Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Year End Wrap Up

As is customary around these parts, I am taking two weeks off to travel home for the holidays, do hoodrat things with my friends, drink my weight in liquor and eat your weight in soul food. It's tradition after all. And in that spirit, I will also be taking a break from the twice a week posting I do here. I will give you a moment to mourn...

Feel free to come back in the new year, when I will be kicking things off with a week long series about the worst dates I have ever been on, brought to you by Twitter and the letter J for Jack Daniels, without whom I would never have found it in myself to entertain you with my ultimate dating failures. Among the highlights you can expect: guy whose girlfriend showed up mid-date. The gay guy I didn't know I was on a date with who had an interesting proposition at the end of the night. Boy who cried into his pasta.
You wanna be here for that.

In the meantime, feel free to catch up on the past year via 12 of my favorite posts of 2011, listed below in no particular order, and meant to assuage the agony of my absence until I return in 2012, likely hungover and a few pounds heavier, but ready to go.

Merry ChrismaHanuKwanzaa and Happy New Year in advance!!!
- La

1. Next Door
A look back on what happens when you visit your childhood house of horrors as an adult.

2. Potential
A sound thesis on why, when men tell you that you should be attracted to their potential, you should tell them to shut the fuck up.

3. Lestat v. Possums
A hilarious installment of my war on possums, wherein I embarrass myself with how ungangster I am.

4. Giving Up
Where I finally start to heal from having my heart broken years ago, starting with confronting the memories left behind in a city we once loved.

5. La's Guide to Jump Offs
A list of rules to follow if you are interested in maintaining a fruitful jump off situation, gleaned mostly from all the ways I have failed in this pursuit.

6. Fuck Love, Get Greece
Where I learn that romance without finance is not love at all, but rather the way poor people make themselves feel better about being broke.

7. Loose Ends, Undone, Tied Up
A three part story about how I got over losing the love of my life. And how drama can follow even much belated closure.

8. Body Count Politics
Defense of you being as much or as little of a whore as you want to be, and why there should be no such thing as a whore anyway.

9. You Know How I Know You're Gay?
I crush my friend's hopes of dating a new guy because I am fairly certain that he is a card carrying, Vuitton rocking, arches-his-eyebrows-in-secret homo.

10. The One Where my Mama and I Talk About Vibrators
Also known as the one time I seriously considered running my car into a highway median just to make it stop.

11. Mama Said There'd be Days Like This
I give up my apartment, my independence, and my dog, all in one day. But the cute pics of my dog make it hurt a little less.

12. I Shoulda Been a Stripper
I discover that strippers are not all unattractive, desperate for love knock off porn stars. I also discover that stripping is the new path to financial independence. Then I cry over my degree and student loan bills.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I Shoulda Been a Stripper

Thanks to Chris Rock, I know that it is the goal of every father to keep his daughter off the pole. But I have never been so convinced that I shoulda been a stripper in all my life.

It started out as a joke among me and the girls, slowly escalating to various levels of ridiculousness. First, it was just the idea that maybe instead of looking for partnership and love, we should have just leveraged our looks into financial arrangements with wealthy men. Then we figured we should’ve married our love of ignorant music and twirking into a lucrative career as a stripper/video girl/jewelry designer. And now, some days QQ and I toy with the idea of moving to Amsterdam to become high end call girls to well-to-do politicians, celebrities and financiers.

To be clear; I never dreamed I would consider, even jokingly, accumulating wealth flat on my back with my toes pointed at the ceiling. And I never would actually do it. But if, like me, you have resigned yourself to a lifetime of indentured servitude to student loans, you have to understand the allure of obtaining financial freedom through something I already like to do anyway.

But I have never been surer that I should have set my sights on climbing the ranks by climbing the pole when I was younger, thinner and infinitely dumber than when I met a stripper at my local Starbucks.

Many of us have an idea of what a stripper looks like. She looks like a porn star but with better costumes; the stringy bleached hair, drag queen makeup, flammable nails and flotation device boobs are all par for the course. But this girl, Mandy, looked nothing like that. She was pretty in that southern belle kinda way; long, thick blond hair the color of honey framing a heart shaped baby face with big ocean blue eyes. No painted on makeup or triple letter implants to be found. I noticed her as we both walked in at the same time, and she flashed me a warm, friendly smile as she held the door open for me to pass. It wasn’t until the barista called out an order for Mandy and we both reached for it that we actually had a chance to talk.

“Your name is Mandy?” she asked me, looking at me skeptically.
“Sure. In Starbucks sometimes it is.” She laughs at me.
“Why do you give a fake name?”
“I’m not entirely sure. In theory it is because I am always convinced that my life is an episode of SVU and that there is some person stalking me and trying to find out all my personal information. This is my way of protecting myself?” I turn up my inflection at the end of the sentence like a question because I realize how ridiculous I sound.
“OhmiGod,” she says running all her words together, “do you know what I do? I unlock my front door facing out. It’s awkward but I am always convinced someone is gonna come up behind me and push their way in since I live alone.”
“You totally shouldn’t have said that you live alone,” I reply, casting a fake furtive glance around the Starbucks. We giggle like high schoolers.
“I’m Mandy.”
“I’m La.”

We sort out which drink is for the real Mandy and which is for girls who have considered stereotypical white girl names when my own was enough, and grab a table near the window. I realize, all of a minute into our convo that Mandy is much like me; she loves to talk to strangers. And she has an easy way about her that endears her to you almost immediately. On top of that, about five minutes after that, I realize that she is REALLY smart. If she weren’t so damn nice, I would hate her.

We chat for a while about nothing, giggling and trading stories about the dates we both went on the night before, mine very good, hers notsomuch.

“Well, it was all going really well until he found out what I do for a living.”
“Oh, what do you do?”

She paused, her face screwed up with uncertainty, weighing whether or not she wanted to say.

“Come on,” I told her. “It can’t be so bad. What is it? You sell drugs to elementary school kids? Spray water in the faces of kittens? Oh my God do you work on Wall Street?!”

She is laughing at me, her orthodontia assisted smile on full blast.

“No. No, none of that. I… dance.”
“Well what’s so wrong with that? I used to dance in high school. I never could have made a career of it, especially after I hurt my knee but-“
“No, La. Dance. Like, strip.”

Usually, as I frequent strip clubs and grew up in the ass clapping capital of the country, I can spot a stripper at ten paces. But this is exactly what I get for judging people.

“I never would have guessed!”
“’Cause I don’t have Pamela Anderson boobs?”
“And because your hair doesn’t look like you color it with Clorox.”

We laugh again, and I can feel the tension leaving her, thankful to have not been judged. I ask her a few questions, and find out she dances at a swanky club in a well-to-do part of town that I have (of course) been to before. The more we talk and she opens up, the more I realize that this is not your typical tale of stripper woe; her parents are still together and still desperately in love. She’s close to them both, and neither have an issue with her profession. She was a smart kid who grew up to be a smart woman with nary a daddy issue or drug addiction to speak of.

“So, what made you start stripping?”
“It was my big brother actually.”
“Say what now?”
“Well, no, not like that. He didn’t actually make me. But it was his issues that even made me consider it.”
“His issues?”

She goes on to tell me about how her brother, a doctor, is so up to his eyeballs in debt from undergrad and medical school that he can’t even do what he really wants to do, which is move to Mexico and volunteer in clinics in towns without hospitals. He got to achieve his goal of becoming a doctor, but his dream of helping people in the manner he wants is henceforth and likely forevermore blocked by the debt he had to go into to get the degree he needed that he didn’t have well off parents to foot the bill for.

It sounds vaguely familiar to me.

“After I saw what stress he went through, how heartbroken he’s been about not being able to do what he really wants to do, I knew if I didn’t do something different to get through undergrad and veterinary school, I’d likely be in the same boat. Because my parents couldn’t pay for me either. I met a girl my sophomore year who was a cocktail waitress. That’s where I started. And just went on from there.”
“But you’re done now. So why still do it?”
“Because I didn’t start until sophomore year. And I still had loans to pay because I wasn’t yet making enough money to pay for it outta pocket. And then after I graduated, I bought my condo and my car,” she says holding up a BMW key ring. “All of that will be paid off by the end of this year.”

As I glance out of the window to my lovely truck that wasn’t even what I wanted and has the interest rate hand delivered from the devil that I still have not yet managed to pay off, I start to realize that I have been living my life all wrong.

Sure, my daddy can rest assured knowing that his only daughter is not dancing with other people’s daughters for sons on the eves of their weddings. But he can also be assured that I will not be sending him and my step mama to Mexico for their 35th anniversary, as Mandy is doing for her parents next May.

“I have to admit,” I tell her, “I am a little jealous that I didn’t have the balls to do it myself.”
“Don’t be. It’s not all great. But I am really glad that I am almost 30 years old with almost no debt to speak of. I feel like I can be free to live my life.”
“And THAT is what I’m jealous of. The good news is though, if my career doesn’t work itself out, I can always sell this unbelievable story.”
“A stripper who stripped to put herself through school that actually got a degree and quit? Unheard of.”

She laughs at me, her blue eyes twinkling, as we scoop up our trash to go our separate ways. I try very hard not to hate her for being pretty, young, and debt free. It’s a struggle.

Damn my daddy for keeping me off the pole.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Flirting Fail

Because I am a serial under dater, a lot of my skills have gone to shit.

Before I tell you what an embarrassment I am to my former self, let me explain the concept of “under dating.” By that I don’t mean I don’t date enough (though, if I ever want to have a whorish phase that I missed in college, I likely want to step my game up). I mean, I perpetually date people I know good and well things will go nowhere with. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I just walk into things perpetually aware that I won’t like them for any substantial amount of time. Part of that is because I seem to have relationship ADD; I’ve been known to wake up one morning completely over someone I was into the day before. And yes, I know most will say you have to date people for a little while to see if things will progress into something more. And for some people this may be true. But generally it takes me about 15 minutes to figure out if I will never speak to you again, fuck you and never speak to you again, date you for a little while then never speak to you again or introduce you to my mama.

Lately it seems like once I shrewdly determine that the person I am entertaining will fall into one of those first 2 categories, I Kanye shrug and accept a second date anyway. And I guess because I am not invested in any real, substantial way, it is quite easy for me to be my funny, charming self. I don’t have to try. Because I’m not profoundly invested in the outcome.

And that practice has profoundly bitten me in the ass.

I am pretty sure I have forgotten how to flirt. And I don’t mean flirting like batting my eyelashes and cooing at a bouncer. I mean I have no idea how to sustain the rhythm of that witty, mildly sexual, volley that happens with someone you are ACTUALLY interested in. It’s like right in the middle of it when I try to find a sharp, charming response, I am all Homer Simpson around the head…

And that is NOT who I am. Anyone who knows me knows I can talk my way out of (and into) anything. I always know what to say. I know when not to say anything. I never NOT have a response. I am generally quick on my feet enough to be alluring to someone who wants to see me slow on my back. Now though, notsomuch.

For instance…

Guy: *insert flirty, sexual remark*
La: *blank stare*
Guy: Did you hear me?
La: Yes! *confused face, blinks slowly*
Guy: That is the most epic blank stare I have ever seen.

Oh, yeah. THAT HAPPENED. (I’d tell you the remark he made, but this is a family blog.)

This type of thing keeps happening to me with astonishing regularity. And every time, EVERY SINGLE TIME, I have that moment where I ask myself, “What the fuck was that?” Or better yet, that moment when HOURS LATER I come up with some insanely clever response and I am DYING to say it late as hell if for no other reason than to prove that I am not in fact slow as the offspring of first cousins.

I really brought this on myself. This is what I get for years of being lazy with people I knew there was no chance of me getting attached to. Iverson had it all wrong (clearly); practice is essential.

Your girl is out here failing.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday Kinda Love

(Shout out to Skinny Black Girl for having me thinking about this for two damn months…)

I remember quite vividly once, standing in the middle of my bedroom, rocking back and forth on bare feet, feeling light-headed, tingly. I was, quite literally swooning, overcome by the intense urge to scream at the top of my lungs just to release some of the pressure. I could feel it, how in love I was, vibrating through my bones, heating the surface temperature of my skin. I could not be still. I could not stop my mouth from smiling, my eyes from welling up with tears. My cell phone was pressed to my ear, and I do mean pressed, pushing the tiny speaker closer to my eardrums so it was like his southern drawl was echoing in my head. I felt full, so incredibly full at the seams, ready to burst at any minute, my heart fluttering a staccato rhythm in my chest, every bit of energy in my being wound up tightly, ready to snap and unravel wildly.

As it did, of course.

Older, wiser, more level headed now, I don’t miss that type of love. And I get that you don’t believe me. But I don’t. That is not to say that feeling, delicious and dizzy and lovely, wasn’t wonderful. That I am not grateful for feeling that way once in my life, even if it all fell apart. But now, I don’t find myself craving the same feeling. I am uninterested in being swept off my feet. I am not drawn to grandiose displays of affection or proclamations of emotions. The thought of being in the prescience of someone I am so crazy about that I can barely stand to stay in my skin no longer thrills me. Instead it makes me wonder what I am losing in making room for these big emotions I cannot contain, am not built to bear.

That is not to say I have been without love, or haven’t desired being loved. But now, I find myself craving something quieter, more solid, something more rooted in the everyday realities of loving somebody, committing to somebody, opening up and sharing my life with somebody, than the drunken can’t-get-enough-of-each-other feeling that sustained my last two relationships over the years that they lasted.

You think this makes me cynical. And I get that, I do. I don’t feel that, as I have struggled not to be while dealing with my demons, but I understand. Because we are taught from a young age, especially as women, that this all-consuming feeling is what we are supposed to seek out. That it’s not real until we feel it. And that it is OUT THERE. And maybe that’s true for some people. I can’t speak for them.

But me? I am dispassionate about being consumed. I don’t want to crave someone to the point of distraction consistently, constantly. I don’t want to drown in love with someone again, as amazing as it feels. I’d like to love to the soothing rhythm of a meandering river, neither as extreme, unpredictable or treacherous as anything larger, deeper. You can keep your ocean.

I don’t mourn that. I don’t miss the feeling, or find myself longing for it in any real way. I am grateful for it, for seeing that I am capable of loving, crazy, wholeheartedly, intensely, to dizzying levels.

And now I never want to do it again.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I Woke Up This Morning Determined to...

… not think about him anymore.

I went to bad last night, quietly seething, hollow with hurt, and determined not to wake up feeling this way anymore. To wake up and be magically healed, my mind unfettered with questions and wants and maybes. And if not by magic, by murder; if I had to I’d wake up this morning and smother all my feelings underneath so much denial, so much distraction that eventually they would stop fighting me back. They’d stop gasping for air. They’d just die.

I woke up this morning determined to be strong, to take all the things I’ve learned about love, about myself, and apply them objectively to what I’ve been feeling for far too long.

And then there he was. In between the moments of waking, and sleep, still groggy and barely lucid, he burst in, vivid and sharp, like turning on a TV in a dark room. In startling color he reminded me of all the things I wanted, but could not have.

I made it 5 minutes.

There’s always tomorrow morning.

(November 6th writing prompt from Writer's Relief Blog )

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Regentrification Violence

On Friday nights, I do what everyone who is young and works too much and doesn’t care for sobriety does; I head to my closest happy hour, make friends with the bartender, and drink on a sliding scale depending on how hard my week was. This Friday was no different.

I’d done drinks before dinner, then dinner with drinks, and was at the 3rd spot of the night for just drinks. It was one of those bars I love, a place that looks like the kinda dive in which you might find a tranny offering blow jobs in the bathroom for $20 but where you won’t actually find that. It was dark and not packed to capacity with Ed Hardy sporting douchebags. The bartender, a younger black guy, was friendly and flirty and prone to heavy handed pours. In short, it was kinda perfect.

Somewhere after my third second trip to the bar, I maneuvered back to our table through a huge group of white folks who’d just shown up on a party bus, balancing an impressive array of drinks and shots. Sitting at our table was a guy, looking every bit of a Texas white guy, with his light jeans and plaid shirt and baseball hat. But more importantly than all of that, he was fine as all hell. Brown hair with light eyes, a bit of stubble, a noticeable drawl amplified by how obviously intoxicated he was. He looked at me, or more accurately my boobs, pushed up damn near high enough to be worn as earrings, took me in head to toe and stopped on my chest again before asking, “And WHO are YOU?”

“I’m La,” I said, smirking at him being enraptured with my rack. “And WHO ARE YOU?”
“I’m Josh.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Josh.”
“No, the pleasure is all mine. Definitely.” He stood and pulled out my chair for me as I sat the drinks gently down on the table with the reverence they deserved.

Josh, who was drunker than all the drunk people in the bar combined, was a sweetheart. He was not even almost like your typical drunk frat boy, all leering and overtly sexual. He was charming as hell, trying hard to keep up with conversation, despite being so intoxicated his eyelids were at half-mast. He was even trying his damndest to look me in the face, despite my boobs being out. It was adorable, if futile. For about 20 minutes, we sat chatting, finding out what they were celebrating, laughing and drinking. The throng of people he came with decided to move on to another bar. They all filed out as he lingered behind flirting and smiling his easy smile. Finally, he gathered himself and the beer he’d brought in with him and meandered towards the door after his friends that were already on their way to the bus.

And that’s when all hell broke loose.

Once he stepped outside the door, before the door could swing closed behind him, two young, Hispanic guys who had been sitting at the table closest to the door jumped him, one slapping him in the face, and him punching the hell out of him before the other came up behind him knocking him down before he even realized what was happening. At that point, they were punching him, kicking him, slamming his head into the brick siding of the bar and the concrete while cursing and hurling racially charged insults at him in Spanglish. People were trying to break it up, but in the meantime one of the girls the Hispanic dudes had been with came over and got in a few kicks too. By this time, Josh’s friends had realized what was going on, and had doubled back to the fight. Josh’s twin brother broke up the fight, trying to calm tempers and get everyone separated.

The fight lasted barely three minutes though it felt like forever.

They got Josh back inside, and sat him in a chair, checking his injuries. His handsome face was bloodied; his lip split and eye swelling, and what might have been a broken nose. He was angry but more so incredulous. Everyone was asking the same question, “What the fuck happened?”

No one had an answer.

The older meth faced bartender, messy bitch that she was, was trying to convince us that Josh had started a fight with the Hispanic guys.

“No, he didn’t,” I said to her. “He literally sat down at our table as soon as they walked in and sat there talking to me until they left.”
“No, he didn’t! He was hitting on one of their girls. And that couple over there,” she said gesturing to the back of the bar, “said he bumped into them.”
“NO HE DIDN’T. I JUST TOLD YOU he sat right here with me the entire time he was here.”
“No, he wasn’t!”
“Bitch, how the fuck you gonna tell me?”

I can’t even pretend I wasn’t furious. A nice, chill night had just interrupted into unnecessary violence, its victim someone who hadn’t done anything to deserve it.

“Well, he musta did something. He never shoulda messed with them.”

And with that she moseyed on back behind the bar.

By then, they’d retreated back to the bus, hopefully to get Josh to a hospital and the Hispanic kids had fled. I sat back down, feeling bad for him, and furious that the night was over. The air was even different, charged with the energy of anxiety and fear that maybe trouble would come back looking to finish what had been started. The bartender came back over to our group.

“Do you guys know what happened?” he asked.
“They just jumped on him when he walked out. He didn’t do anything. He hadn’t said a word.”
“Wow. That’s so crazy. He was really messed up.”
“And for no reason.”
“But you know, it happens a lot up here now. With all this developing going on in The Heights, a lot of neighborhoods are being taken over. And they don’t like it. They clash with a lot of the people who come up here to drink and party. As far as they’re concerned, this is still their neighborhood. And we’re trespassing.”

With that, he walked away to close my tab.

Once I got home, still shaking my head, I finally put my finger on what had me so upset.

It doesn’t happen often (unless I am wearing my hair curly, which is another story for another day) but here, in the heart of the bible belt, in what might be one of the most liberal cities in the state, but is still southern nonetheless, it is rare for a white guy to approach a black girl. It is even rarer for him to genuinely find her attractive, rather than approach her out of some misplaced desire to interact with someone “exotic.” But here was a guy, by all indications not a douchebag, who had approached a table of black and brown girls kindly, respectfully, even while dead drunk. Who spoke to us like people, not possessions or conquests, who was raised to be chivalrous, regardless of race, enough to pull out a chair, even as he grasped a beer in the other hand. Who’d spent almost half an hour talking to us without pretense or prejudice just because “my smile made him smile.”

And I wondered if he would ever be able to do that again.

If he could ever again walk into a crowd mixed with faces of color and not feel the anxiety of wondering if he might, once again, be attacked for no reason at all. If he could see a black or brown girl he found pretty and feel comfortable approaching her to tell her she was beautiful, without the demons of this night whispering in his ear.

I would hope, idealistically, objectively, maybe foolishly, that he could. That he would be able to recognize that the unprovoked violence of a couple of thugs had nothing to do with an entire race of people, even if their motivation was racial. I clearly had not spent enough time with him to appropriately judge, and had only my own gut feelings to go off of, but he seemed the type that could.

But if he couldn’t ever again, I wondered too if, despite believing wholeheartedly that no one person is or should be responsible for representing an entire race to anyone, if, on a purely human level, I could really blame him.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Granted, I'm not Santa, but I had to use this pic if for no other reason than because it says "bitches."

It is that time of year again, where my fellow alumni and I will converge on The Mecca, celebrate our superior legacy, drink our weight in adult beverages, and then stumble into work Monday morning to pretend to be productive members of society. It is tradition. And I don't intend to let my school down.

So, I am on vacation. Until next week, when we will resume our regular two-posts-a-week schedule. There are some good ones coming up, so see you then. =)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I feel like I am going deaf.

My heart is beating so loud that everything sounds muffled. I am dizzy with the effort it takes to breathe, my lightheadedness making every second feel like a dotted whole note, lasting longer than usual. I am trying hard to concentrate on the voice in my ear. I burrow myself deeper in my covers, and sniffle without my permission.

Like most emotional trauma, it was fast enough, swift enough, that I didn’t see it coming. Unintentional as it was, I wasn’t mortally wounded. I would survive this. But still, I was bleeding.

“Why are you upset?”

And the thing about it is, there are so many answers to this question.

Because I am prideful.

Because I am sensitive.

Because I didn’t realize it would hurt this much.

And to a certain degree all these things are varying shades of the truth. But none of them are quite as powerful as the root of it all. The anchor that keeps me here, on this phone, in this moment, drowning in my feelings rather than holding on to a buoy of humor as I do in most emotionally perilous situations. It’s what keeps me bound, tethered to this what if despite how illogical and unnatural and unlike me it all is.

It’s the one thing I won’t say.

So I skate, clear across the hard ice frozen over the truth trapped below to what is easier to say, that spills from my lips, certainly not without difficulty and anguish, but not nearly as hard as what I’m hiding. I blurt it out like emotional Tourette’s, and then sit there in the silence with it, so painfully uncomfortable that I have to resist the urge to break into a run, even though we aren’t even in the same room.

If I could, I’d snatch it out of the air where it’s floating between us, shove it back in my mouth and down my throat, swallowing it whole, and hoping I could keep it down this time.

And maybe in time could forget it.

I can’t, of course.

I haven’t, yet.

But Lord knows I’ve tried.

So I stay rooted. Crushed under the weight of this emotional moment I didn’t see to avoid and can’t back out of and I fancy it some sort of penance for all the other feelings I have kept at arm’s length, shaken off and spun around, leaving behind me as I run full speed towards another goal.

I replay it all. All the sweet and the smiles, all the blushes and the secrets whispered over miles and emotional barriers. All the conversations languishing until the time was single digits, being greeted by the sun before sleep.

I'm breathless with the fear that I have ruined it. All of this. It will never be the same. Because I kno I won’t know how to pretend that it didn’t happen.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Metaphorical Ready

I am lucky to have older friends who reflect back to me that life in your twenties is not as life will be forever. Granted, that means that it won’t always be cool for you to split to Vegas on a random weekend, and do things that you wouldn’t dare tell even your friendly neighborhood hooker, but it also means that the bad dates, the entry level jobs in a field you love, crappy apartments, and growing pains won’t be forever either. I know this, but sometimes, I need to hear it.

Despite growing closer to the age where I (Jesus, please, God, hopefully) come out of the awkwardness of my twenties, there are still times when I feel not quite as grown up as when I, say, choose to pay my bills early rather than jaunt off on the aforementioned spontaneous trip to Vegas. For the most part these times coincides with discussing the foremost in bench marks of adulthood; solidifying your career, getting married, having kids.

I have been all marriage minded lately, as my best friend is getting married, and I am trying to cram what was, for every other woman alive apparently, a lifetime of learning about weddings into the next six months, so that she will not be disappointed that she chose me as her maid of honor. (The “honor” part is questionable.) We were talking about her wedding over the weekend when she mentioned that someone we went to high school with is married with kids.

La: Omg, he is?!
Joy: Yes!
La: This shows you how ridiculous I am… every time I hear about someone we went to school with being married with kids I’m like, “OMG WHAT?! WE’RE SO YOUNG?! I’M NOT READY?!” But then when I talk to people about your wedding I’m all like, “ZOMG it’s about fucking time! It’s been soooooo long! We’re getting old!”

We laughed at me being absurd and at her being hypocrite for also being freaked out at the alarming number of wedding and baby shower invites flying around despite being half married herself. Then, we moved on to other even more ridiculous topics, as we tend to do. But later I started wondering why exactly I am always so shocked. Certainly I am not naïve enough to still be thinking like we are all 16 and too young to be having kids (which is when many of the people I know started). And I don’t even believe (as I did when I was younger and had far more issues) that I will never be ready for marriage and motherhood. I acknowledge that at 27, there are other things I’d like to accomplish first, some moves I’d like to make career-wise and hypothesize that maybe I will start considering both institutions more seriously in a few years when I am more ready for them.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, I have no idea what constitutes the metaphorical "ready". At what point do you feel ready for whatever comes after being a ridiculous twenty-something? A magic age? A certain salary? A particular job title? A general feeling that it’s not gonna get any better so you may as well sit down in whatever chair you’re standing in front of when the music cuts off?

Seriously. I have questions.

This is what my life looks like now; I am 27. I live in a city I don’t love, not because there is anything wrong with the city, but because I am disconnected from my friends and family. Despite the fact that when I was younger I wanted nothing more than to leave my hometown, now I ache at the fact that I missed so much of my little brother growing up. That my daddy is getting older and we don’t see each other nearly enough. That I am not there to cook for my aunts as they did all my childhood and take them to doctors’ appointments and on grocery store runs. But, I am not entirely sure all the time that I want to live there. Mostly because I have inherited my grandmother’s wandering spirit, and I’m dying to see the world. I work two jobs (one (kinda) in the field I went to school for, one not) while I’m young and spry because I don’t want to be paying off student loans for the rest of my life, as I am impatient with debt, much like everything else. And moreover, I am beginning to recognize that I am coming to a crossroads in my career, and have some hard decisions to make. I’ve just put behind me a string of relationship failures, and the issues embodied therein. And now I am deciding what I want life to look like for the next 27 years.

I have no idea.
And more importantly, I have no idea how to make someone else fit seamlessly into all of that. Now or ever.

So, as I often do, I reached out to one of my friends who is older than me, married to a genuinely amazing guy, and mom to 2 awesome toddlers.

“How the hell do you do this?” I hollered over her speakerphone as she used both hands on her end to feed her youngest little human lunch.

“I honestly have no friggin’ idea. Miracles? Insanity? Jesus? Dual incomes? Which is a miracle from Jesus in and of itself.” We laugh, despite the fact that we both know this is real talk. “I’m not entirely sure. But our family works. We just try. We try to spend time with each of the kids, and as a family, and, if we’re lucky, try to act like a married couple once in awhile. We try to remember those individual dreams we had when we were just individuals, and we encourage each other to go for them. And recognize that sometimes those dreams change. And that’s ok too. And most importantly we try not to beat ourselves up when we fail at some of those things we try at, which WILL HAPPEN. But I know how you are with yourself about mistakes.”
“You guys are amazing.”
“Girl, we are not. I am not. I regularly am so exhausted I fall asleep mid-conversation. I make mistakes at work all the time because I want to be home with the kids. And when I’m home sometimes I CANNOT WAIT to get outta this house and away from my husband and children.”
“I don’t think you’re supposed to say that.”
“Of course I’m not! But it’s the truth. It’s hard. I won’t lie to you about that. But I think it works because WE work. We wake up every day committed to this thing. It helps that my husband is the type of man who always makes sure he has cash on him so he can order us a pizza for the nights his wife can’t possibly bring herself to cook a healthy meal for her family.”
“So you guys eat a lot of pizza then?”
“Shut up, La. Life is a moving target. You hit a bull’s eye when you can, and sometimes you’re happy to just hit the target at all. But you learn as you go. I am sitting here feeding this child organic carrots and kale. Do you think I knew anything about organic veggies and crap before I evacuated these children from my uterus? Hell no. I learned. And you will too, whatever happens.”
“I appreciate your vote of confidence.”
“More importantly, where is all this coming from? You have never been one to question this type of stuff.”

I don’t have an answer for that. I don’t know how to say that despite myself knowing myself, surrounding myself with people who love me exactly how I am, that maybe I am feeling the pressure to do the things I am “supposed to” as I have never felt before. That knowing what I want and maybe even having an idea of how I want it when I was younger is not the same as actually being here, at this point in life, and actually living it, versus supposition about how it might be at some far away time in the future.

I don’t know how to say all of that stuff. So instead I say, “I’m not entirely sure, actually.”
“Well, don’t freak out about it. Give it thought, because that is your way, to think about things critically, sometimes way too much. But rest assured that whatever you decide is ok. And whatever choices you make, you can make them work. And more importantly, whatever choices you make YOU CAN CHANGE.”

I felt immediately better.

I’m happy that I don’t have friends who project the superwoman role and make me feel bad about not being sure of my footing. That there are people in my life who won’t sugarcoat the realities of anything for me, but will assure me I, just like everybody else, can figure it out for myself.

Which brings me to the only thing I know for sure about being what you want to be when you grow up; it helps to ask. For advice, for help, for support and encouragement.

‘Cause Lord knows, I so rarely know what the fuck I am doing out here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The One Where my Mom and I Talk About Vibrators

“Can I ask you a question?” my mom asks me quietly, as I am driving us back home one night from dinner.

Here’s the thing; I don’t mind this question. Sure, it sets my teeth on edge, but I prefer this over other set ups for life altering conversations. (See: “We need to talk.” And also, “Where is this going?”) But when it comes from my mom I can ALMOST GUARANTEE some manner of inappropriateness, the likes of which I will never recover from, are likely to follow. My mama, while delightful, is notsomuch with the boundaries when it comes to me. My tactician’s mind is trying to jump a few steps ahead to see what she could POSSIBLY be about to ask me. The last time she uttered these words to me, I wound up telling her I had a girlfriend.

I need an escape plan.

“Sure you can.” Silence.
And more silence

Sweet queen Coretta.

“Do you… I mean have you… Or I guess do you…” She trails off more times than a suspect on the First 48 trying to figure out how to explain the blood on their clothes and gunpowder residue on their hands.

This is gonna be all bad everything. I can already tell.

“Do you have a vibrator?”

Monday, September 26, 2011


On Sundays, I clean.

I also assiduously avoid talking to people who are not QQ if I can. Sunday is my day to relax and unwind, to decompress and prepare for my week. For as many hours as I can manage, I let myself become the center of my own universe, cleaning my space, performing a number of beauty rituals (deep conditioning, facial, eyebrow shaping), and napping to my heart’s content. Unless, of course, I have a crush on someone.

Then my zen is all fucked up.

I don’t get crushes often. It is increasingly rare that I meet someone who gets me to remember their name, let alone give them my full attention. I find myself that woman I always feared I would become; the one who has seen it all, knows all the games and is generally apathetic to anything that isn’t genuine. And Lord knows genuine is on ration. When it comes to dating recently, I have become a lot like Daria in the opening credits of her show; I can barely be bothered to show up, and when I do, I can’t be bothered to participate.

But, Jesus, when I am actually in like with someone? God help us all. In between crushes, I completely forget what they’re like. Every single one knocks me on my ass like the last one and proves that no matter how mature and well acquainted with game I am, if someone who has your attention calls you gorgeous, you fall apart a little on the inside. I have to admit, dear readers, I am hopelessly awkward in the safety of my bedroom. I find myself thinking without permission, “Oh, I should tell him about this.”

And I don’t like it not even one bit.

My friends, well, they love it. They send me taunting text messages;

HAHAHAHA you thought this was him texting you didn’t you? Did you dive across the fucking room?

I get that message from QQ one Sunday, right after I, when faced with the deafening silence from my cell phone, gave myself a pep talk something along the lines of, “Can’t fall, don’t fall, ice cold.” I dust myself off from the super secret spy roll I just busted out to cover the distance between me and the phone before responding to her.

No! How soft baked do you think I am?

Soft baked as fuck, bitch.

I hate that girl so much.

I feel like at some point I should have gotten too old, learned too many lessons, seen too much, grown up far too much, to still be acting like a high schooler, sitting up having marathon phone conversations into the wee, quiet hours of the morning like I don’t have a damn job to go to. Laughing out loud at silly text messages we exchange. Failing at stopping a smile from spreading wide across my face when his name pops up on my cell.

Apparently, I have not.

That is the bad news.

The good news is, I am getting TONS of exercise, what with all the running from all over the house, diving, lunging, and rolling around in bed giggling I’ve been doing.

*sigh* I’m too old for this shit.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tied Up

This is a story in three parts. The first part is here. The second is here. The entire backstory of this saga is here.

This is the finale.

I want to disappear.

I know this before I even make it back across town. Before I realize I’ve cried so hard that my eyes are nearly swollen shut. Before I wake up with a start, having literally cried myself to sleep behind the wheel. He knows it too. It’s why he messages me somewhere around 4am when I’ve finally made it back to my aunt’s safely and I’m up pacing the floor in the last shreds of moonlight

You ok? You can come back. You can have the bed if you want to. I won’t bother you. I just wanted to see more of you before you left.
I don’t think either of us could handle that.
Worth a shot.
Are you ok?
Yeah. I’m ok.

I fall asleep, fast and hard, burrowed under the covers, as if the insulation will block out how I know I’ll feel in the morning.

So did you use the Men in Black flashy thing on yourself last night to forget everything?

His lighthearted message greets me when I open my eyes. I smile despite myself, rolling my eyes. He probably doesn’t remember, but he asked me the same thing the morning after he first told me he loved me. I hate myself for remembering.

All of it.

We talk at intervals all day, treading lightly, laughing, steering clear of emotional landmines. There are more than a few times during the day that he implies he wants to see me again. Each time I laugh off the implication simmering under his invitations, certain that no good can come of it. I hide behind my schedule full of more friends and family I have to fit into this short, seldom trip home, but more importantly hoping to get as far away from who I was last night that I never have to feel that way again.

And then my mama is hit by a drunk driver.

I tell him about it, in a rush of messages, spilling all my worry and shock and tension through fingers flying across the keyboard of my phone. There, in the secret confines of the tiny message box, I am unhinged, as I can’t be out in the world while I’m trying to be stoic and manage the fall out.

Duck, are you ok? Let me know what I can do.

I can feel myself unraveling a little bit at his use of my old nickname. And his concern. And really, that is the root of why I’ve been falling apart a piece at a time since I saw him sitting at that damn bar; I’d prepared myself for his aloofness. His flirting. His charm. But never his contrition. His concern. His own heartbreak. Despite all the long conversations we’ve had over these last few months, IM’ing into the wee hours, talking about the trivial and tremendous, I’d shrugged off everything he said he felt except sorry. I didn’t listen. Couldn’t listen. Couldn’t bear to hear any of it. So it never occurred to me to prepare for what would happen if I looked at his face and realized what he’s been telling me all along; that he still loves me.

I need time. And space.

And so, I say nothing.

Days later, when I am back home and settled, having had hours on the road to myself alone with my thoughts, and days to turn my world right side up again, I send him a tentative BBM. It doesn’t go through, but I think nothing of it.

Until I see my phone again hours later, and it still hasn’t. I shrug it off, too consumed with the accident and moving and work and living to give it much thought, but deep down I know;

He’s gone again.

A month passes. Half of another, greeted with radio silence. I would like to be the type of person whose first thought is that something awful has happened. But I’m too old, my eyes too open for that.

And so I do a little digging. Ask a few seemingly innocuous questions of a few mutual acquaintances. Poke around online.

And just like that, it’s all laid out before me, mountains and molehills of evidence that much of what was passed between us was a lie, either of omission or outright, intentional misleading. Chief among them, the longtime girlfriend he’d had during all of our well-into the night phone conversations, the one I’d specifically asked if he had, because I didn’t want those types of problems. The one he was living with, had recently moved to a new apartment with.

You know, the apartment that, just a month before, he’d stood outside of kissing me. Begging me to come inside to.

That one.

Mostly, I feel angry. Angry at the unnecessary lies. Angry at myself for putting myself in this situation. Angry at him for unknowingly making me a cheater, a role he knows I would never play. I feel awful, so incredibly guilty, and I hope to God that she never finds out. Not because I feel I have anything to hide, but because I know what it’s like to have to get over this man, and I hope she doesn’t have to do it, or is at least much better at it than I was.

I sit with that feeling for a few days, simultaneously stewing in my own white hot fury, and feeling disappointed in myself. For not being heartless. For wanting so badly to have some sort of resolution to this whole sorted mess that I would put myself in emotional danger this way. I feel more stupid than I have ever felt in my whole life. I have been such a fool over him.

But then for no reason at all, standing in public and texting and smiling with someone else, it settles over me, soft and easy like a sigh. Underneath all the anger and disappointment, the guilt and the shame, the one thing I’ve always felt, but illogically didn’t want to admit, lest it dull the masochistic ache of the pain.

I feel intensely grateful.

Grateful that I’d been kept from telling him I thought we could at least be friends, as I’d reached out to say after seeing him again. Grateful that I’ve grown from being broken by pain, through feeling nothing, and then finally to a place of feeling honestly and authentically, if not always openly, but not being bowed. Gratitude fills me up, radiating out of my skin. Gratitude for never making it to that wedding in Puerto Rico or the kids we’d already named, and that I wasn’t finding out who he really was inside the confines of a marriage and parenthood. I feel grateful that, no matter what I believed way back when I couldn’t get out of bed in the weeks after he left, that I have found love, beautiful, bountiful, in my friends, in my lovers, for myself. Grateful that, as usual, the universe had helped me step over another pitfall that would have taken too much to crawl back out of.

More than I have to give

More than he deserves to lay claim to.

My eyes fill with tears as I turn them towards the sky and say the only words that I, in my overly eloquent, articulated life, can seem muster, “Thank you.”

And I am healed.

Far too many years later, far too tears and bruises and heartbreaks and disappointments and fears later.

But healed nonetheless.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


This is a story in three parts. The first is here.

The second glass of Jack and Coke the bartender puts in front of me is much bigger. There's hardly any ice in it. He winks when I look up at him, and I turn to The Great Houdini with an eyebrow raised.

“You had something to do with this.”
“I did not. I told you the drinks were strong here.”
“You need some water.”
“I’m fine.”
“You’re stubborn.”
“Shut the fuck up, sir,” I say, raising the glass to my lips.

We are cracking jokes, talking to strangers at the bar, and trading insults. I pretend not to notice that he is leaning closer to me than he was when I first arrived, his body heating up my entire right side. I am in the middle of saying something when I notice he is starting at me strangely.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Like what?”
“Like you’re looking at me right now.”

He opens his mouth and closes it, then again. A look passes over his face that I have only seen once before in our entire sorted history.

Immediately my brain starts sending my body distress signals.

“It’s just that… I dunno. After all this time… I just still think you are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.”

I want to run. More than I have ever wanted anything in my whole life. Because what was light hearted and fun just a second ago has taken a turn down exactly the darkened street I didn’t want it to.

“No, just listen. I’m sorry. I am so sorry. About all of this. Everything. I hate thinking that I hurt you in any way. And I hate that I fucked us up. I’ve just missed you for so long and I always wanted you to know that what we had was real. That it was not fake. It was once in a lifetime and I-“

In his abrupt silence I find the courage to move my eyes from the bar top I’ve been assiduously studying, willing myself to go as numb as possible, and look up at him. Ribbons of red unfurl across the cinnamon skin on his cheeks. He has dropped his eyes from the side of my face where most of his outburst landed. Finally he looks back at me, and my heart drops to the floor. His eyes are red, tears streaming down his cheeks and I feel paralyzed by the sight.

“I’m just sorry.”
“It’s fine. I’m fine.”
“No, it’s not. And no, you’re not.”

We stare at each other, the strangers around us on mute. I am such a mess, so hyperaware I think I can feel every individual goose bump rising on my skin. I take a deep breath and soundlessly will them to stop betraying how affected I am.
“Let me go...” he says, and he’s off his stool and heading towards the bathroom before I can respond. When he's finally out of sight, I let go of the breath I’ve been holding. I need to get out of here. Immediately. I am trying to figure out how to run without being stopped by the bartender who might think we’re trying to skip out on paying our tab, and how I can weave through the crowd to get back to the rental car safely before he returns. I am pushing myself off the stool when he is back at my side.

“I think we should go,” he says. I look around and without my even realizing it, last call has come and gone and the bar has started to empty out. The lights are brighter. The music has stopped. Our tab has been sitting in front of me for God only knows how long. I missed it all.

He pays and we walk out in silence, him saying he will walk back to his place, and me insisting on driving him across the busy intersection that separates the bar from his complex. The silence stretches on once we get in the car, punctuated by his occasional directions that have us arrive at his front door.

I pull up, refusing to even put the car in park, my foot light on the brake and my eyes concentrated on the steering wheel.

“Get out and give me a hug. I might never see you again.”
“You might,” I protest, still not moving.
“Not if you have your way, I won’t.”

I put the car in park, my blood a jet engine in my ears, and get out. By the time he comes around the car to my side, I am still standing in the door, as far away from him as I can manage. He lifts his hand out to me, and I stare at it like I’ve never seen it before, despite the fact that the shape of them, the weight of them, every line etched in his palm was once home to me. I hesitate for awhile before I take it, steeling myself as he pulls me in for an embrace. He hugs me longer than he needs to, his hands low and intimate on the small of my back.

“I mean it, you know. I am sorry. This was all my fault. It was nothing you did or didn’t do. And no matter what you think or have to tell yourself, we were real. We weren't a lie. I mean that.”

I pull back as much as I can with his hands still planted on my spine and look up at him, taking in his fresh tears and his face in the moonlight. I know he means it. I just also know it doesn’t change anything.

He kisses me before I can tell him he’s forgiven. His tears have made his lips salty, but his kisses are exactly as I remember them, just flavored with all the bitter and the sweet that has happened since the first time he pushed my hair back from my face and kissed me in his bedroom years ago. I pull away, more overwhelmed than I care to admit, tears stinging behind my eyes.

“I’m sorry, " he says, and trails off, looking at me as if to gauge if I am going to break into a sprint or not.

“Why?” I say, my voice small, not nearly as powerful as I intended it to come out, and he knows I am not asking about tonight. That I am not asking this kiss or his words or his tears. We’re both struck still by the silence. And I realize, I don’t want to hear the answer.

So, I kiss him again, falling into him like I’m exhausted, because I am. Exhausted from carrying all the hurt and all the questions all alone all this time as I have been. Tired from pretending I'm ok even though I didn’t deal. Like I don’t care, like I didn’t love him with everything I had. I try to tell him that, all of that, in this kiss, my hands finding a brace against the solid wall of his chest, his arms wrapped tight around me almost to the point of breaking. After awhile we pull away simultaneously, panting and wild eyed. I know, more than I have never known anything in my entire life, that I have to get out of there right now. Because I cannot hold on to myself much longer.

“I need to go.”
“Absolutely not.”
“You shouldn’t be driving.”
“I’m fine.”
“You’ve been drinking. And it’s late.”
“I need to go.”
“Are you sure?”
“I need to go.” He sighs above my head.
“I want you to stay.”
“I can’t. I need to go.”
“If I begged would you stay?”
“I need to go.”

Resigned, he moves me back towards the car, my legs seeming unwilling to cooperate with me, and closes the door after I am settled in.

I pull off and make it all of two feet before my body collapses in on itself, sobs rushing up from the pit of my stomach, slumping me over the steering wheel. I barely slam on brakes before I run into the gate.

I am still crying when he makes it to the car, opening the door and reaching across me to put the car in park and undo my seatbelt. He scoops me out of the car like I am nothing, bracing my violently shaking body with his.

I am ashamed. More than I have ever been about anything. I vowed I would never shed another tear over this man, let alone where he might see them. But I cannot stop fucking crying.

He’s holding me, rubbing my back and whispering into my hair, words I pretend not to hear because I can’t afford to hear anymore. I am emotionally bankrupt. I've spent way too much on us and the thereafter. My emotions are in the red. I can't give anymore to this, to these words, to whatever it is he's saying. I just don't have it.

Before long my pride takes over, my tears dry almost instantaneously and I right myself, pulling out of his embrace.

“I should go.”
“Are you sure?”

He walks me back to the car as he had just moments ago. He lingers like he wants to say something, and I stare straight ahead with both hands on the steering wheel, trying not to give him an opening and mentally begging him not to say another word I cannot bear the weight of. Finally, he closes the door with a sigh, stepping back and watching me pull off again, this time the tears flowing freely. It seems like it takes forever for the gates to open so I can drive through to freedom, but I am determined to leave this and move on to what’s next. Unlike the last time I walked away from him, I give my eyes to the rearview. He is standing there, his arms empty at his sides, watching me, hoping I turn back.

Instead, I drive forward, broken in ways I can’t explain, but ready for whatever comes next.

Part 3: Tied Up

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

This is a Story About Control

“The thing about control is that we never have any. Some of us are comforted by the idea that we maintain some control over things, but by submitting to the need to control, control is controlling you. Funny little paradox huh?

Thought: that which we view as weak is our biggest fear. We act in spite of it and that is why that, which we seek to control, controls us. Thus, we are ruled by not our strengths, but by our weaknesses. To defeat this, one must make not an enemy of weakness but embrace it. Only through yielding can one conquer.”

I have been getting a lot of messages about surrender lately. Giving in. Giving up control. Handing myself over to some force- God, the universe, love- that is greater than myself. And in my characteristically stubborn way, I have been ignoring them all. Steadfastly, willfully, foolhardily.

I could say it’s because I am an action oriented person; I thrive on doing. Not thinking. And certainly not feeling. I could say because I am not particularly invested in esoteric, grandiose ideas of life, I don’t find myself particularly thriving in the gray areas they created.

But, let’s be real. That’s all bullshit.

The truth is I’m a coward. I am afraid. Every day. Not of the things you SHOULD be afraid of; driving too fast, talking to strangers, jumping out of planes. Those things exhilarate me. Rather, it is the things that should bring me peace and balance and joy that make me fearful. Giving up the control I think I have. Risking a lot to move to a city I actually want to live in. Falling for someone I’ve probably been falling for for years. Moving my career in the direction I want, not just the one that makes the most sense.

And then Jess sent me this quote, as we were emailing back and forth about me breaking things. I’d seen it months ago on her blog, and it resonated with me then, too. It was another one of those things I’d stumbled upon that I needed to take to heart and promptly pushed out of my mind for the comfort of the way things are. You know, dance with the devil you know, and all.

But I need to keep this in mind. I need to work on this. On being ruled by my strengths and not my weaknesses. On being comfortable admitting that my need for control is just as much an illusion as my thinking I’m in control is. Not making an enemy of my weaknesses, since they are just as much a part of who I am as all the great things. To learn to admire my own flaws as much as I admire the human fallacies of everyone else.

I might not be able to do all these things. At least not as perfectly as I’d like. I might not get this right and it might not be pretty. I might not be able to be all emotionally available and demonstrative and self-forgiving. I might not always be able to be the type of person who can surrender when I should.

But I can at least be brave.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Leave Your Drunk Girlfriends in Public Bathrooms

A lesson about community service.

Liquor is a prominent theme in my life on this blog. It’s even in the title. As much as I talk about going to happy hour and appreciating the wonder that is Jack Daniels single barrel whiskey, you probably think I am drunk more often than not. That is simply not the case. I have a job that I don’t talk about that I do very well and go to everyday. I am a productive member of society. That just isn’t as fun to discuss.

But it’s important to note that despite a proclivity for trying to outdrink my guy friends, I’ve never been kicked out of a club for being too drunk. Or carried out or passed out or unceremoniously laid out on a couch in the VIP section with my dress riding dangerously high up my thighs. That’s just not me. No shade if that’s your thing but just… wear pretty panties.

If not to save yourself from embarrassment, then to save me from having to peel your drunk ass off the floor.

I think maybe I have become Patron Saint of Drunk Girls in Public. I haven’t done anything to have this honor bestowed upon me besides be able to drink my weight in Grey Goose and still make it home safely. But now that I look back on my drinking history, all the signs were there.

There was the girl at the house party my freshman year who was half-conscious and being carried upstairs by a group of dudes. It went like this;

La sees group of random dudes carrying drunk girl upstairs
La: (to the girl) Girl, do you know these dudes?
Drunk Girl: *drunken mumbles*
La: (to man) Say, bruh, do you know her?
Man: *stutters out some manner of lie*
La: Put her down.
Man: She’s fine. I’m just gonna take her upstairs and let her lie down-
La: *elbows Man directly in the kidney with unnaturally pointy elbows* I SAID PUT HER THE FUCK DOWN.

There was the white girl in Adams Morgan who fell asleep on the sidewalk a block down from a DCPD patrol car, whom I effectively hid down a side street until they passed so she wouldn’t be arrested for public intoxication. And of course countless friends, but I don’t think they count as I consider it my duty to get whomever I went out drinking with home safely.

And then there are girls like the girl I encountered at one of my favorite hotel bars.

It is well documented that I don’t really subscribe to Girl Code, but I do believe one rule above all else; you don’t leave your girl drunk and alone at the bar. Not just because all manner of awful things could befall her. But also, because she is an embarrassment to us ALL.


I find this girl curled up on the floor in the bathroom, crying and talking to herself, after excusing myself from my date to make sure my martini hadn’t made my red lipstick bleed. She has all the hallmarks of Had too Much-osis; flushed face, unintelligible emo rambling, unfocused eyes, zero concept of appropriate behavior for the setting. I look around, sure that one of her girlfriends just left her there while she went into a stall to sit on the toilet to rest her feet from walking in heelspee. Except we are alone. And she is VERY upset that some guy named Dan is getting married in the morning.

It is at this point that I realize that my Patron Sainthood has been activated. SONOFABITCH.

I start by sitting her up and trying to talk calmly to her until she can coherently answer my questions. Luckily she weighs exactly 97 pounds, so changing her position isn’t so hard. Getting her to stop muttering to herself like an extra from Girl, Interrupted, however? Not quite as easy.

Trying to talk to her doesn’t work. Shaking her gently doesn’t work. Raising my voice doesn’t work. So I do the only logical thing left to do…

I slap the everlasting shit out of her.

Once I have her attention, she tells me her name, and that she’s there with three girlfriends who took her out to get her mind off the fact that her ex-fiancé is marrying someone else tomorrow. Except somehow, 1 friend left for a booty call, 1 friend met a guy, and the other is flirting shamelessly with the cute bartender with the amazing rack. (I don’t blame this friend A BIT.) Over the course of their rounds of drinks, Shelly* stumbled her way to the bathroom, slid down the wall and had herself a good drunken cry. I get it. We’ve all been there. Though I am a cry in the closet kinda girl myself.

I get her to her feet, splash some water on her face and steady her with one hand while I pull her dress down from inappropriate heights with the other. More coherent now and infinitely more sad, she looks at me with big puppy eyes like the animals in that damn ASPCA commercial with the Sarah McLachlan, her eyes welling up with fresh tears.

“Can I please go home now?”

Oh, poor boo.

I brace her tiny body against my hip, and walk us out in what I hope looks like two girlfriends leaving the bathroom in a friendly embrace and NOT a stranger dragging a drunk girl by her waist to the curb. Especially because I’m 98% sure that if the hotel staff gets involved, this will be an even bigger mess.

My date sees me as we were come out of the bathroom, his facing filling with panic and what the fuck?! slipping from his lips before he can catch himself. He rushes over to us, trying to play it cool.

“Did you pick her up in the bathroom?”

I give him a brief synopsis of what has happened and he goes to pay our tab. I decide to start for the door. Halfway there, she steps in front of my outstretched leg, tripping us both. We both fall face first on the floor.

You see what thanks patron saints get?

I, being of sound mind and sober body, have the wherewithal to catch myself. Shelly, heartbroken and drunker than all the frat boys in all the land, lands flat on her face and busts her lip. Because she is intoxicated and unreasonable, what is really just a small split down her lower lip freaks her the entire fuck out. Jesus.

I gather her up and shush her before one of the two big security guys about 10 feet away turn around and all but drag her out to the cab line, trying my best to hold her up while avoiding her bleeding lip because saint or not, this girl is a stranger.

The sweet guy at the valet gives me a knowing smile and helps get her into a waiting cab. After I figure out she lives a few blocks away and make sure the driver knows how to get there, I put a $20 in his hand and close the door behind Shelly, who is sleeping soundly in the backseat. The cab pulls away just as my date comes outside.

“Did you know her?”
“No. I just found her on the floor when I went to the bathroom.”
“She came alone?”
“No, she was with some friends but they left her.”
“They left her like that?”
“Seems that way.”
“I saw you guys fall. Are you ok?” He thinks I don’t seem him holding in a laugh.

I take stock of myself quickly. Nothing seems ripped or torn or bruised. But I do have a pretty nasty carpet burn on my knee that I show him.

“Just a little carpet burn. Not even gotten in a fun way.” He laughs at me.
“I’ll make it up to you one day,” he says, grabbing my hand and leading me towards his car that’s just been pulled around by the valet. “You know,” he tells me, leaning on the open door above me, “you probably just kept her night from being even worse.”
“I know. I just wish these drunk girls didn’t keep finding me everywhere I go!”
“Maybe it’s you. Maybe when you drink you give off some kinda pheromones like, ‘Find me! I’ll make sure you get home safe!’”
“Ha! Well, clearly no good deed goes unpunished,” I say, gesturing to my knee.
“Maybe not,” he replies as he closes my door, walks around and gets in. “But maybe this can count as community service for any future infraction you commit?”

That could very well be the case. And while I do so appreciate you guys keeping me paying it forward by leaving your drunk ass girlfriends on the floor in public restrooms, maybe next time you can keep them to yourselves.

*names changed to protect the drunken

Friday, August 26, 2011

Broken Arrow

I have been breaking things. I don’t mean that metaphorically.

It started with a tiny plate, one of those little dainty things that you rest a hot tea cup on. What the hell are those called?

Unknown nomenclature aside, it started with that. I pulled it out of the cabinet and the thought rang through my head as clear as a bell; I should drop this on the floor.

So, I did.

I watch it fall and shatter into four big pieces and countless little shards on the hardwood in complete silence. I stared at it on the ground, feeling intrigued, but still fairly detached. Once the echoes of the shatter stopped reverberating through the quiet kitchen, I swept it up, threw it away, and went about my day.

Then it was a binder at work that was being thrown away. I’d found myself unconsciously opening and closing the three rings, finding strange comfort in the clickclickclick. When I realized what I was doing, I looked at the binder curiously wondering, could I break those rings?

So, I tried.

With a ring braced in each hand, I pulled the ends away from each other, far past the allowed for opening until I heard a faint snap, and each of the rings hung loosely out of their assigned spaces. I took a moment to look over my handiwork, then swept is all in the trash, and then turned back to the project I was trying to finish before end of business.

After that it was a shot glass. I have a large collection of shot glasses (predictably) from all the places I’ve visited, so many in fact that friends have taken to bringing them back to me from the places they visit, too. I have about half a dozen from Atlanta, it seeming fitting that my hometown be represented in more numbers than any other city. There was one in particular I bought years ago, the painted script enscribing Atlanta, Georgia having long since worn off, with a pronounced chip in the top where I once dropped it on a granite counter after doing a Patron body shot off a friend’s stomach. I was cleaning it off when the thought came to me; I should throw this against the wall.

So, I did.

I tossed it up and caught it in my palm a few times, like a pitcher debating on what kind of pitch to send over the mound. Then I threw it clear across the room, watching it burst into a million crystalline pieces, each tinkling like pennies in a jar as they hit the floor. I stood there for a minute, confused at myself, but feeling mildly exhilarated. Then, I cleaned up the shards and went to bed.

I have been breaking things. But I’m not entirely sure why.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Body Count Politics

Once, I asked my ex about her body count. She steadfastly refused to tell me. Like, would not even entertain my question, and actually got upset that I asked. At the time, I was irritated as hell because I thought this was just the latest example of her bullheaded insistence on keeping to herself anything her loved ones might judge, disapprove of or misunderstand, which lead to a lot of strife with us. As I got a bit of distance from her and the situation, I realized what was ACTUALLY bothering me; the perception that this might be the sort of thing I would condemn.

As longtime readers know, I was raised in a fairly religious and conservative southern household. There were tons of things that I SWORE I would never do; premarital sex, oral sex (giving or receiving), sex without a condom, girls, anal sex, threesomes, doggy style, on my period, with someone watching, anywhere other than the bed. There are a number of those things I haven’t done, but as for a majority of them… welp.

The point is, I was taught to assign a meaning to those behaviors, and it was that meaning that I thought I would be avoiding if I didn’t engage. No one could call me a whore if I didn’t have oral sex or sex with multiple partners. Except, you know, of course they could. And they did. Because that is the way you attack a woman; you insult her reputation and you call her a whore. That’s the thing about being judged by your sexual history; it doesn’t have to be true, or even tawdry. It just has to be seen through the filters of the connotations other people have been taught to assign to it.

Over the last few days for some reason, there has been TONS of talk of body count across the internet. And I have been steadfastly avoiding said conversation because it makes me furious. The politicizing of any one’s sex life, but especially something as trivial as the number of partners they’ve had, is quite possibly the dumbest thing you people believe in. And though I usually include myself in the human behavior we all display, I am completely comfortable divorcing myself from this phenomenon. It is completely on y’all.

Sexual behavior, and by extension, the definition of deviance, is subjective. What is a lot of numbers to post on my personal sexual scoreboard might not be a lot for someone else. What I find absolutely amazing in the bedroom (and beyond), might be degrading and uncomfortable to someone else. It’s important we recognize that not only is everyone different, but that we must respect their ability to define for themselves who they are and what they are, especially when it comes to sex.

But perhaps even more imperative is that we MUST stop assuming the character of a person based on unfounded judgment about what the number of partners they’ve had must mean.

I think what bothers me the most though, is not that there are so many men so willing to judge a woman for what they deem an inappropriately high body count while ignoring their own numbers, but that FAR too many women are buying into this nonsense.

I see you. Bragging on your “low numbers” and how you don’t want to share your intimate forest with just anyone, or whatever enchanted, magical language you use. And my overall problem isn’t even this sort of sexual choice, it is the inherent undertone often found in statements like that; that somehow you are “better than” the next woman. That this MUST put you ahead of the women you are “competing” against in this imaginary race to happily ever after every media outlet tells you we are all wholly dedicated to. THAT bothers me. Because the second that ONE of us buys into the idea that it is ok to be judged for what we’ve done, who we’ve slept with and how as a defining aspect of our character, we all lose.

That isn’t to say that every woman thinks what she does or doesn’t do in the bedroom makes her better than. Or that every man will decide if you are “worthy” (ugh.) strictly because of the number of people you’ve slept with. But the fact of the matter is, that point of view is out there. And prevalent. But if you don’t buy into it, it will die.

But we don’t do that, do we? Because to dare stand in defiance of any bullshit, sexist judgment of our sex lives would mean we won’t get “chose” right? And lord knows that can’t be allowed to happen. Because then how will we know what we are worth as women, if not for having a man to complete us? /end sarcasm

It’s difficult. I won’t deny that. I’ve found myself attracted to men whom I instinctually knew would judge me for my sexual openness. And I won’t lie and pretend it isn’t awful to have to snuff out growing attachment to someone because you refuse to compromise yourself. Because if, like me, it is rare to find someone who makes you feel anything other than general apathy, there is always that fear that it might be forever until you find someone who accepts you as you are. And sometimes, the temptation is strong to pretend or, it’s not-so-distant cousin, downplay, what you enjoy, especially when it comes to sex. But what good is being with someone if you end up miserable and repressed?

My point is this. Have 1 partner or 100. Have sex inside, outside, upside down, inside out. Do it with people watching or with your eyes closed or on camera or on top of the Old Testament for all I care. Those are YOUR choices. But be empowered to make your own choices. Make them based on what works for YOU, not because of what some man told you he will think of you if you don’t choose in a manner appropriate to him.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

About Being a Daughter

An anecdote so that you may come to understand how ridiculous my mother is…

A couple years ago, she threw her then boyfriend a dinner party for his birthday. She’d gathered a large table of his friends, and was playing the role of doting girlfriend at a tucked away hipster restaurant known for its impressive wine selection. I showed up fashionably late, first because I recognized that no one would miss me and foremost because the night before I’d tried (and failed) to drink my weight in Grey Goose, stumbled home around 3am and then stumbled to work at 8am still very intoxicated. By the time the dinner party rolled around that night around 7pm, I had sobered up considerably, but was still deeply entrenched in the vow that comes with being hung over; I will never drink that much again. That vow, much like every other time I had muttered it to the heavens, only lasted 24 hours. But those sacred, detoxing 24 hours fell during his birthday, where we were celebrating at a wine bar. I chose water.

As I slid into my seat at the table, lucid but weary like a stripper that pulled a double, my mom noticed my insistence to the waiter that I only wanted water. I would have preferred, I dunno, Gatorade and the magical ambrosia of baby cherubs to make even my skin stop hurting, but my choices were Biblical; wine or water. After the 3rd time or so that I turned down an offer of Sauvingon Blanc, my mom turned to me with a mix of befuddlement and concern on her face that I have come to realize is going to result in nothing good for me. She leaned her face towards mine, motioning me to come closer.

“Why aren’t you drinking?”
“I just don’t wanna drink.” She stared at me with her perfectly shaped eyebrows lifted. Because, well, my mom knows me. She knows there are few times in life I DON’T want to drink. Particularly because she shares the same trait. We are, in fact, the apple and the tree.
“YOU don’t wanna drink?”
“Why don’t you want to drink? What kind of medication are you on?”

Now, because I was still experiencing vodka- impaired response times, I stared at her blankly for a second, not entirely sure of what she was asking me, but knowing to be appropriately offended by it.

And then it hit me.

“I’m still hung over, mama. Not taking antibiotics. I have a headache, not an STD.”

And with that she turned her attention back to the dinner party.

My mom is ridiculous.

It is interesting being someone’s daughter, but especially a daughter to a mother. That particular relationship is stereotypically wrought with tension and my mom and I hit all the expected notes; the post-divorce(s) tug of war, the puberty boundary pushing, the college age pulling away. Ironically, as I have gotten older, are relationship sometimes seems to regress rather than progress, probably due completely to the fact that we live in the same city. She wants me to check in; I blank stare her as I think about all the nights I survived in D.C. out and about and generally doing hoodrat stuff with my friends and she was none the wiser. I figure if I can make it through my naïve post high school years in a fairly dangerous city without causing myself any kinda physical harm (emotional harm is another story) I should be able to manage to go to work and back without reenacting selected scenes from Final Destination on the highway.

The thing is, like many moms, mine is prone to worry. More so than many, but still less than some. But not only am I her daughter, a particularly precarious relationship to begin with, but I am her only child. This ups the ante considerably.

I say often that I must not have been the easiest child to raise. Especially not for a mom like mine, who desires more than anything to feel necessary and needed. I was (and still am) a willful child. I am stubborn, and fiercely independent. I am happiest when striking out on my own and figuring things out for myself. I hate instructions. My last ex frequently told me I had issues with authority. As you can imagine, a parent wanting to feel needed and a child hell bent on needing others as little as possible made for an interesting ride up to this point.

Today, my mom is still ridiculous. And I am still willful. She still assumes the worst in every situation, and I am still determined to break things down and fix them all on my own. These are fundamental traits of who we are; they don’t make us bad people or good people, they just make us people. The difference is that as I begrudgingly become more adult, we seem to slowly but surely be coming to a sort of stalemate, a peace about who the other is and what that means for our relationship. Don’t get me wrong, we still fight. The smallest thing between us can go from 0 to 100 in under 10 seconds flat. Because we are mother and daughter. Being a mother is hard. Being a daughter is hard. And if you have never seen a mother/daughter fight, then you are missing a better matchup than any UFC fight.

We still have tons of things to work through, years of issues and resentments and growing of our own separately. Our relationship will likely change and morph into something absolutely foreign as we both keep living. But the thing about being a daughter is, you’ll never not be one. No matter where you live, how you live, who you are or whether or not your parent is living, you will always be someone’s daughter.

I will always be my mother’s daughter.

At least until the next time she insinuates that I have an STD in public.

Monday, August 1, 2011

You Know How I Know You're Gay?

Full disclosure: One of my high school boyfriends is now gay. My first college boyfriend was gay. I’d say about 40% of the men in my life are gay. I was born and raised in the gayest city in the Confederacy; I have one of the gayest degrees you can have from a very gay friendly school in one of the gayest cities in the country. In short, I know gay.

I say all that to say that if you wanna know where a gay club is in your city? I know. You need a lube recommendation? I am all over that. And if you aren’t entirely sure if that dude you met at Pottery Barn is gay or just has great taste in housewares, I am your girl.

It’s important you remember this.

An associate of mine was telling me about her new suitor via gchat, all giddy and excited as us girls tend to be when we find someone we really like. You know how it goes. All breathless recounting every single detail of every single conversation/date/text message. Copious amounts of smiley faces and lol’s. And, of course, various incarnations of “I’ve never felt this way before…”

I tolerating her despite how annoying this new phase of a crush can be because, in truth, I just love when people find each other. It helps my little Grinch heart grow a little bigger so that one day it might break that measuring device. So I am indulging her, smiling to myself about how ridiculous she is when she sends me a picture of the two of them on their latest date…

*cue record scratch*

Dude… has a quality. To the untrained gay spotting eye, he probably looks like any other well dressed, immaculately groomed guy. But there is a… something. And the unfortunate thing about once you reach black card level fag hag is you can’t turn off your gaydar. Not even if your friend really, really likes this guy.

So I ask a few questions to my oblivious girlfriend, still swimming the shallow waters of an early crush. Nothing raises many red flags, and just as I am about to relax and maybe send my gaydar in for a tune up she says, “I even get along with his roommate.”

“Oh, yeah. His friend from college lives with him. Omg, La, maybe you guys should meet. His name is Chris.”

*blank stare*

Never mind the fact that this grown ass, thirty-two year old man has a roommate but the roommate is MALE?!?!

I have dated about all the homos I intend to date on this side of creation, so I gently tell her I am good on the hookup.

At this point, I am trying very hard not to jump to conclusions, but I am concerned. A lot. I ask whether the roommate has fallen on some hard times or something. Nope. Both have stable, long term, well-paying jobs. I ask if they have just always lived together and just never bothered to move out. No again. They just moved in with each other last year.

Two strikes.

Eventually I get his last name from her and do what any woman should be doing before she or a friend goes out with some stranger dude; I Face.Booked him.

Now if you ever need to do gay recon (or relationship recon for that matter- we’ll discuss that at a later date) don’t waste your time going through their wall or info. All the good stuff is in their messages anyway. Go straight for the pictures.

Which is what I did.

It seemed all innocent at first until I got to pics of him with his friends at a cookout for the 4th. I will freely admit it was all circumstantial at best; the big pony polo that was just a little too tight. The cargo shorts that were just a big too snug on his ass. One picture where he is leaning much too far away from a girl with an amazing ass. But still, all of that means nothing. So I kept clicking.

The next picture is a picture of him and his “roommate.” The roommate is sitting on a bench, facing the camera. My friend’s dude has his back to the camera, but has turned around so that HIS CHIN IS HOOKED ON OLD BOY’S SHOULDER.


Really? Resting your head on dude’s shoulder? I’ll be late for that.

“Girl, you realize this man is as gay as pride weekend in San Francisco, right?”
“What?! He is not. La, you think EVERYONE is gay.”
“No, I don’t. Just the ones that are gay. Like this dude.”
“He is not! He is just well dressed.”
“It’s not about him being well dressed, though he wears his shirts so tight, y’all could share tank tops. But I am about 98% sure he is a homo.”
“How do you even know he’s gay?”
“I just know.”

It is hard to explain to people who are not fluent in gay, how you’ve come to know so much about The Gay. And as she doesn’t have my pedigree, she doesn’t know any better. But since I do, I feel like I have to say something. I spend the next 10 minutes trying to explain to her that while he might be a top, he is most certainly gay.

Naturally, it goes nowhere.

Because she don’t know from gay. Because she really likes this guy. Because this so called “man shortage” got these women out here straight shook and she like many other women, are concerned that every guy they have chemistry with might be their last.

“La, you are so ruining this for me!”
“I’m sorry. I am. But I’m right.”
“Ok just let me say one more thing. And then I will drop it.”
“Ok, what?”
“He’s gay. He’s shops the Barney’s sale gay. He’s wears leather bracelets gay. He’s man-purse gay. He’s going to the ballet for the men in tights gay. He is a Beyonce dancing, pink feather boa draping, Rock and Republic jeans rocking, Cosmopolitans at the bar sipping, white Prada shades wearing, crotch watching at the gym, glitter, stars and rainbows homo.”

And then she logged off.

In her defense, I coulda been nicer about it. But it’s Monday. And he’s gay.

I hope he comes outta the closet soon though. I have a friend I would LOVE to set him up with.

Friday, July 29, 2011


The first time it occurred to me that something was wrong with my body, I was in the fifth grade. Where my breasts were sprouting, my hips were rounding out and my thighs growing thicker my fellow classmates, being of the mostly thin, WASP-y variety did not have the same problems. Or shape, for that matter.

First, I noticed a disturbing pattern among all the 90s era waif models while flipping through magazines with my friends; none of their thighs touched. Initially I told myself that it must be some trick of the camera or computer. But then I started looking around and realized with horror that none of my friends’ thighs touched either. If they were standing flat footed I could read that same magazine on the other side of them clearly through the space between their tiny thighs. I spent the rest of that spring semester (which was historically considered the best time of year at our parochial school as our uniform got to consist of shorts for the warmer weather) never comfortable in my favorite uniform again. I was far too aware of the way the cuff of my shorts left indentations on my abundant thighs, rather than hanging effortlessly from slim hips I did not possess. I developed some odd way of walking around my thighs that had to look every bit as strange it sounds, but seemed better at the time than allowing people to see my thighs rub together when I walked.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What If.

It dropped in my spirit around my birthday in April, coming, as it usually does, without me even noticing it. A fleeting thought that became a seed, blooming brighter every time the thought became more frequent.

Which it did.

It happens, at different intervals, sometimes months, sometimes years, but it always feels just as it always felt every single time it has come over the last six years. A flowering beneath the surface I try to quell, an ache in my chest I can barely ignore but try to anyway. A flutter, low in my stomach when my mind speaks his name without my permission.

Which is often.

I explained myself, my wistful pensiveness, to the girls when they came for my birthday.

“You are such a soft baked bitch right now,” they said, their eyes sparkling and their lips stretched wide towards their hairlines, barely containing their delight at seeing me this way, as I so rarely am.
“Oh my God, look at her face!”

And I hate that I have friends who not only call me a soft baked bitch, but whom can see straight through my defenses.

In April, it was a raindrop. A tiny, but steady leak in the walls in the back of my mind where I often shove him. By May, a quiet brook, rippling through peacefully, but not really disturbing anything. By June it was a river. And by July, if that thought were an ocean, it would drown me.

Right beneath the surface floated the question that always accompanied the downpour; what if?

What if I hadn’t been afraid?
What if there had been no distance, emotionally, literally?
What if I were not the type of person to instinctively shy from the vulnerability that comes with feeling all the things I knew I felt?
What if there had been no him and her and others?

What if I hadn’t been so afraid?

And so, as I often do when I am unsure of how to proceed, I opened my blinds wide one night and sprawled out on my bed in the moonlight. I looked up in the clear Texas sky for the star I convinced myself when I was six that God lived on, and childishly, wholeheartedly still sometimes believes he sees me through. And I asked. Asked why this kept happening when I was fighting so hard to stop it. Asked why I am the way that I am. Asked what the unfinished business was here that keeps this bubbling over no matter how tight a lid I put on it.

When I was done talking, to the stars, to Her, to Him, however you believe, the answer cut through me like lightening almost before I had time to close my lips; because you have not used the words I have given you.

And so I promised I would. I would say what I had been holding, trying to tear apart, trying to hide and ignore for all this time, if only He, She, the Universe, would give me a sign that I was supposed to.

And just like that I got it.

Fairly quickly. And in such an unexpected way I almost missed it and dismissed it. But there it was, right in my hands; what I had asked for. What I’d been asking for.

And I tried. I did. To no avail.

Maybe I should have tried harder. More than likely.

But I am not, unfortunately, a creature so emotionally resilient that my most vulnerable places can be exposed for that long.

So again, I put it away. I build dams and walls and patch leaks where this thing, whatever it is, might seep through. I mourn, as I always do when this happens, and ignore the fear that I will not get infinite chances here.
That I might always have to live with the possibilities of the what if.

Despite it all, here I am, knocking on the door of August, the familiar ache faint but still present. The longing I feel at different intervals, sometimes months, sometimes years, but that always feels just as it has always felt every time it has come for the last six years, still a raindrop falling steadily, and me with no idea how to turn it off.