Friday, January 27, 2012

A Drug-Fueled Modern Day Cinderella-like Fairy Tale

I walk by the same house on my way to the beach every day. Your average Jersey shore McMansion — needlessly large, expensive and nondescript. But it overlooks the ocean. And here, that means everything.

Last week, I noticed several cars parked in the driveway. Expensive cars. Black tinted windows. The kind for diplomats or rock stars. Strange. Hmm…maybe it’s just a realtor or a homeowner checking in on things. But why so many them?

As the days passed, the cars remained, as if some secret affair was being held there. My curiosity increasingly piqued and my imagination began to roam a little far.
On one fateful afternoon last week, only a half of me went for a run. The other half split from my body and walked right up to that faceless house, knocked on the door and experienced a strange and surreal adventure that she wouldn’t soon forget.
She knocked hard, with conviction.

A tall man opened the door, dressed in a shimmering blue tux. A servant of some sort. Young and shockingly handsome. Tousled blonde hair and plate-sized blue eyes. Or green. Or pale purple. Like a prism in the sunlight, they seemed to change a little every second. His voice, deep and resonant spoke:

 “May I help you?”

 “Is there a party or something here?”

 “May I ask you the password, madam?”

 Strange words fell from my mouth. Apparently, the right words.

 He gestured grandly. “Miss Beth, enter. We’ve been waiting just for you.”

 Me? I thought. No one waits just for me.

Bion lead me upstairs. (He whispered his name when I entered the house. I shuddered with pleasure; whispering is a lost sensual art.) Strangely I didn’t hear any party sounds. Dead quiet. Just the thud of our footsteps, in perfect sync with one another, up a stairway that never seemed to end. We just kept climbing and climbing, beautiful Bion in the lead.

 Finally, at the top of the stairs, he stopped and turned around.

“Are you ready, Miss Beth?”
“Yes, very much so. I’ve been dying of curiosity. What goes on here?”
“Ah…what doesn’t?” he laughed.

 He opened a large white door and boom! A cacophony of sounds and sights hit me. Exotic looking people, strange music, glasses clinking, corks popping, flirtatious laughter and voices, voices, voices…so many of them, like a sweet and strange choir.

What a grand room. Made entirely of glass, it looked as if we were standing right over the ocean. And while it was cloudless and sunny when I arrived, the sky now looked threatening, roiling, with shades of silver, violet and gray.

Everyone looked at the natural wonder performing for us, oohing and ahhing as the storm rolled toward us. Some of the spectators were clothed, some naked. No one really seemed to care. 
“Beth, my love. You are here, you are finally here!”

I turned around slowly. A tall, striking man with long, dark hair suddenly approached me, as if he had entered with this storm. Impeccably dressed, I knew him from…somewhere. He had the same piercing, ever-changing eyes as Bion. Yet this man possessed a look of madness to him, gently simmering underneath. He frightened and enticed me. 

He planted a kiss on my lips and I pulled back, unaccustomed to such forwardness. This did not deter him. He touched the back of my neck and pulled me forward again.

“Relax, Beth. Now.”

And I did as I was commanded. He kissed me again, for what seemed like forever, our tongues entwined like dangerous vines. I remember falling into a dream state at one point during the kiss — that’s how long it lasted.

When we stopped, he was gone. I was kissing the air. Embarrassingly, I pulled myself together and took a better look around.

Drugs were everywhere. White powder, blue powder, red pills, green pills. Bion appeared next to me, with a drink “made especially for you, you most divine creature” He handed me this massive wide-mouthed glass, almost the size of a fish bowl, full of pink and gold effervescence. I took a sip without question.

“Bion, who is the host? What is his name?”

“I call him Sir. But you can call him whatever you please. He doesn’t have a name, per se.”
As Bion spoke, his ever-changing eyes pulled me into a deeper state of consciousness than I had ever known. Did he drug my drink? I could only hope so.

Dazed, I wandered back to the window with the other party-goers and looked out. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There I was, running on the beach! I knocked on the glass, hoping she could hear me. But she just kept running, red-faced and determined.

I felt badly for her. She works so hard to be good. Stays at home, cooks her sad little dinners, watches her dull TV shows, talks to girlfriends about boyfriends that will never really matter. She takes baths, makes tea and cleans dust off things. She’s dutiful. And boring.

I, on the other hand, was living. I took a drag from a long cigarette that suddenly appeared between my fingers. The smoke came out a crimson red, then purple, then green. I felt dangerous and deeply content.

 Sir was suddenly standing behind me, watching me run on the beach.

“Good thing we didn’t invite her” he laughed. He pulled my hair back and gently kissed my neck. “Now go meet your friends. They’re waiting to feel you.”

I proceeded to mingle with the beautiful people. They looked so crisp and perfect, as if they walked out of a magazine. Normally I might feel inferior, “less than”, but I looked amazing too, donning a crimson red dress made of a fabric that felt like kittens and smelled of fresh raspberries. Glass heels on my feet and shimmering gold dust falling from me, with each movement I made. I was alight.

And these people couldn’t keep their hands off me! Women, men, (and some, a strange and captivating in-between) were attracted to me like bees to honey and I to them. We kissed, we hugged, we dipped and danced, we molded lovingly into one another. We were one. I couldn’t imagine better friends. They knew all of my darkest thoughts and liked me, in spite of them…no, because of them.

Things got blurry after the second drink. Bion brought me powders and pills that instantly cleared my head. Then I’d drink more, sink again and come back to life, over and over. We all danced this dance for days it seemed. Our thorny, perverted sickness was so gorgeous, I couldn’t dislodge myself if I tried. The high was staggering.

Sir and I would occasionally sneak off to his pitch-black bedroom and do the most unspeakable things to one another. It was so splendid and dark that I can’t remember it now; my mind won’t let me. At one point, the energy we created raised us off his bed. This went beyond fucking into a state of pure transcendence.

Afterwards in the warmth of our bed, we whispered warm and wicked things to one another, cleansed from the shamelessness of our wanton acts. These words I can no longer remember either. It was an eternal, strange language created from the most profane place in our souls. Even when we fell asleep, we continued to speak via our dreams. We were living and dying, over and over again, and it was absolutely perfect.

Then Bion opened the door and ruined everything. Everything.

“She’s here to pick you up, Miss Beth.”


“The one who runs on the beach. She’s here for you.”

My heart sank. My time here was over. Looking at Sir, his head hung down and I could hear him crying.

“I can’t live without you. It’s been too long. You must stay,” he whispered.

“You’ll be fine, I’m sure. There are so many pretty women who long to be close to you. They’re all waiting for you.”

And truly, they were. I looked around the bed and we were surrounded by the most stunning women I’d ever seen, naked and in wait. They began petting and pawing Sir, knowing my departure was near. Gorgeous vultures. Was I that replaceable?

As I climbed out of our bed, Sir grabbed me, his hand squeezing mine so tight, I began to bleed.

“Come back. Please. You know that woman on the beach will just ruin you. She’ll bore you to death!”

“I know but she’s all I have.” And I began crying too.

After our final kiss, the vultures attacked him. He screamed in pleasure at first, then in agony. Looking back, I could no longer see him, just bodies writhing, biting, eating, melting.

Bion showed me to the door, where the woman on the beach stood, drenched in sweat and rain. She had that dumb look of pleading in her eyes. I hated her.

“Why can’t you let me have this? I’ve been waiting for this my whole life!”

She just held out her hand, like a knowing mother.

I begrudgingly reached for it. The loss of Sir suddenly hit me, like a thunderbolt in my soul.

 “I loved him. I really did.”

 “Don’t worry,” she said. “He’s not going anywhere. He waits.”

She led me home in silence. I looked down and my dress was gone. I was ugly again, old, worn clothes, drenched. The party was indeed over. I had books to read, clothes to clean, gardens to tend, vitamins to swallow, checks to write, problems to solve, help to offer, blood to bleed.

Lowlives and Hotsprings

A final blow to the head and he’s out cold, face down, a string of drool seeping from his cracked, nicotine-stained lips. And I did it. I warned him, leave me alone. But he didn't listen.

He should have listened.

When we arrive at the hot springs in the Nevada desert, we’re dusty and tired. My friend Amanda, her teenage daughter, and I had planned this 6-hour road trip months ago. Recovering from a particularly crushing break-up, I felt emotionally vacant, like a hollowed out building. This hot spring will be my rebirth, my scalding hot baptism.

When we complete the mile-long trek to the hot spring, I drop by backpack and gasp. What beauty. Several large hot spring pools, right next to one another. And what a view. Yes! This will do the trick.

There are a few others in the pools but no matter. Of course, I want the springs entirely to my friends and myself, others needed their spiritual cleansing too. We'll share the experience together.

My friend and her daughter quickly undress and make their way into the fizzy magical waters. I take my time. With each article of clothing I drop, I let go of another emotional weight.

When I finally place my foot in the hot liquid, I feel instantly transformed, as if the magic flew through my feet and up my naked body. As I submerge, it’s all I can do not to cry. The goodness hurts my poor, aching heart. I close my eyes and let the healing begin.

Then I hear him and his gruff asthmatic laugh.

I slowly open my eyes and see a man on the other side of the pool, staring at me in that unwanted, lascivious way.
No, no...not this now. Please, God, not this now.

I return his stare aggressively. But he won’t be dissuaded. I can’t let him ruin this for me. Closing my eyes again, I try desperately to block him out, but every time I open them, his eyes burn my flesh and soul.

"Hey, can you stop staring at me?"


"I said stop staring at me."

"Fuck you. I'll look at what I want. It’s a free world."
Trouble in paradise. I look over at my friend and her daughter. Their look of relaxation has quickly turned into concern.

"It's just rude and I'm trying to relax."

"That's your problem."

"She's got a hot body, man. I can't help it," he jokingly tells his beer-drinking buddy next to him.

What a scrawny fuck of a man. Yellowed teeth in a broken face, greasy hair, swollen red eyes. The smell of stale cigarette smoke and cheap booze drift my way.
I approximate his size so I can make my decision. He’s only an inch or two smaller than me. This guy is an easy takedown, especially because he’s drunk.
I'm a woman who studies fighting. My years in martial arts have taught me to spar me all different types and sizes.
For years I've countered the argument that a woman can never beat a man in any physical altercation. Because I have. But obviously, many factors come into play.

The most pressing concern is size. If a man is much bigger than me, then sure, there's a good chance he'll beat me. But if a man is my size or smaller, then the odds shift. After years of fighting in competitions, I stand a better chance than most.

I can take him. I’ll destroy him.
In my mind, when I go back in time, that’s exactly what I do. I put on my clothes and heavy hiking boots on and kick his ass resoundingly. He’s left lying facedown in a puddle of his own blood and spit while I grab my friends and leave.

But I can't go back. And that's not what happened.
Instead, I went to an adjacent pool, fumed quietly, and died a little death.

If life were fair, that little runt of a methhead is dead, rotting in a worm-ridden cardboard box somewhere. If life were fair, men would realize that unwanted stares can feel as invasive as an unwanted touch.
Those stares weren't sexual; they were an act of dominance and aggression. He spat on my spirit during a time when I desperately needed the world to envelop and comfort me.
One man's desire to “eat his candy” trumped another woman's need for peace of mind. And it's a spiritual crime, one that can't be undone, ever.
Oh, you did the right thing, everyone says. You should just walk away. Fuck the right thing. Because I still live with that experience. I should have kicked his ass or died trying…and I regret it.
But there was no justice that day. There was no cleansing, no baptism. Just more soul death.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Unhinging the Bitch

“The cabbage is 69 cents a pound.”

“Well, I’ll have to have someone check it…”

“You can’t just trust me on it, huh? I don’t tend to lie about cruciferous vegetables…just a rule.

“Well if I took your word for it, I’d have to...”

“Oh fuck it. Just take it off my bill.”

As I bag my groceries, the raging goes on inside my head. I decide to let the words fall out of my mouth instead:

“Seriously…in all of the years I’ve come to this damn megastore, do you think I’ve ever been undercharged for anything?

At this point, other cashiers and shoppers are staring at me. My face reddens but instead of looking down, I look back at them. Everyone quickly looks away, one at a time.

"Your system is designed to overcharge me. Hence why I know the price of the damn cabbage in the first place. So you don’t overcharge me.”

I walk out, head up. But in my car, it’s a different story. My hands are shaking and I’m on the verge of tears. I begin to feel badly for the cashier, who was a clueless recipient of my ire.

Apologize. I should apologize.

Ah, that tired, old mantra. As a woman and recovering Catholic, I’ve apologized well beyond my fair share. And if I didn’t apologize, I experienced the wrath of its ugly stepsister: guilt.

What if I lived without doling out apologies? What if I just allowed myself to be a full-fledged bitch?

I reflect back on the supermarket scene. It did feel good to simply raise my voice. To be loud and express.

It also felt decadently defiant to look back into the eyes of everyone staring at me as if to say, “What are you looking at bitches?” My personal Clint Eastwood moment.

What if unhinged the bitch even more? What if I truly spoke my mind?

Just what we need, right? Another rude and entitled person thinking the world should accommodate them. But I don’t think the world should accommodate me. Frankly I’m shocked when it does. My natural state is caring and sensitive. So why not be a caring and sensitive bitch? Can those two live together?

My gal friend is upset that her family didn’t contact her over the holidays. I asked her if she relayed how she felt. Her conversation with them went something like this:

“Wow, you guys must have been really busy over Christmas. I didn’t hear from you and I thought something might be wrong. Then I figured, you just must have been busy. It is the holidays, afterall.”

But this is how she told it to me, over a few drinks:

“Do I fucking exist or what? They couldn’t show me the respect to even call me? I’m the only living daughter on my side of the family. Why do I have to do all the reaching out? I’m fucking sick of it.”

A substantial difference in the two versions, you'll note. Should she have opted for the latter version? Not necessarily. But the first version is much more nefarious and soul-sucking--and that’s the one we “good women” often choose.

As “good women”, we often do the opposite of unleashing. We internalize. We question and admonish ourselves over the slightest infractions. Many feminist theories postulate that those socially-induced insecurities are meant to keep our mouths shut and our feet fixed in one spot. We’re too busy yelling at ourselves to make demands of others. Too busy internally debating to take a step forward and make a change.

Like many others, several people close to me have died of cancer. I have no damn clue whether internalized anger manifests itself in the form of cancer. But I’ll take my stab in the dark and say that it sure doesn’t help in the health department either.

In their honor, I continue to unhinge the bitch. She is allowed to roam free, express herself and breathe a little easier. She gets to laugh in the face of a difficult situation instead of caving in on herself like a flimsy house of cards.

Could I ever utter the following?

“I don’t like talking to you. I wish you’d go away.”

“Don’t ignore me. I don’t appreciate it.”

“Stop interrupting. I’m speaking right now.”

“I think you’re lying.”

"Stop staring at me. It’s invasive and annoying."

“Don’t tell me what to do.”

"I wasn't asking your opinion."

One could argue that these statements are cruel or could be delivered in a better fashion. And one would be right! But what if I don’t feel like being right? I’ve been right for decades now and still feel wrong entirely too much of the time. Being “good” is a never-ending battle which women are predetermined losers.

A bitch is a female dog, right? A dog is an animal. And when I become a bitch, I'm closer to my animal self. And I like it. It feels impulsive, raw and primal. Fight-ready and messy. And dare I say (oh yes, I dare), sexy and unbridled.

Two of the biggest insults that can be hurled at women? "You're a whore" or "You're a crazy bitch." I've yet to figure out why being called a whore is so horrible, since it seems like a perfectly reasonable profession where women get paid more than men for once.

You're a crazy bitch then! The underlying message: Stay tame. Shut up. Don't act wild. You might be a force to be reckoned with. You might get somewhere.

The last time it was hurled my way, I responded, "You ain't see nothing yet." And they hadn't. Because I haven't. She's evolving. She's new.

At heart, I will always be a kind person. It’s my nature. But there’s more to me than kindness. And this seemingly backward path to transformation fits me well, like a coat of fur or a set of bloodied fangs. Like ragged claws or a gutteral growl. Like a bite on warm skin.