Thursday, September 24, 2009

you're ugly and your mother dresses you funny

september's cool, soporific lullaby colors and forgiving breezes haven't soothed my uppity moods at all so far, and I've almost reached it's end. can't say I'll miss it. the crepuscular glimmer of hope in the distance is enough to keep me going, but the motions are hard to go through with a head full of rust and a bank account full of mothballs. I'm not even pretending to know what I want, but I'm certainly discovering what I don't, which is much less glass-half-empty than it might sound.

my mom's maiden voyage to brooklyn is imminent, and the prospect of showing her everything that made me renounce california for the far coast that's wrought with rougher edges is exciting but slightly nerve wracking, too. she's only been to new york once during a weekend in 1983 when she was on her honeymoon with my father, and I'm in no part uncertain that she spent it being chauffeured around in a towncar from art gallery to designer boutique somewhere in or around the upper east side. it's going to be a culture shock, to be sure, and I'm charging up my little pink point and shoot to capture guaranteed precious moments, such as Mom's First Subway Rat. I really do think that she'll understand how my neighborhood has become my home, and perhaps let go of her outrageous notions of how brooklyn must be... wrought with rapists, gang bangers, vagrants and thieves, rather than grumpy poles, hasidic jews, and hipsters in nut hugger stretch pants. I think she finds it impossible to wrap her head around finding community within such a juggernaut of a city, and I'm about to set out to show her otherwise. she doesn't have to leave the comfort of sonoma, but perhaps will have a better understanding of why I can never go back unless it's christmas and there's a check for me under a tree. my cousin summed it up pretty well at my bon voyage gathering when he put a pragmatic, vaguely paternal hand on my shoulder and simply said, "well kid, you were never a country mouse."

Monday, September 21, 2009


today while I was walking down graham avenue, stoned on too much theraflu and snorgling my reluctant way to variety coffee to work on this freelance writing project on young adult's progressive values in modern society, I saw a toddler and his mom in front of the curious gravestone store that also sells fresh baked bread. though out of earshot, their body language indicated that she was instructing him to do something and he was barely obliging, the slight grudge in his consequent action evident by the way he pursed his lips in frustration and put his pudgy hands on his osh kosh b'gosh clad hips. the mother smiled at him warmly, reached into a sandwich bag and handed him a single, electric blue frosted froot loop, and the boy burst out into an wild fit of unbridled jubilation. he squealed and shoved it in his mouth ecstatically and started gumming it as he danced in a circles like a baby dervish. for a brief, sincerely triumphant moment, he was the happiest kid in brooklyn.

it made me long for the days when a froot loop was enough.

Monday, September 14, 2009

did I shave my legs for this?

my first “boyfriend” (I use quotations because we were never in fact “official”) was during the period immediately following my remission when I was 18, rocking a bleached buzz cut, and REALLY stoked to be alive. his name was jeff, he was a musician, which I predictably swooned over, pontificating and romanticizing the potential of being an artist's muse, when really he was just getting stoned, taking acid, and hitting random buttons on a pc laptop and fancying himself the next thom yorke. jeff and I first made out on his best friend’s floor after I spent an entire summer lusting after his mysteriously tortured and permanently high hiney, listening to tenacious D and the mildly disturbing sounds of ashley losing her virginity in the next room. I was done for. the romance was unequivocal. 6 months after that, I ended up giving him my cherry on his grandmother’s bed after we had made it roughly 18 minutes into Lost in Translation and he turned to me and said, “so, uh, are we gonna do it or what?"

so, we did it. It was brief, and I remember being vaguely distracted by two things: my grandmother on her death bed having told me she was going to be watching from the ceiling with a bag of popcorn when I lost my V card, and also my little pink socks awkwardly bobbing in the air above us because I thought that you were supposed to stick your legs straight up during a missionary deed. [It didn’t seem to be working, but, give me a break. I didn’t watch a lot of porn.]

after it was over he had me check to make sure I hadn’t soiled his meemaw's linens, and he fell asleep. I laid half awake all night, naked on top of the covers and sometime around 4 am there was a knock on the sliding glass door that led out to the backyard, and and when I looked over, jeff was peering into the room with his hands cupped around his eyes to see. I was totally bewildered. I turned back to the other side of the bed to see that jeff was, in fact, still there and still very much in the buff and unconscious. this could mean one of two things: I had somehow absorbed some of the hallucinogenic drugs by sexual osmosis, or jeff’s twin sam was just perving out on us. I shrieked and tried to cover myself up, sam yelled “oh, shit.” and vaulted over the fence and ran back to the party down the street where he proceeded to share jeff and I’s intimate moment with a big group of dudes who practically owned the rumor mill.

shortly after, I put my clothes back on (I’d worn matching panties, just in case we were to participate in any of the “doing it”) and woke jeff up to tell him I was going home, but I didn’t, I just drove around watching the sunrise in the hilly vineyards in sonoma valley in my mercury sable luxury sedan listening to magnetic fields mixtapes and wondering if I should be feeling anything. all I was really feeling was sort of bummed out that I’d just given it up to a dude who, for all intensive purposes, really didn’t give two hoots about me, and also like I could go for a couple of advil liquigels.

the next day I called my mom into the room when I was doing my makeup out of my purple glitter caboodle case before going out to the shop, my small town’s only answer to a youth center, out in a warehouse in the boonies that was half of dowling magnet factory.

“mom, I’ve gotta talk to you about something.” I stated matter of factly, as I swiped on a second layer of blue wet 'n wild mascara.


“don’t freak out.”

“okay.” she put her hand on her hip.

“seriously, no freaking out.”

“honey, I hate it when you pull this shit.”

“you’re already freaking out…”

“just tell me!”

“I did it with jeff. we used a condom… it kind of sucked. don’t worry. everything’s fine. I just remembered that you’d ask me to tell you when I became “active”.” I punctuated my distaste for such an official term for this as of yet silly act by making a stink face. my mother took a deep breath and absorbed the info, and then spoke.

“really?? with jeff?”

“yes. It was just time. I was seriously the ONLY one. I’m about to turn 19. I was starting to feel like a eunuch.”

“and you were safe?”

“of course. sex ed. duh.”

“well..." she struggled a moment with the appropriate response to this unexpected news, "... thank you for telling me.”

“no prob. I’ll be home before two. bagels tomorrow?”

she shook her head at me. jeff worked at the bagel shop.

“love you!” I gave her a kiss on the cheek and bolted for the door.

a week passed with radio silence from jeff’s camp, and then I ran into him at the farmer’s market on the square and pulled him aside, where he unceremoniously dumped me over a corn dog from uncle bill’s. he told me we probably took things too far, seeing as he was moving to australia, indefinitely, after the following two weeks to work on a mango farm. he promised to write a song about me, sitting amongst the lush and vast fields of oz, and next I heard from him was in an email 8 months later saying he’d taken ill mid-harvest and caught something that the locals call “mango fever” that involved too many embarrassingly gross symptoms to share. my imagination ran wild with what delirium and oozing pustules must’ve befallen him. my V card had been avenged by tropical fruit!

these days (and after I might add, we attempted to date once more about 3 years ago that was just as ill-fated and entirely ridiculous) jeff and I are on friendly terms and he lives with his albino russian-israeli girlfriend in the east village. he’s apologized profusely for acting like a twat, and I can truly say that any residual hard feelings are null and void. being a teenager is hard enough as it is, and we had to deal with being teenagers in a tiny wine country town where the dating pool was occupied with a couple of tadpoles and the occasional slimy snake. c’est la vie. dwelling causes cancer. (I would know.)

I got a bug to write about the first time I really tried to “date” someone because I feel as if not much has changed, and I’m frustrated. some experiences have been more extreme than others, but my patterns remain. emotional unavailability (thanks, dad), instability, prevalence for infidelity, reach and withdrawal games, and sexual mediocrity have all been themes (and only one such experience offered them all at once!). the next dude after jeff was a manorexic bro from san diego who said he was “worried about my bod” when the condom broke and then refused to go to planned parenthood with me. I dated a male model from utah who drunkenly pissed in my laundry hamper after trying to surprise me with anal one night who ended up giving me scabies. my rebound after Jorge was impotent, shared a great deal of personality traits with george costanza, and lives with his boyfriend in oakland now. I once went on a dinner date that ended with me watching him get dragged off by several cops to the clink, bawling like a newborn, and getting charged with assault and battery because he lost his temper and kind of, sort of, tried-to-kill-his-roommate-with-a-bat. this most recent guy brought me to meet all of his friends one night, then took me back to his place for the first time after 6 weeks of dating, and in the morning upon inspecting his walls, found them practically wallpapered with photos of his ex like a break up mausoleum. what the fuck? am I doomed? would it be best to dip myself in honey and dive into a pile of lesbians? I came back after black.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

are you there, god? it's me, christina.

the season change was anything but smooth this year, and the bizarre, florida-esque hot rains segued quick and clumsily into overcast, breeze swept evenings that merit the first donnings of fall's scarves and sweaters. there's a bittersweetness as of late that seemed to be originally stirred up in unsettled dreams that quietly bled into my waking hours without warning, and I've tried to greet it with as much patience as I can muster. I've been in cruise control, but I have no idea where I'm headed, and every time I think I want stability, reliability, and responsibility, I balk. somehow I can't seem to wrap my head around the idea that a routine would behoove me immensely, even though I know it must be true... it's frustrating to have had the other shoe dangling perilously for so long, not knowing if the drop is an empty threat. how do you go about chasing a goal if you're not sure what it is? is it as simple as attempting to discern the difference between bravery and foolhardiness? and then either way, resolving not to care?

of all of my accomplishments, I am most proud and fiercely protective of my freedom and independence. I don't have to answer to anyone, I certainly don't want to, and I go where I want, when I want, why I want. I make my own deadlines and I break them accordingly. while this lifestyle has suited me in the past, I wonder how it fits into the ways I want to grow, and if it does at all? am I capable of allowing myself to rely on more the occasional kindness of strangers and the ineffable, whimsical wiles of chance? I am not faithless, but I have two dueling split sides to my personality, and that is my dreamer versus my realist; what I hope for, and what I know, my ideals battling my fears. so many major aspects of my life are on a knife's edge and I know that whichever way I fall, I have no guarantee of landing on my feet. in fact, given my track record with grace, it's likely that I'll end up with a deviated septum, a busted heart, a pride hematoma and a broken bank. but, being a pussy didn't get me where I am, and for the most part, I like where that is. today I'm trying to bear in mind that if the chips are down and the dealer always wins... it's probably time for me to learn how to play poker.

Friday, September 4, 2009

from west to east

"What are the consequences of California? I have been thinking about this question because I am still young and rootless enough to feel that I might, in the future, move back there.

Having lived in California and on the East Coast for long stretches of time, it is viable (as well as romantic) to use these places as metaphors. California is ease, beauty, home and a certain surrendering of ambitions. The East is difficulty, stimulation, work and independence. The former seems more immediately appealing than the latter but then, in practice, it’s often not.

The West has better books and food and more space. The natural landscape can be sublime where the East is never sublime (it’s a matter of scale). One actually feels more deeply in California, and thinks less. Thinking is an indoor activity. It’s an East Coast thing.

Generalizations can be helpful and truthful in these matters. The important question appears to be: where do I feel most natural? Most unassailed? In spiritual terms, imaginative terms and digestive terms. And this is something that still seems to switch back and forth."

-Molly Young

as a born and raised california girl, I definitely feel as if I wear the scarlet C on my forehead quite prominently as I go traipsing about the city streets of new york. it's not terribly hard to discern my alien presence on the east coast as I indiscriminately smile at people on the subway while turning the page of my 7 x 7 magazine as I absentmindedly readjust my pink flip flops. as much as I enjoy the unique energy and insurmountable culture shock, 6 months apparently does not a new yorker make. just because neglecting to compost here is acceptable (and possibly encouraged) does not mean that there is not a law in my hometown that can get you arrested if you don't keep a pile of rotting food in your kitchen to 'save the environment'.

I have noticed that though I seem to have recaptured an elusive beatitude that went by way of a series of unfortunate events in san francisco, I'm not as of yet satisfied with my productivity here. new york is a entity of millions of hustlers, rat racing and beating deadlines and cut-throat swashbuckling their way to the top of the totem pole. there always seems to be someone better that you have to anticipate monkeywrenching your failsafe plan, or at the least, someone faster or with an extensive rolodex of who-you-knows. my laissez faire california coasting sensibility is regrettably intact and at times detrimental to keeping pace with everything. here, my "super stressed, so I'll get around to it tomorrow" is another man's "I pulled an all nighter and had it done by this morning".

it's a cliche new york-ism to complain of feeling a rock bottom lonely in an endless sea of this bustling metropolitan mecca. that cliche is one that I'm willing to defend as being (at times) indisputably true. from my outsider's view, I see the rough beauty and appreciate the extremity that new york lifestyle lends. if california is temperate sunshine, boundless ephemeral fairy tales, and a universal destination for young people to retire, new york is physically and proverbially as far opposite as you can get. here, you leave your mark, or you don't. it's a confederation of movers and a hegemony of shakers. you put out or you get out.

when I announced my coast swapping plan, my friend jeff confessed his concern about new york making kind, gentle people hard and bitter, and while I took it into account, I didn't necessarily agree. maybe I just haven't been here long enough. right now, it's teaching me independence and responsibility, benevolently providing endless writing material, and consciously molding me into who I want to be.

thanks to molly, for getting me thinking.

San Francisco's fine,
You sure get lots of sun.
San Francisco is fine.
You sure get lots of sun.
But I'm used to four seasons,
California's got but one.

-Bob Dylan

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

forever 21: friend or foe?

let's get real here: we are in a recession. no bones about it. we're all broke, cranky, anxious, and if you're in new york, on the verge of combustion from the sun's incessant assailing rays. all this taken into account, us ladies, we still all want to look good. no one wants to go job hunting looking like a shabby wabby, but being monetarily stunted can put a damper on donning yves saint laurent's finest, and even the fendi bags on canal st. are suffering the effects of inflation. what's a girl to do?

instead of the clouds parting, harkening to the angel's choir, and rainbows shooting out of my ass as I'm lifted to the retail hosannah in the highest, I climb wearily out of the fetid, swampy subway, bust out my sweat rag for a satisfying wipe, and throw elbows on 14th street like a shadowboxing breakdancer to get to the front doors of the discount fashion mecca:

ah, made it. I always try and give a nod of recognition to the security guard in the doorway because I feel like not many people do, and they've got to just stand there all day bored out of their minds lamenting on how pointless and boring their job is. (it beats being a fluffer, but not by much more than a bee's ass. ) now, it's time to start the dig. you know where you are, and you know what you're facing: mediocrity, lycra and broken teenaged dreams. you're being assailed from every angle by offensive fluorescently colored halter tops and plaid overall shorts that only a mother could love. this isn't just about convenience and value anymore, it's about the thrill of the chase, the huntress on a mission, and how high your tolerance for psychic pain is.

somewhere, deep in the forever 21 jungle that is inhabited by long island chippies and bronx cholas alike, is the triple cherry jackpot of 19.99 sundresses. we all know it's there, and that's why we go. it's the fashion blood on the dancefloor, it's the holy grail of a date dress, it's the perfect hot pants that august has pined for so fruitlessly... and it's so close you can almost taste the chic, swirling floral print of a darling topshop knockoff.

about a half an hour into the search, I've got an armful of hopefuls. a couple of onesies, an article with way too much taffeta but perfectly placed sequins, and maybe a pair of jeans from the bargain bin that are a size too small to practice wishful thinking. now to face the dressing room. the line is 20 strong and seemingly stagnant, and I'm running out of patience and friends to text. at this point I have no choice but to pay attention to the music, and I've deemed forever 21 the only place on earth in which I don't feel guilty listening to lady gaga. the 8th grader in front of me knows the words and the dance from the video and the 35 year old woman behind me is reading twilight and fighting back tears.

once inside the room, I pull the curtain closed behind me and try to keep as covered as possible as I'm changing because of the frequency with which I've been walked in on at this particular establishment. I usually try on what I'm most hopeful about first, so that the rest of the outfits turning out horribly is less irksome in the end. the zipper is pulled up, a few buttons fastened, and voila! there it is. the one dress I was sure was the one... and now I'm staring in the funhouse style mirror that makes my skull look like a pinhead and coming to the realization that cap sleeves make me appear uncomfortably similar to a powderpuff linebacker listening to a song about "riding a disco stick". beacon's closet is starting to look pretty good, again.

I've decided after my 900th bout with trial and error that resulted in self esteem stock plummeting and 2.34 panic attacks, that I'm returning to my all-thrifting, all the time policy until I win the super lotto or find a better job. forever 21 is strictly a supplier of cheap sunglasses and frilly underpants from here on out.

RIP forevs + christina, forevs.