Monthly Archives: February 2011

How to Take It Like a Man

The other day, en route to my bank in 90210, a man teased me on the phone:

“You gotta write about the ways of V:  all so tough at first, then turns into a pussycat!”  (That kid had seen me in action:  Years ago, I shot him down at his first approach.  But the playa was persistent, courted me, and eventually managed to hit that; but I was never able to outlive the anecdote of my arrogant brush-off.) 

On the phone, the mister began to hum, “Got a black magic woman / Got a black magic woman”; while on my end, a lightening of flashbacks from previous failed pick-ups snapped me out of the conversation. 

“I do that!”  I thought.

So many times, so many men have witnessed my Not in Your Lifetime expression, followed by the back of my head.  Sometimes, I cushion the rejection with a lie:

“I have a man, thanks,” while I know there ain’t anyone waiting for me in my bed.

But there were also situations when my rebuff was much more brutal:

“You can’t afford me—I can tell by your shoes!”

Or, my overused favorite: 

“Trust me:  You can’t handle me!”

“Don’t turn your back on me, baby,” my comrade was now getting carried away on the phone, in a one-man show, being all cute ‘n’ shit.  I hung up.  But the idea lingered:  Why do I shoot ‘em down so quickly?

I parked my wheels in a residential area and began walking.  (I am not having my brand spanking new ride get scratched up in a clusterfuck of some lame Beverly Hills parking lot—at the privilege of two bucks a minute!)  At every pedestrian crossing, I stared down at the stressed-out drivers inside their luxury rides just to make sure it was alright to get in their way that afternoon.  Most of them raised their hands in surrender:  “My bad.  Didn’t see you.”  Others rolled their eyes and jabbed their arms in a flabbergasted, passive-aggressive “Go already!”  Life unfolds at its own pace when you coexist in this desired zip code—but no one said that pace would be gentle or charitable.  Just navigating the last two blocks, I’ve lost track of my thoughts prior to all of this negotiation and attitude.

“Can you spare some change?”  A toothless homeless man brought me back to reality. 

Where he parked his actor’s chair was a money-making spot:  At the only elevator of the biggest parking lot in this darn zip code which, at a minute interval, spat out and ate up every possible demographic visiting the world-famous Drive.  So, this creature was working overtime:  granting women compliments, chatting up the suits about stocks, guiding the tourists to the biggest attractions, and tipping off the razzi on the whereabouts of lunching celebrities. 

It’s not the first time I’ve seen him here; and when I do, the main thing—is to not slow down.  Sometimes, I am strong enough to just say, “No, sorry.”  But most of the time, I fake an animated conversation on my cell phone in order to avoid being interrupted by this aggressive earner.  That afternoon, however, he had already noticed me.  So, I whipped out my retro flip phone and pretended to text ferociously.

“Can you spare a dollar?”  The toothless regular was not buying my act.  More over, he raised his price.  

I raised my gaze, barely shook my head and resumed fake-texting.

“But I love you!”—the man was relentless.  His confession was not unconditional, though; because when I ignored it and leapt off the curb to make a mad dash for the opposite side of the road, my new courtier got very upset.

“Fuckinnnn’”—(he wound up his tongue, then spat out)—“BITCH!”

I wish I could say here, “I couldn’t believe it!” my comrades; or, utterly appalled, break it down as:  “Wait a minute:  I was walking… minding my business…”  But I’m afraid that my naïveté has recently been given some shock treatment, out of which it mostly likely will not be coming out—in this lifetime.  So, I’ll confess:  I was not as much as inspired to raise my eyebrow in a sliver of surprise or disappointment at this undeserved bit of violence; for I had seen better men lash out in rejection before. 

Which must be why I prefer to pass up my courtiers’ initial offers:  It tests a man’s character.  The less aware and mature ones retract into becoming children, as if throwing fits inside a toy store during a Christmas sale.  Others demand explanations; and sometimes, via self-deprecating humor, they may win me over—but I doubt it.  The third category of men hears me out, accepts my “no” with dignity and proceeds to watch me walk away.  It is that third type that tends be best-hung; and if I don’t come back to them to test my theory first-hand (about their balls), sometimes—just sometimes!—I end up regretting my passing them up.

My verdict, dear beings of the other gender:  You must accept a woman’s choice.  She knows what she wants.  No matter how much it shrivels your balls or regresses you to being the son of your unloving mother, a woman’s “no”—is not up for a renegotiation.  If she changes her mind after the initial rebuff—all the power to her!  But it is not in the realm of your acceptable behavior to act as if you know better what’s good for her.  So, why don’t we all just man up a little—while gratefully staring a her glorious vanishing ass—deal with the embarrassment on our own (or with the help of our shrinks) and wait for the next goddess to waltz into our vicinity who just may be game for our proposition?

Boy-Crazy

Balls out, comrades!  My man met my boys!

Our magnificent rendezvous was purely accidental yesterday, yet perfectly timed; because right around now have my friends began to wonder about the player smooth enough to keep V intrigued and ballsy enough to make a regular appearance on this “little rant blog” of mine.  (Special thanks here to my ex-fucker for belittling my writing with the above-mentioned tag.  Wait until my boys flip it and berate that arrogant twat!)  Anyway:  In all reality, it was no surprise to have all my favorite men of LA-LA-Land gather at this casual Brazilian hangout; for way too many mutual tales spring out of that joint.  Boo and I, however, are still in the midst of writing our memories, stamping them with the places we’ve explored together.  Yet in that vicinity, we’ve met for the first time, years ago.

Unpredictably, in the midst of yesterday’s casual afternoon with boo, one of my boys stormed in from behind me, swept me off my feet with his wings—and I was airborne:

“V!  What are you doing here?!”

Defying gravity on the neck of this 6-feet-plus soldier, in an embrace of overgrown children, I could not be happier.  But then, for a split second, I began to wonder about the reaction of my partner; so over the shoulder of the only man in my life I’ve called “my brother,” I looked for my man.  Quietly, he held his ground while waiting for his introduction, allowing for this love to unfold in an uncensored manner.  The introduction did follow very soon, after my petite body was released from the soul-recharging embrace.

“I’m Freddy!” my brother thrust forth his strong brown hand, his always genuinely smiling face and his grace that, as I’m convinced, springs from the lullabies he whispers to angels every night.  In return, my man—did his man-thing:  the nod, the shake, the name.  He didn’t need my help here; and suddenly, I got hit with the realization that I was being granted a rare privilege to watch grown men in action.  They were men when it came to negotiating the ways of the world; yet each of them I’ve witnessed in their Peter Pan modes—but this was not the place to get into my mama-V mode.

“Rara!  Where have you been?!” the runner-up favorite male creature of mine has arrived late (as fucking usual!) and repeated the whole V Hangs off the Neck of a God in a Homecoming Embrace routine.  For hours, this Latin boy child—my darling “Jaime” Dean—has delighted me less than a week ago (https://fromrussianwithlove.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/zen-and-the-art-of-going-down/).  Yet, as always, he acted as if distance and sad marriages have separated us for years—so child-like was his thrill to see me! so deprived and hungry was his ear!

The negotiation of a shared meal happened right out front of the Brazilian joint, with the dust of the perpetual Sunset constructions and mid-day heat of the sun getting in our eyes.  Soon, I realized that my place—was to hang back; because when in the company of these world-treading, motorcycle-riding, women-worshiping, art-creating, ground-breaking power-players-in-the-making, I was no longer taking the lead (as I do when navigating in the company of women).  Here, I was meant to lean back and watch shit be taken care of.  So, in surrender, my comrades (a speed that took me three decades to learn), I followed my tall, exotic creatures to our table, assumed my seat, tangled up my feet in my boo’s thighs, and got ready:  to watch, to study, to lap-up these new memories in creation and to re-fall in love with my loves.

Comrades!  How do I describe the utter delight in the stories of my ever-so-cool gypsy brother visiting our formerly shared city for just a few hours en route to his spontaneous trip to OZtralia?  And where in the world do I summon my Shiva for the dance of gratitude; because my brother, my witness, my spiritual equal has seen me both fallen and resurrected—yet he never judged?  And how do I paint for you my spit takes as Jaime Dean repeatedly broke everyone’s composure with his breathy delivery and authentic metaphors that only foreign-language speakers can master up (because we don’t give a damn about the rules)?  And pride with which I watched my man hold his own, funny and at ease—how do I write that, when it fails in comparison in all my former experiences?  Because truth be told, this astonishing young creature is the first to teach me about the natural pacing of relationships and the mandatory checking-in of one’s ego.  (I mean, the player gave me a book titled Zen and the Art of Falling in Love!  And I thought I knew everything.)  And how do I voice my heart’s aching in a silent prayer—for all of them—for their guardian angels to shield them from the nth losses of love or inspiration?

The event—was life-changing.  Picking up on that?

Half way through the meal, our table was crashed by yet another gypsy:  an Israeli bad-ass sporting a shaggy look of someone who doesn’t follow everyone else’s clock-determined schedule.  But by that point—V was just a pussycat, purring and arching her back in the company of the big, cool cats who have already sized each other up and reclined in a manner of having jack shit to prove.  And it made me wonder:  How do men learn to navigate the world?  Who teaches them to accept a woman’s chosen family and behold their dignity with such calm esteem?  Is the responsibility of fathers to teach their sons the healthy competition sans having to overcompensate for their lacks and lapses? I knew no answers; for despite having claimed my expertise in gender relations, yesterday was the first time I was humbled by the beauty of men.  I knew:  I’ve outgrown my grudges toward the other gender.  I have forgiven the mistakes of the unknowing few.  And I have surrendered to my curiosity toward the source of their grace; and, for the first time—became their equal.

The Ones that Have Slipped Away

As a writer:  I never lose my hard-on when staring at a blank page.  Yes, yes:  I’ve heard—and read—my colleagues moan and whine about the moodiness of their Inspiration; speaking of it as if it were an uncertain, bitchy young lover, coming around only when she’s horny.  Others have inquired about my daily discipline, fishing for an insider secret that I could bottle up for them.  Well, comrades:  there is none! 

A blank page, a blank stage; the loaded silence that looms after a film director hollers, “Rolling!”; the undisturbed white linens of my yet-to-be-lover’s bedroom—I dwell in the un-started.  I worship what hasn’t happened yet.  Because in those moments prior to creation—anything is possible, including a mind-changing beauty or a life-changing love. 

Oh, sure there are days, when words crawl out through the constipation of the mind with enough friction for my bystanders to overhear them.  Certain days, the ego—that fucking cunt!—gets in the way like a scrawny, yelping, hyper Chihuahua.  

“Get the fuck off my leg,” I battle with the annoying thing, eventually persevering via my brutal self-examination and zero tolerance for my self-pity.

So today, I am choosing to write about the blank pages of my love affairs that have never happened.  They almost did, with me and the other player breathing heavily in each other’s face, suspended in some hormonal high, ready to hit the sheets.  Yet, either the mind-sobering circumstances or the cunt of common sense would get in the way—and the two of us would walk, limp, or crawl away; never regretting an erred affair, yet always wondering about the missed-out moments of beauty. 

Here is to you, my blank pages of never-upon-a-time loves:

—To the pretty companion whose non-invasive tenderness and uncensored kindness yanked me out of the darkness of my failed marriage.  In those pre-divorce days of guilt and self-loathing, we met in a brutally cold city, just months after my chosen man threw in his towel.  The echo of his “I can’t… do this anymore!” still resonated under my heels with every step.  I was a woman on the run, a chaotic flight, doubling over on occasion to even-out my heart rate.  With my eyes drilling into the horizon where I planned to flee next, you were supposed to be my mere distraction.  Instead:  you were magnificent—

—To the man who bore a repeated name of my future lovers.  (Was I looking for you, in them?)  You engulfed me with your body, pinned me down with your strength and compassion.  How ever did you keep up with my schizophrenic needs of a deprived woman?  Between the guilt and the self-punishment, the need to be overwhelmed, the silent prayer for my mind to finally stop fluttering—you surfed with skill and patience; until all I could focus on was my breath.  And that—was your gift to me:  you gave me back my breath.  (Months later, you proposed a long-distance affair—and even a marriage—but I knew that what you’ve granted me was already enough.)—

—To the flamboyant Frenchman who intersected my path during the last days in the City.  This gypsy’s wagon has already departed for the opposite coast.  So, she traveled light; and you picked up on that:  my carelessness of the free, my unbearable lightness of the reckless, the non-attachment of a woman with nothing to lose.  

“Vould you like?  to make l’uv?” you didn’t even warm me up—just called it.  

I studied your exotic French-Liberian face, nearly tearing up from my gratitude that, even in the midst of my exaggerated tragedy, you found me beautiful.  And full of shit!  Because then you said what a French lover was supposed to say:

“You vorrý.  There iz eenough of zat in life, no’eu?  Vhy vorrý—in l’uv?”

We never happened.  But after you, love was a tricky possibility—

—To the shy boy whose mouth I devoured years ago at my chariot, after a mind-numbing, feet-blistering shift at a Hollywood lounge I’d rather forget.  A man young enough to be my brother, you stood with your callused hands fisted inside your pockets, studying your shuffling feet, like a five-year-old embarrassed about his first girl-crush.  You looked up at me occasionally—to touch my face with your hazel gaze; or to chuckle at the molecules of charged air between us—then resumed studying the gravity of the ground that kept holding us in place.  When finally you leaned in and clumsily brushed your lips on my eyelids, in the darkness of the broken street light, I searched for your lips and bit them.  You tasted like cinnamon.—

—To the cowboy whose sexuality blended with my own like honey at the bottom of a scolding hot cup of Russian black tea.  For years, we’ve toyed with the possibility—“What if?”—but always settled for the suspended turn-on instead.  Because we also knew that our egos would fall into the seemingly predestined grooves of each other—and nothing would be off-limits in the consequential destruction (because we were also well-equipped in war).  

 “I love that girl,” others testified to your confession; and that was just enough, my darling, for good—

For our non-happening—I thank you; because you’ve granted me the fantasy of What Could’ve Been—with its endless possibility of a blank page—sans the wasteful, self-indulgent clean-up, mandatory after every failed love affair.  You were my unfinished stories; my odds and chances; my delightful minions pestering my bitchy Inspiration into submission.  And because somehow, all of you arrived with perfect timing, I shall gladly commit the hubris of assuming that I was your creator.  And just as I pray to never treat my chosen art as a burden—always as a privilege!—the memories of you I shall gladly carry with the weightlessness of surrender and gratitude.

A Prayer to My Fat Ass

Awaiting a train on an immaculately clean subway platform the other day…  What’s that?  Subway?  Yes:  There is a subway in LA-LA City.  Mostly ridden by brown people and Downtown’s business types, this magical recent innovation has saved V a lot of headaches caused by the convoluted parking rules, one-way streets, obnoxiously priced valet lots and traffic-congested roads—that look like parking lots—in that happening zip code of ours.  On the other hand, I’ve had to confront the utter lack of control and manners on behalf of this city’s male contingent when they express their desire to not only speak to me—but to touch me.  What can I say:  A walking woman is somewhat of a rarity around here!  Yet, still I insist on contributing my coins to the spanking brand new subway ticket machines and reveling in a system with visible time schedules and audible announcements about any possible delays or detours.  (Hear that, New Yorkers?!  I’m just sayin’.) 

Anyway.  While chilling on a subway platform the other day and trying on my best Dontcha Fuckin’ Dare Speak to Me face, I was devouring a book by a brown writer…  What’s that?  A book?  Yes, I still read books

So:  Reading a book, on a subway platform, I was brought back to reality by the clickety-clack of stilettos that absolutely had to belong to a beautiful woman.  Understandably:  V looked up.  Poorly balancing in her heels, the young creature wobbling in my direction looked like Bambi.  She was blonde and pretty—a perfect newbie in LA.  Yet everything about her screamed of wanting a little bit too much and trying a little bit too hard.  I’ve seen these creatures in casting sessions before.  Fuck:  I’ve been one of these creature my first year of auditions!  Albeit her prettiness, she hid behind too much make-up, applied by a hand of a four-year old who had stolen it from her mother.  The blonde hair was teased to shit into an asymmetrical bouffant completed by a mousey ponytail.  Her short black-and-white dress and a pink pashmina made her appear overdressed and utterly unaware of what it takes to navigate this city on foot.     

“Clickety-clack…  Clack!  Clack-clack-clack-clack-clack,” she went past me, nearly tripping over her own feet.

“Oh, honey,” my heart moaned in a half-prayer as it does when witnessing another innocent creature equipped with nothing but her dreams to survive this chaotic, slightly schizophrenic town.  But it was only a half-prayer—because I don’t have the time or the strength to adopt and rescue every young soul.  And because she had chosen her path—god bless her!  And because already having difficulty balancing in those big-girl heels, she could do without the pity by the jaded skeptics like me tripping her over.  Besides:  Who the fuck am I to project my own failures and embarrassments in LA-LA Land onto a young woman courageous enough to be idealistic? 

Oh, but I would leave her alone, my comrades, and return to the hilarious words by my brown writer; but the young girl, who has parked herself on a wooden bench a meter away from me, shook the pink pashmina off her shoulders and revealed a frame so thin, my stomach growled like a guard dog at the gates of GULAG.  The view that I got from where I stood was her nearly transparent back with every rib and every vertebra ripping through the bluish-white skin.  She slouched a little, in that way of a crying child or a young girl embarrassed of her budding new breasts.

“Oh, baby-boo,” my heart moaned—that stubborn organ that always gets me to go against my better, self-protective judgment.  

“Uh!” 

It was grunt by a black guy.  C’mon, we all know it:  that chesty, sexual, laconic groan that only a brother can pull off which usually means, “I gotta get me some a dat!”  Honestly:  It’s one of my favorite sounds.  Because, in my experience, a black man is hard to discombobulate out of his chill by any woman; and if he is moved, he’ll take his time before actually touching the honey.  Prior to the physical contact, however, there will be a dance of slow, self-possessed struts, accompanied by somewhat primal sounds.  Like the “Uh!” my brown bystander granted the Bambi on the bench. 

I looked over to him:  Over 6-feet tall, clad in New York black, with his skin glossy and gorgeous, the man—was a warrior.  He noticed me, held his gaze—fucking balls!—smiled ever so slightly, pouted, shook his head and said: 

“I dunno.” 

I tilted my head, meaning:  “Bring it.”

Tuned in, he licked those endless lips of his, formulated the words and said:  “Too skinny.”  Maybe I nodded a bit too enthusiastically, but the brown creature elaborated:   “I like a woman with a little ‘uh!’”

Yep.  Well said, comrade.  The reason the Bambi jacked up my empathy that afternoon was the utter deprivation with which she treated her young body.  Because past all that desperate glamour and paint, hid a self-induced violence by her poor self-esteem which was most likely already reconfirmed by the self-loathing scumbags of this town (i.e.:  agents, managers, boyfriends).  Because you see, my comrades, around here—it’s difficult to be enough!  There is a permanent hum of advice that hangs above women’s heads along with LA-LA’s smog:  Too Fat / Too Old / Too Brown / Too Foreign / Too Brunette / Too Smart / Too Something.  (Those are my favorite old tags.)  It takes oh so much fucking work to never let go of your authentic self; because if you do—one un-fine day, you’ll wake up as a washed-up cocktail waitress with blistered feet and soul, realizing that your two future solutions are:  1.  to go back to school; or 2.  to bait yourself a rich guy who’ll buy you your Happily Ever After.  

So, here comes my prayer, my comrades, for the sake of my own self, the women I know and the Bambi’s I wish I’d known before their fall:  May the very womb of our Mother Fuckin’ Nature grant us the courage to hold on to our fat asses!  May the armies of our shrinks and girlfriends shield us from being chipped away by those who live in hatred of themselves!  May we wake up to the mirrors that sing in the voice of Maria Callas:  “You are the fairest one of all—and I love your ass!”  And may we be lucky enough to be accompanied by men who worship our fat behinds, and when the schizophrenic voices chime in—shag some sense into us.

What I’ve Learned from My Lovers — About My Son

With my lover still asleep in his bed, looking every bit like the young boy he must’ve been before the loss of innocence and the magnificent man I watch him become every single day, I’ve wondered what it must entail to mother a man.  Here, I don’t mean the man whom I, as a woman, have adopted as my selfish project titled I Can Change Him, then forgiving him—and myself—for failing.  (Although, in all those tomes of my failed histories, I shall never regret the tales of the child-like charm of every Peter Pan I’ve cradled on my chest or lost track of in a sporting goods store.)  What I mean is this:  What skills, what generosities and wisdoms, what graces and forgiveness must it take to raise a son?  What deities must a woman summon to bring up a man who causes the least amount of destruction in the world while contributing to humanity’s betterment?

As the old iconoclast Bill wrote: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.”  Thanks for that, Bill; and although I don’t mean to sound all New Agey ‘n’ shit, but in my opinion, from the first survivor sperm in my womb—it’s all predetermined; not just through destiny, but genes.  Why else would I be treading the world and running an obstacle course between my lovers’ beds in search of the best suitable companion?  Because when it comes to my potential baby-papas, my vagina is Darwinian.  Which explains why it hasn’t procreated as of yet; for I have only recently graduated from the mean school of my 20s during which I’ve slaved to get over my own terrible patterns (ironically, but not surprisingly, originating from my own mama and papa), just so I can start choosing better-suitable Peter Pans, and their sperm.

Here is the circumstance that I, as a parent, can control for the sake of my yet-to-be-born child:  Education through schooling and travel.  As someone who has studied men for years—and someone who has pursuit her own non-interrupted education between the ages of six and 26—I shall be the first to admit to being a complete snob when it comes to my lovers’ educational background.  Sure, they may be naturally intelligent (which brings me back to my vagina’s Darwinian choice-making).  But my lack of tolerance for their poor grammar, for instance (for which a smiley face is never a fair compensation, by the way), comes from a non-negotiable belief that, in this day and age, a college education—is a basic must.  If mama and papa have failed a man in that category, it then becomes his own responsibility to fix that gap.  So, as a mother of a future great man, I shall work my bloody hardest to grant my child the education that he deserves and that equips him with enough skill to “achieve greatness” (in case the whole “born into it” plan doesn’t work out).  As for the worldliness, no man can accomplish his style or confidence without the exposure to other cultures.  But right around here, I’m starting to feel preachy, for these are basic truths, right?  You’d think so!  Yet, the tomes of my dating failures do reveal a disappointing number of men of narrow minds and uneducated pasts.  (Good job, V.)

Finally, I must sing an ode to the most important quality of man:  Self-esteem.  The other night, the fiercest woman I know said:

“Insecurity is the ugliest feature of humans.”  Bingo, my gorgeous Amazon!

Oh, how hard is the work of self-examination for the sake of achieving one’s own esteem!  I’d know:  I clock-in for it daily!  However, I believe that no human will bring violence onto another—or onto himself—if he has learned to be enough; learned to be sufficient.  In that, a parent is fully accountable to lead by example.  As my lovers are rarely allowed to witness the moments of my self-doubt, thusly my son will never be made privy to my lesser self.  That way, I can only hope—I can only pray—that with my very being, I shall inspire him to be a man of esteem and grace who never loses the grasp of his self-worth, never gets in his own way and walks in tow with his potential.

Hence, it all comes back to the mother, I’m afraid.  (I’m starting to sound like my shrink here.)  What I owe my unborn son (and my son-like lovers, for that matter) is my own life, well lived, in pursuit of self-exploration, professional success and prosperity.  I owe him a parent of unshakeable ethics, of tested and reaffirmed grace, and of never-ending work of self-esteem.  I owe him—to be my own enough, for his and my sake.  Hence, now, while I wait for his arrival, is the time for my stubborn pursuit of my calling; for I believe all dreams must be tried out—and some must be accomplished—prior to his birth.  To my Shiva, I vow to be well-established in my artistic career (or at least well on the way to it) before I begin taking my basal body temperature.  I shall do my work—now!—so that I never resent my son’s success or project my failures onto his destiny; because life will put him through enough of a wringer without needing my two cents.

From the Taint of Mother Literature

Those who know me—and now, those who read me—will testify that meekness is just ain’t my style.  Oh sure, I can be gentle and kind as a friend.  As a lover, having cradled many men’s heads on my bosom and their secrets in my heart, I tend to be more maternal in the bedroom.  But my years of quietly struggling as a closeted, unpublished writer who blushes when accepting praise and negotiates her pay only at the end of a conversation—after fulfilling the service with flying colors—have magically come to a closure last year.  Hundreds of odd jobs, millions of unpublished words and dozens of shared writing spaces later, this year I’ve launched an endeavor that, besides granting me a daily artistic orgasm, in the words of my current lover, “has added inches to my dick.” 

Speaking of a writer’s dick, recently devouring the February issue of Esquire (aka:  my Bible), I’ve discovered an editorial on the topic of our contemporary writers’ temperament.  Using James Frey, who not too long ago was brought down by the Mighty Oprah for committing plagiarism, as its archetype of a flawed, fallen—and recently resurrected—writer, the article refuses to tear this, may I say, “colleague” of mine to pieces.  To the contrary, it advertises the more unorthodox methods of this writer’s art and publishing technique as ballsy.  Because you see, my comrades, according to the critic, we have entered an age of “literary in-betweenness” in which everyone and their friggin’ mother wants to be a writer and has access to self-publishing via the non-discriminating WWW-dot.  You don’t have to live in my city—just any city—to know that every Starbucks is held hostage by such wannabes who glare from their tables at the common folk ordering their lattes a little too loudly for their taste.  So:  the competition is fierce!  Add to that the opportunistic celebrities cashing-in on their fleeting fame by publishing and promoting their poorly written memoirs—and the young, aspiring writer is fucked.       

So, what does James Frey have on all of us in this age of “literary in-betweenness”—which I prefer to tag as Mother Literature’s Taint?  Well, comrades, I tell you:  It isn’t primarily talent!  What it takes to be a paid artist these days is a non-apologetic self-promotion, Kanye-Fuckin’-West-style.  (See the same critic’s bit on that loud mouth (and my occasional archangel):  http://www.esquire.com/features/thousand-words-on-culture/kanye-west-twitter-1210).  Sure, Kanye tends to push the envelope a bit too far, Tweeting from his decked-out bathroom or stealing a moment of fame from some wide-eyed mediocre singer.  But how else to get our attention in these days of information overdose?  When it comes to the chosen art of my own—and Mr. Frey’s—the situation gets even trickier.  I mean:  Who the fuck is still reading literature these days?  Even the ever-so-humble Dave Eggers had to venture out into screenwriting to earn himself more serious cash. 

So, instead of head diving into my self-denial about being deserving or catering to my endless bullshit to be magically discovered one day, I prefer to follow the footsteps of the loudmouths and embrace the available means of distribution and self-promotion.  Because the reality is:  When this evening, like other actors and artists in town, I clock-in for my 7-hour shift of catering to drunks at my night gig, I’ve already done my art for the day.  I’ve already fucking published!  And considering I am never meek in my words, I would’ve already experienced my artistic catharsis; so when asked what I wanna be when I grow up, I can answer with esteem and calmness that comes from doing—not dreaming. 

Of course, when I return home, I’ll have to collect the consequences of my art via the hateful commentary on my obnoxiousness and misinterpretations of my intensions by well-wishers.  Just last night, for instance, a male reader threatened to scream at my face—then asked me out on a date.  (Try and guess where I told him to go!)  And you know what, my comrades?  Mazel tov!  As Mr. Frey’s career proves once again, there is no bad publicity.  So, V is not here to be liked:  I’m here to speak up—and be paid for it! 

Finally, I must chime-in here as a woman writer—because I can.  Or actually, because I must!  Because this is my bloody blog—and because the above mentioned Esquire piece included ZERO writers of my gender, while complaining about the sexless literature of today.  Newsflash, ladies:  As an artist, you are not gonna be seeing any greens if you get yourself locked-up, like Charlotte Bronte, and then shrug off all inquiries about your writing by saying, “Oh, I’m just writing a diary.”  Or thank-you cards.  Or whatever the fuck.  Speak up!  Sarah Silverman or Zadie Smith style!  Sing like Jhumpa Lahiri or holler like Rinku Sen (http://feministing.com/).  Do your quirky thing like my girl Molly McAleer (http://molls.tumblr.com/) or grow up to be the sarcastic, poignant, brilliant cunt Manohla Dargis.  But speak, for Mary’s sake!  That way, perhaps, while we live through this era of Mother Literature’s Taint, the Esquire critics won’t have to point out the sexlessness of this era’s collective writing.  Be obnoxious, like the shady Mr. Frey and the douchy Kanye, and:       

“Never apologize, never give up, and be entrepreneurial.”

P.S.:  For the piece that started all this go to:  http://www.esquire.com/features/thousand-words-on-culture/james-frey-full-fathom-five-0211.  And pah-lease, go buy yourself a book!

Zen — and the Art of Going Down

I’ve done some research for you, my male comrades.  I did that!  Having heard enough of women’s tales of woe titled He Just Won’t Go Down on Me—always followed by the eventual and unavoidable dumping of the unskilled lover, by the way—I’ve decided it was time to get a man’s opinion on the subject.  Or better yet:  Why not get a tutorial, I thought.

And who would be better suitable than the Young Latin Lover type I’ve known since my very first days in LA-LA-Land six years ago?  The kid is in his twenties, yet, as I’ve overheard from his satisfied customers, is highly equipped in the lip service.  He and I have never hooked up; because despite standing at 6-feet tall and then some, in a body of a Giorgio Armani model lives a heartbreakingly sweet kid.   Gullible and funny, always up for a game or an improv, he used to dangle off of the workout bar installed in the doorway between my former roommate’s and my own bedroom—for hours.  Sometimes, I would come home to a BB gun warfare of the two men-children at play; and while ravaging the furniture, the walls and each other’s backs with yellow plastic bullets that I would continue to discover for years to follow, this kiddo would leap out of his hiding place at my arrival, as if I were his mother and he were a 5-year old in love and I’ve been gone for way too long:

“Hey, Rara!”  He would engulf me in his embrace, and warmth, and beauty.

“Hey, Rara!” he said yesterday, leaping off his black vintage motorcycle and shaking a head full of Miami-sun-kissed hair out of his eyes.  His eyes—so dark they appear pupil-less—remained locked on mine while he walked toward me.  And then:  he smiled.  God damn it, I thought:  Youth!

That’s just the thing about the kid:  No matter his hustle in this city, or the struggle as a young artist, or the heartbreak of his recent love affair with an insecure creature who knew nothing about her self-possession, his heart—alas, his magnificent, generous, childlike heart!—has remained unscathed.  Oh, to what gods must I pray to protect my friends from losing their innocence?!

What followed was an afternoon full of uncensored laughter and words and stories, old and new, as if no years have passed since the beginning of our friendship.  He was my kid brother, my fellow artist.  A co-historian of human love.  A beautiful soul I wish to spend my lifetime deserving.  As the sun crawled through its habitual trajectory, we sat on the patio of our regular joint famed among actors, musicians, writers and other LA artsy types (yet somehow seemingly immune to duches).  When the meal arrived, we both chose to ignore our utensils; and while I was licking my fingers, the kiddo put on his best James Dean expression and said:

“So, what’s the deal with going down?”

I’ve warned him, you see, that he would be expected to co-author this piece; but just like I could not predict that an hour-long interview would turn into three hours of my uncontrollable laughing into this kid’s lap or the lapel of his black leather jacket, I failed to predict the manner of his contribution to the subject.  First, there was zero embarrassment or crassness.  Instead, he began with poetry:

“The thing is:  I just l’ove to do it.  Period.”  (He said “l’ove” like a Latin speaker would:  slightly softening the tongue on the first syllable.)  “I want all of it!  And I don’t care how long it takes!”  He bit into his medium-rare burger which made his lips glossy with its juices and oil.

Apparently, gentlemen:  It’s all in your intention. Just like you can sense when a woman is faking her pleasure during her oral performance, she can pinpoint a bad actor in her bedroom as well.  You must find pleasure in pleasing her. If you think the job too hard—just imagine the mere mechanics of fellatio that she suffers through:  much more rhythmical and forceful, it may cause a crick in her lovely neck or a lockdown of her jaw.  If your sympathy for her part won’t get you to dive—then, just go down a checklist of what the job entails:  a naked woman, moaning and grunting at your every move, whispering or screaming your name, and losing complete control of her censored behaviors.  Hmm.  Not to shabby, if you ask me—or my kiddo pro at yesterday’s conference on the subject:

“It’s kinda like…  I don’t know:  energy?” my “Jaime” Dean continued, searching to express a now seemingly god-given skill of his.  “You have to be in tune with her.  Gotta think about what it feels like—to her.”

You have to be in tune with her.” It’s not just about the moves; because the moves will have to be customized to fit your lover’s habits, histories, fantasies and anatomy.  Also, as in any artistic endeavor, there must be room for improvisation.  But something that cannot be taught—is empathy.  To get there:  First, you must be comfortable in your own body and mind (and hopefully, your lover matches your maturity).  Once the baggage of self-consciousness is out of the way, you must carry on as if the two of you were a part of one body.  Yes, there are signs that she may grant you:  moans, back arches, hair pulls, etc.  But what’s more crucial—is your capacity to identify with exactly how she feels, in that moment.  “It’s kind like…  I don’t know:”  Being her; being a part of her, as if a single entity.  Fuckin’ poetry!

“It’s a beautiful thing,” my Latin comrade smiled yesterday, with his eyes departing for a moment into what had to be a memory of a woman.  “It’s not just sex.  It’s something you do to get close…”—he got intense, channeling his inner Pablo Neruda.  “There’s nothing you can do wrong if you really want that person.”

It may be just sex, gentlemen, and she may even be on the same page with you.  But my beloved comrade hit a bull’s eye yesterday:  No matter the duration or the objective of your affair, in the very moment of every physical intimacy—you must be in love.  You must be in love with that person—your lover—in complete empathy with him or her.  In your sex act, you must worship their body and honor their humanity; and remain fully present and aware of their needs, finding satisfaction when those needs are fulfilled.  That, I believe, is the only way to beauty and art and, as confirmed by my Jaime Dean, to successful love-making.  Or, in his cunni-lingo:  “L’ove-making.”

The Unbearable Lightness of Being — Doesn’t Happen at 28

Hung-over from a 22-hour work day, with my feet pounding as if their every bone was broken by a road roller, this morning I was awoken—way too fucking early!—by the sounds of sex penetrating the thin walls of my bedroom from the apartment next door.

My neighbor is of Indian descent—a pretty girl, slightly nerdy, whose appeal from day one was her quirkiness and stubborn independence.  Years ago, as I allowed an army of roommates invade my living space and irritate me enough to move in with my guy (and what a premature and idiotic move that was!), she insisted on living alone.  Now, years—and her new BMW—later, the girl is still making enough dollars to dictate her own rules:  An occasional hour of the night, her apartment emits a not-so-faint scent of weed while she holds a gathering of similarly quirky and smart working professionals of Hollywood—who are NOT actors.

Her bedroom noises seem to follow a routine:  They start with a rhythmical squeaking of her bedsprings.  The pounding then increases in speed, yet I hear no sounds of her man’s voice.  Her moans, however, will start after about five minutes, and I must admit—she actually sounds quite enticing.  She moans from her chest, in a natural pitch.  The whimpers never turn into grunts (as happens with me—when I’m inspired); neither do they sound mechanical or faked.  As the squeaking pauses (do I hear a position change?), the lovers don’t speak.  Only in the last stretch of the 10-to-15 minute shag session, does his voice come through.  A couple of his groans—and mazel tov!

This morning, I’ve managed to sleep past the squeaking, waking only to the crescendo of her moans intertwined with a couple of words he released simultaneously with his orgasm.  Then, her laughter began, in response to some routine of his; and at the sound of it, every hint of my annoyance at the untimely waking hour melted away immediately.  My girl neighbor sounded light and full of joy.  She sounded young and deserving of being fallen in love with.  She had obviously suffered enough—a woman of East Indian heritage has plenty of negotiation to do in life—yet, ended up on the other side of it, still lovely and light-footed.  I, myself, felt love-struck, if not with the girl herself, but the inspiration for a life lacking darkness and depression and self-loathing—and all the other wasteful colors I’ve witnessed in the biographies of my artistic friends.

Which made me recall the young faces I encountered last night.  To them, I dedicate these words:

To the girl, tipsy in her cheep, sparkly shoes, who pouted in the fashion of Marilyn Monroe pictures she collected as a young teen and last night sloppily slid and ground against some undeserving youngster’s leg on the dance floor—

To the anxious young man, painfully uncomfortable in his chubby frame, discombobulated by every tall girl in the joint; who worked up his courage by repeatedly pulling up his shirt sleeves, high-fiving his equally short friends and looking for solutions at the bottom of his rocks glass—

To the Persian kitten, clad in black, studying her petite toes peaking through the patent leather sandals, who swayed next to a man on the verge of passing out; and when he lashed out at me for asking if she was fine, I yanked her out of his clasp and walked her to a cab (but before her head separated from my bosom, she whispered:  “I love you.”  “Of course, you do,” I responded and caressed her jet-black hair.)—

To the beautiful model-esque male creature leaning against a pole, with his eyes, fingers and attention on his Blackberry, who was so obviously in the way of the traffic yet completely oblivious, and who ended up muttering, “Bitch!” after I’ve finally asked him to move—

To the blonde with smeared make-up and breath reeking of stomach acid, who trampled over my feet and dry-humped my hip for finding her misplaced work phone; yet reached for her wine glass as soon as I untangled myself from her long, naked arms—

To the gay kid who decided to amuse his friends by placing a glass of ice against my naked back; and when I yelped and turned around, he luckily stumbled out of the radar of my swinging arm, took on the “I just shat my pants” expression; then grinned and muttered, “Love you?”—

To the gorgeous, tall black goddess in a red dress strategically painted onto her body, with erect nipples the size of cherries confronting every lucky bystander; yet who still found her own beauty insufficient and retracted to the bathroom mirror every seven minutes—

And to all the rest of the restless souls, uncomfortable in solitude, looking for love in all the wrong places:

It shall all get easier, darling children of humanity! With time, the anxiety gets tamed by habit.  The broken heart heals; and after you work out the pattern with mama and papa, hopefully you’ll give a chance to the right person finally worthy of you.  Sex will remain fun and humiliating; but it will get better once you stop apologizing for the non-existent imperfections of your body:  you are indeed beautiful, in health and esteem.  Yes:  There will be more genuine joy, in little things, which won’t be induced by substances or money!  And yes:  It will take work, but peace will soon settle in, I promise.  Just don’t forget to ask for goodness from others—but mostly from yourself—and you shall be glorious!  You.  Are.  Enough.

The Way to YOUR Heart — is Through HIS Stomach

Me:  this morning, mildly disheveled, getting ready to leave his crib:

“What should I write about today?” 

Him:  stretched out the couch while watching the news and looking like da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man—every inch of him is proportional perfection:

“You’ve got to teach these women how to cook.”

True that:  As of this morning, we were both suffering from a food hangover from my last night’s cookout. 

When V gets in the mood to cook:  watch out!  First off, there is some list making involved with a KGB-style interrogation of the future guests on their dietary restrictions and preferences.  Then, the research begins.  Besides the modest collection of my own cooking inventions, I consult my gods and goddesses of cooking:  Jamie for a more rustic menu, Martha—when I seek perfection; and Nigella—when I expect to get laid (after the dishes are done). 

Food shopping with me tends to get quite intense for every party involved.  First, I don’t want any tagalongs who’ll set me back by twirling and smelling every sale item on display at Whole Foods.  I deal with my list—while you shut up and carry the basket!  I march through the store, with my hair yanked back into a brutal bun and a permanent frown similar to the one on the forehead of a heart surgeon.  Then, I proceed to cross-examine the clerks about the best of the best of their produce.  I read the labels in the aisles while continuing to frown, which prevents all commission-crazed sales staff from chatting me up.  I do lighten up a bit when surrendering my money to the cashier:  A few flippant remarks and self-deprecating jokes—and I feel like I’ve reached my daily quota of niceness.  As soon as my trunk is loaded, however, I am back to the Amazon-on-Wheels Act, honking my way through the parking lot and speeding off to my sparkling clean kitchen.

The actual process of cooking—is like perpetual foreplay, as if life itself were my lover.  It begins with stretching some skimpy clothes over my body, leaving the arms exposed and the legs—stark naked.  I prefer some Nina Simone moaning and grunting in the background, waking my empathetic heart and disturbing the hormonal balance in my ovaries.  A lit candle or two in my work area—is a must.  Then, I begin unloading my shopping bags; and my curiosity with substances is awakened.  Now is the time to sniff and lick and twirl and measure and exclaim laconic odes of gratitude—for the abundance and the time to enjoy it; for the company and the very process.  Here, barefoot in the kitchen, I summon the voices of my gods and goddesses again; study their notes—and leap into a two-to-three hour improvisation.

What happens to my guests?  They are ordered “to chill.”  Sometimes, I jam a glass of wine into their palms, or a platter of hors d’oeuvres worthy of a Dionysian feast.  The main thing:  is to stay in my vicinity—but away from my stove.  Never do I demand another pair of helping hands because they’ll just fuck with my shit, already in various degrees of steaming and roasting and sizzling and baking.  But my lucky beneficiaries are guaranteed to be entertained as I leap and slide between the sink and the fridge, break out into a few tribal dance moves and stuff their mouths with teases of the upcoming masterpiece dinner.  I demand they continue to speak to me even if I’m muttering like a witch over her cauldron.  Be near me, be yourself, but please don’t help me—that is V’s recipe for every partnership in life.

After years of embracing the Juliette Binoche in Chocolat in my own self, I’ve learned that the last few minutes of the meal-making are crucial.  They are all about timing.  That’s when the combinations are matched into harmonies or flavor dissonances; when the perfect temperatures are hopefully achieved; and—my favorite—when the arrangement of the display happens.  The magic.  The feast for the eyes.  The foreplay via the tongue. 

The secret here, however, is to keep your mind and heart on the guests.  They are the very objects of these generosities in progress; the witnesses with whom you’ve chosen to celebrate your life.  The contradiction in my process, however—is that by then, I prefer to chase them out of my kitchen entirely.  So, I behold them in my mind’s eye:  Is my company a woman of the warmest heart and her 3-year old baby girl?  Is it a friend making a rest stop in between his bouncing all around the world, in search of art, and consequentially—sex?  Is it a beloved boy who’s granted me unconditional space and time in which to recover from a heartbreak?  Or is it a hedonistic girlfriend whose zest for life has yanked me out of many depressions?  They are my chosen people.  My fucking army of survivors and defenders.  All this—is happening for their sake.

So, what I can teach you, my ladies, is that, as every other activity in life, cooking mustn’t be a mundane chore; a weight pulling you under in the listless current of every day responsibilities.  It is up to you to negotiate with your partner—or friends—how and when you prefer to cook.  You can choose to cook on that rare occasion when your heart is overwhelmed with generosity.  Or:  never!  If you absolutely hate cooking—for your man’s, your own, and for fucking god’s sake communicate that!  Don’t turn it into a reason to resent him.  Don’t hold a grudge against your assumed responsibilities as a woman because you’ve never mentioned just how much you hate being in the kitchen.  Because I swear:  It will show in your meal—and ruin your relationship.

But then again, why would you deny yourself the following hedonistic pleasures?

“You Mad? I Thought that You’d Be Happy I Made It!”

Clearly, my “little rant blog,” as tagged by a former lover a few hours ago, has been invoking reactions.  There has been an occasional validation from complete strangers—young women, older wives, heartbroken lovers, married couples, and gay men—my adored readers continents and time zones away that make my artist’s ego revel in the illusionary and ever-so-fleeting thought of:  “At least, my art matters!”  It’s like honey to the inflamed larynx of a screaming revolutionary!  But then:  I get up again, at some ungodly hour of the morning, put the compliments in my back pocket, clock-in and begin at ground zero:  Regardless the moody cunt of Inspiration, I publish prior to one of my four survival jobs.

The reaction of some friends and most exes, however, has been less than enamored:

“You’ve reality lost your humanity!” I found on my voicemail today.  Try swallowing that pill with your morning coffee!

My art gone public has tested my comrades—people that have a certain degree of an in with me.  Most have known me for years because, despite my wanderlust, I don’t lose track of human hearts.  Sometimes, to my own fault (and to the expressed puzzlement of my beloveds), I’ve kept in touch with my exes, if only for the mere benefit of recollecting a mutual story down the road; because, despite being a storyteller, genetics have granted me with the most pathetic short-term memory.  So, my people—are my memory keepers.  As for the woman in me, the scorned lover gives room to forgiveness quite quickly.  I accept the humanity of those who acted less than kindly in my past and eventually hear the long-awaited apology from them.  But by then, the forgiveness has already been granted pro bono, and I’ve moved on—to other loves and newer pages.

For years, I have written in silence.  Years! It was a closeted activity—like a mute’s challenge to the world every morning.  During those forming years in New York City and LA-LA Land, my people would chime in:

“What are you doing with your life?”

“What are you doing with all these jobs?!”

And my favorite:  “You know what you should do?,” followed by an array of unrequested advice.

Well, here I am, comrades, I thought on the first of this year:  Finally, doing it, just like y’all recommended!  I am not half-ass-ing it either!  I am not working on the next Good Will Hunting as every other regular at my local Starbucks, praying to be discovered by an accidental agent ordering his or her morning latte.  I am not venting to some similar wannabe at a late night dingy dive, both of us getting lost in a forest of empty beer bottles.  Neither am I drowning in depression while listening to my friends’ rants on the topics of casting scams and shady agents.  I don’t pity them—or myself—during the self-loathing routines about being insignificant.  Instead of wasting my breath on “What I’m gonna do”—I fucking do!  And I tell my colleagues to do the same.

“So, here I am,” I thought, on day one of 2011…

Oh, but what’s this?  Silence and spite?!  Didn’t expect that!

Forty days and forty-some blogs later, some of my people are falling by the wayside:  Shocker!  All those well-wishers with written proposals on my predestined career paths—have suddenly gotten quiet.  Where the fuck did they all go?!  As for my formerly beloveds, suddenly my friendship they’ve been “so grateful for” is not something they can handle:

“You just sound so angry and hurt,” they attempt to hide behind another set of fake intentions.

No fucking shit, Sherlock, I’m angry!  But please do me a favor and keep the pity card in your own stack.  If you’re suffering the stings of your guilty conscience or fear of being exposed—despite the anonymity of my blog’s characters—don’t project your shit onto me.  I’ve moved on, remember?  I am NOT interested in your apology—just your kindness.  Or your friendship.  But if you must run away, I must thank you for exposing that your love for me was never unconditional; that my success was not one of your interests; that to this day, you haven’t learned the lesson and remained equally self-involved as you were back in your selfish twenties.  Do move on, my darlings—and although disappointed, I mean it in the best of ways:  God bless—and get the fuck out! Another forty days and forty-some blogs later, I hope to find myself surrounded by the selected and the stubborn few who’ve made the wellness of my heart and the success of my work their daily prayer.  Those who behold for me, never calculating in the “what-if” of my failure—just because it’s not a fucking option!—those are welcome to come along.

As for my “little rant blog” to myself, it goes like this:

You’re an artist, bitch!  It’s hard!  The competition is brutal.  The jobs are few and far between.  You work your ass off at some part-time gig where you’re painfully overqualified and underpaid; but when the morning comes—you better start your saleswoman routine again, doing enough legwork to earn permanent calluses on your feet and bruises on your knuckles from knocking on doors.  This ain’t your little home village in the Motha Fuckin’ Russia, where you were the prettiest and the smartest girl!  There are thousands like you here!  And another thousand on the next day’s Greyhound!  Some hotter and smarter and better equipped, with mamas and papas to support their dreams.  So, the only way to make it past the depression and the competition and the rejection and the loneliness—is to keep going!  Failure—is not an option here, as your actual friends will remind you.

As for the white noise of the well-wishers and the manipulations by other cowardly hearts:  “What’ya say?  I can’t hear you!”