Friday, 26 February 2010


tell it like it is

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Whoopee! Kapow! Woof!

Whoopee! Kapow! Woof! The girl in the diamond tiara hitched a freebie in the back of the ice-cream van. She promised sprinkles and carnations and accordion solos, so they picked her up outside the 7 11 and went on their way. They were going to tour the Northern coasts and become a band of lovers, mutants and bejewelled outlaws. All the promises of tax returns and plastic recycling programmes and buy-life-get-life-free had been bringing them down. It was time to move on. Whoopee!

They brought with them a full-sized stuffed tawny owl and a bucket of flying saucers and a handbag filled with superlatives they could bring out if things started getting too ordinary. They carried their official documents in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle packed lunch box which they were sure would pass the tests of theft and fire. The plan, so far as these things can be planned, was to find a new home which was amenable to the parade, the freak show and the firework display. The plan was to make a pact with the coyotes and discover the vowel sounds which speak to the moon. They were going to stare at the sea through 3D glasses and see if they could work out its depths and they were going to fire rockets crafted from tinfoil and Bakelite and see if they could shoot a hole in the sky.

If it really came to it and the world decided to rear up like a Mongolian Wild Horse, the clouds mushrooming and the mountains collapsing, they figured they would have the best chance. If the zombies began mutating and the mammoths rose up from the ice caves, they might have a chance if they were versed in caps lock and infinity and neon ideas. This wasn't just about conspiracy theories and apocalyptic survival though. There was another payoff too: the Whoopee! the Kapow! and the Woof! When it gets down to it, that's all any of this is really about.

What this is really about is the grinners. The honest-hearted lothario and the cupcake space cadet and the girl in sequinned hotpants who says the word “wheee!” This collection of noises is about the whistle-stop kiss and the ruby-haired rent boy and flash and peep of pink lace. These symbols, they are here to represent the tricksy slippery ludicrous path which leads to trouble. The only thing worth causing in the world: trouble, trouble in its headdress and mischief, trouble without a care. Trouble worth riding to the ends of the earth for, in an ice-cream van playing rain dance music through a plastic speaker on the roof.

Take the baton, encrust it in rubies and tar it with feathers, make off with the yea-sayers, make out with the soothsayers. Be a horseriding princess on the Appalachian Trail. Be excited about where this story is going. Kapow! Hold your breath. The skyline has started to explode. Aren't you glad to be here at the end of it all?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

a hopeful romantic

Always I have been stupid and dreamt of pinatas and voodoo and tiaras and pyramids and mystic wonderment that comes from the loins and the looks and the backward glances. Hopeless hopeless romantic mind, always wet and dreamy with thoughts that do no good. It's a lot of fun and it's hard to keep alight in the daylight hours, but whenever it comes to the red-drenched hour when the princesses dance and the outlaws bring tequila and whisper gorgeous lies, I realise I haven't died yet and I am ecstatic. There are things that I want and they come from outer dimensions where I believe in lazers and kissing and a milky-way-galatical tracer trail built from a bride's trickle of roses. I think it is possible to build a snowman out of lily petals, lipsticked ringpulls and UHU glitter glue. I think it is possible to build a relationship out of longing for the solar system. I think that I Want always gets if you really want, if you know how to ask, if you're willing, if you do. I think a lot, and I crackle and wince, and I know that it is not real if it doesn't glow fuchsia under the moon, if it cannot levitate over the Igauzu falls screaming pitfalls at eagles, if it doesn't know the meaning of strange.

What do I want? I haven't joined the dot-to-dots yet. I'm getting closer. I know about buildings so tall that your centre of gravity does the loop-the-loop of first kisses and rollercoaster love. I know about a skyline that learned to undulate and twinkle like viper vines crawling desperate to the sky. I know about baked alaska and torn lace and broken lightbulbs and I know how it feels to be broken, how it feels to devastate, how it feels to be pushed and pinched and punched. I know how it feels to believe truly that you are about to die and I know how it feels to want to draw blood, fistily and momentarily. I have tucked these things away in a pirate's trunk and promised myself I will not forget, and when I know, I will ask, and I will get.

I believe that the moon is crafted from the cremation dust of Pharaohs and I believe that shooting stars are wandering the universe looking for their way home. I believe in Prometheus. I believe that there are secrets hid deep under our layers of flesh and I believe we can excavate each other like drunken architects foraging for the hidden truth. I believe we probably shatter things in the process that should never have been shattered but I also know that it's ok, it's the only way.

Sometimes, it is embarrassing and teenage and I wonder how it would feel to be blasé. I think about cynical words and about being older and wiser. I pretend sometimes that I am, but when I rummage deep I find that my heart is built of shattered jadestones and torn fishnets and a field of dandelions that whirl clocks to the sky like a tornado. Hopeful romantic, always. With a sack of disguises and a ticket to the next place.


Sleep late and wallow. For now you're allowed. Breathe. Swallow. Learn to write again. Package the experiences you had in a plastic bag and suffocate till you feel the wriggle and kick.

A boy sneezed three times and told me I was too pretty, it turned him allergic. I fell for this line because I fall for any line. We kissed until his girlfriend screamed. Once again, I didn't know. I never know. But the girls blame the girls like Medusa. The girls fight with claws, the boys get the kisses.

It's so funny to type with a wedding ring. I never wear jewellery, though I love to be adorned. Maybe my husband will never come home. I don't know where the words are today.

There are words like cataclysmic and rapier and rabid and whoosh. These are words for this year. No more napping and no more distractions and no more making do. You are not second best any more. You are running in a gossamer toga, ripping on twig branches, drawing blood, but taking first place at the Olympic Ball. You are nice, really.

I tell you this because you need to hear it from somewhere. I write it down to make it true for the records. I write it because this is all I have got. Lady wordsmith, make it true.

It was always the other ones who were assholes.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

all things considered

All things considered is the mantra here, when you fling into walls and plunge into mayhem and wake up terrified to turn over, scared to see who is breathing next to you. All things considered is what we whisper to ourselves when we are standing in the registry office and when our gums bleed. All things considered, you are doing great, you are doing great, you are doing fine. In the retelling of stories, all this will be hilarious. You don't need to cry on street corners and you don't need to be told. In one week you will be back in your bedroom, staring at peachy walls, wondering how you managed to keep upright all this time. You will be full of stories and you will vow to tone it down a notch, you will chew on your experiences and make them into fairytales. You will wonder if any of this really existed and you will vow to do it all over again. You only regret the things you don't do, right?

Sunday, 7 February 2010

assignment 40

Following Miranda July's assignment

(written in the hyperbolic midst of broken-heartedness)

Remedies for a broken heart:

Go somewhere else which doesn't smell like them and where their memories are not hiding. Another city is good. Another country is better.

Reapply your makeup. If you cry again, clean it off, and reapply. Repeat this until you are no longer crying. If you really can't stop, forget your eyes and apply red lipstick and sunglasses.

Listen to a mixtape someone else made for you (preferably a previous lover). If you have no mixtapes, call a friend and demand they make one for you. Remember that people will do whatever you ask them right now.

Write to the people who really care about you and ask they send you messages which explain how amazing you are and how pretty. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Confess that you have been broken.

Find good shoes and walk and walk. Across bridges is best, but also along clifftops, across mobbed junctions and up hills you can scream from. Find places that make you feel tiny. It is harder to be hysterical.

Cook good food for other people. Handling knives is good for heartbreak. So is eating.

Make eyes at strangers on the subway, in the strange city you have found yourself in. Blush and look away and get off at the next stop. Fantasise about what might have happened.

Read. Fiction is distracting.

Write. Words are cathartic.

Do not be hard on yourself when you do the things you said you wouldn't do (everyone with a broken heart does the things they say they won't do).

Find a friend who doesn't know the person who broke your heart and do whatever they suggest. Especially if it is the opposite of how you would heal yourself.

Don't worry about being a cliché. You're allowed.

another woman

I keep dreaming about what I think is not on my mind. In these dreams, she is always shy and forgiving and we are at a party. We end up sitting together away from the others and we are on drugs and everything moves in odd ways, hours pass in rapid succession. She is tactile and apologetic and full with happiness like a red balloon. We talk about what happened without naming names or saying words, and laugh about how silly it all seems now, and I always say “I didn't mean it, you know,” and she does. Together we are like two characters from a Mary Gaitskill novel, or Jane Bowles, at the corners that are left when women come together. I finally understand things about folded hands, and forgiveness, the kind of things I have always eschewed. In these dreams I am a nicer person and so is she. We talk about inane things under a canopy that nobody else understands. The canopy is woven by the things we have done with him, separately, and people who have not done these things do not understand why they bring us in, pull us close and tight and woven. We do not spit tacks. She passes me the drink with a palm that is small and soft and I drink it and we smile the secret smiles of women. I wake up and I feel comfortable and then I remember that this is all make-believe. She doesn't like me and she probably never will. I don't have the words to candy the cracks. I wake up thinking “I didn't mean it, though” and it is true and I wonder if she knows. And I wonder if she ever wakes up nestled into his cricks and thinking of me.

Saturday, 6 February 2010


"Then we went to have ice cream under a green-and-white-striped umbrella. A living sea of pigeons boiled and ate bread at our feet. I looked at them and for a moment the world became strange to me. Then I remembered it had always been strange. I had a dish of pistachio gelato and remembered that the first time I met a model, I didn't even know she was beautiful"
Mary Gaitskill

Thursday, 4 February 2010

where I am happy

I am sitting at the bar at El Quijote, on a high-top stool with my feet dangling. My feet look good because they are in new red and black leather cut out boots with pencil straps around the calves. I have been looking at my feet all day in window panes since I bought the boots in the Salavation Army store on East 23rd St. Every time I catch a glimpse they make me smile. The boots are equal parts foxy and ridiculous.

The barman makes drinks so strong they don't fit into a martini glass. They are pure liquor. He waits with the cocktail shaker until the cherry is barely floating, and then tops it up back to the brim. He gives us free calamari and talks in an accent. He is pleased with our choice of drinks.

Sitting at the bar at El Quijote makes me happier than almost anything else in the world. The room is suffused in a soft dim lighting and all the tablecloths are perfect and white and starched. There are fixings cast in burnt gold and men who wear cufflinks. It smells like lobster. Sitting at the bar I do not need to prove anything to anyone in the world. There is nothing sordid. The barman folds a clean white paper napkin underneath my drink where it overflowed. In the bathroom, the sinks are inlaid with porcelain patterns and painting of flowers. I am warm and safe and slipping gently into a diffusive drunk, a drunk which is padded at the edges and does not throw up in subway cars.

When I drink at the El Quijote I feel like a character in an F Scott Fitzgerald novel. I am debonair and beautiful and my feet dangle from the bar stool. I can say anything I please. I am safe as a work of fiction and I talk about my life in grandiose and abstract terms. Chris feeds me forkfuls of squid and I hold forth at the bar, and the stories I have take on epic and heart-wrenching dimensions. I realise everything I am saying is True. I fold the room warm and close around my shoulders and think about the starched corners of handkerchiefs dabbing at the corners of eyes. Perfect white corners left moist and blackened.

I think of myself as an old old woman living in the Chelsea Hotel. I will come here every night and drink a Manhattan, I will subsist on lobster. They will know my order and they will keep for me a small table in the back corner, because by then my days of sitting at the bar and swinging my heels will be long gone. Though, I will still eat the glace cherry as I finish my drink and look carefully at the barman through my heavily made-up eyes.

If I ever live out this fantasy, I know when I walk past the line of barstools I will think back to these days when everything seemed so epic and intense and I will chortle. By then I will have lived through so many things that this time will be a distant and faded curiosity, like an old diary entry where the ink has faded away. I will look peculiar on the tears and bit-finger joys and shake my head at how foolish life is, then I will turn back to my overflowing drink, and sip it quietly until my entree arrives.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


sorry, right now this is all I got

Monday, 1 February 2010

the end of something recent


She hadn't planned on returning, but she changed her mind. She hadn't planned on it because the time she had spent here before had drawn out long and lonesome like a heart monitor on a dying man. She changed her mind because there were also the Stat! moments, the points where everything flared up and illuminated for a moment before reclining into quiet again. During these moments she was happy, of course, but later when she turned over them in her mind they took on epic, glorious propensities far in excess of the moments themselves. So she came back. When things were normal she missed that feeling that perhaps her heart could crumble.

The decision wasn't finalised until some time after she landed. She did not return definite on causing vengeance. She was thinking about riding the subways, wondering about blowing kisses, waiting to see if somebody, somewhere, would notice.

Nobody stopped her. Nobody told her she wasn't supposed to be here and nobody agreed she was, and she walked northwards with nobody paying attention apart from the one homeless guy who echoed up Lexington Avenue, hey beautiful, hey, beautiful! and then the corners and curbs began to unravel.

At the water, where the Staten Island ferry leaves Downtown, the moon hung heavy and twinkled like a tropical disco ball, beams reflecting. A boy and a girl held hands. He told her he had never met anyone like her before, never, and they sipped from a paper-bag bottle, thinking about forever. Below the surface the temperature rose and the fish began to sweat. The currents crackled and dragged.

The girl reached Times Square and climbed up the red-lit staircase. All around her the screens stretched up to the heavens and flashed a cornucopia of neon. She watched a Korean man stand, thumbs aloft, posing in front of advertisements. She wallowed in the colours and felt bad, for a moment. Then she peeled back the surface and pressed her fingers on the button.

Somewhere the ball dropped and the windows of the Empire State building started to peel off in the breeze like post-it notes in a stop-motion animation. They fluttered into the sky and furled out, head-over-heels, until they reached the ethers. The shell of the building squatted its shoulders and poised like a rocket, prepared for take-off. On the cross-streets people hugged their children close as the city dissolved.

The television screens turned to liquid and the stockmarket dribbled down the drains, and lumps of colour and shoe commercials and celebrity imprints floated away like bubbles in a lava lamp. The air smelled of burnt tires and permanent makers and popcorn husks. It was quieter than you would expect at the end of the world. Wide-eyed lovers held their breath and waited.

It was a gentle apocalypse. When the smoke and daggers cleared from the air, the inhabitants of the city found themselves seated on a sandy peninsula. The ground was soft and glittered, and ran through the fingers like hourglass promises. Nobody got hurt.

The sky was swirling like the Aurora Borealis, like fire and brimstone, like pink candyfloss materialising around the stick.

Somewhere around the Great Bear, a comet exploded blowing kisses at the constellations.

It was time to start again.

feb 1st

Start again. Pretend this never happened. Take out your tippex and daub it thick over the past month. Purse your ruby lips and blow.

When the white paste dries, you can walk over it again. Start with the whispered two-step of a stage-shy ballerina. Use your toes. Remember how it feels to move your legs. Feel them twitch: they will tremble, they will feel unsure. But you've never forgotten how to dance.

Catch the day on an updraft. Be generous. Let your rancid thoughts go like a flock of bristly-eyed pigeons. Clap loud, and make them flee.

Don't forget that you still exist. Grind footsteps into the snow and write marker pen haikus on the outside of subway cars. You don't need to bleed to prove you are real. You don't need to crouch and be beaten to get your insides clean.

Stop thinking about what has been done. Write a love letter to an abandoned factory, send diamonds in the mail to your bridges, fall head-over-heels with the orange moon that sits atop the skyline and whispers about infinity.

Stop drying your eyes with pot scrubbers. Blink carefully.

Everything is going to be ok.