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Showing posts from 2014

We Don't Need Roads

“In my high school year book there is a note from a girl who wrote,  ‘I like you even though you are very mean.’”

This is the first sentence of one of the chapters in Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist. This is the reason I bought the book. I hopped into my proverbial Delorean to the golden age of junior high, not stopping to remember the love hate relationship with school uniforms and chocolate milk Fridays. Instead, I watched from outside the hall of a windowless classroom as one of the popular boys openly admitted to the entire class that he wished I wasn’t so mean. He didn’t look at me when he said this. I looked down at my feet and said nothing. I was wearing the new green suede Adidas I had gotten for my birthday.
I switched schools after ninth grade, hoping for another chance to start over. By junior year of high school I found myself in a similar scenario. It was ‘diversity day’ at a small private school with minimal consequences and privileged youth. The only memory I have of that day w…

Bad Habit

“You think too much.”
I will never forget the way he said those words to me. His ability to make me feel less than human was his super power.
His back was turned away from me as he began to undress. I was standing alone in the bedroom of someone’s parents house wondering if what he said was true.
Twenty minutes earlier I watched a teenage girl come out of the bathroom with her boyfriend.
“You ever do coke?” she asked.
“No…” I said as if in slow motion.
“Good, it’s a bad habit,” she said.
My bourbon and ginger was flat and almost empty. I made another drink, waiting for him to get back from the store. I walked outside with the couple so they could smoke cigarettes and I could sit by the dying fire.
“So, how do you know him?” the girl asked me.
“We met in high school,” I said. “I used to go see his band play.”
“Oh ok, so are you two…?”
“We’re just...friends,” I said, with an ounce of hesitation.
We’ve never been ‘just friends,’ I thought. But there wasn’t a conversational diagnosis for whatever w…

Too Many Diet Cokes

There is a scene toward the end of Reality Bites where Winona Ryder proclaims that she was really going to be something by the age of twenty-three. When I was 23, I attempted karaoke for the first time. I was doing tequila shots like they were a part of my final exams and obsessed with wearing an old school NBA sweatband.
Ethan Hawke walks over to her as she’s opening a can of diet coke to tell her that at the age of 23 all she needs to be is herself. She says she doesn’t know who that is anymore, and then they have sex.
In six months I will be turning thirty. I’m still not quite sure what that means, only that I have become more self-realized in the last year than I would have thought possible. Most importantly, I know the kind of woman I am and the kind of woman I am not.
I only identify with Winona in the way (I’m assuming) most twenty-something women can. We undervalue ourselves because it’s taking too long to get to the place where we want to be. Our former classmates are married wi…

Louder Than Life

I have to be deadpan and honest with you for a few minutes. Two Saturdays ago, I came home from work early and felt sorry for myself. This isn’t a new development, but the specific event that made me dive into a tangle of fucked up emotions is not easy for me to admit to you.
Let me back up a few weeks. I work in the bakery of my parent’s restaurant. I came downstairs to grab more butter when the head chef starts singing Limp Bizkit lyrics to me.
GONNA BREAK YOUR FUCKING FACE TONIGHT.
“Fred Durst works here now?” I ask.
The head chef talks a mile a minute, but I hear the words “music festival,” “gourmet man food,” “no this is not a joke.”
My breath becomes sparse and suddenly I’m irrationally angry. How could this restaurant feed the mouths of Kid Rock fans? The rest of the morning I keep going down and back up the stairs, taking my wrath out with each step. The angst I was dealing with was not unlike the time in high school when I overheard a popular girl saying she wanted to go to a pun…

Bluebird

“I remember, I couldn’t even tell him ‘Happy Valentine’s Day,” she said.
The sweat from the beer can felt good on my hand. We had been sitting on the porch for a while. Neither of us wearing shoes.
“Why do you think that is?” I asked.
“I mean, that’s weird, right? To be dating someone and not be able to say, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day?”
I finished my beer and stood up. I ran my left hand through my honey-colored hair.
“Well, it’s not good,” I said. “You need another drink?”
“I want whatever you’ve got,” she said.
I went inside and got a couple beers from the fridge. I stood for a moment, my feet cold on the linoleum floor. I stared out the window looking at her. I know how she’s feeling, but I don’t tell her.
I walk back outside. The heat hits my face as if taking bread out of the oven. I hand her the beer and sit down. She lights a cigarette as I open my beer.
“It was easier for me to express my feelings on a fucking postcard than sitting next to him and actually talking to him,” she sa…

The Blanket (2004)

"What's wrong with you?" he asked.

"It doesn't matter," I said. "I know you won't care."

"Why don't you tell me anyway and I'll decide whether or not I care."

I took a deep breath. "It's been an intense week for me, that's all."

His back was turned as he searched for a bottle opener in his kitchen.

"How so?"

He continued searching as he walked into the other room pretending to listen. I just stared at the floor.

"Kate's dad came into the coffee shop the other night," I said. "I hadn't seen him since her funeral."

Silence.

"I ran into her sister the next day, too."

"Yeah, Kate's dead. Kinda weird, huh?"

He continued. "Friends start dying when you get out of high school, that's just how it goes."

Why did I come over here?

"I guess," I said.

He walked over and stood in front of me. He handed me a shot of tequila. He smelled li…

Midnight Toker

“You know, I think sex is the only thing we have in common,” I said.
He leaned over the side of the bed to grab something from his pants. He pulled out a bag of weed and started to roll a joint.
“We both like Rushmore,” he said.
The room was silent for a few minutes.
“So what happens when we can no longer use Max Fischer as an excuse for this ‘relationship’? ”
He lit the joint and very coolly responded, “can’t we just enjoy each other?”
I sank further into the bed and faced the other way.
“Maybe.”
The room was dark, and suddenly cold. The air smelled like incense and skank weed. I pulled the sheets closer to my body. I stared at the midnight wall and felt my heart racing. He always made my stomach hurt.
God, I really have to fart.
“What are you thinking about?” he asked.
Suddenly, his body was over me like a dark cloud. I watched the shape of his mouth become hostile.
“I don’t like those kind of questions.”
He pulled me closer and said nothing. I barely had to move, while he already …

Fifteen

“I’ve liked you since we were 15,” he said.
A clear manipulation.
That’s the thing about still talking to people who knew you when you were 15 years old. They have a kind of power overlooking the person you’re trying to become.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“I always thought you were beautiful.”
Says the man trying to convince me to have Skype sex.
This is what happens when you’ve been single for a long period of time. I started talking to him again and now I am drunk, with the possibility of nudity, on camera.
“But you were all about Jay,” he said. “Always talking about having sex with him in your Volvo.”
I felt like an icicle during the middle of summer. He has always had his own way of making me feel like a hollow puddle.
Once I remembered how to speak I tried to tell him he was full of shit.
“I—what? I don’t recall the Volvo ever enhancing my sex life.”
Why did he bring up Jay? Why do I have to talk about this?
“That was over ten years ago,” I said.
I tried to yell. I tri…

Let's Clear the Air.

Two weeks ago I fell in love: with myself.
I met an old friend for beers, exchanging small tears and long laughs.
I woke up the next morning uncharacteristically happy. I woke up not pretending, clearing the smoke from my eyes and liking what I saw.
I’ve always considered myself a self-aware and honest human being, perhaps a touch self-deprecating without much regard for how it affects my wellbeing.
I am in ‘too truthful a mood’ today and wish to confess my inability to keep my shit together after hosting a party. I noticed on both occasions people were leaving around the same time. My emotions at that point were drunk and compromised. I turned to the needle.
Hank Williams was in the room with me, singing to me as I cried on the hardwood floor. I turn inward, become ungrateful and unabashedly hard on myself. I think about how I’ve been sleeping alone for over two years.
Men don’t talk to me. I’m not a relationship person.
No one is around to correct these things you’re so desperate to belie…

There Is a Bar on Bourbon Street

It was sometime after midnight. The bedroom was quiet and dark. He laughed.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“I came on your back,” he said.
I should have laughed back. If he had asked me what was so funny, I would’ve told him he came faster than I could drink a beer.
I’m 29 years old and I’m still should-ing myself.
I picked him up in a blues bar on Bourbon Street; an Australian in town for Wrestle Mania. I was wearing overalls and flip-flops from Walgreens.
I spent sixteen dollars on a Coors light and a vodka tonic for my girl friend. A few minutes after we sat down, a man in a baby blue t-shirt sat down next to us. The bartender was telling me how she taught a sailor how to curse last weekend.
The man in the baby blue shirt ordered a Scotch and Coke.
“Where is everybody?” he asked. There were only four other people in the bar.
We started talking and my friend mentioned the night before was my birthday. He bought me another beer.
“The only time I’ve had scotch was the day J.D. Salinge…

Sellersburg, Indiana

It was a Sunday morning. I was listening to the first side of Nashville Skyline. I couldn’t get past the first track.
Girl From the North Country.
I was putting on lipstick and getting goose bumps. I was trying to remember all their names.
Just shy of 29 years, I was hearing this song for the first time. It’s been said I’m a late bloomer—crackling records and all—but I’ll never forget the first time.
When I think of him, I remember tired gas stations and the Second Street bridge. He had a truck, sometimes.He only smoked cigarettes during the winter.
He came to a couple of my basketball games, hell, I was even late to a few ‘cause I had to pick him up.
“I don’t know why she tells me these things,” he told a friend of mine. “ I don’t give a shit about what she had for lunch.”
I can’t recall why my friend told me this, but it was a pivotal moment in my young world.
The afternoon I gave myself to him, he got up immediately and left the room. He had kept his polo shirt on and as he was about to w…

Riding in an El Camino

We were headed north. I pretended to fall asleep in his cherry red El Camino. The passenger side window was cracked, about half an inch. I let the wind kiss my face--
His hand never touched mine. I couldn't say his name.
A scrimmage of cassette tapes and soda cans, a pair of cheap sunglasses so he doesn't notice me.
The weather inside is frightful.
He tickles the side of my hip as we get off the exit.
"How'd you sleep?" He asked.
A faint smile. A faint 'fine.'
The store is next door to an ice cream shop--it's all I think about while browsing $40 t-shirts.
I wonder what he's looking at upstairs. He's going to leave me someday.
I found him downstairs in the home and bedding department. He was looking at plates and overpriced eccentricities. This was as far as he would let me into his life.
The sun was beginning to go down when we got back in the car. I put in the Purple Rain tape and turned up the volume. I smiled as I looked into the side view mirror. An h…