Wednesday, December 31, 2008

no time for resolutions, docta jones.

1. move somewhere amazing.
2. quit smoking... maybe.
3. get paid for writing.

adios, two-thousand-and-great. I shant miss ye!

hello, 2k9. let's get it on, already.

happy new year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

maybe even you

as it turns out, a handsomely scruffy midwestern snowshoeing musical prodigy has absconded with my heart to the pacific northwest.

I met mm on a friday night at a show that I grudgingly showed up to after having a day of shear madness at the salon that would make the faint of heart implode. the dragon lady was in full effect and the pre-holiday rush to get everyone's roots done before they see their judgmental mothers was imminently booming. the receptionist position at this salon is somewhat akin to being a cat show handler; all of the stylists are pristinely groomed, blue blooded, and camera ready for their close up at any given moment, and they expect to be doted upon and indulged in a weird hierarchy that I fail to appreciate. the break room for the salon is underground and I've nicknamed it the shit talk den as it is only really used for everyone that works there to bash each other while incessantly preening and watching curb your enthusiasm dvds. needless to say, by the end of the night I was covered in hair clippings, emotionally exhausted by the stylists and their equally difficult clients, and ready to crawl into my bed and curl up into the fetal position. instead, as I was counting the drawer out, I was somehow 300 dollars under the count in cash, so I ended up staying an hour and a half late trying to figure out what the hell had gone wrong. when I finally escaped, I had to take a packed bus all the way out to potrero because of my entire fortune subsisting of 14 bucks in my bank account to last until christmas, where I got off two stops too soon and trudged the rest of the way listening to the new britney. I was ready to avoid human contact for fear of buzzkilling anyone who came within a 3 foot radius.

lydia was as always instantly cheering, with her mysterious ability to smooth any bristling almost instantly with her beguiling charm. (we call this "meowing it out".) after watching jay's set, I was feeling less like a social pariah and shear madness be damned, the stress started to melt away into being pleased with the realization that the bottom of the hill was swarming with a flock of people I adore. I sat at the bar although I was without beverage having not been able to justify spending any money on a cocktail considering that would be like trying to take down a wooly mammoth with a tylenol PM. lydia pointed out a boy across the room and identified him as matt j's hot drummer, of whom I've heard of from time to time when he occupies the attic room at her house when he's in town from portland for shows. he was up against the wall with a perfect james dean lean by the sound equipment in his pumpkin colored dress shirt, hair hanging in his eyes, stabbing the ice in the bottom of his drink appearing slightly bemused but still vaguely disinterested by the conversation around him. hot drummer, indeed.

I turned back to lydia as she punched me in the shoulder.

"quit staring at him!"

"ehh." I fibbed, "I don't really see it. we gonna afterparty at the 811 tonight?"

"we could go down to the basement with flashlights!"

"what, like a party spelunk?"

mm started making his way across the room to stand at the bar near us and craned his neck to see where a barkeep should be, but there was no one in sight. lyds spoke up.

"I think they've already shut the bar down."

"figures." he said. "I'm always the guy at the end of the night with the leftover drink tickets."

"drink faster." I shrugged.

"I guess so, huh!" he folded up the tickets that looked exactly like the ones you get at chuck e cheese that you can trade for kazoos or glowsticks and slid them in his breast pocket.

meanwhile, lydia was rounding up the troops for the post-show festivities and everyone agreed to meet up in the infamous attic of the 811 house, the quarters that house said fabled hot drummer. I've written about it before because it's most likely my favorite room in the history of every room I've known. it is the garden of eden of kitsch, from the life size zz top miller lite cardboard cutout to the giant plastic goose lamp in the corner, and from the jetsons-esque vintage record player that always has steely dan's "can't buy a thrill" loaded up, to the busted up mirrored coffee table that I wouldn't doubt was a prop from scarface. this room understands that nothing exceeds like excess. on top of all the fun goodies and inviting set up, the room is up on the fourth floor and leads out to a roof that boasts an absolutely gorgeous view of lower haight up to diamond heights beyond the castro. and then there was MM. I wasn't yet sold.

once the partygoers started amassing, mm started djing with his ipod, and if memory serves, his first choices were londonbeat, ace of base, hall and oates, la bouche, and the turtles. I was a goner. the way to my heart is through cheese or music, and this guy just served me up a piping hot selection of my favorite awesome cheesy tunes. I made my way across the room to properly introduce myself and lydia caught my eye when I was chatting with him to hiss at me. (meow!) soon thereafter I heard myself brazenly ask if he was spoken for by any ladies in portland like some wanton woman on a mission. he told me he did not, seemingly totally unfazed, and later on we exchanged numbers huddled in front of a radiator as I was about to leave, and right then it was decided that I shouldn't walk home wasted at 5am. we went to sleep spooning (and I'm sure I snored. ugh.) and I awoke to sunlight pouring into sharkey's room along with birds chirping cheerfully to the terrifying revelation that I was 45 minutes late for work on the busiest saturday of the entire year. I shot up like I had been unceremoniously surprised by anal rape and started yelling expletives, which I'm sure is what charmed him into what followed, which was a 5 day whirlwind winter romance.

we spent most of it together, and we got along famously. I'm still a little baffled... I slept through the night 4 nights in a row for the first time in 6 months in bed with him. and that's all we did! spooning, making out, rolling around in my orange sheets in my pink room. I invited him to be my date to zoe's holiday soiree and he graciously accepted, and even got all dressed up for the occasion, complete with cufflinks. he bought cat food for rufus. he's apparently a driven musical genius who is committed to his work. is there anything this guy can't do? who IS this guy? he's intelligent, disarmingly piquant, talented and not to mention, gut bustingly hilarious. but, and there's that dreaded but, the but that I want to spank away into nothingness... he lives in portland. and he loves it. of course he does! if my hair wasn't already breaking off, I'd pull it out.

our tryst ended as abruptly as it began when fate dealt him a plane ticket home after having been snowed out of flying home for a few days. (apparently my indian blizzard dance only works to a certain degree.) after engaging in a super cuddle three way spoon with lydia in which I was the baloney, our plan was to get bloody marys at the wild side and then return to the cupcake room to do illicit things to each other, which I was very much looking forward to after half a week of foreplay. then when I was getting ready to go, I got a text saying he had to run to the airport to catch the last seat home until after christmas. tragic was the word he used, and I was definitely in agreement of that assessment.

I am the victim of a drive by crushing, and it's admittedly pretty darling. I'm sure that my roommates have been tempted to knock my goo-goo eyes out of my head a few times this week. even if it never goes beyond our unimaginably cute quickie affair, I'm so glad to have met someone who restores a little bit of faith in people in general. the dude is cool. but I'm going to be very upset if I end up drunkenly naked video chatting with him before I get to do so in person.

I'm leaving it all up to zeus.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

mixed nuts: xmas 2k8 pt. one

fade in: it was december 24th at 5:45, pitch dark already as the wind whipped through the eucalyptus trees on the farm relentlessly and the fat raindrops assailing the house were drowned out by a cheerful perry como. I was on my hands and knees by the miniature tree decked with miami beach blue lights and iridescent fake snow, wrapping the last of the presents my mom hadn't had time to finish. they were travel coffee mugs for all of the men in the family, which is quite useful considering the average gift you might find under the tree, but easier said than done to actually get covered properly without it looking like someone handed it to a toddler with a ball of yarn, some scotch tape, and some shiny paper with "ho" print on it and told them to go to town. I stared at one of my finished products feeling vaguely unsatisfied with the shoddy outcome and shrugged to myself as I tossed it into a shopping bag with one hand while sipping a glass of pomegranate champagne with the other. we were running late, but that was to be expected.

all of the ruggeri clan were supposed to have arrived at the bromley compound by 6 o'clock sharp, so as to appease the reliably demanding whimsy of the smith family. pete is the eldest grandchild and he's married, in addition to being the proud parent of two young kids who apparently couldn't stand to stay up an extra hour like all of the rest of us had as wee barnes. this isn't the first time or the last that everyone else was given instructions on how to behave that translated to something akin to, "we're not playing favorites, we just like them better." in the suburban on route to the soiree my mom went off on a grumbling tirade, and I, on the one hand, was disinterestedly fiddling with the cap on my peppermint chapstick, as we slalomed our way through the pothole riddled puddle obstacle course that linden street turns into in the wet months.

"really," my mom continued, "who starts a christmas party at 6pm?! who?"

"apparently, we're related to them."

"it's just ridiculous! the sun is hardly down. I'm not even hungry. you know what? we should just keep driving."

"oh, okay, thelma." I laughed, patting her on a padded shoulder. my phone started to ring and I dug it out of my purse to answer it. it was my cousin scott.

"yo, dude. where are you guys? patty's freeee-eeaking out."

"I'm sure she is."

my mom interjected, "tell them we're on our way to vegas."

"scott, my mom says to tell everyone we're headed to vegas and they can all go fuck themselves."

"I'll be sure to pass on the message." he chuckled, "but seriously, where are you?"

"we're just going to do some rails of cat tranquilizer off of the dash here and we'll be there in five." I sighed. "we're on linden. see you in a minute." as I was hanging up my mom threatened to start a christmas revolt if all the champagne had been imbibed without us.

when we arrived on the scene moments later, I was showcasing my "I don't have to be good, I'm cute" cat sweatshirt to my mom when her boyfriend wordlessly slunk out of the shadows holding a fruit and cheese basket, unintentionally startling me witless. "sorry," he said to me and then turned to my mom, "but I'm not going in there without you."

"we don't blame you." I said, without a hint of irony.

"what's your neice's fiance's name? the monster truck driver guy?" he asked.

"phil." replied my mom.

"phil, phil, phil, phil. how am I going to remember that? phil, like punxatawney."

"that's perfectly fitting, actually." I said, reaching for the front door. "here we go!"

once inside we all began the rounds of pleasantries to all 15 of those who can proudly say we're from the same gregarious irish italian bloodline, plus a few strays that managed to weasel their ways in over the years. I'd been forewarned that my crazy aunt (who usually provides me with all the material I need for holiday entertainment) would be in attendance with her ex-con boyfriend that she had reconciled with after having him dragged out of her house by the cops during a "psychotic episode" just a week before. when I got there her absence was glaring, as she is usually quite loudly terrorizing the company with diatribes of all kinds of exceedingly inappropriate natures, so I asked where she was and peggy threw up her hands in exasperation.

"she's not coming!"

"what?!" I asked, incredulously. this would be the first family dinner sans crazy 'nee 'nee since I was a toddler.

"brian is sick, so she's staying home to take care of him."

"ohhh." I said.

"I can't believe I went to all the trouble to hide the good silver because he was coming over and now she just cancels!"

"you hid the silver, peg?"

"well, you know," she said, leaning in and lowering her voice as well as her eyebrows, "after thanksgiving, I was missing a spoon."

"you were missing a spoon? like a serving spoon?"

"no, it was a small soup spoon."

"how could you tell?"

"well I counted them before and after dinner and afterwards, one was missing."

"that's terrible." I said, backing away, trying to disengage from the cutlery conspiracy and get back to the baked brie. halfway across the kitchen I had absconded with a small plate of hors de oeuvres when my aunt patty stopped me in my tracks, picking up the lock of hair on the left side of my head that bears a pink streak that hadn't yet been debuted to the family members that skipped the turkey day festivites this year. patty has gained notoriety amongst family members for her strict family values that preaches but does not necessarily practice, and also for being the eldest sister of the four aunts with a textbook classic case of self martyrdom.

"what," she paused dramatically to look underneath the hair that she was holding with her thumb and pointer finger as if it was a rotten banana peel, "is this?"

"it's hair?" I replied, cringe smiling. she didn't respond, so I continued, "I'm working at a salon right now, it's just a different look I wanted to try. it washes out."

"that's nice." she said, placing the hair back in place gingerly. "that's nice, honey." I looked over her shoulder to see my little brother giving me an enthusiastic politician's double thumbs up and I crossed my eyes in a silent response.

soon after everyone piled in to the dining room and sat down for prayer that I apparently missed because I had committed my attention to getting the party popper from my plate to open. this year everyone had been served salad that was waiting for them when we got to the table. I pointed to the leafy greens in front of me.

"what's going on here?"

"they're vegetables, christina." said my mom.

"no, that is salad rape." I replied, looking askance at a baby carrot. scott laughed under his breath and patty shot me a look.

"just eat it." said my mom, nudging my knee under the table. I put the crown from my party popper on my head, and the other cousins followed suit. looking down the table to see who was indulging in the holiday headgear was a pretty accurate indicator of the "cool ruggeris" who all gather together after the stuffy ones have departed to participate in the traditional midnight graveyard run. every year we all pile into a van and go to the graveyard to sprinkle vodka and glitter on my dearly departed grandma's grave, and we leave a "bow-quet" of all of the ribbons from the opened christmas presents. arguably the coolest ruggeri of them all, my nana certainly would have approved.

dinner itself was relatively uneventful because of nee nee's absence and the fact that no one had had enough time to get drunk first and the raviolis were soaking everything up. after everyone was sufficiently stuffed (so much so that there was hardly a scrap left on the table) we all retreated to sit around the tree and wait for pete's two babies to hand out the presents, knocking over most of the beverages in the room as they toddled around. I made off with a couple of checks and a black thermal hoodie from patty that appeared to be wearable until I noticed that it had an airbrushed sacred heart surrounded by phantasmagoric floating crucifixes on it. scott was definitely spot on when he bestowed me with a flask that said "hot mess" in scrolling purple letters.

I held it up triumphantly, and scott, feigning a resigned apathy said that he was ready to be part of the problem.

"no, no, scott. this is merely a solution." I said, thanking him.

soon the great divide came about and the family sects began to break up and start planning their escapes, so jack and my mom and I piled into the car and headed home for our private swanson party before the graveyard run.

when we got back we opened another bottle of champagne and jack was on the couch playing with my mom's geriatric miniature weiner dog, mitzie. mitzie is a nervous creature, weighing in at about 7 lbs. and she was never properly house trained, so she (and the apartment) often quite literally smell like shit. this was not the case tonight.

jack smelled the dog and made a face but the following question wasn't what I had expected:

"why does mitzie smell like raid?"

"oh, I sprayed for ants earlier." replied my mom, matter of factly, "don't lick any surfaces in the apartment."

"or the dog, for that matter!" I said, casting a sympathetic gaze in mitzie's direction. she shivered before launching herself off of the couch and running to the sliding glass door to bark frantically.

to be continued...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

one for my homies

Sleigh Ride - The Ventures

I'm headed home o'er yonder to sonoma for a couple of days for what promises to be another twisted holiday gathering with my legitimately looney relatives. thinking about perhaps documenting the traditional midnight graveyard run on film for the first time... would that be sacrilegious? would it be more sacrilegious than pouring stoli and glitter on my grandma's grave on jesus' birthday?

here's a throwback to last year.

tuesday, december 25, 2007

"o, holy nite"

as much as I am prone to bitching of the familial kind, I really do look forward to each year's batshit insane christmas dinner antics. the evening was kicked off by my mother trying to teach me how to bake a proper cherry crunch casserole and nearly succeeding in burning the house to the ground. the moment I set foot in my grandfather's house my cousin katie, (outfitted in garden gnome pajamas,) offered me a breast to squeeze as she'd just acquired a new pair. my eldest cousin's infant was googly eyeing the scene in such a way that makes me suspect he's already got ulterior motives. my crazy aunt had called me twice during the day to let me know about the sale at longs on almond roca of which she bought 15 boxes, and then to ask me if I had use for a temperamental fondue pot that she found in the barn. her holiday icebreaker was to tell me that she'd been visited from beyond the grave by my deceased ex boyfriend, but she couldn't tell me what they've been talking about for fear of sounding-- you guessed it-- "crazy". she then handed me a coors light and demanded that I chug it, followed by a pint glass full of bourbon that she changed her mind about and took back after I'd held it for 20 seconds. she leaned in and batted her eyes and whispered, "your horns are showing." and I put my hands up around my head to play along, and she said, "no, the ones poking out of your ass."

my cousin scott recently had a spleenectomy and as a result has lost 25 percent of the use of his liver and thus is not allowed any party sauce. scott is a bigger man than I in more ways than one pertaining to general wherewithal, but to brave a ruggeri gathering without the aid of some sort of mind altering substance (namely anti-anxiety medication) is to have great big balls of the finest brass. I sat next to him at the dinner table and looked wistfully askance at his wine glass full of milk after tia loca was finished chasing me around the kitchen holding up a piece of slightly overdone fried abalone yelling, "it's a vagina lip! LABIA MAJORA!". I managed to successfully give my asshole of a little brother the silent treatment for most of the night because I haven't forgiven him for backing out on me for my move earlier in the week. the mongoloid baby drooled. racist jokes were told. questions regarding how I planned to conduct my reproductive future were asked. grandpa had no wisdom to impart on us this year, but he did stop to make eye contact and shake his head with almost every one of us to communicate his unexplained disgust that may very well be just an onset of senility. we all received those chalky lumps of emotional coal with a grain of yuletide salt.

after the presents were opened and everyone began to gather up their new toys and make a break for the door, there was a great divide. there are two kinds of ruggeris. the kind who get invited to the top secret afterparty at aunt peggy's, and the kind who don't. included in this exclusive crew is myself, my mom, jack, our honorary family member, max scoville, scott, peg and her husband, bruce. this is much like any other afterparty as it includes copious free flowing alcohol and shit talking, but there's guitar hero in the living room and not a key bump in sight. after a round of rock band on the xbox that we named Dickslap Bruises and the Unsolicited Squeege, and once everyone was sufficiently plastered (excepting Scott the Brave), we set sail for the after afterparty. at midnight, we all piled into a minivan, picked up crazy renee out of guilt/necessity, and floored it to the graveyard to sprinkle glitter, christmas bows, and a water bottle of vodka on my grandmother's grave.

the evening even wore on for an after after afterparty with my mother and max, as we passed a cuban cigar back and forth in the dining room, and at some point my mom wandered off to meet the sandman. I fell asleep, max took off, and I woke up at 6am to my kitty standing on my chest and looking at me expectantly. I ruffled his little scrappy head and sighed, "welcome to the fam."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

if you lived here, you'd be home

I always threatened to run away and join the circus when I was a kid. I never thought it would come to me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

B is for Baby Prostitute

I just read over my last post and sheezus, am I gay for new york. I can't get enough.

I'm baby stepping, right now. instead of pounding the bottle of champagne in the fridge, I'm relaxing in my room with a cup of sleepytime tea.

onward, to the letter b of the cell phone prodge. (I'm going to finish it, someday. someday when I'm using a walker and have purple hair instead of pink.)

BAP- (801)

BAP is short for Brittney Ava Presley, and also for a bad 90's comedy starring halle berry called black american princesses about opening the world's first soul food restaurant/hair salon. (netflix, anyone?) born brittney stronge, the BAP, as I came to call her for short, mysteriously went by the name she chose for herself, ava, to all but her family, and when she was stripping, she called herself presley in homage to the king. the BAP was born to an unwed mother in '86 who gave her up for adoption and she was welcomed into a strict mormon home by a family of 3. she grew up in a small town in utah with a solid network of family ties whose strong values were prevalent in her rearing, even having her choice not to practice their faith met with respect and understanding. by the time she was 15 she was stripping and doing a combination of drugs that would make keith richards cringe, at 16 came the neck tattoo, at 17 she was lying about her age to be a suicide girl, and when she was 18 I crossed paths with her in san francisco by way of her high school best friend, lindsay.

the day I met her at a pizza place in the 'loin she looked like sex on a stick, with her painted on jeans slung obscenely low and her cropped black hair haphazardly pulled out of her eyes with plastic baby barrettes of the drug store variety. she had just woken up one morning and thought to herself, "oh, what the hell. I'll move to san francisco today." and hopped a bus to california, stopped into a hostel to shower and then performed at amateur night at the century club down the block to make enough money to pay for the next day's lodging. hearing this from anyone else may have horrified me, but somehow I was ensnared by the sordid tale of the exotic dancing ex-mormon lolita who blew into town with the intent of bringing her particular brand of unconventional teenaged sorcery to the city it had taken me two decades to get to from a farm 45 miles away.

the bap had an air of mysticism about her that she seemed to manifest for herself, as if simply believing that extraordinary things would present themselves to her in the path of least resistance on a day to day basis would make it a reality. it's the first time I've ever seen such an attitude prove so effective, and it really did seem that she was genuinely happy, truly unafraid of foraging into the unknown armed only with red lipstick, sequined pasties and bus fare. she was intriguing and fun to be around, and I silently admired her tattoos and lip rings and the fact that fate seemed perpetually in her favor despite her flippant approach to consequences. she found worrying to be innocuous and unnecessary, and used the adjectives "magical" and "amazing" at least one hundred times in a day. and that was part of her spell- as long as you could keep up with her, things usually were.

after a 6 month stint of nonstop adventure, it's hard to say whether BAP fled san francisco or if she was indeed the one who deemed the jig to be up. she is kind but not built for being part of reciprocal relationships, she is a fabled drifter, a nomad, a unicorn stripper. nowadays she is based out of utah but works for american airlines, and finally found the perfect employment for her insatiable wanderlust. now, the BAP gets to fly for real, every day.

last we spoke I asked her if she was still dancing in her downtime and she confessed that yes, much to her boyfriend's chagrin, she did a weekly drive up to wyoming to shimmy on a pole. I asked her why she still continued despite the fact that her salary is more than comfortable, and she said that she wants the extra money for cheap plane tickets that are available to her as part of her benefits.

"it's like, two booty claps and bam, I'm in france. it's magical."

"it's amazing, actually." I replied.


the night I met the BAP: 9-11-04

from left, BAP, lindsay, the joelercoaster, me

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

the object of my affection

san francisco, while my first city love, is losing its luster. I've got this insatiable passion to woo new york, an urgent yearning to run away with her, in spite of millions of admirers she's had before. I long for it like a fiend after an impossibly perfect, ephemeral paramour, knowing that I'll never really be able to have her, but just to truly feel as if I'm a part of the unfathomably frenzied wonderment, even just for a little while. losing another piece of my heart to her would be instantly justified. I fantasize about exploring every neighborhood, memorizing the angles and curves of every brownstone in brooklyn, devouring the uncharted territory like a refugee cartographer. new york, such a formidable force, has always been a daunting possibility, but also a destination I've quietly had chosen for a decade. now that I've been voicing my desire for her, I'm meeting the opposition that kept me mum. it sounds cliche to say that every time someone tells me I can't, it makes me all the more determined, but it's true. I am young, but not naive. I am not the first runaway.

true, my roots have been ripped up before, but it's the first time that I've felt the urge to re-plant them somewhere far. it could be home.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

someday my prince will come

my boss: envision with blonde wig.

I've been back from new york for a couple of days now and it's been jarring. I was unfortunately scheduled for the opening shifts at work the two days following my return, and my first day back was an utter disaster. upon arriving at the salon, the owner turned to me and started picking me apart, from my exceedingly offensive choice to wear a sweatshirt with my skinny jeans and heels, to my hair which I had worn wavy instead of pin straight. in a scene that seemed to be tailor made for a textbook bad dream, in front of an audience of 6 stylists, she manhandled me into a chair and started furiously flat ironing my hair as she ended her tirade with, "maybe if you put on some lipstick it would detract from the fact that you're wearing a sweatshirt." now, if I had shown up in yoga gear in a pony tail with BO in last night's makeup, it'd be one thing... but this offensive sweatshirt in question is a 35 dollar black and grey cheetah print cowl neck zip up from H&M. it is admittedly not a fur coat, by any means, but it's not a questionable choice to wear to a salon job.

from the disconcerting first 5 minutes of work to the subsequent following 5 hours of disasters, including a scheduling error that occurred in my absence that made it so I have 4 shifts for the rest of december, I only managed to quell the tears for one block into my walk home. there is not much I wouldn't give to be back in brooklyn. I feel almost ridiculous for admitting how bummed out I've been since I got to JFK for the trek home. my dad used to call this "too much party syndrome", exhibited by those who've just had themselves an amazing time and then get jarred back into an unforgiving reality. mine right now is that I despise everything about san francisco and that I woke up at 5 am this morning because of having vivid nightmares about chemo. ugh.

the only solace I can find is in that if I work really hard to get what I want, which is to relocate, I can be truly proud of myself. no one can do this for me but me. so I guess that means that I have to get up and get ready to don my finest couture to my stinking job. I'm just a cog in the machine, today.


surely you jest. I just went to work to find the salon is under construction and no one cared to mention that I wasn't supposed to come in 'til one. what. the. fuck.

at least I have 2 and a half more hours to do myself up like a hooker so my boss won't publicly humiliate me.

Friday, December 12, 2008

takeoffs and landings

I hate flying. I’m not scared of landing gear malfunction or airplane tuna or any such expected potential traveling mishap- I’m just too fucking ADD for it. My legs are too long and bambi-esque to be cramped into such a space for 5 hours, and I have to resist the urge to annoy the surrounding passengers with inane chit chat and or queries regarding whether or not they are going to finish their roasted nuts. Not to mention, this particular journey was garnished with the proverbial cherry atop my shit sundae with the fact that I nearly missed my plane and then upon arriving to aisle 11 discovering a chick wearing NYU sweats had stolen my window seat. I didn’t say anything, which I know isn’t very New York, but I just didn’t have the energy to bother. I made sure to conspicuously crane my neck over her to see out the window as we were taking off and I’m considering feigning barfing into the complimentary bag later for a cheap laugh later on. God damn planes. I eagerly look forward to the day that teleportation is available to laypeople. We have a iPhone that can do everything but perform [a successful] open heart surgery, why can’t we fax me from coast to coast? This isn’t the warp five I was expecting by the end of the two-thousands.

Ow. Ear popping.

This trip has been a wild ride, to say the least. On the emotional side, as well. I knew as I was crossing the threshold of my front door before dawn with my ridiculously heavy land laughably over packed luggage in San Francisco 9 days ago, that there was no way that I would return the same. I felt like I was leaving San Francisco for home. And I brought enough clothing to fill a considerably good sized thrift store, and enough hair product to erect a three foot winehouse beehive. I don’t know how I’m ever going to manage to downsize the massive amounts of shit that I’ve accumulated over the past quarter decade… how am I going to give up the amazing vintage gumball machine that I found on Steiner street a few weeks ago? What will become of my golden unicorn lamp from a gypsy garage sale? How am I going to get Rufus on a plane? These are all bridges I suppose I’ll burn when I get to them.

Boston was impressively historical, with its ostentatious brick buildings sprawling as far as the eye can see. You can’t throw a baked bean there without hitting 3 plaques explaining the significance of a particular, average looking cobblestone. East coast men are different in general, but Boston men are particularly meaty. Meaty in the sense as though they’re just bred to be built like professional wrestlers and have only ever cried at Red Sox games in their entire lives. (And they’ll beat your ass into carpaccio if you bring it up.) The accent tickles my fancy but I would be hard pressed to try and imitate it with my west coast California drawl. I'd liken it to sound sort of like a valley girl with down syndrome.

The subway system in Boston is called the T and it’s the oldest railway system in the United States. It certainly shows in that as soon as it starts putting down the line you feel like a pebble in a the only maraca in the congo line at a quinceanera. If you prefer your brain to be shaken and not stirred, then the T is the transportation for you.

My first night in town, Stephanie showed me around to the local watering holes, one of them being the Burren in Somerville. Somerville is just outside city limits in Cambridge and very quaint, home to yuppies, fluffy dogs the color of snow, and those who enjoy living near a metropolis where Benjamin Franklin once partied but don’t want to deal with the hustle and bustle. The Burren reminded me an awful lot of a dingy dive in SF called Amnesia, only bigger and frequented by average joe Massachusetts-ites instead of art faggy vegans with sideways hair and nut hugger jeans. Needless to say I was instantly charmed, as an open mic unfolded before my very eyes and the progression of men took the stage to sing their hand penned folk songs inspired by femme fatales of Christmases past. Stephanie and I took a shine to a redhead named Noah with heartbreakingly kind eyes that implied that he may have actually been incapable of acting the least bit disingenuously. He came over the next evening at midnight and chatted with us over hot toddies and goldfish crackers, and then sang us to sleep.

Much of the trip to MA was spent discussing the grown up conundrum of home and whether hanging your hat means anything to the integrity of where it is. Stephanie and I have been friends for a decade, and seen each other through the gamut of young adulthood, both of us traversing through emotionally destructive territory and discovering ourselves. Ourselves without our parents, ourselves without school, ourselves as we now specifically define and design them. Since we were 13, Stephanie and I have been the ying and yang of a pair of young ladies. I was always the outlandish, gregarious, brash one, and she in turn was outgoing but much more shy and calculating, and wary of “real world” issues. When she was protesting environmentalist causes (one of them being the great Tuna Strike of 2000), I was concerned more with fantasizing about getting a big break as a movie star and running away to exotic locales with the cabana boy of one of the trophy wives I babysat for. Stephanie always had a boyfriend, and I was always single. Stephanie went to college when I dropped out to become a San Francisco DJ and proceeded to garner a drug habit and a relationship so undeniably doomed that it would’ve made a perfect premise for a black romantic comedy. Steph never went longer than a week without seeing her parents and I was spending months at a time consciously avoiding mine. We were two blondes from opposite broken molds.

None of this is to say that one road traveled was necessarily better than the other. 3 months ago after graduating from State, she threw all of her belongings into storage and high tailed it for Boston, knowing all of one person there, and having lived within 45 miles of her hometown her entire life. If someone familiar had to guess which one of us pulled such a stunt, they’d undoubtedly guess wrong. I’m in awe of the bravery it takes to uproot and explore, but I’m starting to realize that making huge changes may just be exactly the favor I owe to myself.

Last night we splashed through the torrential downpour in Soho, wool coats soaked to the quick and coasting on a fortuitous happy hour high. We feasted on cupcakes from the famous Magnolia Bakery and then meandered around, starry eyed and with wind burned faces. The west village was gleaming, awash with cold rain and old New York charm. I nearly lost my right arm to a subway car that slammed down on my hand over and over for at least a minute or two before a couple of good samaritans came to my rescue pried the doors open. (I wasn’t worried. If Beyonce can have a bionic arm, I can too.) Afterwards, we met up with Chris and his roommate for our last night huzzah, who took us to a mindblowingly scrumptious steak dinner in Green Point and showered us with champagne and affection. Again, east coast men (even the ones who are made and not born) seem to bear a chivalrous sensibility that I’ve not been privy to thus far.

I woke up this morning to the sound of Steph’s boots clacking around on the concrete floors of the loft on Kent St., and quickly started to remember some of the debauched moments from the previous night. The first of which was the sharpie wars whose red battle scars I still bear after not being able to exfoliate them away. I pondered what it would be like to be able to speak to pre-teen Stephanie and Christina and tell them of the adventures in New York city that we would someday have. Outlandish claims like black presidents, working several jobs to pay our astronomical rents, that my boobs (formerly nicknamed “mosquito bites” by a certain Zane Hawley) would be huge, someday. I’d have been incredulous, to be sure.

New York- what wonderful uncharted territory. I can’t wait to get back.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

sleepless city

the view from chris' rooftop in brooklyn...

I’m on day five of my east coast adventure, now safely boarded onto a rather fancy bus that’s rattling towards boston, massachusetts. my first day here I was completely useless because I hadn’t gone to bed before the plane for fear of oversleeping because of a cell phone alarm malfunction. turns out my irrational neuroses weren’t too far off of the map, because this morning my alarm, though meticulously set for 8:30 on the dot so as to have time to pack, clean, and take the subway into manhattan to get to penn station, didn’t go off at all. at 11:45 my eyes fluttered open of their own volition to the sounds of children playing down the block. “fuck!” I yelped. “recess!” and began rushing around trying to get everything done all the while being watched by the nefarious black cat , sattirius, that came with the apartment. the cat was made out by its owner to be one of the warmer-upper variety but in actuality spent the entire 5 days that I knew it biting, barfing and waking me up at odd intervals during the night by batting me in the face. so much for love.

shockingly, I managed to get out the door in an hour flat by skipping shower and primp time, and called a car to bring me to penn station. once there I went inside and looked for a place to buy tickets for the bus but could only see amtrak train kiosks. the last bus left at 1:30 and it was 1:17, and I was at a total loss so I hopped in line at the information station. 8 maddening minutes later behind an elderly canadian couple, I was face to face with a disinterested looking man in a silly hat who informed me that all of the buses picked up from the street and you bought tickets from the driver, but depending on what bus line and where you wanted to go, they had stops all over in a 6 block radius. I grabbed my bag and ran for the escalator, sweating in my winter layers. the first bus I saw was boston bound and I hopped it. lady luck, maybe?

before I go any further, it must be declared: I truly love new york city. it is so alive and rife with electric energy that invigorates and excites me more than anything ever has. it’s huge, it doesn’t apologize, and the promise of boredom being absolutely impossible is more of a challenge. new york dares you to go ahead and try not to love her. she’ll beat you down with bitter cold conditions and make you feel so insignificant with the passersby on the sidewalk withholding pleasantries that are nearly a requirement in california. then she’ll festoon your eyelashes with glittering snowflakes and dress the proud brownstones in white, and lead you to an abandoned matzoh ball factory with strapping lads in wool coats to bestow a panoramic view of the city and brooklyn. people in california are spoiled and lazy. people in new york seem less friendly because they are purposeful, they have agendas and careers, and pay more in rent. they don’t have time to waste, and they expect you to return the favor by not wasting theirs. this is such a novel idea!

I’ve always wanted to move, I’ve deemed 25 my “new york age” for years now, and now that I’m in approaching 24, I feel perhaps I’m already as ready as I’ll ever be. it’s less of an intimidating venture because I’ve realized in the past week that I’ve got plenty of friends out here on the east coast that are dependable and supportive. so, here’s my time to grow, to leave san francisco, who has been burdensome and enabling my stagnation for (let’s face it,) years now. my internship is the biggest commitment I have, and mcsweeney’s has offices in new york that I could likely transfer to, and my boss has been nothing short of a cheerleading life coach to me.

how am I going to pull this off? a second job, maybe a third even. chris told me last night that all I would need was 4 grand and a sturdy set of balls. the balls are mighty and intact, but they money, however, is lacking.

brooklyn is magnificent. every street corner offers hidden gems and the community is completely charming. the good (park slope), the bad (hipster hating machete gangs in williamsburg), the weird (hasidic jews), and the cold (everywhere). my first subway ride after landing lydia and I shared a train car with a burly man with headphones in that was blaring the new britney. down in the lower east side I ran into several old friends from the west coast in a sweaty dive bar and then later saw rats the size of golden retriever puppies tumbling into the gutter. I discovered what a difficult venture it is to buy liquor in new york from a grumpy little man behind several panes of bulletproof glass who gave me my change by pushing it through a peephole with a stick. that same night lydia opened my eyes to a whole new world of food by bringing me to one of the deliriously festive indian restaurants that have hundreds of strung up hanging lights and a waitstaff who don’t seem as if they would hesitate to sing, dance , or punch you in the face.

green point was an adventure that delivered gourmet sushi, creepy gas station nativities and a surplus of awesome polish people. a successful thrifting trip to beacon’s closet procured the only hat on the planet that doesn’t make me look completely idiotic, and it’s fur pom pom is sitting on my head. lydia and I were whisked off to a bizarre russian mafia bar in the city that only served vodka and had a top secret upstairs lounge that I got just drunk enough to sneak into and try to hustle a babushka for drugs. I visited an old friend with her new husband and puppy, and then went to a place I’d been to once before 2 years ago and was gleefully welcomed by the same old bartender who promptly served me a shot of makers declaring that “you don’t forget a hurricane”. rockefeller’s tree was disappointing and the center itself panic attack inducing, and shopping in soho was made impossible by a wind chill that made 22 degrees feel like 5. coney island was crisp and deserted, and I found myself inexplicably affected by seeing it had all been shut down. the waterfront was like a slushee and the sun went down at 4, just then shadows crept over the ferris wheel whose lights sat still and dormant. chelsea was full of young, beautiful, stylish people and I attended a screening of the new wholphin that I worked on. brent handed me a copy of the first time my name was in print of a major publication for the company that I’d only imagined being a part of in my wildest fantasies of actually making writing into a career. it was probably one of the most heartening moments I’ve had all year.

I have been stuck to things that aren’t good for me, places and people that only weighed me down. a very wise girl once imparted to me that sometimes the only way to learn how to fly is if you’re pushed off of a cliff. maybe you can do the same if you jump?

photos from lydia here, and more from me when I get home to upload them!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

new york, I love you, please freak me out

insomnia was always a complaint whose credulity I had in question until I really suffered from it myself. insomnia was equated with being desperate for attention and simultaneously too uninteresting to earn it other than by ruffling any feathers within reach about a negligible, trifling condition... sort of like carpal tunnel, irritable bowel syndrome, or bisexuality.

I haven't slept save for a few fitful winks on virgin america flight 12 to jfk in two days. though I am exhausted and my muscles are slackened in such a way that my body is melting over the sides of an orange velour couch in brooklyn like a modern day dali painting, sleep is still vaguely out of reach. of course, I am fatigued beyond my wildest nightmare, but my brain's activity will not calm to anything less than the frenetic beating of hummingbird wings. am I nuts?

don't answer that.

this morning I was so nervous about the trip, and having trouble explaining myself. it wasn't the flight itself, or even the intimidating grids of new york streets that are not yet committed to memory. part of it is the excitement of all of the dear ones that I will get to see while I'm here, old and new. the largest part by far, I've realized, is that taking off to do something for me to feed my spirit and give me hope is the first major step towards independence for a long time. when I told lydia how much this trip meant to me she considerately warned me not to harbor too many expectations or I'd be disappointed. I'm already thrilled, just with getting away from san francisco. maybe I'll make it here, after all.