Tag Archives: speed

Wild Child

Waking up in Amsterdam, I was still exhausted. I had less than an hour to jump on my flight to Portland, so I hustled to the passport check. Even in the rush line for connecting flights, we were waiting for what felt like 20-25 minutes per person.

When I approached the desk, the attendant checked my passport, smiled and then said I could continue. I must be the least threatening person in Amsterdam.

There was another security interview at the gate. People were being taken to each station and interviewed in various languages, sometimes together, sometimes they were separated. I waited and watched as some people passed on, others were taken to a room.

I was asked to meet my interviewer at a station. He said, “Where did you come from?”

My eyes lit up, “Paris!”

He said, “You know your right eye is red?”

I said, “Oh, still? I don’t know what happened, my contact lens was bothering me at the airport so I took it out.”

He chuckled like a father and said, “Ah well, have a nice trip.” Then he handed me back my passport.

That’s it? I am almost disappointed.

I boarded the flight, and tried to go back to sleep between meals. They served me bread soaked in butter, pasta drowning in cheese, dying lettuce with one, pathetic slice of tomato. I was starving, I hadn’t enjoyed a real meal since Cannes, and even then, it was usually one functional  item to fill my stomach.

So I tried my best to eat around the dairy, but found myself feeling nauseous. It was like being forced to eat greased cardboard.

When I arrived in Portland, my stomach was in knots. We all filed through security. The line moved at a glacial pace, and when I arrived at the desk, the attendant asked, “Why were you in France?” I said, “The Cannes Film Festival . . .” He said, “Oh” smiled and handed me my passport back.

There was one more security exit interview before we could walk the American streets without suspicion. The guard only asked, “Did you have a good time?”

Again, as my eyes grew large, I said, “Yes. It was the best trip of my life.”

He moved to let me pass and said, “That’s nice.”

Stopping, I said, “I guess we will talk about it some other time.”

Seriously, am I the least threatening person in the Western hemisphere?

I walked out to the waiting families, boyfriends, husbands and children, holding flowers and balloons. No one was there for me.

Turning on my phone, I realized (shocker!) it was turned off due to lack of funds. I only had $5 Euroes on me and my checking account was empty.

So I turned the Wi-Fi on for my phone and tried emailing my parents and sister. The fatigue and the hunger put me in a foul mood, and I almost felt like crying, wandering back and forth, in and out, of the airport halls.

I realized I could pull a 1990, and call my Dad collect from a pay phone.

The operator prompt, “At the tone, please state your name.”

After the buzz, I quickly said, ‘Dad, it’s me. I am waiting for you outside baggage. Please come pick me up-”

Operator, “Thank you.” “One moment” “The person you have dialed refused your collect call.”

In about four minutes, my father pulled up and unlocked the door. “Got your message!”

On the way home, I asked him to pull over so I could dry heave into the bushes outside of a strip mall. It was gray out. Driving down the Gorge, I could smell fumes from the freeway and the paper mill in Camus. I never hated Washington before. That drive up was miserable, and I felt my head rattle from the onset of a migraine.

Forty minutes later, we pulled up to my parents small house in the middle of fucking nowhere, and I dragged my luggage in and was greeted by my three dogs. I looked at them, and felt just the slightest pinch of resentment. They were the only reason I came back.

They were excited to see me but not overjoyed, it was a little disappointing. They looked comfortable and content without me.

Esther looked different somehow, like her cropped ears were smaller than usual. Maggie was moving slow, the moisture from the mountains was wearing on her joints and she seemed to have even more white on her face and snout now.  My dog from childhood, a small, black cockapoo named Chelsea, quickly deteriorated shortly after my parents moved to this house. I wondered if my Mother sucked their souls out.

My sister called and already informed me that Mom was still working at her part-time job in town, so I could enjoy the weekend. All I could do was collapse on the bed, the only dog to follow was Brad.

Twelve grueling days kept me from Los Angeles. I thought I could sleep, eat, lose the cough and catch up on all the reading I had to do for the 10-Day residency at Antioch.

The tension with my parents started when I locked myself into my computer for most of the day. My Mother felt it was her duty to herd me out of my room, and put me to work in the yard. I tried to be patient with her, I know she is growingly feeble, but my work for Antioch was more important than her feelings.

Her skin is withering like crumpled paper. Her fingers constantly twitch, scratching her arms and legs, like she has serpents for hands. I try not to look at her or listen to her, since those ticks grate my nerves. I drowned out the sound of slurping, scratching, loud television, and the clack of the spoon against porcelain over and over and over again with white noise. I found a clip on YouTube emulating the Star Trek Enterprise on idle. Thank you, Wil Wheaton Twitter feed!


My mother would get impatient, pacing from the kitchen to the other short end of the one-story house, where I was reading and catching up on my blogs. My Father was doing whatever he does in the study one room over, on his computer. She would open my door, declaring a list of all I needed to do, truly believing that she was helping me. She was a distraction, and one I didn’t enjoy.

The first blow-up happened when I was standing in the living room and describing how the men in Cannes made me feel, the erotic dinner at the Italian restaurant, the way they looked at me, their words dripping in accent and I curled up like the Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, pressing my hair against my cheek and smiling. My Father laughed, but my Mother said, “You know, if they said those things to you, they say them to all the girls.”

I said, “Oh, let me enjoy it. It is mine. I am happy, let it be.”

She stormed off and said, “Don’t talk to me like that! You know, why don’t you stop thinking about yourself and think about other people’s feelings for a change?” Pop goes the weasel!

I was waiting for something like this, and I pounced, “That is exactly the type of attitude that kept me low all those years!”

It was one or two days into my stay there, and I knew something like that would happen. My parents are too comfortable with tension. They recreate it out of nothing.

The other toxic element being they are uncomfortable with my confidence. As a kid, I was self-conscious beyond reason and it made for a very stressful childhood. Los Angeles and, now, France, had my head high. It creates this rubber band effect, where it seems like I have been released after 20 years of stretching apart, and holding back. Flying in midair, people around me sometimes hold their breath, wondering where I will land. I am still flying.

Oddly, with my sister it had the opposite effect. Social and lively as a child, she is now withdrawn, anti-social and reclusive.

I knew my ever-growing confidence would bother them. I am uncertain of the psychology, maybe they want to tame my spirit. My Mother claims she calls me her “Flower Child” though I have never heard her say that. Being parents, maybe they want to curb my behavior and keep me under control as much as possible.

I don’t do well with control.

So, for a week or so, my Mother didn’t talk to me. She just stormed around the house, noisily washing dishes, talking to the dogs and complaining that I needed to get a real job. They had waited for my return before buying more dog food, but I was completely broke until my financial aid check came in, so I had to rely on them for everything. They thought my poverty was indicative of laziness.

They often express that pursuing the life of an artist was a pipe dream for someone who wanted a way around “real life”. If I didn’t have money, it was because I was reluctant to pull my share. They thought of me as a social drop-out and I heard them not-so-quietly discuss me from the living room, I needed to grow up and get a job, “After all, she is 34 for God’s sake.”

In this house, I constantly have to reorient myself to their perception and reality. They have no idea who I am. They also have no idea how hard I worked the last couple years to pay off my debts, stay in the arts and keep my animals. To them, and their generation, one person gets one job and is rewarded a stable life. We don’t live in that world anymore, and even if we did, it would make a person like me miserable.

Against my better judgement, I told my Father that Jeph had to pay for my plane ticket to LA for school, since I was totally broke in France. “Don’t tell your mother that,” he said.

He sighed, and turned in his chair like something was sticking in his rib and said, “You know, when are you going to grow up?”

I asked, “What do you mean? I needed a ticket and a friend loaned me the money, that’s all. I problem solved, that is grown up.”

“Shit, you know, you can’t go around borrowing money all the time,” he said.

I was getting furious, and when I am angry, I talk fast, “I don’t borrow money all the time. Its the first time I borrowed money from Jeph and he offered.  What was I supposed to do? Drop out of school and not borrow $200 from a friend?”

He leaned back and said, “Yeah.”

I repeated, “Drop out? I should have dropped out of school?”

He nodded again, “Yeah.”

I looked up and spun my hand next to my head, “That’s insane. That’s just crazy talk. You realize, that makes no sense what so ever. That’s just . . . off.”

I trudged off to my room and blasted my Star Trek idle. Its not the end of the world when your parents can’t support your dreams, but it drains the color out of them, just a little bit.


Around this time, I was pinged by Kent:

“Hey. I just tried calling you but your phone is deactivated. Can you please please please call Trent and talk to him? He is just doing the same thing. Drinking, speed and risky sex with complete strangers. His attitude right now is that he is going to die anyway so why care. If you can call me from your parents that would be great.”

Me: “Ok, I will call tonight.”

One day later . . .

Kent: “Did you ever get a hold of Trent?”

Me: “His phone was shut off, so I left a voicemail and asked him to get on-line. He pinged me last night while I was sleeping. I responded and haven’t heard back. Is he gone? I mean- still just floating out there in speed and anonymous sex?”

Kent: “Yup. And drowning in alcohol and despair, despite his hate for such a lifestyle he has no motivation to change it.”

Me: “I am heading down there Tuesday night but I will be without a car. Maybe being closer I can figure out a way to see him.”

Then I got the email:

Kent: “Trent tried to hang himself around 4:00 am this morning. I have no way to contact you but on fb which sucks. Riely (his dog) was barking like crazy and woke up his mom and Rick and they went down there and had to break the door down and get him down. He ran. The cops found him and he is on 5150 lock down. I’m a mess. Sorry to have to tell you this way but you didn’t give me a phone number. Fuck I tried to tell everyone this was coming and no one would listen to me.”

My dear twin flame. My precious gay boyfriend. My very, very dear friend.

I stood there, reading it over, in my pajamas, my hair in a mop on my head, and I just stared at my screen. My eyes burned.

Kent and I furiously exchanged information. I called and we spoke, apparently after the police swept him up, Trent tried to hang himself in his jail cell by his pajama pants. The veins in his eyes flooded with blood from asphyxiation.

Kent: “Okay. Thank you and sorry for dragging you into this. I just know that you each have such deep love for each other.”

Me: “He is my other fucking half. DRAG ME IN! Please. I was upset all morning over it. I am mad that I can’t be down there. I am mad that I can’t drag him somewhere and beat sense into him. I thought about what if we lost him. What if we lost him, Kent? And then I thought, maybe it’s inevitable. I love him so fucking much.”

Kent: “He is lost, but I’ve been mentally preparing to lose him physically for a while. If he were to have been successful I would be destroyed and feel like I failed him.”

Me: “Suicide fucking ruins everyone who loves you. If I lose him, I don’t know that I could keep going. I would have to shut down for a while. Stop school. I think it is inevitable that we will lose him. I wasn’t even shocked when I got your message this morning. I stood there like I was expecting it. How sick is that?”

Kent: “That’s what he says. But why? Why must it be inevitable. Why can’t I save him?”

Me: “One person can’t save another person from himself, it’s the one thing we can’t go between. You are closer to him than I am so you feel more responsibility, but from where I stand, there is nowhere to fit between Trent and his darker side. I mean this has been going on for so long now since before either of us knew him. When does it stop?”


I got the number for the institution holding Trent, and called.

He got on the phone, his throat scratchy and strained from the noose.

Trent, “Hello?”

Me, “Trent? What the hell, man? What are you doing?”

Trent, “I don’t know.”

Me, “You tried to hang yourself? Why would you do that?”

Trent, “ . . . I don’t know.”

Me, “What were the two things I told you not to do before I left? Don’t kill yourself and don’t lose your job. Now you’ve gone and done both.”


Me, “And hanging yourself with your pajama bottoms? That’s not a very glamourous way to go. I thought you were more the chardonnay and pills type, or is that just me?”

He laughed, “I know. It’s all I had.” He choked up some more laughter and said, “It feels so good to laugh.”

Me, “You don’t want to be remembered for that. Is this about the 27 legacy? You want to die at 27?”

Trent said, “I am going to be 28 soon, and I haven’t done anything.”

Me, “You know, you can’t be in the 27 legacy just for dying at 27, you have to do something beforehand.”

He laughed a little more.

Me, “Give yourself more time. Be easy on yourself. 27 is young, man.”

I walked around my parents front yard, trying to keep cell phone reception and pulling my friend back in a little out of the darkness. I can kick him a ray of light, but I knew I couldn’t save him and if he really wanted to kill himself this badly, he would.

Having been there ten years before, I knew at least he would be safe in lockdown. They won’t let you kill yourself, even though being in a public mental institution makes you want to do it even more than before.  I didn’t have to worry about him, at least for a little while.


The next day, I found out my rescue dog, Cupcake, died. Before I left for France, they were trying to find her another home just because she hadn’t warmed up to the husband for the year they had her. Then, they saw sudden progress and decided to give her another try.

Six weeks later, I was scouring their Facebook looking for pictures of her, but they were all gone. So I emailed them and got this in return:

I am sorry to tell you, but Cupcake has passed. Justin, Rosie (the other dog) and I have been coping with her loss over the past few weeks. She started acting strangely, not wanting to eat, coughing and was more agitated. We took her to the vet and found out that she had a stage four heart murmur. Our vet told us she would only have a short time (a few weeks) before her heart would fail and leading up to that would be pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) so she wouldn’t be able to run and play with Rosie like she always loved to. We saw this happen with Norman and knew that we couldn’t let Cupcake go through that. We decided that Cupcake wouldn’t want to stick around if she couldn’t enjoy her time with Rosie, going for walks, playing and eating (she loved her treat rope!). She said goodbye to Rosie and we made her a chicken breast which she enjoyed on the grass in front of the vet’s office. She was very peaceful and calm. I think it was the calmest I had ever seen her with multiple people around. I think that she knew it was her time. She will always have a special place in our hearts and we have peace of mind knowing that we did all we could for her by providing her a second chance in a loving home. We are so happy that we decided to keep her even when times were tough. She taught us more about ourselves than we could have imagined. Thank you for bringing her into our lives.

As I read this now, I just feel my heart bottom out. I never responded to that email.

Even when you save them, they still go off and die.



So the storm circled overhead, and it was difficult talking to my parents about any of it. They hate it when I cry.  Often, I see on commercials and TV shows where Mothers and Fathers offer an arm or even a hug to their child when they cry. My parents complain and leave the room.

I was still on France time, so I would wake up at midnight or 1am and write a blog completely undisturbed. I poured myself a glass of wine or two, and before I knew it, the sun would be shining, and the house astir. I cherished those hours alone, where I could revisit France, the sunshine and the food, and forget that I was stuck in my parents’ sterile house, rocking back and forth on the creaking tight ropes of silence and unpredictable tempers, stranded with a broken car in the backwoods of Washington.

One morning, I thought I would save myself the 20 second trip to the kitchen and take the whole bottle of wine into my bedroom with me. When I write, I don’t feel time, hunger, or fatigue . . . I am in a trance. Once, I munched on double my allotted portion of edibles and didn’t feel a thing until I finished writing four hours later, and in that moment, the THC hit me like an ice truck.

I had my last splash of wine around 3am, thinking nothing of it. At 6am, my father opened my door without knocking, as they always do, and he stared at me, then the bottle and said, “Do you have a drinking problem?”

I said, “No, I hardly ever drink.” That was true in Los Angeles. I really can’t afford to and I certainly don’t enjoy drinking that much when I have other goodies available.

He grabbed the bottle off my desk and said, “Ok, new rule. No drinking in the morning.” Then, he slammed my door.

I rolled my eyes and turned on music, maybe a little loud. He threw open my door again and said, “You are living like a kid!”

“Whatever,” I muttered.

He stiffened and then said, “Ok, let’s go for a walk.”

Still writing, I said, “No.”

His head popped back in mine, surprised, “No?”

I repeated, “No. I am writing.”

He said, “Ok, this isn’t working out. A week after you get back from LA you need to be out of here.”

My father’s blue eyes were wide, and he put his finger in my face. My first thought was, “Go ahead and hit me, Asshole. I will call the cops before you can even blink.” (if cell phone reception would allow)

He hadn’t hit me in the face since I was 13-years-old, sitting at the dinner table refusing to eat the steak my mother prepared. They refused to acknowledge my push for vegetarianism and I smacked my lips in disgust, when the back of my father’s hand smashed my nose against my face. Blood pumped out, all over the sweater I was wearing. The blood never washed out and it had to be thrown away.

Though that was the last time he hit me in the face, there were still moments of bizarre violence. One afternoon, coming home late from school in the 9th grade, he dragged me to the bathroom by my hair and demanded my Mother check me to see if I was still a virgin. Up until the age of 17, he loved dragging me by the hair.

Now here we were, I was in my thirties, healthy and strong. My father was in his late sixties, thin and weak. He stood frozen and I realized, he knew he couldn’t hit me anymore.

Nonchalantly, I said, “That’s fine, but my car is broken.”

He said, “I don’t care about your car.”

I said, “I know you don’t.”

He stopped and stared at me, he was studying me more, but I don’t know what for.

I stared back at him, so he could see that I wasn’t a scared adolescent anymore. He was an old man full of empty threats who just wanted to see me shake. I don’t shake for bullies anymore.

He left the room and I cried. I stormed to the bathroom and saw the red wine had stained my lips and teeth. I smiled at myself, “Oops.” (New rule: brush your teeth after drinking red wine)

I would disappear again soon. In the meantime, I wouldn’t let him pull focus off my school work. So I kept writing. I kept reading. And I grew to hate him all over again.

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Run, Rabbit, Run. Dig that Hole. Forget the Sun.


After a day of sleeping and eating Thai Food, I had yet another day off. I knew I had to clean. Someone gave me some pills, as it was explained to me, half speed/half MDMA. I thought this would help me focus on organizing my space.

I was plowing through the Best Oscar nominees for Best Picture and had started “Tree of Life” the night before. The thing is, my computer is short on a little memory, so the picture and audio smear and stutter when I have too many applications going. You play a surrealist film by Terrence Malick when you are just half asleep, and you don’t know what the hell is going on.

Playing it again after taking a hybrid narcotic was . . . indescribably confusing and oddly fascinating.

Now, before the pill had sunk into the cushioned hull of my lower torso, I had realized someone who commented on my reused profile pic had since defriended me. When? I don’t know, but I liked her. I thought she was nice.

I shot her an email:

Me: Just noticed I am no longer a friend? I always accidentally offend people.

Sorry for whatever it was.

Her: Hey,

You didn’t do anything specific, its was more my trying not to offend you.

Me: Its hard to offend me . . . but we can keep it vague if you prefer.

Happy V Day

Her: I can be honest with you if you wish but I imagine you have heard it all before.

Huh. Well . . .

I wrote: Wow. That sounds . . . um, not friendly?

Gosh, its a shame, cause I really liked you. I guess I am just an asshole.

If you read my last post, you know I was already in a dark place about everything social and professional. Basically, anything that has to do with people. You know that knot that forms in your stomach, to help prepare you for a real punch to the gut? It was forming.

Luckily, something else was growing faster . . . the drug.

I laid down on my bed and watched as, from what I remember, a soul ascended from the Earth and spun back into the energy field of our universe.

I felt warm tears spring down my face, and I felt good. I felt right.

One pill makes you larger,
And one pill makes you small,
And the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all.

Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall.


The video player indicated I was only halfway through the video, despite feeling like the entire day went by and this movie was never-ending.

The room looked dirty. Piles of clothes in opposite corners.

I looked at the keyboard. Was it really that dirty?

When logic and proportion,
Have fallen sloppy dead.

Another email from my defriend:

“;-) I’m not sure if its friendly or not.
You aren’t an asshole, there is just a little too much self imposed drama in your life and a lot of days it was taking all myself control not to tell you to knock it off and grow up. I didn’t think it was any of my business nor did I think it would make a bit of difference in your life but I also was having a hard time watching it without butting in so I defriended.

Thats all. I still read your blog sometimes and I do hope u get published someday….

So there it is…I’ve officially done what I was trying not to do, I hope you aren’t offended.”

Well . . . again, another person who has trouble tolerating me personally liked my blog. Jesus Christ, thank God for this thing or else my self-esteem would fall through the floor.

I wrote:
Not offended at all. I could use more friends like you, honestly.

Then I updated my status: “If I knew today was the day I would discover the origin of life and man vs. ego, I would have never sent that email this morning asking why someone defriended me.”

It was getting difficult to type.

I pinged back Abe:

Abe: So –can we have some time together today

Me: I need you here
right now
I took the pill
please come here

Abe: just one

Me: that is all I need
I can not distinguish fantasy
from reality

Abe: come on

Me: I need a fucking cigarette
but I cannot drive
I am very happy
but I am not at all in control
of anything
I need you
3:33 PM serious

Abe: ok

Me: Come to me

Abe: if thats possible

Me: I comandeth thee

Abe: come to me now?


Abe: sexy

Me: I need you here now
like right now
3:34 PM I was hoping you got the psychic post it and were already here
I seriously need you
;like seriously

Abe: I got my car done

Me: I need your help
please come here now

Abe: I need you help with what?

Me: my perception of reality
the walls are moving
I am hallucinating
and laughing
3:35 PM and I think I have tapped into a million answers
but I might just be losing my mind
the keyboard is floating

Abe: OK just chill

Me: Abe

Abe: dont go anywhere

I cant
I need help
come here
pleasure me
tell me this
I see things
this movie
like is it the computer or my mind


Me: making this movie do this

3:36 PM Abe: write it down

Me: I cant see my hands

Abe: Im leaving soon

Me: they are vibrating

Abe: Do you have any food?

Me: no
they are almost gone
I need a cigarette
3:37 PM Abe: You better chilli and not go baserko on me
Im about to drive throught a shit load of traffic

Me: hurry
3:38 PM I am breaking through
to another plane of thought
but I need American Spirits
I wont make it to the 711

Abe: You are tweeked out– got that

Me: happy
come here
co,me now

Abe: Breath slower and chillax

Around this time, I walked out to smoke a cigarette to steady my mind. The steps were bright and crooked, just like my little apartment.

I climbed into my car, dug through and found a cigarette butt to use up.

Looking around, trash on the ground with 3 empty coffee cups, mail on my dash, clothes from a shoot in the back seat by the foot rest with chewed up tennis balls.

I laughed, “Is this your low? You are ridiculous! Who lives like this? A new low. Ok, why not?”

I went into the upper apartment to shower off the smell of smoke, and wondered if I should not trip where my roommate killed himself. The fact of the matter was, my toilet was in there, so it would have to do.

I stuck my key in the lock. The lock got large for me, so I would have better aim. When the key was inside, it shrunk again.

And if you go off chasing rabbits,
And you know you’re going to fall,
Tell em’ a hookah-smoking caterpillar,
Has given you the call.

Go ask Alice, when she was just small.

On the toilet, I sat across from a new roll of toilet paper that was fluctuating size as veins formed in the walls. There is a boombox Alan gave me with one CD inside of it, “Nirvana UnPlugged.” He gave it to me last August. I am still haven’t changed the CD since I am not sick of the album.

The grain of the cement in the walls surfaced out of the dull yellow paint, and I felt warm water all over my body.  I listened to Kurt Cobain sing and the accordion in “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam” crank notes out all over the bathroom, like the Earth was contracting and grinding.

The next track was a cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World”:

“I laughed and shook his hand, and made my way back home
I searched for a foreign land, for years and years I roamed
I gazed a gazeless stare, we walked a million hills
I must have died alone, a long long time ago

Who knows? not me
We never lost control
You’re face to face
With the Man who Sold the World.”

I thought about Kurt Cobain and what an icon he became. I thought about Jim Morrison, “This is the land of the Pharaoh died.”

Was the Pharaoh Kurt?


What about Egypt?

I could see it in my mind, as veins pulsed throughout the shower and the walls slowly, calmly convulsed.

We are from Egypt. There we understand it didn’t matter who you were. Celebrity is bullshit. We are all here to spark movement in the a dragon . . . in a beast. To promote the evolution of life. To enlighten.

I went back downstairs to my apartment and laid down on the bed. I could feel Egypt. The work, how hard we all worked there.

Then I thought, my dogs were there with me. We were all buried together and now they are here with me again, in the next life.

*Footnote: Throughout the history of Ancient Egypt, animals were highly respected. In no other culture have animals been as influential in so many aspects of life, nor has any culture depicted animals as often in their artwork or writing. Egyptians believed that animals were crucial to both physical and spiritual survival—vital to physical survival because they were a major source of food and to spiritual survival based on how well a person treated animals during their life on earth. The Egyptian religion taught of life after death. In order to determine a person’s admittance or denial to the afterlife, the gods would ask a series of judgment questions. One of these crucial questions would be whether they had mistreated any animals during their life on earth. Because of this religious belief, the killing of an animal was considered a serious crime punishable by death.

-“A Few Remarks upon the Religious Significance of Animals in Ancient Egypt by H. Velde

Where the hell was Abe?

I got up and looked out the window. Light kept chasing over my window, like headlights brighter than the sun.


My head pressed against the window glass, but it was open. There was no glass. There was a liquid film between me and the rest of the world, and I knew I couldn’t go out there.

Remember, what the dormouse said . . . Feed your head . . . Feed your head.

So I put the movie back on.

And waited.

The light went away, and the cars outside changed. One was there all day. A few left and new ones reappeared down my dirt road. The cool air played with the water in my hair.

My animals were gorgeous. They slept and listened for intruders.

Brad was spun out of gold thread.

Once upon a time there lived a miller who had a beautiful daughter. One day the miller had to visit the king’s castle. While he was there, he happened to meet the king face to face. The king stopped and spoke to the miller. Hoping to impress the king, the miller boldly told him that he had a daughter who could spin straw into gold.

“Oh,” said the king, “that is indeed a wonderful gift. Tomorrow you must bring your daughter to my castle, so she may spin some gold for me.”

Then the miller was sorry he had lied, but he had to do as the king ordered.

This particular king loved gold more than anything else, so he was very pleased at the prospect of turning straw into gold. He led the poor girl into one of the giant castle rooms. There, in the middle of the room, stood a spinning wheel, and near it was a great heap of straw.

The king turned to the miller’s daughter, and said, “There is your spinning wheel, and here is the straw. If you do not spin all of it into gold by morning, your head shall be cut off.” Then the king left the room and locked the door.

That’s a bummer.

Very clever to spin my little dog into gold and give him to a poor girl like me.


Esther went to the window, and came back. Her cropped ears moved like triangles independent of her body. Her big Disney eyes watched me as she paraded back and forth. Triangle horse.

Abe arrived.

I said, “Thank God, I need a cigarette.”

He handed me one and I went outside. The sun was setting over the mountain across from my apartment. I smiled.

He said, “What’s going on?”

I said, “I am tripping BALLS, man!”

He said, “Did you eat anything today?”

I said, “No, but I have had 6 cups of coffee.”

He chuckled, “Great.”

Then I added, “I have been trying to talk myself into getting that box of cereal out of my car for the last 6 hours.”

He laughed, “Just calm down, alright. I brought some bread.”

I said, “I am calm. I am happy. I mean, I have so much to tell you. This day started with me sending off an email to this girl who defriended me. And I asked why.”

He groaned, “Awww.”

I said, “No, its ok. It really is. We only ever had this very awkward Thanksgiving dinner with her husband so it really doesn’t matter. But thats the point. None of that bullshit matters. And I can see it now. It doesn’t matter if people don’t like me.”

I forgot about the one other time we hung out, she and her friends met me for a pedicure and left before paying the bill. So I had to make the salon call her and tell her to come back, since I wasn’t going to pay for everyone’s pedicure. They said it was an accident, but it was a bizarre, and unforgettably awkward accident.

Abe, “I think people do like you, they just . . . don’t want to get caught up in the storm.”

I nodded.

I said, “Its ok. I am used to people avoiding me.”

Inside, I laid out on my bed. With all the dogs and my balance, I was having trouble not sliding off of my bed.

Abe pulled out the folding chair across from my bed and sat down.

He said, “When you were young, you were dealing with emotionally mature things around other people on a different level. So, you got on their nerves. No big deal.”

I nodded and slid off my bed. I laughed, and kept trying to get back on, but Maggie wouldn’t move.

I laughed, “I mean . . . this is ridiculous . . . living like this. I am on a pile all the time. Piles there, a pile in my car. I mean .  . . this really is a low for me.”

I slid off again and we both laughed until we couldn’t stop tears.

He said, “Its good to laugh with you. Release, that’s what it is.”

I climbed back on and slid back on the far corner of the bed, behind Maggie, Esther and Brad. All three of them stared at him.

Abe, “They are protecting you.”

I smiled.

Me, “Alan said Brad protects my sleeping body.”

Abe, “Good!”

I said, “I have discovered that we are from Egypt.”

He said, “What did you take?”

I said, “I was told it was half speed and half MDMA but . . . I am full on hallucinating, man. I mean, more than I ever did with LSD.”

He said, “I don’t like you taking drugs from people. You have to be careful.”

Me, “I know, but I trust this person.”

He cut a pill in half and swallowed. Then he combined the discarded half of fine white powder into another capsule. He forcefully reminded me not to forget which pill was disproportionately more than the others.

Me, “This is pretty strong, I am not sure you should take it.”

He shrugged.

I said, “I have been trying to watch this movie for the last 12 hours.”

He said, “You have been doing other things, that’s all. And pausing the movie.”

I said, “But I deliberately kept myself from pausing . . . I thought.”

I played “Tree of Life” and the characters sputtered across the screen and odd, distorted screaming bombarded the soundtrack.

Abe, “Turn it off! Turn it off!”

I did.

He was feeding the dogs bread.

Maggie’s face looked drawn, with her huge caramel eyes staring up at Abe and long stretches of drool falling from the corner of her mouth to the floor.

Abe fed her one piece after another, and we laughed at how desperate for food she looked. (please note: she is on a diet)

We laughed so hard, he ended up handing her the whole roll and said, “Just take it, Maggie, take it all.”

She did and we wiped tears from our eyes. The laughing was deliciously mad.

He laid down next to me. We lay next to each other as night quieted the delightful shadows dancing around my walls. A web formed over my ceiling, turning red and green. Nothing was scary.

Abe, “Am I going to have to beat up all your ex-boyfriends?”

I said, “I don’t think any of them want to fight you.”

He thrust out a few ninja chops in the air then put his hand on his chest and I saw that he was about to cry.  In the two years I have known Abe, I have never seen him get emotional.

I put my arm across him for comfort and whispered that everything was ok.

He said, “I just felt all the things I had done wrong and all the things I have done right meet at a seam. And I felt ok about it all. Like I was dying.”

I nodded, “I felt that, too.”

Then he said, “I let down your Daddy. He trusted me. And your Mom liked me. Now, they don’t.”

I said, “Well, my father said I should stop sleeping with you, because you are wasting my time.”

He nodded with his eyes closed and squinting. Like the answer was in the back of his eye lids, if he just concentrated hard enough.

I shook him, “Don’t worry. Its life, that’s all. I am changing my whole name. I will be Rita.”

Abe, “Thats a terrible idea.”

Me, “Not Rita. All . . . All Things.”

He laughed and repeated it like a song. I can still feel his throat vibrate against my cheek.

He sat up, “Is there heroin in this? This is intense.”

I said, “I don’t . . . think so.”

He got up and started shaking his head and his body, trying to put his soul back in place.

I sized him up, “Hey . . . Shaman up! You gotta shaman up! (silence) I can’t give this drug to anyone. This is too intense. You need to really know how to keep your head. Luckily, I know what the hell I am doing.”

Abe shook again, “I’m alright.”

He offered me another cigarette and I said, “I can’t take cigarettes anymore. They are hurting me.”

He stood outside as my dogs urinated in the dirt pile that we call ‘My courtyard.’

Abe, “I can see into your little world. Brad does look like a little Prince. (he started laughing) And Esther looks like . . . a horse.”

Me, “That’s right! She is a triangle horse. You are on my trip or something.”

Abe chuckled, nodded, sucked the end of his cigarette, “I see it.”

Then he said, “I wonder what Trent is doing tonight?”

I said, “People always like being around Trent and me when they are on drugs, I think because we make people feel comfortable. Then they sober up and somehow its all our fault they are who they are, or they did what they did. Like . . . what the fuck?”

Abe wondrously chuckled again.

Then we made out to the “Ten Commandments” and he said, “I just want to see the Pharaoh die.”

I said, “That’s right. Land of the Pharaoh died. What Doors song is that . . . I know it. Now listen to this, I’ll tell you about the Texas . . . tell you about the Texas .  . . radio. WASP, that’s the song!”

I played it off YouTube and a live performance came up with them, on scratchy black and white film with faulty audio.

Jim Morrison held the microphone close to his mouth like he was waiting for a kiss. We listened to the song:

I wanna tell you ’bout Texas Radio and the Big Beat
Comes out of the Virginia swamps
Cool and slow with plenty of precision
With a back beat narrow and hard to master.

Some call it heavenly in its brilliance.
Others, mean and rueful of the Western dream.
I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft.
We have constructed pyramids in honor of our escaping.
This is the land where the Pharaoh died.

The video would end abruptly. The browser would spin and a new Doors video came up.

I said, “Its funny, I have never seen these videos. All this time, I never thought about watching old videos of them on YouTube.”

He said, “Are you done? Are you not tripping anymore?”

I looked at my computer monitor. It was a close-up of Jim and he winked, then smiled right at me before continuing the song.

I said, “No . . . I am still hallucinating.”

Abe said, “You work tomorrow. You should sleep.”

Me, “I am fine. I will be fine tomorrow.”

It was 3am and the songs spun through old albums. The Doors looked happy at times and out of their element in others.

I sang song after song and said, “I know this music better than anything now. That’s strange.”

Its not as if I am an expert or have a photographic (or lyrical) memory of every note, but its fair to say, I know their music better than anything. And I totally blanked on the lyric that led me on my pill induced journey.

I turned it off and put on internet radio. A Doors song came on.

Me, “See? They follow me everywhere.”

Abe said, “She has good taste in music.”

The fourth hour passed and my eyes got heavy. Abe held me and told me he loved me.

I can see and understand that men love my experience, not necessarily me. The reckless abandon . . . its a fun place to visit.


What wert thou, dream-Alice in thy foster-father’s eyes? How shall he picture thee? Loving first, loving and gentle: loving as a dog (forgive the prosaic simile, but I know no earthly love so pure and perfect) and gentle as a fawn: then courteous—courteous to all, high or low, grand or grotesque, King or Caterpillar, even as though she were herself a King’s daughter, and her clothing wrought of gold: then trustful, ready to accept the wildest impossibilities with all that utter trust that only dreamers know; and lastly, curious—wildly curious, and with the eager enjoyment of Life that comes only in the happy hours of childhood, when all is new and fair, and when Sin and Sorrow are but names — empty words signifying nothing!


Later, I found out the pill didn’t have speed but rather 2ci. I feel it is the responsibility of the person handing you the pill to be upfront about what is inside it, but he admitted he never wanted me to be the guinea pig.

Thank God, I didn’t give it blindly on brief description to anyone else.


We fell asleep and in the morning, we hiked the dogs up the mountain behind my place.

I said, “I can forgive the strippers remark. Its that you are holding out for this girl from your past.”

He said, “No, but you two are connected. Her numbers are 201. Yours is one more, 202. Your names are the exact same numbers. And I thought she may be in Simi Valley or someplace north.”

Me, “Simi Valley?”

Abe, “North county. And you are here. Its like I manifested it.”

Me, “You haven’t kept up your side of the promises, either. I asked you in the beginning, my kiss comes with the promise of a timely response. You went days without contacting me again.”

Abe, “I know, I know, I am a shitty boyfriend.”

Me, “Yes you are. Which is why I am seeing another ex, because neither of you are good enough as one fulltime boyfriend, so both of you must be combined to make one whole boyfriend.”

Abe, “Great, so you’re seeing Alan and you are seeing Frank.”

Me, “No, Frank isn’t an ex. I saw Alan again. That’s it.”

He was quiet.

I added, “Nothing is serious.”


We went down to the closest cafe for a mediocre cup of coffee. Sitting together in the sun, we smiled at each other. I felt broken out of my depression. Liberated from all my mortal neuroticism.

Then, I asked about his cousin’s wedding . . . I knew it was coming up.

I said, “In two weeks? That’s soon. And who are you taking?”

He said, “My brother and I decided to forego our plus ones so other people could go to the wedding.”

My lips tightened.

He said, “We weren’t together when we got the invites. (silence) I can see you are upset about this.”

My voice was cracking, “I really believed you were going to invite me.”

I took a moment and really just kept repeating that.

He said, “Don’t take it so personally.”

I got up and paid the bill. As I walked to my car, he shuffled to keep up and I said, “You don’t want me to be apart of your family. Same thing with Thanksgiving and Christmas . . . you don’t want me as a girlfriend. You just want me as a mistress.”

He said, “Come on, don’t get upset.”

I looked him in the eye and said, “I never want to see you again.”

I opened my car door and said, “Give me a cigarette.”

When we worked on a film set together, in the beginning, before I ever knew that Abe would be a major love of my life, he came out to me during a night shoot and asked for a cigarette.

I gave him my last one.

He said, “No, I don’t want to take your last one.”

I said, “Please, it will help me quit.”

Two or three weeks later, my flirtation had grown and I was determined to get a date with him.

When we wrapped that weekend, I asked for a cigarette. He only had one left.

We both recognized the moment and groaned.

I said, “Keep it.”

He said, “No, this is about fate. You have to take it.”

So I did.

Now, two years later, in a parking lot in Sylmar with nothing left, he opened his pack and there was one cigarette left.

I said, “This is the perfect way to end the story.”

My fingers plucked it out of his hand and I drove off.

The fury, at myself for letting my mind get wrapped up in him over and over again. Its fucking insane.

Not to mention, he totally killed my New World buzz.

How quickly we slip back into life’s little box of small ideas. I tried so hard to remember what it felt like, to float over my worries about who thought what about me, but all my self-hatred just struck me again like hard light in a dim room.

Someone this afternoon said to me in the Doggie Daycare break room, “Its the difference between logic and emotion.”

Your name, your personality, your identity is all really irrelevant. Its what you inspire. Its what others learn from you and alter, so there is improvement.

Its the love that ruins me. I am smarter than this. Abe is a fucking waste of time.

Higher thought, Alice!

Then I got the text:

“Will you come to my cousin’s wedding with me, move in with me and your pack of dogs and have a magic baby with me?”


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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?”


“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?”


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?”


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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