Saturday, February 23, 2013

Light Me Up

Around the time Michael came into my life, there was a series of automotive misfortunes. There were so many supernatural disasters, I wrote a personal essay on  it. I planned on publishing it here in the blog, but for other reasons (grants, publication elsewhere) I am keeping it tucked away for now. So allow me to pussy foot around the car drama, what I not-so-fondly refer to as “Carma”, and address the relationship. My relationship.

Let me first lay some basic vehicular groundwork down:

car_edited-1

My 2007 hyundai was worth $5,000 in Portland. That was the price I was offered by a few small dealerships willing to do a trade. To make sure I got the hell out of the Northwest with my three dogs safe, I opted to keep the car and make it down to L.A. first before selling. However, in L.A., my car was only worth $3,000. This was a car I bought for $7k and just bought new wheels, new brakes and a new engine (twice over) for after three years of payments. When the brakes went out one night in Burbank, my wheels shut down, the car froze and everyone honked at me with all the care and understanding Los Angeles is known for. I parked the car, called a tow and then called Michael.

The car trouble followed me from 2011, when the engine blew out of the hyundai. Trekking back and forth to work from the border of the Angeles National forest was bad. Trying to pay off the $1,000 deductible while still making payments was worse. Fixing the car and being free for a few months was great until the engine blew again, 6 months later. Haggling with the mechanic, haggling with the insurance company and worst of all, depending on my senile, eccentric and catty parents for transport out of a very rural part of Washington state was the absolute worst. Now the goddamn thing was failing me on something as simple as brakes, now so severely damaged in just the month I was driving it, the minimum of cost to repair would be $500.

Michael and I had only been dating for a couple weeks and I was worried the latest of personal devastations would drive him away. There is always something bad that happens, and there is always a man who leaves around the time that something bad happens. When Michael arrived, he gave me a cigarette and laughed at me, watching as I kicked my car and made all the necessary calls. I negotiated a sale for the vehicle to the tow truck driver, ending up at $2700. Not bad … all things considered. I mean, it was a disappointment. I thought I could sell that car, buy a cheaper one and pay off the deposit on the new place maybe even get a new tattoo, replace the loose porcelain cap over my tooth, buy a fridge. I had to let all of that go now. So it wasn’t that bad considering I was at a bar in Burbank, nursing a martini and trying to make my 23-yr-old date laugh.  I’d hoped he wouldn’t notice how frazzled I was. It was just a car. It was just a bad investment. It was the end of my dreaming about what I could pull off, at least for awhile. He didn’t need to know all that yet.

Janisand my sundress

The car, I named Janis in 2009, took a pound of flesh out of me. The car payments I signed on for were fine on my salary, but I was laid off a month or so later. Those payments were my greatest expense for years, but I managed it while unemployed and, even at times, homeless. The mechanical problems with Janis were so emotionally and financially exhausting in the 3 years I owned her, that by the time her eyes rolled back in my arms that night, I really needed to let her go.

Michael, wanting to impress, offered me his vehicle to use while he bussed and walked to work. At the time, he was a receptionist at the same Doggie Daycare I worked for the few years prior to leaving LA. Now that I was back, I knew the resident sociopath there had been promoted to manager and there was no way in hell I was going to return as his employee. Not to mention, my former roommate, an emotionally retarded kid in her early twenties, was still working there. We ended on bad terms after she accused me of stealing her bed before leaving the apartment and leaving L.A. (Truth be told, the bitch withheld funds meant for flood damages to my unit from the landlord, and since I was subletting, my legal rights were limited in the matter … Not only did she lie about the amount refunded for the flooding, which drove me and my three dogs out of the unit entirely, but she reduced the “reported” moneys owed to me for rental of the bed I was using, so I took the bed as full payment. And I will sleep on it comfortably tonight.) She is fundamentally a bad person. Anyway, I didn’t need that kind of grief for $10 an hour.

working doggie daycare

Michael worked there for $12 an hour and didn’t have very many personality problems being that he was a boy (which put all males at an advantage with female upper management- I am assuming because they never got laid) and he was so easy-going. When Doggie Daycare got wind that he and I were dating, things changed. The imaginary war they had with me somehow transferred over to Michael. Managers were yelling at him for problems that occurred on the playground. For example, he was accused of failing to issue the proper naps to an aggressive dog who initiated a fight. During the time of the dogfight, Michael was greeting guests and filing paperwork in the lobby. Never mind the handful of employees left to supervise and monitor the dogs themselves on the playground. (Michael never worked on the playground, he was always stuck at the front desk. Something he hoped to change.) The HR woman, notoriously passive-aggressive, cut his hours- something she was famous for doing to employees who suddenly fell out of favor. I called her on it once. “That would be illegal!”she said.

“I know,” I returned. After a brief silence, “Ok, you can come in and work whenever you want to,” she said. And I did.

Only a few weeks before, everyone welcomed Michael back with open arms when he told them he wasn’t moving to Milwaukee afterall. Even the owner, known for being cold in person, embraced him. Now that he was in one spot and revoked his notice, he was thinking about putting in his notice again. He wanted to work somewhere he could spend more time with dogs, and less with people. Somewhere he wouldn’t have to worry about who defriended him, who was giving him the silent treatment and why … somewhere he wouldn’t be watched so meticulously for his next mistake so they could put pressure on him. Pressure to do what, exactly? Break up with me? I don’t know that I would go that far, or give them that much credit as thinking individuals. They were pushing him and no one would say why.

Pin down love

*
One day, while Michael was at work, I was pulling out of my driveway in his elantra when an Armenian woman, driving well over 35 miles an hour down a residential, took off the whole front end of Michael’s car. Despite the minor dent in her passenger side door, she cried, called the police and sued for injuries. Her father even came out (she was 45 years old, so don’t ask me why) and they obstructed our driveway for two hours after the incident until I asked them to move.

The small dent that won over my insurance and awarded HER injury
STUPID BITCH'S CAR: The small dent that won over my insurance and awarded HER injury

The car I walked out of without injury and with the full burden of the accident
MICHAEL'S CAR: The car I walked out of without injury and with the full burden of the accident

Leaning against yet another vehicle devastated by chance and bad luck, I lit up another much needed cigarette. A woman passing by stopped. “Don’t worry. You come into life with nothing. You leave with nothing.”

Michael walked to my house from work.  “You probably saved me from some horrible accident on the freeway. That car was a death trap. I am relieved really …” he said, holding my hand. “I am just glad you are ok.”

The insurance company found in favor of that Armenian woman since I was pulling out of the driveway and speed is nearly impossible to prove. That left both Michael and myself without a car. I have bussed it before, but with the sprawling city of L.A. and a job that required a vehicle, we were really screwed for a while.
My roommate, Frank, said “If that was my car and you were the one driving when that happened … I would be outta here. That was the test. It was his moment to save the day. Now nothing is going to break you two up.”

Michael put on a face for me, but I could tell by the brooding over his room-temperature 24 oz. can of Mickey’s that he was hit hard.  His kindness never wavered. He never lost his temper. He never raised his voice. He never held it over my head. It never resurfaced in arguments over other things. A few days later, he lost his iPhone while walking my dogs. When he came back, he fell face first onto my bed. I walked him to the 7Eleven and told him we could watch whatever movie he wanted and drink whatever he wanted … “The Bodyguard” he said.

“With … Whitney Houston?”

“Yeah.”

“... ok. Whatever you want.”


1563-THE BODYGUARD 保镖 pp 1563


Never once did he allow me to feel the pressure he was under. I wanted to be that kind of person. To be patient and kind, never a prisoner of resentment or negativity but always a solid, self-contained person who kept things in perspective. Unfortunately, I have the emotional maturity of a 14-year-old. Saying this aloud once to Michael, he crunched his brow and nodded heavily.

“Well, you know whose fault that is?” I said.

He knew the answer very well. “Your mother’s?” he said.

“That’s right. My mother.”

“That bitch …” he teased.

Instead of his patience and even-keeled mentality spreading to me, my ornery, argumentative and passionate mood swings passed over to him. In the beginning of our courtship, when we navigated around a bad driver who failed to put on their signal or cut us off, he would roll down his window and shout, “Hey, hey. I don’t like you! You suck!” Now, he would shout, “Hey, fuck you! Yeah, you! FUCK YOU!” Though, I never saw him at work, I sensed the attitude was carried over, and not without justification. That said, there was one person to blame for his sudden change of attitude, his willingness to say “no” to working a day he requested off or his refusal to absorb the blame from management on a bad day. Me.

I could also see my bad luck rubbing off on him and it scared me. He was the nicest person I had ever been with. He was working hard to impress me, so hard I could see it slowly killing him. He wasn’t smiling or laughing as much. He was exhausted from walking to work every day- initially he refused to take the bus because it was so unreliable. I didn’t want to lose him. It always seems as though I drag everyone I love down into my hole. Now, he was being buried in it.

“At least you acknowledge it,” Frank said in the kitchen one day. Hearing someone else say it made it real. So, I worked against it. I tried to make Michael laugh. I gave him blow jobs. Walked him to work with a thermos of coffee at 5am and told him outrageous stories as the sun rose. Then … I introduced him to drugs.
I am an advocate of drug use. For some reason, people turn my words and hear, “I advocate drug abuse.” No. I advocate drug use. I didn’t open up the crystal curtain to cure Michael of depression or distract him from life, I led him into that world to give him something back, to kick up some magic dust, to help him see the world beyond work every day, looming parking tickets and temperamental co-workers. I don’t have very much money, but you don’t need much to hop a comet and ride through another universe.
 
ecstasy bro feel the love

While we were car-less, he was dog-sitting in a mansion. During the early stages of courtship, it is difficult spending time away from each other. So I would drop by. Being a professional pet-sitter, I had no qualms with making myself at home there. Afterall, we played with the dogs more than we played with each other. Michael told me I could help myself to anything in the house, including a stocked beer fridge in the garage. One night, instead of beer and champagne, I brought a few pills of MDMA and my gay boyfriend, Trent. (I should add that Trent is also a professional dog-sitter, so though there might be a question of ethics here in violating the home of a client, those dogs were WELL taken care of.)

Michael insisted he didn’t feel it, even as he paced back and forth on his phone, sweating and shouting to a friend back home in Milwaukee how much he loved him. You could see Michael’s testosterone surge, which is a bit of a surprise from his typical boyishness. His voice, face and small(er) physique lead you to believe he is younger than he is, innocent, naive … and he is to some degree, at least more so than the rest of us. But on this particular night his voice deepened and he became more argumentative, more hard-headed, maybe even a little intense.

mdma pills

“I have never seen people respond to MDMA like this except when I am with you,” Trent said. A couple years before, we rolled with Frank in his Hollywood apartment, long before we were roommates. Out of the blue, Frank punched the couch. It put us on edge, but now I am beginning to understand that straight men, when flooded with dopamines and emotion, snap a little. I won’t pretend to suggest why other than acknowledging the obvious- men are raised to resist emotion, unless it comes in the form of anger.

“Can we have feelings talk, please?” Michael asked and asked and asked.

“Let’s just enjoy ourselves,” I said. “Feelings Talk” is always a push for Michael when he has had too much to drink, but now, more than ever, it was bouncing off the side of the wall and back in my face like a rubber ball and paddle.

“No!” I said finally. “NO we can not have feelings talk!”

“How dare you!” Michael said. Then I slapped him in the face. He claims it was hard but, if my hand wasn’t burning, it was just a love tap. He retreated to the master bedroom on the upper level, and I followed to ease his mind. The first time you do any drug, it is always good to have a veteran there to guide you through, keep your mind on track and your nerves soft. So I seduced him. There, the first time we made love that night, a small drop of blood smeared on the bed covers.

“Is that blood?” I said, turning pale.

Michael clapped his hands together, “It’s a mitzvah!”

The love-making resumed downstairs, in the guest bedroom. Trent would come down the short staircase occasionally, “Um, is this the bathroom?” he asked.

“Yeah, help yourself,” we said, not even thinking to close the bedroom door while we made love, even as Trent walked up and down the hallway. Every few hours, his head would pop around the side of Michael’s swinging scrotum, “Um … sorry to bother you again, but is the beer down here?”

“Yeah, come on down,” Michael said.

bidet

The guest bathroom had heated floors and a bidet. The bidet could spray warm water towards the genitals or the rectum. It was around this time I discovered the joys of “pulsating” mode. It also was wired with a companion drying device, oscillation available. The MDMA put my body in a constant state of engorged sensitivity. A touch of the human hand, a spray of hot water, the chill from cold bed sheets, the soft grain of fur on a dog’s back, it all engulfs you and the world is heightened. When I think about MDMA, I remember the night I discovered magic in the Puget Sound. In 1996, I went to school around there as an Undergrad. At night, we hiked down to the water and someone could take a stick, shove it down the placid black pool of water gently lapping up against the muddy beaches, and a trail of light would ignite behind the movement. The dinoflagellates (a single-celled organism that floats with the plankton) is bioluminesce; meaning when stimulated, it glows in the dark “either as a continuous glow or an instantaneous flash”.  Watching the unseen life light up like steps of vertebrae along the spine could only be, exist and happen, for one reason, at least one reason for an 18-year-old who didn’t know any better ... simply to be beautiful. To reveal a world of wonder that has yet to be discovered. Those flashes of light find their way along the body and spirit when the night, company and drug line up perfectly. And in the magic of science, you find your place in the universe, if only for a few seconds.

bioluminescence_display_large

Tumbling around with Michael downstairs, and joking around with Trent upstairs was divine; my two favorite men in one house and all my senses tickled with physical and emotional love. It was one of the best nights of my life.

You don’t need drugs to appreciate the world, to reinvigorate sex and friendship, to make you laugh and cry about all the beautifully tragic things webbed into a fragile and complicated human being- but it helps.


25i

When morning came and we sent Michael out to find us food, I apologized to Trent. “Sorry we spent so much time having sex and leaving you up here alone.”

“That’s ok. It was sexy listening to all those noises. It really was. By the way, he is definitely straight.”
Later, Michael would complain about the evening, “I don’t know, you were kind of a downer. You brought me down, man.”

“Michael, you realize we had sex about 12 times in one night …”

“Oh … yeah.”

Later that week, Doggie Daycare suspected something was going on. Unfortunately, Trent, Michael and I all had ties to this Doggie Daycare. We all worked there, we all had friends who once worked there and some who still do. When we posted pictures to Facebook, someone squealed to management and before we knew it, the promoted sociopath of Doggie Daycare was making unexpected visits to the house.

“They said they found a marijuana pipe, saw all the beer was gone and claimed 500 miles was put on their car. Oh yeah, they also found the bloody sheets,” Michael said following a reprimand at work. I buried my face in my hands, horrified. There is no secret at Doggie Daycare. My previous boss, my previous co-workers, my ex-roommate, my enemies, my acquaintances, my friends all knew I had bloodied those sheets. It was a side effect from taking the morning after pill a few days before. My cheeks burned. The air was sucked out of my lungs. I lifted my head up, “Haven’t they ever heard of a party?”

Michael laughed. “They didn’t fire me, but I quit. I had to. I’ve worked there for years and they are going to send [Sociopath] to check on me? I’m sorry, but that’s an insult. I don’t need it.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Yeah, fuck that place,” he said. “Anyway, I can’t go back now.”

My friend, Sascha, gave him a job at a dog training facility in Hollywood. Michael took a slight pay cut, lost hours in his work week and now had to bus it an hour each way into Hollywood. He claimed he was happier but I could see he was tired.

So, in the month we dated, Michael lost his car, his phone and his job.

“I am ruining your life,” I said.

“That’s ok,” he smiled, “I am having a good time.”


Unicorn-Art-Unicorn-Wallpaper-17

Monday, February 4, 2013

Relationships, Xanax and Facebook

Do people negotiate relationships like they do employment contracts and rental agreements? I think we should … you are embarking on an agreement with another human being that requires a shared understanding of expectations and boundaries.

“At that party, you said we could have an open relationship, did you mean that?” I asked.

polyamorous productions


“I don’t remember saying that, but I believe you,” he said. “I was drunk. If you have sex with someone else, I will say I love you very much, but we have to part ways.”

“So, no open relationship,” I asked again.

“I will say I love you very much, but we have to part ways.”

**

At the time, I was making some side income with my radio acting. Those of you just tuning in might not know, some of my money comes from morning radio shows, posing as a distraught wife or girlfriend to act out a scenario. DJs counsel me through while another paid actor, hired as my significant other or botched date, improvises with me on the air.

radio-tower-full

It pays well, about $40 per show, and a taping takes about 15 minutes to a half hour. I am given a scenario the night before with an alias, a time to expect a call from the radio station and, most times, a business name to drop at some point during the call. A credit union. A lawn mower company. A local or corporate business that paid to have their name dropped during an emotional, yet scripted, confession on morning radio. I do it and it is easy money. Sometimes we have multiple takes, but there is no pressure because it is all pre-recorded--  but always packaged as live, on the air. Listeners call in, passionate and opinionated, weighing in on the romantic kerfuffle but don’t realize I am a single girl in LA, most likely lounging on my bed with a book and three dogs by the time the call airs.

I hooked my roommate, Frank, up with the gig because he is a stand-up comic with a quick tongue and a dry delivery. Often we are booked together. One morning, we booked two shows in a row. The first call was about a first date he thought went well and wanted to know why I never called him back. The big reveal is after (my character) shows up to a Weezer concert to meet him for the first time, she discovers he is wearing tight, leather pants and is embarrassed and turned off. As you can see, scripted morning radio ain’t Hemingway.

“Who is this?” I asked after the DJs cued me and we were recording.

“This is (insert random middle American radio station). How are you doing today?” they asked as if we hadn’t been chatting the last five minutes off the air.

“I am only on my second cup of coffee. What do you want?” I asked.

“Well, we are just calling about [such and such] who took you out on a date and claims you never called him back,” the DJ responds.

I break out laughing. “Oh yeah, he wore these leather pants that were more like ‘Pork and Beans’ than ‘Pigs in a Blanket’ if you get me.”

They laughed. It was in another time zone, so the sun had not yet risen in Los Angeles.  Frank vehemently defended himself under the alias and we went on for almost 15 minutes before they thanked us and disconnected the call.

The next call was in 20 minutes in another state, so I had my cup of coffee and checked on my boyfriend, who was still asleep in my bed.

morning ritual radio coffee

This call was about how I pestered an attractive man on the phone until he turned cold. The reveal is that I really just want to take him to a family reunion; kind of like a movie I saw once with Debra Messing called ‘The Wedding Date’. I took the call and they asked me to describe how I had contacted this guy after one unsuccessful date. It is all improv, so I described how I pinged him via text, Gchat, facebook, etc. and he never got back to me.

They got Frank on the phone, really in his boxers and a t-shirt in the next room, and the improv moved to a place where the DJs (a male and a female) felt sorry for me and offered us both a limo and dinner before my family reunion. It went on for about 20 painful minutes until the call ended. Then Frank and I convened in the living room.

“See, I didn’t like the first call. I felt like I really had to get defensive as this fucking loser, but that call was just pathetic,” he said.

“Yeah well, I was the pathetic one. I had to channel the whole post-Huck scenario for material,” I said. Huck was the boy from Milwaukee I fell for in writing school in June. He broke my heart twice by July.

“Don’t tell me you were using real stuff! I don’t want to know the pathetic [StarFire] when the first call was the cool [StarFire],” he said.

“Well, they are both me …,“ I said before refilling my cup of coffee and checking in on Michael. He was still asleep. I was feeling hot and nauseous. After a show, Frank and I get restless. There is an adrenaline rush with improvising in general, but we are encouraged to work ourselves up to a domestic spat (“The more dramatic, the better” they always write in the summary email)  which is always my favorite part. You need at least half an hour after a call to decompress. I crawled into Frank’s room and sat on his daybed.

radio_tower

“Now I am amped,” he said, sitting next to me in his loafers and a pair of khaki shorts.

“I don’t feel well,” I said, leaning back.

“Do you want something? I have pills,” he said.

“Like what?”

“Xanies,” he said.

“Eugh,” I sputtered, “alright.” I broke the pill in half because everything hits me so God damn hard. I am always impressed with how many pills or drinks people can ingest when I am forced to remain economic with my dosage.  If I don’t watch the units I consume, I could get sick or worse, pass out.

I climbed back into bed with Michael and felt the fuzziness of Xanax rub against me. My body was humming like a guitar string and all the nausea disappeared. It was the morning we were going to Planned Parenthood to be tested for STDs. It would be a load off of my mind, especially considering the amount of unprotected sex we had.

dandelion paul harrett

A few weeks earlier, Michael was outside a bar talking to me about it. “So, I was thinking, if I get a disease like herpes or something like that from you, I would be ok with it. I mean, I think its worth it. And even with HIV … they will find a cure soon anyway, so that’s probably fine too.” I chuckled obviously because he would feel differently if I actually did transmit a disease to him. I know if it was the other way around, I would never forgive him. And as for HIV/AIDS, we all thought there would be a cure soon when we were 23.

On the way to Planned Parenthood in Pasadena, I felt the winter sunshine burn through my coat. My brain was blocking out all the shadows and doubts in the world and tuning into the classic rock station on the radio. It felt good to be with Michael. On Xanax, I didn’t believe our age difference was a problem. I didn’t think there were any problems. Everything felt like it was locking into a perfect fit, so I did the unthinkable: I changed my relationship status on Facebook and linked it to his profile.

art-motiva-lady-sunshine-200-hf-177058

Facebook is such a dangerous place for a person like me. I am an exhibitionist by nature, an entertainer, therefore creating my own virtual platform is already too easy. The smarter performers separate their personal lives from their “persona”. Sadly, my personal life is my persona.

The other factor about Facebook is the way information aggregates- it really feeds into an obsession where my thumb and brain are constantly searching, scrolling, perusing to collect more data- no matter how useless, trivial or violating. In general, I would agree that I have a Facebook addiction because it has reconfigured my mind to mark and advertise any moment, thought or event just before the minute, moment and memory expire. If I am unable to mark it, I feel less control over time. If we were sitting at a cafe and discussing this over coffee right now, we might have a deeper conversation on the matter.  I would agree with you that time is not necessarily real. Time is an illusion. Social networking invigorates the best and worst parts of man; impulse and discussion. However, right now I am talking about relationships, xanax and Facebook- so … another time.

This particular Planned Parenthood has a back building devoted only to STD testing off the street and behind the clinic. Michael and I parked the car and sat in a waiting room with a few other couples, mostly Hispanic teenagers wearing spiked bracelets and glitter eye shadow. We were both taken in around the same time but to different rooms and different nurses.

thank god for planned parenthood

“How many sexual partners have you had in the last year?” “A lot”

“Do you use condoms?” “No.”

“Do you use intravenous drugs?” “No.”

They took a sample of my urine, saliva and blood and I sat to in the waiting room wondering how close I had played my luck this time around.

Meanwhile, Michael’s questions were a lot simpler. Although, when asked if his sexual partner used intravenous drugs, he thought about cracking open the door and calling out the question to me in the waiting room.

“Of course not,” I said, later. “Like heroin? Come on.”

“Well, I don’t know,” he said. I realized much of what Michael knew about me at that point had to do with this blog and a glamorized version of my dark side.

We got our HIV results at the end of the visit- both of us were clear. And later the rest of our tests came back clear as well. Lady Luck was still on my side, at least for another hand.

Jeffrey Alan Love polyamory

For the rest of the afternoon, Michael and I decided to make love. Since I posted this blog, I learned that we did not make love, rather I fell asleep when he went down on me. (I assure you this has nothing to do with his skill but the thick, heavy influence of Xanax) The incident required more than one discussion on how insensitive I was and how hurt he was.  I fell into a deep, self-medicated sleep. A 6-hour nap. I missed phone calls and emails. By the time I woke out of my drug-induced coma, it was dark outside.

“I am worried about the dogs,” I said.

“We will go walk them, just lay here with me for a second,” Michael said.

I curled into his arm with my cell phone and pulled up Facebook. The spell was broken. My brain was back on its feeding frenzy.

“Oh fuck, I changed my relationship status?” I said.

“Yeah, baby. Remember? I asked you if it was because of the Xanax but you said you wanted to do it anyway,” he said.

“Well of course it was because of the Xanax. It is an anti-anxiety drug. I felt anxious about our relationship until I took it,” I said.

He laughed in his way, leaning back and covering his eyes with the inside of his arm before sighing, “Baby …”

“Oh well,” I said. “It’s out there now. I am your girlfriend. Good luck!”


Our story begins