An Open Letter to Color “Oops” Hair Dye Remover

Dear Color Oops Hair Dye Remover,

I’m writing to you because, after 23 washings, my hair STILL smells like Color Oops Hair Dye Remover, which, as you may or may not know, is the exact smell of hospital room death.

Please help.

I don’t know why I wanted to turn my golden locks brown, two weeks ago. However, I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that I’m now 3 months shy of turning 40. Being always youthful and sprightly, I never expected that I too would fall prey to a midlife crisis, of any kind. But apparently I have.  For instance:

  • I recently put a giant wall-size poster of a tiger in my bedroom
  • I am planning my first ever trip to Vegas for my birthday (even though I have spent my whole life saying things like “I’ll never go to vegas. Vegas is stupid. Why would anyone go to Vegas? Vegas is an asshole.” )
  • I am saving up my money to  get my first (and last) TATTOO, on my “tramp stamp” spot of this bumper sticker: (I’ve also decided that, when I die, I’ll have an open butt casket funeral where the only thing that’s exposed in my coffin is my withered glutes and this withered tattoo. I’m not even joking.

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Understand, I wasn’t intending on going full browny brown. Just light brown! Caramel Latte extra foam brown. Ikea shelf  brown.   The brown where the sea touches the sand, and the wheaties kiss the milk.

All poetics aside, the processing time on the brown dye said 30 minutes, but my practical friend warned me to check periodically because my hair is so light it will literally drink up dye like it’s just fallen off the wagon.

Check. After 5 minutes, I noticed my hair turning REALLY SUPER BROWN. I immediately washed out the dye. The day before, I’d gotten a shorter, shaggier cut. Ever the optimist,  I imagined the results would be like Winona Ryder from Reality Bites.

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However, it turned out I more closely resembled Carol Burnett, Circa 1974

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measbrunette

And so, I lived one week as a full on brunette. My coworkers said it looked good on me, and “brought out my eyes” which is, of course, the default compliment people give when there are no nice things to say about an obvious cosmetic accident. (“interesting…. do you like it?” is another one) 

Anyway, during my week as a brunette, I felt sadly invisible. No longer did people look at me as an exotic  inbred specimen from some snowy place.  Sure, there are blondes in the bay area, but most of them are fakers with bad roots. My color is true, and it  comes from generations of bluish-white people doing what they do best: breeding with their siblings to stay warm.

A quick google search  for “how do I remove hair dye” led me to Color Oops Hair Dye Remover. Fortunately, the Walgreens by my house carried it! Yes! It promised to strip the brown from my hair and restore the old color. Soon, I’d be back to my old exotic self.

It was gag at first squirt. I won’t lie–I usually enjoy the smell of corrosive chemicals. I like gasoline, bleach, elmers glue, and soft scrub in particular. However, this grouping of chemicals did NOT make me happy or evoke pleasant fantasies of sucking on the nozzle of a gasoline pump in an industrial wasteland. Instead, it evoked the smell of the nursing home I was forced to visit every other weekend for two years when I was a kid, to visit my late uncle (rest in peace) who was institutionalized there.

The nursing home wasn’t called Sunny Acres, Meadowlake Villa, or Convalescent Cove. It was named after the broke-down Minneapolis neighborhood it was located in: Bryn Mawr. Hell, the name even  LOOKS jank–could they really not afford to buy a few vowels?  Apparently not.  And Inside, it looked exactly like a horror movie hospital, and was tended to by nurses who looked like they spent their off hours assembling car parts.   And everywhere, the old people shuffled down the hallways, yelling out, arguing, begging invisible friends for candy, demented, dragging dirty diapers, sometimes half naked,  and nearly all of hem long abandoned by their families. And no matter how much industrial grade ammonia and bleach they hosed the place down with every night, nothing could erase the smell of impending death. It trumped everything.

My late uncle Ken,  who was sadly only in his mid thirties at the time, was placed at Bryn Mawr because he was afflicted with a particularly deadly and crippling form of MS. My grandmother, who lead the charge of our bi monthly family visits, who was, incidentally,  already certified crazy, used this as an opportunity to crank her insanity to  a volume of 11. She’d spend weeks preparing for these nursing home trips…packing food and supplies that were better suited for building a bomb shelter, than visiting a someone in a nursing home-food bars, slipper socks, sweaters, baby food, pudding, instant breakfast.

But that was just a start!  As soon as my dad fired up our bloated Buick Skylark  every other Sunday, we’d still have several more stops to make before seeing Ken. Throughout the week, he’d shout out the names foods that he wanted my grandma to bring him, for his big feast. Fried chicken, steak, burgers, fries, mcdonalds soft serve ice cream…The list was long and punishing, and by the time we arrived at Bryn Mawr my entire family smelled like the grease trap of a deep fryer.  

Upon arrival, the  ritual of feeding Ken began. My uncle was always a good eater. Unfortunately, because of the disease,  he no longer had any way of knowing if he was full or not, and would inevitably end up barfing. It was such an ingrained ritual that my grandma KEPT A BARF TROUGH  NEAR HIS BED for the moment when this happened. And it always did. Sometimes he’d barf and then demand more fries. It could go on and on.

Whenever the feeding began, I’d take my little sister Laura downstairs to the community room to spare us both having to watch the barf fest.  Sometimes we’d eat  from the box of sugar cubes that lay next to the tea dispenser. Sometimes we’d plunk out some tunes on the broken piano, pitched pennies, or pestered one of the bedraggled nurses for paper to draw on.    It  was always a little scary to be alone anywhere at Bryn Mawr–especially if you were under 10. This is because all of the residents, so desperate and lonely for company, would always sniff us out and stagger out of their rooms to find us.  One woman would march in place and smack her lips together, ready to gobble down our youthful souls. Another would say “Abba Abba Abba Abba” over and over. One man, afflicted with severe hydrocephalus,  seemed particularly enchanted by my sister, and would roll his blimp head around to stare at her whenever she was near. (Which of course, terrified her).

All of this backstory, of course, is not to torture you, but   to give you a fully developed sense of the smell bouquet evoked by Color Oops Hair-Dye Remover. To recap:  Ammonia, bleach, barf juices, despair, and death. Check.

As I washed the corrosive chemicals out of my hair that first day after application,   I prayed to Jesus that I’d actually have hair left when I got out of the shower. Fortunately I did. And while the chemicals did NOT restore me to my old color, they did lighten the color to a strawberry blonde that looks, if nothing else, like it would grow naturally out of my head.

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Unfortunately, it was only the beginning of my nightmare. That night, as I brushed my teeth, I caught a whiff of it again. I concluded that I must have spilled some color loops somewhere in my bathroom, and immediately began scrubbing like mad. 

A few days later, I was at the gym, and I caught another whiff. What the….It was coming from my sweaty head–apparently I didn’t wash it out well enough!

So I went home and washed, and repeated. Washed and repeated.

A few nights later, I woke up from a nightmare, head all sweaty,  and SMELLED IT AGAIN.

This began my foray into obsessive compulsive hair washing. lather, lather lather. Rinse, rinse rinse. Lather lather lather….I washed my pillowcases, gym clothes–anything my wet hair may have touched and infected with the smell.

BUT THE SMELL WAS STILL THERE.

The good news is, I only smell the smell chemicals when my hair is wet or my head is sweaty. As long as I don’t get too worked up and avoid the rain, all is groovy.

The bad news is, the chemicals are still in my hair follicles. What are they doing in there? Why won’t they leave? Don’t they know their job is done, and they can now  go to the great celestial sewer in the earth and mingle with mouthwash, acne scrub and shampoo residue? Seems like a pretty good deal for some foul smelling

Why am I writing to you? Obviously  my association with the smell of your product is unique to me. Nobody else in the world visited their uncle Ken in a nursing home for two years and watched him barf  a haystack of fries into a trough. Nobody else sat in a hallway pitching pennies for hours while sad old people cackled and peed on the floor.  

I guess I’m writing to see if this is a common thing among users of your product. Is it me? Or is this some sort of gift that keeps on giving? In other words….Is the hair dye remover continuing its slow stripping my follicles of browny brown even after 23 washings?

Primarily, I am seeking your sympathy. However, if you are so moved, please reimburse me $12.99 for the entire bottle of shampoo I used up trying to wash the smell out.

Also, since my scalp is sore from all the rubbing of shampoo suds, I would like to request one of those cool scalp massager things that look like beat-up kitchen whisks. Those are awesome as fuck.

Kindly,

Arlene Shirlee

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Dollar Store Douche (And other tales from the bathroom)

2012: A newfound passion

Let it be known! The big  bedroom makeover  of 2012  sparked a new passion in me never before witnessed by  family or friends:  The passion to clean, purge, and organize.  To those who have seen me plucking a pair of pants off my bathroom floor,  wearing them to dinner,  spilling lasagna on my lap and then EATING THE LASAGNA OFF THE DIRTY TOILET FLOOR PANTS-  BEHOLD! To those who have wondered about strange smells emanating from my purse-WITNESS! To all of my dinner guests who have had to surreptitiously re-wash entire sets of dishes I set out for them-TESTIFY!  

With shame and disgust as my guiding stars, I set out to methodically clean and reorganize my ENTIRE HOUSE, starting first with the bathroom.

For those still in denial over how gross I am, here’s a testimonial about my bathroom,  from Adriana:

For as long as I’ve known Arlene I was a little scared to sit on her toilet when using the facilities at her house. I mean, I can always wash my hands with iodine if I touch something unexpected in the salon or kitchen, but how am I supposed to sanitize my chocha & bung if a septic army crawls out from under her turlet seat and invades my bits?!?! An immediate full-on bath isn’t an option. I’ve seen her shower stall and I believe it’s in cahoots with the commode.

The first step in my bathroom adventure was the gutting every single item from my cabinets and shelves, and placing them on my bed to be sorted into individual toss/keep/goodwill piles–yes, motherfuckers: every  half- empty vitamin bottle–every  rusty bobby pin, every leaking tube of neosporin, every capless stick of lipbalm was layed out next to my dozing cat. 

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Dollar Store Douche

About  four  years ago, I was in the dollar store on 7th and Market,  and I spied an item on the shelves that enraptures me to this day: A DOUCHE KIT. It was love at first sight.  My brain immediately began to hemorrhage with so many questions….First of all, DOES ANYONE ACTUALLY DOUCHE ANYMORE? Haven’t we all learned that vaginas come equipped with their own internal janitorial staff,  and to mess with their delicate flora can result in a raging yeast infection? Second of all, WHAT UNSAVORY SEX ACT WOULD YOU HAVE TO DO to warrant a dollar store douche? A corn weevil gangbang?  Mudfisting? Dumpsterlingus?  Assuming that you spent an evening shotgunning ketamine in a gas station bathroom, and woke up straddling a dead horse, COULDN’T YOU JUST TAKE A HOT SHOWER?

The more I stared at the box, the more I knew I just had to buy it. It needed to be part of my life somehow in ways I didn’t understand. And so, I plopped down my dollar on the counter, and took my new friend home. I placed it on my desk and stared intently at the box. As I stared, more questions began to bloom:  Who was the airbrushed model on the cover?  Either they’ve been using the same photo from 1973 to sell douche (I mean..aren’t there any retired actresses who can be the new face of the natureplex douche kit-JULIE DELPY I’M LOOKING AT YOU) (holy shit maybe it IS julie delpy) . The alternative is this box of douche WAS ACTUALLY ABOUT 20 YEARS EXPIRED.  Also, note the name of the manufacturer: “Natureplex.”  Are you kidding me??? I’d LOVE to go to the natureplex! Sounds dreamy.  I imagine it as a huge bio-dome full of woodland creatures, mossy glens, endless starry skies, and glittering rainbow rivers of douchewater, tended to by airbrushed nymphs who look like Julie Delpy. Yessss.

natureplex
natureplex

“What are you going to do with that douche, anyway?” Asked a friend, noticing it still sitting on my desk after two weeks.  

I didn’t know. For awhile, I flirted with the idea of turning on my video camera and doing a live televised douching–in the spirit of Geraldo Rivera getting butt fat injected into his face on his show a million years ago. After all, I’d never douched before! The whole thing would be a joyous disaster from beginning to end-sure to please one and all.  “Who is this woman willing to put her vagina on the line for entertainment?” people would say. “Let’s give her lots of money!” Of course, there would be a follow-up show all about my raging yeast infection, and searching in the dollar store for a healing salve. 

After the novelty wore off, however, I put the douche kit in the  cabinet below my sink with all the other chaos and noise.  And then, when I finally cleaned my bathroom, I  decided against throwing it away. Instead, I put it in the back of my cabinet for reasons I did not understand. 

Then I began to scrub the living shit out of my shower stall. I emptied bucket after bucket of filthy water, feeling like I was cleaning both the bathroom and my soul somehow. 

“Still on this cleaning kick?” asked my dickhead roommate, poking his head in the bathroom.

“Kick? I’m never stopping,” I said. “This is my new religion.”

“Yeah, right. We’ll see.”

Dick.

BEER IN THE SHOWER

Is there anything more deeply refreshing than drinking a cold beer in a hot shower? Think of it like a full cleansing, inside and out. While the suds roll off your body, a sudsy stream of alcohol disinfects and purifies your insides. When you emerge, you are extra  super clean!!

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Unfortunately,  after my extra clean evenings, I’d just leave the empties on the floor of my shower–creating a serious trip hazard.  Were there ever to be an earthquake while showering, I’d would likely be found with shards of glass lodged in my body, resembling a craft project done by a tweaker on day one at the recovery center.

“Yeah, I’m guessing she was already dead before the quake” the coroners would say. “Jesus, can anyone drink this much beer in one sitting and survive? Man this bathroom is filthy, let’s take the body and get the fuck out of here. I think I just saw a bug crawling out of an old cheetoh.”

Which brings us to the present: 2015 

Even though my dickhead roommate at the time thought my obsession with cleaning was only a phase, I have since proven him wrong over and over again. (And also kicked him out for being a dick) and kept up a regular cleaning schedule.  While I am far too distractible by shiny things to be a full-on anal retent like Julie or Adriana,  I now make time to keep things from getting out of hand. 

Though I’ve dutifully  kept the toilet from growing mushrooms,  I have always  felt like my bathroom was missing something. I spend lots of time in there. I also have guests sometimes. It’s a nice thing to do, to think of other people and the experiences they are having in your bathroom. It’s one thing to poop, it’s another thing to poop and ponder something.

Anyway, remember the dollar store douche? I have kept it all these years–in the back of my cabinet below the sink. Once a year, I purge the sink cabinet, and I am once again confronted with the douche kit, and EACH TIME I PUT IT RIGHT BACK IN THE CABINET. Why do I hold onto it??

So, I decided to make the boldest executive decision of my life: Put the dollar store douche ON DISPLAY in my bathroom as an object of curiosity. This will force each person who enters to wonder about my intimate life. Does she do unsavory things? Make dildos out of dog turds? Perhaps they too will become lost in a reverie about the natureplex. 

So here it is, right next to my razors y’all! Front and center! 

go big or go home.
go big or go home.

I also decided to put up a framed picture, above the toilet. Each time I use the toilet now, I look at it, and repeat this phrase:

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inspirational poster

Another fun fact–In the last year or so, I started learning how to accessorize and wear jewelry. A huge step for someone who should not be allowed anywhere near jewelry or tiny precious things because of the mysterious vortex that surrounds me. Earrings, bracelets, necklaces, newborn babies,  all seem to get sucked into it. “I just bought these earrings and already one is gone. WHERE DO THE THINGS GO?” 

I thought it would help to have my jewelry–y’know– organized in some way, instead of in a tangled mass of sparkles and chains.  So I procured this little number from Walgreens, and doctored it up with some russian criminal tattoo greeting cards I had laying around.

Behold!

farting russian skeletons for the win
farting russian skeletons for the win

And here are some succulents in my bathroom window  that will surely die because I have the black thumb of doom. One of them is a BUTT PLANT. (which will apparently grow a tiny flower out of its crack) 

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And finally, my collection of cheap eyeglasses–one in every color. Arranged neatly on tiny hooks, instead of flung haphazardly about and getting scratched to hell. 

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And thus concludes my bathroom makeover! Hey,  if you’re ever in Oakland and gotta pee or number two (or douche!) look me up! I’ve officially got the funnest bathroom in Rockridge.

The Great Birthday Bedroom Makeover

In 2012, on my birthday, my friends showed up at my house with their arms full of cleaning supplies. Instead of cupcakes and shiny presents, they carried mops, buckets, rags, rubber gloves,  knee pads, buckets of paint, and murphy oil soap.

Did I mention I have the best friends in the world?

As instructed by Adriana, I’d already undergone phase 1 of the makeover: removing all items from my bedroom. Each item I removed  revealed a new horror: A giant dust oxen, in the process of mating with a pantiliner. A shriveled pea, a crumpled piece of paper with the words “Genital Crab Race”  scrawled on it. Brown-tipped ear plugs, wrapped up with broken ear buds. Playing cards stuck together with nail polish.

“Well, it was hard and also  scary, but I got everything outta there,” I said, walking my friends to my now empty, but completely filthy room.

“Oh my god. It’s worse than I thought,” said Julie, examining the Jackson Pollock stained walls. “Ew, is this ketchup?”

“Either that or blood,” I said. “I’m a barbarian you know.”

“Jesus. I think I need a drink before we get started,” she said.

And so, we gathered outside, to do a ceremonial shot of whiskey, and breathe in the fresh air before heading into the dungeon of my neglect.

And then we donned our rubber gloves.

first time wearing rubber gloves for anything but fisting.
first time wearing rubber gloves for anything but fisting.
Julie, getting fitted for knee-pads
Julie, getting fitted for knee-pads

I’ve asked my friends to submit their own versions of what happened after this–while they remember the before and after,  both of them reported it was a blackout haze of dirty bucket water, violent scrubbing, gagging, and scraping.

While my friends hunched over crusty splatters of pea soup, I took artistic photos and tried to keep them motivated with cheerful observations and antics. (Hey, someone had to be the cheerleader!) (also, it was my birthday!)

At some point, I noticed a rainbow prism shining into my room, where Julie was scrubbing some old sputum off the walls.

“Guys, a rainbow a rainbow!!” I announced. “This is a good omen from the gay parade birthday gods! Hold that pose Julie! Okay, now look like you really mean it. Give me a smile. Okay, good!”

A rainbow!!
A rainbow!!

“I think I’m gonna hurl,” said Adriana, pointing to something in the corner. “Did a bug just crawl out of that old cheetoh?”

After the bedroom was thoroughly cleaned, and disinfected several times over, Adriana set to work on taping the walls to begin painting them Wild Raisin. 

Meanwhile, Julie scrubbed down my desk outside–the beautiful, solid oak desk that the nice old gays gave to me a few years earlier was completely laquered with weed resin and chum. My promise to them that I’d take good  care of it, long abandoned.

Along with all the hilarity, of course, was shame. A shame that had been growing since I purged my closet a few months earlier,  and unearthed  the corpse of a long-dead film prop. The shame continued to bloom,  and haunt me  through my excavation mission under the bed. How is it acceptable that a 35 year old woman treat her own surroundings like a refugee camp? How could I justify my neglect  by saying “Oh, well, I’m an artist, I’m too busy videotaping  myself giving birth to Giant Meatballs to really do any of that ordinary people cleaning stuff. Besides, one day I’ll be rich and famous and hire someone to do that. For now, I’m cruisin at too high an altitude, baby.”

It was simply not okay for me to continue disrespecting myself as I had been.  Mother nature may have cursed me with a pathological near-sightedness and manky teeth–but she blessed me with a bright and brassy inner voice.  “Forget your art projects for now,” said the voice. “This is the shit.  And it’s only the start. You wanna break free from your demons? You wanna find your way out of the belly of the whale? Then grab a rag and get down on your hands and knees, bitch, and clean some crud. CLEAN YOUR WAY TO FREEDOM.”  

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Promise!”

“Yes. Promise.”

(Fortunately, I’m also not smart enough to second guess or argue with my intuition)

And so, after the painting was finished, Adriana brought me into my newly scrubbed, newly painted bedroom, where we stood in front of a giant fan and gaped.

“You know what this is?” she asked.

“The best birthday ever???”

“No. It’s A clean vag. Your bedroom is a metaphor for your cooter. Just remember that.”

“I will.” (And I did.)

A clean vag.
A clean vag.

After my friends went home to bleach themselves, drink,  and douche, I lay on my bed marvelling at my walls.  For the first time in nearly a year, I felt a little hopeful about life. Like, in all of the darkness, I could see a tiny pinprick of light now. And if I continued on this strange journey of personal hygiene and house cleaning, I would eventually find my way to the sun once again.

And so, over the next year, I kept my promise to the dominatrix of  my intuition.  The bedroom was only a start. The next weekend, I purged and cleaned my pantry. Then I tackled my bathroom. Then the kitchen. I opened and emptied every drawer and cupboard finding horror after horror.  I got rid of the dumpster-dive couch full of spider nests. I learned to love my mop and bucket time,  and rejoiced every time I smelled  Murphy Oil soap, because it made me think of my friends, and what a special  gift they gave me on my birthday. Truly, a gift that keeps on giving, even to this day. 

lost in contemplation and shame.
lost in contemplation and shame.

The Gentle Pimp Hand

When setting off on an adventure into uncharted waters, it’s good to have a compass, a sack of food, and some good drugs. However, the most important thing to have, are travel companions who can help you figure out how to use your compass,  and who you can share your food and drugs with.

I’m very proud and lucky to know two extremely smart and homesteading-savvy women–without their help, guidance, and merciless teasing, I would probably be floating on a barge of cat hair and kleenex, somewhere north of the Pacific.

Meet Julie

One day, Julie and I took a trip to the beach. The plan was to meet at her house, and she would drive us there. By the time I showed up at her house, I’d lost a flip-flop along the way, spilled gatorade in my lap, and my sunscreen exploded on the train, covering everything in my beach bag with oily goop. Meanwhile, Julie had both of her beach bags packed neatly and efficiently, according to logical ease of access. She was also dressed appropriately for the beach, and had packed extra layers, for when it gets cold.

“Drat, I forgot to bring something warm for later,” I said, knowing I’d forgotten something.

“Do you wanna borrow an extra hoodie, mama?”  Asked Julie.

‘Sure, that’d be great,” I said, fishing out some soggy store receipts from my bag.

“Here you go. Just please don’t wipe boogers on it, okay?”

“Of course. And thank you.”

Speaking of appropriate clothing–Julie is also one of the most  smartly dressed people you’ll ever meet. She is, in fact, my style hero. No matter what the occasion, or weather, she always has the right thing on, and the right things packed in anticipation of weather changes. Generally,  she’ll wear nice slacks, librarian shoes, and knit sweaters that fit her perfectly BECAUSE SHE KNITTED THEM HERSELF. Julie believes that one should always be smartly dressed in public, as it raises society to a  more respectable level. Through her guidance, and gentle ribbing, I too, have stopped wearing overly squishy things in public. I put together an outfit. Then, I check my outfit for stains, rumples, and hairballs before I leave the house. And I always pack a scarf.

Julie eats her food in neat little bites and doesn’t wolf it down like a barbarian and get big grease stains on her titty.

If you go to Julie’s yuppie house, you’ll be hard pressed to find any dirt whatsoever. (Although she went through a weird stage where she was collecting cat fur in a jar for mysterious reasons.) When her mom comes to visit Julie ritually CLEANS THE BLINDS. This means, no matter how neat Julie is, her mom is clearly in a category beyond.

Julie says she can’t abide by chaos and disorder–she hates housework but makes herself do it because the end result is sanity. And, after my come to jesus moment with cleaning, I have to agree with her: organized, and clean is best.

Meet Adriana

Adriana is the wizard of all things homesteading related.  Really, she should  be like a yogi or something, and sit in a shrine doing bong rips while being visited by various spazzers, clumsy acolytes, and greasy barbarians.

“Adriana…I just bought a mini bottle of fernet, and can’t open it. I want to smash it!”

“Get a rubber band and wrap it around the top.  And zip up your fly for pete sake.“

”Adriana….How do I put a comforter cover on a comforter?”

“My child. simply turn the comforter inside out. Hold it at the corners. Then shake it down over the comforter.”

“Adriana. How do I organize the lids of my pots and pans so they don’t fall on my head all the time?”

“Young grasshopper. Simply buy a dish rack, and arrange them in there.”

When you crash at Adriana’s house because you got too loaded, she will have clean sheets for you, and a clean towel. And a toothbrush. She won’t hand you something that smells musty, or give you a glass of water with a dried lentil floating in it. If you run out of toilet paper in her bathroom, there is a fresh roll waiting on a shelf, within reaching distance. You won’t have to shuffle to the other side of the bathroom with your chonies down, and dripping pee everywhere. She really thinks of everything. I fucking  love that woman.

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My Reality Show Starring Me

Me: Guys, I feel like I’m in a reality show right now.

Adriana: You are. It’s called “your life.”

 

Makeover style shows generally suck. This is because the people doing the makeovers are not your friends, they are entertainers. After the show, when you wobble home in your Jimmy Chu’s and pleated capris, look at yourself in the mirror and say “I look like an asshole” the producers of the show are clinking glasses, smiling into their coke mirrors,  and celebrating another successful show.

If you decide to do a home or personal style makeover (and I’ve done both now!) you want to choose people you really trust, and who you can rely on to be completely honest with you. Because let’s face it–you can’t grow into the best person you can be,  if you can’t accept honest criticism here and there from your loved ones. Likewise, you aren’t being a good friend when you offer only empty praise and say “That’s awesommmmmme” to every nit-wit thing your friends say or do. You are only keeping them small, and in the dark.  We have a duty to each other, as human beings, to gently guide and corral behaviors when necessary.  Not everything we do is “awesome” and deserving of praise. I know, in the Bay Area, we tend to discourage shame and shaming. Which is, well, a shame, because people should feel more ashamed. Especially those who wear pajamas in public and walk too slow in the train station. Without shame, what’s to stop us from throwing poop at each other like monkeys, and making whoopee to moving buses?  Shame, when used conservatively,  is actually quite useful to maintain accountability. Take a moment now, to feel some shame. Let your cheeks get rosy. It’s good for you.

Anyway, In light of the bedroom makeover, and the subsequent clothes shopping makeover, my friends and I created a  friendship philosophy around being truly honest with each other about shit, and it’s come in handy for more than just makeovers–it’s just a good all around way of respecting your loved ones:

Introducing……

THE GENTLE PIMP HAND  **

This philosophy of the  gentle  pimp hand,  follows a five finger approach. When embarking on any kind of make-over expedition, road trip, or other deeply personal endeavor with someone, consider each finger of the gentle pimp hand, before deciding who to take with you on your journey.

The gentle pimp hand
The gentle pimp hand

LOVE:

Does this person love you? Do you even know what love is? Are you a rock or an island?  I can’t answer that for you. But if thou have a slightest doubt then don’t choose this person  for your make-over.

TRUST:

“They are not my friends. They’re like my co-workers and our job is being, like… popular and shit.”

-Winona Ryder from the movie Heathers.

There are “friends” and there are Friends. Some people you hang out with because they are fun, or help you get laid because they are attractive. Or because they have access to the best drugs. Other people, you trust with your life. They’ve seen you vomiting in your purse and falling down from heartbreak, and they still embraced you. You’ve confessed things they have not repeated on Facebook. They check in on you when you’re down, or sick.

HONESTY:

Here’s how Adriana lays it out.

“If your friend has spinach in her teeth, you’re doing her no favors by remaining quiet about it. You are only embarrassing her further. Yes, it will be embarrassing when you tell her, but think how embarrassing it could be if you DON’T. “

So, if your friend squeezes into a tube top and resembles a keilbasa, there is a way to tell her that will still allow her to retain her dignity and prevent her from buying the tube top. Remember: your friend’s  unflattering clothing choices are like spinach in her teeth.

HUMOR:

Nothing should be taken too seriously. ESPECIALLY not makeovers. Your friends should be able to tease you and you should also  be able to make fun of yourself. Like the time I went clothes shopping with Adriana and Julie:

dressingroom

Humor is such an undervalued, but necessary  part of the makeover process. Please remember that you’re supposed to be having fun. No matter what you’re doing.

OBEDIENCE:

Once you’ve found your one or two  friends who you know have your best interest at heart, and who aren’t trying to make you into someone you’re NOT and  who only wish to see you rocking what you got THEN YOU MUST OBEY THEM.

OBEY. THEM.

Giving up control is hard for many people. At first it will be weird and you’ll want to fight them. Eventually, you just submit to their gentle pimp hand. That actually makes it easy—if you can’t submit, then perhaps one of the fingers is still missing from the pimp hand. Time to have a sandwich, and re-examine.

Here’s an example of the gentle  pimp hand in motion :

Prior to going clothes shopping with me for the first time, Adriana gave Julie a pre-game pep talk, because Julie was feeling a little nervous about the possibility of having to tell me something I picked out doesn’t look good, and hurting my feelings. We women care much about hurting feelings. Maybe a little too much.

“Okay Julie. Here’s the deal. At some point in time, while shopping, Arlene will probably try on something way too small and do her best to convince you that it’s sexy. Your job is to gently, but directly let her know that it does not fit her. Guide her to more appropriately sized clothing. You can do it. Keep your pimp hand strong!”

Sure enough, I found a clingy pencil skirt that day at H&M that made my jelly jiggle.

“Wow, look at my ass in this thing!” I said, twerking and spanking myself. “Amazing! This is hot!”

Julie was quiet for a moment. She cleared her throat. “Don’t you think it’s a little, well,  er….small?” She asked.

“Yeah, sure, it’s tight. But it’s tight HOT.”

“I don’t think it’s the right size for you.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Aw come on,” I said, waggling my booty. “You know you want some of this, huh, HUH?”

“You have a fantastic ass, mama. I just think it would look better in a skirt that actually fit you.

Then I stopped. I noticed the elastic on the skirt was, in fact, digging into my vital organs. And I had a little difficulty walking. Well, okay, a lot.

“But…”

“You can still find a hot skirt, but in your size.”

“Awright.” I grumbled. “You are right.”

 

I am lucky, and blessed,  as I said, to know people who I trust enough to help scrub the mystery stains from my walls. To help purge the torn flannels and half-stuffed railroad hobos from my closet. To bring with me into the dressing room while I try on endless bras. Were it not for my friends and their gentle pimp hands, I might still be safety pinning my pants, and mopping my floors by skating around  the kitchen on clorox wipes.

 

And on this note, I’m going to turn over the next post–for the most part!  to Adriana and Julie.  They will help me tell the story of the Great Birthday Bedroom Makeover–one of the best, and joyfully humiliating days of my life.

**SENSITIVITY NOTE:  I understand the violence, and abuse that real pimps inflict. I do not mean to make light of this abuse.  However, I am re-claiming this word. It’s okay if women (and men) who love each other,  are each others gentle pimps in a tough love friendship. Please realize that, though the pimp hand is often firm, and sometimes even stings, it is NEVER abusive. If you feel humiliated or wounded by your friend pimps, then go to a safe place and hide. Then, find some new friends.

The Monsters Behind My Bed

Though my bedroom, at one point in time, would have made a great sad clown museum, or a secret hideaway shack for one of the lost Manson girls, the truth was, it just didn’t feel sexy for me to be in there. This is because, my bedroom wasn’t JUST my bedroom; it was also my art studio, production room, dining room, stoner dance party club, and my wastebasket. As a matter of fact, it was so NOT sexy, that I coudn’t even have an erotic fantasy without interruption.

For instance, I’d lay back in bed, turn on some slow jams, shut my eyes and imagine some swarthy lumberjack, poised to ravage me.

“Take me, take me now!” I’d cry to my romantic partner.

Stone cold freaking would begin. After a few seconds, he would stop, and say “wait. hold on. There’s something digging into my leg. Holy shit, is this a toenail?”

End fantasy. Make sandwich. Sigh.

Even my homosexual cats, Henry and Ralph, were getting more play than me in my bedroom. Unlike human homos, they didn’t seem to care if I had a box of tampons on the desk or not. They didn’t mind about the broken christmas lights. They got it on day and night.

“Jesus christ, give it a rest!” I’d shout, in the middle of the night, feeling the bed wobble, and hearing what sounded like the ghost of eartha kitt rumbling up from the bedsheets. “Go rent a room at a Hojo and leave me in peace.”

As the days led up to my Big 35th birthday Bedroom Makeover, I grew increasingly excited, envisioning how my new bedroom would look. One thing I did know for sure–I’d be caught dead before I let anyone turn it into some assembly-line pottery barn suburban bullshit. There would be no earth tones, and no motherfucking shams. There would be no framed artwork featuring spring flowers, or abstract squares. And there would definitely be no wicker baskets, of any shape or kind.

Instead, I looked to 70’s porn, for my bedroom makeover inspiration. I wanted to transform my sad railroad hobo shack, into a full on shagadelic lavalamp bordello, complete with a revolving tray of boob chocolates, and luther vandross on a clapper.

Like this:

mirrorceilingbed

“Hey, maybe we can even put a mirror on my ceiling!” I said, to Adriana, in a reverie of excitement, one night.

“Honky, you live on a fault line–ain’t no way I’m gonna let you get sliced to shit from your falling fuck mirror if there’s an earthquake.”

“Oh. Right.”

“Don’t worry! We’ll make it sexy. Just watch–it’ll be like a dick trap. Men will be walking down the street and suddenly be knocking on your door with their boners.

I smiled, thinking about some of the hot DILFS in Rockridge, abandoning their non-fat latte pilates wives, and strollers, for one chance to freak out in my den of iniquity.

We had meetings to discuss paint colors. We collected swatches. We debated over accent walls, or a full bedroom paint job. In the end, we decided to do two accent walls. The color I chose was a deep, fully engorged burgundy called “Wild Raisin”.

wild raisin

Wild Raisin! The color of love, before it explodes into whipped cream.
Wild Raisin! The color of sex for breakfast.

I spent the morning of my 35th birthday emptying my aquarium, moving my dresser, and desk out of my room, preparing for Adriana and Julie to arrive with their cleaning supplies. Behind each of these things were assorted treasures! Buttons, and safety pins. Earplugs, and hairballs. Dried cat vomit residue, and cat litter. And about $50.00 worth of spare change.

The last thing that remained to be cleared out, was my mattresses.

I’m not sure how often y’all clean behind or under your beds, but the only times I’d ever cleaned behind my bed , was when I was actually moving out of an apartment. That is to say, my idea of a fun Saturday afternoon involves hanging out at the cemetery and thinking about death, and coming home to listen to 70’s music while I dance with a towel on my head. Maybe make a casserole, or two. Maybe start a screenplay I’ll never finish. But never have I ONCE said “you know…I think I’ll spend this nice golden saturday afternoon cleaning behind my bed, because it seems like it might be getting a little grody back there, and I don’t want to breathe in spider poop while I sleep.”

Never. I’d lived in that room for 5 years, and never once moved or cleaned behind the bed.

I had no idea what I was in store for.

After the spiders and silverfish were effectively wrangled and exterminated, and I stopped shrieking about bugs, I began to slowly fish out random items from behind my mattress, each one more strange than the last.

Then, I began to snap some photos.

CSI

List of items found behind my bed, are as follows:

1. Crumpled kleenex
2. Dried up tube of cadmium yellow acrylic paint
3. Crusted shut bottle of strawberry lube
4. Black yarn, tied in knots
5.Gauze tourniquet, applied to my cat Henry’s chin, when he had an exploding abscess.
6a. Old stuffed dog I found in the park, with eyebrows drawn on!
6b. An old man mask with “Kiss me, I’m terminal” hat.
7. Hair weave /severed muppet head
8a dead muppet
8b. Writers guild certificate for my screenplay “Dearie”
9. long ropey thing.
10. leaf
11. Plucked pink feathers, from a boa
12. cat treats
13. Lowrider Oldies CD
14. assorted dried out pens
15. assorted mixed nuts
16. Grapefruit spoon
17. 63 cents in spare change
18. ear plugs
19. nail clipper
20. Risk card

If this were a crime scene, what do you suppose happened? My guess is someone broke into a halfway house for dried up theater queens, and distributed a truckload of acid to the residents, which resulted in a lowrider dance party orgy, followed by a game of Risk that turned deadly after someone swallowed the dice thinking they were candies.

After taking several artistic photos of what I found behind my bed, I moved my mattresses out of my room.

My bedroom was now COMPLETELY EMPTY. Having all of the furniture of of my room gave me brand new insights into the random stains on the wall. Some of them were obviously coffee or condiments. Some were more mysterious, and contained particulate matter of unknown origins.

The doorbell rang. It was my friends.

“Happy birthday, honky!” they shouted, hugging me, and dragging buckets and mops and rags behind them.

“I’m proud to announce, I removed all of the furniture from my room,” I announced, walking them into my bedroom. “Incidentally, I found some nuts behind my bed. Is anyone hungry?”

“Jesus. We’ve really got our work cut out for us,” said Julie, gazing at the Jackson Pollock splattered walls, and crusty floors.

“Dang. I really hope those aren’t boogers on the wall over there,” said Adriana.

“Yeah. We may need something stronger than Murphy’s soap for this job,” remarked Julie.

“We can always go get bleach if we need to. And we may need to,” said Adriana.

“Well, should we get started?” I asked.

As my friends began to fill buckets full of soapy, lemony-scented water, I grabbed my camera and started snapping more photos. I knew this would be a day that would live in infamy, and it was.

Before I tell the birthday story of the Great Birthday Bedroom Makeover, I’d like to formally introduce you to Adriana and Julie, my Anal Friends.

My Witchy Bedroom

Hello, friend! C’mon, let’s hop into a time machine, and go back to December 2011 so I can give you a tour of my witchy bedroom. Step lively, one and all! And don’t forget your hazmat suit.

Let’s begin.

As soon as you step in, to the right you’ll notice  a bookcase. On the top shelf is a mystical shrine. There’s a photo of my dead grandmother, some teeth and feathers in a jar my friend found in a bolivian witch market, and about a dozen candles which have burned and melted into the bookshelf.  I decorated this book case with an assortment of playing cards,  and paper cut-outs of B-Movie posters (I just tape them to the surfaces, because who the hell has time for a frame?) There are also various books and journals piled up haphazardly, with random scraps of scribbled paper falling out of them. Some of them say things like “Genital Crab Races: New Olympic Event?” or “I got a big bulge in my jeggings.” Note: I have no idea what any of this shit is referencing, and yet I hold on to the hope that one day I will understand.

bookcase

 

Along the wall, next to the book case is a wine-colored sheet tacked to the wall. I hot glue-gunned rhinestones and stars  to it and have used it as a backdrop for my many of my world-famous videos

Directly facing you is my bed–That is to say,  a few random mattresses piled like dusty pancakes on the floor. Just ignore the huge dark stains THEY ARE NOT blood stains or skid marks  but ink,  INK I TELL YOU.  I’d developed the nasty habit of falling asleep in bed with an open pen. But I never have the budget to replace my bedding, and besides, I never have any overnight guests,  so it really doesn’t matter anyway.

Moving along to the left, there is a beautiful solid oak desk given to me by some nice old gays who made me promise to take care of it. (Of course, I did not). Ontop of the desk rests an old eMac computer which doesn’t really work, and  makes a high-pitched keening sound when it is on, much like a tweaker at 4:00 am. The desk is caked with coffee-stains, food splatters,  and weed resin.  There are two or three moldy coffee mugs on the desk next to a box of tampons (my friend rachel m. said to me on her last visit: “you know how long it’s been since you got laid,  when you’ve got a box of tampons on your desk.”) Under the desk are more journals, sketches, random scribbled ideas, junk mail,  and dirty socks. Above the desk hangs some janky old christmas lights; they create a festive ambiance.

Next to my desk is a lamp, with a torn piece of fabric tossed over it for dramatic (witchy red light!) effects. The fabric has been burned by the lightbulb a few times. Just move the burned pieces to the back and ignore that it’s a fire hazard BECAUSE IT LOOKS SO COOL!

lamp

Moving along counterclockwise, you’ll find a chest of drawers with a broken handle. On top of the chest is a giant aquarium, which I have used to house any number of art installations: an island of toy crabs huddled under a disco ball, a genie bottle with a scary doll head stuck in it, and one time in a minimalist phase,  a lone can of tuna fish. The water in the aquarium is changed only when I start to notice mold scum. Which is pretty much never because I don’t notice shit like that. I’m telling you know, I’m a gross-out human being.

Aquarium2aquarium

Ontop of the aquarium sits a broken toy planetarium that I repurposed into a prop bong for a video. The prop bong has a fake  severed hand in it, along with a luchador mask.

luchador

 

Thus concludes my tour. Thank you all for coming! And now let us travel briefly back to 2015, for a Purell bath and a shot of listerine, and then hop in the time machine to July,  2010.


Notes from Oz

In July, 2010, the night before I started my new job in the Tenderloin,   I threw a party to celebrate my last day of being unemployed. However, my mood was, shall we say,  less than festive?  As I stood in my kitchen, preparing  my famous three layer jello salad, a bitterness began to seep into my guts. Here I’d had one shitkicking year of freedom, working on endless creative projects, all with the hopes that I’d finally find my lucky break and avoid being shackled once again, to a regular 9-5 desk job like all the other miserable bastards out there.   And while I had accumulated an impressive portfolio of videos videos , screenplays, blogs , and a small, but loyal fan club of drag queens, miscreants and perverts, I felt defeated.

 

decolounge

Looking into my future, I saw an endless expanse of desks, rush hour commutes, angry customers, crazy bosses, malfunctioning printers, ringing telephones, and piles of paperwork. Polices, procedures, meetings, death.

And I wept. I wept into my creamy whipped topping.

But later that evening, my mood lifted!  This is because  I have awesome friends, and they never fail to cheer me up. That night, I received two amazing gifts. I’m not generally a superstitious person, except when it comes to heartfelt gifts. I believe they are somehow divining instruments from heaven, and things I should seriously ponder on a poetic level while grooving on kind bud.

Anyway, gift # 1 was an elaborately decorated cake, which featured a woodland scene. In the middle of the cake, was a blue frosting river. At the foot of the river was a little explorer, at the beginning of a journey. All along the river were little animals: snakes, lions, deer, elephants, and cows.

Gift # 2 was a bedazzled glass boot, filled with cranberry vodka mix.

rubyslippers1

“Oh shit! It’s the Wizard of Oz!” I exclaimed, gleefully. (My all time favorite movie, by the way) “See? Here’s my ruby slipper, and here’s the yellow brick road–except, it’s a blue frosting river, of course. And all of these little animals are going to be the new friends I make in the Tenderloin.”

Amazing how a slice of cake, and  few shots of cranberry vodka from a bedazzled boot can change a perspective.  All at once, I felt at peace. I was simply going to be in “Oz” –a crazy upside-down place full of friendly singing midgets, and dancing scarecrows!  No matter what happened, no matter how dark and ugly,  I would remind myself that I will one day go “home” and this will all be one crazy story I’d tell one day, over a hearty country breakfast of grits and hard tack. (Or in a blog.)

down the hatch, motherfuckers.
down the hatch, motherfuckers.

 

The Oz metaphor helped me greatly through my first six months or so of my job in the Tenderloin. I viewed every bizarre thing that happened, every insane person I encountered,  with detached amusement. I even began to  write Mark Twain- style  “Notes from Oz” letters to my dear friend Gina, who’d moved away to Florida, detailing all of the wacky shit I met in, or around that office. Here’s an excerpt, from my first month:

Greetings from Oz, Gina! Here is what I’ve observed in only my first week of working here:

 

  • A man outside the  office, violently threatening another man with a cup-and-ball game!
  • A woman making diarrheas in front of Norwegian tourists and then vomiting into her diarrheas!
  • A client who stashes all our paperwork we give her “in her titty” yet still manages to miss every single one of her doctors appointments.
  • A drunk man shouting at himself in our bathroom
  • A client who is a depressed ex-surgeon who tried to kill himself by inducing a cardiac arrest that looks like a natural death, so his children can get his insurance money.
  • A client plagued by a talking peanut butter sandwich that sits on her shoulder, singing the national anthem nonstop.

Here’s another excerpt, from six months later. Still trying to stay detached.

The job itself continues to be challenging as fuck, Gina,   but I treat it like a form of character-building yoga.  Every day I am presented with a new  challenge: where will I sit? will we run out of toilet paper? am  I losing my mind or is my co-worker playing tracks from his experimental  nightmare-inducing CD? Why does the screaming lady on McAllister scream every tuesday afternoon at three o’clock? Will the ex-con I am accompanying to a dr. appointment stab me in the head like he stabbed that shop-clerk years ago? Always an adventure, Gina. Always an adventure.

One year later,  every other employee that worked there when I started  was fired or quit or went insane,  and the only two jackoffs  remaining in Oz, were me, and the office manager, Leo. (name changed). I inherited all of our cases, and my workload went from demanding, to insane. On top of all this hot mess, like a blood clot on a cupcake, I fell in love with the Office Manager, Leo. It wasn’t a giggly office flirtation. There were no happy hours that trailed off into gropings we awkwardly regretted later. There were no dreamy sighs aired over the water cooler. It was raw, hot, and gouging, and it exploded me from the  inside-out.

Here’s an excerpt to Gina, from July, 2011:

If this were national  geographic, I’d say what’s happening between me and Leo is a courtship ritual between two very mutually attracted people who cannot, for  very concrete reasons (he is my boss, he has a girlfriend)  actively mate. Our courtship rituals thus far consist of:  name-calling, teasing, threats of physical violence, (“i’m going to kick you in the face”), throwing staplers at each other,  sharing cooking secrets, making each other gifts out of office supplies and hiding them in eachothers desks, psychoanalyzing each other, and re-hashing episodes of Little House on the Prairie. At times I wish he would just go away, but he’s up in my crack 24/7, Gina, God help me!  The more I ignore him and tell him to get outta my face, the more he delightedly teases me. He even called me a bitch one day, and you know what? I have not been that turned on since, like, the 90’s.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hold on to the Oz metaphor for much longer than a year. Shit just started getting way too real.  Oz was a whimsical, fantastical place!  Sure, it had flying monkeys and a wicked witch. But the make-up and technicolor were so obviously fake.  My Oz was much darker, and, the “wacky” characters I’d detailed in my “Notes from Oz” letters to Gina were real people who had very real, and tragically debilitating physical/mental health issues. Homeless men and women. Veterans. Parolees. Survivors of appalling violence. And it was my job to read their medical and psychiatric records to scour them for evidence.  The more I read their stories, and the better I got to know these clients  personally, the deeper I sank. It was extraordinarily humbling, and transformative time, to say the least. Also, depressing as fuck.

By December 2011, I was skidding off the rails. I stopped doing art projects. I didn’t see people. I drank wine, alone in my bedroom nightly, trying to exorcise the accumulated misery I’d absorbed: both the human misery I encountered by day, in our clients and neighborhood,  and the misery in my own  heart being madly in love with a man I knew I’d never get to french. It was a sadsack year.  At some point, I just stopped fighting it. If this darkness wanted to swallow me, then, hell, who was I to intervene? Don’t we shy away from the darkness a little too quickly? It’s much easier to find a distraction–shopping, drugs, workaholism, internet, TV,  or a new lover. But I believe  the darkness is just as important as illumination, in forming strength of character in a person. The problem is, it kind of sucks to be there, so nobody wants to stay except masochists.  Fortunately, I am a masochist, so I plugged my nose, shouted cowabunga, and dove directly into the belly of the beast. For awhile,  I found peace;  understanding nothing and being defined by nothing. I woke up, I did my job, felt my big feelings, wept in the bathroom, and went home to stretch and dance it off to disco. Then I did it all over again.

After what felt like a thousand days and nights, I grew restless. I started to miss my old life, of antics and schemes. But when you’re that far in the belly of the beast, and actively being digested, you know the only way out, don’t you?  Yep, through the old  poop chute. And the only way to get the beast to poop is to feed it lots of fiber.

I’ve done many things in my life that some might consider daring, or just plain weird and stupid. I have danced naked on a beach in nothing but a beard beard, while my friends filmed me. have stood on stage, in front of a hundreds of people, doing rap songs about prostate cancer awareness. But I have never, ever  done anything so wild, so  radical, as purging my closet. Suddenly, a speck of light appeared in the darkness. The beast farted, and I wanted to continue the agitation process with more cleaning and purging, because it felt like the right thing to do. Perhaps this was the metaphorical metamucil I needed to feed the beast, to get it to poop me out. My problem, of course, was that I had absolutely zero skills in this department. I may have been a creative savant, but I was a homesteading flunkee.

So the saying goes: “When the student is ready, the teachers will appear.” And luckily,  I had to look no further than two of my best friends, Adriana and Julie, who are, in addition to being fun-loving, great to talk to, and solidly rad, are also anal retentive neat freaks of the highest order.

“I want to learn more of the house shit,” I told them, one evening, over drinks.  “The closet purge is just a start. I want to completely redo my whole bedroom, and continue on through the whole house. I want  A CLEANING REVOLUTION!”

Fortunately, my birthday was just around the corner. And so, my kind, and loving friends decided to gift me with a complete bedroom makeover, which included a deep clean and a paint job.

“See, your bedroom, is like your vagina,” explained Adriana. “You want to have an nice clean vag, and not a vag full of crumpled kleenexes and cat hair vomit crust. We will help you, and show you our ways. But you’re going to have to prepare your room first before we come over,  and clear everything out.”

“Okay,” I said, not having ANY idea what I was in for. “I can do that.”

“Well shit,” said Julie.  “ Let’s make it happen.”

The Exorcism of Smokey Jack

“I held her emotional hair, while she vomited up her closet.”

-Adriana

Hoarders

If you’ve ever seen that show, hoarders, you’ll know there’s some crazy shit people hold on to. Books, kittens, candy bars, junk mail, cat turds from long deceased cats. Deceased cats.  Some people have a complete inability to throw ANYTHING out and so they basically make a human nest of their own junk, and barricade themselves behind it–as if their junk could protect them from the Adult Protective Services people when they come knocking. It doesn’t.

My Grandma Flo was a hoarder. She was a severe, Austrian woman with prominent cheekbones,  who wore a turban and wrapped her checkbook in 100 plastic baggies.  When she died, she left us with a legacy of fascinating artifacts, ranging from a pyramid of empty saran wrap boxes, to bags of  expired halloween candy from the 70’s.  At the end of her life, there was only a narrow path from her bed, to her sitting chair where she wept and read her portals of prayer.  The rest of her house was piled sky high with junk.

Most people do not hoard to the extreme as the show Hoarders, or my Grandma Flo. But unless you’re a buddhist or something,  I’m guessing you probably have some things in your closet you could bear to part with.  You can tell alot about a person by the things they stubbornly hold on to. People make all kinds of ridiculous excuses to keep things that don’t work or because they hope to make them work someday when XYor Z happens.  But XYZ never happens. “When I lose weight I can wear these jeans again,” or “All this broken dildo needs is some  duct tape, and it’ll be ready for action again.”  (side note: the  Mighty Duct Tape Dildos would be a great name for a roller derby team)   However, in the spirit of self care, I’ve grown to learn it is always good to have less things, but that  the things you do have, be solid, cared for, and in good working order.

Find a purging friend.

While You CAN  do your very first closet purge alone, I wouldn’t recommend it. Especially if you’ve been consuming illicit substances. You could find and old store receipt and take a trip down memory lane to that day when you bought vagisil and redbull and give yourself a psychosomatic yeast infection.  You could try on some old pair of pants and weep at the sight of your withered muffin top. You could get frustrated at the closet itself, chug some whiskey impulsively throw EVERYTHING out, burn it, laugh, and then sit silently in the empty closet like a golem and refuse to come out.

A first purge is a friend activity. But it has to be the right kind of friend. You are about to embark on a highly intimate act!  Don’t invite someone over who has a history of making you feel bad about shit. Don’t invite someone over who’s bored or distracted all the time. And definitely don’t invite your mother. The purging friend is ideally an older friend who has seen you through some trouble and still loves you. Perhaps they were with you when you put your cat to sleep. Perhaps you accidentally ingested  a skull-melting dose of cannabis cookies one day, after having spent the night being jackhammered by a hot carpenter and now you have no idea what year it is,  or why you are at a leather daddy fair, or where you bought that painting of floating bicycles that you’re now carrying around.

These are simply examples.

Purging day

I was pretty nervous when Adriana came over for my purge.  Opening up my closet was a whole new level of intimacy for our friendship. And, since I’d never actually purged, I wasn’t sure what would come up.

“Dude, kudos to you for wanting to take this step,” said Adriana, as we shared a pre-game drink. “ You’re very brave! I think you’ll find the process is actually more fun than you think.We’ll put on some groovy music. It’ll be okay.  You’ll have fun! You’ll see”

I gulped. And then, I opened my closet door, and a slew of bats flew out. Next, we were hit with the mysterious smell of testicular cheese.

“You’re sure you don’t have a body in here somewhere?” she asked. “how is it that your closet smells like scrotum and you haven’t gotten laid in like three years.”

I shrugged.

“Okay. Well, the first step is, We’re going to go through your closet piece by piece, and sort everything into piles. Pile one, we keep. Pile two, we give to goodwill. Pile three, Trash. Ready?”

“Sure, why not?”

With each item I pulled out, Adriana had a list of questions she’d ask:

  1. What is that? (Clothing? Shoes? Old snacks? Abandoned art project?)
  2. (if clothing) Do you actually wear that? Is it stained? Ripped? Shrunk?
  3. When was the last time you wore it?

There were many many revelations that evening.

Lesbian Shoes

We started our purge, with shoes.

“Man, you’ve got hella lesbian shoes up in this bitch” said Adriana.

“These are comfortable!” I proclaimed, lifting up a beat-up old Keen. “These shoes got me through film school.”

“Those shoes are a metaphor for your vagina,” she said. “Do you think a guy would want to stick his dick in that?”

“The right type of guy.”

“Maybe a guy with a ponytail who wears Guatemalan pants and likes camping.”

“I like camping,” I said.

“No you don’t.”

“You’re right.” I sighed “ I hate camping. It’s time to say goodbye to these shoes.”

insert dick, here.
insert dick, here.

Frankenbras

It was time to move to the lingerie and pajamas.

“Holy shit. What did you do to all of your bras? Why are they all stitched up like that? And is that a blood stain?” Adriana asked, holding up a pink  bra with drunk, sloppy black thread stitching on the straps and a strange red smear.

Frankenbra
Frankenbra

“They got stretched out. The stain is lipstick.”

“Well, why didn’t you go get a new bra?”

“Because I’m poor.”

“Too poor to buy a bra?”

“Look, if I stitch them up, they’re just as good as new again.  The only reason to get a new one is if my nips start poking out.”

“Ay yi yi,” she clucked. “Frankenbras.”

“What’s the big whoop? It’s not like anyone can see them.”

“Do you even know your actual bra size?”

“I donno–double D I guess.”

“Have you ever been properly fitted for a bra?”

“Nope.”

“I think you need to get fitted proper-style for a bra, mama. They do that for free, at Macys! You can go with your friend Julie to do that  cuz that’s a straight girl activity. But really. I think you’ll just feel so much better when you have a proper fitting bra–especially because your cans are so enormous.”

I looked at her skeptically.

“I’ll think about it.”

Charlie Grogan’s  Pajamas

I lifted up a moth-eaten, torn pair of pajamas, with garden gnomes printed on them.

Charlie Grogan's Pajamas
Charlie Grogan’s Pajamas

“I’m sure you know which pile those go to,” Adriana said, tossing her head to the junk pile.

“No way, hell no, these are CHARLIE GROGANS pajamas!” I cried, clutching them to my chest.

Charlie Grogan was the name of the  main character in my student thesis film, “The Broken Heart of Charlie Grogan.” It’s about a man who gets dumped by his live-in girlfriend, goes home to his mother, puts on his childhood pajamas, and crawls into bed for three months. During this time, he is visited by ghosts from past, present, and future, (a la A Christmas Carol). In the end of the film, the characters take his bed out to the street, and there he strips off his pajamas, and walks naked into the world again. (Of course you know I’d have some gratuitous male nudity in my film!)

The film was more than just a student thesis project.  It was THE SYMBOL of my ability to triumph over great odds. For no sooner had I finished writing the Charlie Grogan script, than my live-in boyfriend dumped me and suddenly fiction became all too real. It was the kind of break-up that was so shitty, I had to pack my bags and leave immediately. Unfortunately, I could not go home to my mother, because she lives way the hell in Minnesota. And so, I crashed on friends couches and cried myself to sleep, wondering how the hell I’d be able to finish up film school with no place to live, no job, and a broken heart of my own.

After one particularly dark evening having spent the night on a scabies infested couch, and kept awake by a PBR hipster vomit  party in the room next door, I staggered into a film school faculty meeting weeping, and scratching myself absently.

“I’d like to drop out,” I announced to the staff. “I just can’t do this. My life’s a mess. I’ll come back next year. Goodbye.”

The director of the school pulled me aside, and delivered a riveting pep talk. “You gotta stay!” He said. “You’re right here, at the top of the class! Only two more months to go. I’ve seen what you can do, and you can do this.”

I know he was only blowing smoke up my ass, but his pep talk  was enough impetus for me to dig my heels in and finish the damn film. From the dedicated actors, to the outstanding crew, the project was, and is still in my mind, one of my greatest successes. My parents even flew their asses out from Minnesota to watch it on the big screen at my graduation. Good times!

After graduating, I held onto the pajamas, and wore them devoutly, even when they started to fall apart. They were a reminder to me to keep trying to make films, no matter what happened.

“I’m sorry, I–I just can’t let these go.” I said to Adriana.

“Okay,” she said slowly. “I understand. So, I  have a suggestion. Why don’t you make a new pile category for “costumes” and put them there. “Or, you could make something out of them, like a small handbag.”

“Okay,” I sniffed. “I need another drink now.”

“Okay. Let’s take a break.”

Broken Flannels

After we came back from whiskey on the back patio, we started in with  shirts and pants.

As far as style goes, my signature look via 2011 was what I call “Peek-a-boo grunge” I’d wear a torn flannel shirt, for instance, with a lacy camisole under it. Some of the lace might be coming apart, and that’s okay too! As long as there’s plenty of cleavage showing, I can rock anything.   Plus, I worked  in the Tenderloin of San Francisco at that time—a place where people wear plastic bags as hats, and crack pipes as earrings.  Who the hell cares? Am I really trying to impress anyone?

“But it’s kind of sexy, no?” I said to Adriana, holding up a flannel.  “Like, does anyone wear a shirt with just the armpit ripped out? This is CUTTING EDGE fashion CUTTING EDGE.”

peekaboo
peekaboo

“You know, just because you work with hobos, doesn’t mean you are required to dress like one.”

I gulped, and nodded. The torn flannels went into the trash pile.

Adriana then picked up some long sleeved t-shirts and examined them. “Also, why is it that nearly every shirt you own has a hole in the back of the neck.”

“Oh, because I rip out the tags.”

“why do you do that?”

“I donno. They bother me.”

“But those tags have the washing instructions on them.”

I looked at her blankly.

“Good lord, I’ve got my work cut out for me. Well, you know the rule…Nothing with holes gets to stay with you.”

“Okay,” I said. “Death to the holey shirts.”

Shittycuffs

There were some items Adriana insisted I try on first before deciding which pile they go into. This was the first speck of light  in the dawn of realization that I was wearing clothing that was too small for me, hoping to look somehow smaller. It had the opposite effect.

“Look at the pockets of these pants,” she said. “Diagonal pockets make curvy women look bulky. You need pockets that go straight across.”

“Whoa dude, really?” I asked, removing a packet of mustard from one of the pockets, before throwing them into the Goodwill pile.“I have never heard of such a thing.”

always carry a condiment in your pocket, just in case of a sandwich emergency.
always carry a condiment in your pocket, just in case of a sandwich emergency.

“Really. And another question:  Do you have ONE pair of pants that aren’t safety pinned at the bottom?”

“Nope,” I said. “I mean, who the hell is noticing the cuffs of my pants anyway?”

“People notice. Maybe they don’t stare at the cuffs because they’re staring at the hole in your armpit or your  giant cans.  But  It’s part of an overall effect–do you want to look like someone who’s generally well put together, or someone who just doesn’t give a shit?”

“Hmm.”

“I say, either have them hemmed properly,  or don’t wear them.”

“Okay, I’ll have them hemmed,” I said. Adriana watched me with curiosity,  as I pulled all the safety pins out, tossing them absently on the floor like chicken bones.

“Looks like the cuffs of  each one of those pairs of pants is also stained, crusty,  and frayed at the bottom.” She said. “You’ve probably got tenderloin spores and tweaker jizz all caked on to them.”

“Well, the tailor can just cut those parts out, right?”

“Why don’t you just budget for some new pants,  and learn to actually take care of the things you buy? I’ll go with you. We’ll make it fun.”

“Well….actually…I am due for a big tax refund,” I said slowly. “But….I was going to use that money  to buy a new video camera, and maybe a ukelele. Oh!  And some canvasses for a new series of paintings..”

“Maybe you could use it  buy yourself some newer, better fitting clothes instead”

“Christ,  how am I ever gonna make it as an artist, if I don’t even have any tools?!” I cried. It was the second outburst of the evening.

“You know…I don’t wanna sound too woowoo about all this purging stuff,” Adriana said.  “But sometimes, if you empty out space in your house, and learn how to really take care of yourself, and the things you have, you become a magnet for good things to come to you. Remember, you told me you wanted to change how you lived your life. Changing shit usually requires sacrifice.”

“I donno,” I pouted, trailing off into a  grim vision of my future. A future where I was nothing but  a well-dressed working-class stiff. Cutting through the shit-strewn streets in my brand new, sensible, tailor-hemmed slacks. Handing stacks of social security paperwork to a jacked-up tweaker in my smart-fitting tootsie blouse. Instead of going home to shoot a video of myself queefing backwards, I would hang up my clothing, do a few simple stretches, and prepare my outfit for the next day.

I shuddered.

You see, my whole life, I’d lived with a deep dread of being  an Ordinary Person. Just another silently seething piece of meat squished on a rush hour train to resignation-land. Livin’ for the weekend. Grunting through my tasks. Blowing my brains out with cheap cocktails at every happy hour. What would it mean, to forego (even temporarily!)  my deep attachment to being known as a Weirdo Artist Chick?

I looked at my pile of frankenbras, torn flannels, and shitcuffed pants, and felt, below the sadness and terror,  a strange surge of  giddy excitement. It really is true, when you’ve hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.

I looked into my friends eyes. She knows me better than anyone,  and I trusted her completely.

“Okay,” I croaked. “Let’s, like… be chicks and totally go shopping for clothes.”

Adriana hugged me. “I’m really proud of you. I told you this would be tough! You’re doing great.”

The Exorcism of Smokey Jack

There was one remaining surprise item in  the very back of the closet! A cloth human torso, with a pillowcase head attached.

Smokey Jack
Smokey Jack

“What the…..I thought you said there were no bodies back there.”

“I never said that.”

“Is this the old hobo who haunts your room and makes you use torn pieces of fabric as lampshades? Is this Smokey Jack?”

It had been so long since I saw the actual back of my closet, I was puzzled at first what it was for. Likely, I created it while stoned.

Then I suddenly remembered!! This man was, in fact, George Clooney! Or, I should say…He was a makeshift George Clooney I created  out of rags, while working on one of my many unfinished screenplays. This abandoned  screenplay was entitled  “Making out with George Clooney” It’s about a failed filmmaker (Played by moi, of course) who gets a tattoo of George Clooney on her ass one night,  while intoxicated. Eventually she is convinced that the tattoo is communicating with her, and commanding her to write a script for George Clooney to star in. However, of course, he doesn’t show up, and she has to substitute a man made of old rags as the romantic lead. Until, of course…Through some wild set of coincidences he REALLY DOES show up at the end and they/we both get to make out.

“One question. Have you done anything…. sexual with this cloth man?”

“Of course not. I mean, just frenching.”

“Ew. Get rid of it!, Een!”

“Okay, but I need one last moment with him.”

And so, I cued the Luther VanDross, and slow jammed  one last time, with George Clooney AKA Smokey Jack.

One last french.
One last french.

Then I threw him in the trash pile.

And thus concluded my very first closet purge.

The next day, I opened my clean closet, admiring how orderly and empty it was. It was subtle, but i really did feel a shift–I mean, internaly. The stuckness I’d felt for the last several months felt a little bit…less stuck.  There was a small pinprick of light in the belly of the whale. I smiled.

Then,  I went to pick out something to wear, and made a ghastly realization. I texted Adriana.

“Adriana. I have no pants.”

“Oh shit.”

Hi! I’m an Unruly House Honky

Hello, World! My name is  Arlene, and I am an Unruly House Honkey. I open packages with my teeth. I can’t screw tops on jars. I fling macaroni on the ceiling when I cook.  And once,  I dyed my hair purple, at a place where I was a house guest, and left a permanent purple ring in their bathtub.

Just as a fox kills, a fish swims, and a bird flies–I destroy everything in my house, and in other people’s houses too. It is my nature. I am an Unruly House Honkey.

However, I am happy to report that, in the past four years, I have made vast improvements in how I take care of my home, and body.  Due to a series of tragic circumstances, combined with  a gnawing, persistent awareness that something was deeply out of balance in how I took care of myself,  I finally reached out to my two most anal retentive friends to get intensive counseling on matters such as: How do I load a dishwasher properly? What is a napkin for? Why does my bedroom smell like scrotum cheese all the time?  Etc etc.

This series of  adventure stories details the adventures of how I crawled out of my own primordial slime,  and gave birth to myself in the form of a somewhat responsible, vaguely cleanly adult. Some of the things I tell you may be too grisly to imagine a grown-ass  woman doing. Forreals? She did that? But yes child,  the stories are all true.  My hope is, by laying myself completely bare…stain by stain, rip by rip, and spill by spill, I may inspire others who live as I did, to make their own brave journeys through the land of mops and buckets.

Baby Gorilla.

hi.
hi.

“Once upon a time, your mommy and I went to the zoo. As we were walking along, we heard a noise in a garbage can. When we opened up the lid, we saw a little baby gorilla inside! She was all covered in garbage. Her mommy gorilla  had abandoned her.  So, we fished her out, and took her home,  gave her a bath, and called her Arlene.”

This was the actual story my parents told me, about how I came to be. Not the stork. Not “Mommie and daddy loved eachother and then BAM a little sweet angel was born”  No sir, I was a monkey found in a garbage can. The story  was told so often, that my little sister’s first sentence was “Een a monkey!”

Incidentally, only a few weeks ago, my mother forwarded me a news article

Yes. Believe it or not, a baby gorilla named Arlene was indeed born at Como Zoo! 39 years after they supposedly found me in the garbage can. ( I don’t know about you, but that’s some quantum leap shit, right there.)

Anyway. Like a self fulfilling prophecy, I grew up in a feral, ape-like state, surrounded by a  cloud of cat hairs and wheaties crumbs, humping dirt clods and chewing on rhubarbs plucked out of the neighbors garden.

My physical body existed, only in so far as I could fling it across a field or hoist it up a wall. Unlike other nerds and dorks who could barely lift a pencil, I was athletic, daring, with whip-sharp reflexes. This, combined with no concept whatsoever of danger, led me to some interesting places.

“What kind of creature is that, climbing the wall of the school? Is it a Chupacabra? Good god, is it urinating? Should we call the ASPCA?” A concerned parent might say.

“Nah, that’s just  our daughter.” My parents would tell them, taking a deep  drag off a joint. “And, she’s actually a monkey. We found her at Como Zoo in a garbage can.”

The physical world existed only as a means to achieving my schemes and visions. If I wanted to take bite out of the blue cheese moon, I’d just shamble up  tree and stick out my tongue. If I wanted to build an amusement park for the cats, I’d tip some chairs over, and fill a laundry basket with crumpled toilet paper. And, if I wanted romantic moments with my childhood crush Gary Coleman (From Diff’rnt Strokes, kids) , I would make out with a brown pillow we had in our living room.

I  sometimes look at photos of myself as a kid, and wonder why I wasn’t beat up more, or given more wedgies.  I had a klingon forehead, crooked teeth, a snarl of yellow hair, chronic impetigo, and I avoided dressing myself at all,  unless I absolutely had to:

monkey girl
monkey girl

Yet, despite my grimy appearance, I was somehow able to make friends quickly, even though we moved from town to town every year like a gypsy caravan. I think it’s because I presented exciting alternatives to stupid kids games. Also, I always had expired Halloween candy from my grandmas house, to offer as a bribe.

“Let’s not play dolls,” I’d say. “Dolls are stupid and boring. Let’s stage a protest so we can get longer recess hours! Then we can play all day!”

“Yay!”

“Here’s some markers and poster board, and some rock hard peanut butter taffies. Let’s make some signs.”

A captive audience
A captive audience

 

When I wasn’t out trying to force other children to do my bidding,  I was alone, with books. Fat,  weird, creepy  books. My parents were hippies, and allowed me unlimited access to our vast library. My dad was a poet,  with a collection of classics–from Salinger, to Steinbeck. My mother had an interest in medical tragedies and occult phenomena. I spent hours alone with books like “Death Be not Proud” –about a dude who dies of a brain tumor.  “Joni” –about this chick who has a paralyzing diving accident and learns to paint with her mouth.   “Helter Skelter” –which kicked off my life-long obsession with  the Manson Family,  and “Seth Speaks”–stories about a woman who channels a spirit that delivers new age messages about astral travel.  By the time I was about seven,  I was reading at a high-school level, and my mind was swimming with death, disease, and astral time travel, along with a growing desire to take over the world in some way, shape or form.

As I entered my 20’s and grew  more exposed to “the real world” of asshole bosses,  late busses, bills, bedbugs, rent checks, and dirty dishes, I continued to disappear further and further into the darker parts my imagination. I wrote shitty goth poetry. I plunked out songs on my mandolin about fisting. I psyched myself into an open mic or two.  Somehow, I   managed to show up at whichever lowlife admin job I had at the time, to pay the rent you see, but I’d always spend my days  gnashing my teeth at my desk, and dreaming of that fairy godmother moment when some rich, powerful benefactor would take me aside and say “You…YOU! You are the one we’ve been looking for. The voice. The vision. The character!  Here’s a bunch of money to get you started, and we’ve got you booked for a world tour starting tomorrow so make sure to get your beauty rest tonight. Get ready to take over the world!”

“If only I just had time!” I’d whine to myself, or anyone who would listen. “If I didn’t always have to go to my shitty office jobs, I would certainly become a famous artist, I am sure of it. I just need, like, a year sabbatical to focus exclusively on my art-that’s all I need to make it”

And then,  in 2009, the economy crashed, the heavens opened up, and I finally got what I wished for—I was laid off from my admin job, and suddenly on a one year course of unemployment checks.  Tossing a gleeful smile to the sky, I immediately set to work doing nothing but eating, sleeping, and breathing ART.

It was a wild, and wooly year!

For instance,  I did things like…

Randomly joined a 4th of july parade in Lafayette, dressed as Charles Manson:

creepycrawly
creepycrawly

Started a comedy consulting company! Hung up fliers, and then defaced them. 

Comedy Consultant
Comedy Consultant

Sexually propositioned Spammers

Shot music videos with my parents!

Then, in 2010 the first of a series of tragic disappointments befell me.

Hobo City 

In the summer of 2010, my last round of  unemployment checks was sadly,  not approved. Those magical checks I received every other week for writing rap songs about balls,  were suddenly  yanked away. Fuuuuuuuck! Well, as luck would have it, I found a job in the nick of time. It was  in the shittiest (literally) part of San Francisco, and involved intensive case management and legal assistance for disabled folks–most of whom were  homeless and in deteriorating states of lucidity. It was the site of my own personal crucifixion and rebirth. But I didn’t know that yet. All I knew was the place reeked of donuts and ball sweat, tweakers were yelling at me, and I was filled with a deep bitterness that I’d “failed” in my 1 year  mission to save myself from the 9-5 office slave meat grind by making a living as an artist. I DID NOT WANT TO BE THERE.

As my day job demands grew more and more intense, I doggedly tried to keep up with performances, blogs, and videos. But it was a struggle! I was losing ground fast, and unravelling mentally.

And then, one by one, all of my tools began to break.  My video camera stopped working. My computer started sputtering out. My microphones, and instruments, one by one, all began to explode, or fritz out, in a conspiracy, it seemed, to push me over the edge.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have to funds to purchase new tools.  And so, I was left  with nothing  to do but to sit and look at my surroundings, feeling a sense of doom and helplessness swallowing me whole.

“Fuck! Why do I always trip on this fucking cord in my room?” I’d shout, to nobody, and then burst into tears.

A little creaky, often ignored voice responded, “Because, honey child, you always leave it dangling there. You’ve never paid attention to your surroundings.”

“Shut up, stupid voice.” I said.

“I’m just saying…”

Hobo City II

One night, during my days of dark fury, I watched a documentary about a group of hobos living underneath the new york subway system. I probably shouldn’t have been watching something that reminded me of my day  job, but I felt compelled to watch anyway.

What struck me the most about the documentary, was the care and attention the hobos gave to their surroundings. They would methodically sweep their cardboard floors. Gently fold their motheaten garments. They even put their crack-pipes away in special handcrafted boxes. Little zen masters, each one of them!

And then, I looked around my room. Moldy coffee mugs. Crumpled kleenexes. Piles of napkins with stoner shit scribbled on them. A string of broken christmas lights draped crookedly across my window. Here I was, a gainfully employed woman living in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Oakland, and the hobos under the subway system lived with more dignity than me.

I was the hobo–not them.  I was living like a hobo in my own fucking house.

New Room

In the midst of this encroaching doom, a small light opened up. My roommate Graham announced he was moving out, leaving the front larger room, suddenly free. I’d always daydreamed about taking over the larger room. I’d have private door access, and a whole yard to myself, where I could sit on an Adirondack chair, scribbling into my notebooks,  and throwing beer cans at youths.

However, this meant selling my current bedroom to a prospective new tenant.

So, I placed an ad on Craigslist, and scheduled a slew of interviews.

One by one, I watched these complete strangers enter my room, and then watched each one of them slowly back away, adopting the facial expression of someone who has been shown a mysterious crotch rash.

“What do you think of this one, sonny? Sort of a mandala pattern, no?   And creeping right up into my anus. Think it has any mystical significance, at all? Hey where are you going?”

Could it be my bedroom was, in fact, grossing people out??? I thought I did a good job of covering up the ink-stains on the bedspread (note: ink stains are NOT skid marks), and I  burned some nag champa to get rid of the cheesy smells. I even swept! I tried, good lord. I “tried”.

Ontop of this, I hadn’t had a naked dude in my bedroom for a few years, and without any creative outlet to channel my sexual frustration into,  I was  in a heightened state of heat.  Of course, I realized, I could just  go out,  hoist my cans onto the bar, look friendly, and take some guy home to defile. However, sadly it seemed I wasn’t even capable of executing the FANTASY of doing that. It was  like my brain was sending a signal to a vagina that was actually  now dwelling in another dimension. A sad,  furry triangle,  blowing past satellites and dwarf stars,  like a cosmic tumbleweed.

 Confessions

And so, one day, I got real sloshed, and just spilled everything to my friend Adriana. About my dead computer, about my broken camera, about the hobos under the subway, the craigslist strangers and my tumbleweed vagina.

“Would you like me to help you, honky?” she asked. “I have mad homesteading skills you know.”

“Yes. Yes, I think I do. I do need some help. I need to change somehow…”

“Okay.  I can help you. The first thing we’re going to do, is  purge your closet.”

“Why my closet?”

“Because, when you hold on to things you don’t need anymore, nothing new and positive can come into your life. It’s a good place to start.

“If you say so.”

“Clear your calendar Saturday, and get us some whiskey. We’re gonna purge, baby.”