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A Shade Rather Than a Scream: Coachella 2013 Pt. 1 … The Night Before

Here I am. It is Saturday night and I am getting over a cold. The fatigue won’t leave me. My hands, my feet, my head all ache to rest in bed. The idea to rest more gets me frustrated Michael, my lover, has reminded me I have been sick for less than a week. I despise the feeling. In an effort to pick up my spirits, I am writing another entry in my much neglected blog.


Thursday, April 11th, 201:. Trent and I were finishing up my rounds out in Burbank. The final bit of pet sitting services on my schedule before I took three days off: The old lady recovering from cancer who needs the kitty litter box cleaned once a month. She likes to talk about rock n’ roll and politics. She always leaves the radio on, when I am not there, that is her only outlet to the world. Traffic was bad out of LA. We had to swing down to Anaheim to pick up two  boys from Mexico City we connected with on Facebook who bought the camping pass for Coachella Music Festival ahead of time. (We had neglected to do so) Then we had to stop off at a Target so we could put all our camping supplies and food on my Target card. That was the arrangement as Trent bought my ticket months in advance. And then we had to pull into the small town of Indio, California to set up camp for a three day weekend of drugs and music.


Sure, there were thoughts that the two young Mexicans would slice our throats, steal my 1996 Saturn and enjoy the rest of the weekend with my Target card. We needed that camping pass though, and as we pulled into a Days Inn off the 5 freeway, I saw two young, rather innocent kids no more than 21 years of age, waiting patiently in the empty, sterile lounge through tiny, double glass doors and large luggage on their laps. One was Salvador, tall, virile and handsome. A thick head of black hair and dimples that rose and vanished under a blanket of rotating expressions. The other was a larger boy named Fernando. He was shy, with a broader face but long hair to hide behind. His nose and lips more prominent and more self-conscious.

It would become apparent that Fernando was in love with Salvador. Of course, we were all in love with Salvador. We couldn’t have found gentler and more generous souls anywhere in this big, bad world. We lucked out.

Black Betty

Just before driving into Indio, we decorated my car. There is a prize for the most decorated car, promising free entry into the following year’s Coachella Music Festival. It was then that I took out the window decal I bought over the internet. Over the rear windshield, we spread out in large pink letters, my new, used car’s name: Black Betty. As a foursome, we scratched it over glass so it would take. It wasn’t centered. Fuck it.

We drove off the freeway and followed signs to the music festival, then got in a long line of cars waiting for a camping spot assignment. Cars in front and behind us were dumping bottles of alcohol. “Yeah, you can’t bring it any glass containers,” Trent said.  At the Target parking lot, we had already poured two bottles of cheap, white wine in an emptied jug of water. It barely covered a quarter of the jug. Cans of beer were acceptable. Trent always needed a huge stock of beer.

check point

It took over an hour to gently roll Black Betty into the field where camping passes were scanned and cars were checked by security. Our security officer picked up our plastic jug. “Smart,” she said. “Ok, go on through.” We were packing some drugs but not as much as we wanted. Our Los Angeles drug dealer was rather unreliable. Somewhere between a psychotic disorder and a drug addiction, he was barely surviving in a one bedroom apartment. He lived in a pile of discarded clothes, disposable razors, emptied Snapple bottles and expensive, vintage movie posters.

lsd_flesh_of_devil_movie_poster_artOne of the last times I went to visit him, he told me “they” broke into his apartment. He threw his arms around his apartment as if I could see how much worse off everything is than it was. I couldn’t tell the difference. He pointed to the back of his front door, “See dat! Do you see dat!?” he said in a thick German accent. “It is some kind of witchcraft symbol. Cult bullshit! Dat wasn’t there before. They left dat!” I looked at him, bare chested under his leather vest with a thin, cloth scarf tied around his neck and struggled to find the symbol.

I found what appeared to be spilled coffee on the back corner of his front door.  I hadn’t heard from him since. I knew he was moving. I knew he was changing cell phone numbers. And I was unable to replenish our stash for the Coachella festivities. We knew we could buy from kids holding at Coachella.

Coachella Bitches

As we slowly rolled in, I saw bronzed, white girls in uggs and matching outfits. Midriffs and streaked, chocolate-blonde hair. They all looked identical. I had forgotten what it was to be young in mind. To long to be identical to the others. They waved neon, light tubes in the air, pretending to be a little more tipsy than the other. A little more available. Just a little different from the other. A shade of variation instead of a scream of uniquity.

I hadn’t gone to a regular University. I applied to one college: a hippie four-year school with no grades, no tests and a reputation for stoner students who are awarded academic credit in exchange for a self-constructed academia around growing marijuana. Evergreen State College was the beginning of the real me. Everything synched for the first time in my awkward, uncomfortable, painfully shy existence. Those kids listened to my music. Those kids tripped to Beatles and Pink Floyd, running through rain forests and drumming next to fires. Those kids let me feel that my instincts were leading me in the right direction. It was the beginning of my real life. I wasn’t waiting anymore: waiting to move away from my parents, waiting to get through an unenthusiastic educational institution, waiting to move out of a strip mall. Waiting to talk to people who already knew me. At 18, I was able to skip over football games and frat boys, sororities and keggers. I escaped, and somehow was brought full circle in Indio.


Evergreen College in Olympia, WA


Coachella in Indio, CA

I was shocked to see them there. My impression was that Coachella was a modern day Woodstock. A celebration of psychedelics, good music and spontaneous friendship. I tried not to hate the BMWs and the Mercedes Benzes as they all lined up in perfect order from each other. I think my car was the only model assembled prior to 2005 in our entire section. The bitterness yanked on my lower intestine as my parking break through anchor on its stretch of field and grass. I kept asking Trent, “Did they work for the money for that car?” As if any answer would heal my working class scratches and bruises, the scars and scabs that hardened and broke back open. Trent related to the feeling and we both exchanged snarky remarks as we pitched a tent in strangers’ headlights. Earlier, we watched two young girls smoke a joint like a cigarette out of their parents Lexus. We were already worked up before even entering festival grounds.

“You don’t know what you’re doing!” Trent screamed at them. They posed like we were paparazzi in my pathetic headlights. Like we envied their uniformity and money. We did envy the ease with which they slithered into our world.

Once we were settled, I hid in the tent for a quick nap. I was working my ass off with school and work. I wasn’t sleeping full nights. I rarely had a day off. I was grouchy and exhausted. When I slipped off into a starry doze with the cold desert air settling on my face and chest, I would startle to my name.

Then again.

“Just a few more minutes …” I called before feeling my body lift to the sky.

When I got up, everyone was up and celebrating with beer and pre-festivity drugs. No psychedelics yet. “We feel so sorry for you,” Salvador said.

“Every time I called your name, you woke up for a second to say you would be right out. I would just call your name out whenever we got bored and you sat right up to talk,” Trent explained, as he broke over laughing. “Your brain will not let you sleep!”

I rubbed the star dust off my face and grabbed a beer. “I am up. What time is it?”

“Two” someone answered.


Trent and I stayed up all night terrorizing our neighbors. Two young men named Houston and Benny who were separated from their group. We may not have gravitated towards them if they moved within their pod, but they were on their own and close to us, so we went a few rounds of psychological banter and bruising before feeling a comradery. Benny was attractive. He looked to be about 20 to 21, but was tall. He had a soft face. Almond-shaped eyes. He looked down when he chuckled to fill the void. Trent and I tore him apart, asking him question after question about his sexuality, about his childhood, about his fantasies. He kept standing until dawn and one of our neighbor’s stumbled out of his tent to use the toilet. “You two could make a fortune breaking down someone’s psyche like that. I have been listening to it all night.”

Trent spilled his lovable cackle. Trent would break down pretty boys. If they were straight, it would be more fuel for the fire. I know Trent well, but I still haven’t figured out the paper puzzle for which he unfolds. How does he fall in love? How does he give himself over? How does he feel free? When he comes close to any of those great moments of being human, of manhood, he hides under fists.  The last time he was in love … it was beautiful, but complicated. Emotionally gentle but psychologically rough. Monogamous but paraded as polyandrous. I fell in love with both of them. When Trent lost him, so did I. And so the ballad fades out into the next, sad love song.

Trent at Coachella 2013

Trent at Coachella 2013

There was a typical Hollywood hot shot walking around, retreating to his tent every ten minutes for another line of coke. Another young man, somewhat attractive, promising to give me a deal on Molly. Trent didn’t trust him. We all hung out drinking beer, waiting for free coke and watching as one by one, another festival camper disappeared into the tent for a few hours of sleep before it begun.

Trent and I stood there as the sun rose. “Are we really the last ones standing?”

Then it was Friday.

sun rise

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Acid, Ecstasy and Disneyland

Ask me the first time I let Michael into my heart?

I can tell you the steps, the baby steps, he made across the line into that first pumping valve. The first memory is taking him to see The Hollywood Stones in winter of 2012. The Hollywood Stones, once called Sticky Fingers, is the Rolling Stones cover band who first introduced me to the music back in 2001 in Pomona. I liked it. When I saw them last year on the Queen Mary, I had familiarized myself with the albums “Sticky Fingers” and “Let It Bleed” just because they ushered me through the door. I schedule my entire month around seeing them. As I once said to their saxophone player outside an Orange County steakhouse, “Hearing ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’ live is just a gift.”

Dancing to the Stones

Once, the mentor, who broke my heart and leveled my self-esteem with her post-semester evaluation, invited me to her house for a reading in her Topanga home. It was the perfect opportunity to touch base with her again and give some credibility to my commitment as a writer. When I saw that The Hollywood Stones were playing the same night, I looked over at Michael. “Should I pretend to struggle over this decision?” I scratched out my old mentor’s event and wrote HOLLYWOOD STONES on my wall calendar. When I dance, when I dance to the music, it becomes my religion. That is when I feel the most alive.

The first night I took Michael to see them I knew that it would be a good indicator of where we would end up. Abe, my ex, would quickly run and hide during my dances. Was it out of fear or embarrassment? I never really figured it out.

Michael was ordering us drinks when the Stones hit their first song on stage. I was walking out of the bathroom and I felt the eyes of the band on me. It was a small venue. I am always the first to dance during the first song. And I am always alone.

I looked over to the bar and waved in Michael’s direction then started dancing. Michael creeped on the dance floor in my winter’s jacket. He was wearing it so I wouldn’t have to lug it around. I stopped to smile at him, as he sauntered on the floor towards me, sliding each sleeve up his forearm. I looked at the lead singer, Dick Swagger, and I watched him smile.

That was one of my favorite moments.

Another was on New Year’s Eve in a gay bar called Akbar. It was free and a last ditch effort during a busy dog walking season. Michael, Trent (my gay boyfriend) and myself all walked in knowing the DJs were usually hit and miss. This night it was Elton John, The Animals, The Monkees, The Black Keys, Jet and even Nancy Sinatra. We had a bag of cocaine on us and Michael was regularly excusing himself to the bathroom to take a few bumps.

“Does he know to take it easy on that stuff?” Trent asked.

“I don’t think he has had that heart stopping, ‘I am dying’, moment yet,” I said.

He never did. When Whitney Houston came on, Michael knew he couldn’t leave the dance floor, so he cleared the stage in front of the DJ and set up lines for himself in front of everyone. I admire that fearlessness. I worry, but I still admire.

la bound

Another favorite moment of us, in this rather young relationship, is coming home from the AWP conference in Boston. It is a conference for writers and publishers. He picked me up from the airport. At the baggage claim, I watched him looking for me. As soon as he saw me, he grabbed my arm with such force it almost hurt. He yanked me in for a hard kiss. A real kiss. The kind you see on TV and convince yourself don’t really exist. I kissed him back, forgetting the department head and president of my school were there waiting for their baggage too. When I opened my eyes, his arm swung up in my face … with flowers.

There was the negative as well. Michael doesn’t understand why I maintain contact with my ex-boyfriends, ex-lovers. I told him, “I don’t know how you can be intimate with someone and not stay in touch. How can you stop caring?”

In fact, Michael was no longer in contact with the girl he was going to move back to Milwaukee for before we started seeing each other. I knew she was upset at him from various angry, bleeping text messages around the holidays. That always bugged me.

‘She blocked me, ok?” he defended.

Other things, as it did with other cohabitating partners, bothered me; eating cereal next to my head as he stood over me to read while I was writing, this tick of pulling and sniffing on his nostrils, and gagging himself with a toothbrush while brushing. The clanking of his spoon against the bowl. (That isn’t specific to him, my roommate Frank is creating the same jarring sound from the living room as I write this) His rearrangement of my garments in the dresser. Little things bothered me, but they never really contended with his undying love and devotion. Whenever you consolidate your life with someone else’s life, there is friction.

It is difficult talking about how I love people. Last year, I was really hurt with many people. My  roommate hung himself and died. My ex-boyfriend broke up with me a few days before agreeing to move in with me and take me to his cousin’s wedding. My parents kicked me out with no money or shelter. All that happens to a broke girl is a kick into survival mode. You still have affection for people, but you don’t invite them into your soul anymore. It is a liability. And, at that point, it would be just plain stupid.

Michael’s mother gave us a timeshare for a Disneyland tower. I stocked up on my favorite drugs; MDMA, acid and Ecstasy. Acid, for some reason, is in low supply in Los Angeles. Luckily, my roommate Frank had two cubes of sugar he was saving in a friend’s freezer.

We arrived. I was in a pink sock hat, heart pajama bottoms and a Doors shirt with a Hunter S. Thompson biography and a stack of oreo cookies under my arm. I expected the Disney staff to either be over-serving in typical Corporate-Magic fashion or ignore us. Instead, the staff seemed to know exactly why we were there.

HST Flip Off

“That’s a great book,” the Bell Hop said.

“I know. It is blowing me away,” I said.

“They only use the words of people that knew Hunter S. Thompson. It is one of my favorites.”

What a pleasant surprise. They were kind, assuming a lower but friendly tone with us as we were escorted to our hotel room. We got in and watched the afternoon burn off. When we woke up in the middle of the night after beer, Taco Bell and a nap I wanted to take the acid. Michael was reluctant, wanting to wait until we were in the park. The drugs would hit me long and hard. My friends know that drugs hit me in “a weird way.” I don’t know if it is my brain chemistry or what exactly, but I get a bang for my buck no matter what. That is why I always dose low and slow. Even things like cough syrup and tylenol were given to me in minimal and controlled doses as a child.

I dosed and Michael followed soon after. One of my favorite things to do is watch old Looney Tunes episodes on psychedelics. We had the pleasure of an old Sylvester the cat episode. When acid kicks in, you know. The colors start getting strong. So strong they almost leap out of your television set. You laugh so hard you start uncontrollably cackling until tears cool down your face. All of this happened in the course of one hour, but not with Michael.

Sylvester is after the mouse, but somehow the mouse was able to substitute himself for a kangaroo.  Of course, the house bull dog has no sympathy for Sylvester. Scared over a mouse? Get in there and do your job! Sylvester gets the shit kicked out of him, and when the bull dog sees the kangaroo, he grabs Sylvester by the scruff and drops them both on the back of the truck. “When you start seeing a 5-foot mouse, then its time to jump on the water wagon.” Both Sylvester and the dog look defeated as they are carted away.

This was hysterical, and I couldn’t stop laughing. How things happened and in what order I am not sure. I accidentally hit a switch on the wall, and our bed boards lit up with electronic fireworks and a lit Disney castle to the hard, strained chords of a music box orchestra. We were both astonished.

I had to leave for a cigarette and be by myself. I know Michael wasn’t feeling it and was quite disappointed. So I walked outside and smoked next to a few potted trees in a huge,empty, concrete parking lot. It was 4am so no one was there but the night crew.

I looked at a bush next to the ashtray. “You just want to be free to grow, huh? I understand.” Everything seemed so controlled and fake. Sectioned and tarred. I smoked two cigarettes and watched the night time sprinklers go on. I watched the leaves dance for water and touched their pointing tips to feel some life in this endless parking lot. “I am sorry,” I whispered.

I walked back into the hotel and got in the elevator with a Hispanic man from the cleaning crew. My pupils were the size of dimes. “These graveyard shifts will shorten your lifespan, man,” I said. He giggled.

The elevator doors opened to Michael, waving his arms. He was worried about me. After huffing and puffing, he took off down the hallway to our room. “Have a good night,” the night man smiled.

We got back in the room and I laughed off his tantrum. I was only gone for 20 minutes, the acid was expanding his time. “I was really worried about you. Like, where were you, man?” He was adopting my dated vocabulary.

“I was outside. Those plants don’t like it out there.”

He calmed down after 10 or 15 minutes of panting and complaining. We hugged and kissed. When he had to poop, I dragged the chair into the bathroom and sat outside the toilet door because I didn’t want to be alone. It wasn’t just that. Something is vulnerable about a man on the shitter. He kept the door closed but we giggled so hard, I toppled over on the chair as it rocked clumsily between bathroom tiles on the floor.

Suddenly famished, we ordered room service (something we couldn’t afford) and the cart never made it as far as the beds before we fed off the table in the hallway. It was a great first night. He enjoyed a California omelet. I inhaled fresh fruit and oatmeal. “I can understand now how someone like Lindsay Lohan can blow all her money in a hotel.” When we were done, the sun was rising and we decided it was no better time to unleash ourselves into the park. We were allotted early entrance as Disney residents.

It was a special day, we walked into baby ducks marching towards us with trust and confidence. “Is this real?” Michael asked.

I always hit Storybookland first. Mr. Toad and his Wild Ride. Sleeping Beauty. Snow White. Pinocchio. And Peter Pan. Jesus, those rides are like flipping through old library pages in the early 80s. In the 2010s, themes of crystals and the occult are evident. On acid, it is a lift to the curtain. Instead of the characters coming alive, I was more aware of the squeaky wheels under the ride. The flimsy cardboard as each sun-bleached character clumsily stumbled towards us before spinning away. The paint on the wall was of someone with talent but not allowed artistry. On acid, in Disneyland, you would like to believe everything comes alive. It doesn’t. Everything is revealed as it truly is: a farce.It was easier to surrender my imagination sober. Under the influence of psychedelics, all I could see was man instead of imagination.

It wasn’t as if this ruined my time however. We bought cotton candy.

“My parents never let me have cotton candy,” I said, feeling pink sugar dissolve on my tongue and teeth. “This is the best thing man ever invented.”

“Whenever you tell me about your childhood, I just feel sad,” Michael said.

Disneyland (2) Disneyland (1)

My mother worked at a dentistry school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was never allowed to eat a cookie without a glass of milk. To this day, the association of sugar without a cleaning entity leaves me feeling dirty. Cotton candy, sugar cereal and cookies were among the many offenders of bad teeth.

We rode the Merry-Go-Round. We happened across a horse drawn cart. I saw the horse and felt an immediate kinship. “I want to touch that horse.”

“I don’t think you can, baby,” Michael said, holding on to my wrist as if holding down a helium balloon.

“I think it wants me to pet it.”

The horse driver slowly stepped towards us, smiling but cautious. “I don’t think you can, baby.”

I sighed. “I love you,” I called to the horse. It bucked it’s head and vanilla mane towards me like it understood. I stomped away on the cobblestone path to Buffalo Bill’s Wild, Wild West. The Petting Zoo was closed.

Disneyland (4)Disneyland (3) Disneyland (5)

We hit the Pirates of the Caribbean and I watched as the pirate chasing women was now changed to pirates chasing each other while holding a stolen treasure. The “Buy A Wife” still remains, with one woman in a brazen, red dress eager for purchase. A child cried. “It’s ok,” I said, “It just called sex slavery.”

The lecherous pirate chasing a teenage girl (hiding in a barrel) chanting “”It’s sore I be to hoist me colors upon the likes of that shy little wench” was changed to “I be looking for a fine pork loin, I be” and (now) a cat peeking its head out of the barrel.

We hit the Haunted Mansion, which was the one time I was not able to carry myself. It was completely dark and the pathway started moving. I asked Michael to hold on to me so I wouldn’t fall. “Are you freaking out?” he asked.

“No, I am just disoriented. Hold on to me, please.”

Afterward, Michael had to smoke, so all the smokers huddled in a corner by Autotopia to suck on cancer sticks. I wasn’t interested. “Are you not feeling it?” I said.

“No. But I have already come to peace with the fact that I can just enjoy you feeling it,” Michael said.

“Well, let’s take the Ecstasy.”

“Now?” he asked.

I gave him his pill 20 minutes before giving in on mine. I was still on the tail coats of acid but there was no denying it was a weak dose. The ecstasy hit him on The Matterhorn. I was sitting behind him in a bumpy bobsled.  A white, hairy creature would sometimes coast out on rickety rails and clinking wheels with his hands raised in claws and his eyes burning red. As we whipped around snow-capped mountains, I watched Michael raise both hands as they gracefully lowered to either side of him, middle fingertip pressed to thumb in some kind of meditation pose. I will never forget that. I knew the ecstasy hit him as soon as he reached zen on the Matterhorn. I chuckled even though he couldn’t hear me on the rattling ride as we swept through, under and over mountains modeled poorly after the Swiss Alps.

When we got off, I turned to him and said, “So, what? Are the people of Switzerland terrorized by a large, white, snow bound monster?”

“I think it is modeled after the Abominable Snowman,” he said with lazy eyes.

We went to Indiana Jones, which is still one of the best rides at Disneyland. We still ducked when feeling the air from blow darts. The rock rolling towards us still felt believable in the second before the ride drops below it.

We took Mark Twain’s Riverboat to Tom Sawyer’s Island. We got over there and all we could do was sit in the sunshine and kiss. “Ewwww” a little girl screamed, pointing. We both turned to her and laughed. It was just a lovely afternoon. Ecstasy gives you a bigger lift than Molly (MDMA). You feel like you could fly with laughter, like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory.

Back on the Mainland (Disneyland), there wasn’t much left to do. We made an appearance at Tomorrowland, though Space Mountain was more than I could admittedly deal with. Alice in Wonderland was a much needed stop. It’s a Small World. The Ecstasy had triggered strong maternal feelings and I was kissing the air within a few feet of stranger’s children. I am not sure I want children, but I can tell you they are amazing human beings.

They wore their pajamas. They ate their lollipops without inhibition, often leaving hard candy raindrops on their face and pants. They smiled when I smiled at them and cried only to their parents. All of them were carted in strollers, which was a bizarre sight. Children, all the way up to 10 years of age, were being carted around in rented strollers … not for fatigue but for speed and efficiency in the parents’ best interest. Stumbling on stroller parking was still one of the most bizarre sights I have seen. It seems we are rapidly approaching the life and times of Wall-E.

Stroller parking

Could children not walk anymore? Or could parents not be bothered with their short stride?

It was mid-afternoon when we took the tram back to our hotel room for lovemaking. Of course, the drugs had stripped me of all disguise and left me much like a little girl abandoned in a grocery store. I cried in the middle of lovemaking, walked to the other side of the suite and returned to Michael. This happened about four or five times in succession. Michael was patient.

“Work it out, baby,” he said, laying on the bed naked. His head pressed against the headboard with his thick, black hair brushed up and over his head like an Outsider from the 50s. His Italian eyes I once thought looked sad. Now, they looked heavy with seduction.

When I told my sister I was dating a full-blooded American-Italian she typed, “Yuck. Latin lovers are the worst.”

Those eyes brought me back, though. His arm was hung around the back of his head, stretching his biceps, almost forlornly watching. He didn’t try to wrangle me or cajole me back to the bed. He just watched me, feeling bad when I cried and satisfied when I returned. Recently, I watched “Scarface” and realized Michael had AL Pacino’s eyes. He knew I would be back and gave me the space to mourn my loss. When I wept, I don’t know what he thought I was thinking of or feeling. I can tell you the recurring memory was my parents kicking me out. If my parents can abandon me, anyone can. I had to cry it out, pathetically, naked, alone, next to the ice box and empty champagne bottle. I needed to work it out.

“Work it out, baby.”

al-pacino-20 al-pacino-20-1

To start my new family, I needed to mourn the old one. I cried and I came back to him.

We made love. We watched the Princess Story Time on the Resident Only Disney Channel. “Why is she using that voice? Doesn’t she know kids don’t like being condescended to? I can’t bear this.”

I took an MDMA pill. My serotonin was already depleted from the Ecstasy. However, I was launched into a world of floating pillows and white bed sheets like Jasmine the Agrabah princess. I couldn’t raise my physical senses any higher, but napped and levitated until the sun set.

a dreama dream 2


A lover of 5 years confessed to making out with his 1st cousin as a child and described walking into his father’s hospital room, while he was dying of lung cancer, then leaving immediately without saying a word. His father died before he could find the courage to speak.

Another lover of several months once described a moment where his birth mother accused him of being a “faggot” before abandoning him as an adolescent.

Love for a women is immediate. She opens her body to pregnancy and disease on the word of a man. She sacrifices her pulse and movement to a man, as he enters her. Men don’t experience this, though themselves are made of flesh, blood and bone. Words, you see, amount to nothing.


It was much later in our relationship, in June, when I was having a nervous breakdown about residency, about love, life and rejection, that Michael invited me into the bathroom. “Do you want to watch me poop? Would that make you feel better?”

“Yeah,” I whimpered. It would. And it did.

I pulled a chair into our tiny bathroom and sat there holding his hand when I heard the first plop. I was crying all night and suddenly smiled. He could reveal as much of himself as I needed to … in order to love again.

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Cowboy Confidence

Cocaine. Our very first introduction, when I was an adolescent, was through various scenes in the film “Goodfellas”. I believed it was a white powder that made women insane, tearing apart their bedroom closets shortly before they broke down in tears.


Later in life, I heard it was good for porn actors. Around Hollywood I have been told about casting calls for background actors who show up to a house in North Hollywood, stroll into a garage full of people in bathrobes and are asked if they want a line before greeted with a “hello”. Stevie Nicks was forced to rebuild her nasal passageway from so much drug use. It burned a dime-sized hole through her cartilage.

Once,on an internet date, I toured the music studio where “Rumors” was recorded. “There used to be punch bowls of coke laid out right here,” my date explained. I tried to imagine that … punch bowls of cocaine.


In an interview with Oprah, Stevie says, “It turned people into nutcases … Mick and I never would have had an affair had we not had a party and all been completely drunk, messed up and coked out. [We] ended up being the last two people at the party. So guess what? It’s not hard to figure out what happened — and what happened wasn’t a good thing. It was doomed. It was a doomed thing, caused a lot of pain for everybody, led to nothing. I’m like, ‘Gee, could you have just laid off the brandy and the coke and the pot for two days?’”

It all sounds pretty negative. The word may conjure up images of Lindsay Lohan, Scarface and clips from Charlie Sheen’s meltdown. There is a flip side to what you see on television. Cocaine is an emotional drug. You feel like opening up about your past, you feel oddly connected to the other people in the room, there is a strange kind of spiritual shake to snorting blow. It is when you cross over to the compulsion of it, that is when you start to lose. It usually happens around 3 or 4am, when you know you are running out because you have tripled the amount of coke with each snort. You start licking tabletops and debit cards. Around 5am, you wonder if buying more is a good idea.


My roommate likes to blend crushed xanax into his lines, which can dull the edge. Let me rephrase, it may dull the edge. The last time I shared coke with him, he was blending xannies, slurring and still staring at the lines on the table until it was his turn. I made sure to do half the amount than everyone else with each turn, and was the only one bright-eyed and bushy tailed in the morning, already in shorts and a pigtail, ready for a dogwalk before everyone crawled out of their corners. I am not always that disciplined.


After Thanksgiving, Frank, my roommate, had a birthday. I baked a cake. We were all so broke, Frank ended up financing most of his own party. He is the only one of us not scraping pennies to fill a quarter tank of gas. He was a good sport about it though. The coke was stationed in two spots, privately in my room and privately in Frank’s walk-in closet. Only a few party-attendees were invited. The girls mostly. It was also Michael, my boyfriend’s, first time.

He clicked into it a little bit too easily. He kept asking to go back to the room, constantly reminded of the lines waiting patiently for us on my dresser. I realized he could easily cross-over. His eyes turned black and he kept looking back to my bedroom door. Next month it would be his bedroom door, too. We were moving in together, though we didn’t know each other all that well. One month before, we started dating hot and heavy, and Michael felt swept up like I have before with others … but now I was more cautious, more skeptical. It seems the less I expect the more I gain in return. He was good to me, the sex was great and I liked him. Did I love him? It was hard to really reflect on our relationship, the bond, when I was in survival mode- desperate to make rent, desperate to get a working car, desperate to prepare for school starting the following week.  Library books were stacked on the small kitchen table. My laptop was in the kitchen. My socks and glasses of tea and water sprung up out off the furniture; the bathroom counter, the shower, the empty DVD rack (which is still empty).

Prepping for residency

I already felt that I had ruined Michael’s life. Since our first date in October, he lost his job, his car and iPhone … his pet-sitting clients, a few possessions, most of his savings. As one of my cohorts at writing school once said, “Oh, you are that kind of girlfriend.”

Michael was never bitter. He insisted he was happy, and mentioned his mother was supportive of our relationship because she sensed he was happier than he had ever been. Only a 23-year-old would make such fantastic claim. I just turned to him, “Happier ever or just since another time you last remember?”

“Are you kidding me?” he said, “Happier than I ever could have imagined was possible.”

I believe Michael was living under a lot of heavy expectations up to this point. His mother, who believes he holds the most promise of her three boys. His bosses, who used guilt and pressure to motivate employees. He was trying to please everyone else because he hadn’t looked at things from a different angle yet; not as someone’s son, but as a man.  Somehow, my attitude and lifestyle gave him permission to do whatever he wanted to do. Experiment with drugs. Yell at bad drivers. I call it “Cowboy Confidence”. He can get carried away and tell everyone off. After his former employer delayed his final paycheck by almost a month, he called and told them he was showing up and wouldn’t leave without a check in hand.  When he came home after the incident, he was bouncing on the soles of his feet, “I am on a warpath.” He told everyone exactly what he thought of them and I could see the fire lit in his eyes. Not to mention his paycheck in hand. Michael got the taste of freedom.


Now, he got the taste of cocaine. We all circulated around our little house as characters from Frank’s life dropped in for birthday wishes. Happy Birthday was sung. Candles were blown. I danced with my little dog Brad in the kitchen, cradling him in my arms, swinging him back and forth to the music. He lay back, completely trusting that I would never drop him. The crowd started chanting, “Go Brad! Go Brad! Go Brad!”

Brad at Franks party

Outside in the smoker’s circle, Alia, her boyfriend Ryan, Michael and I all gathered together, mumbling nonsense and declaring secrets. “You know what is great about unprotected sex,” I said, wishing Frank’s friend Jim would go back inside, “Feeling the semen drip out of you when you are alone, somewhere else later in the day.” Alia nodded with a kind of nobility. Jim, a New York stand-up comic, pulled out a notepad, occasionally making notes for his next show. Frank hovered somewhere in the background.

“You need to have protected sex,” Alia said, “And (she pointed at Michael) as the man, it is your responsibility to make sure it is safe sex.” I suddenly felt regret for mentioning it at all. A few weeks ago, after my period, Michael and I continued to have unprotected sex.

“Did you cum?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he moaned.

I slapped him in the face. “What the fuck, man?” I asked.

“What? You told me to.”

“I was talking dirty … you weren’t actually supposed to do it,” I said, getting dressed.

“Well, I thought you knew what you were doing.”

“I am not on birth control.”

“I know, but I thought, hey it’s [StarFire]. She knows what she is doing.”


I took the morning after pill, then started taking the pill a week later. This threw my menstrual cycle on a loop and left me in a bloodless limbo for several weeks. After a couple weeks of maybe, maybe nots … I was lucky to make it out motherless. However, the surge of hormones made me crazy for a good month.

CokenWoman in Goodfellas

As it turns out, bragging about unprotected sex in social circles doesn’t make your opinion very popular. Perhaps, I was suffering from my own version of Cowboy Confidence. I will say that one-on-one, every person will agree unprotected sex, with all its risk and vulnerability, eclipses the condom any day.

A troupe of lesbians came in and occupied the living room, cooing over my dogs. It must have been around midnight when Michael and I sat with them and endured an interview about our relationship. In that moment of reliving our brief affair, I turned and saw him sitting on the couch. His eyes were a deep brown, glazed with puppy dog love and buried sadness from somewhere else. His beard was growing in. He looked back at me and my heart swelled. I was really falling in love with him. I could feel it now, after the champagne and cocaine suspended my body and her flinching affection, all doubts and broken hearts, all logic and sensibility, I felt that seed in my mind burst into a sprout. I reached out to caress his face in front of our audience.

“You guys are making me sick,” a girl said. I removed my hand, but never let go of the feeling. Not when I sobered up. Not when we suffered through our first fight. And still not now, as I write this.


Frank’s one single, straight female friend was there. I knew she suffered from alcoholism and a serious cocaine addiction, after all, she had money. As the evening went on, I saw her stumble around on heels, grabbing onto counters and tables to steady herself. She was in her forties and an actress, skinnier than she should be, wearing heavy make-up. “What is that song Alice in Chains does?” she slurred.

“Type in the lyrics and I can find it on YouTube,” I said over a passed joint.

“Type it where? I have never used this before.” I patiently showed her the search window in Google and watched her slowly type “Black Hole Sun”.

“Oh, that is Soundgarden!” I said.

“Right, Soundgarden. God, I am so stupid. Why am I so stupid? I hate it when I do things like this.”

“You aren’t stupid. You just mixed it up, that’s all. We all do that.” She stopped talking and I could feel the blades and shadows cutting her up on the inside. I felt sorry for her. Frank told me about their relationship. They watch football and hold each other. Sometimes he spends the night. “I know I am seeing her tonight because she has a date,” he once said. “If it goes bad she calls me, but what is worse is when it goes really well. Then she sabotages it somehow … and calls me.”

Last week, I asked to use his scanner and he pulled out a photograph from the last scan. “What is this? Oh yeah … this is [her] after she passed out on me. She never believes me so I took a picture.” And there she was, collapsed in brown hair, face down, as if she died.

I believe she is in love with Frank. To Frank, perhaps, he loves her for the sentiment. We all have fail safes in are back pocket. And we all want to be loved.

The evening passed through the house slowly. Around 3 or 4am, I started playing Rolling Stones and James Brown on my laptop and got a few people dancing. Jim watched. Because Jim just watched, Frank watched.  “This is a really good night. This kitchen is great right now,” Frank said.

Jim laughed, cool as always. “This is a great kitchen.” The two fondly echoed each other’s sentences. The drug made them one.

Outside, alone with Michael, he chattered through the drug. “You know what my favorite dinosaur is? The stegosaurus, because it reminds me a lot of me. You know, everyone criticizes it for being slow and stupid but it is just doing its thing. I don’t think I like cocaine, cocaine isn’t really my thing. Do you remember Shelley Duvall? Remember when she used to read those kids books on TV and then they put her in ‘The Shining’? Do they know how much that fucked up kids?”


I listened to him, occasionally laughing, trying to fight down my own thoughts and memories, kicking at the curtain in the back of my mind.

Inside the house, everyone was gone. “Puff the Magic Dragon” sung by Peter, Paul and Mary played on Pandora. Back on the couch, I sat on Michael’s lap. He kept chattering.  “This song is so sad. I love this song. It used to make me cry. Little Jackie Paper loved his imaginary friend and then he had to go away. Why did he have to go away? He loved him.” There was a moment of quiet between us, in the dark, as the harmonized voices serenaded the powder dripping down the back of our throats, turning to a thick syrup. Then Michael wept, and I held him.

Like I said, it is an emotional drug.

Jim and Frank took frequent smoking breaks. Jim with his spirits and percocets and Frank with his cigars and xanax.  Late in the night, closer to morning, I left Michael on the couch to play “My Funny Valentine”, threw a pillow on the floor in front of Michael’s feet, and sang it up to him. With big, black pupils he stared at me. Jim and Frank walked in and I could see plainly that Frank was agitated. So we went to the bedroom and made love.

Michael drew this for me

Michael drew this for me

When Michael passed out, I returned to the living room to finish my annotations for the semester. They were due that day. I stood in front of the kitchen table, typing, typing and typing. At 6am, the sun rose and Frank walked into the kitchen alone. “You are doing homework now? You can’t be serious?”

“Due today” I said, flatly, hunching down to peer into the screen. Reading. Re-reading. Making sure the drugs hadn’t scrambled my grammar or common sense. As soon as I pressed “send”, Frank and I had a smoke.

“We have to talk. Now, when I moved in here, I thought I was moving in with a couple of artists. I didn’t think I was moving in with a young couple in love. I can’t stay here. I am not saying I am leaving now or anytime in the near future, but down the line, I think …” he said.

“Before the lease is up in October?” I asked.

He nodded, with a fresh cigar hanging low but erect from his lower lip. “It isn’t that I don’t like Mike. I love Mike. He is a great kid.”

“He is so nice …” I said.

“He is so nice, he is solid. I really like him. I just can’t live here with you two.” He paused. My head hung low. “I won’t pull a Gary and leave you hanging. I will find someone to rent out the room and take care of all that.”

“What about the cable!? It’s in my name and it is a year contract. I don’t watch TV!”

“Oh, I didn’t think about that … maybe we can break the contract. I don’t know. We will figure it out later down the line, when it becomes more serious. I am fine for right now.”

I blew out a cloud of smoke. It slowly rose into the sky. “I just have to let these crises pass through me like a wall of water. The money, the car, the lease. I can’t control any of it so I just have to surrender to these moments,” I said. “That’s life, I guess.”

Tidal wave tsunami art

Frank looked as though a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. “Sometimes you say really profound things.”

“Great,” I said, dryly, sucking on my cigarette.

“God, feelings talk really works!” he said, cheerfully. Then he patted my shoulder. In that moment, I hated him. I despised him. No one was loyal. But as it is with everyone else I love, it soon passed. I just wanted everyone to be happy. And despite the huge reading list and all the preparation I should have done for school coming up, I spent those last few days before school troubleshooting and reviewing what the worst outcome could be with everything; with Frank, with Michael and with school.

I blew the coke and blood out of my nose, sent in my final paperwork and went back to work. That’s life, I guess.


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Flat Champagne and Cliche Goodbyes

In the middle of the night, with the slight sugar of champagne fading on the back of my throat, Abe and I drove separately down to Costa Mesa.

We got to his apartment and fell asleep.

Me, “I did everything I could to save us, didn’t I?”

Abe, “You did good.”

We woke up late, and on a last day together you want to fit in everything. I had less than 12 hours before I had to head back up to Los Angeles.

I pulled out my magic pills.

Abe, “You want to take them now?”

Me, “Well, might as well. I have to be sober by tonight.”

Abe, “This takes an hour to hit and then you won’t be able to drive back at 5.”

Me, “Just don’t worry about it. It’s now or never. I can’t take these with me.”

I had thought about taking them to Paris with me, but it seems like an extraordinarily bad idea to take a hybrid narcotic overseas and then hallucinate alone in a foreign city.

So we measured out what was left between the two pills and swallowed them with our orange juice and coffee.

I wanted to see “Cabin in the Woods”.

Abe was nervous, “We have to see an early showing or we won’t have any time in the afternoon for ourselves. We missed the 10:15am showing. That’s it. The next one isn’t til 1pm and we won’t have time.”

I pushed him aside, “Let me work my wizardry.” I typed in Moviefone and found a showing across from Disneyland at 11am.

We drove over there and I could feel myself start to levitate over the passenger seat. The ground was especially rough on his Honda tires and my head high was hitting sooner than expected.

Abe pulled into a driveway that said “Disneyland: Character Entrance Only”

I said, “What are you doing?”

Abe, “This was the only place I saw we could park on Google Maps.”

Abe pulled out and tried to turn around in the driveway when an old man with white hair and a beard in what looked like a Southern Confederate uniform waved at us to stop.

Me, “Shit. Just stop. Don’t move.”

The man slowly walked over to my side of the vehicle, bent down and said, “What are you doing?”

I said cooly, “Sorry, we were just trying to park for the movie theater across the street.”

The man, “There is movie theater parking across the street.”

Me, “That makes sense. Can we just . . .?”

Man, “Yeah, just turn around, carefully.”

I rolled up my window and said to Abe, “Pull yourself together, man.”

We pulled around and I ran into the movie theater. Abe took his time, visiting the bathroom and the drinking fountain first. I waited at the door and we walked into a completely empty movie theater.

Now, I don’t know how many people have seen ‘Cabin in the Woods’ and I don’t really want to recommend you seeing it since it’s a comedy horror movie that is not really that funny nor that scary. I have never seen a horror movie with little to no suspense in the action sequences before. The film is popular because there is a twist.

What made the film special for us (Abe specifically) was the human sacrifice element- which I haven’t seen in modern horror. And why that element is a funny twist to see in Abe’s company is his genuine belief that the Illuminati facilitate human sacrifices, and, he would it take it one step further, the Illuminati made this movie to get the main population used to the idea that some of us must be sacrificed.

*The Illuminati  (as defined by Wikipedia) is a name given to several groups, both real (historical) and fictitious. Historically the name refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on May 1, 1776. In more modern contexts the name refers to a purported conspiratorial organization which is alleged to mastermind events and control world affairs through governments and corporations to establish a New World Order. In this context the Illuminati are usually represented as a modern version or continuation of the Bavarian Illuminati.

So when the first image of someone’s blood pouring through a sacrificial tablet appeared, I laughed.

Abe said, “Ah, I see. Illuminati.”

When a red phone rang in the control center of the human sacrifice, Abe leaned back  and said, dryly, “Oh, the Illuminati aren’t happy.”

In Abe’s universe of paranoia and conspiracy, a movie theater experience, especially on hallucinogenics, becomes a hand delivered message from a cult that operates on an international scale.

I said, “Have you seen the carpet recently?”

The floor lights over the theater carpet brought to life reds and greens, blinking in various directions like neon lights spinning through broken arrows. I felt like we were in the middle of a large, untouched Pac-Man game, my seat at the center of an Atari maze ablaze with blinking power pellets.

We left the movie and walked out into an overcast afternoon.

Abe said, “I have never been here before.”

The little mall across from Disneyland had several restaurants that were closed, and between them were various murals. I wanted to admire them, but Abe kept tugging on my sleeve.

Abe, “We are running out of time.”

I said, “Look, time won’t stop. The day is escaping us. (I looked at him and shrugged) The day is escaping us. There is nothing we can do about it. Let’s just try our best not to avoid the time and enjoy this moment together.”

He sighed and pulled out two cigarettes.

We took pictures by the murals and giggled.

Then we swung by his place to pick up Brad and took him to the beach.
Abe and I walked to a place not too far in the sand where we could bring a dog without being reprimanded, turned on some old 60s Rolling Stones and laid out in the sun.

Old 60s Rolling Stones is a lot like boppy, Beach Boys music.


I said, “Where’s Gidget?”

He laughed though I am not sure he got the reference.

We laid there next to each other and I studied the baggy outline of his pants as it fell short over his brown socks and shoes. He seems so much like an overgrown boy.

The sand dunes moved like an old cardboard cut-out of waves someone would use in an old theater production. The clouds were magnificent and billowed in rhythm with the sand like they were on the same circuit as my blinking Christmas tree lights.

When you hallucinate on small doses, you know what you are seeing is not real. You are not confused and nothing seems terribly unpredictable about the shapes that unfold. You are in control of what you see.

I told Abe, “You can’t keep approaching problems from the same angle. That’s when people get trapped. You have to acquire the ability to approach the problem from different directions. That’s why I like hallucinagenics, it helps your mind learn how to look at things from a radically different angle. You get used to that. It becomes a skill.”

Brad was panting by my side.

I said, “Do you think he is ok?”

Sand lined his gold hair and his eyes were closed in a meditative pant.

Abe, “He is happy, baby.”

I cuddled up to Abe. I would miss him. And when I got back, I knew I would be a totally different woman.

The Doors came on his ipod, the psychedelic chimes rising in audible steam out of the cheap plastic bag by his feet.

“The End” came on.

♪ ♫ “No safety or surprise, the end.” ♪ ♫

Then we left.

His brother called when we were at his apartment. His apartment is always cold.

Abe, on the phone, “No, tonight’s not a good night. Its (her) last night in Los Angeles, so it’s really not a good night. I can’t come over. (silence) I will see you guys tomorrow.”

It was good to hear him choose a night with me over his family. I love how loyal he is to his family, but now it’s become part of a greater dependence to his life as a child. He has no interest in forging his own path, his own Friday night or his own family. He seems totally apathetic towards becoming a father, a husband or a man of his own, and forever content remaining the oldest son of someone else.

We made love at least twice in his cold bedroom, as the sun died behind grey, ocean clouds.

Writing about this now, a month later, I can’t recall anything special about the lovemaking other than it being the last time I felt close to someone. The last time I didn’t have to worry about my words being misinterpreted or about my body odor working through my deodorant or fumbling to find when I should end a moment.

I miss that.

We showered and he said, “I am going to be good.”

Me, “Huh?”

Abe, “I am going to be good . . . while you’re gone.”

Me, “You’re always good.”

I mean, lets face it, he doesn’t exactly have a mob of girls knocking at his door.

Abe, “I am going to be good. Are you going to be good?”

I looked at him, naked, washing the shampoo out of his hair and didn’t know what to say.

I wasn’t going to be “good”, I intended on enjoying other men, maybe falling in love with someone else. He broke my heart only a few weeks ago and didn’t deserve any false promise in return. But I just made love to this man, naked in front of me and he was looking for a little corner of polyester and nylon threaded comfort before I left his bedroom.

I muttered, “I will be good.”

Then, Abe took 45 minutes to repack my car. I was so late. It was after 9pm now, and I promised Frank  that we would have quality time before I left LA.

He texted to see if I was ok.

I texted back, “Yes, he is dragging this out and reorganizing my car. We will stay up late tonight.”

Frank texted back, “I thought that might be it. I am looking fwd to it whenever you get here.”

We kissed goodbye, and I can say I don’t remember the kiss. I remember he drove in my passenger side until I got to the end of his block and we puttered through a lot of cliches.

“I love you”

“Be safe”

“I will miss you”

“Ok goodnight”

And I called him “sweetie” which felt awkward out of my mouth. I never call anyone sweetie, but smelling of man’s soap and semen, I said, “Take care, sweetie.”

Who jumped in my body and said that?

And then I patted his back shoulder as he jumped out of my car.

This man who I was having one of the most intense on-again, off-again love affairs of my life, just sprang out of my car door and my life, and all I could offer him was a pat on the shoulder and a “Take care, sweetie.”

Driving away, I felt tears that never came.

I didn’t want to let him go, and I still don’t really want to let him go. But thank God something happened in my life to break the spin cycle our relationship was on. I needed something to jam the spoke before we went through another ride together.


I showed up to Frank’s, all my dogs were reunited.

Frank, “Do you just want to get Thai Food? Does it make me old that I just want to grab a bite to eat it in a quiet restaurant on a Saturday night?”

Me, “If that makes you old, then I am old. (stretch) It’s going to rain tomorrow. I feel it in my knees.”

We ate half of a dinner in Hollywood, then came back and had a glass and a half of champagne. I was exhausted.

Frank made a half joke/pass at me- going in for a kiss or something.

I said, “Please don’t. I just had a lot of sex and can’t deal with that right now.”

He laughed and said, “I figured.”

The next day when he sent me off, we mashed together in clumsy affection and kissed each other goodbye. It wasn’t laced with champagne and romance, but felt like a weird victorious punctuation mark. Friendship. Gratitude. Time.

It all ended on a wet kiss on Frank’s mouth at 9am on a Saturday.

And from there, with my three dogs jammed in the back seat, we headed north to Washington.

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Losing My Mind and Escaping to Costa Mesa

Once, during the night Abe came back, and the dark sky let light in and turned to blue with dawn,  I remember staring off at my wall and hearing him say, “You don’t deserve all the bad things happening to you.”

I just needed to hear that out loud, and without instigation.

When you find yourself in a shit storm, you can’t help but wonder what the fuck you did to deserve it. My sister said, “You probably did terrible things in your past life.” I said, “Or my next life is just going to be awesome.”

Abe started seeing me again, and, I am ashamed to say, often my mood was contingent on whether or not I would see him. Whether I got a text from him. Etc. Etc. Everyone reminded me how desperate and pathetic I was being, that I shouldn’t be so easily influenced by one boy. But, if there is anytime to be desperate and pathetic, shouldn’t it be when you’re poor and your roommate hung himself in your bathroom?

I remember distinctly saying, “At least I still have my car and my animals.” I know people have been surrendering their animals like crazy. Working in animal rescue, I am aware they started putting down dogs and cats after just 3 days holding, no matter what age or health. Puppies and kittens are being euthanized. Its bad out there. If I had to live in a van on the side of the river, I was going to keep my animals safe or I was going down with them.

I had made arrangements to drive my dogs up to Washington to visit my family.

Then, driving home, my car started weezing, then smoking, and right as I pulled into a Ralph’s in Sunland, it died. I got out of the car and started screaming at God, “WHAT THE FUCK DID I DO? WHY ARE YOU TAKING EVERYTHING AWAY FROM ME!?!?”

Dora calmed me down. Her family mechanic worked down the street. She talked to the staff at Ralph’s to make sure they wouldn’t tow it. I called Abe, who calmed me down immediately. He had been hit by a motorcyclist earlier that day.

I could feel my hair turning white. Broke, living on a grave in bumfuck Sylmar with NO CAR!


Monday morning, the mechanic looked at it and informed me my engine threw a rod and blew a hole in the engine. How is this possible with the engine light only being on 3 days, and NO OIL light going off on my console? Who the fuck knows.

In 3 days, I learned I wasn’t covered on the manufacturer’s warranty because I bought the fucking car from a Volkswagen dealer and was now over 60,000 miles. If I had bought it from a Hyundai dealer (its a Hyundai) I would have been covered up to 100,000 miles.

The dealer wouldn’t cover it because I didn’t sign up for their extended warranty.

AND I still had a year’s left of payments on the God damn thing so . . . unless my insurance company was going to cover the damage (due only to an accident or collison) I was stuck paying off an inoperable vehicle for the next year.

Insert horrified emoticon.

I was showing up to work on the verge of tears. The woman from HR would pull me aside, ask how I was and I crumbled in tears and snot all over her shirt.

She told me to leave for awhile. “Dora has her family, you don’t have anyone.” She gave me my paycheck in cash under the table with a lot extra out of her own pocket and later texted me in broken English, “Take care always. You have to help yourself. Otherwise the help of others who love you will be for nothing. We are here for you. Love you.”

My therapist suggested I get away from my hole in Sylmar anyway- so I invited myself out to Abe’s place in Costa Mesa where I stayed for a week. I got someone at work to stay with my dogs, relocated my cat to my dear friend Jeph (who I trust more with my cat than any other soul alive) and I disappeared. Poof!

I woke up to Abe making me tea and toasting bread.

I watched television.

I got antsy.

We bought all my comfort foods, vegan pizza, vegan cookie dough ice cream, Capt’n Crunch and I got to watch all my girly reality shows.

He kept asking me if I was alright, and I was sure. I said yes, and then he would say, “You have to eat more.”

Abe also revealed to me his origins of belief in the Mayan birth calendar. He told me my birth sign was Cimi: which alternates between light and dark. It also symbolizes death and north (no coincidence every tarot card reading I have ever had surfaces the Death card). It attracts entities seeking change. His birth sign correlates with mine, he has asked me not to share the synchronicity of our birth or symbolic correlations we have found-even with a psychic reading I had a few years ago. He says that YOU the audience, will not understand.

What I did understand, is those who are assigned as guides, allies, and challenges by specific birth date included men I have loved in my past.

Abe’s included family members. Interesting how are lives are molded by two different worlds of love.

Either way, he told me, “You need to become a more empowered spirit.” I had the ability in my birth right.

I called my mother, who said, “I just hope you get everything squared away before I die. I want to rest in peace.”

Me, “Oh Wow. Ok. Great. Thank you.”

Mom, “You need a little pressure on you.”

Me, “That is the opposite of what I need.”

It was hard relaxing without animals or an agenda. There was just this cold bachelor pad with two guys. One who broke my heart 6 months ago, and another who recently lost his girlfriend because he didn’t drink “like a gentleman.” She moved out, he joined AA and a church then Abe signed the lease.

I asked him, “Why do alcoholics need a higher power?”

Abe’s roommate, “Because . . . you alone can’t conquer the disease.”

Me, “Why not?”

Abe’s Roommate, “You need to believe there is something greater than you to help you.”

Me, “You can’t just help yourself, through discipline and focus.”

He slowly shook his head, “You need the higher power.” He handed me a book. I breezed through it. It didn’t answer my question, but I started understanding that, even if its fiction, we have to believe there is more so we can draw strength from outside of ourselves . . . especially after everything inside has dried up and gone cold.


Abe’s parents were pressuring him.

In the time I broke up with Abe, he was a victim of a hit-and-run, his wages and computer were being held hostage by some entrepreneur mad man who was convinced Abe would eventually go back to work for him, and, more recently, that motorcycle slammed into the side of his car. The woman who hit him on her bike wanted to pay without using the insurance company. He agreed.

Abe’s mother called up, wanted him to report the accident to his insurance company and go back on his word because she felt it was unwise, and she wanted the phone number to the entrepreneur mad man to get Abe’s computer back.

He said, “Maybe I should just let her take care of it. Obviously, I am doing everything wrong.”

I said, “Abe, if you let your mother take care of things, I will lose all respect for you. Be a man.”

So after a few hours of smoking, pacing and venting to me, he hired a legal firm to handle the hit-and-run, and the entrepreneur mad man. And he waited for the check from the motorcyclist, which did come.

The next day, his parents told him they respected his decision. Abe touched my back and said, “I am glad you talked me into handling things myself. Even though instead of doing what my mother wants, I am doing what you want.”

I said, “I just want you to follow your instincts and take ownership of your life.”

He gave his nerdy smile, shifted his weight and hung his head in a heavy nod.

When you need someone, it sometimes turns out they need you just as much. Then you realize you need each other to become better people.

Abe was sitting at his computer.

Me, “What are you doing?”

Abe, “It says I can get a free gift card for Walmart. (beat) Its bullshit, right?”

Me, ” . . . yeah.”

Before we left Sylmar, Abe and I got in a slightly intense conversation about my lifestyle. We were back to how he hated my living space being so cluttered with dogs. BACK ON THIS!

He associates animals with filth and I associate them with warmth.

He mentioned that his brother said I should, “stop getting any more dogs.”  I said, “That’s brilliant. YA THINK?”

I was not looking to acquire any more dogs, its just . . . Brad doesn’t really care for anyone else but me and when you find a love like what we have- you make room.

So I asked if his brother was employed yet. He said no.

Ok, his brother, who keeps boasting advice, graduated from Engineering school a year and a half ago, and dodged half a dozen job offers. Now, he was living with his parents and playing video games all day.

. . .

I said, “You and your brother need to get OFF your mother’s tit and make men of yourselves. You both just keep hiding behind her, living like teenagers for as long as possible. You should move somewhere far away, just to do it. And you should date other girls to see what you like.  So you can see if you really do want me.”

He said, “I don’t need to date other girls to know what I want.”

I said, “How can you be sure?”

He said, “I want to keep my soul pure. I intentionally avoid going out and giving pieces of myself away. I want to keep my soul intact.”

I like that answer.

I thought about how often I give pieces of myself away. Perhaps that’s why I am never whole.

Towards the end of the week, I sat at his computer, tapping my foot.

He said, “You are winding down to the point where its bothering you. I am actually slightly concerned.”


My mechanic called and said the insurance claims adjuster came by and they confirmed the damage to the engine was due to a rock hitting the oil pan and shooting it through my engine. My insurance company would cover it with a $1,000 deductible.

I got off the phone and hugged Abe.

Abe, “I’ve got a rod for you.”

Me, “Yeah? Will you shoot it through my engine?”

Abe and I had started having intercourse again. I had forgotten how seductive he was. He may be inexperienced- but that gives him a patience to feel around. To let things slowly escalate until I feel like I will explode unless he is inside of me.

I remembered telling Alan he was my best lover. I was wrong. Alan and I had a shared fetish. We shared in dark. That was exciting, but sex in and of itself didn’t always get or keep Alan hard. It also made me feel pressure that I had to escalate the fetish to keep him interested.

With Abe, there was no fetish. I just loved him. It was light. Tender. Sweet. No pressure, no problem with hard ons, nothing dirty or degrading or rough . . . just him. He was my best lover just based on that fact alone.

Unfortunately, our honeymoon period was shorter than it was the first time. We still hadn’t dealt with the break-up and that conversation reared its head in our direction with a vengeance.

He yelled at me about leaving him, giving me rent money from his investment and then pushing him away, “so I had no money, no girlfriend and then someone fucking hits my car.”

I knew I had to let him get it all out. I rubbed my temples and absorbed the heat. It never really went away though.

I withdrew a bit. Got quiet. Was cold. He would try to regain me and I would refuse. Such was the waltz that tore us apart in the first place. I would try to retrain my mind to be more open and forgiving. To let things go and not hold a grudge. My head was so upside down, I would react and then have to force myself to go back and edit my reaction with something more mature and mentally sound. Of course, just the act of having a silent temper tantrum and apologizing immediately afterward, over and over again made me look crazy.

Trust me, I was trying.

Then I heard from my dog sitter that Maggie May got out and suffered some injuries to her face and ear from an apparent dog fight. She wasn’t doing well. So the next morning I headed back to Sylmar.

Walking out, I passed by a woman in a “Cancer Sucks” baseball hat with a lit cigarette in one hand and a barking, old chihuahua in the other. I bent down to let the dog sniff me and she said, “Don’t even try with him. He’ll bite you. He bites me! But I can’t take him back to the shelter or they will put him down.”

I got in the car and said, “That woman was awesome.” Was she me in 30 years? Probably. Or maybe I am the chihuahua.

I came back to Sylmar and everything was fine. Maggie recovered. I got in a groove with Abe taking us to work every so often, with some sex and some vegan pancakes at a great vegan restaurant called Green Leaves in Los Feliz.

One night,after I returned home, she had begged for Danny’s spirit to return one night. There was a weird wind storm outside our apartment building on that particular night I remember, because Maggie May, my dog,was growling at the front door. My door doesn’t have a peep hole, so I cracked it open and looked. No one was there.

My dreams of sleep paralysis were returning. I was being forced to the ground by something and having to resort to old Catholic school prayers to wake up.

The next morning, Dora said she summoned Danny and watched an unseen spirit play with the cats. I said, “When you do things like that, you open the door for other spirits.”

Three days after his death, I had a dream of Danny walking off the property. I never really felt his spirit or heard his pleas to care for Dora after that. I told her about the dream, hoping she would understand that I think he passed on.

Later, she told me she didn’t think the spirit was Danny after all. She burned some sage and never spoke to the spirit world again.

There was one more night of Maggie growling at the door and then it never happened again.

Dear God, let the curse lift off this place.

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