Wednesday, January 30, 2008

my history of love, sex, and drugs

This is going to be a very long, self-involved post.

So, on the advice of my friend Karim, I have been locked in my apartment on a semi-secret mission to go through the records of my life and to write about them. I've kept a written journal since I was eight years old, so I have almost twenty years of clues to look at to jog my memory and see what I should write about.

It's been a really strange experience. It turns out I don't remember most of my life, or I just don't think about it anymore, which is mostly good. I'd say a good eighty percent of my journals are all about the boys I think are cute. I literally used to write down every cute boy I saw. Good to see that I'm not some desperate, aging spinster looking to sink my teeth into every cock that walks by, no--I've always been this way. And a lot of it has been really inspirational, because even though I was a weird kid and didn't fit in much of anywhere, I usually did what I thought was right. People always used to get down on me for being a goody-goody, because I didn't like to be around people who smoked, drank, or did drugs.

Then I got really depressed. It just happened. Or, I'm not sure. It seems like it just started happening, this horrible feeling that everything was useless and nothing I did mattered, because I would suffer. It seemed to come out of nowhere, and I didn't understand it. That's when I first started drinking. I would drink until I either passed out or threw up. But then I realized that it was bad, and I stopped doing it for several months. And from then on, after I had had my little brush with the dark side, my parents took over.

Of course, at the time I was sure my parents were half the problem. At the time I was starting to go through these bouts of depression, we were fighting a lot. It's hard to tell whether we were fighting because I was upset all the time, or if I was upset because we were fighting, or if they kind of leaned on each other. In the past few years, I'd totally written it off, but looking back, it would be easy to say that the way they tried to control me...ME, when I was the one who tried to get everyone else to stay out of trouble...well, that really affected me. I never wanted to be a bad kid. I liked the idea of purity, and I wrote about how much I would never do drugs, never have sex until I was married, and I hated hanging around people who were drunk all the time. I was the kid who went to the wild parties, and drove the drunk people home, even people I kind of despised.

My parents didn't understand that you could hang out with people who did all kinds of crazy stuff and not engage in it. They punished me for all sorts of shit that I didn't do, and when I realized I had all this power and yet I had no control, I couldn't handle it. I got in trouble no matter what I did, and I was miserable enough not to care anymore. So I got me a job, I got me a boyfriend, and I got me into drugs. The same year, my parents insisted I go to college, so I got me into a college, too. That turned out to be a disaster.

My saving grace during all this time was my very first boyfriend. He was a Prince. It has been so wonderful reading about that first relationship, because it shows me that even though I always think I'm a big fuck-up in relationships, it's so easy; I did it when I was seventeen. Everything about my first relationship was great. It was slow. We were honest with not knowing anything about what we were doing. We pondered what we thought love was before saying we loved each other. He admitted when he was jealous; I admitted when I was crazy. We didn't spend tons of time together, so I was always happy to see him. It was a big treat when we were able to spend an entire day together. And we waited a long time before we had sex, until we were out of high school and were as much motivated by love as by the fear of going to college virgins.

I've forgotten what that's like, that love can work like that. A few months after we broke up, I plunged into the single most destructive relationship of my life. We were so out of sync that one night he forced himself on me and I was so scared and exhausted from fighting with him that I cried myself to sleep in his bed and he didn't know what had happened until I finally stood up for myself the next day (an event I completely put out of my mind until I read about it a few days ago). When it happened a second time, I didn't say anything. I was out of my mind at that point. When you go from Prince to ...that... in the span of a few months, it really fucks with you.

It's interesting to read about your past. In my mind, I loved both of them, but when I read what I actually wrote to myself, it's so easy to see that both BadBoyfriend and I were just using each other for control, for affection, for sex, for the illusion of love.

That's when I realized that not only could the pain of love be dulled by drugs, by the illusion of love could be obtained by other drugs that I began to consume in massive quantities. I loved drugs so much that I lamented to my friend that I wish I could tell my parents about them, but they wouldn't understand.

I'm not sure about my most recent relationship yet. In my readings, I'm still in Chicago. I have six-and-a-half years in San Francisco still to go before I hit the present moment. I'm grateful for this interesting experience, but sometimes I feel like it's best to let sleeping dogs lie. If I ever run into BadBoyfriend now, I'll remember all these horrible things, instead of the our peacemaking night out for drinks several years ago. And with my parents it's especially pointless to realize this now, because I no longer live with them, and we're on good terms, and I know they were just trying to do what's best for me. So I'm focusing on the good part, the part where I had a magical relationship with a Prince, and try and remember how that worked.

I've been spending a lot of time with this guy lately, the guy who just transferred into my program. I've got to give him a handle here, and I want it to be his last name, because he has one of those unfortunate names that you see and you just want to put a hand on his shoulder and say, "You've been through a lot, my friend." But since this is the blogosphere, I will just call him My Friend.

It's plainly tongue-in-cheek, because I kind of want him to be more than a friend, and on the other hand the thought terrifies me. Then, the thought that this thought terrifies me terrifies me even more, since I LOVE LOVE. I used to be good at it.

So, in the way that I really fell in love with Prince and, in a way, with Ex, I am going to just be his friend first, and not try and constantly get myself so drunk around him that I won't feel awkward if we end up having sex. It's kind of nice, but I miss the excitement of wondering, "Oh my god, are we going to fuck?" It's funny how the times we end up naked with someone can seem as random and unrelated to ourselves as individuals, as though someone had just brushed against you running down the stairs to the subway, not spending conspicuous hours getting groomed, selecting the most likely to bar to run into equally attractive-yet-undiscerning people of a specific demographic, spending hours and paychecks boozing away any feelings of innocence, puritanism, or idealism, and subconsciously working out how you will get home from his house out by the beach in several hours. I am all about my newly rediscovered sense of precarious first love, the main drawback being that it is hard to pull off innocence and idealism when you are twenty-seven with a smoker's cough. I am figuring out how to make this work.

One thing I have figured out completely, partially due to my readings, partially due to the fact that I'm no longer drunk and high all the time, is my menstrual cycle. It's taken me fifteen years to figure it out. It lasts an average of 23 days from Day One to Day One. PMS consists of bloating and the onset of really bad gas on about Day 18, having to pee constantly on Day 21 followed by a horrible hangover if I drink that evening or the next day (which is unfortunate because another part of this cycle is an extreme loss of faith in humanity, which makes me want to drink more than usual), and extreme restless the the night before I wake up extremely sore all over and begin to bleed heavily for two days. However, along with the blood comes an extreme elevation in mood, and a rebirth of my love for life.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

this is the brief version

I am back in New York and straight into the first day of classes. I am inexplicably happy to be isolated in my little apartment, hiding from the freezing weather. I just ate a plate full of oatmeal-coconut-chocolate chip cookies with this stellar train of thought: Oh god, I have all these cookies. I'm going to end up eating them all week. Wait! I know! Why drag it out? Better if I eat them all right now.

So maybe I'm just weaning myself off a week of eating fried oysters and po'boys. I spent the last week of my month off in New Orleans, doing a little bit of volunteer work (digging ditches, painting houses) but mostly wandering around the city by myself, feeling alternately lost/confused and peaceful. At the 11th hour, the NPO I was signed up with got its shit together and contacted me, and I didn't end up staying with my couchsurfing connection, but at a Best Western a few blocks from the western edge of the French Quarter. They hooked us up there for $20 a night--more than the free lodging with my couchsurfing friend, but less than what it was going to cost us to rent a car.

I met up with him Tuesday night, and he took us to three sweet spots around town: Bullet's to see local trumpeting legend Kermit Ruffins, the Spotted Cat to see the Palmetto Bug Stompers, and then the Maple Leaf to see the Rebirth Brass Band. He gave me a bunch of recommendations for the rest of the week, and I ended up running into him every night. He was a big reason why I enjoyed the city so much.

Other reasons why my week in New Orleans ruled: (a) When you order a drink at a bar, they ask you "for here or to go?" (b) I decided not to worry about the other kids in my class who were there, and to just do whatever the hell I wanted to do, which was less hassle, and more fun. So I picked out what I wanted to do every night and did it by myself. (c) You can smoke everywhere in New Orleans, except for Preservation Hall.

YES the music scene in New Orleans is just as legendary as you hear. Imagine live music, free, every night of the week! I saw so much music last week that I may just have withdrawal symptoms this week.

Speaking of withdrawal...I've been smoking. ARGH! I KNOW...! But I've been on vacation for the past month, and I smoke when I go out and have a drink or two. In San Francisco many of my friends smoke, and many of us are cutting back, so we really enable each other when we're out together. So by the time I got to New Orleans, I was back to my old tricks. It didn't help that I kind of ran out of nicotine patches either.

But I'm not going to dwell on my failures.

I also developed a little crush in New Orleans, on a guy who I kind of pulled into our trip from another program. Although it's true that I fall in love with about 63 percent of the men I meet, I hadn't yet developed any interest in ANYONE in our program (yeah it's real bad), so this was a very welcome development. Our trips to Nola overlapped by a day, and I had a great time hanging out with him. I was happy to see him this morning in class, and we ended up getting dinner together before a meeting tonight. It was the perfect mutual ask too, where he asks what you're doing, and then you ask him out right back. I was so thrilled at this prospect that I could hardly concentrate on my reading about the origins of phylotogenetic repression. Yay! A crush who I will see a few times a week will truly make everything so much lovelier.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


It has been a tiring week in San Francisco. So much so that, on my last night in the city, I made a bunch of plans and then sat on the couch, didn't go out, and asked Karim to bring me chocolate cake.

Not only was I exhausted from a week of intense conversations and sleeping in various places, but I wanted to stay in and get myself organized for my week in New Orleans. I don't know anyone in New Orleans; the NPO I'm supposed to be working with got evicted last week and everything is up in the air; also I'm in charge of a rental car and accommodations not just for myself, but for three unsuspecting others. Of course, instead of taking care of any of this, we still ended up hanging out until 2 a.m. This morning I was so tired that I actually thought to myself, "I can't wear this shirt today. It looks sleazy. It's got the neck cut off. It's bright yellow. And it has two beer steins where my breasts are. I can't go meet a stranger who is going to host me in New Orleans for a week and show up looking like this."

That is not the kind of thought I usually have about kind souls, but junior-high level self-consciousness preys on the tired and weak. And I was so tired that I gave in to this thought by...wearing my shirt backwards instead.

That was a first for me. The other first was that I got to the airport and could not check in, because my flights are TOMORROW. I was going to pay the $200 I really can't afford to get on the plane today because of all the arrangements I'd made this week to take care of things when I get to New Orleans. But when I consulted the notes I'd taken in my day planner, it looks like I was on the right track, because everything said Sunday and Monday, not Saturday and Sunday like I'd been saying in my head for the past few days.

It is so humbling to be confronted with evidence...from yourself...that you are kind of losing your mind. But at least you thought to write yourself a note.

Exhausted, I came back to my apartment feeling like the biggest asshole in the world, and proceeded to have a dream that my father shot himself, and I found him gurgling blood and called 911. I was freaking out so bad that the operator asked me if I had, perchance, consumed any meth in the recent past, and when I said, in my most big-girl voice possible, "No...I'm sorry if I sound a little crazed...I guess I'm just upset that MY FATHER IS DYING AND FUCKING UP THE CARPET."

Then the operator hung up on me. I ran to get my mother, who is a physician, and as we panted up the stairs, I told her what had happened. When we got to where my father should be (lying in a pool of blood on the floor in their bedroom), not only was he gone, but there was no blood, no gun, nothing. My mother screamed, "You crazy little bitch!" (three words she has never used to describe me, and in a way that she has never spoken) and slapped me.

I woke up in my bed in San Francisco. It's January 12, 2008; only four people know I'm here, and I'm one of them.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

shitty weather, wisdom, and banana cream pie

One by one, people are hearing that I have a blog, and then they ask why. Usually I give them an answer like, "I write my blog purely for the entertainment of One Ms. Keetens," or "Some stupid asshole reads my myspace blog too much and has made it hard for me to be open there anymore," but those are not my real reasons.

I just want everyone to know how I feel. There are fewer misunderstandings when everyone knows how you feel.

This week in San Francisco, I am allowing my feelings to mirror the shitty, grey, cold, weather. Basically, Love Affair turned into Reality Check, and we did not go on the road trip that I'd been so looking forward to for so long. I thought I handled it well, but when my buddy Karim happened to be with me when I ran into Love Affair on the street, he later asked me, "What the hell was up with that? Why was that so awkward?"

I'm also terrible at poker.

When I knew it wasn't going to happen, I did three things that are typical of me in any sort of crisis that threatens to turn my unicorn-filled dreams into gross reality: I went to the beach and consulted the ocean, I spent three hours drinking scotch with a good friend, and then I plotted what kind of pie I would make and consume. These, my friends, are the ingredients of dealing with disappointment. One of my very wise friends (who happens to also be a fantastic therapist) told me after a dinner one night that most of life is about how we deal with disappointment. I think he's right. I think about those words a lot.

The flipside of disappointment, of course, is expectation. This is something that my buddy and I could laugh about in the middle of Scotchfest 2008, the ridiculous expectations that I had built up for the road trip with Love Affair. I'd thought that it was a harmless little fantasy, but it turned out to hurt a lot when the fantasy was exposed to the light of day. Not so harmless after all.

I'm trying not to be hurt by it all, but it is hard. I'm trying not to blame him or myself, but blaming myself is so fucken easy and almost comforting, in a sick way. I still believe that Love Affair is a handsome prince, and that I am a good person who tries to make herself happy without stepping on other people's toes. Mostly, I am trying to enjoy myself in San Francisco which, even in the shittiest of weather, is not so hard to do.

And, as I have learned, it is hard to feel bad about anything when you get to eat banana cream pie for breakfast three days in a row.

Bonus Recipe:
Three-Layer Mushroom Lasagna (Where Each layer is a Different Kind of Mushroom)

Some Gruyere
Some Ricotta
Brown Mushrooms
White Mushrooms
Shitaake Mushrooms
One tomato
One apple
Some brown sugar
Half a stick of butter
An egg beaten with some water, thrown in by miracle roommate chef, who always does something to help bring it all together a little better
red wine
white pepper
some of your favorite chili sauce
Scotch-fueled determination to pour all of your attention into making this lasagna and avoid showing to your secret Love Affair how hurt you feel

Okay so the shtick with this lasagna is that you are making each layer with a different kind of mushroom, and this time around we did one sweet layer (white mushrooms, apple, brown sugar, butter), one savory layer (shitaake, garlic, red wine, white pepper, basil), and one spicy layer (brown mushrooms, chili sauce). So fucken good!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

scralifornia! or 2008: the year of total...something

At the last minute, I decided to drive up to San Francisco a little early to ring in 2008, a year for which I have very good feelings. After an extravagant meal with my glorious family, I charged up to the old apartment and spent 12 hours in my current most favoritest 1-mile radius in the entire world.

Here's an hour-by-hour breakdown of what transpired last night:

10:30 pm: Arrive at my apartment, have hugs and kisses from Sleepwalker, Sharp, Girlfriend, Karim, Gina, and two of Girlfriend's buddies. Being around Karim makes me happy. All anxiety disappears. Take appropriate notice of updated hair styles, etc.

10:45 pm: While walking, tell Sharp about DJ E's assessment of me: The thing about Seriously is that she has all these 'disciples,' but nowhere to lead them.

11:00 pm: Arrive at the Ex's for the New Year's Eve party. He opens the door and gives me a wonderful hug. There are many hugs. Sleepwalker introduces me to her friend Max who proclaims, "I know you! You're on my fridge!"

11:30 pm: Sharp and Girlfriend leave, but I don't go with them.

Midnight: 2008 kisses with friends. Sleepwalker is love-hammered and keeps telling us how much she loves us: "But seriously, guys? You guys are the best! Oh man! I love you guys!"

1:20 a.m.: Girlfriend reappears with her buddies. Ex is instructed to take her to his room to lay down.

1:30 a.m.: Sleepwalker stands, falls over immediately. Gina and I have to practically carry her the six blocks to her house. On this treacherous walk, which Gina does in heels, she tells me that she fell over chasing Girlfriend down the block as she ran away. This concerns me, but Gina is sure that Girlfriend is safe at the Apartment, sleeping.

2:10 a.m.: Back at Ex's, we have a soul dance party.

2:45 a.m.: I have a nice cigarette break with Ex. He wants to have some one-on-one time later in the week, and this makes me happy. He's irritated with his 20-year-old sister, who is there tonight.

3:00 a.m.: I talk to the Ex's little sister. She is crying over a fight with her brother, claiming wildly that Ex loves me more than her. She says he's mean, that he can't express his love, and that she misses her other brother, who really loves her. It takes me almost an hour to calm her down. It doesn't help that she's drunk.

3:55 a.m.: In line for the bathroom, I see a guy that I used to date in Chicago named Greg. The last time I saw him was on an airplane about two years ago. I ask how his wife is doing. It's not Greg after all, but Cutie, a Greg look-alike I used to have a crush on about six years ago, back when he was roommates with Ex.

4:05 a.m.: I like Cutie's little brother. But Cutie is claiming to remember how many times we sat on the couch next to each other and almost made out. I don't remember this at all.

4:20 a.m.: I am making out with Cutie and dancing.

4:50 a.m.: Cutie and I are roaming around San Francisco smoking Parliaments.

5:15 a.m.: Back at the apartment, I realize that Cutie and I don't really have a place to occupy. There is a guy sleeping on the couch, and did I mention that Girlfriend is missing? I frantically dial Gina and ask what Girlfriend is wearing, since her shoes are there, and her phone.

5:16 a.m.: The door next to Girlfriend's opens and Love Affair pokes his beautiful head out. I didn't realize he was even in town. He says he found Girlfriend passed out in the bathroom several hours ago. Cutie says she is no longer in the bathroom. Love Affair straggles out of his room. I wonder briefly if he has someone in there with him.

5:18 a.m.: I hug Love Affair and kiss him on the cheek.

5:22 a.m.: Love Affair finds Girlfriend crumpled into a weird upright position, covered with a blanket, in the corner of another roommate's room.

6:00 a.m.: Getting whiskey-dicked by Cutie in my roommate's bed. Trying not to make noise, because Love Affair is in the next room, separated by not even a wall, but French doors. Pretending that Cutie is Love Affair.

7:00 a.m.: Falling asleep, trying not to think about anything. Falling asleep naked with someone for the first time since leaving San Francisco...and now I'm back in San Francisco. Why can't I have sex in New York?

8:50 a.m.: I can't sleep. I'm paranoid that my roommate will come home from wherever she is and freak out that I'm naked with some guy in her bed.

9:15 a.m.: I get out of the shower and go into the kitchen to look for coffee, and Love Affair is awake, making himself a breakfast croissant. We sit out in the sun for a few moments and I ask him if he wants to go to Monterey for our road trip to stay with Ex's little sister.

9:35 a.m.: I go for coffee with The Dog. We walk to the park. I love San Francisco. California makes me happy. There is so much energy, so much idealism, so much innocence and hope...