213 to 212


semi-autobiographical
creative writing 
new york and los angeles.
isolation, identity, autonomy, globalism.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

in the photo

my eyes were sunken, framed by protruding cheekbones. barely there eyebrows rounded out the look. a goofy smile so sad you couldn’t bear to laugh. she was in the hospital again. This time I took her there. I stayed up all night until a sleepy med student stiched her up under the blue grey lights as she lay passed out in the bed. Six hours after we arrived the med student sent her off to that other floor. This time they managed to keep her six days. I don’t think I ever realized it was real until now. I didn’t know what to do. I had no money so I didn’t eat. I visited every day not ever knowing what to say even though I’d been there myself, years earlier. I brought her magazines and mix CDs and cigarettes in silence and nodded to her parents when they passed me on the way out. I guess I still had some sincerity left at that point. I hadn’t been attacked. I parked in all the garages and listened to Kanye West’s track with the Dialated Peoples. A strange calmness blanketed the nights I spent alone in our apartment. I did my homework and our dog slept in my lap. One time I forgot she wasn’t there and tried to talk to her. It was before she was mean to me. She was still lashing out at her mom. She hadn’t turned on me yet but she would.

diary of a summer

diary of a summer


lax + 2 days
So we went to coffee late Friday. He showed up in a black sweater and jeans. Hot. We danced around important topics and found a lot of fun and interesting things to say on less personal subjects. I’m afraid its not meant to be. That scares me. I tallk to him about everything but I cant tell him how I feel, that I think we are the moon and the stars, together always.

After the sand
We did the late night missed call thing two nights in a row before meeting up. I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know how I feel. Upset and sad and distrusting and confused. He told my friend and I that we looked beautiful. We giggled a lot. We ended up talking until 5:30 am. He was disappointed that he didn’t get a date with a dancer. I was hiding my disappointment about a guitarist. I wasn’t going to rub it in but he had to. Did he even know he was making me jealous? I don’t think so. To assume he was trying to make me jealous is fairly selfish. He also said im one of the only ppl he wants to talk to. Does that mean anything?

1st and vignes
Its always such a mess, the lingering hand, the clumsy hug. No more words can get us past it now, we have to trust the feeling and maybe there is no feeling. He touched my hip, my back, my shoulder and I cringed, shivered really, with each connection of flesh. I want him so badly it hurts and he hurts me back, asking for numbers, dancing. He doesn’t care . He never did. I burn on with passion, a flame for an empty eternity. The hunger never ceases. The drive never disappears. I told him I subvert my own happiness for pleasure. He didn’t seem pleased or surprised. I wanted to tell him, you can tell me anything but I didn’t. I just don’t know anymore. I just want it. I am at a limit. I need to open my mind to more possibilities. There no longer seems to be a possibility of him and I can’t accept that yet. Beautiful porcelain skin and sweaty brown hair completely out of place because he danced all night but not with me. Makes me wanna cry. Why do I do this to myself? Will I ever be skinny enough to realize its not about being skinny?

part deux: mano a mano
How many times can a heart be broken? How many days since I started smoking again? I grab a pen and try to write instead I cry. If im lucky all this fucking makes me crazy and I cant get enough. Touch my hip, stroke my bones, help me feel less alone, nothing but extreme hotness is possible. and it was already hotness. hot weather, hot outfits and sexy friends flagging us down before we made it in the door. my hair hung in golden tangles. the dark room initially felt cool and I had to grab a drink to keep that feeling. just one.
I wanna fucking tear you apart the song screamed and our bodies touched gently at first before gyrating to the furious beat. had my life really turned into a fucking whitestarr song? I wanted to fuck him right then and there. or maybe just feel his lips on mine. whatever. what if last night was just an extension of a dream? I am so upset and sad and exhilarated.
maybe that’s whats fucked up, he’s more like my crazy mom than I realized. I need the pills ands the doctors but I’m living in fear and denial, its nailed me to the wall. I’d rather be bones and hips and crazy sisters and too many Tostitos than a real person who loves and feels with her whole heart. for all my talk I certainly am waiting for someone else to start my life. I feel accountable but to who? every day a new beginning tainted with the transgressions of the night before. not four hours earlier we poured our hearts out but the plexiglass filter never really left the conversation and now I’m empty inside, swimming in useless flesh on the outside.

showtime
girls in this scene are beautiful and disposable. I told the guy as he tried to touch my face. no he said, youre beautiful. tell it to the lead singer, I wanted to tell him. I smiled and groaned inwardly at how drunk the man was. the people I had just met gave me a weird look like why are you talking to this freak and they resumed their conversation. I just kept chatting, hoping to be rescued. Finally T found me and we made nice until the drunk man left.
I can’t see you many more times. it would be stupid to try. I’ll have to settle for looking at you through a perfect photgraph, the kind where every glint of light tears at your heart and every smile and line is perfectly drawn, like a dream, where the flounce of the skirt frames the legs perfectly and the waist isn’t slouched, the chin not doubled, the eyes calm and happy. the perfect night capped by the perfect photo to tease you into one more conversation that will go nowhere.

the world turned into trees
and its over. summer that is. the last time I saw you I almost died. I couldn’t even look at you barely. you looked too good in the moonlight, standing on my street. we must have hugged eight times in five minutes, touching as much as possible, breathing heavily, not letting go at any cost until I just had to.

ascension

amidst the dry hills i raced against a hundred cars. between pairs of red lights I felt shallow breaths and a tightening in my chest pulled west by a shrinking moon. I danced carefully around my old scars, lost my words to the wind. I know why I raced from you those nights. I needed her to get up in the morning the way you said you needed me. together we ignored each other's presence. I turned to cement on a cold freeway but I do not shatter when tossed about. I've got no roots to give me away. I've got no desire to stay.

every day passes through me like a window. rip shred twist spinning blade leaves a wake of grass. pairs of tennis shoes slap the pavement occasionally interrupted by a dog's bark. traffic rushes below against the stillness of the hudson. every body wants a cigarette and money for mcdonalds. we wind through the wet city streets smelling, searching, breathing. as close to silent as it gets in new york city.

in a windowless room I wrote my existence. I wrote of lazy orange sunsets and sidewalks covered in sand. fishermen who cast their lines past the rocks that lined the banks of the narrow channel, unaffected by diesel fumes from a constant parade of yachts in and out of the marina. kayakers battled to stay upright amongst the intersecting wakes of larger boats. across the water sat the area's last shred of preserved wetlands and just beyond, the tiny faded apartments and bars and cafes of playa del rey nestled quietly against the bluffs. we sat on the beach and ran our toes through the sand and watched silver 747s slowly ascend from the bluffs up into an endless pacific sky.

palm leaves nudge my arm, empty sidewalks whisper hello. I feel their hot dry santa ana breath on my neck and then a tug of ocean at my heel, relief. on the drive home grains of sand splay across my car windshield. diamonds. I find her under the shade of a palm tree, hidden from the gritty streets of venice by a faded wooden gate. she is sprawled across a bench littered with camel lights and a wrinkled copy of glamour magazine. I'm scared. That night she leans on me, tipsy from tequila shots, and i don't pull away from her touch and she notices. I used to wish i could still pretend she was different.

my grandmother died on a wednesday morning, in her room at an assisted living center. we held a service the following monday. by then the heat of the previous weekend had dissipated and left a crisp blue sky in its wake, framed by crumbling hills and coral trees.

enough

I wanted to forget her and everything that happened last year. i came so close until a cold night on chrystie street sent me crashing back into the past. the reality of all the years that i tried to forget played out yet again on a crumbling new york sidewalk. smashed me to the ground, I struggled to breathe through smoky air and the scents of gin and vodka tonics. I felt like I was reliving my worst memories, willingly. He showed me photos of the beach on his camera phone and talked about his dog. That night brought back so many more memories than I could handle. If its not a knife, it’s a boy or a girl or a cigarette, the choke of a thousand pounds of jewelry or the pinch of too-high heels.

I can’t listen to music without losing myself in the sound. I just want something to hold onto a little harder that won’t hurt me back in the process. I thought that after taking time off, working on myself, and learning to breathe deeply, I could handle the sounds and the memories again but I was wrong. I can handle the idea of her but not the reality. the idea seduces but disappears in seconds. the reality overwhelms me and makes me want to run as far as possible in the opposite direction. I caught myself thinking of her in the middle of the night, dreaming that we'd reconnected. I remember faster now why I don't want that to happen. two years ago I tried again to ignore her. months passed and no lovers lasted and we met again and again and the leaves changed. two months into winter and I felt too comfortable drowning in our drama. I went to san francisco and walked along streets lined with narrow pastel houses and I tried to be patient. by spring every time I walked out of her apartment I felt sad. she fought me with sharp words disguised as confusion. I didn't understand what was so wrong but I understand now. I need to hit that red blinking ignore button on my phone, or shut it off entirely, and avoid the temptation to pretend her words meant anything at all.

made of light

under the same moon and watching the same stars. even when we're together I feel like we're still so far apart. you look at me and smile. why don't you waste your time just a little bit longer tonight? we'll sit and stare on the edge of the world, now can we stop being polite. I already know why i think of you. I don't want to stop. what if we never came back? Im scared to find out. daybreak brings surprise too fast; nothing lasts. soaked up by the heat of the sun each second fades too quickly into the past.

welcome to los angeles. u can't imagine this. we redefine the scandalous. we just pretend its glamorous. one fake nail at a time. djs ask me to sample this. moving shadows pass whispered directions in the dark. shrink into walls to miss the light from passing cars. this is not the city that you see on tv. this is latex vinyl robots no reciprocity. moving at an unchartable velocity. with no concept of destination. no question, this is an alien nation so take a permanent vacation on a suicide drive-by. no meaning in reality
no time to watch tv. candlelight and chandeliers sand and faded ocean piers blowing kisses blowing years, ain’t gotta overcome your fears they're real. angels from the streetlights shone down on all the stars and protected us from danger as we walked the boulevard. taxis sang of constellations. we surrendered our imagination. danced alone in a garage.

america

america has running water and homeless women with cancer. america has starbucks. I went to starbucks in london. they served my lattes in ceramic mugs every time. america has paved streets and jc penney. dollar stores sell the same gold earrings. america has trains and airports and coupons in the mail. america has shelters but it’s still safer to sleep near 59th street. america has public service announcements where teenagers dance with cartoon babies at columbus circle to tell you don't smoke. where are the models in those commercials? america has trees and canyons and billionaires and street people that sell comic books.

"in my country," crows the dollar store proprietor to no one in particular, "you want to die, you die. you want to party, you party. no one stops you like here." I nod and squeeze past him in the narrow aisle housing school supplies and cleaning products.

erin showed me a fake textbook with jon stewart on the cover and told me she got two summons for standing in front of mcdonalds. “I told them at least let me make some money first” she said indignantly and I tried to look appropriately disgusted. She gave me a ring in the UPS store once, a faceted oval of rose quartz set in sterling. I didn’t want to take it but I was holding up the line and then she disappeared. She can’t go to the park anymore so sometimes she sleeps on the train. Other times, I don’t know where she sleeps. Last Easter, she gave me a bag full of brand-new dog clothes from Toys R Us. I didn’t know what was appropriate, and I didn’t know what I could afford, so finally I put a twenty in an envelope and carried it in my purse until I saw her. When I first met Erin she had stopped to pet my dog. When I found out she was homeless, I tried not to treat her differently, but it was still different. i stopped trusting my judgement of situations like that because I couldn’t tell if she was just nice to me or if I needed to be more careful.

Friday, September 26, 2008

my name is venice

My name is Venice. I like to think that my parents named me after venice beach but they actually named me after the “real” venice in italy where I was concieved on their honeymoon. My mom says she had never even heard of venice beach until I was a teenager and started hanging out on the boardwalk with my friends. I find that pretty strange but then again on the boardwalk you meet some people who have yet to hear of venice, italy so I guess it all evens out.

I grew up in the shadow of the Santa Monica mountains, about eight blocks from the beach. I just moved to New York from Los Angeles for the second time in eight years. My love affair with LA burned into my soul until I had to get out. By the end I couldn’t remember if my life in Los Angeles ever really existed. Once I left, however, the memories returned in bits and pieces triggered by song fragments and old t-shirts. After a few months I began to remember more. I’d happen upon a review of an LA band’s New York show, or read a biography of a rock star strewn with references to the 90s and stories from the past would crowd my head, stories that I once would have dismissed as recurring dreams, but that started to line up with dates and outfits and friends’ accounts. Soon my LA memories became undeniably true.

Twelve years ago I met Summer. Together we ventured out into Hollywood, armed with condoms and cigarettes and flasks and barely fourteen years old. We’d hit the all ages punk clubs and dance for awhile and then go hang around outside the 21+ clubs hoping to score an invite to an afterparty.

In November 1996 we showed up at the Whisky to see a headlining gig by Republica. Thick black eyeliner contrasted against our ivory skin; steel-toed docs and fishnets balanced out our skintight black miniskirts. Summer’s hair had streaks of black and purple. My blondish curls gave way to jagged blue highlights. We looked like lost dolls that might sprout wings or claws at any minute. The bouncer let us in the all-ages venue and we kept our reactions to a minimum in an effort to look jaded. Summer clasped my hand and we wandered through the spotty crowd to the dirtiest bathroom I’d ever seen. Band stickers and grafitti covered every inch of wall space and someone had scratched FUCK into the foggy mirror. A dim light hung precariously over the sink. Summer hoisted herself up onto the sink to sit, crossed her legs, and leaned into the mirror to reapply her lip liner. “Let’s hit on the opening band.” She drawled. “The drummer is cute.”
“Deal.” I dabbed at my skin with a tissue. Summer hopped off the sink and we were out.

Los Angeles screams possibility and reinvention on every street corner. Get an agent, take new headshots, get PAID to be an extra. Sell your screen play. Hardcore band needs bassist/vocalist. Learn to DJ. Lose weight FREE! Constant reinvention leaves little time for reflection. Beneath the chaos exists a harmony that integrates 10 million souls searching for paradise or that big chance or the right bus to take home. I sensed that harmony on a subconscious level but the chaos of opportunity infiltrated my teen and twentysomething aspirations and without ever knowing it I began to take the harmony for granted.

Every city exists on some kind of harmony to balance the diverse needs of a growing, demanding population. It develops when the difficulties inhabitants face from the free-for-all chaos of unregulated growth are met with an entrepreneurial economy offering practical solutions.


and these proposed solutions fit neatly within their respective subcultures.
New York throws shadows on LA’s smoggy exultations.

My best friend’s name is Summer and when we go out people always say, Summer and Venice, what are you two, a couple of hippies? Which I find extremely hilarious because Summer has never had a hippie phase and mine lasted barely two months of 1998. I met Summer in ninth grade. She was the only girl who had purple streaks in her hair. Summer took me to see L7. We slam danced and got doused with cheap beer. We left covered in grime and sweat and bruises from the mosh pit.

City life in Los Angeles is marked by a change so continual that the concept of change becomes nonexistant

The weather is perfect every day: sunshine with a coastal layer of morning fog. One day in August the fog didn’t burn off and everyone was upset. What’s wrong with this weather? They asked, unaccustomed to any deviation from the normal pattern, however slight. On that day I looked up and thanked God that I was not in New York, where a day of moderate temperatures and zero humidity would be a rare blessing in the late summer months. I guess what they say in those old country songs is true: you can never truly love something until you leave it.

I never knew I loved the dark silhouettes of palm trees against an opal sunset sky until they all went missing from my daily view, replaced by monochrome steel and stained concrete. Hell, I never even noticed how clean the sidewalks in LA were until I spent a couple summers traipsing around the New York streets in flip flops only to find the soles of my feet as dark as asphalt at the end of each day. New York sparkles with its dirt: the glint of a skyscraper in afternoon light, the shiny puddles that refract the light of Times Square after a summer rain. LA sparkles when the Santa Ana winds splay grains of sand across car windshields, when staring too hard at the ever-present sun burns shimmering diamonds into your vision, and when a chance encounter over coffee offers the fleeting possibility of selling a screenplay or landing a reality show. LA sparkle cannot be quantified or even captured on film. Unlike the weather, it changes constantly until the only constant is change. It is the magic of a marquee that remains long after the letters have been changed, the sound of a guitar in the canyons long after the echo has faded, the slight sting that remains on your skin after the splash of a salty wave has recededed into the Pacific.

New York change buries itself into your body like dirt under your fingernails and on the worn soles of your boots that always need to go to the shoemaker. it's tangible, depressing to some, an excuse to scrub up for others, or a reminder of history. we fought that revolutionary battle here george washington came up from harlem or something and the british were hanging out up top of the hill...or maybe it was the other way around. anyway it was winter and there was shooting and people died and that damn battle was fought on what now is a couple of blocks of college campuses littered with flyers and cigarette butts and last year's textbooks. i'm glad i don't live there anymore. no sage cleansing could rid the place of that, if sage were even allowed in dorms.

About Me

My Photo
Influences besides NY&LA: Francesca Lia Block, Mary, Courtney Love, Janet Fitch, Casey & Nick, Lindsay, My sisters, Rachel, Jessica, Melina, Gabe, Annie, Peggy Ellsberg & the Ells Girls aka Meli Julie & Sherrie, Jenny, Bob Dylan, Suede, Shirley Manson, Heidi Sigmund Cuda, Gwen Stefani, Bad Religion, Beyond Scents, thrift stores, JetBlue & the Airtrain, Telluride, Faith Hill, Peeps, Pete Wentz