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I'm in a perpetual phase of transition which doesn't seem to be phasing out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Jerk-Off Dialer

A young, pretty girl found an ad in the classifieds about a room for rent and decided to inquire. She wasn’t necessarily erratic, but she was almost entirely guided by her impulses. She dialed the telephone number provided in the listing. A woman with the voice of a lifelong chain smoker picked up. She was peculiarly sweet considering her speech carried the inflection of an ex-marine who takes himself, and everything else, far too seriously. The girl was fascinated by this. She kind of hoped the woman was a lesbian. The ad did say “female looking to rent room to female.” The girl wasn’t exactly gay, but she thrived off sexual tension of any sort. As the lady was describing herself and her home, the girl tuned her out.  She imagined herself walking around the house in a skimpy towel. The lady would shut her bedroom door quickly and lamentably to avoid site of young flesh…

“So what time would you like to drop by tomorrow?”


The lady cleared her unclearable throat and repeated herself.

“What time would you like to come by tomorrow?”

“Oh. Hmmm…”

(The girl had no plans all day.)

“Would three work?”

“Sounds wonderful.  See you then. Are you sure you can find the place?”

The girl was terribly prone to getting lost and refused to buy a GPS out of an obstinate hatred for getting lost, which only made sense to her.

“I’ll figure it out.”

“Okay. Just telephone if you have any trouble.”

“Alright. Thanks”

The girl planned on packing the four or five cardboard boxes of her things into her car before leaving for the tour of the house. She hadn’t unpacked them in the six-months she’d stayed at the current location, and six months was her restless point anyhow.

She arrived at the house a little early the next day. She was never early for anything, but she was anxious to check out her potential new home. The exterior of the house was far from well-maintained. It was a split-level home probably built in the seventies. Several of the shutters were either missing, or crooked or missing several horizontal panes. The grass was way overgrown and there was an absurd amount of concrete statues in the front yard. Everything from St. Francis of Assisi to a chimpanzee sporting a firefighter’s uniform. She loved it all. Everything just looked right. The girl went up to the front stoop and rang the doorbell, which seemed pretty broken, so she proceeded to knock. 

The woman yelled “Coming!” four or five times and eventually made it to the door. It sounded like she unlatched around six different locks and then invited the girl in. The woman’s hair was completely flattened on one side of her head and the other side was a crazy Einsteinian mess. She was wearing a giant moo-moo.  It had a crowned frog on it. Below the frog there was a phrase that read “You have to kiss a lot of toads to find your prince.” The night gown had little cigarette burns all over it, some of which were connected, thus making larger holes which revealed some of her leathery girth. She looked old as dirt, but with her obvious smoking habits in mind, it was hard for the girl to determine the approximate age of this woman.

They greeted each other with goofy formality. The foyer had one of those retro looking walls made entirely of glass cubes. The girl heard sounds of cartoons blasting from a television in the next room. The woman led her into that room, which appeared to be the den or the living room. There was a teapot still steaming beside two sets of antique looking cups and saucers on one of those collapsible t.v. dinner tray tables.

“I made tea.”

“Oh great! I love tea.”

“It’s anti-constipation green tea I found at the Asian Market. S’posed to make ya skinny…Well you already are, but it’s all I had.”

“Oh that’s just fine. I tend to be a little stopped up anyhow.”

The girl decided to take a seat in the chair farthest from the tray table, seeing as the lady had already plodded towards it to serve the tea.

The couch was already occupied by four or so cats and a freckled red-headed boy around the age of seven who looked just like Opi from The Andy Griffith Show. He announced to the girl, who hadn’t made it known that she was aware of his presence, that his name was Batman and that he lived in the shed out back. The lady interjected:

“This is the neighbor’s child Batman. He stays with me in the afternoon until his mother gets home from work.”

Then she partially cupped her hand and placed it, palm-inward, on the side of her face closest in sight to the boy, with the purpose of concealing from him her next statement (which was impossible with that froggy voice of hers.)

“His momma let him name himself when he was just a toddler. The poor dear went nameless before that and was addicted to c-r-a-c-k when he exited the womb too. It’s all very, very sad. God bless his sweet, sweet soul.”

“I’m seven and three quarters. I know what crack is dummie.”

“Lord this new millennium. It’s scary what kids know.”

“Yeah.” The girl uttered with sad eyes belonging to someone far older.

They simultaneously took huge gulps of their tea and they both tried to make it appear as though they were taking small sips.

“Well let me show you the room I’ve cleaned up for a tenant. It’s not completely cleared out. You responded very quickly to my ad.”

“Oh that’s no problem.”

The girl was hoping it would still have some of the lady’s things in it. (She was one of those people that couldn’t help but pick up and rub other people’s trinkets when she visited their home.)
The lady led the girl down the split half of the staircase which led to the partially underground part of the house. The carpet was faded navy blue shag. There was a den type room filled nearly to the low ceiling with boxes which overflowed with ships in bottles and bent up harlequin romance paperbacks and crazy old dolls. There was also a huge pile of bamboo just lying on the floor.

“What’s the bamboo for?”

“Oh this and that…ya know…when it’s raining out.”

“Oh, gotcha.”

The lady opened the door to another room and entered it. The girl followed behind, but with her head turned behind her in continued fascination with the hoarder lady’s stuff. The girl had the neck of a crane.  It was a bit freakish how far she could twist it behind her.

“Well this would be your room.”

It was a tiny room with a single bed, a dilapidated desk and a window placed high on the wall since the room was mostly in the dirt. There was a painting hanging above the desk of a dweeby looking teenage boy sporting prescription athletic goggles and a wrestling singlet from a different era. He had small shoulders and a narrow, concave chest. He was scrawny but somehow still had a little pudge under his chin. His hairline formed a widow’s peak and his face had hints of acne pocks which the artist rendered as if he or she didn’t want to paint the blemishes but didn’t know how to avoid them either. The girl thought that the artist was probably a guilt-riddenly honest person. She felt a little disturbed when she looked at the painting because the person it depicted looked almost identical to a boy she’d gone through over a decade of Catholic school with.

He was the suspected “jerk-off dialer” of her class. Rumor had it that he would go through the school directory and call up all the females in the book, including the nuns, and masturbate and just mumble in this sexual, weird way. He’d managed to make the number private, and the school never reported it (because it was attached to the Church and all.) He called this girl most of all, but she was too embarrassed and enthralled to tell her parents.
The lady caught her starring at the painting.

“You can obviously take that down when you move in.  That was my son thirty years ago.”

“Oh I don’t really know how long I’ll stay...Did you paint that?”


“So you’re an artist?”

“Oh no dear. I wouldn’t say that.”

“Well did you paint it?”

“Sure, Sure.”

There was a moment of silence.

“I’ll take the room. I like it.  I think I’ll be very happy here.” 

Monday, March 12, 2012


My friend Myriah and I are going to share a booth at an art festival in Asheville in May. So my goal is to whip out a bunch of these sorts of things. Maybe people will like them.
sidenote: I know I've never given birth before, but I bet a mom might relate to this. Oh and male seahorses are the ones that give case you were wondering.

Frisbee Man

Today I drove by a park and saw a man playing Frisbee by himself...(he may have preferred the preposition "with").  He was a tall, scrawny elderly man. He was wearing baggy black pants with what looked like bright red chilli peppers all over them.  They looked like eighties chef pants or maybe something Will Smith would've sported in his roll as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Anyway, I watched the man chuck the frisbee fairly far from where he was planted.  Then, in no hurry at all, he plodded towards the frisbee's landed location. That was all I saw as I drove past. It made me sort of sad, but my immediate facial expression was an amused smile.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Here's the first part of part III of "Ride of Shame"

I walked into the police station and quickly put my bag in a plastic bin to be sent through the security x-ray machine thing.  I feel so nervous at security stops.  I always have to rack my brain for mental images of the various items I threw in my purse.  Somehow I always feel convinced that there is a grimacing flip-handled knife or one of those small pearl handled pistols in there.  I don’t own either.  I get too nervous to dig through my bag to make sure I’m not a potential threat to America, and just send the bag through, almost always with a strong desire to cross myself.  I generally refrain from performing this blasphemous gesture out of fear that it will cause the imaginary gray-bearded man in the sky to plant a cardboard cutter or other ambiguously “dangerous” item in my purse. God I’m a crazy person.

I sent the purse through with less anxious contemplation than usual and walked through the metal detector awning. I had some giant steel screws in my left pelvic bone from a childhood car accident.  Those damn detectors always beeped on me.  What a day to be patted down by security.  The only guard person there was male.  A big ass sweaty dude. Ugh. All I had on was a loose t-shirt, a crappy old sports bra, leggings and flip flops.
“I don’t even have pockets, man.” 
“Standard procedure Miss. 
He patted me down and took his sweet ass time too. I wanted to kill that government heavy petter. Jesus.
“Okay. You’re good to go. “
He could tell I was uncomfortable.
“Sorry, Miss.  Just doing my job.”

I felt really panicked and stopped by the bathroom before checking in at the front desk.  I looked in the mirror.  My cheeks were really red and my neck was splotchy.  I yanked down the collar of my t-shirt.  My chest was all splotchy too. I was freaking out. My body was reacting quicker than my head.  I’d dealt with this sort of reaction before and I knew I needed to just sit in there and breathe for a while.  I went into the handicap stall and lay down on the floor. I just took deep breaths, closed my eyes and pretended I was lying down on the bank of a river. A shrink once told me to go sit by the brook near my house and meditate. I didn’t live by a brook anymore and I never did go down there and meditate when I did. I just figured the sound would make me need to pee. But since I was already in a bathroom, I figured it wouldn’t be much of a problem, so I finally half utilized her advice.

A little time went by and someone entered and went into a stall.  I didn’t want them to be suspicious or ask me if I was okay or something.  After all, my legs were poking out from under my stall like the Wicked Witch of the East or whichever one Dorothy’s house landed on.  I stood up, unlatched the lock and went over to the sinks to look in the mirror again real quick.  I tugged on the skin under my eyes with my finger tips so that I looked like a basset hound and then walked out.  It always feels kind of good to exit a public bathroom and not wash my hands when someone else is in there.  People are just way too fucking cleanly these days. It’s annoying.

I went up to the front desk or whatever you call that huge transparent glass wall with the little talking holes and money slots and half a dozen clerks sitting behind it.  There wasn’t a line at the time so I went right up to the first window. The lady said she’d be right with me.  In the mean time I just starred at her. She had curly red hair with white and gray frizz shooting out at the beginning of her hairline.  It was pulled back in a sloppy bun. She was a little overweight but really more saggy than fat. It looked like she’d been bent over in that cheap wheelie chair for all of eternity.  I felt sad for her.  Then I recalled this bossy little Pilipino coworker at a coffee shop I worked at telling me that I shouldn’t feel sad for people. That people don’t like it when you feel sad for them.  She said this after I mentioned feeling sad for a regular customer who had cancer. It wasn’t like I went up to the lady and blurted out: “Grace, I feel so sad for you!” That wasn’t exactly my style.  Honestly it’s always less that I feel sad for someone and much more that I feel sad because of that person.  Which is far more about me than anything. Often times things and people, objects of all sorts really, that come into my line of vision throughout an average day have the effect of making me sad.  This clerk lady was no exception.  She was depressing to look at. Or maybe I was just depressed. I wondered if she had this effect on other people who came through, or if they even paid attention to her. I was paying a lot of attention to her, but she was ignoring me.  She was typing away on a computer from the Stone Age. If I were her, I‘d probably pretend to be doing work while someone was waiting, just for the hell of it.  I imagined that the computer screen she was starring at with such apathetic concentration was completely black.

She finally looked up and made this sort of indirect eye contact with me due in part to a bit of a lazy eye. She also probably had little or no concern for my existence, or any other person who came through the line for that matter.  Can’t say I blame the broad.  I told her that I called in as a witness to a murder and that the officer on the line asked me to come down to the station.  She told me to take a seat in the lobby and that someone would come and get me soon. Then I just kind of wandered away from that glass wall and found the lobby area she was talking about.

The chairs in there looked like they were once nice.  They were wooden with dark green leather cushioning nailed down by brass buttons. Most had rips in them, some with the cotton interior falling out and others patched with black duct tape.  On the walls hung peeling old oil paintings in huge dust covered gold frames of old white guys in judicial robes.  When I sat down I felt like they were all glaring at me. There were other people waiting too.  A wealthy looking older lady with gaudy jewelry and purplish gray hair. A black thirty-something guy with a navy-blue velour track suit on.  A kind of ratty looking balding white man with worn out Carhartt coveralls and huge mud and paint covered steal toe boots.  And another woman who looked emaciated with premature wrinkles, brown leathery skin and a huge looney tunes shirt on. She had a baby carrier at her feet and the baby was fussing incrementally.  I really hoped it didn’t end up screaming. The fussy sounds were aggravating enough.

All of those white guys on the walls were looking down on us with chastising brows. This mixed-matched bunch looked like the perfect group for a purgatory of the clearly damned.  A random sampling of folks, yet every person looked like they had some dirty, dirty secrets.  And in this environment, where we were all just sitting and waiting and waiting and waiting, those dirty secrets found their way to the forefront of our minds. (Well, actually I have no clue what those other people were thinking about. But they all looked kind of spaced out and terrified and stoic at once.)

I felt a little worried. I was beginning to feel like a murder suspect. My mind was twisting itself in knots and I began imagining that I was somehow involved in the murder. Like my passivity in the situation was accommodating to the incident. What if when I’d thought in my head: “shut the fuck up!” I had just yelled it out to those men on the bus. Would that have changed anything?  Or what if I was really the one who stabbed that guy and the other dude just rushed off the bus as a means to get away from me? No. That couldn’t be so.  I mean I’d been pretty out of it, and could only really remember being pissed at those guys for talking so goddamn loud, but I don’t think I killed anybody.  No. Surely not. God I hoped not.
Then I started daydreaming about being behind bars. Maybe it’d be good for me for a while. Maybe I should overemphasize my neuroticism to the interrogators so they’d put me in the nuthouse for a while. Maybe I needed that. 

I picked up a sticky old magazine off the small table next to my seat.  Ah, yes, Michael Jackson died. I’d forgotten all about that.  I read an article about the g-spot and another one about accessorizing with chunky party jewelry to spice up a bland outfit.  It was stupid enough to distract me. If it had been some big thick book that one of those white guys on the wall probably read recreationally, I wouldn’t have been able to focus on it.  I flipped through a few other magazines, looked at pictures of zebras and Russian village people in a National Geographic, and then found myself sitting on the floor playing with one of those doll size plastic jungle gym things for kids. The ones with wooden beads that toddlers slide around for no apparent reason. Little kids are pretty stupid. Their parents would beg to differ, but really they’re dumb as shit. 

God that toy was ancient. I played with an identical one at the pediatrician’s office years back.  That sort of plastic nostalgia freaked me out. What a weird epoch we’re in. Nonetheless, I pushed the beads aimlessly around as if I was a prehistoric book keeper who’d gone mad and still crunched numbers on his abacus, in attempt to make sense of nothing. Only I was doing the opposite, I was trying to take the sense out of nothingness and just sit there thoughtlessly until a damn cop took me into some room with uneasy lighting to drill me. Finally someone came. As was the theme for that day, I had no fucking clue how much time had passed, but it’d felt like an eternity.

My interrogator was a female cop. She was a giant. Probably over six feet tall, maybe even seven feet really.  I’ve always been deathly afraid of two types of people: unnecessarily tall women and identical twins.  I bet she had an identical twin too. God she was scary.  She greeted me pseudo-warmly and led me away from the waiting area.