11.29.2002

Give me daughters...and make them 1-2-3...

As I don’t have any contact with my family, Thanksgiving is a time for me to reflect on what I’m doing with my orphaned-ass life. Their absence makes me hyper conscious of who I am in relation to them. In their eyes, I’m the sinful hell-bound dyke, the crazy motherfucker who sliced her own fingers off in order to get kicked out of Timothy Christian. How bad they think I am will always be a source of pride for me, even though I stopped beating my brains, as the song goes, with the liquor and drugs. It’s been an uphill battle. For over a year now, I’ve been commuting, paying bills, combing my hair down in a smooth part every morning, wondering if after everything, this is the pathetic little life that I’ll be left with. At night I feel cityscapes and starscapes projected across my chest—the gilded domes of Oxford and the Vatican, the baroque railings of South American apartment terraces, the Black Forest shrouded in thick mist, Mt. Kilimanjaro turning blue and gold at sunset and so on--scenes too achingly beautiful, too expansive in scope to hold in. I feel the call of a thousand artists and thinkers who came before. “Join us, join us,” they seem to be saying. Faces appear in clouds—words are highlighted on billboards. But they don’t tell me how to reach them—they don’t give me the secret key that will unlock the door.



When I get home I’m often too exhausted to cook, so I pop open a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli and eat the slimy slugs cold. I can’t even be fucked to pour them out into a bowl. I stir them around with my fork and listen to the horrible sloshing sounds they make. How am I going to gather the strength to sit at the computer? Am I really going to work on those tracks? Is it all just a joke? Am I just another fake—a copy of a copy of a copy of an artist, one of those girls I read about in Shout magazine, who put out her own third wave feminist zine when she was 15 and was published by a real house two years later, who wears her thrift store jeans better than I do and cuts her hair with safety scissors and takes really great black and white photos, not the instant camera tourist bullshit that I agonize over before cutting into tiny squares and sprinkling into the trash.

Then there’s fucking Will Oldham, who by 25 had made some of the greatest tunes ever, or this new guy, Conor Oberst, who (based on the links TRUE provided in her post) started making indie rock when he was 13 and is now a superstar at 22.


(link)

My mother had me when she was 25, but that’s not the point.

Should I send out some samples to folks looking for writers on Craig’s List? Do I dare disturb the universe?

The day before yesterday was the day before Thanksgiving, so we had early closing. Even though I felt empty and flat, I forced myself to go to the gym and put in 30 minutes on the treadmill. The whole time I stared at a nearby place board advertising a sale on personal trainer sessions. There was a picture of your typical Santa Claus and the words “Because being fat and jolly is overrated.” The world “being” was level with my eyes—I felt it pressed into my skull as a club mix of “What a Girl Wants” thundered through the room. Was it really so hard to imagine a life without TRUEBOY and Fitzcarraldo? If I never spoke to either of them again, would it be such a big loss? Maybe I’d have a better chance of getting famous on my own. I’d have more time to concentrate and get some real work done, without all the bullshit drama.

I left the gym and walked through the gray canyons of midtown skyscrapers. I wasn’t heading anywhere in particular. I thought of calling P., my old dealer. After all this time I’ve still got his pager number memorized. It’s set to the 1-800 Mattres (leave the last ‘s’ off for savings) jingle in my head. I wonder if it still works. I have this bad habit of thinking that a person has disappeared after I stop calling them. I talk about them in the past tense, as though they’re dead even if they aren’t. Eventually I took off my shades and shut off my Walkman and let the sounds of the street filter through my ears. That’s something I got from TRUE—tuning into the street when you feel like shit. When I had my drop top, she liked to ride around with the top down, even when it was freezing out or 100 degrees. I thought about her with her Timbs up on the dash as I walked dazedly through the holiday crowd. Steam rose up from manhole covers and the smell of honey-roasted peanuts wafted through the air. The entrance to a subway appeared and without thinking, I turned and jogged down the stairs. Inside, kids were breaking to Run DMC, the beats reverberated off the tiles like they were in a bathroom. It was a scene played many thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of times in the city since the birth of hip-hop, although now it had a touch of sadness to it.

I pushed my way through the crowd until I found a spot, then I slouched and folded my arms, trying to differentiate myself from the suits and handbags around me. One of the dancers completed a perfect headspin—defying gravity and pain as his entire body weight was pressed down upon his head and neck, with only his black Armani skullcap separating him from the floor. When he was finished, he jumped up and stared back at the crowd in disbelief at the lackadaisical applause his move engendered. I noticed that he had burn marks on his cheeks. They looked like frozen pink tears on his brown skin.

“C’mon, y’all!” he shouted, his voice filled with anger and resentment. “W’sup, y’all got give it up. You know you can’t do that." He swirled a finger in the air in reference to the beautiful gymnastic feat he'd just entertained us with.

"Give it up!” he shouted. There was a smattering of applause and some milling about as people decided to be on their way. The performer was breaking an unwritten rule by getting pissed off at his audience. He scanned the sea of mostly white faces in front of him and exhaled wearily, dismissing us all—everything we were and ever would be.

“Snakes and liars,” I heard him mutter, as he sauntered back to his place in the line of dancers. “They all know that none of them can do that shit, but still they won’t give it up.”

I walked away thinking about this kid and all the others in the city. The line “Carved by love and carved by switchblades” was stuck in my head. It was an old Jonathan Fire*Eater lyric. They were coming up at the same time we were, back in the late 90s. They signed a million dollar deal with DreamWorks. Things looked really good for them and we were all jealous, but then Stewart’s smack habit got out of control, their debut album sucked and the press turned to England for the next big thing.

They’re all broken up now, but we’re still here.

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