Sunday, June 17, 2007

I'm in a State, I'm in a State, I'm in a State, I'm in a State, I'm in a State

I don't understand how I've been listening to the Pixies' album Doolittle for years but only recently have become absolutely obsessed with it.

I'm listening to it like Charles Manson listened to the Beatles. I'm not biking, I'm not driving my car, I'm walking just so that I can spend hours listening to my cd player. When the batteries run out, I go into some sort of primal psychological state until I can get to the next corner store and get some more. It's my blankie and I'm two.

I'm particularly obsessed with the son "No. 13 Baby." I don't have time (in part because I have to walk to where I'm going) to explicate the lyrics fully (oh but they are deserving!) but here they are:

Got hair in a girl
That flows to her bones
And a comb in her pocket
If the wind get blown

Stripes from her eyes
When she walks slow
But her face fall down
When she go, go, go

Black tear falling on my lazy queen
Gotta tattooed tit
Say number 13

Don't want no blue eyes
La loma
Want brown eyes
I'm in a state, I'm in a state, I'm in a state, I'm in a state, I'm in a state

Choir in the yard
And the house next door
Where her grandma brought
Some songs from shore

Six foot girl
Gonna sweat when she dig
Stand close to the fire
When they light the pig

Standing in her chinos
Shirt pulled off clean
Gotta tattooed tit
Say number 13

Don't want no blue eyes
La loma
Want brown eyes
I'm in a state, I'm in a state, I'm in a state, I'm in a state, I'm in a state


I thought Muddy Waters' Folk Singer was the sexiest thing I had ever heard, but I can't handle:

Six foot girl, gonna sweat when she dig. . .Standing in her chinos, shirt pulled off clean, gotta tattooed tit, say number 13.

I think I'm gonna lose my shit. I feel like if I just repeat this song over and over enough I'll eventually transcend my body and go to a world where all women are six feet tall and dig trenches for pig roasts and tattoo their boobs.

Viva La Loma Rica

=Long live the Sumptuous Hill.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

EGO, the coolest girl in Provo, Utah.

Back in March, my old roommate Evonne Olson (now she has a different last name) posted a comment here asking if I remembered her. I wasn't able to write back to her because I don't have her email address. Evonne, if you read this, please email me at

Evonne said:

I remember when you wore Gap clothes and had a postcard collection on our shared bedroom wall. I miss you. Do you remember me?

I remember Evonne very, very well. And I probably still wear those clothes! And my brother sends me postcards all the time, which I still tuck into my little book.

Evonne Gayle Olson (aka EGO) and I were roommates in Provo, UT, where I was going to Brigham Young University. Like many of my good girlfriends, Evonne thought I was an asshole at first because I got a little too competitive at Pictionary. [Oh, how many potential husbands I scared off in Provo the same way!] I won her over in the end, and eventually we became such good friends that I went into her closet and borrowed one of her dresses that she hadn't even worn yet.

Evonne was/is beautiful, with dark, straight hair, and dark eyes. She was olive-skinned and curvy and impeccably groomed. I used to love to steal her bath products from the shower. She and I liked to spend our time bouncing checks and borrowing money from each other to buy pajama pants at Old Navy.

The best thing about Provo is that nobody drinks. Now, I love to drink, but it's much more interesting when you have a town full of 25,000 young people who can't just get drunk and make out with each other. It's like the 1950's. People go out on dates--with people they don't want to sleep with! I lived there for a year and a half and I held one guy's hand the entire time and felt like a total whore. I mean I really held his hand, like really hard.

So instead of doing jell-o shots and dropping acid, people buy blocks of ice and slide down grassy hills. Here's a photo of us afterward:

Other people make short films parodying Mormon dating culture. Or go to ice cream socials. Or make fake fliers advertising piggy-back rides and hang them up. There is a lot of board game playing and skit happening. Or maybe, like, driving around and taking down oh, about 100 old yard sale signs and plastering them all over your roommate's room? Or wrapping up your roommate's possessions and giving them to her for her birthday? Or crashing AA conventions? Or starting a hair salon in your apartment even though you don't have any experience? Or anonymously and routinely heckling the boy who vaccuums the pool from behind the blinds in your living room?

This is a photo from our television theme-song/commercial medley skit. This part was The Facts of Life. I'm on the far left, playing Blair. (I wore that same sweater today!) Evonne is in the blue skirt. What a good sport; she played Natalie, and not very convincingly.

Have you seen Napoleon Dynamite? That movie was very BYU to me.

One April Fool's Day, Evonne had a make-up artist friend paint a perfect black eye on her. When people at work asked her what happened, she just looked down and said "I fell down the stairs. . ." Her co-workers were worried about her, but she never broke character, even the next day when it was magically healed.

At BYU, you have to wear shorts that come to your knee. You can't wear sleevless shirts and women have to wear one-piece bathing suits. But when I was with Evonne, it seemed normal to pretend to be Jenny in Forrest Gump, strumming (seemingly) naked behind a guitar to "I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing" in front of our entire ward (i.e. church) for a skit. I was Nell in Gimme a Break!, vaccuuming the fish tank in a tri-panel polyester mu mu with two pillows underneath.

Evonne and I drove to Denver overnight in a blizzard that was so bad, we didn't know if we were still on the road. We were the only car for hours and we had to roll the windows down and look for reflectors on either side of us to make sure we weren't in the median. It took us 12 hours and we were delirious, and when we got to Denver I spent most of my rent money at Urban Outfitters.

I stopped going to church a year after I moved to Provo. I finished the semester and then moved back to Georgia. You'd think people would have been super-judgemental and treated me like shit, but the majority of my friends there were great. My roommates were a little confused as to how I got so good at poker (I had recently learned how to play by betting clothes with my boyfriend back in Georgia), but other than one friend, everybody just treated me like I was going through a phase. And Evonne and I still had a very good time. I said goodbye to her in the Home Depot parking lot, and sang the words to "I Don't Want No Scrub" to her while I was driving away.

We stayed friends, but I changed a lot. I went through this really long, bitter, chain-smoking, contrarian thing where I shoplifted eyeshadow as a way of sticking it to the man. Bless my heart. I was so sad. In 2002, I waited outside the Oakland temple while Evonne was getting her endowments (i.e. like a super-important Mormon thing) in motorcycle boots with a hangover.

Since the one place that Evonne and I didn't meet was politics (the only time she ever pissed me off was when she told me I was overreacting to television advertising), as time went on, things changed and we weren't able to meet each other in the same way that we had before. She should have known I would go sour; I liked Alanis Morrisette a little too much. Below is the precursor of my descent into feminism, anarchy, and uber-liberalness, which (except for the anarchy) I still revel in: me burning a copy of Cosmopolitan magazine in the sink of my apartment at BYU. Note the pajama pants.

Last I heard, Evonne married a man named (god I love it) Beau, and has two children.

Those kids be hella lucky.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Rosalie's New Looks

Last Saturday I woke up too early with a sudden desire to walk in North Beach and go sit in the poetry room in City Lights and read Eavan Boland's poem "Outside History." I love Eavan Boland. I saw her read her poems in the Herbst Theatre in downtown San Francisco three years ago. She had such a strong presence; she would finish a poem and the room would gasp.

But I didn't remember what "Outside History" was about, and I didn't understand why I wanted to read it. But I walked to the BART and walked to North Beach and bought the shittiest coffee ever at Cafe Grecco. DO NOT ever go to Cafe Grecco. Their coffee tastes like Sanka made with old Sanka water. I gave it to a homeless guy who said, "Sure! Why not?" like he was on vacation and somebody had offered him a bay cruise.

I still don't completely understand the poem, but here it is and I welcome all interpretations (which I will judge and dismiss heartily):

Outside History

There are outsiders, always. These stars--
these iron inklings of an Irish January,
whose light happened

thousands of years before
our pain did: they are, they have always been
outside history.

They keep their distance. Under them remains
a place where you found
you were human, and

a landscape in which you know you are mortal,
And a time to choose between them.
I have chosen:

Out of myth into history I move to be
part of that ordeal
whose darkness is

only now reaching me from those fields,
those rivers, those roads clotted as
firmaments with the dead.

How slowly they die
as we kneel beside them, whisper in their ear.
And we are too late. We are always too late.


Looking at it again, I believe that this poem is about the tension between associating herself with timelessness or with time, with myths or with history. Myths are timeless like stars, but History is "clotted as firmaments with the dead." And I'm pretty sure she's suggesting that "fields, . . .rivers, [and] roads" emanate darkness the way that stars emanate light, and that both reach us years after they happen.

[Which reminds me that a friend of mine cracked me up recently when he fake-justified not wearing sunscreen by saying that he didn't need to worry about it because "the light is all 8 years old and used up and shit."]

And I guess the darkness from history is reaching her now, and she's choosing to be "part of that ordeal." And she's watching things (is it just the "fields" etc.?) die slowly, knowing that because there is a lag between when things really happen and when they reach you. Thus, that's why "we are always too late."


So after I bought the book and I was walking down Columbus I saw a mural on the side of a building. Imagine a woman with a ponytail at the top of her forehead, and a waterfall of permed hair down the side of her head. Imagine her mid-80's purple blazer (shoulder pads) and an Italian guy in suspenders checkin' her out. I was shocked that this mural was not faded and old, but had been either recently painted or at least maintained, which meant that someone thought it still looked good.

Rosalie's New Looks is a wig shop/full salon that has been open since 1957. When I walked in, it was dusty and a large Italian woman was sitting in a barber chair reading a magazine. There was an enormously fat, long-haired, gray cat in the other barber's chair next to her. And an old skinny Italian guy with a cross around his neck. The shop was full of mannequin heads and wigs, sticky costume jewelry, and stuff. Rosalie told me about the $5 earring deals.

"How much is a haircut?" I said

I'm a sucker for getting my haircut in a weird, fucked-up place. I hate the hegemony/guilt/corporate feeling of most salons, and they cost too damn much. It reminds me of going to the dentist. For years I had my friends cut my hair, until my elder friend Billie (who got me half my wardrobe out of the Mercy Family Plaza dumpster) just went chop-chop randomly to the back of my head. I had my haircut at an Asian place that just sliced at it with a razor blade. My favorite hairdresser until now was the bad-ass, brave tranny lady who wore ocean-animal collage t-shirts with the sleeves cuffed just-so.

Rosalie charges $30, which is totally reasonable to me. I was ready right then, so she pointed at the old guy and said "Leo, can you wash her?" Leo took me into a crowded, dark room with a hair washing chair. I think Leo didn't talk, like, in general, because when he dropped a lid and it made a really loud crashing sound, he just like held his hand out and shook it, like "oops!". Right before I leaned back, I realized I didn't have any cash on me, and thank god I asked Rosalie, cause they don't take credit cards.

But I went back yesterday and Rosalie's daughter, who I thought was a drag queen at first, cut my hair. Maria was wearing a black leather cabbie hat and her eyeliner was shaped like two tildes that almost converged in a v in the center of her nose. Her skin was all leathery and she was wearing dark, heavy foundation and matte coral lipstick. And she was really nice and cut my hair excellently.

Maria worked quickly and she was not the least bit tender. She jerked my head around, pulled my scalp away from the skull when she brushed my hair, and clamped the hot iron so close to my face I'd flinch. At one point I yanked away when it touched my ear. She didn't apologize, and I admired her. I only had an hour on my parking meter.

The best part of the whole thing were the different photographs of Rosalie and her family throughout her life that were pasted on the mirror and in frames everywhere. There were pictures of Rosalie's grandchildren with her in the background, heavy and sporting a high, pyramid-esque ponytail. There was a memorial photo of her son who had died in 2002 at 31 "after a long illness" according to the obituary. There were photos of Rosalie before then, thinner and happier looking. An awkwardly written newspaper article ("So come to Rosalie's New Looks for your Saturday night party") from probably ten years ago with a photograph of Rosalie in a Marie Antoinette wig. A 40s-ish Rosalie with her husband, her sitting on a diving board in shorts with thick, great legs and, of course, perfectly styled short hair-sprayed hair. Rosalie in the early 70s, busty and shapely in an immaculate white pantsuit with a black-and-white polka-dotted collar, with long, thick, smooth hair. And then there was a thin, cute girl in a fur wrap and short heat-set curls with an older man's wrinkled hands wrapped over hers. And finally, baby Rosalie sitting still and expressionless in her mama's lap.

A friend of mine lived in Italy and told me that the sickest thing he heard about was "Sicilian Divorce." This is where a man, living in an uber-Catholic society that doesn't condone divorce, pays to have his wife murdered so that he may remarry. He explained that old Italian men spend their time sitting out on the street corner playing games and ogling ladies, but that he felt sorry for old Italian women. He said old Italian women turn into trolls. I told him that was mean.

But then I saw how baby Rosalie changed from a sweet little sharp-elbowed girl in pin curls to the the mother of a dead son and the matron of a dusty drag queen supply store.


And I guess now when I think about sitting amidst all the mannequin heads from different decades, and seeing how something like a woman's bone structure, i.e. her bones, can be trendy, I see why Boland would say:

Out of myth into history I move to be