Archive for May, 2005

Sex and the Single Girl

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

Mood: Waiting for the night to come
Drinking: Two-fisted, even

When you don’t do the out-of-town thing for Memorial Day weekend, you usually end up on your ass in front of a screen of some sort. Computer. Movie. TV. I chose the TV option this weekend.

I did spend *some* of the holiday weekend off my ass…took the LeeLoo for a multitude of walks, went for a long motorcycle jaunt with Boy, did the barbeque thing with friends, spent Saturday on the boardwalk in Santa Cruz (mmmm, taffy) with S and MTB and Boy. Sunscreen was liberally applied. But there was a whole day when Boy and pals went off-roading and I opted to skip the jouncing over rocks and through mudholes and sit on my ass.

Having recently finished the Firefly DVD set (have I mentioned how much I’m loving Joss Whedon, again?), I needed some new distraction that would last longer than the average movie-minute. So I decided to go with the cliche and order up some Sex and the City. (I had never seen it before, mostly b/c I always thought it looked almost as stupid as Britney Spear’s stage outfits. Plus, I’ve always had a full slate of favorite shows and not much room for promiscuous WASPy bitches.)

I have to preface this confession by saying that Sarah Jessica Parker is on my “Euw!” List. I’m not a fan, never have been a fan, never will be a fan, and get rid of that nasty mole already! But I was weakened by boredom and, let’s face it, a fairly large helping of cat-killing curiosity.

So. Three Sex and the City discs later, I’m in Season Two and already over it. I’m sure this is blasphemy to some, but this is my web site, so all the Carrie Bradshaw fans can shut it. I’m not going to waste space with a list of reasons of why I don’t give a shit about SATC (bad writing, bad clothes and dirty, dirty whores). But I will say that it got me thinking about my own single girl days.

Back in college a girlfriend and I came up with the theory that there are two basic specimens of female in the dating world: The River People and the Desert People.

River people float along all carefree with the wind in their hair, docking their little shapely boat at any place along the riverbank that looks welcoming. Meanwhile, the desert people stumble along with cracked lips and sandblasted skin, searching the horizon for any sign of an oasis, and often going for years without seeing one.

Translation: River people are the girls who are NEVER without a boyfriend. They often have a new boyfriend before they bother to discard the old one. And the Desert girls are the ones with large stretches of empty space in their love lives. Which is not to say that they don’t have plenty to fill up the space. But they are more often than not “without”.

I, of course, was a Desert person, and tended to hang out with Desert people, also. I had four real boyfriends and a handful of flings from the time I was 18 until Boy hitched my star to his wagon (or vice versa) when I turned 28. Before Boy, my longest relationship was 9 months. With a year or two or three of desert in between.

I’m glad I was a nomad, though. I liked it out there. I got tough. I got creative. I got busy with my own life. I learned how to be independent and self-sufficient and how to hang on to my girlfriends. But as a typical desert-dweller, I also learned how it felt to be the “pal” gal. The one the guys call to go rollerblading down Michigan Avenue at 2 in the morning with the rest of the “guys”. The one the guys call to fill out the group of holiday skiers. The one the guys call to talk about the girl they really like. Yup. I was a most excellent gal pal.

(Thank god Boy never wanted to be pals.)

Anyway, it all reminded me of a little thing I wrote back in 1997. A little thing about a boy who thought of me fondly as one of his very best “gal pals”. And it didn’t even matter that, had he asked me, I would have (most likely) said “No!”. What mattered was that he didn’t. What mattered was that he called me up, often, late at night, to talk about someone else who took his breath away…

BREATHING

He called to say
she left him
breathless.

Tongue twisting
around his eyeteeth
while he looked for
perfect words
and spoke the wrong ones
stupidly.

Knees knocking
at the door of
manliness since
he saw her in church
so he couldn’t be
horny.

Heart leaking
love jelly
through the seams
of his chest and his
missing rib ached
when he finally blinked
to breathe.

He called to say
she’s beautiful
intelligent
and sweet. She
makes him laugh
and makes him
dream but he won’t
tell her that.

She makes him
nervous.

He called to say
“Thanks for listening.”
He can tell me
anything.

Yeah.
I always leave him
breathing.

-Lo, who would never have survived the river, anyhow.

Bored Now, not live but in color!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

Mood: Deleriously Exhausted
Drinking: Cuppa tea

Breaking News: Cinepoem #2 is up! It’s live and alive and shiny and new and here.

You must go see it. It’s called “Bored Now” and yes, I am a vampire Willow fan. And if you don’t recognize that reference, you never loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (All bow to Joss Whedon, geniusgod.)

A mild warning that Cinepoem #2 is a long one (7-ish minutes), so it might cause complications for you dial-up folks. But well-worth it, in my self-absorbed opinion.

In other cinepoem news, we just finished our 3rd video shoot a couple of hours ago. (We being my beloved S, who has a starring role, and my favorite M & M.) Cinepoem #3 is very different from the other two, but that’s the idea. We’re trying to make them all their own special thing. Anyway, #3 is called “Slow Roast” and it’s set in a diner. So we spent the day eating pancakes and watching me pretend to be a waitress. Buckets of fun. We’ll start editing that one soon, so by the time you’re all bored with “Bored Now” (or by the time your dial-up finally downloads it all), we’ll have a shiny new cinepoem for you.

But that’s getting all ahead of the game. So go check out “Bored Now”.

-Lo, who’s going to go to take a nap now. Showbizness is so exhausting.

P.S. Hey V (a.k.a. “New Friend”)… If you’re reading this, I did get your gorgeous photos and fabulous emails and I shall be writing you back soon. After I am all napped and refreshed and able to type coherent sentences. Promise!

Morning After

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

Mood: Placid
Drinking: Of course

I finally got behind a mic last night.

It’s been much too long. When I lived in Chicago, you couldn’t keep me off the stage. I grabbed a microphone every chance I could get. I slammed at The Green Mill (and won a coupla lottery tickets) and did the open mic there, too. I read at churches and tea houses and parties and concerts. I was addicted to the sound of a real, live audience.

And then I moved 2,000 miles west and shut up.

There were a lot of reasons for the silence. I packed a couple of serious life changes into a few month’s time. I left all my friends and history behind me for the promised land of fog and inspiration. But when I got here, I was bereft of all that anticipated inspiration.

It didn’t seem so at first. I’ll never forget the moment our U-Haul (bearing all our worldy possessions, including our only vehicle since we sold our cars–Boy’s old yellow motorcycle) rounded the corner and rolled out of the Waldo tunnel and we saw the red towers of the Golden Gate bridge shining up ahead. Boy and I looked at each other and grinned. “We’re home!” I said.

The first few weeks were full of the fun of finding a flat, exploring the city, starting a new job (downtown at a fancy agency that was spitting distance from the Transamerica Building). We were giddy. But not for long.

Just days after we signed the lease on a gorgeous 2 bedroom flat with an ocean view and a garbage disposal, the bottom fell out. Seems we had arrived on the west coast just in time for the dot com crash. And since my fancy agency was chock full of dot com clients, well, they crashed. And as the newest employee, my head was the first on the chopping block.

I was wearing pigtails, a miniskirt, big stompy boots and a David Bowie t-shirt (with glitter) on the day I got laid off.

All I could think as I sat there trying to comprehend the pitying looks and conciliatory tones was, “I should have worn something more serious today. I look like a 15-year old.” Followed by, “David Bowie is bad luck!”

I didn’t know, as I collected the requisite box full of office belongings and stood on the corner, whimpering and waiting for Boy on his yellow motorcycle, I didn’t know that this was just the first of four layoffs I would experience in a single year. The world was definitely crashing.

For the next couple of weeks I woke up with panic attacks and lay on the couch in flannel pajama pants, eating Tostitos and watching the sideburns grow on 90210. When I got laid off, Boy didn’t even have a job yet–we had moved west on my shiny new salary. Somehow he managed to land one quickly, but his monthly salary just paid our exorbitant San Francisco rent, with $2 left over.

We bought groceries with unemployment checks. I had never felt like such a failure.

I refused to answer phone calls from my friends back in Chicago. I didn’t want them to know. I didn’t want them to talk to me about giving up and moving back “home.” San Francisco was my home, and no matter how much it hurt, I was determined to stay.

For a girl who got through college on an honors scholarship, a teacher’s pet and chronic overachiever, being laid off was unthinkable. I spent hours at the Kinko’s on Sloat, copying my resume over and over. I sent out hundreds. But all over the city, all over the Bay Area, there were thousands of people like me, and we were all desperately applying for the same job.

I finally took a temp job as a secretary for a scary non-profit organization. And got laid off. I landed a job at an online radio station that I was completely overqualified for. They offered me much less than my old salary. I took it without blinking. I showed up for my first day of work and the doors were locked. Another dot com, bankrupt.

Every rejection, every defeat, just pushed me further into panicky blackness. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t write. And I certainly couldn’t get up onstage.

It’s been almost five years now since we first arrived and I’ve had the same job for two years. I started writing for myself again and making plans and working on projects and shooting cinepoems. But I still didn’t get back onstage. I visited the Berkeley Poetry Slam last fall, the one at the Starry Plough on Shattuck. I knew I could write circles around most of the poets who performed, but I didn’t sign up. I even told the host that I used to slam at the Green Mill. He got all excited and told me to come back. It took me six months.

When I finally returned, I got there early. I was the first person to sign my name on the list of readers. But they do a lottery at the Berkeley Slam. They pull your name from a hat, and they didn’t pull mine. So I sat there all night with a fistful of poems and a head full of adrenaline, and I didn’t get onstage.

But since that one wasn’t for lack of trying on my part, I just got more determined. And when I heard that local heroine Daphne Gottlieb (who kindly met me for drinks a coupla weeks ago, thanks, Daphne!) was reading at an open mic in the Castro, well, that was it.

I got to SMACKdab early last night. I signed my name at lucky #7. The fabulous Kirk Read was all smiles with his pink feather boa and made me feel right at home, even though I was the only straight person in the room. Way I figure it, there’s no better place for your poetic coming-out than at a gay men’s community center. And I was right.

The audience was warm, respectful and appreciative and my fellow performers were by turns adorable, hilarious and brilliant. (Some unintentionally so.) So, after 5 long years, I consider the cherry re-popped and I’m eagerly anticipating my next microphone.

Although this isn’t the poem I read last night (I’m saving that one ‘cuz she’s extra-special), this is a poem that I wrote shortly after the whole shock treatment of being laid off finally started to wear off. I actually wrote it at the request of Wil Foster (of Sheltershed), who sent me some music tracks from his “International Plastic” album that he wanted me to write poetry for. The track I wrote this poem for was called “Dreams”. (You can listen to the finished version in The Library.)

Here it is in print:

I am living in a dream
with skin on.
Vision formed of things to touch,
things to see.
And it is much more complicated now.

Once it was a someday thing.
(wish i may, wish i might)
But now it’s real and I am here.
(look and touch, taste and see)

What do you do
when the dream comes alive?
When the white statue breathes
and the marble flesh grows warm.
(does it come alive just in time to die)

Step down from the pedestal now.
Draw a deep newborn breath
and leave perfection far behind.
To be flawless is a dreamland thing.
(now we live and fall apart)

The porcelain shows pores.
The mouth opens sores.
And this is what happens
when dreams come true.

-Lo, who knows that sometimes the fantasy is better than the reality, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the fantasy is better for you.

Really and Truly?

Monday, May 9th, 2005

Mood: Delighted
Drinking: Raspberry Tea

So I just discovered that somebody out there found my site by searching for “deoxyribonucleic assholes.”

That. Is. Awesome.

Of course, if you were googling “backseat bitches”, “bad ass gas scooters”, “scottish lass” or (WTF?) “lass sex”, you may have ended up here, too. I probably don’t have exactly what you’re looking for (especially not “lass sex”), but, um, welcome.

And to the single soul out there, I do hope you find your deoxyribonucleic asshole someday, somewhere, somehow.

-Lo, who would also like to welcome the 429 people who arrived here by searching for Shirley Manson. Hey, if you see her anywhere around here, let me know. I’d like to borrow her eyeliner.

Still in bed on a Sunday Morning

Sunday, May 8th, 2005

Mood: Waking life
Drinking: Too lazy to get up and get one

I’m all propped up on pillows with my wicked little laptop whilst the LeeLoo sits here staring at me, all wrinkly and doe-eyed, hoping I’ve got a jar of peanut butter or some other tasty niblet stashed in the bedside table. Boy’s side is empty ‘cuz he’s somewhere in Colorado, heading this way by car with our fabulous friend MTB. After years of baldfaced begging and not-so-subtle hints on our part, MTB is taking the plunge and moving from Gnashville to San Francisco, and we are beside ourselves with excitement about the whole thing. So MTB and Boy, who are former roommates and lifetime friends, are doing the male bonding thing by driving through moutains & desert together for a coupla days.

Believe me, if we could relocate all our friends to our favorite city, we would.

Usually on Sunday mornings I wake up, check the clock and roll back over for my one-day-a-week of uninterrupted sleep-in time. But today, for the first time in a long time, I thought, “Hey, it’s Sunday. And somewhere out there, lotsa people are going to church.” And then I rolled back over.

I used to be one of those church girls. I grew up in it. My parents were sporadic church attenders, but since they wanted my sister and I to get a good education, they sent us to a parochial school. We got a good education and more than our fair share of irrational guilt. Chapel was mandatory. And they (not my parents, the school) guilted you into church attendance, too. Not just Sunday morning, but Sunday night and Wednesday night. “Every time the church doors are open,” was the saying.

The story of how I came to be the non-church-attending heathen I am today is a longwinded tale, and my fingers have just woken up and haven’t eaten yet, so they’re not even going to attempt the marathon typing session that would require. I’ll just say that all those preachers in all those ill-fitting JCPenney suits who pounded their Bibles at us in all those midweek chapel sessions, well, they were wrong.

They were wrong about a great many things. But in this case, they were wrong when they made fun of people who favored the solace of nature over church. I can’t even count the times I heard the example of the “backslidden Christian” who said, “I feel closer to God out in the woods/beach/desert/mountains than in a church, so that is where I do my worshipping.” And all those small-town preachers used to smirk and scoff and say “Can you believe that nonsense? THE CHURCH is where you worship. Among God’s people. Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together! Mutter, mutter, mutter.”

Well, I have forsaken the assembling. I have forsaken it for the woods and the beach. I have forsaken it BECAUSE of “God’s people”. This is not to say that I think all of those who call themselves Christians are to be avoided. My parents, my sister, my brother-in-law, some of my good friends are all church-attending Christians, and I have nothing but respect for them and for the way they lead their lives. They are amazing, loving, kind and brilliant people.

But, truth be told, the majority of Christians I have encoutered in my history of church are to be avoided. And I have done that, rather successfully, for the past 5 or so years.

But there’s this thing that I did that still connects me to the church world, and today that’s what made me wake up and think of pews. Back in 1998, when I lived in Chicago, a friend of mine asked me for a favor. He was speaking at a Christian conference in this really huge (freakish, frightening) church, about Generation X. (Which was, at the time, all the rage.)

Being the GenX poster child that I was, at the time, and being a practiced performance poet (which I also was, at the time), my friend asked me to write a piece about what it meant to be a GenX’er and read it during his session at this conference. He told me that the audience was 99% Baby Boomers and that they had no understanding of my generation.

So I did. I wrote this piece, an essay-type-thing, titled “This is who I am.” And I read it for this audience of Boomers, a couple thousand of them. I read it with absolutely no comprehension of what a big deal it would become.

Seven years later, people still talk to me about that performance. See, it was videotaped. And the video has been copied and sold and sold and sold. It’s been shown in classrooms and churches and conferences. It’s been taken to Norway and Australia and Florida. And this week I received, through this web site, two separate emails from two people who just saw the video.

I would have been a lot more nervous at that performance had I known how long this thing would last. I definitely would have written it differently. Because us GenXers, we’re not the thing anymore. We’re all grown up and having babies and mortgages and making sure our cars have 4-doors. And yet this video, this little speech about a generation gap, it lives on and on and on.

And people somehow still find it relevant. And moving. And powerful, even. And most of these people are church people. They write and tell me they’re praying for God to “bless your ministry.” And although I appreciate the sentiment (I mean, it can’t hurt to have lots of strangers praying down blessings upon you, can it), it freaks me out a little. Especially since my “ministry” consists mainly of being a bitchy, moody, misanthropic poet.

If they come to this website and find this journal with its prolific use of the word “fuck”, I’m sure they quickly figure out that they may not be dealing with a holy roller. (But then, my little GenX piece, while profanity-free, was definitely not a rah-rah sunday school speech.)

It’s just ironic to me that of all the things I have written, the one that has gotten the most attention thus far is an essay written on assignment for the “people of God”.

I have removed myself so far from the land of Christianese that it is always surprising to receive these emails. They don’t come all the time, so usually I have forgotten about the video altogether and then someone will write and say things like, “What a tremendous impact God has been able to accomplish through your efforts. Thanks for being a blessing for the Lord.” And I’ll be all, “Huh?”

I shouldn’t complain. And I’m not, really. I’m just mystified, I guess. And so I sit here in bed on a Sunday morning, all snuggled with the LeeLoo, and to be perfectly honest, just sitting here all contemplative with my computer is better than any church experience I’ve ever had.

So all you folks who stumble across this site having seen that video somewhere, consider yourselves warned. I’m just trying to be up front here: I am not the church girl you might have been expecting. I am happily backslidden. I swear a lot. I worship God in the woods and on the beach. I spend my Sunday mornings communing with my pillow. And I like it this way. I think my faith in God works better this way. Just want to make sure we all understand each other. So I welcome your prayers and your blessings. But not your sermons.

And I am mystified and humbled that a little 7-minute, 7-year-old performance is still making the rounds and moving people enough that they will track me down. But if I were to be completely honest, I would trade all that in-church publicity for a little more name recognition out-of-church.

Because it’s just better out here.

-Lo, who was once asked by a chrome-domed preacher if she was a witch. You know, because “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” and all.

Miserable and Inadequate

Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

Mood: tingly, and not in the good way
Drinking: Diet V. Coke. (i’m not an addict, i swear)

Ran across an old interview this a.m. with poet Justin Chin. (Justin writes amazing things like this: “Cats and dogs see spirits that humans do not. When I walk through my apartment with my cat, we see different things. I see a mess that needs cleaning up, a stove, a scratching post, a dehydrated plant. My cat sees powerless demons lounging around with nothing to do…”)

Anyway, in this interview, Justin answers a question about his reading habits by saying, “I like books that instill jealousy and feelings of insecurity and worthlessness in me and my art… I also love Alice Munro. She makes it looks so effortless. She can write soft, slow, pretty stories with such underlying turbulence. Crafty and subversive ? God, I love her work, but it always makes me feel so miserable and inadequate afterwards.”

I cannot tell you how comforting it was to read that. Comforting in the sense of “Ah, you too? So I am not the only one, then.”

I have often thought that the so-called artists who strut about with puffy banty chests, thinking to themselves, “God, I am so fucking awesome and talented and did I mention AWESOME!” — I’ve often thought that those guys are the ones who actually suck. While the people who actually have a spark of talent are the ones groveling about in dark corners, hog-tied by the growing fear that they actually DO suck, that they are never going to get it right, and yet they pick up a pen and write, anyway, in spite of the fear, because of the fear. Those are the ones I like to read.

And those are the ones that send me whimpering into dark corners, all miserable and inadequate. All my favorite writers do that to me. It’s this delicious coupling of amazement and abasement. The thrill of discovering gorgeous lines of words all strung together just so and perfectly balanced and the simultaneous falling feeling in your gut while all your demons crowd into an impromptu moshpit on your shoulders, pushing and shoving and screaming, “You will never, ever, ever write anything even three-tenths as good as that, you pitiful hack!”

All I know is the day that I really suck will be the day I listen to those demons and put down my pen.

-Lo, who by the way, would like to say that the chick on the Overstock.com commercials is just too fucking creepy. “Sometimes it’s all about the office. Oh! Oh! Oooooooh!”
Yick.