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When Your Job Blows and You Give Up, Fate Comes A-Calling

After Joshua Tree, things at Doggie Daycare got volatile. Now, a hostile workplace is something that is difficult to pinpoint without sounding petty and the more you let things slide, the more things tend to escalate.

That said, I have not learned personally how to handle it or communicate it properly, because I always end up in the hot seat, being the one with the problem and inevitably perceived as overly emotional.

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There is a core group of people that have worked at this Doggie Daycare for years, since it opened as a business. These people are all very young, it was their first job, they pull in overtime, they spend the night on holidays, and they have made the company their life.

That is their choice, of course, but they tend to bully the other employees.  When I say bully, that is even hard to justify without sounding paranoid and (cough) immature.

Dora, my roommate, will take any opportunity to feel superior over me. Understandably since she isn’t as developed or accomplished yet she IS highly competitive in nature. Am I sounding petty yet?

She is a cute girl, but young, short and just not in my league. She will never be.

Whatever her motive, it was easy for her to corral the 22-yr-old veteran who practically lives there since he has a history making things difficult for other employees. Perhaps its territorial, but I would rather not spend time trying to understand him.

I am not taking it personally, though my argument might mislead you so far.

There are people who used to work there and quit because the “core” made them uncomfortable. There are people who still work there that can’t be on the same playground as he is due to tension. So when their focus went from Rachel, who recently quit because she felt people were “talking about her” to me and Sacha . . . I wasn’t surprised.

For months now, they have delightfully invited everyone at the company out to social gatherings, while deliberately ignoring me and Sascha. Now, Sascha and I have a very busy life. We work other jobs, we have other responsibilities but we also have baggage from high school that makes the whole scenario disgustingly awkward.

We ignored it.

Dora would greet me on our muddy excuse for a courtyard with, “I don’t know why he doesn’t invite you guys. I said, you should invite them and he said, ‘Why?’ and I said, ‘Because they took me to the funeral.”

That’s right. The only ones that stood by Dora’s side at Danny’s funeral was Taylor, Sascha and Me. Just the way she posed this argument made my blood boil.

Then she said, “He is obviously hurt. I don’t know why, but his feelings are hurt.”

Dora is one, little fleshy box of bullshit.

I confronted the Dog Veteran, we can call him Hal. I said, “Dora thinks I hurt you . . . is that the case?”

He said, “No. How would you hurt me?”

I said, “I don’t know. She said that’s why you don’t invite me or Sascha out?”

He said, “She is confused. We just didn’t have room for everyone.”

I said, “Ok, well, it would be nice if you didn’t deliberately exclude us, because it rubs some sensitive nerves. Just the invite, as a courtesy, would be nice.”

He apologized, and then held another event inviting everyone on the shift but me and Sascha, once again.

Other co-workers started asking me why we weren’t going to any of the events, and I said, rather coldly, “Well, we aren’t invited.”

It annoys me that I have already devoted a page and a half to this childish garbage on my blog, but I must lay the foundation.

Things escalated.

When I think of Hal, the first thing I think about is how he taught me to use a calming nature with the dogs. He is a wizard with dogs, especially troubled ones. He laid down the methodology I execute to handle difficult dogs using a soft voice and slow energy, and now I try to use it on people, too.

He did say, “You can’t be emotional with dogs, then they win.”

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On closing shifts, Hal would ignore Sascha’s requests or instructions, despite the fact that she was managing. Dora would confront her about whether or not she was hurt with the social events. They were stirring it up.

Hal is very close to HR. I can’t go into HR because somehow she has access to my Facebook and she has helped me quite a bit over the last 9 months with money, with the roommate who killed himself in my bathroom, with everything.

At some point, my hours were cut. I was given the 5 hour shifts at the end of the night, which kill me because I don’t get paid enough after taxes and gas to justify an entire day of potential other work I could book just so I can wait around all day and haul ass to Doggie Daycare for $30-$40. I could have made $100 doing something else that day. I have explained that to HR, so I was surprised when I saw my name on the schedule, sharing those shifts with the new employees.

HR has a reputation (justified or not) for cutting hours and upsetting employees with reasons that are arguably personal.

I nipped in the bud. I was moving to Washington and didn’t know financially how I would fare. So I asked her why my hours were getting cut.

She responded passionately that I asked for 3 days off for Joshua Tree and those were the only days available. I said, “Ok.”

She said I could come in early and pick up more hours. I hate feeling like an extra hand on the playground. I did come in early, but feeling useless for 3 hours doesn’t make the day seem any more productive, and, in general, I feel like the company under-utilizes me.

The next week, nothing changed. Once again, my hours were reduced and I was working several shitty shifts.

The same day I saw the schedule, another employee told me HR was upset I was bringing both Esther and Brad into Doggie Daycare. The company policy allows for only one free dog per employee, despite the core bringing in up to three. One claims to have been “grandfathered in” which is another word for favoritism, and the other says she pays for her extra dogs. We all roll our eyes when we hear the excuses, because it is widely known extra dogs are not paid for by minimum waged workers (except, now, for me).

I have been bringing both of them in for months, and now another employee had to tell me something HR should have informed me in private.

As I was walking to take my break, I passed Hal and HR in the hallway, both often descend from her office after lengthy one on one’s, and she looked downright disgusted with me. As they stopped to let me pass, her eyes wide and her mouth open, I turned just before passing and saw Hal look at me, laugh and shake his head.

You just reach a point where you get fed up with the bullshit.

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So I knocked on her office door and asked her if there was a problem?

Now, when I am upset, I talk fast, my eyes get wide and I get fairly intense. I don’t curse or yell. Its just that whirlwind of emotion that I can generate from just talking about something I have strong feelings for.

She sat me down, stood over me and asked me to explain why I was so “paranoid.” I explained the above reasons, they are all feelings that are created at the workplace, nothing highly factual. That is the trick with hostility though, you can’t quite identify things without sounding like a 12-yr-old crying over spilled milk.

I told her I once loved my job and now I hate it.

She told me it was all in my head. She said lots of things I wish I could illustrate here, but the truth is, she helps me. And I can not dissect the conversation without upsetting her. So I will let it be.

She noted herself that we lost Rachel because of this “paranoia” going around and she wanted to confront them about it.

No matter what I said about the whole conversation being just about my reduction in hours and privileges, it came back to me feeling socially alienated. I am sorry for that, and partially at blame for being too candid, too personal and even welling up some tears when I confessed they had hurt my feelings.

I said Hal was “evil” about three times. Oops.

Shortly thereafter, the three core members of the clique were confronted. One of those members has always been kind to me, and, of course, she is the one who has completely shut down with me. Now she is uncomfortable working with me and will not enjoy even the slightest bit of conversation. The one with the heart is always the one that suffers.

Dora was unaffected.

Hal decided to punish Sascha and take his time with tasks to the point where it slowed down our closing procedure. Sascha had to step on the playground and finish simple cleaning tasks because he was taking so long.

That night, he had a confrontation with Sascha. She texted me. Hal called me.

He wanted to apologize for making me feel uncomfortable, and asked that next time I talk to him about it. I was fairly cold with him. I was in a Ralph’s, picking up a late night dinner (aka a Pellegrino, cheap vegan cookies and day old French bread), 11pm on a Saturday night.

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I told him I had one conversation with him and Dora, and one conversation is all I feel its worth. I emphasized my complaint was about hours not about “hanging out”.

Blah fucking blah. He said he was sorry he hurt my feelings but he and Dora are close friends now. I said, “I am glad you are friends. That isn’t the point. It wasn’t what you did, it was the way you did it. It was sinister.”

I could tell he was forcing nice. I never trust people who force nice, because if it’s that difficult, something is fundamentally wrong with them.

I will spare you the details of the conversation. He made an effort to be friends, I wasn’t interested but accepted his apology.

Then I spoke to Sascha. She said, “Why don’t they get it? I don’t want to hang out with them. I just want to do my job.”

They keep making it personal. They facilitated the personal effect, and I played into it. I am sorry for that.

Shortly after all of this went down, I got sick. Both Sascha and I came down with a terrible fever/flu.

When I am sick, I tend to fight off a multitude of negative thoughts that range from childhood all the way to my hair that day.

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So, right as I became almost totally incapacitated, I got a call about a possible job in France.

That’s right . . . FRANCE.

Not only France, but the biggest film festival in the world- CANNES.

The job was forwarded to me in an email from Lana. I respond to her little leads and always try to keep several pots boiling for opportunity. I responded on a whim, not expecting much. The email lead to a conversation and things started to happen.

This job requires I maintain a level of professionalism so I can not describe what I will be doing there. Though sometimes I do a poor job of it, I would like to preserve my anonymity.

I was sick and stranded at Frank’s. I had a paid photo shoot, a phone interview and work. I tried to do all of them, but Hal of all people, ended up taking over my shift at Doggie Daycare. I was so grateful, I almost cried.

The job covers all expenses but my airfare. When I confirmed that with my contact, I was discouraged and told her that I would give her a definite answer at the end of the week. How was I going to make up the $500 in airfare I didn’t have? I really felt like there was no way to make it happen.

Someone close to me offered me the remaining funds for the air ticket, and I accepted, informed my French contact and faded.

I planted my seeds and then slipped into a feverish coma.

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When my health, work hours and consciousness was restored- I put the full court press on my French contact to confirm the job.

She was reluctant to confirm, and the more I pushed, the more she put me off.

Finally, she told me she thought she had all the positions filled but would like to meet for coffee.

For two days, I kept repeating out loud, “Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Don’t feel sorry for yourself.” As my mother had just returned from Thailand on vacation, she coined a new favorite saying, “Think of the Thai people. They have nothing.” Then she would later say, “The internet is down again, nothing works.”

I would follow up with, “Oh Mother, but think of the Thai people.”

For some time now, Fate has been pushing me out of LA. I can’t ever seem to make enough money, I can’t ever land a gig that gives me some breathing room, I can’t find a stable boyfriend who will combine income with me . . . its swimming against the current and I can’t do it anymore.

The last thing I want to do is lose my footing and sink, so I have to flip over on my back, spread my arms and let the waters carry me where they have wanted all this time.

If nothing else, I was leaving Doggie Daycare, not at a time when I worked closely with my best friends, but when things soured to a point of no return. Taylor was still in Florida. Jude was trying to whittle his time there down to only training new employees and when other managers call in sick. Trent was at another Doggie Daycare, as were all my favorite receptionists. Mitch still remained but is a closer peer to Dora than me.

It was time to say goodbye to Doggie Daycare. At least for now, until I could figure out how to save myself. The goodbye would be easy now and there was no mistaking that leaving was the right thing to do.

***

On a rainy morning, I drove out to Culver City and waited with a latte for my French connection.

When she arrived, I kept telling myself to talk slow. The way I speak is becoming progressively more manic. It is hard to decipher what I am saying sometimes, or even expect someone to keep up.

I forced my mind and mouth to slow down and briefly caught a glimpse of someone walking in the cafe behind her. She searched my eyes and brought me back into the conversation. I locked in and told her what I thought about the film industry, as a professional who has worked as an assistant, as a former film student, and as a woman.

I focused on the green swirl in one of her brown eyes. It was prominent and highly unusual, so it was easy to let it hypnotize me. She was a beautiful woman and couldn’t be much older than me. Petite, blonde and with a rich, French accent.

She must of liked me because 4 hours later she sent me an email confirming that I was on-board.

I AM GOING TO FRANCE!!!!!!!

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I found out while I was on the playground at work. There was no one to shout to or hug. I just raised my arms in quiet victory.

On my break, I texted Lana that I was going. She called me back immediately.

I told her, “You should have applied. You need to come too.” She was my partner in crime. We were unemployed video journalists together, then we were assistants together, then we were fired around the same time together and somewhat (rough patch) creative partners.

She is the one female friend who hung in there the longest with me, after trying for years to encourage me to leave the Prophet, after I disappointed her on the project we invested in, she stayed. To say I love her just doesn’t seem to cover the appreciation for everything she has taught me about friendship.

She said, “Well, I would go but I am kinda making a baby right now.”

To take all the joy of finally going to France, finally feeling like someone saw my potential over a small cafe table and tasting total, unabridged freedom then combine all THAT with the magic of a baby in Lana, my freckled, gorgeous, witty, brilliant Lana . . . its a fucking beautiful miracle.

I was shaking. My eyes stung. And something like a laugh erupted out of my stomach. It was the best four minute conversation of my life.

I said to her, “We win. We win!!” She laughed, “Yes, we win.”

***

This was perfect. Paris was calling. After a few weeks working in Cannes, I am going to take a side trip to Paris. And, most importantly, this opportunity perfectly fit into the timeline I set out long before I knew my life would take this turn.

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Two weeks before, I gave my notice to Dora that I was moving out of this shitter by the end of the month. She asked me to think about staying until I had hard plans, but I knew the longer I stayed, the more miserable I would be. I was just paddling to keep my head above water here.

I wasn’t saving money. I wasn’t making any headway. And I was living in a slum.

My therapist said, “Make room for the unexpected.”

So, now I will leave the first week of May (after my last photo shoot for a skin care line I am modeling in). I will leave my dogs with my parents at their house in Southern Washington. Just around the time they will get on my nerves, 4 or 5 days in, I will fly out for three weeks in France.

Can I just say it again? France.

Fuck the job. Fuck the ex-boyfriend. Fuck Sylmar. I am going to France!!

Then what would I do?

Make room for the unexpected.

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Pretty Dresses and Hard Goodbyes

Mid-December I felt cramps.

Dora said, “Let it all out. Let the stress bleed out of you.”

It did. I felt better. I felt more mentally and emotionally balanced.

Whether or not I liked it, my parents’ imposed April deadline made me feel that something will have to change soon. And living in a place with no central heat, where running a space heater the same time my roommate runs hers forces the electricity to knock out . . . keeps me really eager for that change.

Abe accompanied me to a Doggie Daycare holiday party, which was gloriously awkward as they all are. You get a group of people who are socially retarded and feel more comfortable around animals than people, feed them alcohol, throw in a women’s roller derby team and you have one of our typical parties.

One of the regular employees there greeted us wearing a leather sash with shot classes lining the front, holding a bottle of tequila.

He poured us each a shot. I sipped. Abe shot.

Sacha came face-to-face with Abe for the first time and said, “I love this. I just love (waving her hand around his face) THIS!”

Noah said, “Well, watch this.”

He threw off his hood and made his ears wiggle.

We went out back where Mitch was dancing alone with a cigarette and a bottle of Bicardi to raunchy hip hop music.

Sasha was tossed and throwing huge sarcastic statements into the sky. She opened up her whole chest and threw her arms wildly as she said, “I didn’t have time to change, so I have dog food on my pants. Veal, right here. And here.” She pointed at spots on her pants. “Which is . . . AWESOME!”

And, our boss- the most socially guarded of us all, has a stripper pole installed in her one bedroom apartment with a huge mirror leaning up against the wall facing it.

Taylor was there on his phone.

Sasha said, “Taylor is leaving for Florida. Don’t tell anyone.”

I said, “Permanently?”

She nodded.

My stomach sank.

Taylor’s brother shot himself in the chest about a month before. He went back to Florida for the funeral.

That was the greatest of many misfortunes he suffered in 2011. His girlfriend of 7 years left him for another man, the bar he was managing closed down due to the recession, and he was lost.

Once our boss approached the stripper pole, we all piled into her living room to watch. One of us videotaped on to a cell phone. Then she collapsed on her bed and vomited. Merry Christmas.

***

Now that I was single, I arranged for a meeting with Tom, the director I met 6 months ago while I was still with Alan. He asked that everything from now on be off the record, which is kind of tragic if I thought somehow seeing him would jump start my career.

I had a Werther’s Commercial Audition in Santa Monica, and we met up for a couple drinks. He took me to three bars in the one night I saw him.

The alcohol wore on me even though the places he took me to were fantastic, and so were their martinis. The waiters brought me free champagne and told me I was lucky to know him.

He said, “I know the lows in this business are low, but the highs are out of this world.”

This time I was very self conscious of my orange rain jacket. I was warm, but bulky. Words rung out in my head, funny enough from Alan and Jaq who were once a long term couple.

Jaq gave me one of her jackets once and said, “Here, have one nice jacket.” The sleeves were too short but it did become my one nice jacket.

And Alan’s words, “People get the impression that you are poor.”

Tom assured me the jacket looked warm. We talked about old movies with Paul Newman and James Dean. We talked about new movies that might make be remembered in the next ten years. It felt good. There was a relief that I could still hold my own with a sharp mind in my field.

***

The next day, I bought myself a nice new jacket from Forever 21. A Christmas present to myself.

Later that week, I had a background job with an American Express commercial in Hollywood. The wind was especially brutal those last few days. I didn’t even feel comfortable walking my dogs in the weather.

Doing an outdoor shoot in formal wear made me . . . uncomfortable. I was bleeding and I was cold. That’s generally a bad combination. So I wore my skinny jeans, a grey turtle neck and a big wool sweater. They mentioned there would be lots of walking, so I brought my Rolling Stones high tops.

Every other time I have gone to a job, I have brought options, but I knew they would put me in some flimsy dress and heels if I brought them. So I didn’t bring anything.

I was the fourth person in line for Wardrobe approval. This chick was some kind of olive skinned bitch with a British accent. She looked at me and shook her head, with that thick, exaggerated accent that would impress someone stepping off a tour bus, she said, “I can’t work with this. That sweater. Those shoes. No.”

I said, “Well, can you give me something from wardrobe?”

She said, “Stand over there.”

I did. Then she changed her mind and said, “Those shoes . . .” Yeah, they are Rolling Stones high tops. AND?

It was a 200 person call to stand and walk around in the background. No one was going to see my shoes. You were going to make me walk up and down the Hollywood Bowl in heels . . . why? To punish me for better skin care?

She said, “Go stand over there. I can’t deal with you now.”

So I did. I was a little emotional about it at first because I was bleeding like a stuck pig. It was the first day of my period and being singled out had me feeling nauseous.

Then I got lost in my book, “Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation Of The Wives Of Henry VIII”. I was on his last wife, Catherine Parr who seemed to lucked out in the end, because a warrant was issued for her arrest shortly before Henry died of natural causes.

I thought, Catherine Parr had bigger problems than wardrobe approval.

Wardrobe Bitch approved a few petite girls with one outfit on. She said, “Well, you haven’t given me a choice, have you? Go on.”

She approved a large black man wearing jeans and sneakers with no other alternates. She said, “Go on, what can I do? Just go.” He turned and hung a last bite of watermelon over his mouth as he walked away. That isn’t racist. That’s just what happened.

None of these people were bothered about it in the slightest.

The older woman next to me said, “She has forgotten you are here. Go back in line, get approval.”

So I went to the back of the line, and she saw me again and said, “I saw you sitting over there. I am not ready for you yet.”

I turned on my rubber heels and returned to my spot.

I was finished with my book now, and hungry. Craft service was open, so I headed on over for some fruit, nuts and coffee. Then I remembered I had another book in my car I just bought. While buying Trent’s Christmas present (My favorite James Baldwin book), I found one I hadn’t read, which seems impossible since I had made a list I read from just after Undergrad, and collected every book I ever knew him to write.

It was called “If Beale Street Could Talk.” While I was down by my car, I grabbed my nice new jacket I bought. I threw that on and dumped my Navajo design, super comfortable sweater with the faux fur around the hood and front V-neck back in my trunk. By the way, that sweater was purchased for $1 at a thrift store, cozy yet dapper. Hollywood hippy. Chi chi. Whatever. I like it.

By the time I returned to my squatting spot next to the trash can, the Wardrobe Bitch was gone. No one approached me. So I just resumed as I was . . . I kept reading and walked to set when called.

“The same passion which saved Fonny got him into trouble, and put him in jail. For, you see, he had found his center, his own center, inside him; and it showed. He wasn’t anybody’s nigger. And that’s a crime in this fucking free country. You’re supposed to be somebody’s nigger.”

The Assistant Director had us all sit in a section of seating facing the stage. He said, “We need to pick 10 people to move to the foreground for camera.” He looked through our faces, “You, you, you . . .” I pointed a finger at myself, “Me?” He nodded.

Wow. Eat that, Wardrobe Bitch.

***

The next day, Abe and I went to see a movie on my day off and ended up seeing The Descendents, which was very good.

I was emotional during the movie. Abe kept asking if I was alright, but I couldn’t stop sobbing. Now, in public, I try to choke on my sobs, which generally gives me a migraine. So after the film, I got a martini  and he a Saigon Iced Tea at Chi Dynasty.

The dimmed lights made the red in the walls bleed. Only two seats were left at the bar, and they were ours.

The bartender put the tall glass of alcohol and tea in front of Abe.

Abe, “This is pre-destiny.”

Me, “What is?”

Abe, “See how the alcohol and the tea are still on top of each other, but they are sinking into each other a specific way, but it could be one of eight specific ways for the drink to mix. Its like that ball game. . . on ‘The Price is Right’? The ball can land in one of several slots. Where it lands on that specific turn is pre-destiny. You don’t know until it happens, and it happens on its own.”

I smiled.

I said, “Sorry if my Doggie Daycare party was so lame. Our parties are kind of uncomfortable.”

Abe said, “Your party had a guy pouring  tequila with shot glasses strapped to his chest. A DJ blasting music in a backyard during the middle of the night with no complaining neighbors. A helicopter with a spotlight going up and down the driveway for 45 minutes. I have been to lame parties before. That was not one. Lame parties don’t have stripper poles, or Sascha or roller derby players.”

I think of Abe now, and how much I love the way he smells. The feel of his beard scratching on my skin. The way he hides his teeth with his hand when he laughs. God damn him.

After drinks, we went shopping at Forever 21. We were both tipsy, so I went around collecting garments, rubbing my temples saying, “I deserve all the pretty dresses! All of them!”

I went into the changing room, and Abe tried to follow me. The clerk told him he had to wait outside.

As I changed into my strapless, pink glitter mini dress, I heard a thump! I turned around and saw Abe’s head over the top of the dressing room door just before he slid down.

Clerk, “Sir! SIR! The manager can see you. Please leave!”

I picked up the dress, because I deserve all the pretty dresses but can only afford one.

Shortly after, I got a text from Taylor that we were meeting at The White Horse (a bar in Hollywood) as a final goodbye.

We got there a little early, and parked outside. I put my head on Abe’s chest.

He said, “You know, I am scared.”

I said, “Of what?”

He said, “I am scared of my feelings. I am sorry I keep running away.”

I kissed his cheek.

I said, “Its ok. We are just friends.”

His hand fell loosely around my shoulder.

We went inside and met with Ocean, her boyfriend Mississippi, a drummer from his band and Lori- the woman who lives at Doggie Daycare. I heard she used to frequent the White Horse back during Hollywood’s Drug Hay Day in the 70s and early 80s. Lori’s hair is somewhere between carrot and Clairol red. Her lips are thin and she talks so fast, it takes about 9 months to a year of working there to get the gist of what she’s saying.

She said, “I keep hoping I don’t recognize anyone.”

I patted her knee. “You won’t.”

I introduced Abe to Ocean who in turn introduced Mississippi, “This is my sexy, hot, rock star boyfriend.”

Me, “If hot is having a receding hairline, don’t worry, he makes up for it on his backside.”

Now, Mississippi and I go back on our venomous insults. Recently, I was trained for feeding the dogs and during training he said, “I don’t know why they are bothering to teach an old dog new tricks.”

I am on the older end of kennel attendants at Doggie Daycare. ha. ha.

I said, “You thought of a decent insult, Congratulations”

Back to The White Horse:

Mississippi, “They were training her feeding and I said, ‘I don’t know why they are bothering to teach an old dog new tricks.”

Me, “Wow, you DVR’ed your only good joke. I guess I would too if that’s all I had. You hold on to it. Its yours, forever.”

Abe got caught up in a conversation with a lone drinker at the bar. When I walked up to check up on him, Abe said, “Hey, doesn’t he look like the boy character in that movie we just saw, but without the long hair and beard?”

Me, “No, that guy was a teenager, and short, and Hawaiian.”

Abe, “Oh, well, you know me.”

During all of this, you may wonder where Taylor was. He was on his phone trying to get Sascha there, I am assuming. And I was on my phone trying to get Sascha there. She was reluctant and “bad at goodbyes.”

We all went outside to check on him, he was on his fifteenth cigarette. I didn’t want to smoke, so I went back inside.

That left Abe and Lori.

Lori said, “Are you into Astrology?”

Abe, “No . . . are you?”

Lori, “No.”

Silence.

Lori went back inside with her whole cigarette.

Abe took it personally, I said, that’s Lori. Doggie Daycare is filled with emotionally damaged, substance abusing social failures with great hearts.

Sascha never showed.

The bar was closing.

I stood up and said, “Well it was great watching you chain smoke and stare at your cell phone, but we gotta go.”

A friend of his laughed in the background.

Taylor hugged me. Hard.

That hug lasted a long time. He held me close and didn’t let go.

I closed my eyes and felt the sting of saltwater.

He hugged me harder.

His friend was to my far left and I saw his smile fade, and his eyes turn down and away.

I said, “I am going to miss you so much it hurts. I can’t even think about it. Take my love with you, ok? Take it and go be happy.”

I kissed his cheek and broke away.

I ran outside and saw Abe smoking.

He said, “Everything alright?”

I said, “I can’t take it. I have to go.”

We got in the car and he said, “Why are you crying?”

Me, “I am losing another friend.”

Abe started the car and sighed, “Baby . . . he is doing what he has to do.”

I nodded. “I know.”

I got a text from Sascha 20 minutes later, “I am with Taylor now.”

I smiled. I never asked about their final nights together, but the romantic in me doesn’t want to be disappointed. So I will imagine soft kisses, sunrises and a soiled air mattress.

The next morning, Abe and I walked the dogs.

All of a sudden I broke down crying.

Abe said, “Come on over here, let’s sit down.”

We turned into the driveway of the local bar, completely abandoned at 10am on a weekday morning.

I crashed down on the pavement and said, “He was such a good friend. He helped me move. He helped me and never once hit on me.”

Abe lit a cigarette, “I know your sad. His parents need him. He has to be with his family right now.”

I sobbed, “I know, of course . . .”

Abe, “Can you tell me why your crying?”

Me, “It was a hell of a year. You know?”

 

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Pin Stripes and Rain Jackets, Meeting Diane Keaton and Praying to Virginia Woolf

When Abe came over, I would lay on my bed and watch downloaded movies and various content with him. He sat in the chair and I would turn my head towards him and exhale, “I love you.”

It was just good to have him there.

Instead of saying, “I love you, too,” he said, “I am helping you, right now.”

The weekend after the phantom pregnancy, Abe went back to Costa Mesa and stopped promptly responding to my messages. I refused to fall back into the manic plea for a response, so I just let it go. I let him go.

Our conversations whittled down from a “Of course I still want to work towards a future with you” to a “Well, I am kind of happy with the way things are right now.”

I knew that. I saw it coming. I spindled a fantasy and wrapped him up in it. It has no material weight.

***

On Saturday morning, Dora texted me at 8:50am “Call the mechanic about your car.”

The mechanic is an old immigrant from South America or something who was a friend of Dora’s family. He was nice, but in our exchanges over the last 5 weeks, it became clear he was in over his head with my repairs.

He didn’t know how to communicate with my insurance company, so often he would call me with a question that was really meant for them, and I would play “Telephone” between the two.

He had to wait for the check from the insurance company, which was 7 days.

Then he had to wait for the parts, which was another 4-5 days.

Then he needed another week (or two) to teach himself how to install an engine in my car.

Over the last few weeks, I developed a rhythm with the helplessness.

Dora’s family gladly offered to drive us to and from work when we had the same shifts. If not, Sasha or Mississippi or Baye from work would drive me in. I would leave a little cash for gas money.

Taylor couldn’t drive us in because he was in Florida. His brother killed himself. Young people seem to be eliminating themselves in the face of hardship. Whats going to be left of that generation?

People really don’t sit around and talk anymore, so during the 30 minute drives each way, I learned a lot about people I had already grown to love.

Sasha is a petite blond with so many tattoos, she looks like the doodled cover of your favorite notebook in high school. The kind you keep more for the doodles than the notes inside.

She went to college on an Opera singing scholarship and didn’t finish. As she puts it, “I don’t need to go to college or have a career to be happy. I am happy being a bartender and sometimes working at a Doggie Daycare. Why can’t that be enough? It’s enough for me.”

I asked her why she came to LA and she said, “One of my friends was just moving out here and asked if I wanted to come. I said, ‘Sure’ and just jumped the ride out here. ”

Mississippi moved here from Mississippi (ha) because his band wanted to make it in Los Angeles. They all moved out together and rent a house in Silver Lake. They practice and record, thought about moving to New Orleans or somewhere else, and then decided to stick it out in LA.

He wasn’t happy with the job and was applying to other gigs like “Church Organist.”

When he finally got an interview, no one showed up to the Church to meet him and eventually, Mississippi gave up on his job search and decided to stay at Doggie Daycare for a bit longer.

Baye, the Korean actor at Doggie Daycare, graduated from Cal Arts. He went overseas to teach English somewhere in Asia . . . it escapes me now. There he met a girl roughly 10 years his junior who he fell in love with. When they returned to the States, he came back to a hibernating acting career in Los Angeles, and she went back to her family and a waitressing position in Michigan. After several months on the phone, they decided she would move out here to Los Angeles and try to make a life with Baye.

He was at first anxious, then worried, then slightly overwhelmed. He had never lived with a lover before. Now the decision was made and he was waking up every morning to a girl he had a love affair with last year in a foreign country.

You know what? It worked out. They are happy.

So the rides to work were not so bad. In fact, I enjoyed the conversation but with anything, the burden on my friends made me uncomfortable and I wanted my independence back.

My days off were spent drinking Tecate in my room watching “Breaking Bad.” I plowed through all four seasons like soy butter. (Now I know why White Trash sits around and watches TV with beer . . . its the cheapest and easiest thing to do)

I couldn’t go to movies, or see my friends on the West Side or go to auditions or do audience work. I was stuck.

I gave the mechanic some time, then started routinely calling about my car.

He would insist that he “wasn’t making any money of this job” which is mystifying since its a big job handled by my insurance company.

He would say, “I don’t want your car here any more than you do.”

There was this feeling like I was burdening him with a job he was being paid for. Doubly annoying, was he would not call me with updates even after I specifically asked him to.

The next morning I would call and ask what happened and he always said, “I would call if I had good news.”

I couldn’t vent to Dora, because Dora insisted this older mechanic was her friend. She defended him over my insurance company and even over me.

I called my insurance company and told them the mechanic was complaining he wasn’t making any money off of the job, and they looked it up and said, “He is getting paid $85 an hour. That is the industry standard. I don’t know why he is saying that.”

. . .

My mother says mechanics always try to make women feel indebted or guilty about doing work on their vehicle. They create this dynamic, like they are doing you a favor by doing their fucking job. I AM PAYING YOU TO WORK ON MY CAR, NOT TO GUILT ME ABOUT PAYING YOU TO WORK ON MY CAR.

I didn’t get a Thanksgiving of my own, despite the mechanic’s assurances that I would have a car by Thanksgiving, and in addition to another negative pregnancy test, I went to work on the holiday just to avoid depression.

Dora woke me up with a frantic text to check on my car. I was just getting up, had not had my cup of coffee and wasn’t going to feed into frenzy before putting on my slippers. The kid needed to back off.

So instead, her mother called the mechanic and got the news on my vehicle.

Ok, I am 33-yrs-old, why am I not getting a phone call (I specifically asked for) on my car yet my roommate’s mother is getting the information?

So I call the mechanic and DRILLED HIS ASS about not calling me first and found out that I wouldn’t have my car for the weekend.

After that, I knocked on Dora’s door to find out if we needed to arrange for a ride. We had agreed that her family could drive us in most of the time if Abe wasn’t here.

She screamed at me. Cried. Looking back, I don’t even remember what she was really saying other than her family always drives, blah blah blah, I am ungrateful for spending Thanksgiving with her family and all I do is complain.

(Well, yeah, I am complaining a lot but  . . . thats cause I am miserable)

I told her to lower her voice. When she didn’t, I walked away and texted her to not speak to me again until she could talk like an adult.

Not that I need to address this, but I am going to so I feel vindicated, Abe drove us a lot. And when Abe didn’t drive us, I arranged for rides from Sasha, Mississippi and Baye. ALL of those people, even Abe, were compensated for gas out of my pocket.

I get it, she is young. She has never really shouldered expenses and responsibilities alone. Sure, I understand. But you know what, THAT’S NOT MY FUCKING PROBLEM!!!

So I sat down and smoked a cigarette. I turned my back on her crying and screaming about how ungrateful I’ve been, when all this time I have been incredibly uncomfortable accepting any charity from everyone, and I texted Abe that I needed to hear from him.

Abe was gone now for a few days. His texts were sparse and he hadn’t called at all. I expected this, I just put him through hell about possibly being pregnant and I knew he would take a Bachelor vacation from me and my problems.

When Dora came out to confront me, I turned my back, and Esther, my deaf dog, jumped on her back legs and hugged me from behind. She hugged me so tight, I couldn’t hear a word Dora was saying.

People always tell me I need to get rid of my dogs. They say my dogs are the problem holding me back. No, my dogs aren’t the problem. The people are.

Sasha let me borrow her car that morning and I went to check out a duplex in Pasadena. I called the guy and said, “I have three dogs, but one is deaf, one is old and the other one is little. Is that ok?”

Silence.

“Yeah, that’s ok.”

I went out there and took a look. It had a yard covered in hills of saw dust. The unit itself was small, but enough for me and the dogs. I don’t think it was big enough to separate the dogs and my cat, but I called anyway.

I said, “I am very interested in the unit. I am prepared to put money down right away.”

I didn’t have any money. I was just so God damn sick of living in a slum, in Sylmar with a heartbroken kid.

I talked fast, about my job, about balancing it with my unemployment benefits and how my parents had offered to help with the deposit.

He said, “Look, we could talk until the cows come home. About the money, about the unemployment . . . let me ask you this? Do you have a boyfriend?”

Unfuckingbelieveable.

Me, “How is that relevant?”

Him, “Well, I need to know. Do you have a boyfriend?”

Me, “I don’t think that’s an appropriate question. What if I had a girlfriend?”

Him, “Well, the unit is for one person, not two. And if anyone stays longer than a night or two, that’s a problem. Of course, if you have a girlfriend who needs to stay longer, you can just call me and let me know. That would be ok.”

Me, “So the appropriate question is ‘Do I plan on having any long term visitors?’ and the answer is no.”

Him, “Good. Look. I like you. I like you a lot. Why don’t you Paypal me $50 for the application fee and I will show you the place? I think we can make this work.”

Me, “$50?”

Him, “Its not for me, its for the real estate company. And when I show you the place, why don’t you bring me some soup? I hate getting sick and I have this damn cold. Next Monday? Wednesday … whatever. Make sure its rich in Vitamin C.”

I coldly thanked him and hung up.

I am so tired of this BULLSHIT! I am so tired of men picking up on my desperation and using it as leverage to FUCK ME.

If I have money and I am paying you, just fix my car. Just show me the God damn apartment. Don’t try to manipulate me into giving you a mental blow job.

I texted Abe, “I need a friend. Can you pick me up tonight?”

He texted back, “I am getting drinks with Ian.”

That’s it. Not “Why?” or “Are you alright?” So, I didn’t text again.

I texted Austin, an OkCupid date from a year and a half ago, who, even now, persistently asks me out on for follow up dates. He picked me up from work and drove me home.

I told him about the Landlord and the request for soup “rich in Vitamin C” and he said, “When I inquire about an apartment, they just ask me if I can pay the rent. I say ‘Yes’ and then they give me the lease. No one has ever asked me for soup.”

Of course not. To treat a man like that would be ridiculous. Wouldn’t it?

After everything that happened, it was hard to talk to someone about all of it at once; moving, Danny’s suicide, my car. Its like trudging through wet concrete.

I offered to take him out to lunch some time the following week as thanks.

***

Since everything was seemingly deteriorating so fast around me, I knew my car would be fixed any day. That was the nature of things, my key to independence was right around the corner, so tension was rising at home. I refused any more rides from Dora’s family and cut communication off entirely with Abe and waited. It wasn’t long.

I got my car back and saw the odometer wasn’t working at all. Then the engine light came back on.

I dropped the car off for another week and asked them not to return it to me until they test drove the car.

It needs to be said again, UN FUCKING BELIEVABLE!

The day I got my car back fixed, Dora’s Mom drove me in and tried to give me money.  She said, “You have been there for her, you drove her in when she needed to get back to work and you are living with her, and for that I am incredibly grateful.”
Whether intentional or not, I felt guilty.

I liked Dora’s Mom a lot. We had a rocky start but she is very intelligent, and we spoke about books, the ever-changing world of publishing and men on our car rides. She had become a mother figure for me in a lot of ways.

Dora herself, is not at all interested in books or publishing. She misspells her shopping list and coughs with her mouth open, tossing out the sassy excuse, “I was not raised proper.” There was some sort of disconnect between the two I find a little confusing.

Her mother is so savvy and well spoken, and Dora, I love as a little sister, is still catching up from four years of drug addiction during her formative years.

They challenge each other deliberately. Yet, in them both lies the same strong sense of humor, quirkiness and fierce independence.

***

That same day I got my car back, I picked up Trent to go to the Hammer Museum and see Diane Keaton read from her memoirs, “Then Again.”

Trent had started texting me back a week after he lost, or abandoned, his job at Doggie Daycare.

He just texted an “I’m sorry.”

I texted back: “It’s ok, Trent. I just wrote about you and what a great friend you are. No little stress induced spat will ever destroy that. I am always here for you.”

He wrote back: “Love you.”

Me: “Love you, too.”

He was getting sober again now and discovering he lost his job, his friends and his boyfriend. I guess he has to lose it all for a longer period of time now, so he can appreciate, or maybe respect is the right word, the control of sobriety.

We were both depressed, both single, and both sober.

Drugs can be used as an education to think outside of yourself, and explore new realms of thought. It can also be used to make your life seem bearable, and allow you the power to no longer care about your circumstances. In that, if you do not care about your circumstances, you do not care to improve your circumstances, and you stand still in time.

One must be sober to take a step forward, and both Trent and I were in desperate need of more than a step, but a leap forward.

I drove us to the West Side in the middle of the day.

Trent was running out of his savings and occasionally posing for a photographer in exchange for speed. He was now smoking speed.

I said, “Trent . . .”

Trent was in a constant state of fighting back tears. I could see how exhausting it was for him throughout the evening. He was resisting lots of things, most of all the pain.

He started dabbling again when his family dog became seriously ill and a decision needed to be made on putting him down. Trent mentally disappeared and never came back. Until now.

Trent said, “No, its ok. The photographer respects me, he doesn’t touch me. When we are done with the shoot, he says,’Call a cab and take what you need off the kitchen counter.’ There are piles of $20s and $10s.”

I said, “Is he a drug dealer?”

Trent shrugged his shoulders and said, “I think so. He has cameras outside so he can see who is knocking on his door. He is weird, he will start talking really fast like ‘duh duh duh duh duh’ and I will realize, ‘Wow, this dude is crazy.’ He just smokes speed all day.”

Trent was slurring and talking so fast I couldn’t completely understand what he was saying. I would lean my head in really close and try to dechiper the sounds coming out of his mouth. He was so skinny. This is how I must have looked to Abe when he first arrived to Sylmar.

Trent, “He takes nude pictures, but I don’t show my dick, they have lights around them.”

Me, “Be careful.”

Trent, “I know . . . I am.”

Tears would rise and then Trent would fiddle with the zipper on his hoodie. His voice would shake.

Everyone seems to be deteriorating around me. The season was really Fall. We were all Falling.

He wielded his head out of a sobering thought and said, “How is Abe?”

I said, “I don’t know. I haven’t heard from him. I am not going to chase him around anymore.”

It was cold out and we were very early to the event. We sat in the empty, concrete courtyard as clouds turned black and the night air swept in.

I said, “I was pressuring him to move in with me somewhere. Its just too much for him. If I didn’t have the dogs, I could move anywhere. Its just . . . living without the dogs; I was even more self-destructive without them. Its so hard to save myself right now.”

Trent said, “Have you read Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own’?”

I said no.

He said, “Its an essay I read for a class. Its really interesting. Its about women writers and how they need their own space to write. They have to live free of distractions; no children, no dogs.”

My heart sank. Even Virginia Woolf doesn’t want me to keep my dogs.

I said, “That’s interesting.”

He said, “So maybe its good Abe won’t move in with you. You need to be alone. But can you live alone without destroying yourself?”

I thought quite seriously about that and said, “I don’t know that I can.”

Trent said, “I don’t know that I can either.”

We both sat still for a moment. The line was building for tickets. Our ears were burning from the cold salt air. The ocean was far but closer than we were used to.

Trent grabbed some food and a small glass of wine from the concession area.

He said, “I met this guy, I really like him. But its ridiculous, he just was released from prison and has this box on his ankle, one of those tracking things. He is really cute, but says he is straight. Whatever. He kept saying catch this, catch this and threw me a bottle of vodka. I said, I would have caught it right away if I knew it was a bottle of vodka.  We walked together for a while and talked. I got his number.”

Trent likes to push straight men who are on the fence about homosexuality. The thing that concerns me most about this story is I can see Trent is almost selecting his murderer. He is finding someone who will destroy him faster than he can destroy himself. A heterosexual convict? Jesus . . .

I said, “I recommend you don’t call him. I am very concerned for your safety. These are the kind of people who will kill you if you make them have feelings they aren’t ready to deal with.”

Trent kind of bobbled his head in agreement. He is smart. He knows what he’s doing. He is just so God damn wonderful . . . and all of the things I love about Trent- the wit, the intelligence, the large lips and cocoa skin, the cackle and hot debate of Billie Holiday over Ella Fitzgerald . . . all of that was going to go away. Someday soon.

We got in line for tickets and spoke about Kent, his boyfriend.

Trent, “He is good you know. He is just so nice to me. He wants me to get help. I fuck up all the time and he is still so good to me.”

I said, “I know you don’t think you deserve someone good. I feel that way, too. I have to remind myself that I want to be happy, that I want to be with someone who is good. It goes against all my initial instincts. If we want to change our lives, we have to double think it and do the opposite of what we want to do at first, and stop ourselves from destroying the relationship. We have to stay with the people who are good to us.”

Hot tears filled his dark pupils and he looked up, as if to force the tears back into his head before anyone around us noticed.

He said, “You know, my father was a real asshole. He used to beat my mother. My mom is like the women in your documentary. He beat her really badly all the time. He wouldn’t let her go on birth control to keep her faithful, and when she got pregnant, he would beat her. She had a lot of miscarriages from being thrown down stairs and kicked around. But those of us that survived, survived because she went into hiding. She stayed with her family. And now, she says when I drink (he coughed a cry back down his throat), she says I remind her of him.”

I said, “Its hard. When you are a kid, you are developing a blueprint from your parents.”

He would shake his head in agreement and wipe his eyes faster than they could burn tears.

I touched his elbow. He seemed so thin, like crumpled paper.

I said, “You deserve a good life, Trent.”

Funny I should say this. The best I ever was to my body was the week I thought I was carrying Abe’s baby. It wasn’t enough that I was going to be healthy and happy for myself- it had to be for someone else.

Now that I was still showing negative on pregnancy tests, I wasn’t eating and back to smoking again.

I deserve a good life, too. I think.

We were ushered into the Billy Wilder Theater. It was packed and we couldn’t find seats next to each other, but were able to sit one in front of the other.

We must have been the only people there under the age of 50, with the exception of one short, white kid who was about 24 years old, standing alone, clutching on to his hard copy of Diane Keaton’s book.

Diane Keaton came out, and everyone cheered. Its a small theater, so everything was intimate.

She is exactly how she seems in her films. Genuine. Pretty. Relaxed. Sophisticated but awkward, all at once.

The total moron in front of me asked the first question for the Q&A which wasn’t a question at all, but unsolicited advice about pursuing her mother’s voice or writing or something.

Diane Keaton quipped, “I am looking for a lot of advice. Thank you, I am looking for more advice.”

Audience Member, “I love your energy.”

Diane, “I got a lot of energy, buts its gone at 8pm. GONE!”

I looked at my phone. It was 8pm. She was feisty.

The questions came in, mostly about the muse of this particular set of memoirs- her mother.

It was unavoidable, someone touched on her affairs with Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and Al Pacino.

Diane, “I don’t know what to say about men . . . should I cry? HAHAHAHAHA!

I subconsciously selected men that weren’t emotionally available or I knew wouldn’t be right. They wouldn’t get in the way of achieving my dreams.”

I thought about this. The Prophet. Alan. Abe. The emotionally unavailable men I fall so madly for, they had no chance of really interfering with my dreams. Was that it? Was that the problem? Or the answer?

Diane, “My mother said, ‘Everyone should be forced to write an autobiography.’ I do think that everyone should keep a journal. You learn a lot about people you love.”

“Parenting is life saving. Can you imagine me standing here all this time thinking only about myself? No. Thank God.”

Re: Annie Hall

Diane, “He heard my language and thought, ‘I’ve got something here.’ and made a movie. (pause) I love Woody.

My mother was not happy with the depiction of the family.

When he won the Oscar, she said, ‘That’s a big deal for a little family.’ But she got her picture taken in the local paper so come on . . . who are we kidding? She loved the attention.”

After the Q&A, we went outside for the book signing. We can not afford her book but I brought my copy of “Annie Hall.”

I should state here that I was dressed in jeans and an over-sized, orange rain jacket, simply because its my warmest jacket.

Trent was in a dark purple and black striped sweater.

We walked up to a cluster of people and I said, “Is this the line . . . for the book signing?”

A man holding a camera said, “No. This isn’t a line of any kind.”

I flatly responded, “Thanks.”

Trent said, “Asshole.”

I quickly shushed him as we walked away but later thought, I am glad he called that asshole an asshole.

People from the museum walked up to us and asked us if we had a book.

I said, “No, but I have this DVD.”

She said, “She won’t be signing anything BUT the book today.”

I said, “Ok, well . .  we take care of her dog so can we say hi?”

Pause.

Museum, “Yeah. Sure.”

Have I mentioned her dog regularly boards at our Doggie Daycare? She does. Every few months or so. A golden retriever with an attitude problem called Emmy.

Now, three times, this particular young lady approached us and asked us if we had a book.

2nd Time: “Nope we still don’t have a book.”

3rd Time: “We’ve spoken twice already, no, we don’t.”

Each time we got colder with our reply.

Another gentleman from the museum came up, stood right in front of me, I mean 3 inches from my face, and said, “Diane will only be signing copies of her book tonight. She will not be signing any memorabilia whatsoever.”

I turned to Trent, “What the fuck?”

Trent said, “Jesus, could they be any more obvious?”

I said, “Is it because we are under 50 or because I am wearing this big rain jacket?”

Trent said, “I think they have something against pin stripes and orange rain jackets.”

We were in a very affluent crowd. They carried their wine glasses in line with them. They had silver hair and black, long jackets made in foreign countries. Some had several copies of Diane’s book. Some, Diane pointed out herself in the theater, were friends or neighbors.

We were surrounded by snobs.

For whatever reason, they felt they deserve the privilege to meet Diane Keaton, and we did not.

When we came up to Diane, we saw she was taking pictures with fans. Trent got the pre-celebrity jitters as we were next in line.

Trent, “What do we say?”

I said, “I got this down, follow my lead.”

We walked up and I said, “We take care of Emmy. We work at (insert name of Doggie Daycare).”

Diane’s mouth dropped open and her arms extended outward. “(Our Doggie Daycare) is here! What an amazing night this is. EVERYONE is here!”

Trent said, “And I remember Red, too.”

Red was her corgi. Before my time at Doggie Daycare.

Diane made the sign of the cross at the mention of his name and said, “Ooooh Red.”

Her assistant stepped out from behind her and said, “Ok, we have to get a picture.”

Oh really? Do we have to? Wow, how things suddenly change, don’t they?

We went behind the celebrity partition and someone took our picture with my iPhone.

She said, “Tell me how Emmy is, I mean really.”

I said, “She is very specific about the company she keeps.”

Diane lit up and made a big “HA!” with her mouth. She warmly grabbed my arm and mimicked me, “She is very specific about the company she keeps.”

I looked down at where her hand met my arm and thought, “No wonder men fall in love with her. She makes it feel easy to light her up with joy.”

Diane kept saying, “We have to talk. I want to hear more.”

I knew we couldn’t stay and talk- 150 people were here to talk to her, too. I stepped away and Trent, now loose and easy, said, “And the tomato soup . . .”

Diane said, “YES YES! The tomato soup.”

We put tomato soup in Emmy’s kibble so her urine doesn’t stain Diane’s lawn.

Trent and I stepped away, looking at the picture. What a nice token from our night of sober self analysis.

I said, “She asked us to be honest about her dog.”

Trent said, “She’s a bitch, how is that!”

I laughed. She is.

We drove home and I thought about what could happen to Trent. He could turn to prostitution. He could become a junkie. He could overdose. Or he could call this recently paroled convict and get his head smashed in after a consensual blow job.

My precious friend, how can I protect you from yourself?

While preparing to write this blog, I looked up “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf and found a blow of encouragement from beyond the grave. Its of supernatural relevance, like God himself whispered in Trent’s ear and asked him to recommend it to me for reading.

Now, I am about a blog and a half behind in real time. As I write this, I have two other blogs growing inside of me, at different heights, within different speeds, and with fruit I don’t even know the color or shape of quite yet.

I can tell you that my parents visited me, and have no idea why I am still in Los Angeles. They don’t see a future in acting, writing (unless its journalism) or adventure. Obviously or maybe not so obviously, those conversations were heartbreaking.

I can also tell you, this very evening, as I polish this blog, a co-worker confronted Dora about her character based on what I have written here. And once again, my blog posed a threat to a precious relationship in my life.

Dora and I spoke, and agreed that if there is a lesson to be learned from our last couple months together, it should be documented and shared. That my writing should be unencumbered. And in that moment I shared, in a Ralph’s parking lot with Dora, I felt understood just a little.

When I read Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”, I was expecting to hear an argument against children and lovers, husbands and dogs. Instead this is what I found:

The whole of the mind must lie wide open if we are to get the sense that the writer is communicating his experience with perfect fullness. There must be freedom and there must be peace. Not a wheel must grate, not a light glimmer. The curtains must be close drawn. The writer, I thought, once his experience is over, must lie back and let his mind celebrate its nuptials in darkness. He must not look or question what is being done.

And what holds them together in these rare instances of survival is something that one calls integrity, though it has nothing to do with paying one’s bills or behaving honourably in an emergency. What one means by integrity, in the case of the novelist, is the conviction that he gives one that this is the truth.

By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream. For I am by no means confining you to fiction. If you would please me — and there are thousands like me — you would write books of travel and adventure, and research and scholarship, and history and biography, and criticism and philosophy and science. By so doing you will certainly profit the art of fiction. For books have a way of influencing each other.

I should implore you to remember your responsibilities, to be higher, more spiritual; I should remind, you how much depends upon you, and what an influence you can exert upon the future.

Dear Virginia Woolf, I am going to try.

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The Wake, My Men . . . and Losing Your Shit

The first few days after Danny died, Dora seemed ok. She was coherent, sober, collected . . . she just missed him. They were together for 2 full years prior to his suicide. He was her first adult relationship; the kind where you talk about raising a family together and wedding plans without worrying about divorce or paternity suits.

She decided Thursday would be the day to have his candlelight vigil at our home.

I was picking up all her shifts at Doggie Daycare. I was still in a bit of a daze, but totally focused on her. I knew if I were her, I would lose my shit. I also knew she was still in shock.

I asked my parents if I could stay in their home in Washington. They were on their third week touring Italy . . . again, but I just needed a destination to collect myself. One of our neighbors left town the night Danny hung himself, and another moved out completely.

My parents emailed me back there was no spare key and I would have to wait two more weeks before coming home. Then, they would be there for me.

Thursday morning, I called Alan. I was walking the dogs and started weeping into his voicemail.

I said, “Things are really bad here. I think about the last time things were ok and it was with you. Can you let me stay at your place . . . for a couple nights . . . please? I really need someone.”

Around this time, the nightmares started.  Dreams of rats eating through my walls, gun shots, blood, images and emotions that barely pieced together a narrative. I just woke up with my heart racing throughout the night. It was hell.

After work that night, I came home. Frank was there, loyal as always with a fresh baggie of cocaine for me. I may have asked for it, maybe not. I don’t remember now.

The sun set and I saw that Alan emailed me. I opened it:

“This is probably the last time you’ll hear from me for awhile.  I feel
like every time I respond it just prolongs the pain.

I am so sorry.  I am so terrible for ignoring you now, but I know that
there’s just nothing I can do but make things worse.  You can get
through this.  And you don’t need me like you think you do.

I can’t be there for you.  I really can’t.  I am barely holding my
life together and trying to hold yours together too will break me.
It’s selfish but it’s the truth.  Hate me and be disappointed if you
want.  I deserve it.  But it isn’t going to change things at all.

Some day we will both be able to hold our own, and then we can try to
be friends again.  But right now we’re two helpless people and it’s
just dangerous for us to try to be together.

You’ll be ok.”

 

Frank was sitting on a folding chair by my computer. I was standing up as I breezed through those words, and I collapsed crying for the first time.

Frank held me, like I was a doll with a heavy glass head and only cloth arms to break my fall.

I cried, hard.

I remember saying, “I want my mom.”

He tried to comfort me and I heard Dora through my door say, “Don’t cry, then I will cry.”

When I pulled myself together, one of Danny’s friends, who had smoked all his living brain cells away, showed up to make dull comments like, “I remember the last time I saw him was at that party. He said, ‘See ya next time, man.’ Next time . . . he was a good guy.”

The manager who lives at Doggie Daycare and the very dry, sarcastic Filipino woman who handles Human Resources both showed up together with a candle each.

Dora was inside, setting up food or on her phone.

The Manager asked, “Did you notice they were fighting a lot? I mean, was it that bad?”

I said, “They are 22, how bad could it be? What, the assets? The house payment? The kids? I mean . . . they are too young to have real problems.”

They nodded, processing. We were all processing.

They only stayed for a bit. When they left, Dora fell apart.

I heard her crying inside, and I walked into her dark, now bare bedroom. I sat next to her while she kicked and screamed and punched her pillows, “WHY!? WHY!? WHY DID I HAVE TO FIND HIM? TELL ME!!”

I put my hand on her back and let her scream it out.

I said, “That is the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Now its over. Now you know you can survive it.”

She kept throwing her body around like a rag doll. I held my phone in my hand.

I thought about being there, alone with Dora. The men left us, and now we had to deal with it on our own.

As Dora crushed her face into the linen, I texted Alan:

“Can’t be there for me. Well now I have to take care of 9 animals instead of my 4 and a grieving fucking girl who has no one. And take all her shifts. But I want to be the type of person that is there when it matters. I don’t ever want to be you.”

People will ask me what happened to him, and I will explain he couldn’t be there for me. Sometimes, someone will say, “Sometimes we can’t be there for other people.”

I would then say, “He said he loved me. He was a liar.”

I remember this moment really well, sitting there in the dark, with my hand on Dora’s back, keeping a straight face. It was a moment when I realized that I am who I want to be. It was a defining moment.

There was bullshit all year with friends and men and drugs and financial hardship … just bullshit.

This moment I was ok being alone. Just the fact that I had to stand alone proved something to myself, that I was strong and decent.

This part of the evening would be my high point, since I sipped off of Frank’s bottle of whiskey for the rest of the night.

I  would fetch Dora cigarettes and mumble something a few times. Frank kept asking, “What?”

I then snapped, “SHE NEEDS HER CIGARETTES!”

Frank, all things considered, was very patient. He was there for us, no matter the motives.

He always used to say he had some relationship with death, often he is invited to or present for grievances, mourning, ceremonies surrounding death.

When Dora stopped crying, I allowed myself to get sloppy.

I drunk texted Abe, my ex ex boyfriend, “I wish you were my boyfriend tonight.”

Abe texted back, “Ill come by if you’d like. I do have to work in the morning though.”

I wrote back, “Its far.” and then gave the address.

He wrote back, “Wow, if I leave now I could be there at 9.”

I went outside and asked that idiot friend of Danny’s to watch one of Dora’s elderly pugs, Otis. When I came back outside after comforting Dora and setting her up with a fresh cigarette, Otis was gone.

I freaked out a little, there are coyotes and bobcats very nearby. I complained loudly about how useless the kid was and eventually we found Otis sitting on a wood staircase at the end of the street. He was shaken up. He was the dog closest to Danny.

The moron didn’t even help us find him.

I went to cool down with my own cigarette on another staircase parallel to our apartment. I was saying, “I have to do fucking everything! Fucking useless!”

I texted Abe, “I can’t take this”

Him, “U can do it. Wish I could help tonight.”

Me, “Not coming? I was counting on you again.”

Yes, I am aware of the hypocrisy with my epiphany at Dora’s bedside and my disappointment of Abe not following through. Just because you find yourself, doesn’t mean you still want to be alone.

Him, “Its already evening. Id have to leave after hour. I have to go into down town early Friday.”

Me, “Forget it. Thanks for not being there again. Fuck, why did I ever call you?”

Him, “Jeez. U live like 70 miles into hills. Don’t find extra things to madden you please. I told U id like to see U on Saturday.”

Me, “Forget it! FORGET IT!!! I am stuck here taking care of this girl while everyone bails on her because I am the only one with balls to do the right thing.”

Him, “Ok. Chill. U r her roommate, coworker and friend, be nice and U shall feel better.”

Me, “Yeah thanks for the advice. I will take care of everything alone as usual.”

Him: “Good Job”

One after another, my co-workers from Doggie Daycare showed up. They brought candles, food and wine.

They brought me back to the doorstep where all our candles burned bright around Danny’s picture. When ever I think of his face, I think of this slightly overweight Hispanic kid with a lazy eye. He was so nice. I mean . . . even tempered, kind, just . ..  so nice. What the fuck?

The picture of him in a beanie hugging a bunch of dogs showcased in the center of all our candles.

I took my time lighting them as I explained to a few people the Dr. Drew show I just worked audience on. This woman said she was attracted to hard criminals, corresponded with them and invited them back to her home where she was raising two teenage daughters.

I said, “Then Dr. Drew asked her if she was attracted to Charles Manson, and she said, ‘Yes. I would probably date him.” I gave my dry head roll to those quietly listening to me.

Ocean stepped up the stairs and was suddenly standing over me, she looked down and smiled. She is so beautiful. I stopped talking, grabbed her pant leg and started crying into it. Her smile didn’t fade, she bent down and held me as I cried into her.

It was a relief. I don’t know why her, it just was her.

She walked inside, and Mississippi (the Southern kid we torture at Doggie Daycare) stepped in her place and wiped my face clean with the corner of his t-shirt.

I said, “I will never forget that you did that.”

He smiled.

The vigil went on, you know, what do people do?  I don’t remember. I floated from room to room.

We took 20 minutes to sit around and share memories about Danny.

Dora’s mom started.

My memory was, “I remember I couldn’t get my internet working the first few days I was here. I bought a device I needed installed and it was really early in the morning, like 8am. I came up in my pajamas and asked Danny to fix it right away. He said, ‘Can it wait til after work?’ And I said, ‘I’m sorry, I really can’t live with out internet, can you do it now?’ And he did. He laughed, he came down in his slippers and he fixed my internet. He was nice.”

Others had obscure stories too, about how he helped with a car, or how nice he was. He was so fucking kind, I didn’t see the darkness on him.

After we shared memories, I was faded.

I stumbled outside looking for Frank, and he was holding the bottle of whiskey and laughing heartily with the neighbor.  His laugh echoed in the hills.

I crawled into Dora’s bedroom and cried on the knees of a girl who no longer works at Doggie Daycare, but did at one time. I cried. She put her hand on the back of my head and said, “I know. Its a bad thing what happened.”

Dora walked in the room and I sloppily wiped my nose. I could tell my withering emotional state was disappointing her.

People left. Towards the end, I remember screaming at Mississippi that he was good looking.

I remember taking my plate of new coke up to the dining room and snorting it with Trent.

Then I remember throwing up into a trash can and all over Taylor.

Taylor kept saying, “We’re even, right? We’re even.” He was so embarrassed by his birthday party, and here I was, barely able to walk.

I somehow ended up outside the front door step, Trent and Taylor sitting with me as I cried.

Trent said, “You can’t do this alone. You already have too much going on with yourself you need to take care of. This is going to tear you apart. You have to take care of yourself!”

I felt my head and body start vibrating. My teeth were chattering like I was a child fresh out of a bubble bath. I could feel my whole body start convulsing.

Taylor was saying, “Calm down. You aren’t alone.”

And I said, “I am alone. I have to take care of her. I have to!”

Trent tried to calm me down, “No!”

He was getting emotional. My twin flame. Shit. No matter what happens, I will always remember Trent in that moment, being there the best way a human being can be there.

Sasha came out, “We have to get her to bed. WHERE IS FRANK?”

Trent said, “He is on her bed.”

Sasha stomped down into my apartment and flung open the door. Taylor and Trent escorted me into my room. Frank was passed out on my bed, pot belly hanging out with an empty whiskey bottle nearby.

Sasha said, “Come on! Time to go! (My name) needs her bed! UP! LET’S GO!”

Frank opened his eyes, “Whaaaa?”

He was high on Xanax.

He got up and I laid down on my bed, rolled up in some kind of fetal position. I mean, I am a tall, grown woman .  . . but I felt like I was disappearing.

My light was on and I saw Sasha and Trent standing at my door telling Frank to leave. Frank was resisting.

Trent said, “You just keep feeding her drugs so you can fuck her. That’s the only reason you’re here. Just go home!”

I was high, and my resentment towards Frank hadn’t quite taken root yet, but I remember feeling so happy someone stood up for me, even though I should have stood up for myself a long time ago.

What I was told later remain two different stories:

Frank claims that he woke up in a daze, that he was accused of trying to feed me drugs, he calmly exited my residence and offered a handshake out by their cars. Sasha barked, “Don’t shake his hand!” And everyone walked away leaving poor Frank to drive home drunk.

Sasha and Trent claim that Frank was belligerent and resisted leaving the residence, spitting as he spoke. Sasha asked him not to spit on her. Frank then took a finger full of coke and snorted it- this was the last I ever saw of that coke (which I am eternally grateful for). There was no handshake. There was just a chubby, rude drunk bitter that he was pushed off a bed and thrown into the cold night to fend for himself.

I slipped off into darkness, maybe Danny would be there.

The next morning, I woke up to Dora screaming.

I walked outside and saw her pop her head out of the hallway window and yell down to me, “STOP! STOP FIGHTING WITH MY MOM! It took me years to get things back to where we were, don’t you understand??”

I said, “What? What are you talking about?” Good Morning.

Dora said, “You are down there in the canyon fighting with my mother, stop!”

I thought, “Did I fight with her mom at all? Fuck, what did I say last night?”

I said, “Last night?”

Dora said, “No, this morning.”

I said, “Hey babe, I just woke up. I don’t know what you are talking about.”

She said, “Where is Frank?”

I said, “Frank!? He went home last night.”

She said, “He isn’t on top of that mountain, screaming at me.”

I looked up at the mountain across from our apartment. No. No one was there.

I said, “Hold on!”

I put on a sweatshirt and walked into her unit.

I said, “What is going on?”

She said, “I swear I just ran all the way up from the canyon where you were fighting with my mom.”

I widened my eyes. My hair wasn’t brushed.

I said, “What canyon?”

She said, “Kagel canyon. WHAT is going on?”

Dora ran out of her apartment and stood in front of the mountain.

She said, “Frank was just there. There he is! He is in your car with my Mom, see!!”

I looked in my car. It was empty.

I said, “Dora, no one is in my car. What the fuck? You need to sleep. You are hallucinating.”

Dora threw her hands up and down then huffed. She said, “You swear you didn’t fight with my mom?”

I said, “Dora, I woke up to you yelling at me. I have no idea what is going on. Why don’t I call your mom?”

She walked away back into her unit.

Now this was new and fun, a psychotic break. GRAND!

I didn’t know what to do, so I texted Frank.

I checked my phone and saw he texted me:

3:51am

“I am home safe now. It should go without saying that I touched nothing that belonged to you, nothing. I crawled into the bed in which you’ve made me feel so at home many nights. And the funny truth is, with whatever just happened, more even than holding u on a night where I think u needed it, I’ll miss most of all waking up tomorrow morning and taking Maggie (my dog) and the gang for a walk in the park, and talking and laughing with you in the quiet morning hours in the countryside. Its important to have your friends watch your back, but they were way off base tonight. I was fast asleep and have truly no idea why they decided I should go. But I know you love them. I will not interfere with that. There are good hearts in this world, (My Name). They’re closer than u think. I promise. Many hugs and kisses-”

YADA YADA YADA:

I texted back, “Frank, Dora is hallucinating and I don’t know what to do.”

I think I called him and he showed up, only after Dora’s mother came over. As her mother climbed the steps, I said, “She needs to see a therapist immediately.”

Her mother said, “I can’t make her do anything she doesn’t want to do. (beat) Its not healthy to have people around encouraging her to dwell on this.”

DWELL ON IT!? He killed himself 2 days ago. And why am I the last person she sees before going to bed and the first person she sees in the morning? Family should either be spending the night or taking her home with them.

I was sure once she spoke to Dora, she would change her mind.

Nothing changed.

Dora stayed there and argued with her mother.

I think Frank showed up anyway, and wanted to push the martyr routine about the night before. He could have died drunk driving, blah blah blah.

I responded and will always respond, “Its hard to feel sorry for anyone but Dora right now.”

Frank was there though. His presence was a weird comfort, though it served no functional purpose.

I confided in him, “I had a dream last night Abe killed himself.”

Frank said, “Ugh, that’s awful.”

I said, “Yeah, why couldn’t it have been Alan- it wouldn’t have been a nightmare.”

Frank said, “People were acting like it was a party last night, when they should have recognized it was a wake.”

Silence.

Frank was the one acting like it was a party, laughing heartily, chugging whiskey and making himself at home. It was those friends at Doggie Daycare that were there by our side, holding our hands and letting us collapse on their shoulders. He was asleep on my bed, waiting for the mourners to leave, and waiting for me to be alone again.

He helped me grab cigarettes and made some comment that Dora remembered, “I don’t want to buy you cigarettes. I want to help you, not kill you.” Ironic, seeing as he was feeding me cocaine and xanax in the hopes of fucking me. He knew it, I knew it and Dora knew it.

There was a distance there now, he still feels I need to apologize for siding with my Doggie Daycare friends and I think he needs to shove it up his ass.

I was hoping to reconnect with someone I already had an intimate relationship with. Someone who knew me. Frank was an easy choice because he is unemployed and readily available to be there- but he wasn’t the right choice spiritually or emotionally.

I texted Abe, “I dreamt all night that you killed yourself. I feel like I have been crying for days. You are alive. Thank God.”

Then I texted, “Abe, can you come to me tonight?”

He wrote back, “Don’t dream about me dead! Come on.”

I wrote, “Now she is hallucinating. I love you Abe, I always loved you.”

Him: “R u trying to play with my emotions? Being emotional inhibits rational thought.”

Me: “You always were romantic. I don’t play with emotions. I am here when someone I lived with died. It makes your mind spin.”

I went to work, and for three days, came home to Dora hallucinating. I was convinced her sleeplessness was causing hallucination.

She would ask me what was real and what wasn’t, and I would tell her. I also told her she needed help and that all of this was beyond my ability.

Dora would say, “Its ok! You don’t have to deal with it. I am fine!”

You don’t rationalize with an irrational person. So I stayed there. I listened to her footsteps over head when I laid in bed. I would go to the bathroom and always check to see if her bedroom door was open, if I could hear sheets rustling, if she was eating . . . if she was still alive.

The neighbor asked if I knew if she was “partying”.  I said, “I don’t think so.”  He said, “When you aren’t here, she is roaming the streets, talking to people who aren’t there.”

On the third day, I woke up to fire engine lights outside my window.

Already, between the coke, the birth control, the smoking and the stress, I was having chest pains over my left breast and in my left arm.

When I woke up from my nap to red lights and that constant, loud hum of the fire engine- my heart stopped. I choked. I got up and ran out to her, I was sure she killed herself.

I asked the police officer standing at her door if she is alright. He said, “Yeah, she just needs some help.”

I said, “Who called?”

He shrugged his shoulders, “They don’t tell us.”

I asked to speak with her, he nodded and I snuck in. I saw her sitting at the kitchen table, tapping her foot on the floor. She refused to look at me.

I got on my knees, put my hand on her leg and said, “Are you ok?”

She pulled away and said, “I hope you are happy.”

I said, “I didn’t call them, but I am glad someone did.”

She turned her whole body away from me and said, “You didn’t call them, so who did? Whatever, just leave me alone.”

So I did. I smoked more cigarettes. I couldn’t catch my breathe, I just kept smoking and breathing and trying to slow down my heart rate.

I am well aware smoking cigarettes doesn’t slow down your heart rate, but it controlled my breathing and I didn’t know what to do.

I eventually made it to work again. Everyone was so understanding there. I was an hour and a half late, but no one cared. They all worked by my side in silence.

Dora texted: “I am not even getting admitted just getting prescription meds.”

I wrote: “Ok good. And someone is talking to you about counseling?”

She wrote, “You’re amazing. I am so sorry you had to go through everything u went through. I seriously love you.”

I wrote back: “I am trying to do everything right.”

When I came home that night, a handwritten sign was on Dora’s door that said, “I am sleeping.”

That made me happy.

I went to the bathroom, went back downstairs, and cuddled with my dogs alone. My family wasn’t there and there really was no one else I am so close to they could help bring my head back.

Except for Abe.

Abe texted me: “Ok. Saturday.”


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Blood on My Walls

I was hiking with my new roommate Dora one morning after hearing that I had to vacate my new residence because a neighbor said my dogs were “threatening.”

I said, “I will have to save up, give up acting totally and focus on saving myself, and my animals.”

Dora said, “You can always come back to acting.”

I said, “Yeah, Hollywood loves old actresses.”

There are some exceptions. Melissa Leo, who people say waited tables to the bitter end until her break-through role in 21 Grams and her Oscar nod in Frozen River.

Later, Dora and Danny decided that if they cashed in Danny’s trust fund and bought a house now, I could take over the lease with someone who had no dogs. Frank came to mind.

I told them, “Don’t rush into buying a house. That’s a big decision.”

Dora said, “I know. We have been fighting.”

I didn’t mind the idea though, and told Frank about it. He has been surviving off of his poker wins and would pay a lot less in rent.

Frank said, “I will think about. I will think about it seriously because I really love that space. Though, know, if I move out to the middle of nowhere, you will become my entire world.”

Sylmar is kind of the middle of nowhere. I scratched Frank off the list.

The weekend after my last-blogged-about-week-in-hell, I went to a Doggie Daycare Birthday/Early Halloween party. Danny and Dora carpooled in with me.

I took several lines of the cocaine and dressed up as one of my favorite dogs at work, Atticus. He is a one-eyed doberman puppy whose tail moves independent of the rest of his body.

I got fluffy ears and a tail for $14 from Halloween Town, an eye patch for another buck with a piece of red paper taped in the center as my dead eye ball and hit the floor as soon as the door opened at the party.  I came in on hands and knees, ran between people’s legs and slapped the Great Dane at the party in the face. That’s what Atticus does.

I also stuck my ass in his face so we could formally introduce ourselves. Yeah, I was off my rocker.

In the first 2 minutes, I fell on my fingers wrong. The amount of cocaine in my body prevented me from feeling any pain, but my brain knew that I had done some damage.

I picked up a bottle of vodka and nursed that sucker all night.

Usually, I have a very low tolerance for alcohol, but being high on coke for so long had my brain acclimated to any high. I wasn’t registering a thing any more.

A girl who I used to work with was there. She was dressed in thigh highs, a corset and some Old West Theater Make-Up.

I said, “You look gorgeous.”

She said, “Thanks, but I look like a whore.”

I said, “Nahhh, you look way too healthy to be a whore.”

She said, “I knew you were coming as Atticus, but I didn’t know how you pull it off. You did, though.”

Its all in the performance.

I said, “Thanks.”

Sasha (my manager) was dirty dancing with Ocean in the kitchen, and I would clumsily join in every once in a while. Jose, my young co-worker, was trying to feed me drinks even though he and I had it out on the large dog playground earlier.

Jose refuses to listen to any white girl at work. He won’t even acknowledge that you are talking to him. He also happens to be a dumb shit 19-yr-old with the handwriting of a 6 yr-old and doesn’t know how to spell the word “romping”.

I had to call the manager on the playground to talk to him. He was putting pit bulls on a lot of time outs, obviously he is afraid of them. After I let them out around 10-15 minutes, he would pull them out of my hand, LITERALLY, and send them back in.

The manager came and spoke to him about listening and working with the other attendant. That was followed with a tense silence, and now, a few hours later, he was feeding me alcohol. I knew the night had gone too far when he held my head in his hands and said, “Kiss me out of respect.”

I said, “No.”

He held my head straight so my mouth was facing his.

He said, “Out of respect, you have to do it.”

I said, “NO! Kiss Taylor out of respect.” (Our 27-yr-old, heterosexual male manager)

He said, “No, cause I am a man.”

I said, “Whatever.” Shaking out of his embrace.

I remember inviting Frank over to the party. He mostly stayed outside to smoke cigars and interview people he only knew through my blog. I love LOVE when people introduce themselves through the character names in this blog, as opposed to their real name. I kind of feel like God.

Upstairs, Sasha and Camille (my little brown lesbian) were upstairs on the couch. I gave Sasha a raspberry on the vagina, over her pants.

Urban Dictionary:

raspberry
when you blow directly on someone’s bare skin resulting in a tickling sensation for the other person and makes a ‘farting’ sound, usually done on ones stomach

She said, “Whoa! That’s what a dude would do. That’s not what a chick would do.”

I said, “You didn’t like that?”

She said, “No. NO.”

I said, “Teach me. I want to know how.”

She said, “I find it hard to believe YOU have never gone down on a woman before.”

I said, “I haven’t.”

She said, “How is that possible?”

I said, “I have made out with women before but never gone near a vagina. Tell me how.”

She said, “I can’t tell you how. You have got to want it. You have got to want THESE.” (She grabbed her breasts)

I said, “One more chance.”

Music was playing and everyone was outside smoking. It was just me, Camille and Sasha.

So, I applied all my knowledge of the stripper Frank bought me on X, and the free class of Pole Dancing I took with Ocean and general experience with erogenous zones- I gave Sasha a lap dance.

The tease of almost kissing, the trailing fingers, the hair . . . I knew I did well, because she stopped talking.

I abruptly got up and gave Camille a lap dance, too.

When I finished, I got up.

I said, “So, how’d I do?”

Sasha said, “Well, you can’t be a TEASE either.”

I said, “Jesus, I just can’t win.”

As predicted, I got carried away with the party and let Danny and Dora go home without me. I stayed and drank more until quickly things deteriorated.

A love triangle slowly burned down in front of me and a few of the remaining guests. Two of my friends were left heart broken on dirty steps in Hollywood, as Sasha drove away, before stating to me, “If you ever want to try going down on a girl, call me.”

Jude, our ex-manager from Doggie Daycare, was there and talked down the birthday boy after some sort of sexual/amorous confrontation and its inevitable rejection. It was truly exquisite the way he handled it.

Jude, “You are just going to have to count this as a loss. Now get it together and move on.”

Jude is the perfect man. He looks like a Utah Mormon, is great with dogs, never condescending or frustrated as your boss, and unfortunately, in a very happy homosexual relationship for the last 9 years.

Jude had more finesse than me. I turned to the Birthday Boy and said, “Next time you profess your love, take out the vampire eyes and teeth first.”

Jose, even less finesse, “You live . . . and then you die.”

The Birthday Boy, “Jose, if you don’t shut the fuck up, I am going to punch you in the face.”

Jose, “Don’t hate man, I have been around.”

Frank took me home, as Jose reached in for my head again, preaching about some kiss we needed to have out of respect.

This part of my life is a bit fuzzy. I know I hadn’t slept with Frank, but with all the times he took me home and gave me a back massage, I am uncertain what we talked about or what happened.

One thing Frank often said was, “How is your supply?”

He did care about me in a way, but even if it took killing me through intravenous cocaine, he was determined to have my body. If he really cared, and I look back on this with resentment, he would wouldn’t have been so careless with my health.

I said, “Was that party worth it?”

He said, “You crawling around on hands and knees with fuzzy ears and a tail on, dry humping girls. Yeah, it was worth it.”

Then, the day crawled up to my doorstep.

The night before, my Cowboy Whore, Joel, took me out to dinner. We had a nice chat about my relationships and we smoked a little ganja. It was friendly.

Shortly after he left, Dora knocked hard on my door.

I opened it. There she was, in her uniform from work, bewildered.

Dora, “He’s gone. He took everything and left.”

I said, “What?”

Dora said, “Danny broke up with me.”

I kept cool. They are both kids in their early twenties. This is what we do, when fighting for our own identities, we push the people closest to us away. When you get older, the fighting just wears you down, and you realize very little is worth warfare.

I went upstairs to their apartment. It was stripped clean. He took the TV, the desk and computer, his bike, I mean . . . it was empty.

I told her to calm down and have a seat.

She was out of breath.

I said, “What happened?”

She said, “He just showed up and took everything. I don’t know. I don’t know what happened. He said it would never work between us, we will always fight, and he left.”

It was odd behavior from Danny. Even though I only socialized with Danny on  occasion, he was always kind and seemingly level headed. He hung out, watch Arrested Development, laughed at my jokes, showed me how to use the coffee press and helped me with my internet. He was a nice guy.

I said, “He loves you, he will come back.”

And he did, almost immediately.

He was there at the front door, charged in and demanded his pugs. Roxanne and Otis are their elderly pugs and they were lounging in the bedroom.

Danny, “Give me my pugs. They are mine.”

Dora, “GO! JUST GO! Do you want to see my face? DO YOU!? JUST LEAVE!”

He pushed his way into the bedroom. Dora pushed back and asked me to call the cops.

I was going to stay out of it, obviously, I couldn’t anymore.

I grabbed Danny’s arm and said, “Calm down. You two just need to talk this out. You love each other.”

Danny retreated to the front door as Dora screamed, “GO ON, GET OUT OF HERE!”

I said, “Why are you pushing him out when you want him in?”

Danny said, “She always does this.” He threw up his hands and left.

I talked Dora down a little afterward. I knew where she was, when I was her age, I would have been drunk and carving lines into my forearm with a kitchen knife. When you are young, you are cursed with the feeling that the things you love are all or nothing.

For better or worse, when you get older, you realize the people and things you love change. You change. Love will cruelly decide for you what lives and what dies.

You can tell someone that the feelings will pass and there will be a new day ahead of them. Until you witness that yourself and survive all those tragic moments, getting on your feet faster and faster after you are knocked over,  you really can’t tell someone how much is ahead of them. They won’t believe you.

Dora drank wine, and went to bed with tears and mascara on her face . . . but she was relatively ok.

The irony here is why would I be contemplating suicide if I am so aware of the temperance of problems? My problems are reoccurring, not the people, not the jobs, all of those change. In the end, I have supremely bad luck and knowing what is in store for my future doesn’t fill me with the brightest optimism.

I feel cursed.

The next day, I was rescuing a dog from San Bernadino and transporting her to San Fernando. Those rescues pay me for my time and gas- it pretty much is the dream job if it was consistent.

That morning, Danny was here. I walked up and smiled. I knew he would come back.

I ushered myself quickly into the bathroom, covering my face and said, “I am not here. Ignore me.” Then I took off.

When I came back, two and a half hours later, the police and fire department filled up the entire back of our road. I had to park down the street and walk up to our apartment.

I was singing Prince. I remember this because I thought, “Damn it, I was just in a good mood again? Now the cops are at my place.”

I walked up the stone steps and saw Dora crying. She had another blond girl to one side and her mother on the other.

I said,  “What’s going on?”

She said, “Danny hung himself in the bathroom.”

Me, “WHAT!?”

Her mother nodded and rocked her back and forth. Dora’s Mother said, “They are trying to resuscitate him but its not looking good.”

At this point, I couldn’t catch my breath. It wasn’t a full on hyperventilation but I just couldn’t breathe.

I started heaving a little and Dora’s Mom said, “Oh God, don’t get her steamed up again. Go over there.”

I went over to my little courtyard table and lit a cigarette. I think that’s what I did. I just remember not being able to catch up to this.

I thought for sure he would live. I mean, how could this be? How does anyone pull off a hanging, much less in our tiny bathroom? WHO HANGS HIMSELF? This isn’t a 1950s jail cell? CHRIST!

I got myself together, discretely and calmly broke down my cocaine station (a plate, a thick, plastic ring to crush the nuggets into powder and the cut straw) and hid it in my underwear drawer, and went back up to Dora on the steps.

Dora kept mumbling things about how they fought and he locked himself in the bathroom. I couldn’t piece together where she was. I mean, WTF WAS HAPPENING? I was only gone for two and a half hours .  . . Dances with Wolves takes more time!

I sat with her and she asked for a cigarette. I remember saying I was out because I was quitting.

The police came out and told us he was gone. Did it happen like that? Did they come out and tell us he passed away? Or did I walk up and someone told me he passed away? I think I asked a cop so I wouldn’t have to bring it up in front of Dora.

Danny’s siblings or cousins showed up. Two guys and a girl, all in their early twenties if that. They were calling Danny’s parents.

Dora shouted, “Don’t tell them anything so they don’t get in an accident! Wait til they are here.”

We waited until they were here. I heard Danny’s father on the street below. I heard his voice when he found out.

“NO! NO! NO! OH POOR DANNY!!! WHY GOD?!”

I will never forget what that sounds like.

Then I heard him say, “Its his girlfriend. She did this to him. It should have been her that died. I WISH DEATH ON HER!”

The girl on Dora’s right held her hands over Dora’s ears and told her not to listen. Dora screamed, “He’s RIGHT! HE’S RIGHT! IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME!” She turned beet red and swung her head around. She was convulsing.

I got behind her and tried to hold her down. We were surrounded by rock, so I really thought she was going to hit her head. Her mother and the other girl held her down, too, and told her to calm down. It was like she was possessed.

She calmed down and I asked the neighbor if Dora could sit inside so she wouldn’t hear him. The neighbor is in his 60s and kindly agreed. Dora took a seat in his clean, a/c apartment and settled down a little.

My room was closer to the street. I went back there to make a call or two. It was hot, so I had to leave my window open as relatives collected outside, sobbing and holding each other.

I called Frank. I can’t tell you how much I hate AT&T when you have to repeat “DANNY HUNG HIMSELF IN MY BATHROOM” over and over again through static while only getting “I really wish I could hear what you are saying” back.

I texted my last two exes, Abe and Alan. Both wrote me back asking if I was ok. That was nice.

I called my sister. She can be very monotone about things, “Wow, that sucks. Sorry.” She means well, but what does anyone say?

My parents were in Italy.

Frank was driving right up, even though I had to be at Doggie Daycare in a few hours. My room was sectioned off with crime scene tape.

I sat there, alone in my room, crying as the family shouted things like, “She will have another boyfriend next week.”

Someone pointed to me and asked, “Is that the girlfriend?”

I watched them go from standing up and walking around to melting over in tears on the ground. I sat there and watched all of them.

I felt tears and dirt on my face and my head got hot with frustration. Why am I sitting here, seeing all of this? Then it came to me, I am the witness.

Frank showed up and I said, “So . . . you want to move in?”

He chuckled low, and said, “Its too soon. People like you and me deal with things like this through comedy, but most people don’t.”

I nodded my head. The family was very close by, I shouldn’t have made the joke.

Frank sat there, hunched over and massaged his forehead between his index finger and thumb. That’s all you can do.

I said, “Thanks, Danny. Now, I can’t kill myself.”

Frank smiled a little, “No, you can’t kill yourself now. He stole your thunder.”

I didn’t want to go back up and be with Dora. I figured she wanted people close to her right now.

I got dressed for work and left all my information with the police. They were kind. The one officer said, “You have to go to work? That’s terrible.”

What was I supposed to do? Stay here. Sit here. Watch. Listen.  What I missed was his body being carried out and his mother shouting, “WAKE UP, DANNY! WAKE UP! PLEASE!”

I pieced together things over the next few days; Dora and Danny were fighting. They took a break in the argument that morning and Dora locked herself in the bedroom.

Danny said, “Why won’t you just let me die!?”

Some time passed, Dora came out and saw the bathroom door was slammed shut, and used a fork to open the door. Then she found his body, untied him from the dog leash stuffed in the door. She called her sister, who was the blond girl I had never seen before helping her now.

Her sister tried to resuscitate him with CPR until the police came.

Two things are so unsettling about this: NOT ONCE did I ever even get the inkling that Danny was depressed or suicidal. Dora and Danny just came back from a weekend in Catalina. And Danny was the kindest man in my life at the moment. Kinder than my last boyfriend.

That night of the party I remember telling him he was the perfect man. He said, “Tell Dora that.”

The other thing is, how does anyone hang himself on a door? He was taller than me, and I can touch the ceiling in there.

I went to work dumbfounded. I came in and just felt stunned.

Sometimes you tell people what happened, they say yeah, and move on like they didn’t register anything you said.

I wonder if they ever listen to anything I say, or if they just assume they misheard me.

The others, Trent and my other co-workers, just leaned back with their mouths open. “Wow” Silences.

It was like my reality dropped out from underneath me. When you are there and you realize someone you lived with just killed himself in your bathroom, you can’t feel the floor, or your clothes or someone touch your arm. All you feel is that instinct to wake up.

The night before, I felt the warmth of his body heat on his arm when I held them apart. That was blood. That was life.

Every other time I felt bad, going to Doggie Daycare helped. This time, I was just pacing back and forth. The Manager came up to me and said I could leave. She looked me over carefully and I shrugged and said ok.

I didn’t know what to do.

I went home and really don’t remember what I did, other than feeding Dora and myself a Xanax. She fell asleep in my bed. I think I popped on a movie for us or something, because I remembered my father putting on Reservoir Dogs for us when my friend drowned in the Columbia River when I was 17.

You don’t watch the movie, you just sit down and think while giving your brain a chance to be distracted.

The next few days are really a blur. I should have written while it happened, but my mind was black. It still is to some degree. I just want it out of my mind, so I can rest.

I woke up the next morning, and Dora was outside with pictures of Danny propped up against the wall next to their front door, burning candles. She was playing songs off her iPhone, just laying there. She seemed very together.

Dora would say things like, “I will miss him, but I know its not my fault.”

Or, “He tried this before, eventually he was going to hang himself.”

Or, “He is in heaven now, watching over us.”
She also forged his signature on a check for rent, came into my room and said, “Did I do this right? He said I could use his checking account if I ever needed to.” I looked it over, she had no idea how to write a check.

He killed himself a few days before rent was due. By the way, THANKS FOR THAT DANNY! Why couldn’t you wait until after the first?

I remember going to use the toilet those first few days after he died, and apologizing to Danny every time I had a bowel movement. I added, “But you chose the spot, man.”

In my head and ringing in my ears, I would hear, “Take care of her.”

Over and over again, “Just take care of her for me.”

I said aloud, “Alright! ALRIGHT!”

Jesus, I don’t know if that was real or not.

The bathroom garbage lid was dented in like someone used it to hoist their weight up. I haven’t asked Dora about the details, but every time I sit down on the toilet, I look at those dents and wonder if his last few breaths were filled with fear and regret as he realized he was going to die.

The bent fork to open the bathroom door was left by the sink for a few days.

Now, what do you do when your roommate’s boyfriend of 2 years kills himself? You sit there. Or, you stand there. You listen. You stop snorting cocaine.

I liked Danny a lot. Living here without him doesn’t feel right to me, and I only knew him for a couple months. But, I knew that every cell in my body had to focus on Dora, because soon . . . very soon . . . this violent loss was going to sink in and she was going to lose her mind.

And she did.

To be continued . . .

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Hookers, Housewives and Sex with a Sociopath: Finding my Place in Hollywood

Dear Readers,

I am sorry for the delay, but this last month has been incredibly difficult. I am still trying to get my mind together. And though it physically burns to recall the last couple weeks, I am going to try and make it mean something.

A month and change ago was my first night in the Boonies, Frank and I went on a hunt for wine. We wanted to break in this bitch the right way.

It was midnight, and we went down to a small bar off the road called “The Hideaway.” It was closed. So we went to the 711 down the hill.

I had wet hair from a fresh shower and was wearing a red sun dress with my B cup bosom jiggling in place. The Middle-Eastern man with a turban muttered that there is no alcohol sold after 10 pm. Frank was alarmed by this and rose his New York voice, “ANYWHERE?”

711 Man said, “Another 711 down Foothill does, off of (broken English)” I asked him to repeat the cross street three times and I didn’t understand it any of those three times.

We drove down to the next 711, several miles down the main street. I walked in and saw the magazine cover saying, “Think of the Children of 9/11.”

I said, “I do not want to think about the children of 9/11. That is the last thing I want to think about.” I turned to another Middle Eastern guy, “Alcohol?” He shook his head and repeated another cross street in broken English I didn’t understand.

We hopped in Frank’s car and drove to the Taco Bell. As we pulled up to the lit menu, we waited. I said, “Hello!?!?”

The lit menu went dark.

Frank, “Oh that’s great. (into speaker) GOODNIGHT TO YOU TOO, MAN, THANKS!”

We drove several more miles down the road and found a  711 with cars in the parking lot.

Frank said, “Everyone is here, this must be the place.”

We walked in and I turned to the new Middle Eastern guy in a turban and said, “Alcohol?” He slowly nodded, then rang up two girls buying a pint of Bud Light Chelada beer each. (That is a Bud that’s clam and tomato juices)..

Voted on of the worst beers of 2010 . . . Read more: http://www.esquire.com/features/drinking/worst-beer-051710#ixzz1bdsTsYEO

We grabbed a bottle of vino and headed back to the pad. I was still doing coke and xanax. My body was acclimating to the point where I was able to sleep and eat on it. This week I was going to stop, after my first night in the new pad . . . I was going to get clean.

Now that I was home, I could relax.
***

The weekend after I moved into the new place, Alan planned on stopping by after a dinner celebration of some kind affiliated with his school.

I was nervous. Since I worked so hard to get him back, with my texts of love, support, puppies and rainbows, I was having doubts. I thought about the words he used to criticize me. They weren’t just cold judgements and insensitive criticisms . . . they were meant to hurt me.

Around 3am, Alan arrived with Pepsi, candy and Wilson. We coldly hugged, but didn’t kiss. I didn’t want to think he could get away with it, but I wanted him back. Seems human enough.

We watched The Soup, giggled and fell asleep side by side, like we were laid in graves next to each other.

The next morning, he put my hand on his morning wood. Now, I don’t know about you, but the last thing I wanted to do after moving all my shit alone is give HIM a hand job.

I said, “The things you said did a lot of damage.”

He said, “I know. So were some of the things you said.”

Hm. Yeah. Right.

I said, “We have to talk.”

Silence.

We got up, and walked the dogs. We barely spoke. The tension between us was getting heavier.

I said, “Did you really mean the things you said?”

He said, “Yeah, I did.”

I said, “How can you say things like that?” You were so disrespectful.”

He said, “Every time I checked my phone, it was wah wah wah, whining about something happening in your life. And I got sick of it.”

I stopped and turned around, “ . . . fuck you.”

We went back to my place, more silence.

I mentioned something about not getting roles and he said, “I think it’s because you give off an air of being poor.”

This kid grew up with Southern white trash. I said, “You don’t put the napkin on your lap when you eat out, that is an indication that you are low-class.”

I turned on my toe, nose in the air and walked out to smoke a cigarette. WHAT AN ASSHOLE!

I was 2 days sober, and decided this was the wrong day to quit coke. So I started doing lines and cracked open another bottle of wine.

Angry, yes. Frustrated, yes. Horny . . . um, yeah.

So we had sex.  Our fetishes, once again, were taken to another level.  He was dark and sexy.

He said, “You have been frowning this whole time, that makes me want to do even worse things to you.”

I said, “Good. Do them.”

He did.

The wine was making me dizzy and the coke wouldn’t let me pass out. He suggested I take a xanax so I wouldn’t get sick.

I took half of one and slipped into inviting darkness.

Waking up in a daze, just for a moment, I felt him moving my head off his shoulder by my hair. He pulled my hair during sex, but I remember thinking it was oddly objectifying. He took my head by the top of my hair, lifted it off his shoulder and dropped me back down on a pillow. Jesus, SOCIOPATH MUCH?

Then back into darkness.

I woke up the next morning, and he said he was going to walk the small dogs. I said I would join him, but he was out the door before both my shoes were on.

Stepping outside, I looked both ways, he was nowhere to be found. So I took the girls up a mountain trail further than we have gone before.

When I came back, he said, “Your walk was a lot longer than mine.”

I said, “I told you to wait for me.”

He said, “No ,you didn’t.”

I said, “Yeah … I did.”

We quietly went to breakfast at a local cafe. I had an 11am meeting at Doggie Daycare, and he had to head back for some other law school event.

It was the anniversary of 9/11, so the television had relatives taking turns at the podium, reading names of those that died.

The wall had images of Princess Diana, Lucille Ball, and Mother Theresa painted on the walls. It’s a very confused motif.

Silence.

Names of the Dead.

I said, “9/11 was an inside job. By the way, I can’t give myself an orgasm since we broke up, so thanks for that.”

Alan, “That is the most bizarre segue I have ever heard.”

I said, “We have to talk about the GChat conversation.”

He said, “No we don’t. Just let it go.”

I said, “Um, we have to make sure that never happens again. We have to talk it out.”

He said, “We don’t have to talk it out, you just have to stop putting yourself in the position of being a victim all the time.”

Me, “And you need to stop expecting your girlfriend to fulfill the role of your mother.”

Christ, after his finals I SPOON FED HIM CANNED PEARS and massaged him all night long. After moving my shit in financial distress, I can’t even get a neck rub.

Silence.

He studied what was left on his plate. Then his head slowly nodded.

He said, “Let’s get out of here.”

As we drove up a steep canyon road, I pressed further.

Me, “If you just want a debutant type girl, who is agreeable and doesn’t really talk very much than I am sure you can find that.”

Alan broke out shouting, “That’s not what I want. You used to make me feel good. When I got text messages from you, or called you, you made me feel confident and happy. Now you just make me feel bad. You complain about all the bad things happening and you make me feel bad. I am afraid to say anything around you because you might shut down. Its like walking on egg shells around you. FUCK!”

For some reason, listening to him shout it made me feel better. His calm, leveled, robotic tone of voice changed. He was human and he cared.

I said very calmly, “Well you do have a point. I can be overly sensitive. I will try to work on that. Obviously, I have developed a pattern for people close to me unleashing lots of criticism. Its you, its Em it was my old roommate. It means something. It has to do with me and something I am doing.”

Alan, “And I have a pattern of driving people close to me away by being too honest. I just won’t do that anymore.”

I said, “You can be honest.”

He shook his head.

Alan and I came together and walked up to my place, put the leftovers in the fridge. I had to go.

We kissed. He was soft again.

He said, “See, now its moments like this when it’s hard to say goodbye. When I don’t want to leave.”

I kissed him again and mumbled an “I love you” I am not sure he heard.

As I pulled away, he walked up to my window and kissed me again. He said, “I love you too much not to work it out.”

I flickered a smile. He was saying what he thinks he should say.

The week following was one of the worst in my life.

My dog, Maggie (who I call “The Tank” because she is 80 lbs of pit bull lovin’), broke out of her collar and charged towards two unfriendly dogs, instigating a dog fight. I fell to the ground and broke it up.

Her ear bled quite a bit and my knees and hands ached from falling on concrete. That was the wrong day to quit cocaine.

Two days later, I found out one of my new neighbors complained that my dogs were “intimidating” and the landlord called and said I had to get rid of my dogs or clear the residence.

I indicated I had two dogs on the application. The landlord claimed he never got my application, and Dora claimed she sent it. It was a mess.

I cried and muttered to Dora and her boyfriend, Danny, “I should just kill myself.”

Dora said, “No, we will work this out.”

I spent my last dollar and drop of energy moving into this place, and now I had to move again? It was like someone ripped out my rib cage and told me to keep breathing.

I got on the phone with the landlord and begged to stay. He wouldn’t budge. He said I could stay until I had enough money to move but there were too many dogs between me and Dora. He said, “I mean, there are more animals than people on the property.”

We hadn’t even told him about my cat or Brad.

I posted my misery on Facebook because I just don’t know what else to do with it but recycle it on the internet. Frank came with me to the bank and Taco Hell.

Alan called, but I declined the call. We just went through how my never-ending storm of bad luck was dragging him down. I couldn’t rely on him for support right now.

Trent texted me, and I responded promptly with a “I am gonna kill myself.” Trent was trying to talk me down, as I had done for him when he and Kent broke up.

In my mind, I started orchestrating plans to relocate all the animals. Brad could go to my sister. Maggie with Frank. I found a place to order 700 mg of secobarbital tablets on-line. It was just Esther . . . no one wants a hyper-active, deaf pit-bull. What was I going to do with Esther?

I went to work, tear-stained, heart-broken and as I entered the large dog playground, the dogs got restless. They could smell the darkness on me.

A few dogs started howling and barking. Then more.

I waited for everyone to calm down, went back to the front of the playground to put down my keys when Sawyer, my Irish Setter Doggie Rapist, mounted me for our ritualistic “hello.” Another dog came up and snagged him by the back side.

I thought I broke it up and separated the two but the aggressive dog came in again and pulled us both to the ground again. I held on to Sawyer with my life, even though all the wounds on my knees and hands broke open again hitting the concrete.

I could hear Sawyer screaming in pain as I tried to drag him to one of the “runs” (a gated entry into an enclosed space between the playground and the walkway).

A manager appeared through a run and we tried carrying him through but I heard Trent’s voice say, “Stop pulling him! He’s locked on. GET THE STICK! GET THE STICK!”

There is a stake kept on the playground that we can use to pry open a dog’s jaw. Trent said he has only used it twice in 5 yrs.

I waited patiently as Sawyer writhed in pain. There was a release and he was lifted, as if he had wings, into safety. The other dog was taken into another run.

The manager in the run said, “Is your face ok?”

I said, “Yeah.”

She said, “He was chomping away right next to your face, I thought he bit you.” Sawyer would never bite me.

I looked down and saw blood trickle down her wrist and hand. I was lucky.

Another manager said, “Are you ok?” Tears filled my eyes and I was told to take a break.

I went into the bathroom to urinate, and on the toilet I felt my whole body erupt. My legs and arms shook and I broke down crying for approximately 10 seconds. I got up and washed my face.

I went back out there and finished my shift. Also, the wrong day for quitting cocaine.

Trent asked me some questions and kept promising we would get through it. At Doggie Daycare, we all help each other get through hard times. Everyone uses the royal “we” when we talk through each other’s problems. That place is better than any church or community I have ever belonged to.

Trent’s voice guided me through the violent dog fight with Sawyer, and now the violence of my own mind. He is my twin flame. He identifies with my dark side, and takes the role in the light when I fall low. It is a unique balance with him, and is slowly becoming one of the most precious friendships of my life.

On my 3pm break, I sat in my car and smoked a cigarette. Doggie Daycare is in a very industrial area, so the exhaust from the cars and buildings scorched my nose and throat, over the rash of smoke and cocaine.

I felt like a 19th century London Chimney Sweep.

I turned on the radio, Bob Dylan’s voice came on:

“Oh, the ragman draws circles
Up and down the block
I’d ask him what the matter was
But I know that he don’t talk.”

I smiled.

“But deep inside my heart
I know I can’t escape
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again.”

I thought, is this the end? Office job or death, I will choose death.

A friend once suggested I take a desk job at a construction company or something, and I told him, “You know what writers actually wrote with a full-time job? Kaftka. And he was miserable. (beat) AND all of his novels were unfinished. THANK YOU, NO!”

Kaftka’s insurance job paid the bills but robbed me of closure when finishing Amerika. Think of all the other novels he could have written if he didn’t handle personal injury insurance . . .

Jerry, my friend, said, “AND he was insane.”

Then I remembered something Alan mentioned. He was trying to encourage me to go back to school and suggested writing from reading a couple of my blogs. He said loans could float me for a couple of years while I do what I love. Maybe he was right, I could write on loan until the economy improved.

Then I could worry about getting a job later down the road, without giving up in my thirties.

Obviously, I would have to give up on acting, since Alan did point out I don’t have the resources for it. My catch phrase these days is “Acting is for Hookers and Housewives.” Paying your way on someone else’s dime. I don’t have a sponsor, so it’s not possible for me right now.

Writing, though . . . the greatest writer’s in the world ate bread and wine in the cheapest of clothes and the smallest of rooms. That could be me.

“Well Shakespeare he’s in the alley
With his pointed shoes and his bells
Speaking to some French girl
Who says she knows me well”

I got out of my car, high on nicotine, and came back to the playground with my head high. I told Trent about my revelation, and he smiled. We sang the “Memphis Blues” together.

The rest of the week lacked drama. I made in appointment to go to an information session for one of the top 5 writing programs in the country. I fell in love, and called Alan on the phone driving back. I was still high on coke and chattering a million miles a second.

He told me to rest, and I could tell he was being laboriously patient with my self-induced hyper-mania. I was happy. I thought I could make it work.

It became apparent in the days following that Alan did not want to make plans to see me again right away. Sure he was busy, but I was sold on this idea that we needed to re-bond.

His snappy criticisms were still pinned into my heels and I wanted to start over and fall in love again.

He blew off the first few offers I made to drive down, and I blew off Frank’s suggestion that Alan was seeing someone else. Men love to try to bury seeds of doubt in my mind. Base manipulation.

Either way, I was feeling rejected and as I started collecting his words for previous blogs, I grew aggravated with the things he said again.

If we lived in the same city, I am sure we would have had a more civilized parting, but email makes it too easy to destroy. Just as we found each other on the internet again, we would lose each other just as easily.

I wrote: “I have identified two times you mentioned I look poor or like “a bag lady”. Um . . . you should know that I am not EVER going to be like Jaq. I don’t give a shit about clothes, and though I know how to look presentable and have been cast in roughly 60% of the roles I have auditioned for, not to mention receiving offers after an estimated 70% of job interviews in a professional place of business, I do not hold value in that system.

The Armani Folders can shove it up their ass. If that’s what you want to be, I can’t be there with you. You can’t change that part of me.

That said, take a look in the mirror, Sport. Don’t expect me to be “better” than you because I am a girl; morally, physically, or otherwise.

I am not mad, just agitated. And we hardly ever talk anymore so I am just sending an email with my feelings in it.”

I can see how out of the blue this might annoy my boyfriend.

Alan: “This habit of continuing to look through every conversation to find
ways I hurt your feelings and then pointing them out to me is pretty
much the reason we barely talk anymore.  Then I have to waste any time
we talk figuring out what is actually wrong with you and then
explaining the context of my words so that a five-year old can
understand.  Or not talking at all so you don’t have ammo to fuck with
me later.  My choice with you is either have a shitty conversation
like this one or not talk to you.

Why would I want to have this conversation?  Why do you think that
it’s important for me to feel worse about myself in the middle of a
Thursday?  You can’t resist can you?

Between these passive aggressive insulting emails (“look in a mirror”)
and the bullshit you post about me on Facebook, I’m so sick of your
words.  I am not here to be shit on by you and I’m tired of forgiving
it.  I don’t want an explanation or more excuses.  I just want it to
stop.

Other people have feelings too.  Get over yourself or leave me alone, Sport.
-A”

I wrote back: “Absolutely nothing passive aggressive about that email. Its straight forward.

As for dealing with my thoughts and feelings alone without sharing them with you, that makes me feel like a victim. I would like to stand up for myself without you feeling attacked.

It also makes me feel single.

Communication is important, in fact, imperative, to any relationship. If you are open to making things work, you have to talk and listen to me.

And treat me like an equal, not a 5-year-old. (that was rude, Alan).”

I guess I should mention here that I was sucking back a martini and quitting cocaine and cigarettes that day. It was a little rough.

Alan: “We are single.  And you don’t get to say whatever you want to me
for a while.  It’s unfair since the door doesn’t go both ways.  When
*I* say what I am thinking, I get emails weeks later telling me how
wrong I was.  Now, I’m too stressed out to deal with this bullshit
this week.  I’ll just talk to you after the thing on Saturday.”

Me: “Thank you for correcting me, I don’t have to worry about working on a relationship. Sweet relief.

The door of criticism has blown one way. Have I ever said anything negative about you, your character, your life, your looks? No, Because I fucking love you.

I am simply defending myself because I don’t like feeling cut down by someone I let inside.

My hope was to diminish the negative by airing it out and talking about it, as opposed to building up resentment and bitterness with silence.

I thought it was important we rebond but you don’t seem to share that concern.

You want to harness power and tell me when I can speak to you again? No.

Equal or nothing.”

Alan: “If you insist on a choice, fine.  I choose nothing.

Building a relationship will take a lot more time now.  I live a
different life than I did over the summer.  I had time this summer to
bond with you.  I tried.  I warned you over and over what I was going
to go through this Fall.  You wasted all of that effort when you broke
up with me because you can’t handle me speaking.  Well now I’m not
speaking.  Go figure.  I don’t have time to rebuild that bond now.
I’m working two jobs AND in law school.  I do not have enough time as
it is to do what I need to do. I won’t for months, and nagging me
about it is just making me resent you.

Don’t wait for me.  Go have a life.”

Me: “I have a life, I was just including you in it.

I feel no regret. I tried. Bye.”

And just like that, Alan disappeared. A few taps on a phone and a keystroke on computer can burn down a relationship in a little under three hours.

I was upset sure, but I lit my wings on fire and was spinning around in circles. The silence and distance, and stress and chemicals were putting me in a whirlwind.

After all was said and done, I went home and took the Molly I saved for a night with Alan. I got in bed and cuddled with my dogs. Joy and warmth bubbled all over my skin, and I felt ok for the night. The morning would hurt, but the nights are mine.

I texted Abe (my ex-boyfriend): “I do hope you are happy. Loved u.”

He wrote back, “Nah, not so much. Thought about U during my lunch today.”

Frank tried crawling in bed and asked for a little “affection.” I drowned myself in dog fur and said, “Not now, I am in a delicate state.”

He left.

I needed to collect myself. First, one more devastating tragedy was about to occur and completely level my world.

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Let Vomiting Dogs Lie and Never . . . Ever Do Cocaine

Let’s go back to a week ago, when I was in Alan’s apartment on a misty Friday morning and I received a text message from Trent. He and Kent got into a fight, the cops were called, and Trent was hurt again. He asked if I was up, which I was because Alan had class at 7am. So Trent called and we spoke.

He was in a bad place. The two of them, locked up in a one room apartment with cocaine, adderall and alcohol finally exploded. I don’t care who you are, if you are in the same room for a long time with one person, even if you are in love, and you are putting that shit in your body endlessly- it will explode.

Trent has been living there for the last few months, and because his hand and wrist were so badly injured, he has been out of work. School was out of session and Trent got lost in Kent’s life. Its ridiculous that their names rhyme but I didn’t catch that til after I already established Kent as a character. Trent doesn’t have a car, didn’t have a job and lived inside of someone else. In the end, I think he felt like he lost control and lost himself. I can’t speak for Kent other than I know that I love him, Trent loves him. Whatever happened between them is their business and I don’t believe in judgment or sides or defriending or any of that bullshit. People are people, and we are all held hostage by emotion and circumstance. We all do our best to do the right thing, and if there was love, there is worth.

I knew the state of mind Trent was in. He had just broken up with his first real love. He had to move back in with his mother.  He thought he was lost, but I still had my hand on him in the dark. I tried to remind him of the light up ahead.

I was stuck in San Diego too far away to comfort my friend, who was crying on the phone. He was mumbling and slurring, so I couldn’t hear him very well. I kept saying, “I wish I was there.” And Alan would listen within earshot, as he packed his books and walked the dogs. It was just a sad morning.

All I could do was tell Trent things would get better once he slept. He hadn’t slept in days, I think.

That night, when Alan and I made love. There was blood. I’ve been spotting for 3 weeks, part of being on the pill. He saw it on his hand, looked up at me and said, “Yeah, I’m done.”

Well, I wasn’t. So I said, “Don’t talk to me.”

I showered and went to sleep. He claimed I horse kicked him a couple times in my sleep. I have no memory of that- but sometimes I do things in my sleep.

When we woke up, we kept a respected distance. He made a joke, he explained that he was squeamish, and I shut down. Any form of sexual rejection for a girl is kind of unacceptable. It is on such a rare occasion that when it does happen, you feel like your vagina (and soul) is covered in slime.

He took a volcano bag into the bathroom with him for a good hour while he showered and I thought as I bled. Everything was so intense. I was still processing losing Em’s friendship and now possibly Kent’s. You feel those walls build up around you and block your vision. So I took half a valium and smoked a bowl.

When Alan came out of the bathroom to study, I crawled in his lap and surrendered. No more wars over silly things, I must keep our flame cupped in fleshy sanctuary.

When I got back home, I spent two weeks working at Doggie Daycare and arranging a move. A girl at work was willing to sublet a room with a private entrance to me, I get to keep my dogs, I get to live in the mountains and it will only cost me a fraction of what my rent costs now. It will save me, even if my unemployment benefits are severed.

I waited until it was 100% before telling Brian, my roommate, who complained that he couldn’t stand the sound of my fingers tapping on the keyboard at night, who left bags of trash on the floor and squeezed between appliances along with a very distinct odor on my stovetop that reminded me very much of vomiting up cheese popcorn on the car ride back from Girl Scout Camp in the fourth grade. I had to clean it up with McDonald’s napkins while everyone stared at me.

Brian’s needling was wearing on my nerves.

The first “fight” we had involved me coming home just to check my email. I could always feel tension from coming home and taking my computer away from him even though he never threw any money towards the internet bill.

Esther threw up earlier in the evening, and Brian felt the need to repeat, “These dogs need to see a vet.”

I said, “I don’t go see a doctor when I throw up.”

Brian, “These dogs NEED to see a vet.”

I said, “Do you want to pay for it?”

Brian, “No, they aren’t my dogs.”

I said, “That’s right, they are my dogs and I am telling you they are fine.”

Esther had been licking a scab on Maggie’s head that appeared during the weekend I was gone. When I asked Brian what happened, he simply said, “Yo, I don’t know.”

He doesn’t know jack shit.

He would say, “Yo, that cat looks miserable.”

And I would say, “She just spent 10 days roaming the neighborhood rooftops with other cats and squirrels. Trust me, she is not miserable. She is sleeping.”

Now he was pressing about the dogs and I was sick of it.

I said, “I am so sick of boys with no responsibility criticizing other people with full responsibilities.”

Brian, “Are you saying I don’t have any responsibility. (raising his voice) Yo, YOU DON’T KNOW ME, I GOT RESPONSIBILITIES!!”

I said, “I would love to go live on someone’s couch and save up some money. I can’t do that, I have to take care of them.”

Brian, again, “Yo, you don’t know about my responsibilities! I got homies, I got bills, I got my own thing.”

I raised my voice, “THEN FOCUS ON YOURSELF!”

Brian, “I am just saying, maybe the dogs would be better off somewhere else.”

Me, “Like where? A shelter? Cause that’s where they would end up. And they would be put down.”

He shrugged his shoulders. Dip shit.

He said, “Let’s turn down the tension here, let’s work this out.”

I was done with this kid. I don’t need to work anything out- I just needed him to shut the fuck up and sit in the corner until I was finished with my email and dogs.

He said, “I didn’t mean to hit a nerve about the dogs, I just like them and worry about them.” He did mean to hit a nerve.

I said, “They are more important to me than anything, so yes, it hits a nerve. I bust my ass all day long trying to pay for this house and yard.”

He said, “I know they are important to you. Are they more important than acting?”

I said, “Yes.”

He said, “I thought so.” He said it with that weight like . . . then you aren’t a real actor. There is a mentality with actors and anyone in LA who hears you say, “I am trying to be an actor.” Everyone behaves like you have to make this one elected career field more important than any other aspect of your life.

Well guess what, LIFE is what feeds the ACTING and the WRITING. Without life, there is no art. You isolate from life, you are nothing but a want-to-be celebrity.

Ask Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep if they love their kids more than acting? Do you think it compromises their craft? Of course not, you moronic piece of trash!

But, what am I going to do? Argue with some degenerate from Baltimore whose loud voice and poor grammar were belting out my living room window in the middle of the night. He was making my small haven low class and embarrassing me in front of my neighbors.

I turned my back to him and furiously played Scrabble. But he had to keep going.

Brian, “You like dogs more than people, don’t you?”

I was in a bad mood but the half honest answer was, laugh, “Yeah.”

Brian, “Isn’t that like a mental disorder? Its not schizophrenia but . . . somethin’. Its got to be something.”

I turned around, “Are you trying to say I have a mental disease?”

Brian, “Nah. I am just saying that might be something you should look into.”

Asshole.

Me, “Um, I have loved animals since I was four years old. Its one of the first memories I have, its just who I am.”

Brian, “Yo, do your thing! That’s cool. Do your thing.”

I turned around again, “Oh thank you, can I? Thank you so much.”

He said, “We gotta break this tension.”

I said, “Look, I don’t go around telling people whats wrong with them or how to live their lives. I don’t know how people like you find the time.”

Brian said, “You are critical all the time of everyone.”

I never talk to him, he doesn’t know what the fuck he is talking about.

I said, “The only people I can think of whose lives are in need of serious readjustment are people who hurt other people or themselves. That’s it. I can’t think of anyone personally I know who needs to change their life. I just assume everyone is doing what they need to do.”

Brian, “That’s cool.”

Silence.

Brian, “I got to put on some music or something.”

Me, “My Pandora is now maxed out for the rest of the month, so I’m sorry. No music.” He played my profile until my hours expired without apology or afterthought. He even added a few channels tailored for his own musical taste. He must have been very comfortable here.

Brian, “I thought that shit was endless.”

Me, “It isn’t.”

Silence.

Before heading down to San Diego for Alan’s birthday, I wanted to pick up Murray Man’s ashes (my cat who died in late January). I had been stalling for six months and don’t want to expose Alan to my misery quite yet. I want to feed him my darkness in small doses, so he knows there is something worth while in me first, before checking the price tag.

Frank offered to take me down to the Pet Crematory if I needed a friend. Though things between us were left hostile and broken, I took up the offer. There is a levity to Frank and I also don’t have to see him afterward if I lose my shit.

I didn’t lose my shit, but I broke down crying in the parking lot. I don’t remember much, just holding Murray’s ashes in a red cigar box and weeping that it was all my fault. My dogs hurt him so badly it triggered liver failure, and I forced him to live in a home where there was ever present danger.

Frank took me back to his place to kind of cheer me up. I kept texting my drug connection for valium or xanax or something- but she wasn’t answering. I guess she was at a baby shower. Even drug dealers go to baby showers.

Frank made a call, the only connection he had was for coke and he bought me a bag. I agreed to it in the four minutes I was asked because this particular dealer has a cut off at 10pm. I thought this to be a poor business decision until I tasted the coke. $50 and exquisite quality. Of course, free to me, which is equally good and bad for a poor girl.

The pain stopped almost immediately and I was gone. I played music. I climbed on furniture. I sipped wine and told Frank things I really hope he doesn’t remember . . . random dark things about myself or my past or my sex life with Alan. Whatever. I was blitzed.

We hashed out the blogs that upset him. He felt I misrepresented him. I explained that any male aggression or anger is perceived as a possible threat to my safety. He said he understood, but he is still struggling to swallow that last blog I wrote about him.

One thing I will say about Frank that will always carry my respect, he never crossed a boundary with me. I told him I was in love and committed to Alan, despite slinking around his apartment in little clothes like a groupie at a back stage party. He was a gentleman the entire night I did blow, and I really can’t say that I know many men that would be. Its nice to know I can trust him, even when totally out of my mind.

I don’t remember a whole lot about the evening, other than I lost myself in that shit all over again and it was heavenly . . . until I realized it was 9am and I couldn’t get anyone to cover my afternoon shift at Doggie Daycare.

Cocaine is the only drug where just discussing it reignites its powers. Coming down is rough. Its a bumpy road, man.

There was still some coke left but I had to get my shit together to go back into work. So I weaned myself off for the remainder of the day. Took a couple shots of tequila, smoked cigarettes and kept calm.

I made it. Even now, a week later, I crave that feeling again- feeling sexy and smart and ok about all the nasty shit spinning around me. Its just a feeling, its fiction and its borderline evil. I looked at the white bag that morning and said, “You are a demon.”

It took a whole day and a half to feel my upper lip again. I was blowing crusted coke and blood out of my nose for four days. All those bad memories and sentiments flooded through my kinked sinuses twice as hard as it would have if I never touched the stuff.

I texted a friend who went through a coke & rock phase in the 80s. He talked me through feelings I had about Em and the friendship, and I felt grounded, sober and good again. The cat I can’t fucking deal with yet.

I packed the quarter bag in with my other weekend goodies I would be bringing down to San Diego. And the night before leaving, Brian stumbled into my living room. He went through a bottle of rum every few days.

Brian, “What up?”

I mumble something indifferent.

That morning, Maggie had diarrhea all over the living room floor. As soon as I heard, I came in to clean up. He complained like somehow I threw shit in his face instead of serving him a cup of coffee, which somehow I think he always expected.

As I scrubbed feces off his free weights, I said, “Hey, that’s life.”

He grumbled, “Yeah. That’s life.”

I said, “Go write a blues song about it.”

He angrily gathered his back pack and stormed out of the apartment.

Now we were back in my living room at 10pm, me at the computer, him on my couch stuffing his face with fried chicken, beer and rum.

Brian, “Yo, why did Maggie get sick like that?”

I said, “She has a very sensitive stomach. It must have been something she ate. I moved your trash off the floor into the kitchen.”

Brian, “There was no food in there, though.”

Now Brian lies. I don’t know why because it makes no sense. He lied about breaking my drinking glasses after I discovered hidden trash bags of them around my kitchen.

Brian, “Yo, I think someone is breaking into your apartment and breaking your glasses.”

He lied about having weed while trying to bum some off of me. Esther, my deaf dog, pulled his stash out of his backpack. (Good girl)

Then he lied about having a bottle of rum behind the couch.

As I stare at it, “Oh, you have rum.”

Brian, “Nah.”

Me, “No, its ok. You have a bottle of rum.”

Brian, “Nope, only the beer that’s in the fridge.”

Me, “I am looking at it, you have a bottle of rum.”

Brian, “Oh yeah. I forgot about that.”

Brian lies. It doesn’t matter because I think he is a parasitic bum anyway.

Back to the living room, the computer, the confrontation.

Brian, “Yo, there was no food in that trash, though.”

Me, “Yes there was. Twice they pulled something out of there to chew on it.”

Brian, “That was the shit you gave them, not my shit. That was your shit.”

Me, “Whatever.”

I went to bed, and in the middle of the night I heard Brian shout, “Maggie THREW UP!”

Waking up, I stumbled into the living room and saw Maggie was sitting in front of the door, coughing up a puddle of kibble.

I cleaned it up and rubbed her tummy.

Brian, “I didn’t sign up for this! You should be paying ME to maintain these dogs!”

I laughed in his face.

Me, “Pay you? HA!”

Brian, “I did NOT sign up for this.”

I said, “You knew exactly what you were signing up for.”

Brian said, “Yo, can she sleep outside tonight? I can’t have her throwing up while I sleep.”

I growled, “You are not putting my sick dog outside.”

Brian, “What the fuck! I am not going to sleep next to her.”

I said, “She is sick, she is staying.”

The blankets for the crate were drying outside after being hosed down from the morning diarrhea, and all I had were a couple towels and my bathrobe laid down for my two pittie princesses.

I went back to bed and I heard him say, “If it happens one more time I am throwing Maggie out.”

Through the wall, I yelled, “What did you say!?”

Silence, then the sound of fiddling with the crate. I said, “You are NOT putting Maggie in a crate!!”

I came out and he had Maggie in the crate, sitting on the bars with only my bathrobe to sleep on. Maggie, making the most of it, was trying to kick a bed out of the 3 feet of cloth.

I said, “NO! NO!! NO!!”

We started shouting.

Brian, “I AM NOT SLEEPING IN HERE WITH A SICK DOG!”

I said, “WELL STOP LEAVING SHIT AROUND FOR THEM TO EAT!”

Brian, “Hey, I didn’t leave shit.”

I said, “I have been cleaning up after you and four animals since you moved in here.”

Brian, “Cleaning up after me!?”

Me, “HA! YEAH!”

Brian, “Yo, I am way cleaner than this place.”

Me, “Please.”

He was shouting, and I said, “LOWER YOUR VOICE, ASSHOLE! I HAVE NEIGHBORS.”

I didn’t consciously mean to call him an asshole to his face, but it slipped out so effortlessly.

He got in my face, “Who you calling an asshole!?”

Me, “If you don’t lower your voice, I am calling the cops.”

Brian, “You are gonna call the cops on a black man?”

I held up the phone.

Brian, “This is fucked up shit.”

I said, “You keep your voice down, or I am kicking your ass out tomorrow. You don’t threaten my dog.”

Brian, “I didn’t threaten her. I said if she throws up one more time, I am throwing it on your bed.”

Me, “You are ignorant.”

Brian, “You are calling me stupid, why, cause I’m black?”

Me, “No, because you are stupid.”

Brian, “What? I am not as cultured as you?”

Me, “You just have no common sense.”

More bickering and then:

Brian, “I am not goin’ nowhere. Check the law, lady.”

Me, “You have only been staying here for a month. You have no legal rights until after two months of residence.”

Silence.

Brian, “I am calling my homies now. They know what’s up. You can’t kick me out.”

I walked out of the door to smoke a cigarette. I was shaking. Its that feeling where someone yells at you and you are boiling with rage and shock and general FUCK YOUs, that you need to collect yourself.

I texted Frank and Jerry, asking for someone to come and take care of Maggie & Esther while I was out of town.

Jerry was asleep. Frank was playing poker at a casino and was wide awake at 2am.

I asked him to come over. He said, “You are doing me a favor. I am down by $50, I will be there in an hour.”

I walked back in and saw Brian on the couch, furiously texting away.

Me, “I will do you the courtesy of letting you stay the night, but you are going to clear out of here by tomorrow morning. I have a male friend coming over to spend the night.”

Silence.

Brian, “Ok.”

I went back to my bedroom and waited, staring at my phone until Frank showed up. He did. Neither of us knew how to handle it, like should he come in punching his hand or reasoning with the guy . . . Brian made it easy, he shut out the light and went to sleep.

Frank laid in bed with me and made me giggle- he said, “You on coke, wow, you um . . . put on a show.”

I said, “I warned you, I get a little out of control on that stuff.”

He said, “Well I had no idea, you crawling around on my living room floor was .  . um . . . you are a lovely girl.”

We woke up at 10am, I got up and asked Brian to clear out.

He rubbed his eyes and said, “Why do I have to leave again?”

I said, “You threatened the safety of my dogs and my property. You must leave. Its my residence.”

He said, “And what about the money I gave you?”

I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know what to say.”

I actually did, ASSHOLE TAX!

He cleared out all of his things, held my key ransom until I gave him back the few hundred he gave me, then he sent me threatening texts for the rest of the day claiming he would report me for animal negligence (which he misspelled).

I would love to see the caseworker assigned to visit my slightly overweight dogs as they freely romped in their yard, porch and living room. My place is so dog friendly, its almost illegal.

Frank agreed to stay for the weekend and dogsit while I visited Alan for his birthday. It was weird; the coke, the cat’s ashes, the roommate crisis all had me bonding with Frank instead of my boyfriend. It bothered me a little. This was the type of stuff that binds a couple and creates a history, weaving trust in with all the other sticky wonders of falling in love.

Its just not possible with Alan studying in San Diego.

Still shaken up by the Brian fiasco- I drove down to Alan.

Frank was revising his screenplay in my treehouse. He texted, “This place is really conducive to writing.”

I wrote, “Yup. Warmed it up for you.”

I showed up, smoked a bag of ganj and slipped into bed with him. When we made love, I could see his eyes crumpling a lot in thought. There was a distance. My mind was in my apartment that I loved, that I will be giving up, and the dogs and cat I furiously try to support.

The storm was clearing, there was a new place for me to run to that no one knows about, Trent and Kent are on the mend, everyone on Facebook is either moving or getting married. The transitional phase rattled my cage, but the dust is settling now.

The next day, I relaxed. I drank coffee. I caught up on all my television shows while Alan paced with his case studies.  All the adrenaline and anxiety was finally draining out of me. And though I was scared Alan would be grouchy on adderall and stress from finals, he was gentle and sweet with me.

When his birthday morning came around, I planned on cooking red velvet pancakes (he had a picture pulled up of some gourmet red velvet pancakes on his computer the last weekend I was there.)

On the third try, the pancakes were edible and actually pretty good. He came in and cradled me, as I spread Red 40 all over his kitchen and we laughed.

I tried

We drank mimosas and watched The Soup. Then I baked him a Smores’ cake, also on the aforementioned website.

Here things got fuzzy. The champagne was kicking in.

He blew out the candles, ate a piece of cake and then we started making out hot and heavy. I told him I couldn’t stop thinking about sex with him on cocaine. Honestly, going through that bag earlier in the week and not having intercourse felt like a waste.

He said, “I think we should have one more nap first.”

We skipped the nap. He poured us shots of rum and set up the remaining lines for me and I had possibly the most amazing sex of my life. I only remember a portion of it. I remember us both declaring the other as the best lover of our lives. I remember he said he was in love with me.

There wasn’t a lot of coke left, and I grabbed two halves of a Valium in his drawer. Then he gave me a xanax.

Its almost a shame because after asking him to talk dirty to me (which I’ve NEVER done and am honestly rather embarrassed by) I have no memory.

Apparently I had sex with him and got up to answer a text message, than came back, remounted and resumed.

Then he complained that in the middle of his birthday blowjob, I passed out on his hip bone. (I guess the 4am birthday blow job didn’t count . . .?)

I woke up in the morning, stood up, put both hands on the door frame, my hair was eating my face and I stared at him as he studied. My head was pounding.

He smiled at me, calm and clean, “How are you feeling?”

Me, “Shitty.”

He filled a bag for me to inhale and I went to the kitchen for something . . . anything.

He came up behind me and said, “You were saying some pretty dark things during sex last night. I liked it. Normally, I don’t like talking dirty.”

I looked away, “Me either.”

He hugged me from behind and I felt and still feel like somehow Alan is discovering a version of myself I never really acknowledged before. Look, couples talk dirty, no big deal. But I was unveiling a part of myself that even I am not able to fully process. And I am playing catch up with my whole identity when he is around.

Then we had more sex. I felt better.

He said, “I figured all you needed was some pot and an orgasm. Fix you right up.”

Me, “Did I clean up after baking that cake? I can’t remember.”

Alan (laughing), “No . . . I did. My anal side came out.”

Me, “God, are you going to be able to live with me?”

Alan, “Yeah. I will just need my own room, with my own stuff away from the dogs and cat.”

Me, “Did I end your birthday too soon? I mean, was the sun out by the time I passed out?”

Alan, “I have no idea.”

We decided to stop off at a sex store, it was on the way to Taco Bell. It was kind of a comfort, the suggestion to look around at sex toys and clothes meant that he still embraced me as a sexual partner. That whole day I worried I scared him off.

We got food, went home and watched South Park. The xanax made coming off coke easy, and I slipped in and out of consciousness to whatever that smell is .  . . laundry detergent, male deodorant and Alan.  I am so so in love.

I went back to work on Monday morning, but working at a Doggie Daycare is pretty much the best job to come back to after a sex/drug/love fest of a weekend. All my favorite dogs were there, Atticus the one-eyed doberman was coming back now and I was happy to have my home back.

The girl at work asked if I was still moving in, and I said I was.

We talked about the new overnight girl- who reminds me very much of little girls I played with in elementary school who I got to do scandalous things like sneak into rated-R movies or kiss a boy, and later ratted me out to her parents without provocation. She looks like she has never partied, wears spandex and flip flops to work and sometimes a little too much make-up.

I said, “Something about her is a little off.”

Dora (the girl I will be subletting from at work), “That’s cause she did too much LSD in high school.”

I said, “What!? HER!? I don’t believe it.”

Dora, “Yeah, that’s what she told me.”

Me, “I have a hard time even believing she smokes cigarettes, I can’t believe she did mass doses of hallucinogenics.”

Dora, “Yeah, that’s why she twitches and stuff.”

Later, we were chatting with Baye, a Korean dude at work, and we were talking about whether or not Jim Morrisson knew he was snorting heroin when he died, or if his lover lied and told him it was cocaine to avoid a spat about having heroin in the house.

Baye said, “I left behind those days of doing coke, long ago.”

I said, “You’ve done coke?”

Baye, “Oh yeah, I did a lot of it. I don’t really remember my graduation. I just remember going back and forth to my dorm, snorting a line, having a drink and going back. Apparently, I grabbed the microphone away from the Dean and said some nonsense. Then I walked around for the rest of the day in a cowboy hat while chewing on a ratted out cigar. Yeah . . . my mother was . . . disappointed.”

Me, “Does everyone who works here have a drug problem?”

***

Frank has been hanging around since I’ve been back. Its nice to have a buddy, after all the emotional chutes and ladders.

We go grab coffee or hummus at a local Armenian cafe and occasionally I will say, “Coke.”

Its still in me. Nothing good can come of it, but that shit really grabs me.

Frank occasionally will feed me stories about his coke days in New York.

Frank, “I was at this party, and I didn’t really know anyone. I went into the kitchen and this smokin’ hot red head just said, ‘Slap me in the ass as hard as you can.’ And without flinching, I slapped that ass. She turned around and slapped me in the face. Just before she walked away, she said, ‘You are kind of cute though.’

That weekend, we had this insane sex, I mean, awesome sex. And at the time I was just thinking about impressing her so when she said, ‘Is that guitar expensive?’ I said, ‘No, but that one is.’

She disappeared for a couple days and then asked me to meet her in an alley. I was blitzed out of my mind, so I was just following her, and I saw this car at the end of the alley with its lights on. I said, ‘I don’t know whats going on here, but good luck.’ And I swear she gave a signal to the car, he cut his headlights and she backed towards the car saying, ‘You’re missing out.’ Later they robbed the comedy club of like $16,000.”

I laugh. Shake my head. Walk the dogs. Then when I pull into a parking spot, I will deeply inhale and say, “I smell cocaine.”

Then Frank will launch into another story, “I was friends with this kid in grade school, you know, I kind of felt sorry for him. He was this really awkward red head kid, a little slow. And we would play this game called Girl Power. We would pretend we were being chased by girls and if they touched us, we turned into girls. It was his game, you know, I just went along with it. So we are running along and he would throw up his hands and say, ‘Uh oh, a girl got me.’ Then he would get down on the ground and hump the ground, like he was trying to rub off his penis. Later, I discovered there is a whole mental condition for that.

Anyway, once in a while this guy finds me and calls me on my birthday. He will come by with some ugly woman . . . hideously ugly women, with a bottle and hang out for a day. One day he comes by alone, with a bottle, a bag of coke and small black bag. I didn’t think about what was in the bag.

We snorted lines and talked for a while. Then he slips into the bathroom and comes out wearing a small black dress. This tall, weird looking man in a small, black dress with tufts of red hair . . . it was just (shakes head) weird. I mean, picture it, I am snorting lines off the coffee table, then looking up and suddenly seeing a man in a black dress descend out of my bathroom.

And he opened up to about how he believes he is a woman trapped in a man’s body, how he is saving up for an operation, you know, all of that.”

I said, “And then what happened?”

Frank, “Well, I finished his coke and then politely asked him to leave. He was cool about it.”

Me, “Does this coffee taste like coke? Taste it.”

Frank sips it.

Ponders.

Shakes head.

Frank, “No.”

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