The Purge Part 7: Back in Black Part 3

This is a post about purging the past.

Two Sundays ago, as I do every Sunday, I took a bath, shaved all my unwanted body hair, scrubbed all the calluses from my heels and painted my toes. My toes are important to me! Some people understand, some think my quest for constant toe perfection is a bit silly, some have mentioned that it may be a flat out waste of time--but I love it. I love how my toes look when perfectly groomed into ten little perfect glossy canvases coated in la couleur de semaine.

From 2004 until late last year I only ever painted my toes one color: black. Always black. Every week the same; and if you look at any given picture of me from those years that includes my feet you will see ten perfect black toenails. It's true, just look at the header on this very blog.
Then one day in Boston I picked up a bottle of red nail polish at the pharmacy.
Then grey.
Then pink.
Now my nail bag looks like it might belong to Rainbow Brite, and the only color I haven't used since December was black. That is, until last Sunday.

I was feeling nostalgic, I guess. I went off one of my meds and was feeling rather like my old self, and I guess that's why I slicked three coats of black polish on each of my clipped and groomed toenails, laid back to admire my handiwork, set my alarm, and went to sleep.

Then I had the craziest week ever.

In the last week I missed a psych appointment, was 15 minutes away from being homeless, was late for work twice, was early for work twice, rolled a joint, ran out of toilet paper, cried in Times Square, worked two triples and three doubles, and then capped it all off by having three drinks and ridiculously perfunctory sex with someone wildly inappropriate.

Yup, back to my old self. Black toes and all.

But really? I just can't do this anymore. I mean, last week was exhausting at best, and at worst it left me shaken and overly emotional and then drunk and naked. It's just so hard to believe that I used to do shit like this every week--and furthermore, I enjoyed it. What the fuck? How in the world did I live through my twenties?

There are a couple of stories here.

There is one that begins way back when I was a twenty-something San Franciscan, and after happy hour at Nick's Crispy Taco's and two or three of a two-foot-tall-and-treacherous drink called The Sasquatch, I walked my very best friend in the world home because he was too drunk to go by himself. I propped him up with one arm while I fit his key into the front gate of his building on Geary, helped him up the stairs, through his front door, and into his bed. I checked my email on his MacBook in the kitchen, brought him some water he screamed at me for.

We did this all the time. We only lived a few blocks from each other; our little Edwardian studios in the Tenderloin that we had both lovingly painted green and ran between constantly as we could barely stand to spend time apart. He all but carried me home many times--me in one arm and my heels in the other--and this time was not unlike the rest.

Except that twenty minutes later I had locked myself in the bathroom and felt the hard and cold of the tiled wall on my naked back as I slid down to rest on the floor.

And I know what you're thinking: "Isn't this post about purging the past? This sounds like pretty old news to me." Yes, you're right. This night was in May, 2007, almost five years ago now. But I remember the two weeks I spent crying while Shaun apologized over and over, I remember when he finally got fed up with me and left me chasing him down Geary, then the month that followed that we fought bitterly. All told, I didn't really get my best friend back for almost two months all because I slept with him one time. One time.

So I'm telling you that although repeating those two months are one of my greatest fears, I'm letting them go. I'm simply not going to participate in that, not that I think I would have to, anyway. Some people are just better cuddlers than they are lovers, and some people have to find that out the hard way, and yes. Yes, I'm telling you that I just found this out the hard way, but correct me if I'm wrong: isn't the alternative wondering whether it might have been good forever?

Consider those old regrets purged.

And the other story?

The black toes have got to go immediately. Seriously, you guys. Call me superstitious, but I fear who they make me.


p.s.-- The first five or so years I wrote this blog, I was so intimate with it that I could remember how many times I had used every title; the point of this is that I didn't have to actually look it up before I named a post 'part 2' or 'part 3', as I already knew what number part it should be. I made a pretty grave mistake with this post as there actually already exists a Back in Black Part 2. I am sorry. I am fixing it now, but know that my mistake will live forever in the URL for this post. --M


A Wordsmith, a Painter, an Indie-Film Maker: Part 2

I woke up at 8:30 yesterday morning when my alarm went off. I hit the snooze a few times. Then I got up, got ready for work and went to Gallery. After Gallery, I went downtown to close at Studio. I do this 5 of my 6 work days a week and yesterday was not unlike them. Except that I had only slept a few hours.

Sleep is incredibly important to me, both because I adore it and because I physically require a lot of it. My recent track record with dating has left me very wary of relinquishing precious hours of sleep only to prop myself up at a bar or across from a veritable stranger to share some beers or a meal while I tell my life story to a pair of increasingly widening eyes. The thought of even trying had rendered me almost catatonic, ready to cancel, and resentful that I had actually agreed to do this all over again.

Remember The VYNY? Just for shits and giggles, let's just call him...oh, I don't know, I'll just pick something. How about Michael Valdes? So one night, Michael stole my house keys. "What?" you're asking, "I thought that was just some clever metaphor to help Keenan get over a break-up, referencing the time in SF when someone stole your house keys and Keenan brought you a new doorknob." Well, you're correct, but Michael also stole my keys by giving me the impression that he'd be back in five minutes or so. He was not back in five, but instead took his alcoholic self to a bar with my keys in his pocket and got smashed enough to convince himself to return home to Astoria. Or to a club in Astoria. I was never entirely clear on that detail, but I think we can all agree that my house keys don't belong in Queens in the possession of someone young enough to require an explanation of who Kurt Cobain was.

But I tried again. Only to find that the only thing less appealing than a guy who hates his job and his roommate yet refuses to do anything about it is when the same guy is resolved to continue on like that until the day he dies. Also, I should add that he was likely the worst kisser that I have ever experienced in the whole of my life*. He was so horrible at it that I pitied him enough to try to teach him how to do it properly; unfortunately he was as lackluster a student as he is a dreamer and it was about that time when I simply couldn't trade anymore sleep for idiocy.

Cut to Thursday at work, and I'm talking to the person I spend the most time with these days given my workaholic lifestyle, my coworker, Noah. We were having another Medium Talk**, the topic being my upcoming date and my reluctance to actually go. Noah listens to all of my bullshit all of the time and rarely doles out his own, but this time we were in agreement on the dating front.

"I should go, I mean, I should at least try. I should be meeting people, but I'm just so tired, Noah. I'm just so tired." I am often tired at work. Albeit not generally as tired as I was yesterday.

So I guess it's obvious by now that I went on that date, and I told the brief version of my insane life story and received nary more than a raised eyebrow. Somehow we went from him drawing a thumb across the scar on my arm at a restaurant to a thick shock of my hair gripped in his palm in my bed and to my floor scattered with clothing and my to back arched to greet him. And when I shook beneath his steady hand I remembered that that hand was once mine: that calculated, confident, manipulative hand that pleased and controlled, that called the shots and collected playthings and locked the door behind them when they left. But it's so hard these days just to be in charge of me that it's just too easy to let someone else take over for a night. Late into the night. And then a few hours later the afore mentioned alarm went off.

So after Gallery yesterday, like every weekday, I walked into Studio and Noah was there and he asked me how I was. I answered that I was exhausted.

"Oh buddy," he said, as he calls everyone buddy and I am not excluded, "how was your date last night?" I smiled and he smiled back at me.

"It was amazing, amazingly enough."

Then he made a joke about me writing this on my blog, and slung an endearing jab about me not wanting to go in the first place, and we both knew that nothing will be purged this week because as much as it was fun and unexpected, even this date was not restorative, and they largely never are. And are you seeing the subtext of this? I have arrived inside the scenario where the only thing worth not sleeping for is being stripped of my will and then blamed for it***, and now I don't know what the fuck it means that I seem to have become the bad girl who enjoyed her spanking.

*I never do this! This is so fun. Seriously though, this dude opened his mouth as wide as would allow and then wrapped it around my face. My friend Sally has deemed this act "Fizzgigging", after the character in The Dark Crystal. This has been cracking us up all week.

**Oh, Medium Talk! This is what Noah and I have deemed conversations that lean past "it's sunny outside" but don't quite eclipse "I was abused as a child". We have a lot of Medium Talk.

***Okay, this is true. What was supposed to be a fairly platonic evening turned pretty naked pretty quickly. And I know what you're thinking: my fault, right? Well I was certainly blamed for it and it definitely was not the first time I have been blamed for inciting a sexual act, but this was not my fault; in fact I was the one trying to have a conversation about deciphering the mixed messages I was receiving*.

*Oh hey, right. Those messages? I mean the ones where in an accent somewhere between Hugh Grant and the BBC he told me that he definitely did not want to have sex, and yet his hand, which was somewhere in between my right and left thigh seemed to be saying otherwise. I finally have a day off tomorrow, and hopefully I wont lose too much sleep trying to figure out exactly what is is I'm enjoying here: being shamed, or being bad.

p.s.--I DID IT AGAIN. Seriously, I need to take a solid stock of my archives because I keep forgetting that I've already used some title or another for a post. I used to never do that. Anyway, I already wrote a post called "A wordsmith, a painter, an indie-film maker" back in March, 2008. So this should be part 2. And now it is.


The Purge Part 6: In Sickness and in Health.

I'm not going to tell you what this post is about purging. Let's just let this one unfold because, quite honestly, I'm not quite sure what I'm aiming at here.

I've seen you guys, all of you guys really but especially you die hard readers, especially those in SF or who read me back then. I can see you guys ticking the hits on my site tracker lately, checking in just long enough to know that I haven't posted in ages. Some of you guys are checking a couple times a day, just to see, probably waiting for me to weigh in on my test results. We'll get there.

I...WAIT. This is really hard. And I know, that's what she said, right? I mean that when I started earnestly writing this blog it was supposed to be funny; remember that? It was all comparing conquests and discussing the horror of performing frotage on circumcised penises and devirginizing Australians and stuff like that. We all had a good laugh, right? I mean, didn't we?

That's how I remember it, those years in SF; laughing and swilling martinis and cheap beers. Holding the ice in the bottom of a rocks glass with my forefinger while I upended it to drain the bourbon directly into my throat. Stepping into my corner store way, way past two for a Red Bull and a single serving of Absolute Citron only to marry them before the first of my Chuck Taylors hit the threshold of the front door and then fucking some kid on his roof two doors down. Three times I woke up in a hotel room and had to check the view out the window and the print materials on the nightstand to figure out where I was. Twice, it was just the Clift, a mere five blocks from my house, but the really funny time was the one that it was not. Who remembers that time I ran from Steiner and Pierce to Haight and Fillmore in maroon trackpants, green Vans, and my boyfriends' bright blue vintage ski coat to get condoms from my upstairs neighbor only to turn around and run all the way back? Do we even have to mention the Webster and Page house parties or the many, many sunrises we saw from Pant and Kristens' fire escape? Shit, once I got drugged at a girlfriends birthday party and after being seen weaving about the streets of the Richmond, a limo driver took pity on me and returned me to Lower Haight, and, true story, it was not the same limo that I had arrived at the party in. The end of that story is hilarious actually, and involves me puking in the limo, a friend who I wasn't even friends with yet, a homemade snowball, a set of lost keys, someone getting arrested (not me), a hip hop show (that I did not attend), and someone disappearing to Mexico for 4 months. All of this stuff actually happened.

And it will never happen again.

I mean, I knew this was coming--I spent those years in San Francisco counting down to my thirtieth birthday like a doomsday clock because thirty is that magic number when people, particularly women, generally start showing symtoms of their autoimmune diseases. I've been preparing for this for years, but now that it's here, and I mean really here, it's so different than I thought it would be.

This isn't fucking funny, you guys. This is downright unfair. And it fucking sucks because there are things that I have to give up just to be able to live and I don't even know what all of them are yet.

I'm just so fucking angry and I have no one to be angry at.

Something's got to give, some things have got to go. I have to eat and take my meds every single day, on time. I need to put away my laundry the day it comes. I need to figure out how to sleep nine hours a night (which includes figuring out how to fall asleep at night) and I apparently need to get more potassium in my diet.

I am finally, after years of failed attempts, being forced to purge taking care of anyone but me. And I'm not really sorry you guys, except that I never knew how hard it was before because maybe it has never before been this hard.

Oh, right. I should explain. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Hyperthyroidism, and PTSD. I'm tired and hurt everywhere everyday. I work 50-65 hours a week. I'm now one hundred, seventeen pounds.

And I suppose that I am me.



The Purge Part 5: Complimentary Angles.

This is a post about purging my inability to accept a compliment.

I went jean shopping, finally. My coworker Keith came with me to provide shopping moral support and a rear-end second opinion. I hate shopping, so jean shopping for me entailed finding the girl jean rack, grabbing four or five pairs from it that look like they'd fit, and hightailing it to the dressing room to try them on as fast as possible. I was hoping against hope to at least replace my favorite pair--a slim pair of dark indigo J Brand's--and there, between a pair of Hudsons and Cheap Monday's were the exact same pair, except these were a 25 rather than the 29 I'd been sporting for a year until recently.

I slipped them on in the dressing room, buttoned them, zipped up, adjusted the pockets. I unrolled the left cuff, a remnant from the previous customer. Then I turned around and gazed over my left shoulder to check out the rear view in the mirror and instantly wondered what the fuck happened to me.

I've done this for years. I naively thought I had finally put my weight struggles behind me as I entered my thirties, but my bony frame is back again and is taunting me in the mirror, reminding me that I haven't been this thin since my first few weeks in Miami left my ex-husband and best friends with dropped jaws when they picked me up from the airport. Here's the crazy part: I had no idea what was leaving they're eyes so wide; those three weeks in Miami saw me lose close to twenty pounds without me so much as even noticing.

Maybe this, all of this, is why I have such a hard time accepting a compliment, because I tie my appearance and my health together, because I will oft get complimented on the way I look when I am acting the most unhealthy.

Wait, I should explain. I can accept a compliment, I can even enjoy it, but I favor the ones that trend more towards "you're smart" or "you do that that really well". The ones that are more like "you're pretty" tend to raise one of my brows and make me wonder what the fuck this person wants from me. Excluding the 30 or 40 different people who have extolled on the softness of my skin (now there is a compliment I can accept; I work extremely hard at that and am similarly pleased with the results) there have been exactly three times in my adult life that I have been complimented on my looks and instantly believed them. They have all occurred while I was naked.

Once, when I lived in Portland, a girl whom I later followed to Miami gave me the first one while tracing an invisible line on my upturned hip with her forefinger.

"Your body is perfect. Just perfect."

Once, in Miami, on my very last night living there, a boy whom I loved very much gave me the second one, drawing out the third word longer than it would traditionally last.

"Your body is beautiful. Don't ever change it. Ever. Ever."

The third was just a few weeks ago, delivered to me in my bed in Brooklyn, and it made my breath catch in my throat and possibly my heart stop.

"You are fucking gorgeous."

Now don't get me wrong, I didn't accept any of these compliments particularly graciously, in fact I didn't know what to say to any of them. But these are the ones I believed, even momentarily agreed with, and I have no idea what made these three so believable to me.

I bought that pair of J Brand jeans that Keith helped me pick out, but it wasn't without reluctance. When I first ran from the dressing room with them on and turned around so Keith could see what was happening in the back, I couldn't believe that these jeans were so like the ones that had been my favorite but were turning my ass into a veritable pancake.

"Do you like these Keith? Look at this though, don't they make my ass super flat?" He agreed that yes, unfortunately, my ass looked more like lower back in these jeans. I agreed that they were weird and was determined not to buy them until I returned to the dressing room and tried on the next pair.

In which my ass was equally flat.

Then I had the horrific realization that the problem was my ass and not the jeans.

I picked out two pairs and brought them both to the counter to buy them, one of them being the J Brand pair. Keith wondered why I had changed my mind, and I explained to him of the intrinsic ass-flatness, and how I'm just gonna have to get over it.

And I do have to get over it! Time to purge this disbelief of other people's opinions, time to regard myself as the girl who was called gorgeous just a few weeks ago and thanking people for agreeing with me. Believing people who agree with me.


[p.s.--It's also time to purge my drawers of hundreds of dollars of denim in a 28 and 29. If you are these sizes and would like to have them, email me your address. I will send them to you, or bring them over if you're local. --M]

[p.p.s.--Whoa, hold up. here's what you gotta understand--my former ass literally inspired poetry. This is a fact I just now remembered. I have the original somewhere, scrawled on a bar napkin, and am so pissed that I no longer have it memorized. I will dig through my hard-archives and find it tomorrow. --M]