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Coachella Day 3, Pt. 1: Saturday “Welcome to Life After High School”

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

I woke up, post-migraine. Anyone who knows chronic migraines knows the day after feels similar to being leeched. You are drained. The light sensitivity is gone so you can open your eyes, but your energy is nil. I woke up and had to use the toilet. Trent advised to bring our own toilet paper.  I trudged through the lawn chairs and empty beer cans to the port-o-potties, with roll of toilet paper in hand, a respectable distance from our tent.

We didn’t want to be too close, for obvious reasons. And we didn’t want to be too far … for obvious reasons.

Two young gentlemen cornered me on my way back from the toilets. Both handsome. Both young.

“Can I ask you why women are walking around with rolls of toilet paper?” Pierre asked.

“Do you really want to know?”

“Yeah,” Pierre said.

“Because all the toilets are out of tp by 10am. Why? Because women hover over the seats so they don’t have to touch it and spray over the entire toilet then neglect to clean up after themselves.” I looked at them and saw their chiseled faces wrinkle and contort.  “Do you wish you didn’t know?”

Toilets

“Yeah,” Pierre said. “You are the first cool person I met.”

Pierre was black. Is it relevant to note his race? It is, only because I had been yearning to have a love affair with a black man since before I moved down from Washington. I have had one-nighters in my early twenties, but those are so brief they almost don’t count. A few fantasies led me to the thick lips, especially how they would feel enclosed over my clitoris,  the gorgeous blanket of dark chocolate skin and the body of someone who is built but without it looking so forced he was disproportionate. Black men are strong and wide because their bodies allow them to be. White men will expand beyond the width of their heads or shoulders, and look short but wide.  Black men fill out perfectly. Pierre was too young for me, but let’s face it, so is my boyfriend Michael. “Where can I get your face paint?” he asked me. Oh yeah, I remembered, I was wearing face paint from the night before.

There I was, just woken from a migraine MDMA sleep, baggy eyes, uncombed hair, toilet paper in hand, and this perfect man was trying to make a connection 5 feet from the toilets.  I wondered if he would seduce me. “134th Street,” I said. “I’m the one with the shitty car next to the Mercedes.”

The cars are parked in a line, and each line is given a real street name, with a street sign similar to what you see on your corner. This way you can find your campsite in the cluster fuck of luxury cars and campers.

**

“Good Morning, Trent,” I called into the tent.

My car was full of food, needed tools, gear and everyone’s clothes. If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “Can you pop the trunk?” I could pay my rent.  I also allowed people to charge their phones from my cigarette lighter until someone left the car keys turned so long, the car died completely.  Ruffling through the mess of a car, I found Trent’s vodka bottle of urine. He used it to relieve himself while we were trapped in traffic.

“At some point, can you pour out your urine? At your leisure, of course,” I moved a few things around. “I have French bread for you.”

“I always find the curious ones that keep saying I am straight. Girls think I am gay. I want them to think I am straight,” he said. Trent is definitely a gay man, one who has fucked both women and men. There is a strategy with him though, on flipping the converted, the unconverted and those on the fence. He wants everyone on the fence to be uncertain. Partly, it is what I identify with. I admire that quality, though I don’t push the same way he does.

We dragged out some lawn chairs and sat up as the morning shook open, like an egg cracking from the inside, bleeding more and more light. We all drank beer for breakfast. No one was there to judge us. No roommates, no lovers, no one. Do you know how wonderful it is to start your morning with a beer? It makes your feet tingle and your face lift. To just do whatever the fuck you want to do without judgment is liberating. I was watching myself, however, because Pierre would be around and I was determined to keep monogamous. I would not fuck things up with Michael. He was the best relationship I had. He cared the most.

We watched the birds form migration patterns overhead. Somehow, in the chaotic mass of driving in Thursday night, we were lucky enough to park next to a few homosexual men: D, Haute and Kev. Gay men just suit me. I can’t say why for certain, I just feel the most comfortable around them. Maybe because sexual competition and sexual conquest are a complete non-issue. Maybe because they suffered to establish their identity and won all the trophies I carried with me: a personality, a sense of humor and a case of beer. Maybe because they carried the same nicks and scars; the fear of rejection, the alienation, the feeling of being unwanted. Whatever the case, I felt lucky to have them there, with their cooler of beer, their sleek sunglasses and perfect hair. They leaned back their heads, smiling, letting the desert sun cover their faces with heat. I fell in love with those men that morning.

Coachella Crew

I think they were all accountants.  They behaved like playful men and once in a while spoke of work as if it was a burden. Kev was a large, bald, black man. The first night we were there, he was waiting for his boyfriend who hadn’t arrived yet. He looked straight-laced, but when he was drunk he wanted to collpase in his tent. Trent and I were chatting up D, who is a physically averaged-sized Caucasian guy, around my age, with sandy hair and a party beard. D is one of the most perfect human beings you could hope to meet. He was good-looking and kind. It was easy to talk to him because you never felt like he would turn and roll his eyes. He just smiled and exuded warmth, no matter what type of fool you wanted to be that night.

D

The night before, Kev was in the tent screaming for D. I slinked up to the tent and looked in to find the middle-aged, grown man on all fours, screaming “D! Come to bed! D!” He was drunk.

“Kev, we are talking to D right now. Can you close your eyes for a little bit and then when you open them again, D will be there. Does that sound ok? Do you think you can do that?” I said.

“Yes. Ok.” And Kev fell asleep.

Sober, Kev was the type of guy you would hire as a lawyer, accountant or police officer. He was strong, secure, big and confident. I like seeing people like that reduced to a toddler. There is a genuine spirit there you don’t often see.

Haute had joined us Saturday morning because of work. He was Asian, perfect “gay” body, I guess you could say. Androgynous. I always find that to be the ideal: the best of masculine and feminine worlds.  Haute is a true one-of-a-kind. He will roll his eyes. He will act miserable in the heat like a Southern Belle used to being waited on with clean napkins and seeded grapes. He will shoot a witty remark as sharp and cruel as any professional stand-up comedian and not flinch. And when you make him laugh … you feel like God.

Haute Mess

It was a good gathering.

We watched the frat boys walk to and fro like they too were on a grassy runway. The white boys with shoulders too big, heads too small, shorts too low, no body hair, no obvious flaws: boring. The gay boys were taking the bait, though.

“Do you think he is gay?” someone asked, as a red-haired frat boy strolled past.

“A gay ginger is like a unicorn,” D said.

We were next to a huge SUV with several white kids and one token black guy, who looked fucking miserable. They were loud and obnoxious. They played drinking games I didn’t understand like beer ping pong and whatever else. UCLA banners on the car and on their covered picnic table. It seemed like they didn’t have to worry about a thing.

They clustered in front of their SUV drinking beer and maybe nursing a hard bottle of some kind. A couple leaned against the hood of the car. The tall, boy with a baseball hat kept staring at me, while a blonde, thin, tan-bedded girl hung on his arm. A short, Asian boy with a UCLA baseball hat tried being the joker, hosting, encouraging drinks and performing for them. The rest stood there, dumbfounded. They were so young.

The boy kept staring at me, and Trent whispered in my ear, “He keeps looking at you.”

“Probably because he is bored with Barbie,” I said. Then I licked the end of my water bottle and slowly poured it over my mouth and chin. I buried the nozzle of the bottle into my mouth and throat and coughed up an ounce of water over myself.

My group of gay boys giggled.

It escalated. I spread my legs, and fanned over my crotch to his direction. Anytime he looked over, Trent squealed excitedly. Barbie looked on disapprovingly and hung harder on his arm. The poor boy didn’t know what to do. He looked back at his friends, providing them a one-word response. Never a smile. Never a chuckle. Nothing human.

Trent tipped me off to whenever the boy looked back at me. This time, I slipped my bare breast over the top of my strapless sundress and moaned.

My boys cackled.

My boob

As conversation carried on, and I covered myself, the boy looked harder and harder at me until we eventually held eye contact.

“Oh my God, he is looking right at you. Oh God!” Trent said.

“This is awkward, I don’t know what to do,” I said.

Straight-faced, sunglasses and with a hat, the boy stared. When the couple said their goodbyes, fist-pumped and proceeded to walk past our campsite, arm in arm, Trent whipped me around and pretended to pump into me from behind, ending with a squirt of suntan lotion all over my back.

“Oh God!!!” I moaned. “HARDER!”

We had to wrap things up. I wanted to see the Violent Femmes at 6pm and we needed to find more drugs.

Sal kneeled by my side. In broken but heavy English he said, “That is the sexiest show I have ever seen.” I laughed. You see, I am just a comedian with a nice body. I only mean to be funny. I only dream of being sexy.

A girl from the black SUV crawled over to me drunk. “I love gay rights. I heard them saying bad things but I don’t believe it.”

I shrugged and took a slug from my beer. “Ok.”

From time to time, girls will do this. They get sloshed, crawl into my lap and confess lesbian experiences from college. I don’t know what they expect from me. Do they think I am a lesbian? Do they want advice? I am never asked a direct question so I just let them prattle on and on until they go away. I find the misdirection boring.

The crowd from the SUV tried talking to us. I was buzzed and not interested, but Sal and Fernando lit up. “I have never felt popular before!” they said. We had stepped out of line. Our clothes didn’t match. We weren’t nervously trying to fit in. We invented our own lives and in that life, we were new. We didn’t echo style, words or dreams. We were individuals. We were born and alive.

“Welcome to life after high school,” I said.

life after high school

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Hippie Chic: Coachella Day 2 … Friday

April 12th, 2013

It was Friday in the desert. I waited as people woke up. As I get older and work more, I get used to being an early morning person. The coffee and food trucks were lined up beyond the campgrounds, in a different section even further beyond the toilets and showers. I heard you had to hit the showers early if you didn’t want to wait in line for hours.

I watched the risers to gather a picture of where I was and prepare for the experience. Frat boys. Topless. Long shorts. No body hair. Identical. Sorority girls. Daisy dukes and bikini tops. Lots of daisy dukes and bikini tops. They were all loud.

“COACHELLA!” someone would scream.

greetings

The heat weighed in heavy almost immediately.

Trent got up to a beer and a few lines of cocaine.

A couple stumbled in front of us. The girl taking the boy’s hand and pressing it against her groin while seemingly entranced in a kiss.

“And I thought true love didn’t exist,” Trent said.

“There are so many daisy dukes and bikini tops that it has become a permanent fixture in the background. Our canvas IS daisy dukes and bikini tops.”

We ventured into the festival. Though I was wide awake at 7am, I was exhausted by noon and we stumbled by something called the Do LaB to fall asleep in the grass. The music was hypnotic. It didn’t really have an identity to itself, but a comforting, predictable beat. Similar to a mother’s heart beat from inside the womb. There were layers to it that, in my opinion, achieved an echelon above the usual pop hit I spin through on the radio.

Pictures in the News

Do Lab Day

I sat up to watch the beautiful people dance. The beautiful, bronzed, thin, muscular, self-aware puppets danced. Everything was so hyper-aware. The flower in the hair. The face paint. The shoes and painted toe nails. I heard the phrase “hippie chic” on the television one day. It seemed counter intuitive. Hippie chic.

Hippie chiche

Hip·pie  /ˈhipē/  noun: a person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair and wearing beads, associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.

Chic /SHēk/ adjective: elegantly and stylishly fashionable.

Paris Hilton

So unconventional becomes conventional. Rejection becomes acceptance. Were these girls really interested in what was happening in Afghanastan or Egypt? Had they formed opinions about Obamacare and the Affordable Healthcare Act? Were they working to reclaim their country and assume a new identity of freedom, revolution and peace?

Maybe. I couldn’t talk to them. They didn’t see me. They didn’t look for a connection. On the contrary, I stared at them. Their flat abdomens swaying in unison to a beat. The bored little hippie dolls, unmoved, uninspired, with pouty lips. They only knew how to be adored. How to be fucked like a rag doll. They didn’t hear the music. They didn’t see me or Trent, sweating alone in second hand clothes under the bright, orange awning. They didn’t see each other. All they saw was themselves. They were the center of their own universe. Walking back and forth to the outdoor toilets like it was a grassy runway. Always on their phones. Always videotaping. Always assuming they were the one person who was supposed to be noticed.

Do Lab Girls

These girls become a blur and, for once, I was thankful for the bit of chub I acquired during my first 6 months of winter. Michael was feeding me well, too well. He would still drop everything to get whatever I suddenly found a hankering for. Vegan sundaes. Candy sprinkles. Vegan nachos. Daiya cheese. Wine. Beer. Vegan pizza. Vegan pizza. Oh yes, vegan pizza. I have learned to watch what I say aloud, because he will bring me whatever I suggest. The princess treatment was appearing and reappearing in my midsection and arms. I like being skinny, but this particular weekend I liked being chubbier … if just by 5 pounds … just so I could be different.

Me and Trent

It was there, sweating, awake, mildly disgusted by the orchestration of trend and vanity, that a beautiful boy stopped to stare at me. Fat, little me. With my Princess Leia buns and vintage sun dress. He smiled at me. My cheeks burned and I looked down.

Michael knows about my weakness for male attention and sex. If you hadn’t met me but read only my blogs, you might think I prance around in diaphanous clothing, slipping behind the nearest curtain with the first available man. I am rather shy, in a way; otherwise I wouldn’t work so hard to entertain.

It was my first adventure alone, without Michael, in a privileged playground. I didn’t know if I trusted myself yet. So when the beautiful, Greek warrior stared at me with the smile, the smile that can blind one from moral obligation, I turned away. Sure, they were all snot nosed kids who spent more time on their figure and wardrobe than intellect and community. I could still smell their sweat.

The center stage was overcome by a skillfully choreographed show of alien-clad dancers. Females with popping limbs and bopping heads. Water guns were turned on the crowd. With the spray power of a garden hose, one body after another collided with a foaming charge of cold water. It looked delicious. A male dancer came towards us, front and center in the performance. His legs were covered in black latex and stretched over his shoulders in thin straps, leaving his chest and back completely exposed. The muscle in his stomach and arms worked under the perfect flesh of a tight machine. Each working part triggered another, muscles taut and pulling to another lever, another tool, a further apparatus on a flawless stringed, meat symphony.

Performers Do Lab

A ring descended from the top of the stage and stopped at the man’s face. He was crawling on the floor to the ring and broke character for one, holy moment. He grabbed the ring in one hand, and I saw him mouth the words “You can do it” before he clasped on with both hands and was raised in the air like a phoenix sprung from her body. My mouth dropped open. It was sky ballet. I wasn’t even on drugs yet.

Ring Performer at Do Lab

I turned back for Trent, who was awake. I walked through the crowd. Flower halos. Converse shoes. UCLA flags and baseball hats.

“Do you want to go back?” he asked. We needed to get drugs.

We didn’t know anyone holding extra to sell. We had to approach strangers. So we would simply ask people if they knew Molly. Most people kept their head down and their mouths shut. Though Coachella was supposed to be a collapsible community, no one wanted to venture out of their inner circles. They were uncomfortable if they were spoken to, and didn’t want to share. Of course, we were offering to pay them.

“We came prepared. Learn your lesson,” one 18-year-old blurted out to us.

“We have an unreliable drug dealer,” I said, casually.

Trent has a switch. And before they had smarted off to us, Trent was flipped. We were tired of being ignored and avoided. We were tired of people treating us like we were hobos, panhandlers or freaks. We were all there for the same reason. The walls in Indio were taller than ever.

“You are just a couple of kids, you don’t know anything,” Trent said, throwing his hand in the air and storming off.

“Why don’t you chill out!?” one said. Trent turned towards them, the whites of his eyes screaming at them for more. Feed me more.

“It’s ok. It’s not worth it. Just let it go,” I said to both of them. More to the two young men than Trent.

There was bickering and I gently pulled Trent towards our tent as the confrontation spilled and fizzled into nothing at all. It was hard. We both had been bashing most of the yuppie, white teen trash washing into the festival all day. At one point, I was picking up receipts off the ground by the ATM machine and reading off account totals. “Balance $2,004.00, $6,458.00, $11,899. FUCK YOU!” Needless to say, my balance was in the negative. Trent had struggled the first half of the day trying to remember his pin for his ATM card. He called his bank and his mother trying to figure it out before it just came to him, in the middle of a hot afternoon, while overpriced beers were spilling over rich kids’ fingers. We had plenty of food in the car from the Target run the night before. It was the feeling that we were excluded from some gradiose American experience. To run off to musical festivals with no job to get back to, no rent to pay, no car breaking down every couple weeks. To have unlimited resources to do anything you want. To just fuck off without consequence. Of course each person has their own conditions to grieve. Their own price to pay. That didn’t ease the bitterness as they paraded in front of us, noses high, money and luxury cars everywhere, and worst of all, ignoring us just like they would anywhere else. If we served them in a restaurant- which we probably did. If we mopped their floors, paid their share of taxes, bought from their family brand, we were expendable. We were invisible. And here in a paradise constructed of synthetic, pharmaceutical and musical fantasy, our fantasy was interrupted.

Frat Boy Indian

I would like to think I can be a better person. That I could let go of class and kids, the miles between the cost of my time and the cost of theirs, the year it took for Trent and I to save up for this weekend so we could feel a part of something magical and current, something that could give us the vision of a life we wanted and the commercial it has turned into. Tickets are over $300 each and continue to rise every year, making it only possible for a certain type of person to go; the type that makes sacrifices throughout their year for a ticket, or the type with a large, disposable income. To throw those two in the desert together was mephitic to the point where it was almost paralyzing.

Trent and I fed off of one another. Sneering. Glaring. Quipping. It did us no good.

Back at the campground, we met a kid who would trade us Molly for $30 and some blow. I guess cocaine was a little more exotic to that breed. Good thing our unreliable drug dealer was never short of one thing: blow.

As night fell, my sinuses tightened and I felt the onset of a migraine. I didn’t drink enough water. I used to have them all the time, but now it is rare. I have credited the dog walking for improving my circulation. When a migraine takes hold of me, it is by the throat. If I move, the pain can become so overwhelming, I am forced to vomit. My neck and head lock and I freeze. The Molly still flooded me with serotonin. My heart sped up. My eyes peeled back to reveal the world underneath the obnoxious screaming and drunk lechery.

night coachella

Beach House played. Trent was ecstatic. It was the first time he was really happy. Poor, unfortunate souls like ours feed off music. More than food and money. The music reclaims us.

Beach House

There was a string of huge balloons tied in a long rope across the sky. They were so big; you could see them from the sky, miles away. They bobbed gently in the desert wind. And over the string and gently moving balloons was a full moon. The music came to me through those large round spheres, full of human breath, moving with the Earth’s voice and I saw it. I saw the music.

The whole note.

The half note.

The crochet.

The quaver.

The breve.

The minim.

Each note danced overhead to the soft, hypnotic music.

Balloon Chain by Robert Bose Photo By Sarah Parvini

I had to lie down to keep my head still, as to reduce my physical suffering. My face buried in the cool, cool grass. The heat from the Molly extinguished on midnight dew. I remembered my Third grade teacher scolding us for pulling out the grass in the playground. “That is God’s carpet,” she said.

God’s carpet. It held me still so the music could play through me.

Music was coming from two other stages. It felt like all the instruments were colliding over my head and spilling in lost notes through my hair. The volume so loud the ground shook. My head shook as if the fingers of the musicians were pressing down on me with each cue.

I stayed there in child’s pose. Occasionally, someone would ask if I was ok. I said I was great. Better than great.

moon rise

That is when we found blow on the ground. These kids were so fucked up, they were dropping their drugs on the ground without notice. We collected the baggies.

Next on stage was the Yeah Yeah’s. Trent led me to the next stage, and I fell to the ground again. My feet behind my ass, my face planted in God’s carpet. And the music came again.

“Do you need water …?” Trent asked. “A cigarette?”

“No, I just need to be still.”

Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio

Once in a while, a drunk would step on me, trip over my back, press their foot onto my hand. They couldn’t see me. I was beneath the light. Beneath their line of vision. Swimming in the world of dreams.

“No one can see you down there,” a stranger said, trying to divert foot traffic.

“I know,” I said.

I know.

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