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Monday, March 24, 2014
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Because I was nerdy cool before nerdy cool was a thing, I spent my high school years believing no one could relate to me in terms of what I was wearing, or reading or listening to on my Sony Discman. BTW – we’ve all forgotten about those handy devices. Or atleast I had until my friend had the brilliant idea that she was going to buy one before we embark on our motorcycle camping trip next weekend. She wanted to play music in the forest and felt a discman and portable stereos were a brilliant solution. And then it dawned her that Ipods can do the same thing. While she may be living in the hear and now, her heart and soul would like the remain firmly in the 90s. And while I have been begging for a Nirvana coverband for years, I recognize that some things that you used to cherish should remain in the past, undisturbed, and never talked about again.
On that note, I give you the list of men I lusted after in high school who I should not have (for various , surprising reasons)
1) Pedro Zamora (of “Real World” fame)
|I'm staring directly into your soul|
If you’re not familiar with the “Real World San Francisco” let me catch you up to speed on three very important facts about Pedro: (1) He was openly gay (2) He had AIDs and (3) he died. Those three facts did not stop me from developing a fantasy life in my head where Pedro and I could be together forever. He was an AIDS awareness advocate who joined the cast of The Real World to get his message about HIV and AIDs across to a wider audience. And much more important to me at the time – he was handsome, articulate and bilingual. These three things combined were enough to set off a fire of desire in my belly. I crushed on Pedro the way my grandmother crushed on Elvis, well past his death and to an unnerving degree. The crush was so embarrassingly obvious that my step dad gave me a comic book about Pedro as a Christmas gift when I was in college, 6 years after Pedro’s death. I laughed it off and then ran to the bathroom to read it in its entirety. Death and disease cannot keep soul mates apart, people.
2) Liam and Noel Gallagher (Singer/Guitarist, Oasis)
|Look at my face, ignore my music|
What. The. Fuck. This is a horrible band. And not Creed or Nickleback horrible but offensively horrible. If you’re an attractive male pop singer looking for massive audience appeal, I will nod in acceptance that you and I both know you have made shitty music (cough cough Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20). But if you claim to be bigger than the Beatles (as Oasis did in the 90s), there should be some immediate and swift John Lennon style karma that falls in your lap and squeezes your testicles. And not only should this HAPPEN, I should be the first person in line at British Airways to get on a plane and kick you in the junk. Ziggy Marley proclaimed “Love is my religion” and I stand here letting you know that THE BEATLES are MY RELIGION. And Michael Stipe should have called me out because as soon as I decided to become obsessed with Oasis, that was me in the corner, losing my religion. At one point I owned every. single. album. Oasis had. I even had Noel Gallagher collaborations with The Chemical Brothers (those songs are actually good). And I went to Towers Records in pursuit of British music magazines with Noel and Liam on the cover so that I could stare at them before I went to sleep. I had Oasis geocities fan pages book marked on my browser. It was embarrassing Now, if you are pro-Oasis (and I’m not sure why you would be) you will argue that their first album Definitely, Maybe is actually a good solid garage rock sound. But then when you bring a date home and you’re sharing a bottle of wine on the couch, I’m going to sneak into your apartment and play Champagne Supernova on repeat. I dare you defend your love of Oasis now.
3) Luke Perry (Beverly Hills 90210 years)
|I will never. ever. wear a condom|
The 90s were a divisive decade. You were a Pearl Jam or a Nirvana fan. A Chicago Bulls or a New York Knicks Fan. And you were a Luke Perry girl or a Jason Priestley girl. And despite the fact that I prided myself on going against the grain and not giving into horrible pop cultures whims, I became victim to the superstorm that was Beverly Hills, 90210. Despite wanting to keep my trashy tv virginity for as long as humanly possible, I could not be chaste when confronted with a man who made you wonder if James Dean and Matt Dillon had a hot son. Luke Perry as Dylan McKay was my ultimate bad boy. He had drinking problems, gambling problems, fidelity problems and if we’re fair, acting problems. But I loved him nonetheless. My love of Luke Perry speaks directly to my low self esteem and vulnerability at that age. If I loved myself then I would love Jason Priestley for all of his preppy, soon to be CEO looks and charm. But the teenage heart wants to make up for a crippling sense of self worth and a fear that you are not good enough for the boy with dimples who has a future. So you seek out the man who outwardly represents the chaos that is in your inner life – Luke Perry on a motorcycle I rest my case.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
In the suburbs of Chicago in the 90s, the word “hipster” wasn’t part of the vernacular. The cool people in my family were going to Lollapalooza, hiding pot in their bed frames (true story) and having sex. I was spending eons at the Palatine library reading weird little short stories from Native American authors and getting dropped off at Tower Records to listen to BritPop from the 60s on oversized head phones (The Kinks anyone?). My parents attempted to make me a normal teenager by driving me ALL THE WAY TO LINCOLN PARK to get cool clothes at Urban Outfitters. But looking cool was way too fucking oppressive for me. And besides, I had a secret love of gingham. So I adorned myself in wool sweaters from J Crew that aged me about 20 years and got horrible red highlights. Take that, society!
Fast forward to “adulthood” where all of my useless knowledge of writing, music and (recently) food has made me someone that people want to talk while drinking craft beers. For years, my parents insisted that one day I’d be cool enough to rule the world and it did not matter than no one was trying to finger bang me before prom. And as long as patient, tortured, awkwardly intellectual teenagers hold out for 12 years, they will one day be cool (
as long as you live in Venice Beach). So to
you children, I say REMAIN A SNOB. Do
not waiver on your disgust of your peers who love Britney Spears and think that
Stephanie Myers counts as literature.
Hold out a few more years and you will be banging bearded dudes in
Portland and waxing poetic about Intelligentsia coffee. Your snobbiness and
inability to connect with your peers is a gift I tell you!
And in the spirit of understanding that geeky things you used to love will one day turn cool … I give you the highly edited list of things I loved in high school:
This song came on at a french restaurant last week in Omaha, Nebraksa and I about fell off of my chair. I told the chef “I love this song” to which he replied “It’s Supergrass” like he was dropping some knowledge on me. Jokes on him when I sang the entire song to him from memory. Also, didn’t Fun. just rip off these lyrics? Thank god Supergrass was cool before Flight of the Conchords ruined sideburns and long hair. I forgive them, however, as nothing screams hipster like loving New Zealand comedians.
Did you know who Christian Bale was in 1994? Be honest. If you saw Newsies, I’ll give you that but then you completely forgot about him when you started crushing Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Home Improvement. I, however, never doubted that Christian Bale was the greatest thing that ever happened to me because he was (a) British (b) beautiful (c) appeared to have talent and (d) seemed like if you ever dated him he’d make good on the promise to ruin you completely. I decided I loved him again in 1994 because “Little Women” came out – which appealed to so many of my synapses I almost exploded. Well known female author. Movie Adaptation. Characters with a fuck load of feelings. And Gabriel Byrne. Enter Christian Bale as “Laurie” and you can bet that all of my future romantic fantasies would involve dapper wool coats.
Ben Folds Five
I went to a Ben Folds concert in Los Angeles a few years ago. I struggled to decide whether or not I should mention that the place next door to that concert venue serves gourmet sausages and craft beers, but why not. Go knock yourselves out kids. But back to the story – I looked around at the audience assuming the theater would be full of people my age that loved navy cardigans and went to liberal arts colleges. But no. I was shocked to find actual TEENAGERS jamming out to Ben Folds. Like people half my age, who thought there were actually five members of Ben Folds Five. I went through the twelve stages of grief upon learning that one of my fave high school bands was relevant and cool. For the record, if you look at my senior year book you will see that my favorite song was listed as “Kate” from Ben Folds Five. 90% of my high school class wrote “Time of Your Life” by Green Day. If you really hate me, figure out a way to play that Green Day song at my funeral.
There was a time and a place when if you told people you were heading to Costa Rica, they assumed you were part of a missionary trip or you were building houses. My high school hosted a study abroad trip to Costa Rica that my parents paid for me to attend as a graduation present. So that meant I got to study abroad, with my high school, two weeks after I stopped being a student. For those of you who haven’t done the math yet, that meant that if I drank and slept my way through Central America, I had absolutely no one to answer to (except my primary care physician). So imagine my surprise when I arrived, not in the third world wasteland that I was told about, but in fucking paradise, surrounded by monkeys, active volcanoes, pina coladas and famous soccer players. And tree frogs. Real poisonous tree frogs. Not the stuffed ones you buy while eating sliders at The Rain Forest Cafe at Woodfield. The trip expanded my horizons and opened my eyes and all of that bullshit, but more importantly it gave me the most BADASS STORY of my entire life. I nearly died on a white water rafting trip, people. I was knocked off the raft and dragged over boulders for miles as I struggled to stay alive. THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED. You cannot remain uncool with this kind of reality.
Friday, May 18, 2012
****This is stuff for the memoir******
When children are born I assume all parents share the same vague dreams for their future offspring. When you are an in the womb, mothers and fathers worry mightily about your physical health. Once it’s determined that you are not predisposed to a genetic illness they can safely go on hoping that one day you will lead a “happy life.” Then when there are financial and emotional struggles between the two parents during the infant through toddler years, they pray that your neophyte brain has not picked up on the turmoil and that you will, in fact, not turn out to be a junkie. You start kindergarten and they wish deeply in the middle of the night, that children will not punch you and tell you that you are ugly. And then at some point, when they realize that you seem to be a well adjusted child who has not is not a moving target for the sharp arrows of bullies – they believe that perhaps this is the time to breathe a sigh of relief. That is until, the day that school officials tell them that their child is gifted.
Getting into the gifted program is one of the most destructive things that can ever happen to a child. I suppose that some people revel in the opportunity to consider themselves “special” and “above average.” But when you are me, this is not the case. To be told that you are gifted is not only an evaluation of your intellectual capacity and aptitude for academic success. It is indeed also (more importantly) an albatross that one must carry in the hallways of grade school as mightily as other children carry primary colored lunch boxes and oversized pencils.
My grade school revealed their evaluation of my giftedness to my parents as dramatically and vaguely as an 11 year girl might announce she has a crush on “a certain boy” to her 6th grade class. My parents - penniless college students in education and psychology – were probably better equipped to receive the news than most. They had an understanding that children adjust to labels like Floridians adjust to the news that a hurricane will eventually destroy their home. That is to say, Floridians and children assume that everything will be exactly the same until the day that they see that everything they believed to be secure and absolute has been pushed through an industrial paper shredder. Armed with the fear that I might turn into a giant parental nightmare, they decided to deliver the information as swiftly and cryptically as possible.
My mom announced to me, in the kitchen after school, that she had received a letter from my school. Next to a wooden napkin holder and a set of keys, there was an off white envelope resting on the built in table with my full name on the front. I knew two things to be true in that moment at the age of 7. One – that everything that I ever needed to know about myself was printed on beige paper and two – that my mom was never going to let me look inside. She said she had just received the results of my IQ score and she had to talk to me about them. And in a moment of cosmic lucidity she explained “the results suggest you are very intelligent. Much more intelligent than most. But if I tell you what your score is, it will change your life forever. So I won’t.” Her brevity on the subject was alarming. My mother has never been short of speech on anything in her entire life and certainly has never let my obvious levels of discomfort sway her from proceeding in embarrassing conversations. To date – she had already trapped me (during an innocuous ride to the library) in a conversation about the dirty details of intercourse and the strict definition of homosexuality. These were subjects she insisted I should ask more questions about if I ever felt curious. There was an absolute open door policy when it came to sex. But my confusion and fear about the envelope and the test score did not provoke more discussion. The entire conversation died the second after she declared “So I won’t.” And then that particular fact was never brought up again.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Author's note: I'm working on a memoir so I'm going to throw out some of the excerpts. Your feedback is appreciated. And now you can stop telling me you're sad I'm not writing anymore.
The Travis' had a lot of money. This I was certain of. The front room of the Travis home displayed oversized paintings with neon streaks on severe metallic backgrounds. There were soulless glass decorative bowls. Theirs was a house of cats. There were probably 6 of them but you only ever saw one - who would meow "fuck you little girl" as it walked over your face when you were sitting on the leather couch. Even at the age of 7, I understood that interior decoration and unfriendly pets were the accessories of the wealthy.
I was best friends with the daughter - Nicole. Nicole rarely spoke and spent a lot of time painting dolphins and playing piano. I spent my free time inhaling books at the library, creating inoperable inventions and writing long winded plays. She often invited me to sleepover at her palace where her parents Bill and Hinda Travis and the alleged 6 cats lived.
Her mom worked at a bank. She was very serious. You could ascertain the seriousness of her personality by the short length of her hair cut and her inability to smile. It was at this age that I decided that either women who worked could not have feelings or that banks are a very cruel place to spend your time. Her dad Bill sold dental equipment and was the kind of man who looked undernourished regardless of his food intake. He wore faded blue jeans with white tennis shoes and composed new age jazz music on the side.
Their daughter was a burgeoning pianist and had done actual things with her life. Real accomplishments before her breasts had formed. There were medals and concertos and strict piano teachers who insisted on keeping their appointments in odd minute increments - Nicole always left for a37 minute piano lesson and sometimes if she had behaved - they stretched it to 45.
I had no interest in the piano. Perhaps because I'm not gifted musically and perhaps because it was the kind of thing that my parents couldn't afford. Having hobbies that required more than your imagination led a child down a dangerously expensive path - first there is the purchasing of the baby grand piano, then the weekly checks written to an 80 year old music teacher, then the gas used to watch the young daughter perform 2 hours away in a concert for the melodically and financially gifted. No no. I was not a Travis. My only hobby was my mind.
Hinda Travis took a vested interest in my self invented theatrical career. Hinda said she had a friend growing up who ended up on Who's The Boss. "She was just like you" - Hinda said. "A lot of personality and no fear." This woman had convinced me that I had what it took to succeed. It was hard to disagree with her authority. This was a woman who had a treadmill in her bedroom.
Once while eating string cheese at their kitchen counter, Hinda asked politely where my dad lived. "The city" I said and kept munching. "What kind of place does he live in?" she inquired. "A studio" I replied. Nicole asked what a studio was. Hinda explained -- "it's a room as big as where we stayed when we went to visit Nana in Florida." "That small?" Nicole said. "That small," Hinda replied.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
It was a six hour drive to Mammoth. In the “perfect for road trips” kind of car. A large SUV with big open windows where one could watch the land change from urban sprawl to snow. The car was lived in enough to contain treasures – happy meal toys, scratched cds of bands we hadn’t heard from since the 90s, sun faded magazines and smashed granola bars.
as early as we could force ourselves to get up on a Friday. The “we” was Ashley, Mike and I. Although we never call him Mike, he’s a last name only kind of guy. Ashley and Mike lived together in college in Los Angeles . In some kind of enginerd uber house. Ashley is sharp and no nonsense. Mike is funny and for lack of a better word, laid back. All of us had left the East Coast for some reason or another for New Hampshire . We had bumped into each other’s lives like buoys in the ocean. Rising and sinking together against new tides. California
On the way to Mammoth, we stopped at Costco to pick up food and beverage. With churros and hot dogs in hand, we grabbed everything we saw. How many peanuts can hungry skiers eat throughout a weekend? Despite three masters degrees between us, we couldn’t figure it out. So we just kept buying. Large bags of meat balls. 12 cans of green beans. 5 carbon tubes of parmesan. Beer. More beer and liquor. And a case of wine. It’s better to be starving than suddenly become thirsty.
We were giddy and playful when we couldn’t fit our purchases in the trunk of Mike’s car. It’s fun to play Tetris with ski poles, overnight bags and the ingredients for ham sandwiches. And after we failed to pack everything, I happily sat in my seat with a case of beer on my lap, clutching bags of snacks with my sweaty palms.
|Yep. This is actually what we bought for the weekend.|
While on the road to Mammoth you may discover that you’re thirsty, perhaps for a bottle of beer that’s warming in the case stuck on your lap. The problem with smart people who are incapable of planning is that they tend not to remember beer openers for the car. Ashley got desperate enough to attempt to open beer bottles with seat belts. I considered smashing the bottles open against oncoming cars. Finally Mike pulled over to a gas station where we could purchase an opener. Inside the station, I saw a craft beer in the refrigerator case that caught my eye from Mammoth Brewing Company. There were two styles – “Epic” and “Paranoid” ale. I grabbed the Paranoid. Mike found me at the cashier and said “wait a minute, this could be an omen for the weekend – you should really grab the Epic instead.” Ashley and I popped open the Epic beers in the car. Mike’s hipster tunes circulated our vehicle. His grins could be detected behind his wayfarers.
Monday, June 20, 2011
There’s only one place to wash away your sins when you’ve abandoned your holier self. And that is Chipotle. Never has one restaurant been more of a comfort to me in the bowels of the worst hangovers of my life.
It was there for me after my 22nd birthday. That night three friends, a bouncer and a cabbie had to put me down while I was shouted at hot boys and waived my princess wand. Then there were uncomfortable levels of nausea in my friends’ converted one bedroom apartment and eventually the glorious sleep of a woman who should have been declared dead. The only thing that motivated me to leave the couch the next day (besides relief from the putrid odor of vomit) was that there was a Chipotle down the street from my friends.
When you are dragging from the previous night of heavy drinking, entering Chipotle is like crawling back into the womb. You know you’ve failed as an adult and it’s time to give up. Grab a barbacoa burrito and hang your head in shame. Don’t attempt to shower. Don’t even put on pants. Your mother’s womb and Chipotle serve the same purpose – to feed you at your most vulnerable. And whether you are covered in glitter or embryonic fluid – you will be filled with love in your state of nakedness and disgrace.
I consumed too much rum and beer this past Friday. Or maybe the rum and the beer consumed me. And so I slept until well after most of the living world had finished their triathlon practice and I drove myself to the walkable Chipotle. I stared at the board of delicious choices and resigned myself to a 1,500 calorie solution to a 2,000 calorie mojito problem. And I hid in a shady spot in an outdoor courtyard and consumed my tortilla of humiliation. And ever so slowly, with forkfuls of chipotle lime rice – I felt like Lazarus. I found my powers of speech, color returned to the landscape around me and my body could move in predictable ways.
That is to say – Chipotle is my Jesus. As it has the power to raise the dead.