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.

3. A Burned DVD copy of A Streetcar Named Desire

No one, but NO ONE, is sexier than Marlon Brando in his skin tight t-shirt.  I fell asleep to this movie every night for a good six months.

4. The Complete Works of Arthur Rimbaud

It has the English translations and the original French.  I memorized “Sensation.”  I was determined to memorize it in French, too.  I still haven’t done that.  I bought the book last October.  Damn.

5. An Illustrated Copy of The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle

Some people keep The Bible by their beds.  And so do I.

6. A Green Journal with a Butterfly on the Cover That I Bought at Logos Bookstore in Santa Cruz, CA

Page One:

2-20-11

In Santa Cruz for the weekend.  This paper is incredible.  I can’t tell if the guy next to me is cute. Ya know, this bar isn’t ideal for writing.  Well, the vibe is, but the position I’m in is slightly uncomfortable.  I saw an absolutely beautiful guy downtown.  He was playing guitar and singing his heart out.  He looked and sounded so gorgeous. 

7. The Favorite Game by Leonard Cohen

Picked this up last November.  I found it on eBay.  The last time I picked it up was one day in December when I was sitting in the waiting room of an Urgent Care in Westlake Village waiting to talk to a doctor about a bizarre ailment I was convinced was killing me.  It didn’t kill me, and I never finished this book.

8. Planet News by Allen Ginsberg

I bought this book of poetry in San Francisco.  I was there last February for five or six days.  I spent my first day there walking around North Beach.  After having a few beers at Cafe Vesuvio I wandered over to The Beat Museum to ask if they had copies of the poems I submitted to them for a poetry contest they held back in 2007.  They didn’t have copies, but the guy behind the counter searched the internet archives for a good twenty minutes trying to help me out.  I felt kinda guilty for making him look, so I bought something.

9. A Black, Ringed Journal My Parents Bought for Me at Citylights Books When I Was 19

The opening lines of “HOWL” are printed on the front cover.

Page One:

3-06-06

When I get angry I feel my shoulder blade muscles tense up and form a knot that hurts for days.

I can feel it pinching back there whenever I try to write

or type

or just fucking hold a book.

I once tried to work out the knot by wearing Icy-Hot bandages at night

But they just soothed the area around the hubbub of angst.*

I’d peel the bandage off in the morning and my skin would

smell like chemicals.

God knows what kind of cancer it’ll give me.

Maybe the doctors will prescribe me some pot.

Then I could sell it on the streets and use the money to hire a masseuse. 

(*I feel like kicking my own ass for “hubbub of angst.”)

10. Light Blue Journal I Bought from Paper Source in Santa Cruz, CA

I’m not sharing Page One.  I can’t.  I will, however, reveal that it was written on Friday, October 16, 2009 at 12:54pm.

It was interesting to read Page One of this cute little unfinished journal, because it’s my retelling of the beginning of what turned out to be a very frustrating, rather sad story.  It was all so seemingly innocent at the time, but now that I’m looking at these scribbled words written by the 22-year-old version of myself, it’s obvious that this very frustrating period of my life left a rather sad impression on my ability to trust people.  Perfectly sweet people.

Perfectly sweet male people.

That Fucker.

11. A “One Line A Day: Five Year Memory” Journal from Barnes and Noble

I am so bad at keeping up with this thing.  There is literally just enough space to write one sentence per day.  I thought it seemed interesting.  I haven’t written any memories in it since January 9, 2012.  I wrote, “First unemployed Monday.”  That was a fun day, actually.  Mom and I went to the zoo.

12.  A Tennessee Williams Collection

Includes Summer and Smoke, Orpheus Descending, Suddenly Last Summer, and Period of Adjustment.  It also includes a personal essay by Tennessee that spoke to me so profoundly the first time I read it that I literally threw the book across the room.

So much for the past and present.  The future is called “perhaps,” which is the only possible thing to call the future.  And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you.

13. Perfection by Julie Metz

A memoir I had to read for my writing group.  I was intrigued for the first few chapters, but the whole thing became so damn indulgent after a certain point that by the end I found the narrator annoying and stupid.  I must take great care to never become an annoying, stupid narrator.

14. Another Tennessee Williams Collection

This one includes Battle of Angels, The Glass Menagerie, and A Streetcar Named Desire.  I read this one on a flight from JFK to LAX.  Despite having watched A Streetcar Named Desire a dozen fucking times, I still teared up while I was reading it.  Tennessee may be damn easy to lampoon, but he’s also really fucking hard to beat.

15. The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 by Richard Brautigan

There are sex scenes in books that make you want to have sex, but not often do you come across sex scenes in books that make you want to cry.  Cry for what?  I don’t know.  Nostalgia?  Longing?  Loneliness?  Wishing and hoping that somewhere out there someone remembers you and your body just like Richard Brautigan saw this girl and her body…

It’s a hard decision whether to start at the top or the bottom of a girl.  With Vida I just didn’t know where to begin.  It was really a problem.

After she reached up awkwardly and put my face in a small container which was her hands and kissed me quietly again and again, I had to start somewhere.

She stared up at me all the time, her eyes never leaving me as if they were an airfield.

I changed the container and her face became a flower in my hands.  I slowly let my hands drift down her face while I kissed her and then further down her neck to her shoulders.

I could see the future being moved in her mind while I arrived at the boundaries of her bosom.  Her breasts were so large, so perfectly formed under her sweater that my stomach was standing on a step-ladder when I touched them for the first time.

Her eyes never left me and I could see in her eyes the act of my touching her breasts.  It was like brief blue lightning.

I was almost hesitant in a librarian sort of way.

“I promise,” she said, reaching up and awkwardly pressing my hands harder against her breasts.  She of course had no idea what that did to me.  The step-ladder started swirling.

She kissed me again, but this time with her tongue.  Her tongue slid past my tongue like a piece of hot glass.

16. A Light Blue Guitar Pick from Amoeba Music in Berkely, CA.

I’ve now been to all three Amoebas.  The one in Hollywood is The Best.

17. Jason Webley’s Only Just Beginning

This is his favorite album of his.  This is also my favorite album of his.  It’s just his best album of his.  “Music That Puts Everything Together” brings me to my knees.  Oh Jesus, and “Map.”  And “Icarus.”  And “With.”  And “Coda.”

Of course they’re all better live.  I’m damn lucky that I know that firsthand.  Jason Webley live is more life affirming than…anything, really.  Except maybe Leonard Cohen live.  Speaking of which…

18. Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen

This is a Hell of a novel.  There is a scene where two men — The Narrator and his friend, F. — are driving at top speed in F.’s car down a dark highway.  F. is pleasuring himself while he drives.

F., put it back.  Enough is enough.

Never put it back when it gets like this.

My God, I’ve never seen you so big!  What’s going on in your mind?  What are you thinking of?  Please teach me how to do it.  Can I hold it?

No!  This is between me and God.

Who but Leonard Fucking Cohen would come up with “This is between me and God”?

I had Jason Webley sign my copy.  I knew he was a Leonard Cohen fan and I wanted to impress him with my dorkiness.  Because, ya know, traveling to Seattle to catch his 11-11-11 show wasn’t dorky enough.

Stephanie

I’m glad I remember your name.

And I’m glad that you came so far for my concert.

And I’m glad that you like this book.

♥ jason

11-11-11

approximately

18. And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave

Nick, I love you with all my heart and soul, but this novel is no Beautiful Losers.

19. Scattered Poems by Jack Kerouac

Gotta love a poem called “Pull My Daisy.”

20. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita, light of my life.  Fire of my loins.

‘Nuff said.

21. A DVD Copy of the Remake of Alfie Starring Jude Law

I bought this from the Blockbuster in Westlake right before the damn thing closed down for good.  Ya know what?  This is a terrible movie.  It is.  But damn, I really get a kick out of it.  It’s so atrocious it’s funny and Jude Law is just POSING the whole Goddamn time, which is all at once hilarious and fucking hot.  He’s so hot I wanna punch him in the face.

22. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz

An award-winning play my mom read earlier this year that she insisted I read as well.  Still haven’t gotten around to doing that.

23. Writing the Memoir: from Truth to Art by Judith Barrington

I have a lot to say about this book, but right now I am completely distracted by the fact that the author’s last name is Barrington.  I purchased this book before that last name became such a significant part of my life.  Co-workers of mine who are reading this, I’m sorry.

24. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Patti Smith is really into this book.  I found a copy of it on my mom’s bookshelf on a rainy day last November.  I read the first page, and then I decided to go buy a ukulele.

I attempted to make a video for you of me playing the ukulele, but my mom interrupted when she came in to ask me if I wanted anything from Lassen’s.

25. A Blue and Black Leather-bound Journal Given to Me by My High School Journalism Teacher

Page One is humiliating.

Here’s something from Page 12:

12:00am August 10, 2005 Wednesday

I bought a CD today.  I’m listening to it now.  It feels great.  Not as great as kissing.  Music makes me think of kissing — probably because I sometimes kiss to music.

26. A DVD Copy of The Graduate

Two nights before I moved back to my parents’s house after living in Santa Cruz for five years, I downloaded this movie and bought a bottle of Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon.  At this point, I had already moved 99% of my furniture out of my apartment.  All I had was my twin-sized mattress, which was, at that point, pathetically sitting on the floor of my bedroom.  I sat on my pathetic mattress, drank my pathetic cheap wine, and watched Benjamin Braddock try his best not to be pathetic.  I cried a lot.

27. A DVD Copy of The Road to God Knows Where

Behind the scenes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds touring the United States after Tender Prey was released.  They’re all so young and beautiful.  I fall asleep to this one a lot.  Nick is such a jerk to journalists, but not in a Bob Dylan in Don’t Look Back kind of way.  All the journalists that appear in this movie are such idiots that it really isn’t Nick’s fault that he comes off as so smart and so snide.  The people interviewing him really have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about.

28.  A DVD Copy of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

I will defend this movie until the end of time.  If, someday, I find myself with some spare time and some spare money (by the way, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!), I plan on writing an in-depth analysis of all four (or, by then, 15) Pirates films.  No one will publish it and no one will read it, so I’ll probably just send the manusctipt to Johnny Depp and wait for his reaction.  Maybe I’ll get to become one of his various best friends and I’ll start getting invitations to parties at Keith Richards’s house.

29. A DVD Copy of The Ruling Class

Just watch it.

30. The Complete Fawlty Towers

This show never got boring or bad because the British know when it’s time for a television show to end.  There are only 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers, but they are all perfect.

31. A DVD Copy of Blue Velvet

I watched this not too long ago.  I had a 103 degree fever and I was sitting on the couch in my empty house shivering and sniffling and coughing.

A video is worth 1,000 words:

32. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live DVD: God Is in the House

It’s pretty good, but Warren Ellis had joined the band by this point, and it’s upsetting to watch Nick try to divvy up his affection between Warren and Blixa.  And Blixa just looks BORED out of his mind, even during “The Carny.”  It saddens me.

33. A DVD Copy of The Darjeeling Limited

I can’t listen to people criticize Wes Andseron.  It’s a sin.

34. A DVD Copy of If….

My Malcolm McDowell obsession was one of the best things to ever happen to me.  He made a lot of crap movies, but it doesn’t matter, because he also made If….

This movie should be shown to everyone everywhere.  Politicians should watch and be warned.

35.  The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

I read two chapters of this self-help book in May right before the training period for my new job began.  I had been diagnosing myself with various terminal illnesses every day for two weeks and I was losing my Goddamn mind.  I had been unemployed since January and I was at my absolute wit’s end.  Two chapters of this thing had me back to normal.  (As in, I was suddenly cured of my lung cancer, throat cancer, liver cancer, brain cancer, and Parkinson’s Disease.)

36. A DVD Copy of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live at Brixton Academy, London Thursday, November 11 2004

As long as I can shut my bedroom door, sit down by myself and watch this shit, then I can never really lose sight of the fact that my life is rather good.  And that I’m a bad motherfucker.

So, yeah.  I’m thinkin’ I’ll just put all this stuff back where I found it — piled up next to my bed.

 

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1956 Called. Apparently It Doesn’t Want Petty Misogyny Back.

Holy Mother of All That Is Holy.

Yes, “Mother.”  Life-giver.  Caretaker.  Diaper-changer.  Housekeeper.  Chef.  Chauffeur.  Goddess Supreme who deserves nothing less than complete and utter reverence.

This article, if you can even call it that, was brought to my attention this afternoon by a good friend of mine via facebook.  It’s titled “Things women must learn from men.”  (That’s right.  It doesn’t even have proper capitalization, and yet there it is, in writing, for all the internet to see.)  This friend of mine deemed it, “one of many reasons why no one likes Yahoo!”  I opened up the link expecting to see some asinine dissertation on lipstick shades and sexting, but, instead, I saw something a couple million times more terrifying.

The piece begins:

Things women must learn from men

Beyond doubt, women are the finest creations of the Almighty. They posses some qualities that are even beyond the comprehension of men. However, if they adopt some of the qualities of men too, they will undeniably be the better sex.

From the beginning, this article (feature, commentary, whatever) is a complete waste of time.  First of all, I’ve had enough of The Almighty being used as a tool to minimize womankind.  It’s bad enough that He keeps coming up in the political discussions of the [mostly male] sociopaths who run this country, but does He also have to make appearances in Yahoo! puff pieces?  BAD Yahoo! puff-pieces?

“They possess some qualities that are even beyond the comprehension of men.”  This is just boring.  If I wanted to be entertained by this kind of shit, I’d pour myself a drink, put on Down with Love, and call it a day.  News Flash: there is no “better sex.”  There are amazing men and amazing women, as well as shitty men and shitty women.  And please, let’s not minimize gender inequality and bring it down to the level of Boys vs. Girls like it’s Coke vs. Pepsi.  Please?

Oh, but you’re going to, aren’t you?  You just are.  You so are.

There is no foreseeable end to the battle of the sexes. So it would be wise to come to terms with the fact that both sexes have some qualities that are unique to each of them. Men are creatures of physical strength, chivalry and pride whereas women are creatures of beauty, grace and elegance. However, there are some things that are universal to all men, but went somewhere missing in the case of women. Let’s take a look at some of those things.

Most things just aren’t universal.  That’s not my UC Santa Cruz liberal education talking — it’s just a fact. “‎Men are creatures of physical strength, chivalry and pride whereas women are creatures of beauty, grace and elegance.” I’m gonna hafta stop ya right there…I can accept the fact that my brothers can lift more weight than I can, but I can belch like I have balls.  And what about all those [awesomely sexy] skinny men out there who just plain cannot gain muscle?  Also, who the Hell is to say that men cannot be elegant?  Have ya seen Fred Astaire dance?  Have ya seen David Bowie sing “Ziggy Stardust” in a kimono?  Have ya seen Cary Grant do ANYTHING?

Yeah.  What NOW, Yahoo?

But oh, we’re not even at the rules yet.

1. Dialling down Emotions

Women have a penchant for being dramatic. It is understandable that women are sensitive beings, but having emotional outbreaks over the most trivial things is something that can be avoided for the better interest of all.

All right.  I will be the first to admit that I cried two nights ago when I heard the opening bars of a Tom Waits song come on my iTunes shuffle.  It was one of those moments where I wasn’t sure why I was crying.  I was crying because I was tired.  I was also crying because I was happy.  I was also crying because the moment was perfect.  I was sitting in my room alone typing a list of all my film and music heroes, and then Tom Waits started singing to me, and all was right with the world.  Often times, when punched in the face by a beautiful piece of art, I will let the tears roll free.  (And yes, if it were a certain week of the month, I probably would have cried more.  It’s SCIENCE, assholes.  EVOLUTION. VITAL TO THE SURVIVAL OF HUMANKIND.  That being said, let’s stop minimizing a woman’s period.  My last period made me so sick I ended up in the health center at work unable to walk and unable to drive home.  But, then again, I’m just an emotional woman.  I shoulda stuck it out and crashed my car.  Like a man.)

And let me be even more frank.  Men are emotional creatures, too.  It is completely unfair that males are taught from a very young age that is it not acceptable for them to cry (get nervous, get scared, get excited, etc.).  Who came up with that rule?  And does it really make things easier for everyone?  To just walk around like volcanoes ready to erupt at any moment?  Instead of labeling any singular display of emotion as “dramatic,” lets just accept that humans are meant to have emotions…shall we?  Maybe?

Also, when my high school boyfriend agreed to watch Moulin Rouge! with me and ended up loving it, I fell so damn in love with him.  I also loved it every time he showed up at my house in the morning with an iced Americano.  Ya know why?  Because it’s awesome when men are sensitive AND when they like taking care of a woman.  In fact it’s hot.  So, what does that teach you?  Fuck you, Yahoo!

2. Be More Realistic

Often, women seem to live by a make-believe perspective that clouds the reality from them. While it is perfectly appropriate to be positive, it is not apt to blatantly ignore your flaws and faults. Embracing faults and living with them is something women can learn from men.

Okay.  So women do things like watch wedding shows and dream about their ideal centerpieces.  They also dream about meeting ideal partners who treat them with respect.  Guilty as charged.

“Embracing faults and living with them is something women can learn from.”  Right, uh, because men never spend hours at the gym showing off their hard earned muscles?  Because there hasn’t been an increase in men of all sexual orientations who do things like have their nails manicured?

AND FUCK YOU, PLENTY OF MEN HAVE RIDICULOUS EXPECTATIONS OF WOMEN!

Think of all the scum bags out there who only date women who have breasts implants.  Think of all the scum bags out there who only date women who are smaller than a size 8.  Think of all the scum bags out there who only like blondes, or only like redheads.  Think of all the scum bags who can’t stand the sight of a woman without makeup. Think of all the scum bags out there who assume that every woman is insane (and rich!) enough to regularly allow a total stranger to cover their vulvas with hot wax in the name of eradicating unwanted, all natural pubic hair.

I could go on?  And I am NOT anti-man.  I’m anti-scum bag.  And this article.

I LOVE MEN.  I love men SO MUCH that I can’t stand the idea of them being portrayed as emotionless, hard-hearted assholes.

3. Be Daring

Life is something that can only be thoroughly enjoyed by taking risks.  Women often hold back on some of the most crucial junctures of life when they should have just taken the leap. Mankind has made numerous advances just because of man’s affinity towards risk.

I think this is a thinly veiled plea for anal.  Yeah.  Definitely.

4. Be Less Intense

Women are always picky on the details even up to the point of obsession. They seem to over-analyze and complicate some of the simplest things in life. While attention to detail is a good quality, women should learn not to push the limits of the same.

“Women are always picky on the details even up to the point of obsession.”  I wore a sleeveless dress to a party a few weekends ago and I didn’t bother shaving my armpits.  No one noticed.

Again, what is this “always” bullshit?  This suggests that men are “never” picky about details, which is completely unfair.  Generally speaking (see what I did there?), men are not completely mindless wastes of space who sit on couches not giving a shit about absolutely anything that transpires in their lives.  That is the kind of man you see in commercials who sits idly watching his pragmatic wife clean the floor with Swiffer wipes.  That man isn’t real, ok?  And if he is, he’s single.  And probably high.

Finally, I’ve dated many a man who had more than a touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  “I can’t hang out with you for the next few weeks.  I have a midterm.”  “Don’t touch that door handle!  Wash your hands!”

See?

5. Driving

No offence to the ladies but they just never seem to get the hang of driving a car. They even have a hard time parking the car. So this is one of the practical traits that women can learn from men.

I am not even going to dignify this with my opinion.  I am not going to tell the story of the time when my father decided to teach me to drive a stick shift before I had even been behind the wheel of an automatic and he ended up hitting his head against the windshield because he neglected to fasten his seat belt before DRAMATICALLY yelling at me to slam on the breaks.  I am not going to bother saying that both of my brothers have had minor fender benders, while I have never EVER had a minor fender bender.    I will say, though, that I noticed you spelled “offense” as “offence.”  This tells me you’re probably English.  I know that because I pay attention to detail.  Just like Sherlock Holmes…who, I’m rather sure, had a penis.

6. Forgive All

Men don’t hold grudges; they seem to sort even the biggest fights over beer. Women can surely learn a thing or two from the brotherly bond of men.

The brotherly bond of men?  You mean when you’re paid to beat the shit out of each other in stadiums?  Or when you have one too many beers and end up punching each other in the face and getting thrown out of bars?  Do the men who run the world start hideously destructive wars with each other because they can’t figure out when and where to meet up for a couple pints of Guinness?

To reference my own life again, plenty of males have held grudges against me.  Many of my ex-boyfriends held grudges because I broke up with them.  Ya know why?  They didn’t like being broken up with.  It hurt their pride.  It hurt their feelings.  It made them sad and angry, because these men were (and still are…) human-beings with emotions.  Oh, I was plenty sad and confused as well, don’t get me wrong, and I’ve had more than one Closure Conversation with an ex-boyfriend that led to BOTH of us getting a little bit weepy.

And yeah, men have de-friended me on facebook over trivial fucking grudges.  We all do dumb shit.  ALL of us.

7. Technology Literate

Women and technology don’t go well. While men humbly embrace their geeky side, women like to keep a reasonable distance from it. It wouldn’t hurt for women to learn a thing or two more about their gadgets.

I know ALL THERE IS TO KNOW about my “gadget”. It’s got six different speeds.

Do you have six different speeds?

8. Sense of Humour

Men can be light-hearted about almost anything while women are not that receptive to all kinds of humour. Women can certainly enjoy themselves more by increasing their range of humour.

I don’t know where this is coming from.  Have you not seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  When asked why she is married to Roger Rabbit, Jessica — the ultimate example of realistic expectations, right? — simply states, “He makes me laugh.”  Women LOVE to laugh.  It’s all we do when we get together.  Ever wonder why the words “giggling” and “girls” often appear right next to each other?  It’s because girls often DO spend lots of time giggling.  It’s fun.  Why do you think we love having epic sleepovers so much?  We laugh our asses off.

My first love was Adam Sandler.  I find Jack Black irresistibly sexy.  Drew Barrymore married Tom Green, for fuck’s sake.  And ya know what?  I know plenty of men who loved Ted and hate Woody Allen movies.  How’s THAT for not having a “range of humour”?

The article just kinda ends.  Just kinda sits there.  Like a fucking turd.  There’s no conclusion, or final paragraph of cookie-cutter wisdom that synthesizes all these ideas and leaves the female reader with the boost she needs to transform herself into the perfect woman with the help of these eight easy tips.  Then again, judging by the intelligence displayed within this list, I’m sure that whomever wrote this was absolutely exhausted by the time he or she finished typing and hit “submit.”

I’m exhausted, too.  I’m done with the commercially accepted assumption that Women’s Rights are synonymous with splitting a dinner bill.  I’m exhausted by the fact that there are people out there who read this Yahoo! piece of shit and took it seriously.  I’m exhausted by the idea that young girls are taught that “feminist” is a dirty word.  I’m exhausted by generalities, vagaries, and steadfast expectations.

So exhausted, I am now going to watch The Sopranos with my younger brother and one of my very best girlfriends.  We are going to stuff our faces with guacamole and watch people manipulate and shoot each other.  We are going to laugh at Pauly and cringe at Christopher.  If something offends my brother, I am not going to make fun of him.

Also, I’m gonna brush my teeth for the first time today (as it’s now 4pm and I have company), and I think I should also put on a bra so my breasts don’t get all saggy and give men the wrong idea that breasts are body parts that are just as subject to aging and gravity as their balls are.

Plus, it’ll feel good to get out of this room.  I’ve just been writing here in my bed all day.  On my laptop.  That I don’t know how to operate, apparently.

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Clean Up Your Act. Or, Ya Know. At Least Make It Funny.

Why is everyone so Goddamn eager to stick up for Daniel Tosh?  What contribution has he really made to comedy?  I know he has a show that I’ve never watched.  I know he does stand-up that I’ve never seen or heard.  I know that people know his name.  What has he really contributed, though?  As in, who the hell is he, really?

Like I said, I’ve never ever watched his show or his stand-up acts, but I just want to point out that most people I’ve spoken to about Tosh’s humor seem to think that the man is just not that funny.  I’m sure there are plenty of perfectly nice people out there that put on Tosh.0 and laugh their asses off, but I’ve never met any of those people — at least not as far as I know.  (If any friends of mine out there are reading this and thinking, “Shit, I LOVE that show.  Now Steff’s gonna hate me!” please calm down.  Chances are, I like YOU more than I DISlike this Tosh asshole.  Once more, I don’t even watch the damn show.  That’s how much I care about him.)  That aside, I think it’s safe to say that the man is not going to be remembered as an important comedian of our time.  In fact, I’d bet every cent I have that the man only has a few more years before he’s headlining at the Chumash Casino.

Anyway, this guy made a rape joke.  In fact, it wasn’t even a joke.  According to the girl who actually experienced this whole thing, Tosh was up on stage making awkward comments about how “rape jokes are always funny.”  So, you see, he wasn’t even making rape jokes — he was just making weird statements about rape jokes.  He said, “rape jokes are always funny,” and this girl — who, at the end of the day, is a damn brave girl — disagreed with him, and said, “Rape jokes are never funny.”

Now, I’m not gonna bother going into the sexual politics of what happened here.  I’m going to keep it very simple.  Ready?

I wouldn’t really call that “heckling.”  She didn’t say, “YOU are not funny, you asshole.”  She just disagreed with his statement.  Because that’s what the line was — it was a STATEMENT.  It wasn’t even a damn JOKE.  He wasn’t up there making JOKES.

You see the point I’m trying to make?

Now, I have tried to stay out of Tosh-related conversations since this whole thing went down.  I’m at a brand new job, and I’m trying to be nice to everybody and I don’t want to make anyone too uncomfortable by babbling about all the steadfast convictions I have about every damn thing.  Remaining quiet during Tosh-related conversations, however, has proved rather challenging.  It seems that whenever someone starts a conversation with, “Have you heard about the Daniel Tosh thing?” they always end up mocking the girl who spoke up.  I’ve also heard a lot of, “Well, if you’re gonna go watch a comedian, you have to be prepared to hear something offensive.”

This is true.  This is a true, true statement.  I would simply like to point out, though, that I would be behind this idea 100% if Tosh were actually up there performing material he’d worked on.  He wasn’t really doing that, though — he was just saying dumb shit.

There’s a difference between George Carlin and Daniel Tosh.  There’s a difference between Chris Rock and Daniel Tosh.  There’s a difference between Kevin Hart and Daniel Tosh.  There’s a difference between Louis C.K. and Daniel Tosh.  Ellen Degeneres.  Sarah Silverman.  Robin fucking Williams.  Motherfuckin’ M’ONIQUE.  What’s the difference?  The difference is simple.  The people I just listed are amazing comedians who challenge their audience members to look at — and laugh at — the ugly, messed up truths of being human.  If any of these comedians decided to do an entire routine that revolved around the idea that “rape jokes are always funny,” it would probably piss off and embarrass a lot of people, but it would also make them THINK.  That is one of the most amazing things about comedy — it makes you laugh while you recoil in horror at how fucked up the world is, and that YOU are very much a part of this twisted place.

This is why the argument of “he was making a joke” is invalid.  He wasn’t making a joke, he was just saying shocking shit to get a reaction from people.  Yes, there is a difference.

A few days ago I was watching an episode of 30 Rock.  Popular damn show.  Prior to watching it the other day, I had only ever seen one entire episode from start to finish.  It isn’t the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s damn smart and I think Tina Fey deserves all the credit she gets.

Ya know what the episode I watched the other day contained?  A rape joke.  I don’t know the characters’s names so bear with me while I try to explain.  Jane Krakowski’s character was half-assedly trying to seduce the weird guy from Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  The guy got scared and ran away, and Jane Krakowski called after him, “IT ISN’T RAPE IF NEITHER ONE OF US REALLY WANT IT!”

I laughed.  I thought it was a funny line.  Oh, believe me, I think it’s terrible when people say with strong conviction, “It isn’t rape if the girl was wearing a tank top” or “It isn’t rape if the girl was drunk” or “It isn’t rape if it was a date.”  Trust me, that is some fucked up repugnant shit.  However, that’s exactly the kind of mentality this joke was invoking and, therefore, dissecting.  It was funny because bullshit statements like that are very true to life.  ALSO, the line in question was said by a WOMAN.  The shock factor was there not only because someone said “rape,” but also because the person saying it was a woman.  So there it all is — your shock value, your social commentary, and your punchline.  It was an actual rape joke that was funny.  Are there people out there who would have heard that line and thought, “Turn off this filth”?  Yes.  Absolutely.  And they have the right to turn off the TV.  Is Tina Fey as bad as Daniel Tosh?  No.  Why?  Because she had the decency to write some actual material.  Because she’s a comedian, not a bullshitter.

Are rape jokes always funny as long as women deliver them?  I don’t know.  I’m not really trying to argue that they are “always” or “never” funny.  I’m simply pointing out there difference between what Tosh actually said versus an actual “rape joke.”  Anyone can stand up on a stage and talk for an hour and call themselves a comedian, but not everyone can be a comedian just because they never shut up.

During my sophomore year of college I took a stand up comedy class.  (I also took my first feminist studies class that year.  Ya know what the first thing my professor said was?  “This class is not about hating men.  I love men.”  Chew on that, assholes.)  My stand-up professor was a foul-mouthed queen from San Francisco named Doug.  He let us tell jokes about everything and anything.  People told jokes about sex and drugs and violence.  People told jokes about race and religion.  Really, there was nothing we weren’t allowed to discuss.  Doug’s one rule?  No rape jokes.  Some people in the class thought this was a stupid rule.  In fact, a lot of students started making jokes about how they weren’t allowed to make rape jokes.  None of the jokes were ever all that funny, really, and they really annoyed Doug.  One day, a kid did a routine about a time he peed up his grandma’s nose.  He ended his routine with some kind of dumb line like, “No rape jokes, you guys.”  Doug got on the microphone afterward and said, “I just let you come up here and talk about peeing on your grandmother.  I don’t think I need to be persecuted for outlawing jokes about  rape.”

Doug didn’t have a bad point, really.  There’s an entire world of material out there — why should audience members be expected to brace themselves for an evening of discomfort?  If a comedian can only come up with the line, “Rape jokes are always funny,” I think HE should be prepared for someone to disagree, right?  And then maybe deal with it in a professional, witty manner?

I guess that’s what a real comedian would do, anyway.  At least one with staying power.

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Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Peter O’Toole retired from acting today.  I guess it’s not that sad, really.  I mean, he’s 79 years old.  Ya know.  How much longer could he have kept it up?  Probably not much longer, really.  Plus, it’s not like he was getting meaty roles anymore.  Years and years of getting plastered have left Peter O’Toole looking a little bit more frail than the average 70-something you’d run into in this day and age.  Still, if given the chance, he could probably deliver one more extraordinary performance.  We’ll never know.

What angers me is that all the articles I’ve read today concerning Peter O’Toole’s retirement are almost entirely focused on how he never won an Oscar.  A piece published for the San Francisco Chronicle even went so far as to refer to his eight Oscar nominations as “eight losses.”

Seriously, is the gold eunuch statue that damn important?  This man was nominated eight times.  It’s completely ludicrous that he never won, but aren’t eight nominations good enough proof that the man’s a genius?  He was wasted when he filmed Lawrence of Arabia and Becket, and yet he still earned nominations. That takes some significant talent.  Come on.  Why dramatize the lack of a stupid fucking Oscar?

Also, why not go ahead and tell the truth?  Peter O’Toole never won the stupid Oscar because he’s a drunken Irishman who has never made any apologies for his behavior.  If you’re gonna be a troublemaker in Hollywood, the only way you can still win awards is if you devote yourself to charitable causes.  That’s the only way you can get into the club and still continue to do whatever you want.  Or, ya know, you have to make sure you only make movies where you get to play disabled.  Or gay.

Peter O’Toole didn’t do any of that.  He was just an actor.  A classically trained actor with a perfect voice who played kings and earls and princes with unrivaled finesse.

Worst of all is that not enough people know his name.  Even I only fell in love with him in December of 2010 when I watched What’s New, Pussycat? for the first time, and I don’t consider myself an oblivious idiot when it comes to movies, thank you very much.  Why is it that so many people have asked “Who’s that?” when I’ve mentioned Peter O’Toole, and yet everyone and their mother seems to have heard of Laurence Olivier?  I don’t mean to insult good ol’ Larry, but to say that his career is more relevant that Peter O’Toole’s is just not correct.  Then again, Larry won an Oscar for Hamlet, so what do I know?

I dread the day when all the thespians die.  The Marlon Brando idolaters will be next to go.  Once we lose Meryl, who will we have?  Sure, there are plenty of talented people out there, but where are the juggernauts?  I just don’t see any.

Well, old friend, congratulations on your retirement.  You’ve made me laugh, and you’ve made me cry.  You’ve filled me with inspiration, and you’ve made me feel like a completely untalented waste.  Kick up your feet, pour yourself a Guinness, and have a good, long hyena laugh.  You outlived ‘em all, you crazy son of a bitch.

 

I Had a Dream, Joe.

All right.

I dreamt last night that I was flying in an airplane to some place.  I don’t remember where.  I don’t think it was ever explicitly stated where I was going.  All my friends and family were on the plane, too, along with the cast of season four of RuPaul’s Drag Race.  Best show on television, really.

I was standing near the Emergency Exit when, suddenly, it opened up and a man walked in.  He was in his 60′s, with a shaggy gray beard and a bald head.  He was wearing a t-shirt and jeans that had some white paint splattered on them.  Basically, he looked like an electrician from Santa Cruz.

In REAL LIFE, the image of the paint-splattered Santa Cruz 60-something makes me think of Richard, a man I met my freshman year of college.  I was downtown one night doing some shopping when I heard someone playing Bob Dylan songs on guitar.  I walked over and sat down on the sidewalk and watched Richard for about 45 minutes.  He played “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” and “Idiot Wind,” for God’s sake.  Of course, he kept forgetting the lyrics, so I kept having to sing loudly to get him back on track.  He was absolutely HORRENDOUS, but I was in heaven.  For an encore, he sang some Alice Cooper.  He fell to his knees every time he slurred, “I’M EIGHTEEN!”

It was a great night.  I mean, it was completely weird, but, okay, whatever.  The DREAM.

So this Santa Cruz-like man stepped onto the plane while it was 30,000-some-odd feet in the air, and he started kinda babbling at me.  Being immune to strange men babbling at me (IE: Richard), I tried making conversation with him.  He pulled out a gun.  I fell to the floor and rolled underneath some seats.  I grabbed a blanket and wrapped it around my body, then I wrapped my arms around my head.  I somehow figured that maybe, if Richard actually decided to hunker down and shoot underneath the seat, it would be better if he got me in the arm than in the head.  I began pondering the possibility of my arm bone actually stopping the bullet before it got to my brain, when I remembered, “Wait a second, this is all gonna get worked out right away.  All the queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race are training to become policewomen!”

I waited for one of the queens to come to the rescue.  Nothing happened.  Then, I heard a gunshot.  I peaked out from my hiding place, and it appeared that Richard had fired a warning shot in the air.  I got up and ran to the back of the plane and hid in the small space between the bathroom and the little kitchenette area where the flight attendants hide the coffee.  You know what I mean.

I waited there for a few seconds, and FINALLY, thank you JESUS, the incomparable Sharon Needles stood up from her seat with her gun in her hand.

Now, the best part about dreams, really, is that certain things take place that only make sense to the person who is doing the dreaming.  You see, in my dream, Sharon Needles looked like Megan from Mad Men.  Oh, she was definitely Sharon Needles, but she appeared in my dream as Mrs. Draper herself.

In REAL LIFE I’m a huge fan of Mad Men, and I really, really like the new Mrs. Draper.  Sometimes, though, I forget her character’s damn name.  To make it easier for myself, I often refer to her as “Sharon Needles.”  I’m okay with the fact that I’m the only person who thinks they look alike.

It’s stupid, I know.  Anyway, Sharon Needles was played by Mrs. Draper, aka: Sharon Needles.

She stood up, held her gun above her head, and, with trademark Sharon Needles confidence, she bellowed the dumbest freaking drag pun I’ve ever heard in my life:

CUNT OR QUIT, PEOPLE!”

Yes.  That was what my subconscious came up with.  In real life, I hardly EVER use THAT WORD.  In fact, I really only use it while driving in terrible traffic.  I’m never the girl who shows up somewhere and says to her friends, “What’s up, you stupid THAT WORDS?”  I find that behavior rather deplorable.

But anyway, Sharon Needles used THAT WORD in her rallying cry.  (I like that she used THAT WORD as a verb.  Ya know, in the way that you can BE a “bitch” and also participate in the act of “bitching,” which is “to bitch.”  I suppose she meant that in order to survive, someone was going to have to step it up and get things done.  To take some serious action.  To THAT WORD.)   She then ran down the aisle to the front of the plane and shot the unwieldy Richard.

We landed.  I don’t know where.  I have a vague memory of standing in the hallway of the on-campus apartment I lived in my sophomore year of college and having a very heated discussion with Sharon Needles about whether or not I liked her.  I kept insisting to Sharon Needles that she was one of my all-time favorite human-beings to ever walk the earth and I had no idea what gave her the impression that I ever, for one second, felt otherwise.  Eventually, she believed I was being genuine.  We stopped fighting.

Suddenly, I was on a plane again.  This time, not only was I joined by my friends, my family, and the gun-toting queens of season four of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I was also joined by my other favorite freaking people, the Bad Seeds.  Not Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, just the Bad Seeds.  That’s right — Nick Cave was not on the plane.  He was somewhere else doing Lord knows what.

I remember talking to him earlier in the dream outside of Pink’s Hot Dogs in Hollywood.  We were having our picture taken together, and the photographer told us that the flash of the camera might kill us.  We were both scared, but we let the photographer take pictures anyway.  The photographer seemed to really enjoy taking his time while counting, “One…two…three…”.  I was tempted to run away a few times, but somehow I mustered the courage to stay put.  Nick Cave and I both felt somewhat rejuvenated when the photographer finally thanked us for our time and walked away.  That is all I remember about any interaction with Nick Cave.

Anyway, back to the plane.

I was not all that upset by Nick Cave’s absence, because I was seated next to a very young and very cute incarnation of Bad Seeds guitarist (drummer, bassist, organist, backing vocalist, freaking tambourine shakist…) Mick Harvey.

So, okay.  In REAL LIFE, I haven’t stopped listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds since February of this year.  I picked up a copy of Let Love In at Rasputin’s in Berkeley, California during a totally weird and utterly fantastic road trip I took by myself after quitting my job.  Ever since listening to “Loverman” on repeat from Alameda to San Francisco, I really haven’t found any reason to listen to any other band.  Like, really.  There’s just no reason.  I mean, I listened to both Grinderman albums and I liked ‘em just fine, but it’s hard for me to declare myself a Grinderman fan.  Had it not been for the Grinderman side project, Mick Harvey may not have left the Bad Seeds.  For as much fun as it is to put on “No Pussy Blues” and jump around, nothing beats grooving to “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!”  (Well, okay, it’s only fair to mention that based on what I’ve read, which is mostly speculation, the musical rift between Nick Cave and Mick Harvey began to take form as early as The Boatman’s Call days.  Seriously, though, The Boatman’s Call is worth a hundred rifts — the same just cannot be said about a Grinderman album.)  Now that the only long-standing Bad Seeds left are Nick Cave and Thomas Wydler, I worry that the next Bad Seeds album (if there is a next Bad Seeds album) will just be, well, a Grinderman album.

So anyway, in REAL LIFE, I’ve been paying more attention to the other Bad Seeds lately, especially Mick Harvey.  I’ve determined that while I have absolutely no right to judge any of the Bad Seeds as human-beings because I’ve never met them and they don’t know who the Hell I am and my relationship with all of them only exists in my head, it’s probably somewhat safe to say that Mick Harvey is one of the more modest Bad Seeds.  Look at him.

He’s just a baby right here.  Look at that sweet little face.  Now look at him during his Birthday Party days.

Mick Harvey is in the middle.  Now, the Birthday Party days were dark days for everyone in the band, but Mick Harvey consistently looked the most conservative.  I mean, this isn’t that wild of a picture, but this is still a good example of what I’m talking about.  For instance, I’m sure the hair product was mandatory, but Mick Harvey’s hairstyle is definitely the least ostentatious.  Also, observe how he isn’t looking into the camera with either Nick Cave’s “You want me SO BAD” look (with which I have no problem — he’s the freaking frontman), or Rowland S. Howard’s “I’M A COLD ASS ROCKSTAR” look.  He’s just like, “Take the picture, please.”

And look at him now.  He’s aged very well.  He’s just a cute Australian man.

ENOUGH OF REAL LIFE AND REAL LIFE MICK HARVEY.  BACK TO MY DREAM.

So, I was sitting next to young Mick Harvey.  Again, I don’t know where we were going.  Mick Harvey and I were having a lovely conversation when a voice came on over the speakers announcing that our plane was being hijacked.  Yes.  Mick Harvey and I were concerned, but not too concerned — after all, we both knew we were on a plane full of drag queens with guns.  It was only a matter of time before someone saved us.

SUDDENLY, our plane took a freaking nose dive.  It was seriously just falling out of the sky, face first.  Mick Harvey wasn’t able to hold it together — he started to freak out.  I closed my eyes and tried to remain calm.  I was terrified, of course, but if I was going to die, I didn’t want to spend my last few seconds in an agitated state of mind.  Instead, I wanted to die knowing that I was on a plane full of friends and family.  And Bad Seeds.  And drag queens.  And that the Bad Seeds and the drag queens were all [somehow] close, personal friends of mine.  I mean, I had everything I wanted, really.  Why be too upset?

One of the men hijacking us (another old white dude with a gray beard) started running up and down the aisle threatening to shoot anyone who moved.  Now, that did upset me.  I didn’t wanna get shot.  I was fine with the plane crash because there was nothing I could do to prevent that from happening.  But getting shot?  I wasn’t gonna give up without a fight.  I grabbed Mick Harvey and led him to the back of the plane.  I locked us in the bathroom and instructed Mick Harvey to stay quiet.  A few seconds later, we opened the door and peaked out.  Who was strutting by but Miss Congeniality herself, Latrice Royale.

In REAL LIFE, Latrice Royale is too good for this world.  She may not have won the competition, but she won my undying affection, that’s for damn sure.  She was in prison, dude.  She has seen some serious shit in her time.  And she’s FIERCE.

She really never got bitchy to anyone.  Sure, she had moments of unrivaled sass, but she didn’t cause any damn drama.  During the Drag Race reunion, she offered some of the best advice I’ve ever heard in all my 25 years.  You really should watch this; it’s short:

Trust me, I’ve had Latrice Royale in my head a lot during the last few weeks.

So, back to the dream.  There I was with [seriously cute] Mick Harvey, peering out of the plane’s bathroom.  We saw Latrice Royale strutting down the aisle holding her gun over her head.  She stopped, posed, and cried, “THE CHUNK RISES TO THE TOP OF THE CREAM!”

What the Hell, right?  In REAL LIFE, my friend, Alison, showed me endless videos of Macho Man Randy Savage during the Santa Cruz phase of my kickass road trip.  At one point, after my iPod was stolen from my car, I started to feel rather shitty.  I even toyed with the idea of driving back home.  I told Alison to put on Macho Man, and she selflessly indulged me.

 

That explains that.  Yes.  BACK TO THE DREAM!

Mick Harvey and I waited in the bathroom for something to happen.  Suddenly, we felt someone gain control of the planeLatrice Royale came on over the speaker and said, “All right, honeys.  I am gonna land this plane, but y’all need to grab a parachute and jump out.”

Mick Harvey and I ran out of the bathroom and grabbed two parachutes.  The Emergency Exit was already open, and the rest of the plane’s passengers — my friends and family and the Bad Seeds and the drag queens — were all hovering in the air, holding hands in a giant circle.  Mick Harvey put on his parachute and told me to take his hand.

I was too scared.  I didn’t know what string I had to pull to release the parachute, AND, to make matters worse, the parachute’s harness wasn’t fastening on me correctly.  I told Mick Harvey to go without me.  He jumped, and joined the circle with no problem at all.  Everyone turned to look at me and begged me to jump.  I was terrified.  I was worried that maybe my parachute would fall off me and I would plummet to my death.  I was worried that maybe I wouldn’t pull the right string…and I would plummet to my death.  Death death death death DEATH.  The weird part (yes, aside from all the other obvious “weird parts”), is that just a few minutes before, when the plane was falling out of the sky, I was able to remain calm.  The same thing happened when that creepy photographer at Pink’s Hot Dogs told Nick Cave and me that his camera might kill us.  In the face of actual disaster, I was somewhat composed.  In the face of figurative “WHAT IF?” disasters, however, I was a total mess.

I looked out at my flying circle of loved ones.  Mick Harvey was holding hands with Blixa Bargeld, the other Bad Seeds guitarist who sadly left the band.  They both looked at me, let go of each other’s hands, and yelled at me to come join the circle.  I looked down at my pitiful parachute.  There were two straps in the front of the harness thingy that were supposed to stay together, but they kept coming unhooked.  I took both straps in my right hand, took the parachute string in my left hand, and jumped out of the plane.  My landing was somewhat bumpier than everybody else’s, but I still landed safely.

The next thing I remember is hanging out inside of what appeared to be the arcade of Circus Circus in Las Vegas.  Blixa Bargeld and I were standing in line to ride the Merry-Go-Round.  He looked rather intense.  I was in heaven.  I thought, “Maybe I’ll get to sit next to him on the next flight!”

Blixa Bargeld was not young, emaciated, oddly beautiful Blixa Bargeld…

…he was this era of Blixa Bargeld.  And he didn’t give a shit.

The last thing I remember is sitting on yet another plane, next to my REAL LIFE friend, Veronica.  We were talking about our near death experience with the hijackers, and I was telling her all about how Mick Harvey and I locked ourselves in the bathroom and how we saw Latrice Royale strut by on her way to save the day.  Veronica and I laughed uproariously at what a character Latrice Royale is, and then we pulled out our finger puppets (which we do, in fact, own in REAL LIFE) and entertained Blixa Bargeld with a rendition of “The Origin of Love” from Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  Of course, I use the word “entertained” rather loosely — I think we enjoyed our performance more than he did.  Still, it was a thrill to be near him.

::Sigh::

In REAL LIFE, I woke up in a frightfully good mood, and not just because of the dream.  Everything is finally falling into place.  Training for my new job starts in two days, and I couldn’t be happier.  After months of feeling like a useless waste of space, I’ll finally have a reason to get up in the morning.  I’ll have a reason to wear makeup.  I’ll have a reason to shower.  Like Latrice Royale said, it’s time to “Get up, look SICKENING, and make them eat it.”  I’m so damn ready.

While my life seemed like it was spiraling out of control for a little while, I realize now that I had some incredible back up.  Things got bad, but there was always something or someone reminding me to just keep going.  I had my family.  I had my friends.  Excellent music.  Excellent drag queens.  What more does a person need, really?  Eventually, when it was time to just stop it with all the, “I’m scared” nonsense, I [somehow] managed to psyche myself up and take a risk. The photographer didn’t kill me with his death camera and the parachute didn’t fail me.  In the end, I made it through reasonably unscathed.  I just had to trust myself, really.

I have to say one more time, though, that while I do give myself some credit for surviving the last four months, I probably couldn’t have done it without Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.  That’s just a fact.

Here is a video of Nick Cave performing “I Had a Dream, Joe” on David Letterman.  The LETTERMAN HOUSE BAND is playing with him.  They are…they are not the Bad Seeds.  The only other Bad Seed present?  Mick Harvey.

One…two…three…

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My Head Is Killing Me and Jason Segel Owes Me Money.

I’m feeling a bit lightheaded.  I’m really hungry, but it’s too hot to eat.  I’m also really, really thirsty, and I keep putting ice in my water but the ice keeps melting really, really quickly.  All I wanna do is take off my pants, but it feels like they’re plastered to my legs.  I could turn on the air-conditioning, but I feel that would be wasteful, seeing that this house is huge and I’m the only one here.  It’s hot.  It’s too damn hot.  My head feels hollow.  My brain has evaporated.  My brain.  My brain is GONE.

I just got back from taking a very long walk in the very hot sun.  Well, two walks, I guess.  In between those two walks, I saw The Five-Year Engagement.  

The horror.  THE HORROR.

I walked to the theater because I wasn’t doing anything else and it was just as hot inside my house as it was outside my house.   I threw on some jeans and a tank top and slathered myself in sunscreen.  I put the sunscreen in my Evelyn Evelyn tote bag, grabbed my CD player, loaded it with The Lyre of Orpheus, and headed out.  When I walked across the crosswalk in front of a freeway off-ramp, a group of bikers hooted at me.  It was all kinds of “Hey, baby!” and “Whoo-eee!” and even a, “Look at that ass!”  It didn’t make me feel sexy.  It made me feel like hurting someone.  Somehow, and much to the dismay of you, dear reader, I made it to the theater without beating anyone to death.  That would have made for a much more exciting post.

Ya know what?  I shoulda just gone to see Dark Shadows again.  Or I could have rolled the dice and asked for a ticket to The Avengers.   Instead I saw the movie that stars two actors I like and respect.  Do I no longer like and respect Jason Segel and Emily Blunt?  That would be preposterous.  Of course I still like and respect them.  I am most disappointed in Jason Segel.  Why?  Because he wrote the movie, and The Five-Year Engagement is not a movie — it is a festering pustule churning out ooze on a dead donkey’s dick.

Tom and Violet live in San Francisco.  Tom and Violet are in love.  Tom and Violet get engaged.  Things look good.  Tom works as a sous chef in the kitchen of a hip restaurant, and Violet is planning to study psychology at Berkeley.  But oh, she doesn’t get into Berkeley.  Instead, she has to go to school in the most Godforsaken state in the union.  That’s right, Michigan.  Oh, the dreaded Michigan.  A place where every man you meet is a deer hunter with a long, dirty beard and a drinking problem.  Every woman you meet is, well, you don’t meet many women, because this is, after all, MOVIE Michigan.  In this movie, the entire state of Michigan (because we never learn the name of the town Tom and Violet move to) has no redeeming qualities while San Francisco, a crowded city with a housing shortage, is 100% clean and pristine.  Yes.  There are absolutely no homeless people on the streets and all the houses look freshly painted and there’s no traffic.  Ever.

Tom and Violet agree that they are going to stay together during Violet’s two years of school, and that they will put the wedding on hold.  Nooo problem.  Of course, Violet has Nooo Problem adjusting to life in Michigan.  She loves her school, she loves her department, and she loves her one professor (played by the incomparable Welshman who deserves better than to be in this movie, Rhys Ifans).  Tom, on the other hand, is finding his new life farcically difficult.  He keep slipping in the snow.  Slipping a lot.  And he can’t find a job ANYWHERE except for a real down-home type of sandwich place, which, in my personal opinion, looked freaking delicious.  I’d eat there all the time.  But anyway, the point is Tom feels like a little girly man while Violet feels like she’s doing exactly what she’s worked for her entire life.

THAT’S. REALLY. IT.  That is the plot and the conflict.

So, one night Violet finds out that she may be staying at University of Michigan longer than originally expected.  When she tells Tom, he gets very sad and storms out of the room like a big, tough, emotionally stable man.  Later, we see them fighting in bed.  The fight, interestingly enough, is the best part of the movie because the dialogue isn’t peppered with unfunny and unoriginal and uncalled for penis jokes.  While I was watching the fight, I really felt like I was watching two adults who live on planet earth, not two adolescent cartoon characters who live in MOVIE Michigan.  In this ONE DECENT SCENE they talk about their feelings.  They talk about what pisses them off about their situation.  They talk about how they both hate having to postpone their wedding.  Through it all, they both really want to have a productive, mature conversation, but, as humans who dwell on planet earth, they can’t help but speak in bratty tones every once in a while.  It’s a good scene.

And then it ends.

Tom grows a beard.  Tom starts hunting every single day and pounding beers at 7am.  Tom kills and guts and skins and BBQs deer for dinner every night.  He brews his own mead.  He suddenly owns a crossbow.  Yes, Violet accidentally gets SHOT.  It’s HILARIOUS.  I SWEAR.

This period of the movie confused me.  Greatly.  It transformed from a shitty movie into a typical, benign sitcom.  Here’s the thing, though.  Part of the reason why events that occur in sitcoms are so broad and so extreme is because sitcoms have 20 minutes to tell stories, which is actually a decent excuse for sub par storytelling.  Why a full length feature film needs to resort to sitcommy situations in order to show that time has passed is beyond me.  Well, no, I know why it happens — because, like the plague, bad writing will always be with us.  I mean, combine bad writing with millions of dollars…Now I’m meandering.  Ya know what else meanders?  The Five-Year Engagement.

During Tom’s bearded hunting phase, Violet [finally] gets drunk and [predictably Good GOD predictably] kisses Rhys Ifans.  She feels guilty and runs off and finds Tom, who is already awake and miserably preparing dough for the miserable sandwich-making day that lies ahead.  Violet rambles about how much she loves him, and they decide to just get married.  Because, ya know, if they’re married, Tom will no longer have a problem with Michigan.

The wedding doesn’t end up happening, because Violet has to open her big mouth and tell Tom about the whole drunkenly kissing her professor thing.  Tom attempts to beat up the professor, and when he fails he then attempts to have drunken revenge sex with a sandwich-making co-worker.  When he realizes what he’s doing is wrong, he drunkenly stumbles through the snowy woods.  With NO PANTS ON.  Yes.  We see his butt.  And it’s not nearly as funny as his penis in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  Let’s be honest, that was actually kinda funny.  Let’s be honest again.  We’ve SEEN the Segel Penis.  You can’t follow Segel Penis with Segel Butt.  It’s anti-climactic.

Tom wakes up in the frozen woods with no pants on.  He notices his toe is black.  He ends up in the hospital, where his toe is amputated.  Violet is there with him.  They break up.  We then see Tom and Violet in new relationships with people who aren’t right for them, and we are repeatedly slapped in the face with a BAD fucking metaphor that involves stale doughnuts.  It’s just a bad, bad metaphor.  So bad, I don’t know what it’s even supposed to MEAN.  I do know, however, that it is a pitiful and painful attempt at somewhat elevated screenwriting.  Sorry, but no.  Well, let me take that back.  I’m not sorry.  And no.

Don’t worry, they both get another half hour to find themselves before re-uniting and falling back in love and getting married in a ceremony so freaking saccharine it puts How I Met Your Mother to shame.  And ya know what?  I like How I Met Your Mother.  It can be as farcical and saccharine as it wants to.  It’s a stupid SITCOM on network television.  If that isn’t a handicap, I don’t know what is.

I honestly don’t remember the last shot of the movie.  Tom and Violet get married in a public park in San Francisco where no one is smoking pot, and then…then I don’t know.  Maybe the movie ends AT the wedding?  I can’t tell you.  WAIT, no, now I remember.  It ends with an unfunny callback to an unfunny joke that took place an hour-and-a-half earlier.  Ha.

Is it just me, or is being engaged for five years not entirely unheard of?  I agree it’s a long time, but it seems that putting a wedding on hold for things like higher education or job opportunities or temporary relocation is kind of common these days.  Am I the only person who holds this opinion?

I really was shocked to see “SCREENPLAY BY JASON SEGEL” flash across the screen during the end credits.  I know they can’t all be gems, but come on.  The man obviously knows how to write a screenplay, and I, personally, think he knows how to act.  He and Emily Blunt are just as charming as ever, and they really do have some good chemistry goin’ on.  Still, this movie sucks, and I do not know what the Hell happened.  In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, we at least get to see a depressive type of guy overcome his lower-than-healthy self-esteem, put on an excellent puppet show, and FORGET about that witch, Sarah Marshall.  What does The Five-Year Engagement show us?  Aside from how much Michigan sucks, what is the movie really about? Is it about how people should just get married as soon as they get engaged and not go to…to Michigan?

Jesus, Steff!  It’s about how life isn’t always perfect!  It’s about how love and marriage aren’t always perfect!  It’s about life, man!  It’s just like, ya know, it’s just real!

All right.  In that case, I stand corrected.  The Five-Year Engagement is about life.  And how Michigan is evil.

Regardless of what it’s really “about,” it left me with a headache and a general feeling of, “My brain is broke.”  Or, ya know what?  That could just as easily been the boiling sun’s fault.  My advice to myself?  You don’t need to leave the house to listen to Lyre of Orpheus.

I am now going to watch this live footage over and over again until the lameness is replaced by wanton badassary.  And I’m hungry.  Spinach and feta chicken sausage, here I come.

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The Scuzzy Sons-of-Bitches Who Light Up My Life Part VI: Jack Kerouac

Scuzzy Son-of-a-Bitch #6:


Jack Kerouac

My Future Be-Bop Boyfriend

(2004)

My high school boyfriend bought me a poster of Jack Kerouac during our senior year.  I had never even read any Jack Kerouac — I was more into Allen Ginsberg’s homosexual rages and Charles Bukowski’s drunken stupors.  Nonetheless, he found a Jack Kerouac poster and thought of me.

He brought it to me one night when all I wanted to do was sit around and feel sorry for myself.  The school year had begun with a bang, to say the least.  I was Drama Club President (go ahead and laugh at me), as well as Co Editor-in-Chief of the high school newspaper (laugh harder).  I had to prepare for our school’s upcoming “Cabaret Night,” as I was hosting the prestigious event and I wanted to do a good job.  There was also the issue of mandatory play rehearsal until 5pm on top of writing a Goddamn play for the spring Murder Mystery Dinner and performing in improv shows every other Friday night.  Add to all this the horrible fucking reality of college applications and yeah, I was one angsty 17 year old.

I was sprawled on my bed moping about how I was losing touch with my friends and blah blah when I heard the familiar knock at the door.  My boyfriend always knocked — he never ever rang the doorbell.  My mom let him in, and he came upstairs and presented me with this awesome fucking poster.

“Where did you get this?” I asked.

“Cost Plus,” he said.

“What were you doing at Cost Plus?”

“They have the coolest chocolate,” he said.

He then procured a small tin of green tea chocolate and offered me a piece.  I didn’t fall in love with it, but I could understand why he did.  It was the same reason he chewed clove gum and ginger gum and got excited whenever he was in a place that carried Beeman’s.  He dug the weird sodas at BevMo and always opted for anything infused with chili powder or licorice.  He loved used record stores and antique stores and was always giving me dusty old Tom Jones albums because he knew my friends and I thought Tom Jones was funny.

I thanked him for the poster and told him why I was sad.  He gave me a back massage while I laid on my stomach, my bedroom door wide open for my parents’ peace of mind.

During Christmas vacation, I tried to read On the Road.  I got as far as Sal Paradise’s affair with the beautiful Mexican woman and their adventures in cotton-picking.  It was all very beautiful and very Beat, but once school started and it was time to focus on the next project, I had to put Jack down.

(2006)

During my freshman year of college I nabbed a brand new boyfriend who also gave me cute presents.  On Christmas he gave me ceramic figurine of a hummingbird, which was an inside reference to my very first panic attack — an event he got to witness one morning before the sun was even out.  On Saint Patrick’s day he gave me a ring that he had found when he was in middle school and vowed he would one day give to a special girl.  On Easter he sneaked into my room and hid candy eggs for me to find, which made some of the other girls in my dorm “Ooooh” and “Eeee!” and “You lucky bitch!”

He had never heard of Jack.  He didn’t read poetry.  He didn’t read.  I tried and tried to at least get him to read “Howl,” but he always refused.  One night, I finally got him to lie down with me and listen to a recording of Ginsberg reading it.  When it was over, the only comment my boyfriend offered was, “I liked the part about the watches.”  I tried to talk about societal revolutions and war and change, but the conversation didn’t last long.  I refused to give up, so I tried showing him Easy Rider.  When the movie was over all he had to say was, “You’re such a hippie.”

He also didn’t want to watch all the Beat Generation documentaries I rented on Netflix that year.  I couldn’t even get him to watch No Direction Home, even though his roommate had exposed him to Bob Dylan’s music, which my boyfriend claimed to like.  For the most part, anything having to do with poetry or music or counterculture was anathema to him.  This led to many nights of,

“You should come hang out downstairs.”

“No.  I wanna watch my movie.”

“Well come down afterward.”

“Nope.  I’m sleepin’ in my own bed tonight.”

“But I wanna see you.”

“Then watch the movie with me.”

“But I hate hippies.”

“The Beats weren’t hippies.”

Eventually he would go to his room and I would go to mine.  I would watch something about The Beats and he would do something else.  When the movie was over I would lean over to turn on the light, and Holy Metaphors!, I would be face to face with the Jack poster.

This behavior led to writing sentimental journal entries and scribbling short poems in the margins of my lecture notes and drinking way too much coffee and hoping that one day I would meet someone who really got me.  We’d go to San Francisco on the weekends and eat seafood and drink red wine and wander the streets tossing dimes to the bums and scat-diddly-dat-dat-datting back and forth in crazy love.

In August, one month before sophomore year started, I gave all the cute presents back and called the whole thing off.   One day, I came across some old CD’s of Jack reading his poetry with Steve Allen playing piano in the background.  I knew that we owned the CD’s because I had seem them in my mother’s bedroom before, but I had never thought to steal them.  Newly single and newly inspired, I brought them up to school with me in September and listened to “October in the Railroad Earth” while I pinned pictures of Johnny Depp to my bedroom walls.

Soon after school began, my mom took a trip up to Santa Cruz to visit me.  Well, okay, she wanted to check on me.  The split with the hippie hater had been a tough one, and my mom didn’t want me to spend my first weekend back in Santa Cruz sitting in my room and crying about some guy.  She drove up on Friday and spent the night, and the next morning she drove us to San Francisco.  We stayed in a small room at the Hotel Bohème in North Beach, and mom took me to City Lights and bought me Beatnik postcards.  We wandered into The Beat Museum, where we were given a tour by the owner.  He also showed us THIS:

On Monday morning, when mom drove home and left me to get on with my life, I felt absolutely cured.  I didn’t give a shit about boyfriend or ex-boyfriends.  Everything was going to be fine.  Everything was fine.  All I wanted to do was write poetry, and all I needed was my Jack Kerouac and Steve Allen CD.

(2012)

A few months ago, I quit my job and went on a road trip up north.  Before I left, I checked out an audiobook of On the Road.  I listened to it all the way to Santa Cruz, then a few days later I listened to it on my way to Menlo Park.  When it was time to drive to Alameda I put on The Dresden Dolls, and then when it was time to drive to San Francisco I listened to my new copy of Let Love In.

In San Francisco I ate dim sum in Chinatown and wandered around North Beach drinking Espresso and taking pictures of graffiti.  I had drinks at Cafe Vesuvio and scribbled in a notebook I bought on Valencia.  I was alone, and I was free, and I was happy.

One evening I crashed into the Beat Museum and asked the guy behind the counter if he had access to the Poet of the Month archives.  I told him that I had won Honorable Mention twice in 2007, and that I would like to have copies of my poems.  He explained that he didn’t have physical copies, but he could try to find them for me online.  He worked on his computer for about ten minutes before saying, “I found your poem from April.”  I said, “There’s one from May, too.”  He looked at his computer, then said to me, “That page has been corrupted.”  My face fell.  He said, “I can recover it.  Give me a second.”

About twenty minutes later, he announced that he had fixed the problem and I now had web access to my poem.  I thanked him profusely and bought some merchandise so I wouldn’t seem like a total asshole.

I was never able to find my poem online, but it’s okay.  Somehow, I feel that if I ever found it and read it, I would only see the stupid mistakes and the dorky word choices.  I would criticize myself, and I don’t want to do that.  Instead, I prefer to think that a perfect poem written by a romantic 20-year-old girl is somewhere out there floating around in the informational abyss, never to be seen by human eyes.  I think Jack would like that.

And I never finished listening to On the Road.  I think Jack would like that, too.

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The Scuzzy Sons-of-Bitches Who Light Up My Life Part V: Allen Ginsberg

Scuzzy Son-of-a-Bitch #5

Allen Ginsberg:

My First Fairy

(2004)

I was seventeen-years-old.  I was up late doing homework.  I was stressed out to the maximum.  Everything sucked.  I needed A’s, I needed to finish a gargantuan essay, and I needed sleep.  In my angst, I went to my bookshelf and grabbed the copy of Allen Ginsberg’s HOWL I had boosted from my mom a few months earlier.  Actually, I hadn’t even boosted it — my mom had given it to me.

Those opening lines freaked me out in the best way possible.  I needed a good freak out.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
      madness, starving, hysterical, naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
      looking for an angry fix
 

When I was done reading, I knew that my tastes had changed just a bit more.  I was already into Jim Morrison and Lou Reed, so I was no stranger to heavy writing (nor was I unclear about what an “angry fix” was).  However, despite their darkness, neither of them sang explicitly about being, “fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists.”  Not even Lou.

Who were expelled from the academies for crazy &
      publishing obscene odes on the window of the
      skull
 

Deep inside, I wanted to be a trouble-maker.  As a seventeen-year-old kid who had spent the first 3/4 of her high school career doing everything right, the idea of being “expelled from the academies for crazy” sounded like a blast.  In fact, that was why I was so behind on my gargantuan essay — instead of going home after school to work on it, I had driven to Malibu with my friend, Nicole.  No one knew where we were.  We got frozen yogurt.  Oh, how dangerous we felt.

Who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear,
      burning their money in wastebaskets and listening
      to the Terror through the wall
 

I knew that America was falling apart.  We had been building elementary schools in Afghanistan since I was a freshman and we had been preaching Democracy in Iraq for a year.  The freaking President of my own country scared the daylights out of me.  I couldn’t stand the very sight of him when he came on television.  Even the five second clips Jon Stewart used to make fun of him on The Daily Show were almost too much.  An election was coming up in November and dear God, I was furious that I wasn’t old enough to vote.

I also knew that this kind of stuff — meaning “art” — especially stuff that included the word “Terror,” was just plain not allowed.  How can you put “terror” in a poem or a song or a screenplay and not expect government backlash?  You were just begging to have your stuff pulled from the stores.  Your concerts canceled.  Your books burned.

Your phones tapped.

I don’t remember if I got anything done that night.  I remember finishing the poem, and I remember crying.  Everything was different and I was terrified.

The next morning, while sitting in my English class pretending to listen to the substitute teacher drone on about the green light at the end of The Great Gatsby, I looked through the index of our American Poetry Anthology.  Holy Hell, Allen Ginsberg was in there.  I flipped to his section and read “A Supermarket in California.”  When I finished it, I tuned back in to the lecture just long enough to hear the substitute mention Walt Whitman.  How the Hell had she gone from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Walt Whitman?  Did I miss a discussion about “O Captain! My Captain!”?

I took the Whitman tangeant as an opportunity to maintain the illusion that I was not only paying attention, but also brilliant.  I raised my hand.

“Have you heard of the poet Allen Ginsberg?” I asked.
The future English teacher shook her head.
“Oh.  Okay.  Because he has a poem called ‘A Supermarket in California,’ where he fantasizes about walking through a supermarket with Walt Whitman.  It’s actually in our book, on page 325…”

I analyzed the Hell outta that poem.  I talked about alienation and consumerism and The American Dream.  No one followed along with me — the idea of deviating from the curriculum was too scary, I guess.  Plus, this was AP English, where there was zero time for, ya know, thinking.

The substitute didn’t have much to say aside from, “Oh, neat.  Thank you.”

To say that I felt cool would be an understatement.  I went right back to reading poetry, and the substitute went right back to quoting from her teacher’s edition.

      Where are we going, Walt Whitman?  The doors close
in an hour.  Which way does your beard point tonight?
      (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the
supermarket and feel absurd.)
      Will we walk all night through solitary streets?  The
trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both
be
lonely

(2007)

I was twenty-years-old.  I had been up all night doing homework.  I was stressed out to the maximum…

Everything rocked.  I had one hour to finish my final essay for my 19th Century American Poetry class.  All I needed to write was my closing statement, and then I would be done for the quarter.  I got to choose my own topic, so I chose to compare Walt Whitman to Allen Ginsberg to Bob Dylan.  Instead of sticking to the 8 – 10 pages, I somehow wrote 15.  My title?

The Body Electric, Copulations Ecstatic, and the Heart Attack Machine:
An Appreciation of the Twisted Minds of Whitman, Ginsberg, and Dylan

When I finished the damn thing, I felt like a genius.  I was Joe College to the max.  Of course, when I tried to re-read the thing the other night, I could hardly handle it.  It is definitely not my best work, and I will never understand why my TA gave me an A+.  I am not fishing for compliments here.  I really, truly don’t understand.  However, I do think my closing paragraph shows potential:

      Last summer I had a dream that I was in a tattoo parlor in San Francisco brainstorming what kind of tattoo I wanted to get.  As I walked down the aisles of posters with samples of symbols I could choose from, I suddenly decided that I wanted to have one of Dylan’s lyrics emblazoned on my skin instead.  Of course in the real world it would take a long time to choose which lyric I wanted, but in my dream I instantly decided I wanted the line “Jeez, I can’t find my knees” from “Visions of Johanna” on my upper-thigh.  Soon after, when I woke up and realized it had been a dream, I felt a bit disappointed that I did not actually get the tattoo.  When I told my mother about my dream, she thought I was a genius for thinking of that in my sleep.  While I am still flattered by her motherly support, I must clarify that I am not the one who is a genius.  Instead, my dream was the result of a long line of brilliance that has just as much resonance today as it did over a century ago.  Whitman’s “gray-beard” appeared in Ginsberg’s supermarket, Ginsberg’s Howl echoed in Dylan’s brain, and now Dylan’s lyrics ring out in the tattoo parlor of my mind.  These three men, with their powerful voices and powerful minds, accomplished so much in their time that it would be impossible for America to ever forget them.  They will never be silenced.

I like knowing that seventeen-year-old Stephanie and twenty-year-old Stephanie weren’t two completely different people.  If time-travel is like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, I think that those former versions of myself would get along with each other if they ever wound up in front of the same Circle K.

I don’t think present day Stephanie would shun either of those girls, either.  There is a decent amount of serious dorkiness going on here…

Well, all right.  I guess it’s fair to say I haven’t changed at all.  I’m still up late writing about Allen Ginsberg and geeking out over the copy of Planet News I bought on my last trip to San Francisco.  America still scares me and I still want the war to end.  My favorite poems and songs don’t explicitly contain details about being, “fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists,” but I do have a hard and fast “The Weirder The Better” policy when it comes to all forms of entertainment.

And while yes, my idea of “dangerous” has changed, I still get a kick out of driving to Malibu for frozen yogurt.

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The Beat Goes On III, or: I Think I Get It Now.

What’s there to live for?
Who needs the peace corps?
Think I’ll just DROP OUT

I’m sitting in a coffee shop in San Francisco.  Progressive Grounds.  I had two mugs of black tea when I woke up this morning; I don’t need this giant cup of coffee.  This stuff is SERIOUS.  I’ve been nursing it for nearly an hour and I haven’t even finished 1/4 of the thing. With every little baby sip my heart starts racing like I just broke bread with George Jung.

I’ve been away from home for 11 days.  (Wait, Holy Cow, really?  I’ll have to celebrate…)  I’ve been in Santa Cruz, Menlo Park, Alameda, and, now, San Francisco.

Santa Cruz was a lot of  fabulous silliness that was briefly interrupted by an afternoon of dismal introspection catapulted by the misunderstanding that the bastards who stole my iPod from my car also stole my most prized nostalgic possession.  After Santa Cruz came a brief, much-needed low-key interlude in La Selva beach, where I got to spend two nights in an actual bed.  I also spent a lovely afternoon in Monterey taking pictures of headstones and crying underneath cemetery trees.  (Did anyone else just think of this song?)  Menlo Park was a brilliant afternoon and evening of Chinese Food and Catch Up.  I was back on the couch, but the couch was a comfy one.

When I got to Alameda I was ready to get silly again.  I stayed with a friend I hadn’t seen since July of 2010.  She studies Molecular Biology and she loves Judas Priest and Bridget Jones’s Diary.  She took me out for bratwurst and sauerkraut and I stole a drink coaster.  After lunch we bummed around downtown for awhile and eventually walked into a psychic shop.  We asked how much it would cost to have our palms read.  The cost was super cheap.  I went first.

The woman took me into a little room and sat me down.  She asked me my full name and date of birth, and then she looked at my hands.

“You have a long, full life ahead of you,” she said.

I was unimpressed.

“I don’t see any death or tragedy in your family.”

Cool.  Still, I was unimpressed.

The woman paused for a moment, and then her voice took on a more serious tone as she said, “I will say this: you’re procrastinating.”

I looked at her.  She was younger and prettier than I usually imagine psychics to be.  She had all her teeth and her skin was perfect and there wasn’t a single gray hair on her head.

“You’re creative,” she said.  “Every thought that comes into your head is creative.  But you’re procrastinating when it comes to work and school.  I don’t think you’re done with school.  But what you need to be doing now is focusing on your writing.

I stopped breathing.

“I definitely see a book in your future,” she continued.  “You already have it completely planned in your head — you just need to get to work writing it down.

I took a breath.  I whispered, “I know.”  My eyes welled up with tears.  I apologized for being emotional and laughed at the contrived profundity I seem to encounter everywhere I go.

To give me a break from the heaviness she was layin’ on me, she talked about my love life.  She didn’t have anything monumental to say — she basically confirmed my suspicion that I’m actually completely fine with the fact that I’m single.  Once that was out of the way, she went back to the main issue.  She said, “Take a creative writing class.”

I held my breath again as I remembered an email I received a few days before my trip.  An author I met in December wrote to me and said she would love for me to participate in a creative writing class she was going to be starting.  I didn’t respond to her.  Why?  Apparently I’m a procrastinator.

The psychic asked me if I had any questions.  I asked about my location, and she said, “I’d like you to be closer to the water.”  Totally not weird.  Because, ya know, I never EVER fantasize about moving to Santa Cruz or San Francisco or Seattle…

She ended her reading by saying, “Write your book.”  I ended by saying, “How the HELL did you know all that?”

She only asked me for my full name and date of birth.  I didn’t show her my ID, tell her where I was from, tell her that I do, in fact, want to write a book and that I do, in fact, spend less time working on my writing than I should and that I do, in fact, want to live near water.

I don’t think I can continue to distract myself from doing what I really want to do.  Why it took a psychic to convince me that it’s time to get serious and declare myself a fucking writer is something I will never understand.  We’re all different, I guess.

Intermission.

That night my friend and I got in trouble at a Tikki Bar for causing a ruckus.  We were mainly disturbing the bartender, Jared.  At first we both thought he was a total babe, but at some point in the night when we asked him for more drinks, he told us he’d have to ask his manager first.  “Why can’t we have another drink?” asked my friend.  Jared gave us a list of things “polite customers” — customers who deserve their handcrafted Tikki cocktails! — don’t do.  He said that polite customers “don’t steal.”  My friend and I fell silent.  You see, I’d been sneaking pieces of pineapple when no one was looking, and I also had a purse full of Tikki God cocktail stirrers.  Jared then added that polite customers, “don’t say ‘The F-Word.’”  We fell even more silent.  You see, my friend had been saying “The F-Word” quite loudly, and quite a lot.  When the lecture was over, she said, “Fuck you, Jared.”  I took another stirrer.

We still got our drinks, and we still stole shit and swore.  It was all in good fun, and no one else at the bar seemed to be annoyed by our shenanigans.

That night we went to a house party in Oakland to see a band.  They played “DARK FOLK.”  They also wore long, black cloaks, which looked a good deal like long, black Snuggies.  I kept screaming, “YOU LOOK LIKE NICK CAVE!” at one of them.  The sight of their guitars made me miss my ukulele and I cursed myself for not lugging it with me.  Lord knows I could have at least busted out a mediocre rendition of “Creep” and made a few nickels on Pacific…

The next day we went to Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley and bought CDs and ate Indian Food.  I also bought a Rolling Stones T-Shirt in a thrift shop (and I’ve been wearing it for the last two days).  That night we went downtown and drank dark beers and I stole another drink coaster.

The next day we drove to Oakland to check out Lake Merritt.  We rented a paddle boat and rode around in the lake chasing seagulls and fantasizing that the pieces of wood we saw floating around were actually sea monsters.  Every time we saw a piece of trash floating by, we vowed to one day return to the lake with a giant net.

After one last meal together my friend made it clear that it was time for her to face the fact that she had homework to do.  This meant it was time for me to hit the road.

I’ll go to Frisco
Buy a wig & sleep
On Owsley’s floor

I had bought a copy of Let Love In by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds while I was at Rasputin on Telegraph.  I was so amped while listening to “Loverman” that I drove right passed the toll booth when I crossed the Bay Bridge.

Can You Blame Me?

My first night here was spent watching Mad Men with my cousin and eating Chinese take out.  The next day, yesterday, I walked around Valencia and bought a coffee mug and a t-shirt and a note pad.  I grabbed a taxi to North Beach and got out on Columbus avenue.  I turned the corner to Chinatown and got some Dim Sum, which cost $1.30.  I was good and full, so I bought a book at City Lights and sat down inside Cafe Vesuvio to chill out.  Two guys sitting at the bar were singing “Ghost” and I felt completely at peace.  When they were done singing some freaking Decemberists song came on and Good God I will always be team Aeroplane.

Walked past the wig store
Danced at the Fillmore
I’m completely stoned

I was broke so I went across the street to The Beat Museum.  I asked the guy behind the counter if they were still doing the “Poet of the Month” contest, and when he said “No” I asked if there was any way I could check out the archives.  I said I was awarded Honorable Mention twice in 2007, and that I could only find one of the poems online.  He was really sweet and spent a long time searching for the May 2007 results, and when he found that the web page was corrupted (or corrupt?) he fixed it for me.  I felt bad for making him do all that work, so I bought some Allen Ginsberg poetry and was even more broke.

I tried searching for the poem earlier this afternoon.  I still can’t find it.

I’m hippy & I’m trippy
I’m a gypsy on my own
I’ll stay a week
& get the crabs
& Take a bus back home
I’m really just a phony
But forgive me
‘Cause I’m stoned

When I got back to my cousin’s place we went out for Vietnamese.  We ate garlic noodles and prawns with spicy green beans and more garlic.  Then we went back to her house and watched the last four episodes of the third season of Mad Men.  That show only gets better every time I watch it.  This time I enjoyed it all so much I was almost impressed with January Jones’s acting.

Still, it’s always been about this big hunk-o-gangsta.

I had a bizarre sex dream last night, and when I woke up this morning I kept my eyes closed so I could remember all the crazy details.  They’re still a bit fuzzy, but I do know that at one point in the dream I was very mad at the young man I had just spent the night with because he was ignoring me during a screening of Lawrence of Arabia in 3D.  This confused me, because he was more than willing to skip the screening of Cat People the night before just to be with me.  I think that the preposterousness of it all demonstrates a new all time high in Dorky Dreams.

When I got out of bed I thought I’d maybe go to Haight Street…

Every town must have a place
Where phony hippies meet

Buy another mug or three…

Psychedelic dungeons
Popping up every street

Instead I got up and went to a donut place near my cousin’s house, where I ate a maple bacon apple donut.  And It Was Good.

I never made it to Haight Street.  Instead I creeped inside a tiny coffee shop and did some writing.  And ya know what?  I had a great time.  It was fun and challenging and I feel like it’s time to take a walk.

I definitely see more writing in my future.  I also see Don Draper.  And an ice cream cone.

GO TO SAN FRANCISCO
How I love ya, How I love ya How I love ya, How I love ya Frisco!

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The Beat Goes On II

Ya know what happened to me yesterday right after I posted my blog about how I had a total breakdown when I realized that my Powerpuff Girls CD case was stolen from my car?

I found my Powerpuff Girls CD case.  I also found the Kerouac.  They were hidden underneath a towel in the back seat of my car.  Ya know what?  I’m glad I hid them.  Sure, I was upset for a day, but in the long run…wow, man.  Such a relief.

The iPod, however, has probably been sold for crack money by now.  Oh well.  The thing was starting to act up, anyway.

I spent most of yesterday bumming around the mountains.  Those mountain towns have always had profoundly calming effects on me.  During my last year in Santa Cruz I would sometimes drive all the way to Ben Lomond just to buy almond milk and kombucha.  Their stuff wasn’t any better than what I could get downtown, but the surroundings…wow.

I went into a little ukulele store on Highway 9 near White Raven and Don Quixote’s.  I’d never seen the place before — I guess they’ve only been open a little over a year.  I was already missing my cute like ukulele, but when I walked into the store I felt 100x’s worse.  I could have asked the guy behind the counter for a quick lesson, or asked him for some tips on quick and easy tuning.  ::Sigh::  Instead, I just basked in the glory of all the cute little ukes on the wall.

I took a lot of pictures of Felton, then drove a little further inland to get some pretty shots of Ben Lomond and Boulder Creek as well.  Boulder Creek definitely looked the most beautiful, and I had an absolute blast wandering up and down “the strip” taking pictures of the old timey-lookin’ buildings.  I felt 100% at peace.  I don’t know if I could ever live in the Santa Cruz mountains full time, but if I’m ever filthy rich and can afford to have multiple homes, I will definitely have a getaway pad somewhere over there.  I’ll decorate it with Jackalopes.  And Ukelopes…

Call me crazy, but I think the ukulele guy is having a laugh at this fellow Felton resident’s expense.  I’m not choosing sides — they both enrich my life.

After my wilderness adventures I headed back to the city of Santa Cruz, during which time Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty made their way to New Orleans to visit Old Bull Lee.  All the talk of saloons and sex and Benzedrine made me realize how much I wanted a shower, so I stopped at a house where a few friends of mine live to ask if I could use their shower.  Luckily my friend Dan was there to let me in, so I was able to clean up and relax a little bit before heading back downtown for a last-minute “Happy Birthday” drink with a friend.  After I was all clean I put on Dan’s VHS copy of Annie Hall and got comfortable.  I teared up a few times, especially when Annie and Alvy got back together after he killed the spider in her apartment.  When I finally got up to leave, Dan turned to me and gave me a speech about living life to the fullest.  I almost broke down and sobbed.  I didn’t, though, and I was able to get to the bar on time with my mascara in tact.

I had a Shirley Temple to toast my friend’s birthday, and then I was on my way to Watsonville to stay with my dearest, most darling friend Danielle.  I stayed up late screwing around on the internet and feeling ever so happy that I was in my dearest, most darling friend Danielle’s house.

Today we went to Monterey.  Danielle had an appointment there, so she pointed me in the direction of a pretty park near a lake where I could hang out and take pictures while I waited for her.  I crossed the white bridge over the lake and found myself in a cemetery, where I ended up taking pictures of strangers’s graves and crying over all the headstones that said things like,

Baby Winter

January 30, 1946

I was most overwhelmed by the baby that lived for two days.  So overwhelmed, in fact, that I had to sit down and scribble a few notes.  While I was doing that, I saw a woman praying underneath a nearby tree.  When she finished praying she made the sign of the cross, then she knelt down and set something on a grave.  When she left, I tried to figure out which grave she was praying at.  I narrowed it down to two possibilities.

After an hour I made my way back to Danielle’s car.  I threw my stuff inside and we sped off to Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch.  When I went to grab my coat, I saw that I had forgotten my purse.

Yes.

I forgot my purse in the cemetery.

We drove back, and my purse was on the bench right where I set it when I sat down to scribble and watch that woman pray.

Wow.

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