Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Reunited and Confronted

"I really like your boyfriend. He seems nice."
She sips her mimosa lightly with tightly pursed lips.

I smile and gulp my coffee as butterflies fill my stomach.
"Yeah. He's pretty great," I say, dreamily. I'm awash in my affections for a moment before I snap back to the present. "I mean, we haven't been together for very long, but we're having a blast."

"You've had quite a lot of boyfriends, haven't you?" Her nonchalant tone and dainty British accent almost conceal the pointed curiosity behind her probing.

I feel my entire body flush and instantly start to sweat. "Yes. As a matter of fact I have." Her question was bold for someone I haven't seen in six years. "What are you getting at?"

"Oh I didn't mean it like that, I just mean..."

Yeah. What do you mean.

She somewhat stutters, "I wasn't trying to shame you or anything. I just remember that back in the day, you were more described as... whats the word? I don't know how to say it."

Without emotion I offer the term, "Polyamorous Pansexual?"

"Yes! Something like that, anyway. You had this aura around you... like you were too cool to approach but it was also like a vortex that people would fall in and never escape."

It seemed like a somewhat sinister description, however she beamed in wonder and delight at being able to remind me of the personal power I once wielded.

Now I take a gulp of my mimosa. "Well, at least I used to be 'cool.'"

"If I could count the people who feel into your votex and never to recover... Danny tried to kill himself when you left him, remember? And Marc had it bad as well. And If I recall --"

"Ok, yeah, I guess I was somewhat of a heartbreaker back then." I wasn't really enjoying these tales of emotional obliteration that I had left in my wake. And no, I hadn't remembered these ugly details.

"Uh, saying that you were a 'heartbreaker' is such an understatement." She shifted nervously. "But what I was getting at was that you used to be with ... all kinds of people. Then something happened and you seem to be mostly interested in men." Cue nervous laughter.

Oh the boxes I get put in.
"I recently got my heart torn out by a lady, so. I'm glad to have gotten over that and now I can move on with my life."

She looked surprised. I hadn't really blasted what happened on social media, so I suppose in that sense it didn't really happen (if not in front of all eyes). "What happened?"


I was on one knee behind her in the kitchen. She wouldn't stop washing dishes, ever the excellent home-maker. She reflected, whilst rinsing and drying, that ever day we spent together was the best day she'd ever had. I gently took her hand when it became available and she turned around to find me there, looking up at her. 

"What are you doing?" She looked alarmed. 

"It can still be the best day, every day." And then I proposed we get married. 

She turned away back to the dishes, angry. "I can't believe you would do that."

"Why not? We're insane for each other. I love you."

"You think I'd marry for a green card?!" She whipped her body back towards me, and her eyes were livid. 

"No! No, sweetheart it's not like that. I want to marry you for you. And yes, I want you to be able to stay here with me, if that's what you want, and take care of you." And I really did mean that. 

Despite my sincerity, I lost the discussion. Not because she didn't say yes, but because I had embarrassed and upset her. She was not going to stay, and she likely thought that I was insane or worse, disingenuous. 

She left and days, weeks, months passed. I cried a lot thinking of her. I begged her to come back. I helplessly watched her fall into a pit of despair and drown in booze. She insisted during the day that she was happy, that I should be more supportive. But once night fell, there was a lot of sturm und drang in her phone calls and messages, and she drank like it was an olympic sport. Finally, the calls stopped coming. The last message from her I received was a post in the mail, containing a picture of her dancing. There was no return address. 

Over the months, I stopped playing guitar. One of my favorite songs to play only reminded me of her, and inevitably whilst playing it, the lyrics would become choked in tears. I lovingly put away things that reminded me of her. One day, it stopped stinging so badly. I stopped thinking of her all the time -- things she would like, how I could surprise her if she was here, our inside jokes -- and I even was able to get drunk without getting sad about her. And finally, I was able to move on. 


"Honestly, love, it sounds like you're really better off. It seems like she was a whole lot of drama." 

I glance at her sideways for this assessment. She doesn't know everything. It's impossible to relay the details of something so complicated, amazing, and heartbreaking with any accuracy in a short conversation. But with a sigh, I decide it's best for me to accept this judgement as having truth to it. What's the point in fighting it, when I've moved on? Formerly described 'Polyamorous Pansexual' little ole me was in a bonafide monogamous relationship with a straight man. And despite the contrasting comparisons of this notion with a portrait of who I have been in the past, I feel just fine. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Minotaur of Telegraph Hill

*This post, and all others, are fiction. Any characters or situations represented resembling those in real life are not intentional nor should be read as literal fact or testament.*

I stomped in after 10am. Such a late entry should be embarrassing or worrisome, as these trespasses can lead to the end of a contract, but I felt little -- except the pavement under my hooves. My lack of feeling may be attributed to an unwavering confidence at my professional skill, as well as the fact that I have never had a problem standing up for myself -- however these attributes can sometimes seem problematic to my employers. 

However, the most relevant of troublesome points in keeping my employed stance in the commercial tech industry: I hate it. In fact, I fucking loathe it.

I entered the ring with nostrils flaming around my septum piercing, which boys always told me made me look like an angry bull and ruined my feminine softness. Grecian literature of antiquity speaks heroically of women who have masculine qualities, such as bravery and even physical attributes. Boys today crave differentiation between the sexes: a clear binary. They don't know it, but fashion changed everything. Perhaps most applicably, Christian Dior's "New Look" of hyper femme, fit-and-flare dresses (celebrating the abundance of fabric available after the end of WWII which could be turned into a most decadently full skirt), was a symbol for putting women back in the homebound slavery. Women, now relatively immobilized for "masculine" work by the fashion trends were again fetishized for feminine qualities while Rosie the Riveter, and all the women who stepped in to take male jobs while they fought in war, was forced back into heels and onto their knees. Again, Rosie cried, "We can do it" with the strength of a heart who has known and lost respect. 

It's hard to be a woman, particularly a young, unmarried woman, in the tech industry. It's a male dominated realm and sometimes feels like I'm a cocktail waitress at an Elk's Lodge meeting. A friend of mine told me that she was rejected for a job and told, face-to-face, that as a woman she would be too distracting. I've worked in companies and faced massive sexual harassment, the only recourse of which was to cut out the cancer: the harassed. As a freelancer, there isn't much one can do about it except become more hard. With each trespass is another layer of shellac.

I as I walked faster and faster to my seat, I could almost feel my eyes turn red and horns curl out of the top of my head. In moods like that, I’d pierce anyone in my way. I nearly punched my leather bag into the concrete ground and whipped back my hair. I breathed a little and despite my fiery disdain, my human half gradually took san dominance.

With apologies in tow:
“Sorry I’m late, guys.”

A guy in a red polo shirt and jeans spoke up. He was one of those guys who always had a response or quip for anything, whether it was worth the breath wasted or not.
“What happened this time?” he inquired with attitude.

Clothes in a professional environment are a tricky thing for me. I thought I had finally nailed it, with a well enough stocked wardrobe of costumes from Ann Taylor and the like. Blouses, slacks, full length stockings, sensible work flats. Frustrating my expectations, the boss criticized me for dressing “too professionally” in the workplace-- making the rest of the employees look bad by comparison. I studied those around me, their costumes, and so today I had dressed down. That was part and parcel of my explanation. As we know, fashion can change perception.

I didn’t know how to dress, if not professionally, and if not un-professionally. Office casual is a difficult grey area for me: someone with 12 corsets, strappy kink wear, steel toed boots, half a walk-in closet made of leather, destroyed jeans, as well as band t-shirts of bleeding virgins. Telling me to play the role at the opera but improvise my own costume was kind of insulting, after all the work I had done to differentiate. Ann Taylor, my ass.

I delivered my explicatory monologue with lightly feigned heart: “Well, you wouldn’t believe it, but a forest of trees marched upon downtown San Francisco, demolishing skyscrapers. As you can tell by my monochrome "tasteful tye-dye" maxi skirt, I was involved in the peaceful political protest against such senseless destruction against capitalism. I chained myself to my agency’s building, along with many of the other talent, but the trees started to pelt allergenic spores at us, so we just had to get out of there…

Most of what I say is followed by silence at work, so I’m used it by now.

Finally, Ralph Lauren in Red gave some notes on my story: “That’s ...pretty elaborate.”

“I had to park far away.” That part was true.

And some people just have an active imagination.


“Why do you sigh like that all the time?” my exasperated desk-mate finally inquired.

Without taking my eyes off my screen, I responded: “I’m just breathing.”

“No, that’s not breathing, that’s sighing. I happen to be an expert on breathing, as I do it every day, all the time. You sigh. And they are these long, suffering sighs. It’s driving me crazy.” His lips were like chicken sausages stuck together and they sputtered as he delivered his complaint.

This guy: fat, bald, cocky. He had that sense of entitlement about his surroundings, his perceived talents, even his looks. Every seeming thing about him made me want to punch him in the throat.  

I allowed my eyeballs to move first, make contact with his. I leaned toward him, forward between the gap separating our facing desks, and explained: “Humans often sigh, yawn, or cough as involuntary physical reactions.”

I gave him a second to let that sink in as I imagined the toe of my boot crushing his balls.

“These symptoms usually occur when oxygen is needed in the body. Perhaps you perceive me as constantly sighing with suffering...”

After a pause, I looked down, then coquettishly up again to mouth the following words without sound: “because I’m suffocating sitting next to your sorry, fat ass”
I added, in case the message was unclear:
“...sucking in all the clean air.”

I pointed to him and blew up my cheeks like a puffer fish.
I made a comical little choking motion with my hands around my neck and eyes rolled back.
At least I thought it was funny.

He responded with nothing but a blank stare. He eventually lost the staring contest by farting accidentally. Nobody in the office said anything, but he looked pissed when I winked at him as he left his desk. I sighed and turned my eyes back to the computer screen. That would probably be the most interesting part of my day and there were only…. 6 more hours until 6 o’clock.


Ordeeer uhp.”

His voice was oily, slick, and yet it was hard for my brain to digest the sound of it in a salad stand -- therefore I got distracted by the thought of beef gristle spewing from his lips instead of words.

I don’t trust the French, inherently, but the food is undeniably better once passed through their filthy, simple-minded, grabby hands. Maybe all this man did was hand me the box (it seemed to be all be was trained for) and yet somehow, the brussel sprouts tasted better -- even though I hated him for his stupid trout-faced expression and incomprehensible accent.

The French accent is a sound pushed forth from a mouth shaped as though it is constantly trying to suck on an invisible petit sec saucisson. To be child about it, the French are tiny sausage suckers. Before I could linger on this thought too long, a voice from the local region pulled me back to San Francisco.

“Kewl. Wellll… now that we have our salAAAAds, dew’yew wannna like munch here, orrr…. like, um I don’t know, go back to the officcccce?

Silicone Valley. Computer chips and fake tits.

Whilst searching for my keys, I handled my salad box, which was packed full enough of radicchio to supposedly justify the price tag, and my requisite designer bag. I felt like a juggler. If only I could contort as well -- I’d flee to Montreal and join Cirque. Still, those fucking accents. I pushed that thought of out my head, lest the leaning tower of salad fall to its colorful and expensive demise. With the focus of a sword swallower, I muttered: “The lot was full today. I have to move my car.”

My coworker, who stood with the profile of a giraffe in her Vince Camuto stilettos and perfectly erect, anti-ergonomic body, responded thoughtfully: “Hmmmm?”
I wondered about the color of her tongue: was it pink or black?

Despite our seeming incompatibilities, I’m pretty good at learning languages.

“Oh, ummm, like, it was ker-RAZY parking and stuff. The guys at the lot were like “no entrar” or  whatevs cuz they were super duper busy, so I had to find street parking.” I flourished with an open mouthed aghast expression -- yes, Barnum and Bailey, I clown as well. References available.

“OMG, you poor thing! What are you gonna do?!” Her eyes were so wide, she looked as if she could be patented by Mattel.

Wondering if I had time to get a cappuccino, I became distracted. “Probably just move my car. It’s in a two hour zone, but I saw the meter maid go by, so I thought I could get away with more time.”

She stared at me blankly and compulsively smoothed her already smooth hair, which is her body language for when I’ve spoken too fast and without enough emotion for her to know how to react. So naturally, she just kept talking, like most people who don’t understand what’s going on.

“Wellllll… I’m going back to like work and shit cuz I don’t want to stay late and miss crossfit. Good luck or whatever with your car. Where is it, anyway?” As she smoothed and smoothed her bottle blond hair, I imagined her working up a sweat in spandex. This didn’t help me stay focused, as I thought of ways to discipline the affected stupidity out of her and what that would smell like.

“Right up there. Montgomery and Green I think. I’ll take a shortcut and be back in no time. Do you mind tossing--TAKING my salad back to the office too?” In my mind I had four fingers deep in her whore cunt, slapping her tits until she would beg for deeps kisses to her clit to make her cum. All I see is red and how I’d fuck her so fantastically she’d believe it was mythical.  

“Uhhhhhh … sure.” She glanced at me sideways as she stacked our items.

“Cool, thanks,” note to self: stop being a horny douchebag.

“Whatevs.” Carrying our salads in one hand, she once again smoothed her bad dye job with the other. She had a flaunting, swinging gait as she walked away in her work-inappropriate footwear; and she left me with her Gen-X handle on the English language ringing in my ears. I watched her walk away -- always my favorite part of interacting with her. 

Yes, I too, have been brainwashed somewhat by Monsieur Dior.

Finally, I took in a deep breath, and walked towards the bay. As I walked, I journeyed the streets, roads, and back alleys of my brain’s map and realized that I was a prisoner somewhere in the center of an explicable maze. I felt fierce most of the time, but I was also afraid. As I got lost, deeper in my own thoughts, I realized I was trapped and perhaps waiting for the human inside to show me the way out of this terrifying and dark place.  


It had at some point become clear that I had made a wrong turn. The stairs where endless, and the path was labyrinthine. Wrong turn, dead end. No outlets to streets or thoroughfares. I kept climbing and climbing as my heart was racing. It had been so long time since I climbed a mountain that even a hill was slaying me. I realized with disdain that I had become weak in ways I hadn’t even realized.

Finally I ran into a mail person. I wheezed as I flagged her down and wheezed several times further before I was able to ask her: “Is this… goddamn Telegraph Hill?”

She laughed and nodded.

I trudged past, feeling the pressure of getting back to work and my impending parking ticket as I exclaimed “FUCK ME.”

I made it to the top, somehow, someway. One clomping foot, then another, pushing the weight of the world in my mind and the heavy hate in my heart up the wretched hill.

A jogger lightly and easily drifted past, casually commenting: “Lotta steps, eh?”

“Mother fuck--” I said as I finally collapsed onto the pavement.


When I came to, I saw the bay and the bridge. It was a beautiful day, and the water was glittering. My face was on the sidewalk, but I couldn’t stand, not yet. I thought of how lovely it would be to die like this, with this view as my final moment, when two tourists stepped over my limp body to get a better smartphone picture.

Two more groups of tourists did the same thing, one after another. Like most of San Francisco’s defeated, I had become invisible.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rape Culture

In a dull grey flurry of words, smeared spoken newsprint text, I hear two words before I zoom back into focus:
"...rape culture." 
I'm a bit spacey today. I think it's the meds. No, I think it's the company. Sometimes I don't know what to think. 
I've been staring at the bright oil cloth for a while, willfully distracted. 
He had just got done saying that he couldn't imagine ever finding himself attracted to ("to physically love") a larger ("fat") woman and, thoroughly disgusted, I was too exhausted to pick yet another fight on the subject. The topic comes up perennially with him, perhaps as a very thinly veiled threat. At least, that's how it seems to me as he says these things and then looks at me out of the corner of his eye. Preemptive, tentative, accusatory periphery. I hate that. How could I not hate that? 
"You should write about rape culture on your blog." 
"What about it?" 
"That we live in it." 
"What do you know about rape culture?" 
"I read an article about it."
He's Lassie, trying to tell me something, bark bark rape culture bark, but I don't want to hear it right now. I'm stuck on the other thing. 

I've known from the start that Igor is of the extremely vain sort, but really... Do all men feel that way, somewhere in them? 
If I'm thin, am I more lovable? 
(If I am physically desirable am I more lovable?)
((or... maybe, because I'm superficially valued, am I less lovable...?))

This is the pervasive mental dominance in our culture that has the potential to reach every girl and woman, an act of violence he commits without blinking while congratulating himself for somberly noting buzzword phrases such as "rape culture" -- as if, at this point, I could be impressed by him or what he has to say to me about women's issues. 

These are things, I think, that are failing to compute. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sick Chic

This is how I lost a lot of weight in a few weeks without trying:

Reactions to my new look remind me of a particularly awkward moment I was witness to in my friend's apartment in Brooklyn: a goddess-like female was visiting from Haiti, where she had been on a midwifing mission, determined to save the world, one proper birth at a time. Let's call her Hathor, after the Egyptian goddess of beauty and fertility. Hathor had had a rough time of late.

About a year and a half prior, she had a tough decision to make. She was in South Africa, the flagship country of her pilgrimage, and she got knocked up by a local man she thought she was madly in love with. As head midwife to the birthing program, she decided to set an example -- she kept the baby. The daddy then, predictably somehow only to Hathor's mother, turned out to be a dead beat. Single motherhood, in addition to being a power-housing saint, was really taking its toll and so she came home for a breather between godforsaken countries.

Hathor was once shining, bubbly, blonde, and as voluptuous as the clay sculptures of fertility totems with big hips and mesmerizing, pendulous breasts. Looking at her after, she had gotten skinny. The light had dimmed in her eyes, replaced by a dull luster and dark circles. Even her flaxen hair looked retired in its exhaustion. Every time you glanced at her, you somehow caught her in a moment of exhale.

That night at the apartment, our acquaintance joined us for dinner, arriving fashionably tardy. Upon seeing Hathor, the only aspect he noticed, unfortunately, was the weight loss.

A partial hug and a kiss on either cheek, the superficial city embrace.
"Wow, you look great!"
A brief silence in the room.
"... I contracted hepatitis." 
Aaaaaaaaaaaaand I'm calling it, time of death of a dinner party: 1 minute 32 seconds into the arrival of the relatively unobservant, situationally unfortunate guest. No other way to say it: that's awkward.

So! Looking to lose some? You should probably diet and exercise.

I absolutely do not recommend going to South Africa and drinking the water or somehow inducing life-threatening mental disorders to then medicate. You will be sick, and you will not give a damn what you look like. Compliments will seem hallow, and you will not know what to say to them because you will not feel grateful. Perhaps eventually, the compliments will stop coming from people you know. Worried glances will follow. Only strangers will still look at you and smile.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Porky's Dive

A small, grimy, dimly lit room containing a pool table, a juke box, an ATM, a small, staggering throng of men, Janx and I. With the addition of a few beer taps and a wall's worth of bottom shelf liquor, I guess you could call it a bar.

Janx is knee deep in it, hustling free drinks from a mid-life crisis situation. She's making all his dreams come true by listening to his smartphone app ideas. She's running circles around him, but he's too fucked up and stunned by her youth and attention to care.

While I'm genuinely impressed at her ability to talk to anyone, hustle, and have a good time, I don't have the patience for it tonight. I'm getting on a plane tomorrow morning for Switzerland and need to get most of my packing done. I'm going through the list in my head when I'm interrupted.
"You like beef jerky?"
A skinny man with close cropped hair and thick rimmed glasses throws the inquiry my way. I might have thought it had been tossed with the kind of detached casualness of two flies passing time at the same corpse except, despite what his unlikely svelte appearance might suggest, he's got the intensity of a butcher. Sweat glistens on his brow.
"Sure do."
I take a piece from his boney fingers and set my molars to work until savory juice trickles onto my tongue. Tastes like beef and bourbon.
"Mmm. 'S good."
He hands me another dark scrap, with pepper this time. A chewing moment of silence is paid in the destruction of the magnificent and delectable beast with four stomachs.
"You wanna go out back and make out?"
Still chewing, I look the guy over. This time tomorrow I'll be with Fangs, last thing I need is bar fly all over me.
"Thanks. No."
His face twitches in swift, mighty disappointment and he beelines for the door. I wonder how often the very direct approach works for him. I don't feel bad. Between the jerky and his game, I'm sure he does alright.

The leather upholstered stool is empty only for a moment before he is replaced like a shark's tooth. A bigger, younger man wearing a trucker hat approaches. He's less sure of himself than the last gentleman, but he's motivated by his friends over by the pool table and plenty of liquid courage.
"So you're going to Switzerland, huh? Wanna drink or a shot er somethin to celebrate?"
I really shouldn't.
"I'll take a Jameson and a Guinness; Here's hoping I make it to Ireland." 
His childlike grin that follows my toast betrays the fact that he did not think I would accept his offer -- he gives the bar an energetic pound with of the fist to show his rejuvenation.
"One of each, eh? Alrighty, 'tender, put 'em up!" 
Janx leans over, all smile and charm.
 "That's real nice of you, but this lady's gotta get home -- she's still gotta pack."
Bless 'er, she's trying to save me from myself. I divert my focus from the shark's teeth to listen in on her conversation. She's still hustling the drunk. It's a little hard to watch her shoot fish in a barrel. She does it with a shotgun. But believe me when I say she's not trying.
"I'll give you five dollars if you can guess what instrument I play."
The fading baby-boomer staggers back and forth. The task of guessing anything is too great. He just wants her to keep talking.
"I'll give you five dollars to tell me."
He hands her five sweaty, splayed out ones.
She looks at them, looks at him, looks at me, and looks at him again with a grin before putting the money in her pocket.
"I'm keeping this five dollars."
"I want you to."
"But you still have to guess."
His moan sounds like a slow bleed from the side, like a deer having been hit by a car. He can only come up with cello and mandolin as instrument guesses before he gets bored and starts nervously talking about himself, claiming to have played with the Grateful Dead before and whatnot. He keeps snorting and sniffling, and the way he's talking, I think he's on drugs. Then he looks at me straight in the face and says:
"You are so beautiful. Were you beautiful as a child?"

I put in my notice at the bar. When I get back from Switzerland I'm going to try to find a real job, ideally one that calls upon my intellect, my degree, my talents other than my taste buds, looks, and social graces. I don't want to wake up realizing that I squandered my youth swatting at flies. It's not exactly an honest living, taking their money, playing Rumpelstiltskin, nor is it a service. Either way, I'd rather be in a shit hole like Porky's Dive by hilariously misguided choice on occasion than have the name of it's ilk on the top of my checks.

Janx doesn't know which way is up either. Perhaps that's why we are such good company for one another. We were sitting outside the bar, smoking cigarettes, and discussing our lives' paths when she said:
"I dunno. I've been trying to read the stars... but they're in fucking Spanish, man."
Just then, we were approached by a stranger, who asked Janx for a cigarette.
"Not so fast. This cigarette wasn't cheap. You can't get something for nothin' these days."
"What, you want a quarter?"
"I want something better than a quarter. I want a joke. You tell me a joke, you get a cigarette. Easy peezy."
"Ahhh... ok. [pause] Christ. Uhm... I... I don't know any jokes." 
"Everyone knows at least one joke." 
"I can't think of one."
"Not even a knock-knock joke?"
Poor guy was suffering.
"No. Can I please just have a cigarette?"
Janx is not one to bend in her stipulations.
"Gotta play by the rules, man."
"I just came from my grandma's house..." 
"What, G-ma doesn't tell jokes? Come on man, you've got to give me something to work with here. Help me help you."
"She's very sick. And Russian."
"So say something in Russian, then laugh, and I'll pretend it's a joke." 
"I think she's dying. I don't feel like laughing."  
"Well, if you feel like a cigarette, then..."
He looked at her, and she looked back at him. I saw in her eye a glint that makes me wonder if she is a psychological and sexual sadist. He sighed, and started his soliloquy, in Russian. After a while he stopped, but no, he could not laugh. Janx did her best overdrawn fake belly laugh, just to make the situation as uncomfortable as possible.

This is the point at which I stepped in.
"I have a joke for you: Why did the chicken cross the road?" 
Janx's eyes lit up, wide with anticipation: yes -- a player of the game!
"Because it wanted a fucking cigarette."
She took out her bright yellow pack and handed me a cigarette as she stared with dominance and demonstration into the eyes of the stranger. She over-annunciated:
"Hilarious. Now you get a cigarette."  
The guy looked like he was going to cry. I threw the cigarette at him.
"Get outta here." 
He quickly slunk away into the parking lot and became nothing more than a tiny puff cloud of smoke rising from between parked cars.
"Some people man, they got no sense of humor."
"Can't take a fucking joke." 
Bad apples hang out at bars. We're a couple of them.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Waxing the lustre of morning's sunlight into the bar rail with a damp terry-cloth rag, I imperceptibly smirk in self-congratulations. I've made it through the early hours, and without incident at that. I stand back and sigh, admiring my work: I can see my own reflection in the wood and I don't find that despicable at all. It'll be another half hour before the lunch crowd comes to muck it up. This is the quiet time, the eye of the storm -- after the flurry of opening and restocking, before the rush of service.  I can afford to steal this moment and keep it to myself.

A sip of coffee. The warm brown liquid hugs me from the inside out with soothing. Okay, organize: One medium, round, orange. One-half, small, pink. One big, long, white. Two long, big, reds. I stare for a moment at this handsome handful, then say to no one, "Bottoms up." One fell swoop, they all disappear. I'm a magician.

Before I forget, I set a reminder for my next round. It will be several hours from now and consist of one medium, round, orange. One big, long, pink.
Ten. Nine. Eight. (I'm already starting to feel it. Must have forgotten breakfast.)

Seven. Six. Five.  (I love this. The swift creep.)

Four, Three, two, one... Blast off
                    and now i'm an astronaut        

 that's better.


I have a problem with the way that psychiatric medications are portrayed in media and perceived in society.
I am not a zombie.

People sometimes say I'm quiet. I have a lot of thoughts. I quess I'm breathing shallow. I'm thankful I finally stopped gasping.


- How are the meds treating you?
- Well, at first I was experiencing a certain side effect, but then it went away... I think it had been helping, actually, so I'm a little disturbed that it neutralized. I was calmer, more pleasant, better rested, I think.
- How would you describe the side effect?
- Feeling "high as fuck".
- ...
- I miss that.
- Ok.
- Can we bring that back?
- Are you drinking?
- A little.
- ...
- Some.
- ...
- Excessively.
- Alcohol is a depressant, and it will counteract the meds. If you drink, all you have left is bare, naked brain. That's why they haven't been working for you anymore.
- ...
- What you were feeling wasn't "high" -- that's close what a normalized brain might feel like. Your brain doesn't make serotonin or dopamine like it should, so you wouldn't know that.
- Huh... so you're saying it sucks to be me.
- *sigh* I'm saying that you're something like Van Gogh: a highly creative individual with manic depression and anxiety mood disorders. Back in his day, there were no psychiatric medications... What I'm saying is, if you continue to treat your imbalances with art and alcohol, you're going to cut your ear off, or worse.
- There's some true romance.
- There's nothing romantic about syphilis and insanity. 


Everyone knows Sam "Mayday" Malone's story from Cheers: He was a Red Sox relief pitcher with a drinking problem that ruined his career. He bought a friendly establishment called Cheers and made a new life for himself as a sober barkeep, ensuring a Sisyphean fate eternally reminding him of his shortfalls, masked by the hi-jinks of the wacky regulars. However, it's Diane's story that I relate to and is often over looked.

In the first episode, she is swept inside the dive by her fiancé and boss, a university professor to whom she is assistant. By the end of the episode, she has been abandoned under Sam's watch at the bar with a half consumed bottle of champagne while her lover has fled to Barbados with another woman. Her entire world shattered, she sighs and rolls over into Sam's barely professional arms and he takes the prissy, verbose, overeducated Diane on as a cocktail waitress at Cheers. This topsy-turvy, odd couple dynamic drives the early portion of the series.

My own professional track also having been derailed in a mirroring fashion, I may have been watching the series as motivational material -- a little fantastical fiction to adopt and get into character for work.

I, like Diane, don't belong in the bar. But if I imagine the laugh-track and the moral-of-the-story to take home at the end of every shift, I can trick myself to think it quirky, fun, and therefore bearable. Every day I count the sticky, wrinkled bills in my pocket, which helps greatly. Identity differentiation, cosplay, theater, anything... A few more days, a few more dollars I didn't see before. Keep it to that. No investment, no attachment.

It's not an uncommon feeling that food and beverage service industry jobs are more demeaning than sex work. But while the pay would be greater at that, there are several external factors that keep my clothes on professionally. Fangs has stated that he would have too many fires to start, for one. Next, I would have to shift professional role models from Cheers' Diane to YouTube's Jenna Marbles. Perhaps the generational gap is too broad for a sensical comparison to be drawn, but let me assure you, the slope starts at sad and descends into a valley of much worse.

Sobering up hasn't been an issue since I adjusted my meds and discovered a surprising fondness for non-alcoholic beer. I like having a clear head now. Whiskey and I are ex-lovers, parted on good terms, with the very brief and occasional stolen fling... but we don't make more of it than it is. We aren't meant to be and I know that now.

Sure, occasionally I get the urge. But I have to look at the bottle and say to it: "You, Sir, will not make me feel better."

All the same, I am a bartender. I have a craft, a trade, a nightly one act. In tribute to Fangs, Cheers, and professional ennui, here is my take on a Boston Sour -- a scotch cocktail for everybody. The egg white whips up into a frothy cold meringue and gives the drink a pleasing viscosity on the tongue. It's gotten great reviews so far at the bar, and is heading towards menu permanency. I invite you to try it out for yourself and do your best-worst fake Boston accent while you enjoy it.

2 oz. Johnny Walker Black Label
3/4 oz. honey syrup (1/2 honey, 1/2 water)
2 oz. sweet and sour
1 egg white

Shake all ingredients vigorously with ice for about 20 seconds. Strain in chilled sour glass (or wine glass). Garnish with orange slice and skewered cherry. Cheers.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


by shibeari

shining bound.
left for dead

trains comin in.
fluff in my head