Monday, November 29, 2010

Pics of Hipsters

Remember my post Hipster Parade? Well now you can enjoy official photos from FYF Fest. They don't do real justice to the hip vibe, but they give you some small idea. I love the photos of Sleep guitarman Matt Pike mid-headbang...what you miss in the photos is his constant urging of the crowd to light up j's.

Also: Is anyone heading to the L.A. Scavenger Hunt? I wants a ride. This is gonna be good people-watching.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Postsecret Secret III

This makes me want to wear turtlenecks every day for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Celebrating the California Imperatives Part 3

The California Imperative of potsmoking leads to the California Attitude: "Fuck it."

Celebrating the California Imperatives Part 2

This is as good a segue as any from the first California Imperative to the second...smoking pot. Preferably someone else's.

Celebrating the California Imperatives Part 1

Today we are talking about what I call the California Imperatives. First and foremost, those include getting any means necessary.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Postsecret Secret II

This reminds me of the wording for the only tattoo I'd ever get: "Do Not Resuscitate."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Twice Two Makes Five Is Sometimes a Very Charming Thing

"...nor is it necessary to furnish any detailed account of our author's political, religious, and philosophic axioms and systems, his paradoxes and his errors in logic: these have been so long and so exhaustively disputed over by contending factions that little is left for even the most assiduous gleaner in the field."

(Uncredited introduction from Rousseau's Confessions)

Why is it such a hobby of men (and the women who erroneously aspire to be like them) to categorize and argue over such things as paradoxes and "errors" in logic? To do so at such length to be described as "exhaustive?" To pick apart a work of art according to the "axioms and systems" of the author herself?

The most annoying thing about this hobby is that argue you may, but you will never resolve any of the disputes. Mainly because they are pointless, angels-on-pinheads types of questions asked only to have something to say. The "assiduous gleaner[s]" run along like rats in a dead tunnel, searching for more points of contention to please, appease, and mimic the just-as-contentious Super Rats (thanks, Holly) who taught them. I had to do it, to some extent, as a student of literature. I resented it almost as much as I resented my Maths professor encouraging me to read schmaltzy fiction about metaphysical girls and mathematical boys, thinking it would somehow convince me to change my major and be his little protege/sex slave.

I was good at it, just as I was good at Maths, though I hated both. Neither is fulfilling; neither is creative enough to be fascinating. The most common comment I received from my professors was praise for eschewing the obvious. (Ironic to have grown up into such a cliche, given my starry-eyed individualist beginnings.) But what I wrote about was obvious to me, probably because I didn't worry about paradoxes, logic, axioms, or systems. I worried about the writing, the images, the sensations erupting in my brain and body as I read. I relied on intuition. Back then I never second-guessed myself. I was so sure of what I knew and what I didn't.

These days I am weak. My brain and body, I often fear, have no more capacity for intuition or feeling. It's all been browbeaten out of me by the world's terrible addiction to precedent and dismissive criticism. As my newest old love, Fyodor, writes:
Notice the Logical brain is blue; the Creative brain is pink

"You, for instance, want to cure men of their old habits and reform their will in accordance with science and good sense. But how do you know, not only that it is possible, but also that it is desirable to reform man in that way? And what leads you to the conclusion that man's inclinations need reforming? In short, how do you know that such a reformation will be a benefit to man? And to go to the root of the matter, why are you so positively convinced that not to act against his real normal interests guaranteed by the conclusions of reason and arithmetic is certainly always advantageous for man and must always be a law for mankind? So far, you know, this is only your supposition. It may be the law of logic, but not the law of humanity."

I am often in arguments with men about the existence of a spirit or a soul or something in us which makes us alive, other than that which science and rampant LSD consumption have exposed to us. Darling Fyodor calls it consciousness, I think; in that he equates consciousness with something non-mathematical, something illogical, something which humans will not give up although it is the root cause of suffering. Whereas science and LSD are opposite sides of the same two-dimensional reality, consciousness is many-sided and encompasses things which will never fit into that narrow dichotomy.

"Consciousness, for instance, is infinitely superior to twice two makes four. Once you have mathematical certainty there is nothing left to do or to understand. There will be nothing left but to bottle up your five senses and plunge into contemplation."

This reminds me of Freud, who thought eventually science would pin down the actions and motivations of all people, rendering the world totally manageable, fixable, and of course, predictable. He wanted to boil humans down to their essences and find some logarithm that answers all the questions of existence. He failed to comprehend women because women more than men resisted this diminishment of self, or found it as worthless a pursuit as Dostevsky did. 

I have no wish to bottle up my five senses, to live underground, to retreat so far into theory that I can no longer create or destroy anything but am resigned merely to translating, ratlike gleaning. I hope it is not too late. If it is...I guess I'll take up cutting hair; still preferable to splitting hairs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yay! Glitter Sparklehorse Love

I think Lady Gaga may have appropriated a few things from Ms. Goldfrapp.

As Told By An Adams Ave Drunk

Him: "What's the difference between a Harley Davidson and a freezer full of dismembered hookers?"

Me: "I don't know, what?"

Him: "You'll never find a Harley Davidson in my garage."

Yet another reason I love Adams Ave.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Luxurious Inertia

"Possibly, I even regret, myself, that I have given so few slaps in the face during my life."

"[I]t is as clear as day you are not to blame in the least, and therefore grinding your teeth in silent impotence to sink into luxurious inertia, brooding on the fact that there is no one even for you to feel vindictive against, that you have not, and perhaps never will have, an object for your spite, that it is a sleight of hand, a bit of juggling, a card-sharper's trick, that it is simply a mess, no knowing what and no knowing who, but in spite of all these uncertainties and jugglings, still there is an ache in you, and the more you do not know, the worse the ache."

I have a lifelong case of spiteache. Ever since my father died and took with him the last true object of my spite, I have suffered from a futile overload of anxious anger. I have no outlet for it except the occasional bad break-up, which relieves my suffering greatly. Unless I find myself, as now, in working conditions that give me something to rail against. That, too, relieves my suffering.

It is this spiteache which forces me sometimes to consider the law as an occupation. Being paid to be adversarial, being respected for my utter contrariness, arguing over teacups and mercury. Ah, the sweet relief of a truly good fight. And yet, when it's over, there is still that ache and that descent into boredom.

"Can a man of perception respect himself at all?"

Highly unlikely, mon cher babbler. In fact, quite impossible.

Monday, October 25, 2010

As Much As I Can

I've said this, and meant it, because of perceived limitations on my capacity.

Being the one hearing it is pretty awful, though.

Because it's actually not true. There are no limits. You just don't love him.

Welcome to Monday

Notes from my two-hour meeting this morning. I spent most of the time mentally counting the number of Xanax I have stashed at home, wondering if it is enough to kill me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Polyamorous Affair - Bright One (HIGH QUALITY)

Great song. Love the name of the band. Maybe I'll get into polyamory after all.

Identity Crisis 104: What Next?

What happens when an identity crisis is over? What's the aftermath? What's the plan?

You've come to the right place if you're looking for those answers. I've had an identity crisis every couple of years for my entire post-adolescent life. I've had several quarter-life crises, crises of conscience, crises of career, creative crises, relationship crises... the truth is, each of those is a type of identity crisis.

I was recently discussing the difference between "meaning" and "being" with someone who believed one could play with meaning and not with being. To someone like me, who does not believe in meaning per se, to play with meaning is a sort of masturbatory exercise. All meaning is fiction, so why pretend it is going to affect you? (I'm reminded of my college Shakespeare professor, who believed in objective Shakespeare of all things! The things people tell themselves. Shameful.) If you want to play with meaning, do so as a creator, not as a psychologist or spiritualist. Explore the nooks and crannies of your mind, your beliefs, your biases, and make them into art or writing. But don't treat them as some kind of sacred truth.

Playing with being, however, is another matter. I suppose it doesn't come naturally to the native SoCalian, who (and I speak in generalities) has never suffered any literal or figurative winter, who has lived a life of ease and plenty, who has never considered his life and property anything but a gods-given right. To those of us who, for whatever reason, are closer to the source of being--usually because we have experienced what my stalker referred to as The Vicissitudes--understand that things like sunshine, ease, plenty, property, and even life are all doled out by pure chance, by random events; that imagining we control anything other than our own reactions is not just idiotic but dangerous.

So to play with being is a much more extreme sport. Meaning is just something to make up as you go along; anyone can do it--just look at the Teabagger movement. Being is a state, and to recognize it as a state of flux can be terrifying. It can also be exhilarating. To play with who you are, what you are, is to risk losing your sense of self completely. Once that happens, meaning becomes impossible to assign, to defend, to argue.

*Sigh.* I'm not explaining it well. There are languages out there whose jargon would serve much more efficiently. But I don't know those languages and have to rely on my crude tongue and my base, biased observations.

Many people have such realizations when they are six feet under an acid trip or six hundred years into a life of silent meditation. Others, like me, start young, through a combination of fucked-up experiences and a modicum of undeveloped intelligence. The only drawback to starting so young is feeling so old so fast; so tired. I suppose the mistake in my expectation is that these crises will one day subside for good, leaving me with a sense of security, that bland thing which has seemingly never existed in my world.

And is a sense of security a sense of self? Should I use this present identity crisis to attempt to cement myself into some rigid construction of Me-ness? Gods, no. I couldn't bear it. I admit, when there is so much as the threat of security in my life, I start to get bored. I seek change for change's sake. Or could I bear it? Is it the very thing I need most? Or is it the worst possible option? Or am I just beating another dead cliche?

Hm. No. I lied to you earlier. I'm not the person to come to for answers about being. I am probably not even the person to come to with questions. But if you need your meaning edited, or rewritten entirely, I'm great at that. As long as you don't take it seriously.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Identity Crisis 103: Becoming Charlotte

"Who wants to live forever?"

Knowing my literary bent as you do, you are no doubt wondering, "Which Charlotte?" Charlotte Bronte? Charlotte the spider from Charlotte's Web? Charlotte from Sex and the City?" Yes, yes, yes. All of the above.

Since I change my name every ten years, whether I need it or not, there are only six years remaining for me to grow into my next name. I'm running way behind. I should have started becoming Charlotte as soon as I moved to SoCal. How shall I start?

I'll start with what's most immediate. Charlotte York, the upper West Side brunette from Sex and the City. Time and again, men tell me she's the only character on the show they like. You'd think it would be Samantha, queen of the NSA hookup. Or Miranda, the law partner with whom no one would wonder if he'd have to pay her way. I understand perfectly why Carrie, the writer, has no appeal. Besides, as every man alive has vehemently informed me, she's ugly.

But Charlotte, the prim and proper, cotton sundress, cashmere-for-fall, baby-mad, living by The Rules, Smith College girl? Now she's the stuff of men's dreams. Playing into those age-old stereotypes, she's the brunette, and brunettes are for marrying.

The first step to becoming Charlotte? Hm. Where do I begin this psychic self-surgery? I've got to start small. If I ran out and dyed my hair, restricted my writing to diary entries about my dream home in Encinitas, and took to obsessing about my thighs all in one week, I'd be liable to crack up.

I'll do what any Smith girl would do. Start at the library. I'll check out every book by Martha Stewart, Julia Child, and the editors of Modern Bride magazine.

The baby-madness is going to be tough. First I'll have to save up for Essure, but once that's finished, I'll have to pretend to be devastated to the point of insanity when my hubbikins and I can't conceive. Luckily, my innate love of dogs will provide me with a Baby Beard.

Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket.

I'll be so torn up at not being able to breed that my darling man will forgive my running right out and adopting every dog at the Encinitas Humane Society. And buying myself a pair of rust-colored Irish Wolfhounds on top of that. It is the saddest thing IN THE WORLD when a woman fails to achieve motherhood, after all. Oh. So. Sad. In addition to all those dogs I may just require a multi-year jaunt around the globe. You know, to recover my sense of joy and purpose.

Hold it! I'm getting away from zee Essence de Charlotte. She is all sweetness and light, optimism and ladylike elegance.

Fuck. I've got my work cut out for me. That lobotomy's looking better every day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Identity Crisis 102: Cliche

I first realized I was nothing but a cliched hack when I was 8. It was a dark and stormy night. My mother had just bought the farm and I was in the middle of yet another silent midnight screaming match with God. In a flash, it came to me: "You, my darling little red-haired girl, are such a cliche. Look at you, sitting here in your rural bed, wordlessly expressing an utterly typical, trite, overwrought, contrived, bullshit response to death. Hell, even Freud could do better than this schmaltz. You'll probably soon have a wicked stepmother, be beaten like a red-headed stepchild, endure clumsy molestations by your step-brother, take up secret drinking at school, join a group of misfit stoners, and end up in art school, unable to differentiate between rape and true love."

And so it came to pass. I lived each cliched moment to the fullest in a bold attempt at pure conformity which continues to this very day. My poems are at best pathetic explorations of banality. My novel is a disaster of commercialism. My blogs are Sex and the City reruns. My love life is an echo of a long-dead feeling. My career is the shadow of a whisper of a joke about women in the workplace. My play is such a self-indulgent piece of suicidal shit that even a narcissist would notice it is nothing but a cry for attention.

Essentially and importantly, "I" do not even exist. I never have and I never will. This thing called me is just a recycled bit of electric chemistry programmed to react to its surroundings in specific ways. I am a walking, talking, fucking cliche constructed of all the cliches that have gone before. I will no longer bother to feel or to think or to do. Why waste energy? Why not just float along the stream of time until my battery dies and my chemical components are once more returned to the stockpile of molecules from which all future things--which will also be cliches--are made?

That I was born is a cliche.
That I once had parents is a cliche.
That I write is a cliche.
All I write are cliches.
That I need food, shelter, love is a cliche.
That I love what I love is a cliche.

Nothing originates within me or through me.
Nothing exists but this massive cliche;
the world, life, cliche, cliche.

Identity Crisis 101: Lipo

There are a lot of things I'd like to have removed. My ovaries, for one. The memory of my entire life between the ages of 8 and 28 for another. But here in SoCal, what's inside me--or not inside me--doesn't matter. What matters is my outsides.

A friend calls to say her cousin's husband's friend's doctor in Arizona will give free medspa treatments the third Sunday of November. Do I want to go get Botox or lipo or anything? Sure. Why not. When in Rome...

I may as well start looking and acting like a SoCal girl since I really don't want to move again. No sane, employed, heterosexual man will ever have me here unless I'm sporting a bulimia bib and a travel-sized botulism syringe.

Not so long ago, I picked up a bona fide SoCal hippy. We mocked polyamory together, ate cheap crappy tacos; he smoked pot and talked about loving MDMA while I drank my whiskies and talked about loving my Wheaten Terrier. It was a helluva lot of fun. I thought I'd found the one SoCal breed who wouldn't judge me. After all, he was quite vocal about being "totally not into judgment."

Alas. I was--again--mistaken. He was disgusted by the fact that I possess Dan Brown novels, seeing in them not that I am sentimental (my ex's wonderful father had given them to me), but that I have shamefully "mainstream" tastes.

He asked me to dress better when we went out--not that his awful Hawaiian shirt collection (often paired with corduroys, no less) was going to impress the local fashion police much. It's just that here in SoCal, men can be hideous and still expect to have perfect trophy girls on their arms. Just like on TV. After all, as my own SoCal uncle pointed out to me not long ago, "Here there are thousands of gorgeous, nearly naked women who'll fuck or blow anything that moves. That's a hard act to follow."

The hippy even mentioned--exactly as the rich Republican La Jolla lawyer had when I was roughly 4 sizes smaller--that all I'd have to do is work on my stomach flab and I'd be in great shape. Meanwhile, his massive gut, overflowing with the meat of a thousand sativa-engorged street tortas, was apparently a statement rather than an embarrassment.

Soon enough, the man who had brutally and without mercy mocked the polyamorous and "swinger" lifestyles started telling me he was going to need to have sex with other women. Turns out, in SoCal Hippy English, polyamory is referred to (and completely differentiated from) "Free Love." What of love there is in it can't be much. It's just another excuse for a grown man to act like an immature pig and justify it to his own conscience.

We split up. I asked him if we could please not stay friends.

And so, my purple darlings, it has come to this. I don't know or even care who I am or what I want anymore. I don't care what I have and what I lack of heart, of thought, of peace. I am, after all, nothing more than a mammal born to live in packs, possessed as we all are of an overdeveloped cortex. And the pack here in SoCal wants me to be maimed and twisted and bent into some creature from a Terry Gilliam movie. (Wait--is Terry Gilliam too "mainstream?" Am I merely exposing yet another facet of my indiscriminate lameness by referring to him?) So yes. Sign me up. I want Botox. I want lipo. Bleach my asshole. Put me under and hack off my hips, my thighs, my uterine bump. Saw off my labia, shrink my areolae. Take a couple of inches off my feet while you're at it. Remove every hair follicle from my eyebrows to my ankles. Give me the works.

Just don't forget the lobotomy and larynx removal so I never fuck up the perfection of my new being by thinking or speaking.

Postscript: I am now going to make myself barf up the red curry noodles I just ate, pop in a breath mint, and head to Rancho Santa Fe to score a sugar daddy who will at least buy me dinner in return for "free love," because free love is all a woman in SoCal can afford.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Retro Link II

Another retro link for newbies: click on The Single Malt Diary to read the blog documenting a few months in Chicago immediately following the end of my 7 year relationship.

It could also be called "Rebound with a Vengeance."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Retro Blogging

Click on Living on Sponge Cake to see the blog I wrote while writing my novel in Mexico.

Damn, I'd give anything for a week alone at Isla Blanca right now.

Circles of Hell

For new readers who may have missed out, click on The Lingerie Department to read my blog detailing my short-lived foray into retail in between "real" jobs earlier this year.

To tell the truth, I think I prefer that hell to the one in which I currently find myself.

Stoner Noir

Straight from the horse's mouth: A fabulous piece on SoCal "Stoner Noir" from a native with a brain.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tick-Tock: The Male Bio-Clock

For years now, men have rested on the assumption that they will be able to pump the women of their choosing full of babyjuice at any point in their lives. Take a look at famous examples of (way) past-their-prime dads like Tony Randall and David Letterman.

Why, then, are single women in their thirties bombarded with their male counterparts' instant marriage-and-baby proposals? Why can't a girl wishing to remain child-free go on a first date without having to vet dating candidates by making sure they are unsuccessful (successful men feel more ready to impregnate), sterile (or, in a pinch, impotent, though that's not as much fun), or not yet past the age of 25?

News flash: Research over the last couple of years has revealed that the quality of a man's sperm is inversely proportional to his age. The higher his age, the lower his sperm quality. Meaning the older he gets, the more likely he is to spawn offspring with birth defects, genetic weaknesses, and gene mutations. These findings support what single girls in their thirties have known for as long as there have been single girls in their thirties--single guys in their thirties are downright mad for babies.

We've all heard the urban legends, the cautionary tales, the cruel jokes about women in their thirties. There's the woman who wanted it ALL (gods forbid she should want everything men take for granted) until one day it's too late and she wakes up a childless monster in her late 40s, collecting cats and sobbing into her wine glass (albeit a wine glass in First Class as she's on her way to Europe, where she goes twice a month). There's the woman who traps a man by getting pregnant because she is desperate for a child (and any loser with a cock will do, apparently). There's the woman who sets up dates like interviews looking for candidates for Babydaddy ("I'm sorry. Based on your IQ, I can't let you have access to my sacred ova"). There's the woman who has a mental breakdown and threatens her man with abandonment if he doesn't relent and give her a child. (You might remember this term from misogynist psychology: Hysteria!) And most of all, there is the single girl out hitting the bars in groups of other single girls, pouncing on any available man and immediately bringing up the baby names she has picked out for both boys and girls.

Men and women are both more or less comfortable with these stereotypes, because, after all, women have a fairly marked and visible outer limit to their ability to reproduce. Menopause is menopause, and by the gods, these girls have to hurry. Science tells us so. Bring up the male biological clock, however, or men who behave very much like the female stereotypes above, and there is blowback. Denial, laughter, patronizing pats on the obviously histrionic head.

Yet I've had thirtysomething men propose to me on the first date, tell me after our first kiss that he thinks I'll be an amazing mother to his children, talk about how imagining that he is knocking a girl up makes him come harder than anything else, insist that the reason I "think" I don't want kids is because I had not yet considered that HE (who is obviously perfect and superior to all other men) might want to be their daddy... It's pretty clear men in their thirties have at least as high-pressure a "biological clock" as the much-dreaded one supposedly possessed by women in their thirties. Somewhere deep in their reptilian brains men know their one-celled amphibious terrorists have expiration dates.

I'm here to tell you, from firsthand experience in SoCal and elsewhere, bros aren't just looking for hos. They are looking for hos they can knock up. What's truly beautiful about the whole thing is that the most Dudebro-iest, the most surf-catching-est, the Darwin award winners clogging up the sewers of SoCal with their worthless jizz are the men most looking to spawn.

If, like salmon, men had to actually work to get a woman preggers by swimming upstream or by even making the barest modicum of effort, SoCal natives would be a dying breed instead of growing like fungus under every dark rock. And I wouldn't have to worry so much about whether my man of the hour has made pinholes in my condom supply.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ich Bin Ein Donut.

A few months ago, given my horrid work environment and the sorry state of my bank account, not to mention the completely hopeless state of dating in SoCal, I received an offer of marriage from the Berliner cousin of my ex. It was to be a marriage of convenience, exchanging citizenships and halving living expenses. We'd met in 2005 in Spain, my ex's native country, and had absolutely adored each other. (I love a gay man with an IQ as high as mine; what can I say?) I was in the mood for adventure--when am I not?--and immediately began plotting ways to get to Europe. I announced my grand plan and every single person I know told me I would die of cold in Berlin. I was ready to risk death at that point, since it seemed a kinder, gentler alternative to my job and to the prospect of dating nothing but cheap, shallow 40 year old adolescents the rest of my life. To help convince myself that my move was the most interesting (if not the wisest) choice for me, I wrote the following piece. While it is not about SoCal per se, it could only have come out of my SoCal experience.

I loved the man in Chicago who wanted kids, and that was never going to work out. After I moved to San Diego, I dated around, and that was never going to work out. I gave up on love, and that was never going to work out. I fell in love by accident, and that was the worst of all. So I tried to think of a place I could hide from love, from even the possibility of love, a place love as I knew it could never exist, nor could even its absence.

Germany! Of course. Land where '"Order Is Right."

Love has no order, therefore it must not live at all in Germany. The chaos of brokenheartedness, the neurotic dullness of denying love's existence, the emotions all must somehow come to peace in Germany.

Clearly the language has a lot to do with it. "Ich liebe dich" sounds more like the command for an execution than a term of endearment. Which, if I allow some poetic license, is exactly what it is. I wanted not to shoot love, kneeling, through the back of its skull, but to wipe my mind clean of the very concept of it. What better way than by speaking of it in a language I had always detested? What better way than by giving the very word itself the sound of a Luger, a Schnauzer, a weinerschnitzel? What better way than by replacing intimacy with images of fetish-crazed latex-clad hausfraus? What better way than by uttering the word as it was uttered by SS officers, gypsy-fag-Jew killers?

By scouring the word from my tongue, I hoped the feeling would be scoured from me, too. I made myself only one rule when leaving for Berlin: I must never again read Goethe or Rilke. From then on, it would have to be either Nietzsche, Mein Kampf, or guides to anal-fist-friendly German discos. The project to erase love from my world would take a new level of dedication.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Where Have All the (Boomer) Hippies Gone?

Where have all the Boomers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the Boomers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the Boomers gone?
Corporate lackeys every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all their values gone?
Long time passing
Where have all their values gone?
Long time ago
Where have all their values gone?
Sold their souls out every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all their reforms gone?
Long time passing
Where have all their reforms gone?
Long time ago
Where have all their reforms gone?
Lobbied for profits every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all their children gone?
Long time passing
Where have all their children gone?
Long time ago
Where have all their children gone?
Fat and spoiled every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the protests gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the protests gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the protests gone?
Blood-funded shout-downs every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The BMW Philosophy

This rant, originally written in 2007, predicts my experience with dating and sex in SoCal even more than it describes my situation in Chicago during the original writing.

                If Becker’s analysis of anality and Straus’s take on the sexuality of obsessives are at all accurate (and both anecdote and intuition say they are), it is no small wonder the heterosexual American men of my generation are so pre-occupied with anal intercourse in its various forms. Such intercourse in its cultural context is the intersection of anality with the reduction of our potentially life-affirming sexual natures to nothing more than the non-unifying acts of obsessives driven by our neurotic culture to assuage (pun intended) each other’s existential lonelinesses through the pursuit of what has become just another empty marker of success, the passage of time, or a false notion of self-worth.

Anal sex is this decade’s BMW.

                If you’re male or male-oriented, you’ve gotta have it if you want to be viewed in a positive light; if you want the envy of your peers; if you want to achieve that debauched, luxuriant feeling so necessary in keeping you obsessed with shame—obsessed with obsession at least—instead of free to enjoy the perfect, creative, limitless forces brought about by real, unforced, unhurried, unscripted intimacy. Of which all possible sexual behaviors are clearly a vital part, with the difference being an intangible sense of co-being, of cooperation, harmony, beauty, unity, and comfort rather than a sense of performing, of worry, of shame/guilt, of isolation even in such close quarters.

                I am only at this point in my life realizing the cardinality of shame in the average American sexuality. Raised outside both religion and atheism, I was damned with neither shame nor an irresponsible amount of personal liberty, but was instead blessed with common sense and balance. Unfortunately for me, those traits are not at all valuable in this society, where one is required to be a Puritan above the table and a libertine beneath it (neither of which acts under his own volition but under pressures from above and from below). I end up feeling isolated not as a result of any incapacity for unity, but as a result of my extreme and thorough difference.

                Granted, part of my blessing/curse is my lack of interest in being male-oriented/masculine and my enjoyment of my feminine identity and thought. Part is also my facility with words and thereby with certain insights, and my need to use both in (arguably) poetic forms. As Ernest Becker reminds me today, “[M]an’s utter bafflement at the sheer non-sense of creation…to take such a miracle [as feminine beauty] and put miracles again within it, deep in the mystery of eyes that peer out—the eye that gave even the dry Darwin a chill: to do all this, and to combine it with an anus that shits! It is too much.” According to him, our daily intimacy with the persistent, irreconcilable paradox of being fully human—and of knowing it—mired knee-deep in shit, nevertheless having, as Oscar Wilde put it, “a view of the stars,” is the reason “poets live in torture.” (The Denial of Death, Part I, Ch. 3.)

                Thus tortured am I, and baffled that so few admit to being baffled and instead choose a sort of purposeful furious path to forgetting through getting and getting and getting. I have chosen, as have a few others before me, “to live deliberately,” neither forgetting nor regretting my humanity and all its facets.

Still You're Surprised When I Eat Ya?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SoCal Singlehood: So Very Necessary

First posted to Facebook on August 3, 2010.

It is always sad to look back on the moment during which one realized one could not grow old with the man one has recently loved.

The moments themselves differ. Some are lights which dawn slowly, over months or years, and like the dawn one shields one's eyes so as to stay in bed a little while longer in the peace, in the night, in the past. Some strike like lightening, quick and deadly, making one run for cover. Others still are anti-climactic, a roar so dull one can go out afterwards and sit calmly in a bar with the man in question. One could even remain friendly with him if he weren't such a terrible bore.

And that's what I must have been looking for, all this while, despite my frequent insistence that my genetic makeup will never let me see 40, let alone a comfortable dotage of watercolors and early suppers. Someone I'd like to grow old with--"like" being the operative word. Someone who's there in the night not just to snore but to comfort. Someone who can move his lips now and then without lying, or boasting, or boring me to tears with orders, complaints, or idiocy. Someone whose mind broadens instead of narrowing with the years. Someone who is man enough to brave the unconditional.

Why haven't I found him yet, you may ask? I've been looking in the wrong place. In fact, I've found my way to the epicenter of wrong placedness. In the U.S., old age is the ugliest prospect imaginable. And Southern California was where the notion of old age as ugliness was born. Here men speak, shuddering in disgust, without any heart, in mixed company, of dried-up old-lady vaginas. They cheerfully suggest plastic surgery to minimize the sum of one's parts, maximize one's objectification, and make one younger. They consider one's natural state not just an imperfection to be corrected, but an affront to their delicate sensiblities, an insult to their friends, and an embarrassingly public sign that one does not really love them.

The ridiculousness of it is wholly ignored. Men themselves have begun to police their own beings with the same Puritanical fervor. Questions of grooming have taken on the import once reserved for matters of religion or of state. Small wonder that matters of religion and state now occupy such infinitessimal space in the minds of American men. Small wonder that matters of love can no longer exist.

One can try, once the future of one's love has been brought to its end by this means, to ignore it and enjoy the short while one remains young--new--in the eyes of one's lover. One can let the comments about this woman looking old and that woman not belonging in public roll off one's back. Sooner or later, though, it will strip all the skin off. It will leave worse scars than a hail of bullets, than a whip, than shrapnel. Because isn't it true that love between two people, romantic love, requires a future? The possibility of a future? Otherwise it is nostalgia, grief, or just another not-so-interesting night in the sack. In the present live all one's self-exaggerated imperfections, which, one fears, must necessarily become shameful, hideous, in just a matter of years--no! Of months.

For isn't he looking at you now the same way he looked at the woman he just took special care to insult? Doesn't he see you with the same arbitrary eyes which so harshly judge the size, shape, fashionability, coiffure, and general acceptability of all that is feminine? Doesn't he kiss you with the same lips from which spew a frightening vitriol against the audacity of ugly women? Then it is only the hands of the clock which hold him back from directing his poison at you. When they have moved, lightening will strike.

I, playing the fool, have managed to hang around several of these SoCal types long enough to feel that venom (A SoCal type is not limited to those unfortunates who were born here, but to all those who came here seeking Double F breasts on 18 year old 5'2" 90 pound blondes). It was at first a horrible experience, though now it seems more or less standard--and when abuse starts to feel like the norm, it's long past time to get yourself out of the storm.

It continues to shock me, not that men would feel this way, for clearly most of them have always and will forever hate women, but that they would be so impolite, so impolitic, so self-righteous about it. More shocking still is that no one has seen fit to point out to these men their utter hypocrisy, for in their terrible behavior they have rendered themselves the ugliest beings of all.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm Completely Unoriginal (Sad Trombone)

The Hip Parade

L.A.'s recent FYF Music Fest (FYF= Fuck Yeah Fest) showcased some real SoCal Martians, reminding me yet again that I will never be hip. I'm just too Planet Earthy.

The lineup consisted of three stages full of bands representing hardcore, punk, post-punk (which is so cool I don't even know what it is), indie, stoner rock, electronica, contemporary folk, and something called "psychedelic doom." My Indie cred, previously at negative 812, was boosted to 5 just by showing up and standing in line with a bunch of 20 year old girls courting yeast infections by wearing too-tight skinny jeans in 90 degree heat. Making it all the way to the last show, Panda Bear (from Animal Collective, if that means anything to you--I confess it means nothing to me), raised that cred to at least 30. I earned that cred the hardest possible way--twelve hours of standing around with nothing to do but gawk at the Hipster flora and fauna while pretending that the huge waves of pot smoke bothered me no more now than they did when I was 16. ("Damn these kids today. And why is the music so loud?")

My little excursion (which included a literal trip down Memory Lane--a street in Santa Ana that led us to Polly's Pie Palace, whose brilliant marketing copy included the cartoon word-bubble "Pie is American!") led me to devise a new game. Feel free to play it while standing in line at your next concert for ridiculous people in SoCal: Hipster Bingo.

The rules are much like the Bingo game we all knew and hated as children (and will hate again as bluehairs in a depressing church basement somewhere). No one calls out letters and numbers; instead, as they see them, players check off Hipster cliches on game cards.

Cards include such Hipster necessities as black patchy punk skinny jeans, spider web elbow tattoo, ridiculously expensive messenger bag, Mohawk, Camel Crushes, knit wool hat in 90 degree heat, preppy Oxford tucked in over a fat ass in linen pants a la Vampire Weekend, glasses with ridiculous frames, California Goldrush beards on 19 year-old boys, blonde Afros, sockless Oxford shoes, and of course, the tee shirt so ironic it bores even me. Additional Hipster accoutrements include huge purple thigh bruises exposed under mini-minis (usually on women, but not always), ripped fishnet stockings, handmade purses, Smiths buttons, neon-framed Wayfarers, dirty hair, hoods attached to nothing, infants named Eudora breastfeeding while their parents munch Falafel and discuss the relative upsides to terrorism, keffiyehs (Arab head scarves worn as neck scarves by Hipsters--although this trend is slowing mightily--too popular), form-fitting flannel shirts, canvas boat shoes, sockless loafers, capri pants on men, mental lists of obscure band names to trot out in every conversation, and copies of Noam Chomsky books with titles in print large enough to read from a very great distance.
There can be cards made for forays into the dens of Hipsters with items such as beer brewing equipment, sauerkraut fermenting in a bucket, vegan non-cooked cookies (or any evidence of a restrictive and trendy diet), hydroponic grow rooms, Apple products, a creme brulee torch, mid-century modern lamps, absinthe, dog-eared philosophy books, ironic ashtrays, and at least one cat.

Hipster Bingo cards can be further deconstructed into specific camps of Hipsters. There are those who espouse the preppy 1980's look, those who espouse the punk 1980's look, those who espouse the grunge/hardcore 1990's look, those who long for the days of Goth, those who go in for Indie, and those who are nerdy engineers looking to get laid by a kite-high, compassionate Hipster chick. Generally speaking, the Hipster chooses his or her "look" based solely on its relative unattractiveness on his or her body type, shooting for the Bulgiest Ever award.

The one thing every Hipster everywhere agrees on? Morrissey is hip. No matter what. No matter where. No matter when. Whatever your opinion on his music, you simply must respect his cross-functional hipdom.

The list of Hipster cliches is so long as to be nearly inexhaustible, so make up your own cards and play anywhere, anytime. When you do, post the results here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tattoo U.

Tattoos mean a lot of things to a lot of people. To my friend Caolin, they mean self-expression and freedom. To ancient Egyptian women, they meant protection during childbirth. To my brother, they mean the girl he was considering dating might have hepatitis.

Here in SoCal, tattoos are considered a part of the culture, just like wine and boob jobs. Hit any beach at any hour of the day and you will see men, women, children, and maybe even pets covered in tattoos. Names, places, faces, and terrible mistakes are all commemorated, with varying degrees of artistry, on the skin of the beautiful.

Smithsonian Magazine ran an article several years ago about the varied and lengthy history of tattoos. In Western cultures, they were generally used to stigmatize criminals and slaves (the word “stigma” actually comes from the Roman practice of inking social undesirables and inductees into Gladiator schools). In Eastern cultures, including Japanese and Polynesian/Maori, tattoos were status symbols and warrior marks. Jewish tradition explicitly forbids tattoos on the Chosen, though, ironically, many modern Christians try to express their devotion to Old Testament values by getting Hebrew letters and words needled into their necks.

When I was younger, and grunge was cool for the first time, I was pretty sure I wanted tattoos galore. The only thing that stopped me was my own indecisiveness about what symbols to get where. I quickly realized that very indecisiveness would mean a lifetime of regret were I ever to follow through on that idiotic idea.

Then I moved to San Diego. And was even more convinced of the complete idiocy of getting myself tattooed. In my not-particularly-discriminating dating experience in this land of plenty, men have refused to date me because I don’t have tattoos, they have put me on a pedestal because I don’t have tattoos, and a few have even apologized in advance for their White Supremacist tattoos. “I was really angry when I was younger and now I can’t afford to have them removed.” Okey doke. No date for you, because you’re both racist and poor. Talk about your double negatives.

At one point, I was with a gentleman who was a few years younger than me and had done a great job of hiding his Napoleon Syndrome. We had moved beyond dating to an intimate relationship (I always have to clarify between the two, since out here, “dating” usually means “having sex with,” whereas in my prudish, outdated vocabulary, it means “going out in public with to determine whether I want to have sex with my date). Several months into our relationship, he began talking about marriage and the future. He also daily began making pointed jokes about nipple pumps (what the hell ARE those, anyway—no, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know) and bondage and how much he loved Suicide Girls. He began to question how I spent my money, how I was training my dog, and what I was doing at every moment of the day. He was particularly interested in my online meanderings for reasons I could not grasp. He would say things like, “You don’t have to know what you want. I’ll guide you.”

It was such ridiculous behavior, and so far from his usual self, I used to laugh at him. He would laugh with me, and then return to normalcy for a while, until the next comment would come out at random, something like, “A lot of women get hymen reconstruction surgery before they get married to show their husbands how much they love them. Isn’t that romantic?”

One evening, after too many Maker’s Manhattans and a lengthy romp, he was feeling particularly relaxed and expressive. Holding me to his chest, he rambled on about our glorious future together and how wonderful it would be to be married. “You’ll belong to me completely,” he said, with a too-intense look in his green eyes.

“I don’t really think that’s what marriage is about in this day and age,” I said, realizing at that moment just how strongly he believed the opposite, despite having patiently bided his time before revealing his true thoughts to me. “To me, marriage is about having an equal partner in life.”

“It can be about whatever you want it to be about,” he said, with the patronizing tone of a father to a misguided child. “Hey—let’s get you a tattoo.” He tried to make it sound like a spur-of-the-moment idea, but it was a little too nonchalant.

“Why the hell would I get a tattoo, especially at this point in my life?”

“For me. To prove you’re mine. We’ll put it somewhere no one else will ever see it. I’ll be the only one who even knows about it.”

Needless to say, my interest in that relationship died a quick, ugly death following that little exchange. Possession is the worst thing anyone could ever offer me. But the little bastard wouldn’t take no for an answer. “Fine, no tattoos, no nipple pumps, I’ll never bring any of it up again, I promise!”

The next time he stopped by, I was ready. I had posted a fictitious ad on Craigslist Casual Encounters asking for regular Thursday night NSA fun, since he always stayed home on Thursday nights. He arrived, and I went into the kitchen, leaving my computer open to the page verifying my posting—I figured I’d make the most of his jealous interest in what I might be doing online when he wasn’t around.

Five minutes later, I came out of the kitchen to a blissfully empty apartment.

After that odd relationship, I discovered it is not terribly uncommon in certain sexual communities to “mark” a submissive or slave with a tattoo chosen by his or her “master.” According to an article from Associated Content, “There is nothing like the thrill of knowing that your submissive is carrying some form of mark somewhere on his or her body to proudly show your ownership.” I even found a “Life List” on from someone whose handle is “slave2jlb” that includes items such as “Get my GED,” “Learn to swallow all of it,” “Save more money,” and “Get a submissive’s tattoo.” (On a blog called “A Submissive’s Musings,” one woman has a similar list, which includes the seemingly dichotomous “Bottle-feed a lamb,” and “Learn to tolerate the wooden pony better.”) 10 other people on 43things also listed getting a submissive’s tattoo as a life goal.

Well, hey nonny nonny. Have I found the man for you!

The concept of the ownership or submissive’s tattoo clearly dates back to earlier Western traditions of similarly marking slaves and criminals. I regard myself as neither (though my employer may beg to differ on one or both counts), and would be royally pissed off if my significant other regarded me as either one. I’d feel a little like a member of a numbered Auschwitz herd. Being ordered around by a Nazi guard is not my idea of a loving relationship.

I now look around me at SoCal’s innumerable tattooed crowds, knowing they are slaves to fashion, if not to something darker.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Magic Kingdom. Of Swingers.

There are lots of things to do at Disneyland. From children’s parties to weddings to business meetings, The Magic Kingdom is an American institution—fake, overpriced, and possessed of a perverse undercurrent among its throngs of chubby attendees. It’s like Vegas for kids, the young-at-heart, and Furries.

For a married Boomer couple from Seattle, a trip to Disneyland is a chance to enjoy time with their blended family of teenaged children, and to pick up other couples for swingin’ good times at the Anaheim Motel 6 (no offense meant to Motel 6).

The fearless leader of his family—we’ll call him Peter (for both Pan and for the body part which rules his life), approaches men and women the same way.

“Want to see my Tinkerbell tattoo?”

It’s about a foot long and covers his flabby upper left thigh, giving him the excuse to roll up his baggy shorts nearly to the twig-and-berries. The unsuspecting victim of his attempt to lure in the other Peters—and Wendys—of the Kingdom will also notice his carefully pedicured toenails, painted peacock blue, with tiny Tink decals applied for the occasion.

The whole family—Peter, his wife “Wendy,” and their seventeen-year-old sons included—is too quick to move in for a hug with everyone they meet. It’s no perfunctory greeting. It’s a full-body standing cuddle during which breasts and genitals receive as near to a dry-hump as possible without inviting assault charges.

Wendy, on the other hand, has no tattoos to recommend her to potential swingees. She’s a badly dressed, obese, middle-aged Fundamentalist-cum-Wiccan. She relies not on her physical charms—there are none—but on her skills as both an R.N. and a disturbingly hands-on mother to appeal to the damaged inner child that apparently exists in all who swing.

Both these exceptional people are quick to engage anyone and everyone in a discussion of swinging, threesomes, foursomes, orgies, and open relationships. They maintain that having multiple partners is natural, that it displays a superior level of “evolvement,” and that by the gods, it’s fun. They disregard the fallacy in their argument that something which is natural because it has ostensibly been practiced since before the dawn of the dyad negates the idea that it can also be called evolved.

Being married Boomers, they also disregard things like the rising rate of HIV infection in their demographic and the return of syphilis as an epidemic. It’s as if the only thing their marriage certificate might be good for is prophylaxis. And getting a family rate at Disneyland, a swinger’s paradise.

My experience with them began innocently enough. Along with being perverse creepazoids, they are high school friends of one of my Boomer relatives, who for some reason feels duty-bound to remain friendly with them despite their constant attempts to make her the filling for their high-fat sandwich. (For my part, once a friend, no matter how hallowed our glory days may have been, asks me to lick a body part—any body part—I cut the cord.)

Being a poor neglected para-human from the practical and anti-vacation Midwest, my first trip to Disneyland was at age thirty-one, just after I had moved to Southern California from Chicago. It was on this trip, amid whirling teacups, heavily made-up fairy princesses, and the sound of toddlers screaming in fright at giant mice, that Peter and Wendy first graced me with their teat-smashing hugs and displays of sagging Boomer flesh—and tired Boomer sexual philosophy. I was trying to pretend I was a child so I could enjoy—or at least ignore—the bad food, long lines, and horrifying waste of water and electricity that make the Kingdom so Magic. It was working fairly well, although from time to time someone would come up and ask me what I was doing in a stroller.

I bought a Jack Skellington pill box for my Prozac and a keychain that read “It’s a small world, after all” for the guy I was dating at the time. I thought it might help him come to terms with his size. The rest of my morning at Disneyland was spent trying on mouse ears, re-applying sunscreen, and seeking the smoking areas, hoping to run into a renegade New Yorker so we could mock everything.

At noon our little party was to meet by the area Jedi knights gave light-saber lessons to little kids in borrowed brown robes. I got there early to enjoy the shade (and because I hoped to watch one of the geeky little bastards trip on his robe and end up ass-over-teakettle). The next to show was Peter, who came up close behind me—like, half-hard peter-to-crack close—and said, “Aren’t children amazing beings? So free. Totally open. You should experience parenthood one day.”

“Great,” I thought, “Even the fucking swingers want to knock me up.”

Out loud, I said, “I hate children. I didn’t even like myself when I was one.”

The skanky old perv had the nerve to shoot me a patronizing “the poor woman doesn’t know what she’s missing out on” look.

“I sense a great veil of repression about you,” he said, maintaining his pitying look. “I used to be repressed too. Then I evolved. It’s a lot like learning to use “The Force” in Star Wars.”

“If you’re evolved, Prince Leia, I’d rather be Jabba the god-damned Hut.” (I was going to say something about how I’d rather just stay anal, but didn’t want to give him the opening. So to speak.)

Thankfully, my dear relative—let’s call her Muffy—appeared across the square. I knocked down an old man with a walker in my mad dash to reach her. (I thought it was an old man with a walker—turns out it was Darth Vader with a torn meniscus, leaning on a light-saber.)

To my relief, Wendy and the Lost Boys showed up and convinced Peter to go with them to the line for Space Mountain instead of eating lunch. (Not before the teenaged boys treated me to body-to-body gropes that admittedly were far more appealing than those their love-spell-spouting weather-beaten mother forced on me.)

I sat with Muffy, eating processed cheese food and its usual accoutrements, wondering what was the best illness to feign in order to avoid going to dinner and hanging out in the hotel with her dear, dear friends.

“Your friends are a little too nice,” I said.

“I know,” she said, pulling a face. “I don’t want you go to dinner with them tonight. We’ll tell them we need family bonding time.”

“Thank Christ. They’re creepy. Peter showed me his Tinkerbell tattoo and made sure I could see his ball hair. Wendy showed me her tits in the ladies’ room because she was trying to convince me that going braless for thirty years was a good idea. And Little Peter told me he needed tutoring in his Human Sexuality class, but he could afford to pay me only in hugs.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” she said, laughing through a mouthful of soft pretzel. “Outside Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter and Wendy—in front of the boys—asked me if I thought you’d be interested in becoming one of their regular party guests.”

The thought of becoming a fixture in the sex life of a couple of disturbed Boomer fucktards gave me a feeling in the pit of my stomach I can only describe as lactose-intolerance-meets-hot-PBR. My face was no doubt contorted into a mask of pure disgust as I tried to keep my lunch down.

Now shrieking with laughter, Muffy choked out, “So what should I tell them your answer is?”

I stabbed a plastic knife through a leftover link of Mickey’s Special Sausage and said, “I fucking love Disneyland.”