Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rebel Girl, Rebel Girl...You Are The Queen of My World.

My foray into the music of Bikini Kill can only be described of as brief. It was 1994ish, an era that found me consumed by the music of Hole, L7, Babes in Toyland and Seven Year Bitch. And while I was reluctant to listen to anything that might detract from the time I spent listening to the aforementioned bands, listening to Bikini Kill was a natural and somewhat mandatory progression. If I was going to run around school with "RIOT GRRL" emblazoned on my knuckles in messy blue ballpoint pen, I was going to have to listen to Bikini Kill.

And I really liked them, I did. I liked Hole a lot better and thought Jennifer Finch was cooler, but I liked Bikini Kill just fine. In fact, I will still admit that there are few things as satisfying to the burgeoning sexuality of a 14 year-old than the repeated singing of the graphically perverse "Sugar." I am surprised that my stereo’s "rewind" button didn’t malfunction, the way I listened to the first verse over and over and over again. I am also surprised that my mom completely ignored the fact that her child was upstairs screaming "I’m almost cumming! I’m almost cumming!" at the top of her lungs on a semi-daily basis.
When Kat (Bikini Kill) and Courtney (Hole) had their infamous Lolla-Spat (for those not in-the-know or as ridiculously obsessive as yours truly, you can read about it here:, I was horrified, disgusted and immediately through with BK. Kat Hanna was cool, but my allegiance was to Courtney Love. I wanted to be just like her, even going so far as to adding a cute Cobain-lookalike boyfriend to my arsenal. I would not tolerate anyone trying to hurt, deride or fuck with her. I was so disappointed with Kat Hanna, I could no longer look at her pictures on my wall. I trashed anything even remotely connected with her and her stupid, crap-ass band. She'd failed me.
To further demonstrate my newfound hatred for Bikini Kill, my friend EB and I gathered our long-neglected Barbie dolls, put signs on them that read "KAT HANNA" and hung them in our respective lockers. From nooses.

I didn’t hear Bikini Kill again until almost fifteen years later when a grad school professor opened her lecture with the playing of "Rebel Girl". It had been forever since I’d even thought about that song, but from the first "that girl thinks she's the queen of the neighborhood", I remembered every word.

I’ve had my fair share of Rebel Girls over the years, women whom I admired for their revolutionary thinking, talent, cunning, wit and beauty. Women whose clothes I wanted to try on, women who I wanted to make my best friends, women who were the queens of my world. I saw them as perfect, I put them on pedestals. I held them to standards to which they could
not be--or did not want to be-- held. I’d refuse to acknowledge, or even to see, their fallibility; I put too much pressure on them. And when you hold someone to unrealistic standards, when you expect her to be something she isn't, when you expect super-human behavior from another human being, she will disappoint you every time. Just like Kat Hanna did me.

It is still exceedingly difficult for me to view my Rebel Girls as people; people who are also grappling and fumbling their way through life, people who need to make mistakes and learn for themselves, people who don’t know what they’re doing any better than I do. Rebel Girls may hold the revolution in their kisses, but ultimately, they are only human. That notion presents a challenge to me, but I’m working on digesting it.

That said, I still can’t allow anyone to slam my beloved Courtney. Sorry, Kat. I'll put Pussy Whipped back into rotation, but I can't fully forgive you yet.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Eff Health Class

I’d say health class pretty much ruined my formative years.

To be fair, my parents didn’t help much either, but if I had to provide a definitive answer to the question “Grrl, what would you say caused you to become the complete and total fuckup that we know you as today,” I’d have to say that it was health class, hands down.

Health class was where I learned the skills that would later enable me to become a more effective bulimic. While anorexia was my eating disorder of choice, on the off chance that I ate something which needed to be quickly eliminated, I learned from the health class screening of an after school special that toothbrushes are far more effective than fingers.

Health class supplied me with a wealth of information on drugs. I could not OD on pot and, as long as I was supervised to ensure I didn’t jump out of any second-story windows, hallucinogens were a fairly safe bet. Leave it to another after school special to teach me that, in a pinch, that can of whipped cream in the fridge could work wonders. Unfortunately the aforementioned after school special didn’t warn me that if I sucked all the CO2 out of the can the whipped cream wouldn’t “whip” and I’d ruin the Thanksgiving Day pumpkin pie.

Of course, nothing screwed me up more than the sex education units. Early on, we were provided with one basic message: if you have sex, you WILL get pregnant. End of story. My parents beat the shit out of me when I spilled milk on the floor; I could not begin to imagine the horrors that would ensue should milk spill from my (sorry excuse for) tits. I decided to be on the safe side. As a virginal catholic friend told me, oral is moral.

Early in my high school career the health teacher, Mr. S., was holding one of his infamous Q & A sessions when someone posed the following question:
“Is it true that cum has two-thousand calories?”
Everyone in the class busted out whooping and laughing.
“Settle down, settle down!” Mr. S. tried to recoup the totally un-recoupable class.

You know how a crowd of people will be laughing and talking and there will suddenly be a deafening silence? That unexpected lull appeared to be precisely timed with me turning to my friend and making the following comment:
“If cum had 2000 calories, I would be a fucking beached whale,”

Of course, there was more whooping and laughter and more “settle down”-ing from Mr. S.
“No. That is totally not true,” he yelled over the class.
“No, actually I think it is,” Johnny volunteered.
No, it’s not. Who’s the teacher here?” We had just finished a unit on the food pyramid and apparently Mr. S. did not appreciate anyone challenging his knowledge of seminal fluid’s caloric content.
“No, not that part,” Johnny continued. “The part about Grrl being a beached whale if cum had 2000 calories. That’s totally true.”
I am not ashamed to admit that I relished in the applause that followed.

Since my weight remained stable over the next year or two, I had no reason to change my repertoire. That is, until I had to fulfill my last health credit. That year Mr. S. announced that, statistically speaking, one in four college-aged women would be raped.
What the fuck? I was going to go to college someday! I had a better chance of being raped than I did of, like, making the track team. It was then that I decided I better get my cherry popped, and with a quickness. I’m stubborn; I’d rather give something away than have it taken away.
And that’s just what I did.

So for my first time (and only time with this guy) I subscribed to the adage “go big or go home.” And big it was. Very, very, very big. Too big.

I felt like I was being impaled. This was not what I signed up for. Entrance to a convent suddenly seemed very appealing. I was no Whoopi Goldberg but shit, I liked Sister Act.

I was fairly certain that I felt something ripping, and spent the entire three—maybe five—minutes silently contemplating how I was going to explain to my mother that i needed to make a trip to the emergency room for twat-stitches.
I was trying to climb over a chain-link fence and I fell?
A misogynist worker in the Tampax manufacturing plant was secretly slipping razor blades in the tampons?

The dialogue went something like this:
Him: ohmygooood. This feels soooofuckingooood!
Me: Oh my god, I’m going to be in so much fucking trouble.
Him: I’m gonna fucking come!
Me. I’m gonna be fucking grounded.

It has taken me years to recover from the atrocities I endured due to health class.
Now if only I could shake off what I learned at those high school slumber parties...

Monday, January 18, 2010

The World's Worst Burglar

I was working at the boutique, by myself as usual. It was a slow day customer-wise but there was no shortage of paperwork and I had a stack of envelopes to mail. To break the monotony that is my sorry-ass job and my sorrier-ass life, I decided to run out to the mailbox on the corner, which I’ve done a thousand times without incident.

Before leaving, I instinctively locked the doorknob from the inside so no one would enter the store and rob us blind. Not that this would be a bad thing however; it might score me a few days off. And maybe they’d steal that God-awful dress that I’m so sick of looking at and that no one is buying because no one wears lumberjack plaid except lumberjacks. And also stereotypical lesbians.

Right after I'd closed the door behind me, still thinking about lesbians and Birkenstocks and why anyone would want to take fashion cues from a mythical figure with a blue ox, I realized I’d made a grave error.

My effing keys were still in the effing store.

It’s the dead of winter here and, as one of my high school boyfriends would say, it’s as cold as a witch’s titty. The temperature rarely rises above freezing this time of year and today was no exception. At first I just stood there in disbelief. Then I became enraged, uttering a few choice phrases that would have made George Carlin blush. And then I just accepted my fate. I would be there until my co-worker arrived, which wouldn’t be for another hour and fifteen minutes.
Stuffing my hands (which by that point I could no longer feel) into my pockets, I felt the holy grail. In my pocket was credit card . (Dirty, dirty boys and girls. I bet you thought "feeling the holy grail" whilst my hands were in my pockets was a masturbatory reference. Under ordinary circumstances, you’d have been right, but not this time.)

There is no question, I am a true hood-rat. Back in the day, my students taught me a thing or two about "hitting a lick". (Look it up, white folks). Believe it or not, these skills have come in useful; I have broken into both houses and cars multiple times and I know a credit card is as good as any key; if I couldn’t get in legitimately, I would bust my way in.

Only I underestimated the quality of this lock. The damn card wouldn’t wedge in all the way. Standing there jamming my credit card into the door, I was quite ashamed of myself…not because I was trying to break into a building, but because I was unable to break into the building. What the fuck is wrong with me? Any hood-rat worth her salt can swipe a simple lock. How embarrassing. I thought of what my kids would think of me if they knew how rusty my jimmy-ing technique had become. I’d dishonored them.

By this time, I could no longer feel my feet and was quickly becoming desperate. Two women approached the store.
"I’m sorry ladies. I’ve locked myself out."
"Oh." The women stared at me blankly. Or maybe it wasn’t a blank expression. I can’t really make out the expressions of over-botoxed, women. "So is anything on sale right now?"

I had failed with the credit card, but there was still a possibility that I could pick the lock, which I’ve done numerous times on interior doors. I’d never used this technique on a front door but ultimately decided that I was raised in the 80s, a decade that left legions of kids well prepared for these exact types of situations. I watched the A-Team. On Knight Rider Michael Knight ran these kinds of rigs in practically every episode. Shit, I’ve seen McGyver do this like a thousand times. I just needed some wires or a bobby pin or something.

Of course I didn’t have a bobby pin the one day I needed it. I always have bobby pins with me to pull my long bangs back from my eyes. But no, I decided not four days earlier that I wanted my bangs to resemble those of Bettie Page. So now I had Bettie Page bangs and no damn bobby pins. Eff you, Bettie Page. Eff your stupid bangs and eff me for liking them.

I scavenged around the ground looking for any litter with lock-picking potential. I gathered my lock-pick stash and commenced with the break-in. For your reference, the following discarded items will not open a locked door: the stick from a blow pop, a long shard of mulch, a plastic cable tie sharpened at the end to resemble a key, a stem from a dead rosebush with the thorns removed, a rusty nail.

I now could not feel my face and was quickly becoming delirious. My nose is running like a faucet. This makes no sense. When it’s cold outside, your nose becomes runnier, but when something is frozen, it becomes harder. So shouldn’t my snot be turning into icicles? Why does snot get runnier in the cold? What if I blew my nose into ice cube trays? Would it freeze? I should do this for the Science Fair. Do they have Science Fairs for adults? I can put one together. And I will research why snot defies the laws of the physical behavior of matter…

I’d been outside in below-freezing temperatures for nearly an hour and a half when my co-worker arrived.

"Why are you standing outside?" she asked, puzzled.
"I locked myself out. But if Bettie Page had longer bangs I would have been able to get in. And also, snot doesn’t change states when exposed to cold temperatures, in case you didn’t know."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

my own little corner of the world

and now for a momentary departure from the sarcastic, cynical, hopelessly disillusioned grrl with the most cake you all know and love (or some of you love, anyway)...

in the almost ten months since moving into our home, i have done very little in the way of decorating. i have antiques galore and beautiful oil paintings done by my artist-aunt, but beyond that, nothing. when it comes to what i want, im picky and indecisive.

so i decided, after much delay, to start with my own little corner, my night stand. with the guidance of my interior decorating sages (and for once i mean a 'sage' in terms of a wise one who guides, as opposed to my beloved cohort), ruby randall and jillian lauren, i was able to create something im really proud of.

after purchasing an antique cherry table from an antique sale, i went to work hunting for relics with which to accessorize. im really into julep cups right now, and had to have an old, slightly tarnished one to put some silk flowers in. i wish i could say the rest of the things on the table were legitimately vintage, but the truth is, the back of the picture frames have "made in china" stickers on them (i plan to put 30s and 40s era family pics in them) the lamp was purchased five years ago on clearance at marshall's and the perfume bottle was a gift from a friend, purchased from anthropologie. the hand-made doilie, however, is authentic and was given to me by my grandmother. i am still trolling for a little trinket box to keep my chapstick in. i take my lip moisture content very seriously.

the piece de resistance is my pin-ups book, filled with the most delicious work by gil elvgren, peter driben and bill medcalf, among others. while i dont have a naked woman sharing my bed, its still nice to have them around...even if they are illustrated.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ten minutes before closing Mrs. X abruptly flings open the door of the boutique where I work and struts in like she owns the place. It’s gotten chilly and she dons a fur coat extending past her ankles; the kind of coat that says 'they’re stupid animals; they’re made to be used at my disposal.'

When she makes her grand entrance, I am on my hands and knees scrubbing the faux-wood floor. In the winter the street salt and snow accumulate on people’s boots creating footprints that, when mopped, leave a cloudy residue on the dark laminate. The only way to avoid leaving white streaks is to clean the floor by hand, scrubbing and drying the 800 square foot showroom using Mr. Miyagi’s wax-on/ wax-off technique.

“Watch your step, it might be slippery,” I tell her before she can tread on the newly cleaned laminate. She neglects to acknowledge me and proceeds to track a fresh set of Frye boot prints across the section I just finished scouring.

“Good too see you again, Mrs. X. Is there something I can help you find today?” I rise quickly and obediently, ditching my bucket, scrub brush and rags behind the counter.

Mrs. X answers by raising her kid-gloved hand in the universal signal for ‘stop’, or that which my generation would interpret as ‘talk to the hand.’

“Hold on one second, Lisa,” she says gently to no one in particular, then looking directly at me she seethes “Excuse me. Can you not see that I’m on the phone here?”

Actually no. Beneath the behemoth of blonde extensions that is her hair, I cannot see the bluetooth planted in her ear.

“I apologize, Mrs. X. Please let me know if you need something.”

“Sorry about that, Lise. The girls at this place obviously weren’t trained very well….I know. So stupid.”

Mrs. X walks over to the racks of designer clothing that I have meticulously hung and spaced by hand in preparation for closing. Standing before the perfectly arranged garments, she parts them like the red sea. She proceeds to fling them aside one by one, occasionally pausing to inspect something more closely. Every now and then, without looking away from the rack, she holds something up in the air, my cue to fetch the item and hang it in the fitting room.

I am literally biting my tongue so hard that I can taste the first traces of blood. I hang each Ella Moss tunic in the fitting room with care; refold each pair of Citizens of Humanity denim that she carelessly unfolds, examines, and then stuffs into the wrong shelf; re-tie each hand-woven cashmere scarf that she unravels and discards wherever she happens to be standing.

An hour later, she leaves with nothing. As I retrieve my cleaning supplies and crouch on the floor, I begin to empathize with the animals that comprise Mrs. X’s coat.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

An Actual Diary Excerpt From 8th Grade....

interesting, the 14 year-old me.....

So I am gonna get the hell out of here. I am packing my stuff and moving to LA. I’m not sure how yet though. And once I get there the first thing I’ll do is find a strip joint. And the owner will probably be a really cool guy. He’ll see me and know right away I have potential. He’ll give me room and board for free in an apartment, probably like upstairs the strip joint. He’ll sign me up at school so I could go to school during the day. And I will change my name to Vanessa Love after Courtney. He’ll pay for me to get some plastic surgery—lipo, a nose job, implants. I’ll strip nights and have weekends off. I’ll make shitloads. He’ll put me on hormones to make me taller, like 5’6-5’10. No one from home will know what happened to me or where I was or if I was alive or dead. Then I’ll go to UCLA and continue stripping. And I will become a psychologist. ["psychologist" crossed out] musician. I will get a guitar or bass and start my own band. My band will kick ass and I will live happily ever after. And also the only people who will know where I am are my grandparents and I will buy them a house in Florida.

Saturday, January 2, 2010