Story

Hunger

Food.

My relationship to food has always been a little fucked. As a tiny orphaned refugee kid, all the kind members of the congregation from the church who raised me spoiled me with so much chocolate and candy my baby teeth went black as death and fell out pretty much all at once. Then for a time I had two whole sets of messed up adult teeth, because nature was working hard to fill all those gaps and gave me twice the grill a human needs. Many complicated corrective procedures at a series of dentists was for years from that point necessary.

During elementary school, my parents at the time forced soft bruised apples, tiny boxes of raisins, and day-old brown bread salami sandwiches upon me. I stashed all these uninspired brown paper bag lunches in the wooden chest at the foot of my bed until the signature smell of rotting food and an eventual cloud of flies gave me clear away. I coveted my school friends’ lunches of soft fresh white Wonder bread peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches, chocolate bars, fruit roll ups, and rejected the lifeless day-old shit I was given instead. Lectured and punished, I nursed a child’s rage against my parents and felt depression about food and all life.

Kids, right.

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Story

Skyfall

Marika called and said she wanted to take us skydiving as a wedding present. “How perfectly delightful,” I said, but I was immediately and secretly panic-stricken. Delighted was the opposite of what I felt. Skydiving is something I always acted like I was fearlessly fully committed to one day doing, I never let on that just thinking about skydiving was terrible and alarming.

Dylan went skydiving years ago at the crack of dawn in Australia after raging an all night party and he adored it. He couldn’t get enough. “It’s life-changing,” Dylan said. I responded, “I’m certain it is.” “It’s like a religious experience,” Dylan said. I conjectured, “I don’t doubt it.” “There’s nothing like it,” Dylan said. “I’m sure there isn’t,” I commented.

But I always put off the skydiving every time Dylan suggested we do it. “You’re gonna love it,” said Dylan. “I know I will,” I asserted. “You’ve got to face your fears,” Dylan said. “I’ll face them,” I alleged. But I always meant to face my fears later. Some vague, faraway, and hopefully never actually happens sort of later. “I just want to be ready,” I imparted. “Sometimes you’re never ready,” Dylan said. “Some things it’s do or die.” “Or do and die,” I muttered. “It’s the safest activity in the world,” Dylan proclaimed. “Well let’s not go overboard,” I said.

Marika called again later and said, “Skydiving!” “About fucking time!” I shouted, though I had been scheming for days to get out of it. Marika vivaciously made all arrangements. She got a whole big group together and began discussions and plans. I hoped problems would arise, that we wouldn’t be able to settle on a date that would work for everyone, that there’d be no nearby places that could accommodate us all, I was hopeful that at least one of any number of problems would permanently mess the plan and make it so skydiving would never have to happen.

But there were no problems. A date mere days away was chosen that suited everybody fine, and there was a nearby location that could accommodate our group pretty much any time. I thought to myself, “Jesus H. Christ,” followed by, “Shit, shit, shit.” Outwardly I acted tough and fired up. Every night as the big day approached, Dylan went to bed grinning with jolly thoughts of skydiving while those very same thoughts had me shitting metaphorical bricks. Or metaphorically shitting bricks. You get me, so I won’t belabour the metaphor or the bricks.

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Story

You’re Lucky You’re Cute

The first of maybe three times that I met all my many actual and partial French Asian relatives in France was interesting and fun but also in many ways strange and kind of difficult. I am separated from all these people by the huge divides of geography, nationality, memory, history, generation gaps, skills, experiences, ideas, stylistic representation, language, age and time. I anyway made I suppose the best of it, I think we all did, from what I could loosely barely mostly tell.

I have a terrible sense of direction, I get lost extremely easily, I got really lost in the city trying to see and do things, I even got lost trying to find my way around the apartment that housed all those wonderful people who either were my apparent relatives or were lifelong friends of the family. All this on top of trying to figure out who was who in relation to me, where I was at any given point, what I was doing, there’s a reason I call myself a “Disoriental,” I have an often shockingly difficult time making my way from any version of A to a designated B.

Anyway, when all was “said and done” and it came at last the time to leave, I made the rounds of thanks and hugs and stared at that huge group of humans gathered in the front hall to bid me adieu. I said my thank you so much and I’ll always remember this visit in terrible French and even worse Laotian, I gave, experienced and received many hugs and smiles and kissed countless pairs of cheeks. At the end of the big ceremonial farewell, I grinned widely and gaily, gave one last florid wave and sauntered through the door, only to find myself in the pitch dark, surrounded by innumerable coats, scarves, hats and other closet type things. In leaving I had missed wide the actual exit door and ended up in the closet.

I hung around in there with the coats and dark for a few beats in order to compose myself a bit and delay the embarrassment of reappearing. When I finally emerged with a facial expression of what I willed to be consummate nonchalance, I peeped at all the faces and people still standing there in a big group close together staring at me with various versions of concern, confusion and wonder. The general expression on those many gathered faces pretty much amounted to musings like, “So this is how shit runs in Canada” and, “Who the fuck raised this retard.”

I acted as cool as cucumbers are often described to be and casually mumbled a second much more indifferent goodbye as I took the most measured steps possible toward what I hoped to Christ was this time the actually correct door. Having to say goodbye all over again after you’ve already done so with great drama and flourish is always anticlimactic and a little bit awkward, especially when your first and failed attempt at exiting involves ending up in a closet.

God I am really authentically an idiot sometimes. Or as Dylan likes to put it, “You’re lucky you’re cute!”

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The First Time

All your bass

The first time I met Bassnectar, I had no idea who he was or anything about him at all, coming as I did from an entirely musically speaking different subculture and background scene. Judging by the activity and buzz surrounding his arrival though, I had an idea that this person was apparently popular, excitably liked, and elaborately esteemed.

Lorin was to stay with us and Dylan dashed about making sure his lodgings would be sufficiently comfortable and arranged meticulously. We lived then in a wonderful big house with a strange layout and we gave Lorin the back kind of special type guest room that was an interesting late addition to the original space. This room had its own thermostat and glass French doors and was charming, private and pretty.

When sleeping time rolled around, I spied Lorin fussing with the heat towards a perfection of desired temperature and then later witnessed the beauty and care with which he laid upon the bed in a velvety intimate consummate state of motionless serenity. Lorin’s face was the very picture of calm repose, his arms and hands were crossed carefully across his chest, his long jet black tresses flowed upon the pillow trailing slowly toward the floor in a sublime still-life of arrested masculine beauty. The completed portrait recalled Ophelia floating downward unto darkness along Shakespeare’s death river in a freeze framed timeless capture of poetic suicidal majesty. I was by this total secret moment bewitched completely.

“Motherfucker, are you serious,” I thought. “Even I don’t lay me down to sleep quite like that, but I’m still this household’s rightful prima donna Queen, I think.”

The next morning I ran into Lorin on the stairs. He was heading downward as I headed up. We simultaneously stiffened in our rushingly opposite directional movements. Lorin gazed at me and after a pause remarked, “Nunich, you’re very strange.” “I’m strange!” I responded with silent incredulity. Then I diffidently smiled and laughed dismissively.

Years later, same city, different apartment.

Dylan and I were running gigglingly around being quixotic and cute. Dylan gets annoyed sometimes when I interrupt our “us time” with gaping at my iPhone, shit is apparently different, however, depending on the dinger, when his phone textually dings. In other words, when the texts are coming in hard and fast, and it’s Bassnectar.

This one evening, Lorin texted all in a row, he was apparently having Ableton difficulties, and he needed Dylan’s assistance asaply. “Sorry babe, I gotta get this,” said Dylan. “Darling,” I replied, “Lorin’s Ableton anguish can probably wait.”

Dylan consented and tried hard not to look with fleeting and sorrowful longing in the direction of the dings. The dings kept coming in with high vigorousness and relentlessly. I did my best with great feminine love and patience not to roll my eyes. Dylan for his part tried to keep the moments frolicsome and iPhone free.

The dings continued.

The final text read simply, “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck!!!$!/!!!&?@@!!!!” Lorin’s Ableton nightmare had by evidence reached climax. “Well shit,” I remarked. Dylan said, “Must be serious. The man is clearly dealing.”

Then the phone rang and it of course was Lorin. With my southeast Asian superstar reflexes, I managed to reach and answer it faster than Dylan, my iPhone lunging skill completely schooled his. I pressed the necessary area to answer the call, and instead of saying “Hello” I shouted loudly across the apartment, “Dylan! It’s your giiiiiiiiirlfriend.” Dylan grabbed the phone away from me, excited and pink-cheeked.

“Is Nunich mad,” said Lorin. “No, no, no, no, no,” Dylan said. Lorin said, “You tell Nunich she’s got nothing to worry about from me.”

I hid a smile. The image of myself lost to a dramatic shudder of loneliness and tears as ill.GATES and Bassnectar rode off together on a muscular steed into the bassdriven sunset was just too absurd, and hilariously.

Time passed.

Dylan was invited to make some new music at Bassnectar’s place. Lorin casually suggested we all meet up later, but I just as casually invited myself along. I could tell Lorin thought I’d be bored through all the DJ man stuff so why come as well, but he didn’t realize that I am almost never bored, no matter where I am, or who I’m with, or what I’m doing.

So we’re all at Lorin’s place and I’m reading some excellent book, I was still reading Infinite Jest then. I lolled luxuriantly about upon the couch entertaining myself with David Foster Wallace’s endlessly beautiful story while the bass boys furrowed their brows, stared at computers and wrote music.

Needing motion, I skipped to the kitchen and whirlwinded. I was basically slave/refugee/orphan/free child labour growing up and the silver lining from that many years grim experience is that as an adult I am amazingly neat, brilliantly tidy, intensely good at creating beautiful spaces, and cleaning. The Bassnectar Kitchen when I was finished was full stop glorious and gleaming.

Lorin suddenly appeared next to me.

“Thank you, Nunich,” Lorin said, “but you didn’t have to do that. I pay someone to come in to take care of these things.”

“It wasn’t hard and truly I didn’t mind,” I said. Lorin smiled but had to say still some lingering thing. We stood there together in his gleaming kitchen. On the wall behind the sink and tap were two handwritten notes. “Sponges ↩” and “↪ Wash Cloths” said the notes.

“I don’t know if you saw my notes,” said Lorin. “Sponges go there. Wash cloths go there.” Lorin pointed at the signs and made accompanying motions that neatly matched the news of the notes. I gazed levelly at him and tried to Tyra Banks smize with my eyes. I’m pretty sure instead I was again wearing my “motherfucker, are you serious” face.

“I did see your wonderful notes,” I said to Lorin. “I may be some kind of deranged Southeast Asian Canadian immigrant refugee, but when it comes to taking special notice of the salient details contained within my immediate environment and perusing however briefly what highly intriguing handwritten items are visible, written in a recognizably very prevalent widely-used language such as English, I really do have minimal difficulty. I can with effortless capability and ascertaining ease notice many things, and indeed I also can read.”

Lorin looked at me. I looked at Lorin. There was an “Oh” somewhere within the expression upon his grave face. He slunk back to the computers and music writing studio area where Dylan was furrow-browed and obliviously waiting.

“Is Nunich mad,” Lorin wondered. “No,” said Dylan, without any context or familiarity as to the nature of the muse and inquiry.

When Dylan’s in bass music making Ableton Bassnectar mode, he’s simply not very much or in any real way aware of anything outside of such an extremely precise setting. The thing with these two is they are as maddening and darling as they are ridiculous and wonderful, but maybe we all are, maybe so am I. Wife Power. Never forget I’m a Wife Supremacist now.

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Living is an Art

Callville Bay, Lake Mead, an hour’s drive outside of Las Vegas.

Attended a special private multiple houseboats party to celebrate the birthdays of beautiful friends Jen and Eric. Joked that we should call every man Eric and every woman Sarah, because there were present so many Erics and Sarahs. The five faces of Eric, land of a thousand Sarahs.

I wasn’t initially going to go because Alston planned to visit from DC on exactly the dates of the big party, and I didn’t want to shaft him by replacing his impending visit with this rather involved completely different sudden unexpected epic change of plans. Weitz encouraged our attendance. I pitched the idea several times to Alston. He was open to accompanying me, but was worried about timing, dates and money. Also, if we went, he didn’t want me to feel torn between babysitting him and being free, and he didn’t want to be forgotten and ignored while I raced off to enjoy incredible levels of randomness and fun without him. I instructed Alston to shush, he would be no burden and he would not be forgotten. Also, I wasn’t the sort of person to leave a friend high and dry ever, at least not too much and never for too long. Weitz meanwhile was trying to solve and sort out all the party details, make many decisions, coordinate many things, and tend to the many demands of many invited friends. As time ticked quickly by, Weitz pondered my hesitation, said he would send out a helicopter to fetch me if he had to, I was touched by the extravagance of the suggestion, it was playful evidence of great generosity, Weitz is so wonderful, he is an excellent friend, and is very much the man.

Rd and Mazzie were gonna come too, but in the end they didn’t make it. I was sad Dylan was on the road and was out of the picture entirely. I vacillated between yes I should go and no I’m not gonna, until finally I put my foot down upon my own indecision, thought what the fuck is wrong with me, of course I should go, partying for three days on several lavish boats with wonderful people in a beautiful place to celebrate the birthdays of fantastic friends, fuck yeah I should, why would I not, it was pointless to be making such excuses. I needed to pull out all the stops to make the weekend happen, get my goddamned dawdling ass onto a goddamned plane and show. Fuck yeah I should, I totally would.

My vote for yes came late, so roundtrip flights at that point costed more. We still managed to book pretty cheaply with Spirit Airlines, but the flights were out of Oakland, and our departure was at 6AM. We had to be at Oakland Airport at 5AM, had to leave to get there by 430AM, and so had to rise at 330AM. Madness, I know. 330AM is usually when I’m headed to bed, not rising from it. Dylan thought I was a bit insane, and indeed I was minimally looking forward to that part of the plan.

Tiana invited me to spend the night at her spot in Oakland so that we could carpool to the airport together early the next morning. I spent the whole previous day cleaning my entire place, packing, preparing, and listening to a recent unabridged audio book recording of Revival by Stephen King. Finally I took a Lyft Line to Oakland and got to Tiana’s place quite late.

I was excited to hang out with Tiana at her house while she finished packing, I’m so goddamned lazy I almost never leave my own bedroom, Dylan jokes that I am a shut-in, and all kidding aside I pretty much am, so it was new, exciting and fun to be out and about in the world and at a friend’s actual place, usually if anyone wants to see me ever, they have to make it out up to my house in Twin Peaks.

Tiana’s apartment is nice and elegant, the colours, furniture, art and interior choices all are a perfect reflection of her own calm loveliness and cultured beauty. I hadn’t slept over at a girlfriend’s house in forever, Tiana is so sweet and wonderful, and we were about to head off on an exciting birthday weekend adventure. All these facts together heightened the sense of anticipation and excitement, so it was difficult to get to bed early and to sleep. I reclined luxuriously on one of the comfortable living room couches while Tiana packed. I drank wine and helped Tiana make some final decisions, I encouraged her to pack lightly, posted pictures of cats and dogs to Instagram, and told jokes and stories.

We didn’t really get to bed until midnight, and neither of us were able to fall immediately asleep. I hadn’t shared a bed with a pretty girl in a long time, so I laid there thinking, feeling content, self-conscious and happy. The bed was comfy and huge and Tiana’s reticent cats slept between us. We both sighed and changed our body positions often. Sleep eluded us. I could hear distant cars passing by, meowed confrontations between outdoor cats and also dogs barking, intercut with strands of late night conversation outside in the darkening streets. “Can’t wait to snuggle my man,” Tiana said. I smiled an agreement. There’s few things nicer, more perfect, or more awesome, than spending whole days spooning naked tightly forever with your magic person. It’s been said that men like to fuck and women want to make love. Speaking generally, I don’t think women even really want to make love. Women want to be listened to, and they want to be held. Women want somebody to care about them and cake notwithstanding, bitches love to shop. I read an article detailing the fact that given a choice between having sex and going shopping, 100% of women chose shopping. Rueful statistic but funny. Shit says a lot. In fact it says it all.

Suddenly my iPhone alarm went jarringly off, which means we finally did manage at some point to fall asleep. We couldn’t have slept for more than an hour, and waking at 330AM was a real trip. I mentally sighed and prepared myself for that knife plunge high effort moment between resisting pushing snooze and actually rising. Tiana plowed through all the pillows, sheets and blankets, and cuddled warmly into me. She was so radiant and adorable, I reflected on how lucky her boyfriend was to have her, while enjoying the nuzzle of the moment. Life really is all about just such moments, unexpected, charming, fleeting, innocent, beautiful, brief, and sweet.

We rose effectively and efficiently, grabbed our cases, boxes, packs and bags, and hopped a Lyft to the airport in the pitch dark. I felt a bit like a midnight fugitive on the run as we clamoured into the car. We got to the airport quickly and without incident, our driver was taciturn and good. I was impressed with our successes so far, we were timely, responsible and strangely well-functioning, I had expected this part of the journey to be hard. Alston beat us to the airport and he was in better shape than expected also, in fact we were all in exceptionally commendable form. Getting up at 330AM was awesome.

We checked our bags and quickly learned that Spirit Airlines can suck a bag of dicks. Like all of the dicks. The reason Spirit Airlines can get away with offering the cheapest flights to Vegas is because they charge fifty motherfucking dollars per carry-on bag. It’s forty-five (so you save 5 whole fuck you dollars) if you check the bags in advance and it’s fucking a hundred if you check last minute at the gates. Those assholes were trying to make a man in a wheelchair pay that rate for his chair unless he went out of security all the way back to check-in and paid a Spirit employee fifty bucks there to get the “deal.” Spirit also reduced the maximum bag weight down ten pounds from the universally allowed 50 to further add to the ways they can exploit, trick, swindle, fuck, fleece and dupe people. Fuck Spirit Airlines, don’t ever book with them, highway robbers, learn from our mistake. Cappelletti previously had tried to warn me, but I didn’t really understand what he was saying until it was too late. Spirit Airlines charges $13 for you to choose a seat which you can waive if you don’t care to sit next to your friends. This airline is making many multiple millions monthly with these kinds of small print shady tricks. Somebody remarked that Spirit Airlines is the Walmart of airlines, everyone unanimously agreed that Spirit really could go fuck themselves, and that Southwest was best for all comparable travel plans and future flights to Vegas.

On the plane getting settled, I was delighted to see Kalikia and Noah boarding the aircraft. They were on the same flight as us, so when I noticed, I lunged over the silent sufferer seated next to me to rush at Kalikia, embracing her and expressing high levels of surprise, excitement, and love. She had her 6AM game face on, so it took her a bit to register and reciprocate. I was all, “HI!” and she was all, “FUCK. YES.”

The flight lasted mere seconds since I passed out at once, Alston later described to me the beauty of the sunrise, I don’t think that man ever actually sleeps. In Vegas, Jen was gonna pick us up, but none of us knew who she was, and she knew none of us. At the pick up point, we smiled flirtatiously at strange women in cars, none of whom was Jen. Jen eventually suddenly appeared and skillfully sussed that we were the correct group of humans to fetch. Jen’s fantastic friend Elena was half-asleep in the passenger seat, there was luggage already in the trunk, and now there was the four of us and our many bags too, to try to tetris into this one small car. I gave up at once, but Noah clicked into a state of competence and tetrised all our luggage with dynamic efficient perfection into the trunk. Then we four piled into the back seat, which shouldn’t have been possible, but it was. It was even fun and decently comfortable somehow, and by 9AM, an hour later, we were at the marina.

We hung around at the marina restaurant waiting for all the others to arrive. We had to be there between 8AM-NOON to catch the departure of the boats, which is why we were on that demonic 6AM flight. Even though we flew all the way from Oakland, we still beat everyone else in arriving, even those who were locally already there. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you get up at 330AM, getting up at 330AM is the jam.

We were getting hungry and hot though, the sun was starting to shine and beat down hard, the temperature was approaching 90 degrees. There was nothing at the restaurant that I could eat, so I drank white wine from a thermos I discovered I had, and went outside to smoke and bake in the heat. When I returned, Kalikia was in the process of removing her pants and stripping down to only sexy black lace underwear, right out in public in the middle of the restaurant. “That’s better!” she announced triumphantly. “Right,” I said, “we didn’t really recognize you before, with all of your clothes.” Noah chuckled, Jen grinned, and Elena missed the quip.

We horsed around in the parking lot a bit and gave each other rides in barrels. Pictures were taken and posted to Instagram. Eventually the others began to arrive, introductions were made, and soon we were running around on the boats, jumping, giggling, shouting, drinking tequila, taking more pictures, and stuffing fresh fruit into our faces. All the girls piled around Weitz, and a series of ravishing seductive portraits were taken. Many of Weitz’s best and closest friends are beautiful stylish artistic energetic independent women, which is high testament to his personality and character. We all felt happy, hyper and glad, the sun shone radiantly down upon us all.

There was a bit of chaos as to who would sleep in which room and on what boat, it was such an interesting high octane mish-mash of human beings, people came from Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Jersey, and elsewhere.

The boats sailed across glittering sunshine water until we docked at a gorgeous remote spot for the weekend. We drank, conversed, interacted, gossiped and partied. Time passed. Shit was very on. I eventually squirrelled demurely away onto Sarah’s bed in her room, because my Asian insides were reeling from drinking pretty much all day since 9AM and not really eating. Tiana and Sarah eventually came cuddling in later to where I was, and they did their best to help me see things through. I said I just needed to sleep it off, Tiana made a sweet speech about Weitz and his gift for bringing unique and wonderful people together, we all felt thankful to him for this fact, and for the chance to hang out and get to really know each other better. Mountain suddenly appeared in the little room and said to Tiana, “Hi, I don’t want to interrupt, but I just wanted to tell you that I love you.” “I love you too,” said Tiana and I coulda cried from how adorable those two are, and from how crushing and sweet the moment was.

Everyone raged for pretty much the whole night, Alston was too polite to just show up in somebody else’s bed to sleep, even though he hadn’t really slept the night previously either, and so he did his best instead to both socialize and not get in the way. That man is so socially anxious and excessively polite, you’d think he was Canadian. I teased Alston about his obvious not at all sufficiently veiled FBI identity, I called him “Special Agent Alston” a couple of times. People responded to the teasing with vague expressions of forced neutrality and hidden confusion, their uncertain concern just deepened my amusement.

I awoke earlier than almost everyone the next morning since I lamed out so early the previous night. I felt gorgeous and great, the day was clear, bright, shining, new and beautiful. There was amazing fresh pressed juices for everyone, alongside coffee and a tasty small healthy vegan meal. The day was ready and set to go for further slaying. More people were gonna show that afternoon, and another larger more opulent boat was going to be added to our group. Cappelletti, Alston, Marika and I all were hopeful that we’d get rooms for that night, to make up for how haphazard our situation had been the previous evening. None of us wanted to bother Weitz too much though about the rooms detail, it was his birthday, and he had already shown signs of frustration, fatigue and tense reactions against sudden excessive demands from friends. We did not press the issue of a room further until later.

Some of us took a side adventure on a smaller boat to find a more secluded place with clearer water to swim in. The water where we were docked was overrun with algae, so swimming there was not recommended. This side trip was entirely magical. The water, the mountains, the sun, the air, everything was so gorgeous we coulda died. Ira took some great shots of all us girls while we constantly expressed amazement. We laughed, smiled, danced, embraced, and took pictures.

The boats all had waterslides and as I love to do K and go down slides, I was dying, but it was too late in the day, the water was too cold, and there was no K. The excursion was very special still, and the sunset was the most beautiful possibly on record, it ranked in the top five most beautiful sunsets I have ever experienced or seen. This sunset was so gorgeous that even pictures of it measured, which is saying everything. It was the kind of impossibly beautiful sunset as to make an atheist believe in God. When things get that beautiful, it almost approaches needless, it makes me question things and wonder just who is responsible, and who is all of that beauty for. We all cheered and smiled and wolf whistled the sun. The sun, in all of its bright, excessive, and darkening beauty, continued to set, magically and majestically, gorgeously. Beauty like that can break hearts. Mountain offered an exultant and exclamatory prayer, and this was one of those times when praying actually was sort of appropriate and made a kind of sense.

Eating was hard to configure, and I was always starving at all of the wrong times. Some of us fell to food porn conversations, which involved mostly me describing in great and excruciating detail all of the things I would’ve loved to be eating. I talked of huge perfectly grilled portobello mushroom burgers with fresh organic produce on buns that had no eggs or dairy, spicy baked sweet potato fries, hot plump steamed shrimp vegetable dumplings, gorgeous rich fresh duck eggs fancily prepared, whole rivers of dark and flowing chocolate, roasted soy chicken drumsticks, and goat cheese squares. Eventually I had to cut my own bad self off, it was pointless and masturbatory to be going on and on like I was.

We soaked in a rooftop hot tub under blue sky and blazing sun, I made a remark about how perfect everything was, and said all that was missing was handsome black men, specifically hot Jamaicans. Cappelletti asked, “Have you ever been with a black man?” I said, “No.” “Well,” Cappelletti said, “I guess Dylan’s kind of black.” I said, “When the lights are out, all men are black.” I added, “You think women prefer to have sex with the lights off because they’re self-conscious about how they look and but well. Now you know.” “I knew it!” Cappelletti said. “I knew it.”

I gave copies of my book to Mountain, Kalikia and Weitz for their birthdays, they were happy, and I was glad. Mountain took some amusingly creative remix pictures of the book, Weitz showed his book to his sweet wife, and Kalikia told me later that she conducted a special private ceremony. She said, “I closed myself off in my room, lit some candles, rubbed lotion all over my body, I really took some time out for me, and I had your book. It made me smile, and it made me laugh, so thank you.” “Wonderful,” I replied, “That’s perfect, and very saucy, I approve.”

Many of us got far more psychedelic than might’ve been wise, properly measured or in any manner planned, so when we returned to the main party from the small boat side excursion, we were all in various self-conscious uncomfortable and progressively unworkable states. I made an abrupt appearance inside the super lavish boat, and all the new arrivals gathered there paused in their conversation and stared. A record scratch moment. I had my huge hiker backpack on and I was struggling even just to stand, my new San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge shoulder bag was slipping off of my shoulder and slamming luridly against my leg. Again, like I said, everyone just stared. Basically I was hoping to find some place to cower with all of my things, I had nowhere to go, due to the room debacle of the previous evening. No one was very forthcoming with assistance until finally I said, “Look. I’m kinda real fucked up right now, it’s a struggle just to stand here and speak. I feel awkward and strange and I really need a secure place to store my shit, figure my whole life out for a while, kind of like you know just lie there hiding somewhere private and safe.” Adam became helpful at once. Lester said, “Just knock on some doors, open them, see what room doesn’t seem to be spoken for, and take it.” My dislike of possible conflict, default personality of excessive politeness, and overall Canadian too much niceness stopped me from taking just such logical steps by myself without instruction, so Adam authoritatively lead me through the lavish boat to do what Lester suggested.

We came upon an elaborately gorgeous unclaimed room almost at once. Alston and I were floored. People who had earlier already claimed other less opulent rooms were depressed they had missed out on that exceptional chamber. Alston and I hid in there for literal hours and guffawed. We couldn’t believe our luck. The contrast from our Oliver Twisting the previous evening to nowadays living like motherfucking kings tickled us plenty. We laughed like insane people. I told Alston the whole story from start to finish repeatedly as I lived it, in my own words and from my contorted perspective, even though he was mostly right there the whole time, and from within our highly psychedelic heavily twisted insides and fucked up mental frames of mind, we laughed literally until we cried. We could barely finish our sentences, our stomachs actually hurt from the effort of all the shock at sudden absurd good fortune, giddiness, gloating and giggling. Weitz came running over to see what the fuck was so funny, obviously we were being immature, obnoxious, excited and absurd, enough to be heard. I tried to explain to Eric what the fuck was up from the start of the story, but it all got too funny and made us giggle and laugh again, until our stomachs hurt and we cried, dabbing at the tears in our eyes. That whole giggle fest, sore bellies, and shortness of breath was the silliest, most hilarious, and best shit ever, honestly.

Alston and I hid out for a while in our opulent chamber, the room was more gorgeous than my own fucking room at home, the view from the windows too was incandescently beautiful, what with all the water, mountains, boats, lights, darkness, stars, seclusion, and sky. I wanted to chain drag the room and plunk it into my own room at home along with that amazing view, I never wanted to leave, it was lovely and too beautiful, so fun and perfect.

We talked then seriously about how fucked up the world is, how sad, and messed up and hopeless. We talked about the Serial podcast case, about rape and murder and war, about animal abuse, violence, suffering, evil, anger, miscarriages of justice, corruption, selfishness, dishonesty, cruelty, and everything that’s bad and human. Then we giggled again about how lucky we were. We alternated between serious conversation and hilarity, we felt sick and uncomfortable and cozy and good, we were all kinds of antisocial and hiding and enjoying ourselves big. Psychedelics are strange and awful and challenging and fun, I wondered why people bothered. It’s funny how difficult and uncomfortable we make ourselves just for the fuck of it and still, even though we are uncomfortable and feeling basically quite sick and actually awful, we still somehow manage to kind of enjoy it, despite the awkwardness, self-consciousness, suffering, and discomfort. Life is so strange, people are strange, shit can get weird and wonderful and really fucked up. That might all be the point.

A couple of times I felt guilty and badly for hiding out so much in that gorgeous room. I made tentative attempts to get out there and socialize. My first attempt was something of a disaster, and I retreated quickly back to the safety and glory of the room. I texted Dylan to detail my situation, I expressed my discomfort and my fondness. He was having some shitty time somewhere and he wished he was there and of course I wished he was with me too.

I made a final attempt at exiting the room and being social. Even though we finally had the most fantastic boat room ever, we couldn’t very well just spend the whole night cowering in there, peeping out the windows, having heavy discussions about life, the universe, and everything, entirely ignoring everyone else, and completely missing the party. And so we ventured. We took deep serious breathes, gazed at each other, nodded solemnly, stamped our feet, and giggled. We should’ve had some kind of spy gangster handshake but we didn’t.

We went to the next boat where Noah was djing up on the roof. We got bundled because it was getting cold, reclined hypnotized on deck chairs, and gazed deep into the black night up at all of those incredibly beautiful stars. The night sky was just as gorgeous as the sunset had been earlier that evening, I couldn’t even believe it. Again I wondered once more who was the author of such high level gorgeousness, and who was all that incredible beauty for. I felt strange and unable to express myself, I struggled privately to put my depths of gratitude and wonder into words. I looked and gazed and pondered and mused. Marika bundled me up more and better and took great care of me, Kalikia did too. Kalikia and Marika got to work in setting up a lovely comfy area of pillows and blankets for everyone to pile up all in, listen to the music, be together, breathe deeply, and commune.

Some guy was jumping around shirtless and yawping his pleasures. Full Whitman with dashes of Ginsberg. I wished my interior discomforts would settle down so that I could join this young man in his energetic midnight expressions. Eventually I did jump up and danced hard all alone. Noah played some really great fucking music, so I was glad to overcome being so overwhelmed by psychedelics and finally become physically competent enough to dance. I was real proud of my sudden confidence and energy burst, I bragged about it afterward to whoever seemed interested, Elena smiled, shot video and took pictures. Meghan did a great and mesmerizing punk dance routine with flags, everyone loved it a lot, was much impressed, we all smiled, clapped, cheered, and whistled.

The next morning, I was again surprised with my feeling fresh and comparatively early rising. It was the day of departure, and I was already a bit sad and nostalgic about having to leave. Adam started to play a wonderful morning dj set, but the details of the day didn’t really allow fully for his set to completely happen. A final unfortunate drama occurred that I won’t much get into. The day was clear and beautiful and bright. I felt amazed and calm and thankful.

Before leaving, the last of us gathered in the lavish biggest boat, ate fresh berries, and sang Happy Birthday. I had the rich pleasure of getting to cut up the huge big beautiful birthday cakes. Over the years, I finally mostly won the battle against an ongoing barrage of sweets, candy, chocolate, cookies, ice cream, pie and cake, so I was for the most part able to resist, and just to from a distance smile, marvel, admire and spectate. The cakes really were astronomically huge and gorgeous and beautiful though, so I admit to sneaking a couple small secret tastes. The dangerous mental patient inside of me put forth the possibility of shoveling into the cakes with my whole hands, and just pressing huge fistfuls into my mouth and all over my face. Thank whichever god is appropriate that I only thought about doing that and didn’t follow through with the notion. I wonder what’s the real point of that dangerous mental patient character, I’m assuming we all have a version of it, but maybe I’m actually really crazy, just functionally, and shit’ll unravel real shocking and good at some whatever point, who knows. I guess we can only wait and see, hope for the best and everything. Before this becomes the million page story that never fucking ended though, I’m gonna put a bird on it and quit. Jen said it’s not your own birthday that you remember, it’s other people’s, and she’s right.

That was the best birthday party ever and it wasn’t mine.
Thank you, Eric and Jen, for a really wonderful time.

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White Castle

Driving around the island, we saw a big white castle that cut a majestic outline against the bright blue sky. “Look at that crazy beautiful castle,” we both thought and said.

Later that night we actually ended up at this castle because the interesting last resort alleyway outdoor courtyard bar bazaar we tried to go get drinks at shut down early due to some alleged unsavoury characters skulking about. Too bad because there were a bunch of friendly stray dogs all over that place cautiously begging for food and attention. I was set to love and pet and play with those dogs until I died. Nonetheless, we had to leave, and we had nowhere to go, until Stephen said, “Let’s go to the castle.” The general rhubarb rhubarb crowd response was “Fucking A” and “Yeah. Let’s go to that castle.”

The drive to the castle was a bit crazy and unsafely fun. The night was clear and dark and lovely and there were all these hills. Jack drove very fast. He played some great experimental breakcore jams I tried not to bop my head too much to because I was so crammed into the backseat on top of Dylan and some others and the whole front half of my body jutted forward on a challenging physically strained hypotenuse. “Everyone comfortable?” Jack asked at one point. I said, “Never been more comfortable in my life.” Something in my tone made Jack turn around. He assessed the situation, gave me a satirical onceover, grinned, and drove faster.

The black night sky twinkled gorgeously with its million stars as we all piled out of the car. We parked haphazardly on a section of grass directly in front of the castle. It was tough to see because there were no lights anywhere, all we had was moonlight and a whole lot of faraway beautiful inscrutable stars.

We were with gradual suddenness surrounded by a small multitude of strangers, cars, vans, trucks and more dogs. The strangers were mostly random hippie drifter types, the dogs were sleepy, alert, quiet, noisy, small, medium-sized and big. They were all adorable. Full delight. Give me dogs or give me death.

An ancient man with a booming voice abruptly appeared. He had mirthful eyes and a snow white beard. He was for some jaunty reason carrying a lantern. This elderly white-bearded man said, “Welcome, welcome! My name is John and this is my castle.”

Castle John looked like an exact cross between an old religious guru in festive dress and Santa in the Summertime. We grinned in his direction and mumbled hellos. Stephen earlier told us some apparent ages ago, Castle John promised his wife to take her to Hawaii and build for her a big beautiful white castle there. Castle John made good on his promise but before the castle was ever finished, the wife promptly cut her losses and split. “What a decision!” we thought,“Who on earth would reject such a fantastic gift of a big white beautiful Hawaiian castle?”

We left the question unanswered and gamely accompanied Castle John on a dark and impromptu tour of the castle. Our progress was lit only by that one lantern. It cast a discreet, demure, and dubious light. We made our ragtag nimble way as a group through an ongoing swarm of dogs, vehicles and secret hippies hidden here and there in the surrounding dark. “The power’s been cut,” Castle John announced as we moved in a disorderly forward following motion behind him. “My ex-wife hasn’t paid the bills, so the power people came by and pulled the plug.” “Shitty,” we replied. A tour of the castle by lantern light was anyway actually kind of both appropriate and fun. “We should have late 16th century torches,” I said. Castle John agreed and grinned.

A diminutive dachshund meanwhile accompanied us on this tenebrous trip. Aside from the tiny pitter patter of his laconic paws, the dachshund was utterly silent and heartbreakingly small. His name was Bruiser and he was fabulous and sweet. Bruiser kept a quiet canine vigilant eye on Castle John, to which crazy grizzled old white man human he was clearly attached. I tried a couple times to engage Bruiser a bit but he remained for the most part neutral and focused on keeping up with the group while also studiously avoiding being crushed or knocked carelessly about by any one of us big bungling humans.

The castle was pretty and wonderful, it was even more excellent and interesting viewed from inside. There were five stories, many rooms, closets, stairways, even a dungeon, a secret passageway and a motherfucking moat, if you can believe all that as points of fact. There was a drawbridge door too and pretty much every type and kind of castle appropriate detail. Castle John gave us the lowdown in proud conversational tones as we gazed and followed and moved. The castle was his design and he did a lot of the work himself. Castle John had every right to be proud. We appreciated him for being so interesting and incredible. We said “wow” and “amazing” often.

As we moved through the corridors, up and down staircases, and in and out of many rooms, Castle John expounded upon the unique ideas and original details of each area and space. There was intricate stonework and tiling in the bathrooms, a specially designed bed with elaborate built-in drawers and attending wall compartments in the master bedroom, oddly shaped windows everywhere, and many unexpected slants, partitions, encasements, levels, spaces and nooks. Mad and magnificent to be sure. “You are completely brilliant,” Rada said. “Completely demented more like,” said Castle John. We laughed a bit while Bruiser stood nearby, the greatest small study ever, in tininess, silence, patience and good behaviour. I winked at him and patted his little head. He gazed at me dispassionately and without feeling. Then he looked at Castle John.

There was a little area off one of the kitchens where many children’s paintings, sculptures and drawings were showcased. In huge commanding letters along the top of an opposite wall ran the bold uppercase message YOU ARE AWESOME NOW FUCKING ACT LIKE IT. We found this mission statement to be good.

Every room had several couchsurfing drifter hippie types hanging out, lounging around or sprawled upon some floor beneath some blanket and trying to do things like sleep. Every one of the many walk-in closets had at least one just such drifter hippie. Sometimes these young tired men would hold a lank arm up and with an enervated hand shield their eyes and protect their faces from the sudden intrusion of strangers and unwanted light. The unspoken words that hung in the air at such playful moments were pretty much “Jesus,” “Wtf,” and “Do you mind I’m trying to catch some Z’s.” We gazed at each of these reclining hippies with diminishing surprise each successive time. It was by this point fairly clear why the aforementioned wife filed for divorce and fled. When “I’ll take you away and build you a castle in Hawaii” eventually actually means “And there will be living with us an ongoing everchanging tide of nameless freeloading couchsurfing drifter hippies,” what even faintly sensible woman wouldn’t leave like pretty much fucking tout de suite. We kept this last observation to ourselves. Because the castle was anyway still awesome and Castle John still was charming, charismatic, interesting and a treat.

The long lamplit tour approached finally full circle. The only places Bruiser failed to follow were the dungeon and the roof. Everywhere else we went with Castle John, Bruiser was diligently there. Poor little guy probably suffered in great patient silence during the two I can’t/won’t go there instances.

On the roof beneath the beautiful bright black midnight starry sky, Castle John performed some sort of slam poetry art piece speeches. These were as absurd and humorous as they were kind of profound. Rada and Dylan were especially appreciative, Mochipet, Jack and a few others paid less close attention. On the roof too were many nonfunctioning large solar panels. They shone flatly, mutely, blankly against wind and night and sky. The panels didn’t work. Something to do with high costs, bureaucracy and batteries.

Castle John began then to talk intelligently, assuredly and passionately, about politics, economics, banks, money, society, social systems, corruption, the past, the present, the future, life, love, death and power of many transformative types and crushing kinds. His tangents and teachings peeked interestingly into the abyss, but the kids were drinking beer and socializing and no longer paying any real attention. I smiled apologetically at no one specific. Rada embraced me in a manner that managed to be innocent, drunken and seductive all at once. She asked if that was okay, expressed several smiling compliments followed by a few female empowerment remarks. I grinned absently at her and Dylan both and mentioned that it was getting cold. We descended.

Later on some grand terrace, Jack took care of the music in a very infectious, impressive, spontaneous and technologically madcap way. Everyone gathered around to chill and hang out. I smoked cigarettes while they marveled and investigated the small portable unusual music-making devices and sound machines and smoked weed.

Rada, Castle John and I got comfortable on a low-slung hammock, Tasha and Teaa perfect timing appeared with champagne and beer. Our whole group made quick short work of those good liquid things. Rada flung her head totally back and deeply guzzled the champagne straight from the oversized heavy bottle while clutching two half finished beers in her other hand. “Jesus girl,” I said with my eyes only. Once she was sufficiently satiated, Rada mentioned she had a four year old who thought he was a ninja. I complimented her on the obvious and surprising charm of such a detail, plus I was taken aback that someone as young, drunk, skinny and pretty as she could ever already have a motherfucking kid. She enjoyed my surprise and compliments, dismissed inquiries into the father with the statement, “It’s not a nice story,” then asked if I had children. “Hundreds,” I said and winked at Dylan. I let the conversation’s thread at that point come to a mysterious end.

Bruiser burrowingly nuzzled into Castle John’s cushy lap soundlessly, sweetly, diminutively and deeply. Tasha handed me a final beer. “Bruiser,” I said, addressing the dachshund, “Will you open my beer for me?” Bruiser didn’t bother to look at me or in any discernible way respond. “Come on, Bruiser,” I said, “Pull your weight! You can’t just lie around all day and do nothing.” Castle John twinkled his eyes. Bruiser made no comment. I called Mochipet “Moat-chipet”a couple times as he stood there all cute and quiet right next to that goddamned moat. Mochipet smiled wanly at the lameness of my joke.

A couchsurfing drifter hippie appeared out of nowhere and demanded some drags from my smoke. I had no idea what he wanted at first because he didn’t bother very hard to enunciate his demands in clearly projected words. Once I understood, I gave him a whole cigarette to more quickly get rid of the dude. Another drifter hippie appeared elsewhere and was either drunk, high, spoiling randomly for a fight, each, all, some, or both. It was difficult to isolate a motivation. Dylan and I eyed each other and did our speaking volumes thing without saying anything. Tasha and Teaa danced adorably and with energy. Jack took notice and complimented their efforts. Castle John stared at art on his iPad, gazed happily up into the black and night and stars several times and sighed. Finally it was time to say goodbye.

Castle John and his white castle full of couchsurfing freeloading drifter hippies right. Fun night. I wanted to take Bruiser home with me but separating him from Castle John would likely have been devastating. The sweet little guy would probably’ve just curled up sadly somewhere, closed his eyes, and died.

I wonder if we’ll ever see that incredible castle, crazy Castle John and his darling dachshund again. Would be interesting to see how that story twists, turns, continues or ends.

Teaa said Castle John certainly had some fucked up moments in his past. Apparently he once jokingly chased an eight year old girl around with a knife. I’d like to think he hasn’t done that again. Another time he lost his shit on acid and called the cops on himself. Happily we weren’t around to witness such sultry doings. When we hung with him, Castle John was charming and wonderful. We saw no such instances of insane action and reprehensible display. Course I’m possibly biased and quick to forgive because Castle John didn’t chase me or my invisible child around with a knife, also he laughed at my jokes, and I loved his dachshund.

Hawaii man. Shit is awesome.

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The Settlers of Catan

Dylan invited me to play Dungeons & Dragons with Lorin and his brother Jake. I wanted to decline since I knew a whole lot of both fuck all and jack shit about that game. I just remembered that when I was in high school, only the social outcasts, losers and misfits seemed to like and play it. Those very much left of center youths used every available moment to play. They played relentlessly, obsessively, and impenetrably, with an outsider delight. I didn’t think I could contribute to the overall possible fun of the proposed game night very well, entirely unschooled as I was, but Dungeons & Dragons apparently would work better if there were four people present, so I was recruited to round out the number.

“The main point is to see Lorin’s new place, hang out, and have a nice game night with his kid brother,” Dylan said. “Come on, you should come, it’s gonna be fun.” Dylan’s tone was hopeful and bright. Eventually I conceded, laid aside The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene (which I am loving) (actually I’m embarrassed it took me this unforgivably long to dive into the narrative satirical melancholic genius that is Graham motherfucking Greene) (his “entertainments” are so good it’s kind of ridiculous) and thought if worse comes to worst, I would just tell jokes all night and get wasted.

We arrived later than planned, so after enjoying a very nice quick and nourishing meal somewhere, instead of Dungeons & Dragons, we ended up playing The Settlers of Catan. Jake competently and patiently explained the rules of the game while I struggled to keep up with all the unending instruction and complicating details. I furrowed my brows many times. I tried to listen, to understand, and to not interrupt. “I didn’t really grow up playing a lot of board games,” I said, feeling shell-shocked and flustered. “I’ve played maybe five different board games my whole life, and then not more than two times at the most for each. The only board game I can remember playing a lot, being pretty good at, and really liking was Snakes & Ladders. That’s it,” I said. Jake smiled benevolently. “You’ll be fine,” said Dylan. Lorin said, “I know it sounds complicated now, but it gets easy. It’ll all make sense, as soon as we start to play.”

Jake pressed on with explanations, comments, instructions, guidelines and advice. “I don’t think Snakes & Ladders has properly prepared me for this moment,” I said. I slumped my shoulders and added “jeez” and “oof” for effect.

We all chose a colour and it was game on. I drank all available cups of tea and red wine and took several deep and dramatic breathes. We played a few open rounds with all our cards visible so that Dylan and I could learn and get comfortable. Jake declared by a certain round he would revert to how the game was supposed to be played and keep his hand private. We were all, “Whatever dude,” “Sounds good,” and, “That’s cool.”

It was fun to see the competitiveness come out almost immediately in the men. “Dylan’s one of those guys that wins everything,” I said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a board game, a card game, a computer game, sports or chess. And he’s an asshole about it. So watch out.” Jake half-smiled and Lorin just stared hard at his cards. I picked up the game far more quickly than I thought I would, and every time my turn came, I had a considerable amount of luck with the cards and the dice. I made generally speaking some pretty good, smart, and interesting decisions too. I began to really enjoy the game and gloated a little over how great shit seemed to be going for me. I tried to temper my gloating with acts of irrelevant cuteness. Only Allah can judge my motives and success in these attempts.

Whenever someone rolled a 7, they got to move the robber piece to wherever strategically they thought would work out best, and they got to take a card from whoever they had just unkindly fucked. Jake and his friends added previously a set of new electrifying rules involving an extra single roll of one die, to even further spice up all the crazy mostly good things that happened whenever someone rolled a 7. This extra roll of a die definitely added to the excitement, but shit got fucking real when someone rolled a 6. “You guys aren’t going to like this,” Jake said, the first time a post-7 6 roll happened. Obviously he knew something we didn’t. A 6 roll under these circumstances was the one roll that fucked everyone, including the person who was otherwise lucky to have rolled a 7. A subsequent roll of 6 meant that all players had to move from their seats once clockwise and leave their cards, board pieces, knowledge, strategy, familiarity, and loyalty to themselves behind. Three of us expressed various levels of displeasure, disturbance, and outrage. Jake quietly grinned.

Suddenly becoming the person next to you was jarring and unpleasant. It sucked even more if you had done some explicitly shitty thing beforehand to that person because now that person was you. Big learning lesson, a good microcosm of life and applicable in all sorts of ways beyond the game, but difficult to adapt to and hard to accept in the moment. These additional new rules added a distressing and unpredictable vitality to the landscape. Lorin wasn’t keen at all and was the least approving and cool with the wild new additional changes. Jake was stoked because I had been doing pretty goddamned great, and now he had become me. I was irked, a bit shocked and annoyed too, but still determined. As the only female playing, I stood for all Womankind as far as now, forever, and more could go, and so I “had” to win. Women might be weaker than men, they might get paid less for the same work, but goddamn if I wasn’t going to school these boys in my invigorating lively dynamic incredible first game ever playing The Settlers of Catan.

When a player reached ten points, the game was finished. Part of the game, besides all the thinking, considering, and strategy, was figuring how close someone might be to winning, and adjusting your actions accordingly. Jake was getting there, Lorin pondered his hand, I made a wry remark about how I might know a thing or two about it, I mean, I had been in Jake’s place previously for most of the game. Jake smiled a silent suggestion that I remain discreet.

Shit was actually getting good for everyone, and I was finally okay with being Dylan (someone else had rolled a diabolical post-7 6). Jake appeared then about to really win, I struggled with what moves and decisions I should fatefully therefore make, Dylan suddenly outed all of Lorin’s cards, because he had formerly just been Lorin, and so had 100% insider knowledge, Lorin cried foul, no fair, that’s cheating, and was miffed. In this development, I kind of sided with Lorin, and Jake supported Dylan. I had then to mediate the table, give a terse lectured statement to each player, and concluded with the remark, “Come now, boys, one for all and all for one, group hug, it’s just a game.”

Then, abruptly, with unaccountable and completely needless generosity, Dylan made a flippant and gratuitous decision that let Jake win. I was huffy and devastated, because the win would’ve been mine, and spectacularly. Dylan hung his head when I exploded with commentary and he said, “I didn’t think he would do that. I took a risk.” I shouted, “Well take your damned risks elsewhere, Mister! You denied me my glorious impending ultimate conquering. Shit!”

All in all a totally fun and really wonderful night.

“To be honest,” I said, as we made ready to leave, “I thought I wasn’t gonna like that game. I didn’t really think I’d enjoy myself, I kinda thought it was gonna be lame.” I smiled at all present and felt glad, even though I didn’t win.

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The Life Aquatic

Bunny

When I was sixteen I went on a two week sailing trip with Audrey. Audrey and I were best friends from basically the first day of meeting and back then, despite being top of the class in almost every subject studied, I frankly didn’t know jack shit about actually anything. I was genuinely clueless. I had no idea about class or race differences, about being rich or poor, about gender roles or societal expectations or about any issues of any kind at all, nothing about anything actually useful or real. I knew nothing about things like for example economics, industry, society, racism, sexism, or politics.

My girlfriend and I were loud excitable gleeful girls and we pretty much were as dumb as they come. This sailing trip taught me a lot. It was the first time I spent such consecutive time away from home with another family and specifically with my best friend. Before this trip we never fought once, we were tight as all fuck, the stupidest shit made us giggle like the schoolgirls we were, we were inseparable and her parents pretty much treated me as one of their own. Meaning they loved when I visited, were delighted to see me and then immediately grew aggravated and taxed by all the excitable giggling and chatter and mile a minute energy and banished me along with my girlfriend to her room to be loud and outcast in  there like we were real sisters who were punished for unbearable exuberance.

Before the sailing trip, I didn’t know that I wasn’t actually part of that family, in fact I barely had any concept that I was in any way strange or separate or different. I didn’t really know that I was even Asian til I was maybe 19. This honestly was how clueless and sheltered I was. Fun childhood but in certain ways a little bit fucked. Also I never gave it any thought that it was special for a family to have a yacht IE yachts were something that only rich people had. This isn’t meant to be an essay about class divisions and yachts or being rich though, I’m just here to tell a story and also to write my 1000 words/day that Stephen King advises to all writers.

Let’s talk about sailing, the trip and the boat. The boat was big and white and beautiful, the trip was special, memorable and awesome, I was lucky and excited to have been invited along. Shit was super cute and nice for the first few days. The weather was glorious and fine, we did a bunch of swimming, adventuring and diving, we sat up high on the bow of the boat like we were James Cameronesque young queens of the world with the sun on our faces and the wind in our hair while Audrey’s father showed off his presumably brilliant sailing skills. Audrey’s tiny mother flitted and hovered somewhere happily in the background. The sun rose and set, the days waxed and waned perfectly and prettily. Audrey and I read from a book to each other aloud, we were happy, excited and carefree.

After the first week passed however, many metaphorical edges began to fray. Before this trip I didn’t know anything at all about shit like metaphorical edges or fraying. I had no prior experience with spending an excessive amount of time with others, I didn’t know that you can soon want to murder the people closest to you if you spend too much exclusive time alone with them or that things you like and love become annoying and horrible simply from overexposure or an excess of contact. I didn’t before this trip know shit like this. Audrey and I stopped reading aloud from the book to each other. We grunted and muttered instead of conversing. Just seeing each other was mutually irritating but since we were stuck on a boat together there was nowhere to go. I’d retreat to the V-berth and do some sit ups which made Audrey roll her eyes. Audrey’d jump overboard to show off and tread water for hours in the meantime. Audrey used to be impressed by my dedication to daily exercise. I used to be impressed by Audrey’s ability to swim for days. Shit we used to admire in each other now got mutually on our nerves. We ate meals with eyes averted and in mostly silence and games we used to play together stopped being fun. Audrey’s father continued to show off his sailing prowess up high on deck with no one around to be impressed or to care. Audrey’s tiny mother flitted and hovered somewhere less happily in the background.

There was a card game that Audrey and I both loved and which Audrey usually won. We tried at one point to interact as warmly as we used to and played the game. I was on an unusual winning streak and I gloated and grinned with each round of victory. Audrey scowled and glowered and hunkered down with every loss. When I won the game in full, I grinned widely with all my teeth on display. I admittedly preened pretty hard. Audrey flung her cards full into my face. The universe went totally black. I was stunned by this flagrancy of immaturity and violence. “You are a SORE LOSER!” I roared after the most pregnant and death-filled pause. Audrey and I sprung at each other with all of our fists. Audrey’s tiny little mother appeared out of nowhere and flung herself between us. “Girls! Girls! What’s the matter! Stop!” she wailed. She managed both to wring her hands and hold us two away from throttling each other to fuck. “You girls are best friends!” Audrey’s mother said. It was more a plea than a statement. Audrey and I glared at each other full murderously and both of us were breathing hard. Our mutual hard breathing dukes up silence spelled between us the immortal word E-N-E-M-Y. I can’t remember how we finally calmed sufficiently down. Probably we lost the energy and fire to keep up so much seething.

Later that night while brushing my teeth in the little lower deck bathroom, I pondered shit and stared absently into the mirror at my face. My eyes strayed slightly to a tank of some kind wherein I spied a small silent ominous little blue flame. My entire body shivered with a thrill of real fear. A genuine sense of imminent death washed over me from the crown of my sixteen year old head down to my soles and toes. I ran in a blindness of terror and fear from the bathroom and streaked through the little kitchen towards the upper exit hatch. I displayed incredible levels of speed and purpose, I was pure velocity, drama and emotion. Audrey and her mother were instantly affected. All three of us charged the tiny exit hatch. We bottlenecked at once in the little hatch square exit hole, we were a jumbled useless mess of arms and legs and heads. Unexplained terror was the collective expression upon our frenzied faces. From up on the upper deck Audrey’s father came running over to us.

“What in God’s name are you women doing!” he shouted. His expression revealed a lifetime of subterranean exasperation and deeply felt disapproval with the ridiculous ways of women. Audrey, her mother and I were so bottlenecked in the exit hatch that we could barely maneuver or move. It was nonetheless clear that everyone was waiting for me to explain some things.

“I thought the boat was gonna blow,” I said dismissively. I was at my most nonchalant. I would have shrugged if my shoulders and limbs weren’t all tangled up with the others. Audrey’s father gazed intently at each of the three of us separately, seemed about to demand an elaboration, thought better of it and then he stalked away. This was a man who clearly had years to learn that demands for reasonable explanations from the women in your life got you nowhere. I would years later enjoy on many occasions with Dylan the same grim chagrin. I felt sheepishness and relief. My body was stiff and unmovable from still being all tangled up in the hatch. Us women finally disengaged. We probably later snickered a bit about everything.

Funny how when you think you’re gonna actually die you can’t not behave melodramatically. Embarrassing that us ladies in the face of potential death behaved such that none of us would have escaped or survived as we all with frantic immediacy scrambled to exclusively save ourselves. Eye-opening. Like I said, this trip taught me much.

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In the Late December

The End of Everything

EP: 138

I know this story when it was broadcast on Christmas Day bummed some people out but I’ve listened to it now twice and I very much love it a lot. I’m thankful to Greg van Eekhout for writing it and to Escape Pod for making a science fiction short story audio podcast of it. Stephen Eley, dorky as he is, does a beautiful job with the reading.

I’m still going to do an ill.Exposed on Escape Pod and praise the site for doing what it does as well as singling out the best stories read by the best people. The narration with audio books can make or break a story, this is both a very good and a very bad thing. It’s like if the wrong person performs Hamlet for you, you might firmly forever conclude that Shakespeare couldn’t write for shit.

Listen please and enjoy.
These are my details.

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Professor Pantysnacks

Professor Pantysnacks

Early mornings I usually with a mother’s instinct briefly become perfectly conscious and purely awake to find Otis quietly sitting all pudgy and darling in the middle of the bedroom facing the back deck door. He is silently and politely asking to be let out for an early backyard mountainside bathroom break. I’ll smile, jab Dylan a little with an elbow and Dylan will with more mechanical impulse than actual awareness get up to open both the back deck door so Otis can do business as well as our bedroom door so Otis can slip out and get a drink of water or whatever else he might feel like doing. Then he’ll come cuddling back into bed and sigh and lick his paws or lick my arms and face and hands as he waits adorably, quietly, patiently till I’m ready to get up and take him for our morning run.

I noticed recently on the runs that Otis didn’t regularly stop ever to poo. I conjectured Otis’ early morning bathroom breaks might be more than a back deck mountainside pee. Indeed we spied him in reflection from the big mirrors in our room a couple times scaling the rocks and rounding the fence to Matty’s place and then discreetly quickly return. I assumed this was Otis chasing birds or raccoons or doing some form of illicit adventuring. I realized next that Otis was probably actually peeing in our backyard but saving all the pooing for the neighbour’s. Very polite and cute of him to make such distinctions but I felt the neighbours might be a little less stoked on the point than me. After the run I therefore decided to check the next door backyard and clean things up as needed. I expected to find two or three little poo piles but ultimately I counted seventeen. Seventeen! That’s a lot of pooing. I chuckled a bit to myself as I set about to work. Otis accompanied me and stood sheepishly by as I picked up all his poo. The little poo bags made a gradually fairly impressive poo bag mountain. A mountain of manure can only bring merriment in these types of limited conditions. “Who’s my impressive pooper, who’s my impressive pooper!” I gaily cooed. Otis got into play pose, performed some half bounds and leaps in his sheepish excitement, I smooshed my face into his, he licked me lots while making squeaking sounds and then I grinned and smiled and hugged him good.

One recent early morning after Dylan opened the door for him, Otis rushed out onto the deck while Dylan and I continued cozily to slumber inside as per the usual. Our comfortable snoozing and lounging was disrupted by Otis making awful coughing, throat clenching, hacking sounds. “Oh shit,” we thought, “Not again.” We were worried we were in for another upsetting week of unenlightening veterinary visits with Otis being mysteriously ill, throwing up constantly a bunch of goo and grass and not being able to keep either water or his kibble down…

Once I was up, I went out to the deck to see. Thankfully this time the vomiting scenario brought about concrete and visible results. Otis had thrown up some inanimate uneatable thing so this instance was more in keeping with how things “should be.” Dog eats something bad and inanimate, dog throws up, case closed concisely and with ease. Feeling thus less concerned and more casual about things, I turned my sleuth brain on and peered closer at the vomit. It was strangely tidy and twisted, unlike the big gooey vomit piles from the week long mysterious illness period. This vomit looked like just whatever the offending article itself was alone, covered in a clear thin glaze of goo. Whatever Otis threw up looked something like a small child’s tiny woven shoe. Gingerly I poked at the tidy pile and peered closer. It now seemed potentially like some bra straps or a small bunching of purple and beige twisted fabric. “Curious,” I thought.

Later I described the occurrence to Marika. She immediately went outside to survey the scene. “My panties,” Marika announced in a voice as solemn as it was conclusive. Her expression was intimate and grim. “I know why he ate those,” said Marika. “Oh,” I said, signifying that further elaboration was not needed.

“I can’t believe he ate my panties,” Marika again later mused. “Those were really nice panties,” she added sadly. “Well,” I replied, “You could always just wash them real good and wear them again?” Marika gave me a look. The look transported me quickly to the understanding that my suggestion was significantly less than reasonably amazing.

Later we told Dylan about what happened. Dylan listened, attentive and amused. Then he called out, “Professor Pantysnacks! Professor Pantysnacks!” He rushed at Otis and tickled him. Otis with wide wild eyes and wiggling body leaped, bounded, panted, squirmed and squeaked.

Afterward as Dylan was changing for the day, Otis stood around and nibbled with open secrecy at the corner of another pair of discarded briefs. He offered a couple further test licks and nibbles at the undergarment all without taking his eyes off Dylan. “Professor Pantysnacks,” Dylan said with warning in his voice, “I’m watching you. No more panties for you!” Otis startled, stopped and played sheepish. Then he plopped himself sideways and down and began panting elaborately, apparently now completely tuckered from life’s excessive promises and exciting delights. In the imagination place of his wistful dog heart, I could tell he was happily plopped upon and ruefully lost inside a pile of used panties and dirty lingerie. Outside of walks, runs, garbage, chew toys, car rides, love, attention, cuddles and treats, it’s really about the underwear.

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The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake

Love Quest

EP: 242

“Rated PG for innuendo-heavy snack cake desire.”

This story is ridiculous. Hilarious and beautiful work. Listening to this had me amused and laughing a lot. The poignancy of the ending had me still smiling but also feeling both a bit pensive and sad. I immediately made Dylan listen to it too when he returned. We fell asleep to it on low volume, hand in hand listening and giggling in the dark. High level very engaging writing from Robert T. Jeschonek and outrageously perfect narration by John Cmar that is almost too good.

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Do I Ever

Do I Ever

Mike showed up on time, we didn’t get stuck in traffic, the day was beautiful and I arrived at the airport just fine.

On the way Mike asked what was my craziest Sidecar experience and I said I didn’t really have one. Then I remembered the time an old white guy drove me and he was a raging homophobe. As we cruised through the Castro past the big brightly coloured gay pride flag, the homophobe effected that sharp shrug and fast back and forth headshaking gesture that humans make to signify a rampancy of disgust, a spectacle of sound that is a cross between skin crawling revulsion and a horse’s whinnying. I would have laughed if the whole thing wasn’t so totally offensive. Dude went on and on then about how he can’t bear to see two men holding hands or kissing, like why do they have to show that gross stuff off, grandpa gay hater said he’d bear it all a bit better if he didn’t have to see it and so be forced to know. The homophobe was very nice to me and after the ride was over I felt badly to give him a low star rating, it was my only time doing so, I felt badly because the man was sweet to me but I couldn’t excuse or reward homophobia. Plus it was presumptuous of him to assume that I wasn’t myself a lesbian or sexually “unacceptable” in some other lusciously uncomfortable unclassifiable abnormal way.

“Guy’s living in the wrong city,” said Mike.
“I’ll say,” I replied.

Then Mike said his worst Sidecar experience as a driver was just the morning previous. He picked up this bossy hectic doctor from northern California. Girlfriend woke up late and was raging to get to the airport stat. Mike’s a calm and competent driver and the doctor passenger woman wasn’t having it. She instructed Mike to step on it, commanded him to pass what cars he could, get in the fast lane and get shit done quick and lickety-split. Mike complied while doctor lady jawed off about life at the hospital and snorting brilliant fun mountains of cocaine. At the airport, the lady was thankful to Mike for getting her quickly to where she needed to be despite everything. Then later Mike noticed his high 90s driver rating had plummeted to the low 50s. Upon researching, Mike saw that doctor lady had given him one star with the comment “a bad and dangerous driver” just to add insult to injury.

“Wow! Bitch!” I said.
“Right,” said Mike.

I made some remarks about how it had only been a handful of moments and I was already missing Otis. Mike asked when I’m away do I ever drop my pets off at Petco. I said no, usually a friend or my roommate takes care of things. Mike then said good because Petco recently got busted over some big petsitting burglary ring. Being a law-abiding sorry-saying overly respectful Canadian, I was shocked. I just never expect people to behave in low or criminal ways. The Petco thing involved homeowners going on vacation and dropping their pets off at Petco while they were away. Then the Petco people would know how long the vacationing pet owners were gone, where they lived and that no complicating factors like dogs would be in the way. The Petco burglars would then move in on the empty homes and be in a position to leisurely rob under conditions of inside knowledge, security and ease. Smart shit if you’re a criminal but wow the balls and how unethical, I couldn’t believe it. Mike agreed. Apparently too the smooth operation was masterminded and run by a 21 year old hippie babe. Again, the balls. Mike then talked of how Sidecar’s finally doing okay but that both Lyft and Uber were in trouble and embroiled in lawsuits. Apparently cab drivers or whoever were vandalizing Lyft cars, slashing tires and stealing the pink moustaches. Uber’s trouble comes from one of their drivers running over and killing an 8 year old girl. Again I was all shock and wow. Should really pay closer attention to current events, I had no idea shit out there was getting so real.

At the airport, I thanked Mike for his competence and interesting stories. Later I gave him five stars for rating and even tipped him. Tips with Sidecar are built in and nonessential, they are reserved for the above and beyond. I felt Mike deserved such extra niceness for sure, plus I wanted to help offset the damage done by coked up devious doctor woman. Also Mike was big, tanned, muscular, soft-spoken and Asian. Maybe I felt vaguely like he was the “handsome brother I never knew or had” and like I had to stick up for my own.

In completely other news, I’m thinking of changing Otis’ name to Captain Cleanpaws because he spends about 80% of his days licking and licking and licking the things. Also he doesn’t like people to touch his paws, he quickly pulls them away and hides them as if to say, “You keep your dirty hands off of my super clean paws.” Darling is so funny and lovely and lovable and great. Just got to cure him of wanting to attack and kill virtually every other dog he meets, regardless of any detail like friendliness, aggression, size, justification or need. Plus he’s still wary and terrified of men and he growls menacingly at kids. Otis clearly has been through a few sad things before ending up happily with me, he didn’t use to display these problem behaviours, he’s not perfect, between us we’ve some serious work to do, but I am entirely committed.

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Apocalypse Wow

Apocalypse Wow.gif

Yesterday early evening about halfway through my run, my guts began to assert themselves as uncomfortable and ominously disturbed. “Oh no,” I thought and wondered at the cause. I barely made it home and felt expressions on my face of equal parts scowl, fear and concern. I ran immediately into the bathroom without letting Dylan know I’d returned. I began shitting and vomiting in earnest. I shivered and sweated and was struck by an extended depth of awfulness and agony of feeling. My wrenching and retching became eventually audible to Dylan. “Honey?” he said from somewhere nearby. His voice was tentative and worried. I didn’t reply because I had no ability to speak. I breathed heavily and spasmodically and pondered feverishly and weakly as I suffered. “Honey?” Dylan said again. Finally he discovered me and stood before me. He gazed at me mute with horror and dismay. I slumped and shivered and shook. I vomited from one end and explosion liquid pooed from the other. I slumped and spasmed and could do nothing but look terrible, feel terrible and suffer terribly. “Oh no,” said Dylan finally. “What’s wrong!” “Food,” I with delicate desperateness said. Meaning it’s the food we ate, something that we ate today, there must have been butter or dairy or eggs in the food, because look at me now. “But that’s not possible,” Dylan protested, “I made sure. The guy said he was certain and that he understood.” “Food,” I said again, gasping, grimacing and grim. It was all I could manage between the sweating, wrenching, vomiting and explosion liquid pooping.

“I’m sorry you have to see me like this,” I whispered weakly when I could. “That’s okay,” said Dylan, “You are my wife and I love you. I’m sorry you feel badly. Let me know if there’s anything you want or that I can do for you. Otherwise I’ll… leave you to it.” “Thanks,” I feebly replied. This entire exchange happened mostly telepathically. I was too sick and shivering and sweating and feeling both horrible and horrified to engage in courteous cordial conversation. I was drenched in so much sweat that my hair was wet and dripping and also streaked with vomit. My stomach churned and clenched. My face gagged out more vomit. The bottom half of my body quivered abominably.

I wondered how long this all would go on for. I felt I honestly could not further bear it. I wanted to go unconscious. I wanted drugs to make me feel nothing or to put me out and have my senseless spasmodic body deal with the horror of it all on its own while my mind blissed off and away elsewhere. I seethed and churned and would have called out like Job in the desert but didn’t like I said have the strength to speak or to cry. The whole scene was the most unsavoury of all nightmares.

Liquid death poo exploded out of my bottom at intervals. Gagging, retching and vomit spasmed out of my mouth at opposite intervals. My body churned and spasmed and shook. I was weak from the effort of being the vehicle of such a massacre. All my skin was wet and drenched. My hair streamed with sweat and vomit. Slumped over the toilet I despaired. No position I put myself into could alleviate my desperation, dreadfulness and dread. “This is the worst I have ever felt,” I said to nobody specific. Dylan was somewhere near but keeping a safe and respectful distance.

I was a living writhing slumped over afflicted form of pure death throes agony and unrelenting digestive twistedness and rot. All I felt was a seething subordination of impossible anguish and endless distress. If I believed in God I might’ve appealed to him. Instead all I could think and feel was, “Terrible, terrible, this is so extremely exceptionally terrible” and “Please wind down, please end, please stop” and “How can I survive this, I can’t survive this, this is bad, this is so very, very bad.” I shivered and slumped and exploded liquid poo everywhere whiled I clutched at my stomach and breathed shallowly as I retched and gagged and puked. Those of you who have never spasmed and exploded liquid poo helplessly and painfully from your body, it looks, smells and feels just as hideous as it sounds.

Probably worse. Definitely worse.

The silver lining is that this is the bottom of the barrel, the lowest point, the end of the line. The buck here stops entirely. Shit can literally look, smell, get or feel no worse. The other silver lining was to acknowledge, feel grateful for and learn that even when I’m covered in a shivering trembling spasming hour’s worth of vomit and liquid explosion poo, Dylan’s love persists, rings true and continues. Now that’s a husband.

Later when it was all mostly over, I gazed without strength at the details of the room around me. I was appalled at the aftermath. The place was like a crime scene visually both violent and violating. Liquid poo explosions covered all the wall and the whole toilet. Vomit was all over the floor in front of the toilet. “Deplorable,” I said gloomily and morosely, “Appalling. Shocking. Gruesome. Horrendous.” I couldn’t believe the mess I’d made. I couldn’t believe how awful I felt and still felt. I made fragile, tragic motions toward tidying it all up and cleaning. Dylan with actions as grim as they were gracious attempted to help. He moved with a quietness of duty and devotion.

Imagine if this harrowing and hideous intense reaction had happened anywhere when I didn’t have instant immediate access to privacy and a toilet. I could barely bear to deal with this whole experience, let alone to potentially suffer through it helplessly and hellishly in public. I never want this sort of thing to ever happen again. I never want to feel so awful again. I believe I have literally never felt so unbelievably terrible and awful and bad. That was to the letter literally the worst shit ever. Annihilation. Terror.

Dylan called the restaurant and spoke to the server trying to get to the bottom of things. We felt there might have been dairy or eggs in the tofu burger dish. The server insisted there was only tofu. Dylan reminded the server about how we returned a broccoli dish because it was covered in a sauce that included mayonnaise and therefore contained eggs. The server agreed to recalling that. Dylan asked again if there were eggs in the tofu burger. The server insisted no. Dylan said how about mayonnaise. The server consulted someone and said oh yes mayonnaise. “Mayonnaise has eggs in it you fool, ” said Dylan in a voice approaching a shout. “Do you not remember us sending back the broccoli dish because of the sauce which had mayonnaise and therefore eggs. She can’t have eggs! Mayonnaise has eggs in it! My wife is completely and terribly sick now! We said no eggs!” Dylan sounded very angry. The server said, “Oops.” I said later, “Poor man. He probably didn’t want for me to get so sick.” I added, “It’s like if you don’t have allergies you don’t take other people’s allergies seriously. It’s how we all are. Plus the ethnic cultural divide. Plus it’s like. Primary obviousness that’s tofu. Secondary is oh yeah there’s mayonnaise in the recipe. Third level oops there’s eggs in mayonnaise. So I get the confusion. Poor man.” Dylan cut me off. “It’s his responsibility as a restaurateur to be careful and respectful of these things. Look what he did to you! It’s his fault!” Dylan seethed. “Fuck. That. Guy.” “Poor man,” I said again dejectedly. Dylan gave me a look meant to silence my Canadian niceness. His look said this was no time for such Canadian apologetic response. Cause look where Canadian niceness can get you. I kept silent. I felt still pretty badly. I was depleted, deflated and weak. The whole scenario wreaked upon me great levels of both mental and physical disturbance and distress. I sat there hunched over, feeble, fragile, flimsy and faint.

Afterward I lay shivering beneath a massive pile of thick fluffy blankets and felt sad. Dylan made me green tea and hammered out a scathing review against the restaurant online. Among the various and several things Dylan is becoming famous for can be added a relentless and uncompromising string on Yelp of extremely negative restaurant reviews. These reviews almost exclusively detail the terrible things that happened to his wife at any number of previously highly regarded well-reviewed places.

The idea is that restaurants should take people’s stated food allergies much more seriously. I take my own allergies not seriously enough because Dylan usually makes such dramatic cases for them that I offset his drama with my balancingly opposite demeanour of don’t please worry too much about these things and it’s all good and fine and it’s no very big deal. But clearly they should worry and so should I because it is actually a very big deal.

Because I motherfucking goddamned never want to experience again the remorseless awfulness of what I experienced yesterday. Perhaps Dylan’s dramatics and the public scenes he causes really is the way forward. Sometimes it’s important to take shit seriously and to make sure that others take shit seriously too.

The good thing is the terror and horror of the circumstances has cured me irrevocably of what lingering unhappiness I felt about no longer getting to eat things like eggs. The last thing I ever want to do is eat an egg if that’s what eating eggs does to me. Other people can eat eggs all the days long forever in all the various excellent ways an egg can be eaten. I will no longer feel wistfulness at not getting to take part. Spending nearly an hour slumped over a toilet lost in an endless and terrifying abyss of my own vomit and poo is not the nicest most attractive way to spend one’s time. In fact it’s downright gruesome. So gruesome I feel badly for all of you to make you learn of it by reading this tale of caution and woe and thereby forcing you to deal. The horror, the horror. Apocalypse then, apocalypse never again.

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Monster

Any time anyone invites me anywhere, my most penetrating instinct is to formulate immediately some reasonable-sounding instant excuse in order to graciously without delay refuse. Sometimes I’m shouting, “I have Spina Bifida” or, “My sister’s on life support tonight I decide upon the plug” or whatever serious-sounding thing before whoever is inviting me to wherever has even finished speaking.

Anyway.
Well.

Once at work the people there were organizing a field trip to an event outside of work so we could all do some external bonding, experience something special as an entity, get to know each other more or some nice group togetherness idea type thing. I was already brain racing to drum up a good “Jesus sorry love to can’t” excuse but then instead I actually heard myself saying, “Cool, great, sounds really awesome, when is this, color me excited, absolutely count me in.” Feet in my mouth from out of nowhere and completely needlessly. It was like I truly couldn’t get enough of these people. All present visibly were surprised. I acted all laidback and relaxed to prove I guess that I damned well meant literally every single word however manically uttered and disproportionately bracing.

Let me backtrack and give a setting.

This story takes place during those original days of working at my first dungeon, when I was unversed and diffident and just beginning. I spend all my life being unversed and diffident and just beginning but that’s something of a whole other thing…

So. Work.

Work involved dressing in highly improbable outfits, beating on strange men, teasing and insulting them, tying them up and generally offering a beguiling fetish buffet of heartless and sexy abuse for a small amount of time and a lot of money. My co-workers were a colourful cast of characters and our bosses too were themselves so colourful there probably isn’t any collection of adjectives that could sufficiently describe them. I’m not going to get super detailed about everybody, I’ll just say that some in the group were pretty fucked for sure but overall everyone was friendly and frolicsome and funny and fun, everyone’s hearts were I think for the most part good but right. Enough about the presumed goodness of everybody’s hearts. This actually is a story about giant monster trucks and a work field trip and most directly about my sudden relationship with a confrontational deranged exceptionally angry young man named Damien.

The field trip. The idea was to attend I swear to God a monster truck rally. Why did I pretend I was so desperately interested in joining this particular group for this specific trip? What in fucked up holy Satanic Jesus could monster trucks have anything at all to ever really do with my reality. Massive wtf with the thinking. Clearly “thinking” wasn’t something I had done.

Some part of me I guess felt badly for always excusing myself and not being social. Also maybe I wanted to show everyone that I don’t always immediately reject their ideas, that I wasn’t so misanthropic and antisocial after all, that I wasn’t so high on myself I wouldn’t just this once rub shoulders with “the masses,” do whatever fucked up shit they did and fucking really enjoy it. So yeah. Signed. Meanwhile I was privately bewildered and curious at myself for worrying about things that normally didn’t worry me. I also had some kind of sense that I was walking into something not merely irrelevant to myself and my life and but also that that something might be a bit fucked up. And strange. And crazy.

So monster truck field trip day arrives. The bosses bright and early pick me up from my house. I’m wearing of course something captivating and uncomfortable and inappropriate completely. I bid a rushed and abstracted adieu to the sweet person at home and climb into the car. The car is crammed with everyone else who pretended excitement for the trucks and the trip.

Back then too I had a much more spectacularly dramatic sense of style than even now. This style was as much appreciated as it was reviled, same as now. Then though I only wore things that were shiny, leather, challenging and black. My platform boots or stiletto dagger heels always were at least 5 inches high, a part of my head and both of my eyebrows were shaved, my hair was long, brightly dyed and wildly arranged. Also there was of course the blackly thrilling make up, the impossible lashes, the painted brows, an unignorable number of visible facial and body piercing so. Right. Picture it all. Keep all these ponderous details in mind.

As we approached the stadium where the monster truck event was to take place, I began to wonder if I shouldn’t fake a heart murmur or a botched abortion or some sudden enormously good excuse to flee. We arrived at the stadium very abruptly however, so I didn’t have the chance to make any kind of cowardly heroic final moment escape. I fixed my face thus into its usual unreadable mask like I could give a shit and along with everyone else exited the vehicle.

At the venue, we met up with more people as prearranged by some of the others. One of the men we met was I think a family friend or a cousin of someone present. He was narrow-eyed and covered in tattoos, his head was shaved and he was by his apparent nature probably dangerous and fundamentally filled with a totality of heedlessness and rage. His name I quickly learned was Damien. He zeroed in on me at once and seemed to without discussion or arrangement designate himself as my rabid one man protectorate. His presence and disposition was so seething and ferocious he almost left me breathless. I didn’t at all know what to make of him, I had no idea what was expected of me, what I was meant to do, act, feel or say. A part of me actually felt like smiling or even laughing but I didn’t smile and I didn’t laugh. I just remained outwardly neutral and calm, like I happened casually to unspecifically just be there.

Most of my life I have been and am used to everyone gaping openly at me. These stares from strangers are never subtle and the unspoken judgments, conclusions and opinions are not always kind. I’m so used to all those staring eyes that I always look at no one and just like I said remain distant and abstracted, make my way through all environments and act like nobody’s looking, matters or cares. I quickly recognized nonetheless that this Damien person saw himself as without question my very own personal savage slayer saviour. As we moved through the crowd of thousands, Damien scowled menacingly at anyone whose eyes strayed even minutely or accidentally my way. He walked clenching and unclenching his fists.

We arrived at our seats while Damien with his tense strong angry body and flashing hate-coloured eyes glared a big fuck you to all society. His behaviour was overwhelming and problematic but was also in its way kind of almost nice as well as unintentionally amusing. I wanted again to laugh but I didn’t. I just acted neutral, like I was the same as anyone, a human-shaped slowly moving machine. Finally we were all arranged, I smiled vaguely at nothing specific while Damien seethed and glared and challenged everybody.

The monster truck show began and it was as strange and excessive and irrelevant as it actually was kind of impressive and fun. All those huge trucks rolling with effortless heaviness over lines upon lines and piles upon piles of cars and whatever else could with great gratuitousness be crushed colossally. Huge big trucks, huge big tricks, peels of bad loud rock music, fanatical crowd response, all the at such an event absurd ridiculous expected things. The dirt bike performances and associated tricks were especially good, I liked that part a lot. The whole thing was pretty huge and big and loud and preposterous but I enjoyed myself generally. My bosses and co-workers too were having a very nice fun time.

The show went on and at times I peripherally could tell people were looking and staring. I could also tell they looked more quickly away than they did any actual looking. I sense things like this in a sidelong manner since like I said I never look or stare at people directly because I know they are doing enough looking and staring for them and me both. Damien and I were nonetheless proving to be quite the pair. I felt a bit like a culture shocked mail order Bonnie to his murderous ticking time bomb Clyde. I tried a couple times to demonstrate light-heartedness and to be cute but my attempts fell a bit flat. Damien just couldn’t stop glaring at the world like he would annihilate anyone for the smallest reason whatever, all they had to do was look at me for less than a quarter of a half of a second. It was kind of amazing. I’ve never played it cool so hard and with such dedication so much in my life.

At intermission we headed to one of the bars. “WHY DON’T YOU JUST TALK TO HER?” Damien roared at some men nearby that Damien singled out as an apparent challenge worthy of thunderous threats and impending death. “We just want to get some drinks,” one of the men replied in a calm low voice. Damien seethed at him eyeball to eyeball and the look in his eyes was a nightmare. I gazed absently elsewhere like I wasn’t aware of much. I gave somewhere in there too a fleetingly compassionate and sympathetic glance to the diminished men while Damien regarded me with flashing and furious eyes that seemed to say this whole goddamned world was filled with bullshit raving idiot males who all were retards, snivelers and weaklings deserving of the severest beatings and I should do nothing but be fragile and look beautiful, be protected by him and agree. I tried my best with my own flashing and furious far less convincing eyes to convey such agreement. I wanted again to laugh and again I didn’t, I had to do it all with deliberate inwardness and demurely.

What in God’s holy Satanic Jesus’ name was I doing at a monster truck rally with this particular collection of people being jealously guarded and protected by this loose cannon of a gangster type vehement violent virile man? It was in its way great that Damien was “on my team” but he was obviously borderline psychotic and fairly clearly actually insane. The man was practically spoiling to beat the shit out of somebody, everyone maybe. He was like a pitbull who all his life has been trained just to fight and kill and win and like it. I wasn’t sure I understood or approved. I sensed though I should make like I did, at least till the whole episode came to a safe conclusion.

Finally the oversized trucks finished with their monstery business. As we all slowly exited with the hordes of stranger thousands, I made small talk with the others and was the whole way out still being ferociously protected and guarded by Damien. He actually shoved people aside to clear my way. A father and his tiny son were inching along beside our group and the boy gaped with wide anxious eyes first at me and then he was wholly taken up with Damien. Rolling with Damien at least for once gave me the novel experience of having someone else get all the gapes and stares and quickly averted eyes. Damien smirked ghoulishly at the child and shouted, “CUTE KID.” The father murmured a thanks and discreetly maneuvered his son to a closer position of greater security. I hid a grin.

Once outside we milled about and waited for one of our bosses to go bring the car around. I fumbled around inside my handbag for something and then gazed up to check on the general progress of things. Everything was bright and nice and normal and then there was Damien. He was standing in the middle of the busy street shoulders squared, arms outstretched, hands in fists, sauntering with measured steps forward, like a seething pedestrian infuriated Jesus daring all of traffic to have a piece of him. I was as taken aback and filled with wonder as I was both impressed and transfixed. How does a man get to be someone like Damien? I wondered what the holy fuck it would actually be like to be him for a day.

I forget if anything further happened, if we all together did anything else, I don’t really remember even getting home. I was probably some version of fucked up or drunk or neurologically lost in my usual eventual way. Back at home however, I do remember rushing in, kissing quickly the cheek of the sweet person there, my happy thank every God I’m safely finally back home again relief rushing down upon me. When sweet home person at length eventually asked, “So. How was it.” I exclaimed, “Oh. Well. Jesus. Shit. Where to begin.”

* * * * *

The next time I ran into Damien was a month or so later. He was unexpectedly cowering peculiarly in some high rise elevator, eyes averted and looking hunted. I was utterly surprised and had no idea what to think or do or say. Despite faint interest in whatever the fuck was the story or reason, I knew it’d be wiser not to push or pry. Taking great care to be brief and casual, I looked at him askance by way of hello. As I pushed the up button, “HI,” at last was all he said.

Much later I learned Damien was taken away by the feds or a SWAT team or some dramatic thing. I don’t really know details and it’s probably for the best. The image of Damien though taking on a whole street of men and cars after spending the day protecting me from monster truck enthusiasts, imagined predators and enemies, that experience while strained and deranged remains with a kind of stark fondness in my mind and memory.

Damiens of the world, I thank you. You’re fucked and you’re crazy and it’s kind of great. Strange chivalry, but I’ll take it.

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Married to the Music

At one festival on stage during Dylan’s set, a nubile young woman in booty shorts and heels was lost sexily inside the music and gyrating on the speakers just left of Dylan’s head. My girlfriend poked at her brusquely, made a tilting definitive gesture in my direction and said, “Dj’s wife. Leave.”

The booty-shorted interrupted female blinked. Her gaze was vague and vacant. Then, in a muted sort of delayed reaction huff, she left. “Gotta protect what’s yours,” my girlfriend said in a rigid voice strict with instruction. I grinned. I didn’t need to arch my eyebrows because I draw them in like that every day, arched and at the ready.

My girlfriends seem to think that since Dylan is a dj, I should with hectic jealousness guard him 24-7, armed at all times with weapons like a taser, tear gas and a battering ram. They seem to think a legion of starstruck dj groupies all hopped up on booze and hormones will with throbbing suddenness at any time appear and sexually offer themselves to Dylan wholesale. Even if that were to happen, I’d hardly have married someone who’d take up such offers without any kind of pause or hesitation. Some might find the mere prospect of such things to be irresistible and exciting, but I think Dylan has a little more self-discipline, focus, and control, than all that. Also, if I didn’t trust and love Dylan at this most basic level, I’d be hard-pressed to define what the success of our relationship is based upon, or what our union means. I also like to think I’m worth all possible cases and causes that require denial, resistance, thoughtfulness and effort. After all, who are we if we don’t have trust and confidence in ourselves and in each other; what is love without confidence and trust that is both sustained and sustaining. In all happy lasting relationships, trust and confidence are keys.

Dylan was playing another show and that time I brought out some of my ladies. During Dylan’s set, Leslie jumped on stage and began to dance provocatively. I squinted at her up there, smiled, kept dancing and let the mammoth bouncers know they needn’t remove Leslie immediately. Leslie meanwhile danced with increasing seduction and sensuality. I took note of her provocative progress only peripherally and rather blindly. Leslie is a great and beautiful friend so I had no issue with her titillating show. As she became increasingly steamier and more suggestive grinding nearer to Dylan though, I privately marveled and took confused note. I had no idea Leslie was so turned on by Dylan’s music. After a time, I turned to Sarah to make an amused remark. But it wasn’t Sarah standing next to me, it was Leslie! Meaning the strumpet on stage wasn’t Leslie but just some girl! Dylan flashed me his “dude what the fuck” face. I made a subtle gesture toward the bouncers that conveyed the message, “Remove the floozy.” As the dubious damsel was hauled away, she looked at Dylan and squalled, “But your music! It makes me feel… so sexy!

I know right. Shit is endearing. I really shouldn’t forget to wear my contacts out to shows.

Another time during another one of Dylan’s sets, a profoundly inebriated girl was dancing with a kind of lilting lurid lewdness up on the stage. Her extreme drunkenness greatly eclipsed her sense of basic balance and noticeably affected as well her skills in areas like elegance of public display and clarity in thinking. With wonderful woozy wobbliness, she swayed closer and closer to Dylan till his flitting eyes communicated to me that I should intercept and prevent this girl from proceeding past her state of being incoherently entertaining to becoming an actual liability. I moved casually nearer to her as she leaned into Dylan in an apparent attempt to whisper in his ear. Murmuring and slurred, she said, “I wanna be your Pretty Lady.” Then she fell over.

I know right. Shit is endearing.

“You’re like an alien goddess,” the girl divulged as I helped her up. Her limbs were a loose and jumbled mess. She scrutinized me with eyes as dim and lusterless as they were impenetrable. “An alien goddess,” she repeated.

“Thanks,” I said. “I try.”

“Don’t try,” drunken hippie girl breathed. “Be.” I bowed my head slightly to convey a holy receiver’s attitude of gratitude, with hopes to cut the conversation short.

“Do you know him?” asked the girl, gripping my hand and bringing things back to Dylan.

“Vaguely,” I said.

He’s amazing,” she said.

I said, “He’ll do.”

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Twins Twins Twins

Twins

Recently I attended my very first baby shower if you can believe it and it was a pretty nice experience. Warmhearted, instructional and illuminating. It’s astonishing I’ve managed never to have been to any of these previously since it seems like everyone on my friends list recently had a baby or is having a baby, my Facebook news feed is almost exclusively an ongoing stream of intelligence and reports about all these mothers and their babies, the trials and joys, the suffering and the ecstasy, I think I’m the last female standing not to have kids and husbands and cars, paying mortgages on houses, being a wife and mother, worker and lover, aside from maybe four others, it’s down literally to me.

At the shower, there were all these wonderful women, most of them business professionals, married with one or two kids. The house was full of women, there were only two men there, I marveled at all the women and remarked to one of them about the head count.

“I don’t think I even know this many women,” she said. Her name was Jennifer. “Even if I did, I don’t think they’d all come to my baby shower.” I felt the same. The turnout was impressive. I was enraptured and entranced as I hovered abashedly around the finger foods and kept myself close to the bolstering bottles of champagne and wine. I was worried I’d be very much the obvious left field freak of nature Strange Woman Present but thankfully I wasn’t. The experience like I said was enjoyable and got my brain (and heart and womb) to ruminating.

On entering and before meeting Jennifer, a basket brimming with diapers was pointed out to me. I was instructed to write something waggish and whimsical on one of the diapers so that the diaper changes of the future for the new parents would be vivacious and engaging and not merely just gross and disturbing. This liveliness seemed lifted out of a list of possible activities from a page one might come across if you googled the key phrases “Baby shower” and “Cheerful doings.”

The two beautiful hosts of the night each don’t themselves have children, which added irony and humour and some nice subtle touches of free-spirited nihilism and anarchy to the evening. During a quiet stolen moment after Danielle, the resplendent mother-to-be, made her way through her incredible hull of cards and gifts with spirited efficiency, I confided with one of the few other childless women present, her name is Alison, she’s one of Danielle’s best friends and was one of the hosts of the evening.

“So!” I said, “Motherhood.”
“Right,” said Alison.
“Pregnancy. Oof,” I said, “Wow. Children. You?”

I offered wide unblinking eyes as I said these words, brought an intensity to my stare and made that strange blowing air through loosely pressed lips sound, an audible action that somehow always does with a certain unmatched accuracy sufficiently convey the “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” rock and a hard place viewpoint, position, manner of thinking and philosophy.

“I don’t know,” Alison said, “I don’t know.”
Her eyes glassed over as she deliberated.

“Me neither,” I said, “I mean. How does one decide such a thing. How do you ‘know.’ When is the best time to even consider having a kid, is your man the right man, does he want kids, do you want kids, will he make a good father, will you make a good mother, what about careers and costs and all the things that are expensive and hard and draining and time-consuming and depressing, the very opposite of adorable moments and endless fun. Right? Shit.” I said.

“Right,” said Alison, “Shit.”

“Also, it’s so easy to romanticize such things. Like your own kid’s gonna be so gorgeous and smart and cute and fun when maybe it won’t be, maybe the kid will be ugly or stupid or shitty in all kinds of very miserable, irreparable, super wretched ways. It could get into dealing drugs or be a liar or make bad friends, get into gangs and violence, drop out of school, be a horror and a nightmare, all kinds of things. Plus the tantrums and the shouting, and kids fucking touch everything too, break things, they can be holy shit so cute but also oh my God wow annoying and exhausting, asking ‘why’ all the time, constantly needing and wanting things, screaming or crying and maybe never stopping with that shit, driving you actually insane while you’re trying to remember the last time you slept or had some time to yourself or how to maintain your relationship with your partner, you could spend years not remembering the last time you had any kind of freedom or fun, or who you even are or what your goddamned name is. All kinds of difficulty in the coordination of it, the timing of things, fielding all the problems as they come in, trying to make it work when maybe actually it’s just too much or it’s not what you thought it would be or it sucks much more than it doesn’t. And the womb too. The womb’s like a goddamned ticking clock time bomb, you only have ‘so long’ to bandy about and fuck around.”

“Right,” said Alison.

“Decisions, decisions,” I said, and we both fell to another silent moment’s shared solemnity. It was like we were expressing a hushed and honouring respect for fallen comrades, the fallen comrades were our friends with kids or were ourselves for not having any.

“So,” I continued, “On one hand right, ‘it’s not for everyone.’ It’s a lot harder and more work and not always this relentless bed of adorableness and joy. Like I said, what if the kid just the pits. Also all those other things. Fucking the kid up bad by not always being the best parent, fucking shit up for yourself or for them, feelings of resentment, second guessing everything, especially if the kid sucks, or if your life does once the kid is there, other shit too, like postpartum depression and gaining weight, ruining your body from the pregnancy, not sleeping and feeling ugly and tired, no more romance with the husband, fighting with the kid or yourself or the husband, or maybe the husband feels like shit because you feel like shit, or you lavish all your love and thought and attention and time on the kid and the dad is clueless or doesn’t help or just gets in the way. Or the husband runs off with a twenty year old because you’re no longer so great to hang out with, or you aren’t meeting his needs anymore, or you just seem to now prefer the kid to him, or whatever goddamned else. Also some women are just sad and tired and miserable, they no longer prefer anything, not the husband or the kid or themselves even, they resent the whole thing, they’re sad, they feel like they missed something, they lost out, they might’ve replaced good career possibilities with motherhood and the motherhood thing isn’t always all sunshine and diamonds so like. Yeah. Christ. How to decide. How does one ‘know’. Because on the other hand… we’re kind of here because we’re alive. We live and we can create more life. We come outfitted ‘for the job.’ We’re born to love and nurture and take care of things, we’re maybe here most of all to make life and to give love. It might be the great regret of any woman’s life not to do that one Great Miracle Thing we are all so incredibly very specially designed to very beautifully do…”

Alison listened to my words with a Zen Queen’s patient calm.
“This is it,” she said finally, “This is what you do.”

I gave Alison my full attention. She produced a quarter from somewhere. The quarter was total in its look of innocence.

“Okay,” she said, “So. Heads is ‘Baby,’ Tails is ‘No Baby’ or you can decide what is what. You call it as the coin is flipping and you do the flipping. Then the moment the result is in, you see how the result makes you feel. You see how you feel inside, regardless of what the result happens to be.”

“Oh,” I said pointlessly and resisted the urge to glare at the quarter. Its former innocence had disappeared. I took a deep breath and focused for a moment, like I was about to attempt a gold medal vault at the Olympics or some totally different but equally life or death comparable in importance seeming thing.

“Okay,” I said, “Tails Baby. Heads No baby.”
“Alright,” said Alison.

We flipped the coin.

It was Heads.
No baby.

I felt annoyed. I also felt I should hide that annoyance by a mask of good sportsmanship and neutrality. I wasn’t immediately ready to express how I felt in words. We moved onto Alison. She said Heads Baby, Tails No baby.

It was Tails.
No baby.

We both gazed at the quarter. It offered no comment. There was another shared silence uniting us. A pregnant pause if you will. Then we looked fiendishly at each other, our eyes mutinous and flashing.

“Twins! Twins! Twins!” we shouted, clasping each other’s hands in compressed excitement as we jumped up and down like a couple of meth-addicted school kids. We grinned and laughed and huddlingly shared a delirium of defiance and delight, like we were already triumphantly popping out perfect, gorgeous, flawless, incredible, brilliant sets of twins unstoppably, all over the place, with no figures misshapened and no beats missed.

Alison and I had simultaneously given the finger to Providence and coins and fate. What did that fucking quarter think it was that it could with such implacable presumptuous inanimate importance decide the combined fates of both our marvelous wombs “just like that.” Fuck that quarter. Fuck fate. We both responded to the situation in this same exact immediate fired up way. We had agreed to leave the decision of our lives and wombs up to the coin of fate and then immediately rejected what fate had to say. And not only did we spurn fate’s decision, we both sailed right past “No baby” straight ecstatically through to “Twins! Twins! Twins!”

“Ladies, ladies,” said a nearby woman. She frowned at us. This had an instantly admonishing effect. We quieted down in a laudable attempt to veer nicely toward better public behaviour defined by elegance of sound and action and a poetry of restraint. None of this jumping up and down and shouting “Twins! Twins! Twins!” thing. There came an eventual “That’s better” expression onto the intervening schoolmasterish woman’s face. “Besides,” said this woman, “You don’t want twins.”

“Yeah we do,” Alison and I said together, trying our best to not sound like reprimanded schoolgirls.

“No you don’t,” said the immovable woman. “Just think about the logistics of twins. Imagine a kid crying all through the night and needing all kinds of things, needing to be watched 24-7 and being totally dependent on you at every moment, at all hours, for days, months, years. Now multiply that by two.” The woman paused to let the somberness of the cold hard truth of her knowledge and words sink deep, fast in, and through. “Also, breastfeeding. What are you going to do? Breastfeed both kids? Two crying babies at the same time.” The woman didn’t even wait to see whether we agreed with her reasoning, or if we had any worthwhile comebacks that could in any way legitimately argue some opposing side to the basically irrefutable points she made. There was no challenging the cold austerity of all her inarguable truths.

“Hm,” said Alison and I in diminished tones, “Guess not.” The lady gave us her “That’s right, girls” face.

The know-it-all lady gazed abstractedly. She’d said all that was necessary and then some. Alison and I were chastened and deflated, but the rebelliousness in our hearts remained. I think we both just come a certain way, fate and Providence and logistics and practicality and quarters be damned, what really matters is how cute and wonderful and adorable and fun and perfect and awesome our motherfucking twins will be, no matter what, despite whatever the goddamned “odds” were, fuck the odds, fuck everything that might dampen or damage the romanticization and the dream.

“Twins,” I stage whispered to Alison, the moment the voice of reason woman moved off. I gave Alison a nimble conspiratorial jab with one of my elbows.

“Twins,” she agreed in a medium volume stage whisper back. She smirked. I grinned. Our eyes contained evil sparks and luscious gleams. Life is all about these evil sparks and luscious gleams.

“Twins! Twins! Twins!” we chanted again later in a delayed reaction extension of our stage whispering. We were like two braindead teenaged cheerleaders in church who can’t stop cheering even during the endless sermon and all the praying.

Afterward on exiting I saw the diaper basket and remembered I hadn’t yet written something funny and fun for the parents-to-be to enjoy while changing the baby. I grabbed a couple of the tiny diaper things.

On one diaper I wrote:

What time does Sean Connery arrive at Wimbledon?
Tennish

On a second diaper I wrote:

What did Diplo say to the stripper?
Get T’werk.

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Casual Ladyboy

Bangkok
2011

It’s our last night of the two days we’ve been in Bangkok and Dylan and I decide it’s time to leave the disturbing and depressing example of “White People in Thailand” that is Khao San Road behind. We want to see other parts and areas of this incredible city and beautiful country and so hop a cab and clumsily attempt to explain in our nonexistent Thai to the disconcerted driver that we want to get to the Gay District and chill there among people who we might find more relevantly interesting, entertaining and fun. The driver is perplexed by the address scrawled in my Moleskin, he’s embarrassed and bewildered too by our gauche attempts to define the words “homosexual” and “gay” by an awkwardness of miming. We simply finally pile into the taxi, lapse into a trusting silence and feeling hopeful are on our way.

A forty-five minute quietly compelling and careening commute later, we find ourselves in another impressively urban area, distinctly less touristic and contoured by high buildings, several restaurants and wide busy lanes. It’s a much more business-type area of Bangkok and interesting enough but it doesn’t overly smack of “gay.” We pause after walking a while to take stock but we remain still unsure. We continue to wander around enveloped by the thick humid burgeoning Bangkok night, we’re weighed unpleasantly down by our huge traveler’s pack and shoulder bags, we grow tired and get basically nowhere. Gradually we accept that we definitely aren’t in an intelligibly homosexual neighbourhood at all.

After accosting a handful of mostly unhelpful strangers, we light upon an elegant older strolling man who seems most likely to be capable of giving us the succinct explanations and straightforward answers to the questions we have and the directions we seek. We are correct. He does and capably. This man is graceful and gracious in an offhand way, he’s not surprised to see or be accosted by us, he’s just strolling along and appears before us like he’s been “put” there exactly for us to ask him definite questions so that he can give us distinct replies.

This graceful and gracious man is accommodating and charming, he’s lived in Bangkok for twenty years and has a rigorous love for Thailand. He confidentially shares with us his various opinions and some personal details and accompanies us all the way to a sufficiently attractive modestly priced hotel that he himself recommends. He gives us clues too as to where to go for “good gay fun” and at the hotel we bid him grateful adieu. His farewell is warm and kind and refined.

We check in and once we are comfortably in our air-conditioned room at last, Dylan casts his towering and titanic travelers’ backpack energetically aside. I’m delirious with fatigue and prostrate, wearing as I almost always do the least appropriate footwear for a great deal of walking or for any manner of basic movement at all, let alone for what would be most suitable to something like world traveling and being a pavement pounding tourist. My feet as a result are almost always sore and destroyed. I collapse therefore with a plunge luxuriously face-down upon the big beautiful bountiful bed. I pass nearly completely out, I am exhausted to my core from the extended taxi ride and from all the walking and carrying. The Bangkok heat too, the heaviness of the bags, wearing those wrong shoes, none of these details help to maintain my energy or uplift my mood. Dylan by contrast is all shot up with excitement, his energy levels are luridly high. My exhaustion plummets me comfortably straight into sleep’s death embrace, it’s by this point almost midnight anyway…

I attempt to convince Dylan that a nap is the best idea ever and would be for the both of us “just the thing.” Dylan seems to sense some kind of trap. He defensively denies me and almost angrily replies, “NO. Cause then. You’ll just lie there. You’ll go to sleep. For good.”

I’m taken slightly aback by his vehemence and coo out a reassuring, “No I won’t” but Dylan refuses to be either tricked or convinced. Tensing his whole body, he flops upon the bed with an unrelenting bounce, he is stiff and unyielding, a nap is the furthest thing from all of his desire and interest or need. “Just twenty minutes,” I in my sumptuous sleepiness attempt to reassure and beseech. Turbulent and dubious, Dylan concedes.

Suddenly Dylan is “up and at ’em” once more, he’s firing ferociously to go. Dylan bustles about busily, stands straightly tall and disruptively commands, “Okay get up.” It’s immediately imperative apparently that we hit up the homosexual bars at once in Friendly Town.

“Just twenty more minutes,” I murmur into the pillows.

Dylan shouts something about us having actually napped already for nearly an hour. I’m too overrun with an all-consuming exhaustion to even attempt any version of opposing argument or any convincing defensive line. The thought of getting vertical and outside of the covers seems not just unattractive but vicious and impossible, I feel leaden and broken by the concept, to a point that is total in its oppression and lethargy.

“We have to go out!” Dylan shouts. “We spent all this time and energy trying to find the Gays and now we’ve done it! You’ll regret forever that we never went out and had the time of our lives in the gayest city in the world! We have to get out there and party with the ladyboys! You’ll never forgive me or yourself if I let you let me not make us go! Trust me, you’ll thank me later, we have to go out! We have to!” I’m so exhausted I manage to remain unmoved by this impassioned tirade, for all its impressiveness and extremity.

“What time is it,” I ask meaninglessly.
“Who cares what fucking time it is!” Dylan shouts.

“Go ask at the front desk,” I suggest, trying really just to get him out of the room and leave me to wallow beautifully in my nice and napping peace.

“Ok,” Dylan says. “I’m going downstairs and I’ll find out the goddamned time. But if when I get back and you are still just ‘lying there,’ I am going to fuck you in the ass. I am not joking, I will fuck you in the ass. A punitive assfucking, that’s what you will get so get up. I do not joke!”

That got me up faster than sheet lightning.

Dylan is startled and pleased. Imbued by ease of success and suddenness of accomplishment, he beams and smiles enormously. “We’ll have so much fun. Watch, I promise, you’re gonna thank me, it’s gonna be so awesome!” I ignore him and with sleepy sluggish sadness start pulling on some clothes. I’m peeved and defiant about the whole fucking in the ass threat thing.

“It’ll be so fun,” Dylan says again. His face is all radiant eagerness, his voice both soothing and conciliatory. I’m too drooping and drained to drum up any of my signature comebacks. I’m even too tired to roll my motherfucking eyes.

As a kind of revenge, I decide to go out basically “as is,” that is not get anywhere close to getting all dolled up at all and to just wear actual gray sweatpants, a grubby pale pink t-shirt, some nearby pair of forgettable shoes, a cheap straw hat even. Instead of contacts I wear huge heavy black-framed prescription glasses upon my deadbeat face. The glasses look like they belong to my dad, if I had a dad and if this dad was some kind of news anchorman from 1950. I look passably “cute” but excessively very casual too and not at all done up or eye-catching or anywhere close to my usual levels of Diva fierceness and fancy.

So fun,” Dylan repeats. “Whatever,” I grumblingly mumble as I lurch with graceless grouchiness about. I gather my necessaries and glumly get ready to do some more of that thick humid Bangkok trudging. Dylan is all bright eyes and tail bushes, I am all “Fuck you” but drowsily, ineffectual as I am in my fatigue and defeat.

Finally we get out there and do the humid aftermidnight Bangkok trudge. The getting there takes a thousand forevers until we at last somewhere arrive. It’s a kind of open air partially covered alleyway and square, a “club cluster” sort of space and place. Seems this is where we go to enter what turns out to be a kind of Bangkok gay clubs hub and meeting place. The whole set up is a bit strange.

As we maneuver forward, we come across our elegant guide from earlier in the evening, we are just about to enter, he is just leaving. He is languorously delighted to witness our success in the finding and the coming, we in turn are pleased to be in passing strangely reunited with him so seamlessly. We the three of us smile, exchange greetings, he handsomely exits, we stride forwardly in.

The square space within is literally teeming with gay men of every imaginable stripe and kind. I’m beginning to perk up but continue to pointedly disregard the “See?” that radiates from Dylan’s bright shining eyes and face-splitting grin.

The first club we elect to enter is a karaoke bar and there’s a young handsome Thai man entertaining a calm cluster of homosexuals with basic karaoke renditions of those deathless Diva ballads which are so popular among the Gays. I have a couple drinks and smile pleasantly at the pleasant homosexuals seated all around in this complaisant karaoke setting. After one or two deathless Diva ballads more, we decide to check out the next club space place and enjoy immediately the charismatic hosting of some intimate stage show by two exquisitely captivating Thai homosexual Drag Queens. We enjoy the show for no more than a few minutes, we smile at and adore the hostesses and afterward we thank them warmly before leaving.

Wishing then to partake more totally of this homosexual club buffet, we take leave of this establishment also and push our way further and deepest in. We arrive at some enormous final club that is as huge as it is loud, it’s packed and very crowded, it feels surreal and exciting and totally crazy.

Inside we are demolished at once by probably the best sound system in Thailand. We realize we’ve finally found the most homosexual place in the country, possibly even the world. The club is the biggest most crowded gayest place we’ve ever seen, known of or been to. We are overwhelmed, giddy and amazed. We are fascinated, alarmed and happy. The music is booming and Dylan is excited finally to find himself somewhere in Southeast Asia that actually has proper sound, even if the music being blasted is the gayest kind of Diva Circuit House imaginable.

“This might be the gayest place on earth,” Dylan declares.
“Totally,” I agree. Wide-eyed, we marvel and we grin.

For every one hundred dancing and writhing homosexual Thais, there’s about ten middle-aged white foreigners calmly looking on. There’s only a smattering of the usually much more present Fag Hag quotient here and representing. We gaze with satisfaction around us and then are swallowed and smothered into the swoosh and swirl of many gay bodies careening and carousing, dithering and dancing. I unleash myself into the homosexual happiness and acquire a sweet sexy string of new best gay friends all in succession across the evening. The club is endless and huge and pulsing with gay men, we are blown literally away by the strength and seethe and scale of it repeatedly. The music is inescapably terrible but we endure and love it all as shards of Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Kylie Minogue, Christina Aguilera, Cher and Madonna stab our ears and bodies with their homosexually worshiped Diva strains and melodies. The DJ nonetheless is competent and capable throughout, he knows his club and audience, the whole place is in every sense going “off.” We marvel as we immerse ourselves, we dance and we love.

Later we find ourselves upstairs and pick up our final gayboy hanger-on for the evening. I never clearly heard his name so let’s call him Khohn. “Watch this,” Khohn says and vogues for me. I make a show of being both interested and impressed before I dance in my own space and place again.

“You with him?” Khohn asks me, all gay and smiling. I smile back for reply and just keep dancing. “He with you?” Khohn asks Dylan. “Yeah. He with me,” Dylan says.

Khohn leans closely in exclaiming, “Yeah? He with you! He ladyboy?” and Khohn smiles proudly, happily, pointlessly. “You! Ladyboy.” Khohn announces again. I only smile a little bit back and give a partial shrug of one of my shoulders. Khohn grins in general commendation and some uncertainty. Then again he vogues for me. I offer once more that look of interest and of being impressed. Gay boys as a rule love to show off their signature moves and these moves are never by any sober person’s standards anything very remarkable or memorable but as a rule, the gay boy will want to repeatedly show you his moves and as a rule, you must offer that immediate face of the seriously intrigued.

“You! Ladyboy.” Khohn exclaimingly asks or announces to the world at intervals. Dylan and I smile and dance and grin. Later, another gay man joins our jaunty group. Khohn dances and makes a marked and meaningful movement with his head in my direction. In a clipped and confident voice Khohn to the newcomer says familiarly, “Ladyboy. Ladyboy.” The new gay man to our group dancingly pauses for a moment and muses politely, “Who. You?” to Khohn. Khohn makes the same adept head jerking gesture in my direction. He even goes so far as to jab me once or twice. “No. Him. Him.” he says. His expression reveals as though by right of his having “discovered” me a knowing and authoritative confidentiality. I gaze into the surrounding club’s dark pulse and steamed up details and continue to dance, my own expression a mask of warmly neutral inscrutability. Dylan continues too to dance and carouse and grin.

After lots more of this dancing, Khohn’s voguing and my feigning of being impressed, Dylan subtly gestures toward me and confides to Khohn, “Me love him. So much. He very special. He casual ladyboy.” Khohn stops dancing to consider the solemnity of these words. Dylan continues, “You know. Usually ladyboy so very nice? So much very fancy? Not him. He casual ladyboy.” Khohn blinks. Dylan then adds momentously, “New style.”

He pauses to let this clarification sink fully in.

Khohn dances and vogues and then says. “Oh.” He follows this brief and brusque consideration with an, “Oh!” as though suddenly everything makes real and genuine sense again. Reinvigorated and renewed, Khohn dances and vogues with heightened roguishness and greater oomph.

“I know Josh! From Hawaii!” Khohn suddenly says. I look at him blankly. Dylan gives me a “just go with it look” and so I say, “That’s wonderful.” Khohn smiles hugely, his happiness level is at a peak, he can’t stop himself from vogueing again just for me.

After we gamely endure more endless gay club Circuit House anthems, I finally begin at last to lose my fire and flare and am pretty much very ready to leave. Khohn looks about fit to vogue and show me off as his “ladyboy discovery” until sunrise and so I stealthily move to make my escape. I sit zen-like and statuesque for about a thousand years somewhere downstairs while I wait for Dylan to shake Khohn off and finally catch up with me.

Dylan and I are at long last reunited and he regales me with some lengthy explanation and overly detailed apology. I in my weariness can only think of the million years trudge home back to the hotel, I can’t imagine where I’ll find the strength to make it.

On exit, we’re suddenly presented with about ten bundles of giantly oversized stocks of green onions as thick and as tall as Dylan himself is. We cannot believe that these green onion bundles are “for real” or how or why they should exist in anyone’s reality. We’re so taken with these questions and the wonder of life that we pause to take some pictures to immortalize the surreality of things and I momentarily forget the intensity of my fatigue.

On the thick hot humid Bangkok night trudge home, we take still several more very drunken snaps of each other doing very drunken things. At last I run far ahead of Dylan, find the hotel by mere magical instinct and collapse instantly into the deepest stretched out stillness and public couches sleeping. When Dylan at last himself returns, he takes pictures of me serenely passed out calmly unconscious in the lobby. Moments later we are at last back in our great gay hotel room, safe, secure and happy.

“There. Wasn’t that great!” Dylan still drunk beams. I’m already half-naked and mostly unconscious still from my lobby sleep. “Who’s my casual ladyboy,” croons Dylan in a voice of subterranean satisfaction and the drunkest affection. He gets then also messily ready for bed and plops himself horizontally heaving and down. Fortunately the all-consuming urge to sleep is a mutual thing. Any possible erections, no matter how hopeful or indefatigable, are nonissues and safely out of everyone’s way. I can at last without interruption or disruption sweetly sumptuously sleep.

In the pitch and pleasing darkness, I fling my arm with careless familiarity across Dylan’s contented chest. “For Science,” I say in a voice muffled and my face pressed into the side of his susceptible neck. Dylan puts a lank free arm around me and sleepingly smiles. He traces with light loving fingers the back of my own susceptible neck and it’s time at last for signing off. This casual ladyboy says thank you Thailand, goodnight Bangkok and goodbye.

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