Tag Archives: Esquire

Till Death Do Us Part — or NOT

Learned something new last night, loves…

(Actually, considering the newsworthiness of this week was off the hook, I learned quite a lot, via my Week in Review by Twitter.  Every 140-word op-ed came with a new ache of discomfort and my stubborn choice of silence.  No commentary, thank you.  I’ll take the fifth.  Yep:  Grace was an antsy lil’ thing last night, so I can’t say I was restful.)

Every time I crave a better piece of writing — or am about to lose all hope for the mankind — I reach for Junot Diaz.  Or Zadie Smith.  Or Comrade Nabokov.  But during the last hours of my seventh day:  Esquire it was.  I balanced the pages on my naked skin, watching them mark me with black ink.  (Written on the Body. Forgot about that one.)  Half-way in a out of sleep, I waited for the voices in my head to hush down (fucking Twitter, with its schizophrenia galore!); when out came a term I’ve never heard before:  No Fault Divorce.

Say whaaat?!  How come I never got me one of those?

For a second, I forgot which publication was marring my skin with its biodegradable colors (because as you may have read or heard, my darlings, it’s been a book on the topic of Zen this entire week).  I forced myself back to reality, for moment.  Yep:  still Esquire.  My Bible to Mankind.

“Damn it,” I thought.  “No fucking way I’ll be able to go to sleep now!”

Sure enough, the voices in my head went up a hundred decibels, like a choir of Cleopatra’s eunuchs.  Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda started bouncing in my frontal lobe, like steel bullets inside a pinball machine.  Before being tempted to reach for a shot of NyQuil, I leapt out of bed and went digging for my divorce settlement — a document I make no habit of viewing, ever! — issued by some New York Honorable So-‘n’-So who has never met me, let alone heard my side of the story.  Nope:  In my case, my darlings, my fucking story was retold by some attorney with a Chinese name, hired by my ex-husband, the plaintiff:

“The defendant has waived HER right to answer or respond.” 

(Again:  I took the fifth.)

And considering I was on the opposite coast of the country, that’s one way to put it.

There’s no way the Honorable So-’n’-So could’ve known that I was cradling myself to some state of forgiveness, for a duration of a single climate season, since the tragic separation from a friend.  ‘Cause that’s exactly what my hubs was to me — a friend, first and foremost.  Because I was planning to do this “till death do us part”, not the Honorable So-’n’-So “do us part”; and from my idea of marriage, you better be friends if you want to survive until there is no more sex to keep the two of you together.

But it didn’t work out for us that way.  Shit went wrong.  Things fell apart.  And by mutual at the time admission, we “couldn’t do it anymore”.

Despite suffering from a temporary amnesia toward my former self, I had enough presence of mind to recognize what was best for me, at the moment:  to run.  The same way I had fled from the broken marriage of my parents a decade ago (fucking irony, eh?), I took myself across several time zones; because the temptation for reunions with the hubs (the friend and plaintiff) — out of fear or stubbornness or love — would’ve been too great to resist.

But before I departed, we agreed that it was due to no particular one’s fault.  Instead, it was a hundred of little faults, from both of us.  Endless little fights — about my silly habits and his lovable ones; fights that were thrilling in the beginning, because they lead to moments of clarity — and sex; fights that would eventually look comedic; and we would crack each other up, making the hubs’ single dimple appear on his right cheek while I shook my mane at just how I much I adored that fucking thing.  But neither of us could remember when those fights flipped.  Before we knew it, they became little barnacles of cancer which would then be the eventual end of us.  Those fights belonged to a different category:  No longer little catharses, they became struggles for power; and that power had nothing to do with forgiveness but everything — with being right.

Last night’s Esquire piece said it best:

“Fighting matters to a marriage because what matters most to a marriage is forgiveness, and forgiveness doesn’t come for free.  You have to fight for it.”  

Truth be told, my fellow broken-hearted, I didn’t want to be right.  Most of the time, I didn’t want to have the last word either, because I didn’t even know what that last word would be.  (It’s a foreigner thing, or a writerly thing:  I need time to formulate my words — in order to be poignant, or perfectly understood, or “brilliant”.)  So:  I threw in the towel.  Because I feared losing a friend, first and foremost.  Because I knew that despite the resilience of one’s forgiveness, there indeed exists a point of no return.  (I had seen happen, a decade ago, with my parents.  Fucking irony, eh?)  Because secretly I knew that time and space — and in my case, several timezones of space — would heal.

I left.  Gypsy — out.

By leaving I admitted my fault, my comrades.  I chose to find someone to blame (which is how our fights got cancerous, remember?) — so, I blamed myself.  It was easier that way.  I had to lose enough to learn the one prerequisite to forgiveness — remembering THAT which is worth fighting for, or THAT worth walking away from; yet still, I had to leave enough behind TO forgive.  Which is why the settlement to my divorce had to be called Abandonment — another little fault in a sum of all others.  My price of forgiveness; and my own asking price — for keeping a friend, first and foremost.

“I-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t: Do You Know What That Mean?”

There is a poem by a dead comrade from my Motha Land dedicated to us, Russian broads.  It goes like this:

“She will stop a galloping horse and walk into a burning house.”  

We are like that, the broads in my motha’s family:  Never the tall or skinny supermodel types, we’ve been known to have smaller frames, upon which some have packed on curves, especially after carrying their firstborns.  For a couple of centuries, since a gypsy entered our family and genes, we’ve been strutting closer to the ground; and, as in the case of my motha’, have learned to sway our hips with enough gusto and sex to keep us better balanced in our short bodies.

But you would never call us “small.”  Even these days, most of my comrades are confused when I climb off my Femme Nikita heels and start standing a lil’ bit over five feet tall.

“You’re so short?!” they say with a sincere wonderment.

“It’s my ego,” I’ve learned to explain.  “It makes up for my height.”

From what I’ve overheard of the fam’s mysterious history, the broads of my motha’s clan have always had some serious temper on them.  Blame in on the Romani blood, but these wild cats have been known to intimidate their husbands and children into life-long submission — and heart-altering love — while getting shit done with the assistance of their famed sexuality.  Oh, yes, siree!  Hot-blooded, stubborn and messy-headed, these creatures have granted me their fearless make-up.  Especially when going through hell — when right in the very midst of it — we aren’t the ones to show fear.  And only when alone or in the arms of a man privileged to have tamed us into quietness for a while do we become the scared little girls every woman should be allowed to be.

All this preface to say:  I don’t need help!  Whenever lugging heavy loads in life, I don’t ask for assistance.  I can handle it on my own, thank you:

“Pleeze, dan’t khelp me!” I always shoosh away my comrades’ helping hands, in my motha’s thick Russian accent; and while I proceed with my stubborn struggle, I watch their beloved faces crack-up in recognition of my authenticity.  “Yourr velkom!”

Yesterday, after the expiration of the bloody tax deadline, I’ve finally ventured out to my local post-office with a couple of accumulated care-packages for my beloveds on the East Coast.  Typical to LA-LA’s fashion, this particular USPS location didn’t come with customer parking (shocker!); and after circling the neighborhood and deconstructing its street cleaning signs for nearly half an hour, I finally squeezed into a slot between the tank of a Hummer and a clogged-up sewage drain, about five blocks away from my destination.  Other than the reek that surrounded my car and reminded me of my Motha Russia’s cow fields, I didn’t mind the walk.  So, off I went, balancing in a newer pair of Femme Nikita heels in my best runway walk, while lugging my boxes.

Needless to mention, no man has offered to help.  Actually, there is a need to mention that.  I know the lovely creatures of my gender have made strides in pursuit of their equality; but until we are genetically predisposed to pack on muscles equal to those of men, chivalry should NOT be off the table.  Fuckin’ pussies!  Ball-less weaklings!  Call themselves “men”…

Oh, sorry.  Where was I?  What did I tell ya:  I’ve got quite a temper on me!

Actually, there was one creature who seemed to empathize with my load:  a drunk homeless man who took a break from vomiting out his morning meal, wiped-off the foaming saliva off his crooked, toothless mouth and slurred out:

“Getchaself a cart!”

Thanks, buddy — for this life-changing piece of advice.

Still, I remained un-phased.  But the weight of the load must’ve had some effect on my face; because by the time I reached the damn post-office, a Russian compatriot, who was meditating outside with a cigarette in his right hand, said:

“OH.  SHIT,” — and hurried to open the door for me.

Inside, it would’ve been a normal occurrence of events — unworthy of my rant blog — if it weren’t a handful of construction workers holding hostage one of the windows for the entire duration of my waiting in line, then my lugging struggles to the window, then what had to be a somewhat amusing attempt to lift these fuckers onto my clerk’s counter.

I’ve been a woman for long enough to know when I’m being stared at.  With every follicle on my skin, I can usually feel a stranger’s eyes on me; and despite all of my temperamental huffing and puffing at the window, I knew the brothers were watching me.  So:  I shot ‘em my askance look.

There was a beauty in their dirty faces, an unexpected type, and it caught me off-guard.  In mismatching overalls and torn-up frocks, with unbrushed locks of hair or long strands of dreadlocks, they had to be independent contractors on their way back from building a stage at Coachella.  Or something like that.  And despite the heat of my temper affecting my better reason, I immediately wanted to know their story.  But still too pissy to soften up, I barely nodded in their direction and pretended to be consumed with comprehending the shipping rates my clerk’s mouth was now spewing out.

On my strut toward the exit and past the still staring brothers, I felt an extra spring in my step:  I just did that, my comrades, all on my own!  And now I was heading back out — to hustle and survive! — while looking pretty damn good for a broad who hasn’t rested since the beginning of the year.

With the corner of my eye, I sensed one of the workers jamming his elbow into his colleague’s ribcage; and he, in response, slid off his camouflage cap and with enough selfless innocence to make me wanna adopt him said:

“You’re beautiful.”

Phew.

Yep.

Da.

Time-out.

It was merely impossible, my darlings, to keep putting on my front without tearing up.  I nodded and thanked him, all kinda off the cuff.  Yet, I could feel my heart skipping a beat.  And in that moment, unmarred by the man’s further pursuit of my name or phone number; in that moment that a woman can never expect a life to grant her — not in this day and age! — I knew that the struggle of self-possession and the high price of independence have been worth it; even if — just for that moment.

“To the Left, to the Left!”

The other midnight, while on Hollyweird’s no longer secret throughway of Fountain Ave,  I found my lil’ sporty car revving up its engine while impatiently crawling behind a clunker.  For those of you who haven’t had the privilege of sitting in traffic on this one-lane residential street running in between the freak-show of Sunset Boulevard and the parking lot of Santa Monica Boulevard, it is still one of the more reliable routes to take if you don’t ever wanna be the douche who walks-in late for a meeting — or an audition, or a dinner reservation — and says:

“Gosh!  The traffic!”

Oh really?  Traffic in LA-LA, eh?  Shocker.  Must the gay people’s parade out there, or something, huh?

Normally, when wasting my life in traffic, I’d resort to one of two choice:  either I swear colorfully enough to make the other drivers’ outer ears wilt, or I think of Eckhart Tolle and pretend to meditate.  But at midnight?

“WHY in the bloody, fuckin’ Dickens am I going at 3-fuckin’-miles an hour — with NO other cars in sight?!” I thought, and began to spew out hefty nicknames I’d call the driver of the clunker if ever that moron and I had a face-to-face encounter.

I was sitting behind him at a red light, waiting to make the left turn that would finally liberate me from his retarded choice of speed, when the passenger door flung open and a gorgeous creature leapt out onto the street.  She was petite, in some shiny, skin-tight Cat Woman outfit, with a bouncy bob of glossy black hair.  In twelve-inch heels, she jetted for the sidewalk, leapt up onto the curb and started walking.  By the temper of her strut, and the swing of her elbows, and the hesitant stall of the clunker once the light switched to green (the poor fucker forgot where he was going!), I quickly realized that I was witnessing a relationship dispute.

Now, a long, long time ago — this cat’s several lifetimes ago, to be precise — my love affairs used to have that sort of a dramatic feel to them as well.  Now, don’t get me wrong, my comrades:  Especially in the beginning, my lovers were always beautiful and love-worthy — of various nations and tongues, professions and talents, physical attributes and endowments, age groups and income; with unpredictable hairlines and bodily hair.  Oh, they were lovely!  Really!  But that’s, of course, until an affair would start going to shit (and let’s not kid ourselves:  we all know when a relationship does a one-eighty toward the unavoidable break-up); at which point, no matter how much I’ve tried to brace myself for grace and some degree of gratitude during the transition, it would always get dirty.

Not really a flaky or fearful partner (and because as an ex-Soviet, I accept suffering as part of the deal), I would still try to stick around “to fix it”.  But once there are cancer cells in the body of a relationship, most likely it is time to wrap-up all the loose ends and with a heavy realization of its unavoidable demise, just ask:

“Doctor?  How long do I have left?”

The mess that followed my departures (and I would always be the one to leave:  https://fromrussianwithlove.wordpress.com/about/) would take years to clean-up; often accompanied by astronomical phone bills due to all the sorting-out and the fishing-for-forgiveness conversations.  Or should I call them “fights”?  Hmm…  Yep:  They were fights!  Often unclean and unfair, loaded with lists of mutual grievances and tears; and a certain degree of my hyperventilation, because once again, I wasn’t sure where I had gone wrong…

Now, wait up!  Wait up a second here, V!

Actually, with enough honest examinations of my inner and outer selves, I have to confess:  I always knew when shit wasn’t right. Yep, I’ve seen the red flags and the signs of messy things to follows. Yet still, I would impatiently rev-up my inner engine and drive right over them — and into the arms of a man wrongly suited for me from day one.  And once in them — in those moderately or plentifully haired arms — I would continue to speed toward the Committed Relationship chapter of the affair.  More red flags would pop-up; yet I’d be in the zone, jacking-up my speedometer, Danika Patrick style.  And I would continue to stubbornly ignore my intuition — until the routine of the relationship would finally set in; at which point, I’d have NO choice but to slow down, eventually pull over, and collect all the self-violation tickets.

Okay, you get the metaphor, my comrades.

So, when the Cat Woman leapt out of that obviously ill-suited for her magnificence vehicle the other night, I had to remember my own stunts of jumping out of derailed relationships and my lovers’ moving chariots.  So, what did I do?  I U-turned, my lovelies!  (Illegally, of course!)  Because I too had suffered enough and could empathize with the Cat Woman’s Walk of Freedom.  And although I couldn’t help her with cleaning-up her poor choices and patterns, it was my civic — womanly — duty to ensure her safety that night.

Again, I sped, with my very ovaries pushing on the pedal.  But by the time I caught-up to our gorgeous kitten’s trajectory, she had already gotten back into the clunker.

“Well,” I thought.  “She hadn’t had enough yet!”

So, I said a prayer for our Cat Woman’s safety, hoping that she would always land on her feet; wished for clarity in her next life — and sped off home.

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!