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.



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!


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.


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.



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.



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.


“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.”



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.


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.


“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?”


“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.”


“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.”


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?”


“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.


“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!”


“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:


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.


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.”