To: Lina, Max
Date: Sat, Feb 14, 2009 at 6:24 PM
Subject: Happy Valentines Day
Happy Valentines Day. I love you, even though you rarely respond to my emails.
Max: because if im going to grow old and be miserable i want to take as many people down with me as i can
I wrote to my mother to get confirmation of the recipe and got this in response:
"Are you accidentally writing to the wrong person?"
And then when I insisted that I remembered said eggnog very clearly, I got this:
"Maybe you're remembering your birth mother."
And finally, the concession:
"I'm willing to believe I made egg nog, though, because I felt it was my maternal duty to pump you kids full of protein and dairy, and back then raw eggs weren't regarded as a health risk. And I've always loved food coloring."
Lollo has a sort of grandmotherly role in my life, whereas my actual grandmother takes more of an angry older sibling or frenemy-like position. Whenever I see Lollo she tells me how beautiful I am and compliments my intelligence, my ingenuity, my figure and anything else that might be in my general vicinity. My grandmother, on the other hand, tends to only mention these things in me when noting how deficient they are, or if I had been lucky enough to be gifted such a trait, in pointing out how I've royally screwed it up.
The last time I was in New York, my brother and grandmother and I took an hour-long cab ride to Lollo's assisted living facility. After 45 minutes, my grandmother insisted we leave. As we walked out my grandmother said acidicly, "Get enough compliments in there?" I'm not sure if this is a sign that she genuinely believes that compliments directed towards her grandchildren are an awful thing, or if some small part of her realizes that perhaps she should be the one that thinks my brother and I are amazing. What's particularly nice about Lollo loving me is that as a non-relative, she doesn't have to. As we were getting back into the cab to take us straight into rush hour Manhattan traffic, I realized that if my actual grandmother were just a friend of the family, I would never make this journey for her.
Wisdom is meant to be passed down from generation to generation, wizened old women telling the offspring of their offspring knowledge they have picked up along their journey, secrets they have learned to lead a better life. On our last visit, I was confessing how I used the New Yorker as a barometer of my worth--the more I had piled around the house unread, the more filled with self-loathing I become. I rarely have less than three waiting insistently at my kitchen table, and have, at times, it pains me to confess, gone up to as many as eleven. I half-heartedly try and blame this more on the international mail system that often brings two or three of the weekly issues on the same day than any shortcomings on my part. Lollo raised her non-existent eyebrows at me and said in a strong Austrian accent, "Something I have learned is that you don't have to read every article of every New Yorker. I used to try when I was young. There just isn't enough time."
"Tonight Lina and I were talking about the old, old days when girls weren't taught to read, and she said, 'I'd die if I couldn't read! Reading's the best thing there is! If there weren't any books in the world I'd write a thousand pages!'"
Max: are you going to make out with [him]
Lina: i don't think so
Lina:i don't need men to make me happy
Max: you need them to make you unhappy
Lina: Can we talk about my favorite subject? (wanting to discuss an upcoming Amazon order)
Max: Which? Feelings, or boys that aren't interested in you?
Lina: an apathetic brother is enough
Max: i want an apathetic brother
Max: but not really enough to use the word want
Lina: i could become a lesbian
Max: i guess "wouldn't mind"
Lina: me being a gaybot?
Max: no i was talking about an apathetic brother
Lina: so what can i do to make you love me?
Max: nothing as far as i know
Since I don't have time to update my page myself, I will just post copies of emails sent to me from abroad.
Here's one from my father, the poet, entitled 'The Marin County Fair":
the corn dogs actually advertised that they contained no trans fat
obama was the only candidate with a booth
all the art was photographs of sea otters and bonsai
there was a group of mexicans dancing in native costumes with beer bottles balanced on their heads
the only big competition in the baked good were scones
there were about 600 people watching while a guy milked one cow
I wonder if he's right, or if I just haven't found the right combination of meds yet. I've bought five self-help books in the last two weeks, and I'm hoping that if I actually read them, I will become a normal person. Wish me luck.
Roisin: they must really dislike him
Roisin: or do Jewish people not celebrate Thanksgiving?
Lina: my family is just full of dicks
Lina: must be
Lina: to be honest, I think it's nurture over nature
Lina: but either way
Lina: same difference
Roisin: it is always hard to differentiate
Roisin: you need an adopted cousin really if we are to get to the bottom of this
Lina: I have one
Lina: he got a girl pregnant in rehab
Roisin: so it is nurture
Roisin: glad that's resolved
Lina: and there's no AC
Max: i dropped a hot slice of pizza on my crotch so i sort of know how it feels
I just got back from New York where I stayed with my brother for a little while. I would patiently wait until 5 am, once he was exhausted, and then bully him into talking about his feelings. He did not like this, and tried to punch me.
He did weigh in on my (many) boy problems. About one he said, "You know that the only reason you like him is because he doesn't give a shit about you, right?" He took a bite of the EggMcMuffin he had just made from the EggMcMuffin machine in his kitchen and turned away from the computer to face me. "One person always likes the other one more. That's just how it is." He turned back to the computer and began typing, and said as an afterthought, "He's a sleaze, anyway."
When did my little brother become a relationship expert, I wondered? What he said had struck a cord. I've long thought that there are two types of men in this world. Men that I like, and men that like me. There's almost no overlap. I know, I know, this isn't news. This has been the content of my incessant bitching for the last decade or so.
Oddly, it's also the content of one of my favorite (and oft-quoted) books, 'Of Human Bondage.' There's always one who loves and one who lets himself be loved. If that's the case, how does anyone ever make a relationship work? I wish I could like the people that like me, but I keep dumping them.
My parents are the shittiest boyfriend I've ever had.
In a cab, trying to go home. The cab driver pulls the car over, and tries to grope me. Doesn't stop until I begin crying loudly. The same night, my brother was solicited by a prostitute and punched in the face.
Snapshot of my mother:
My mother recounts a time when my brother was a child and while swimming in the ocean, had to be rescued by a lifeguard. "Max was drowning and I just swam to shore," she laughs, a little proudly. "I could only think about saving myself."
Father: Peter says that Max is quoted in today's Wall Street Journal
Lina: well i'm in playgirl magazine
did he tell you that
Max: he probably saw it
Max: he probably read your blog a long time ago when he did a google image search for penis
max: outside of radio city music hall
max: it looked like he had an entire tub of chocolate soft serve ice cream for breakfast
max: and the lady watching him didnt notice so i was like "hey"
max: and she looked at me and i pointed
max: and the kid looked at her and then puked again
max: it was a thick stream like a big soft-serve snake
max: so cheer up buttercup
max: it could be worse
lina: and i was thinking
lina: i wish there was a hand gesture i could give that would insult their handicapped-ness
lina: like a limp wrist to a homo
lina: and then i thought
lina: max is right
lina: i am an awful person
max: what am i right about?
max: oh that you are awful
max: i only mean it halfheartedly
Sitting around the table at Chez Panisse, a fancy Bay Area restaurant. The players: me, my mother and father; I'm talking to my mom. My father puts his hearing aid in.
Father: "Wow! I can hear you now!"
Me (derisively): "Guess that means we have to stop calling you the N-word, then, since you can hear us."
Me (slightly louder): "The N-word."
Father: "The what?"
Mother (loudly): "The N-word!"
Father: "The what word?"
Mother (bellowing): "Nigger!"
Every head in the restaurant snaps towards us.
So when my brother moved to New York, my mother was out of town, and my father refusing to care for the dog that had been adopted despite his protests, Zoe was foisted onto me. I'd never had a real pet before, and my experience with Zoe herself was limited. She joined our family around the time I discovered outlaw bikers and their drug labs, and soon after that, I moved out of the house. I steeled myself, bought an attractive black rubber bone, and invited the most hyperactive dog I have ever run across into my home.
Despite the fact that my workplace allows employees to bring their dogs in, I knew that this was not an option. Zoe, like the rest of my family, is neurotic and high strung, and doesn't interact well with others. So I went on craigslist and hired myself a dog walker. I wasn't sure how to pick one, but when Karen correctly identified 'The Popcorn Song' by Hot Butter on my voicemail message, I knew that she was the one. However, when she arrived at my house, I was less certain. Karen was a rotund woman, and took her dog-walking responsibilities far too seriously. She made me sign a contract, and then showed me her dog CPR training certificate. I started laughing, thinking it was one of those stupid gags that pet owners find so funny. Alas, it was no gag, and Karen was fully prepared to put her mouth over my dog's entire snout if the need should ever arise.
Karen was supposed to walk Zoe for 30 minutes each weekday while I was at work. However, after having my heart smashed into 10 billion tiny pieces, I decided to stay home sick one day, and neglected to call Karen and tell her. She arrived on time, said hello to me and took Zoe out for her walk. 14 minutes later she returned, out of breath, and with sweat soaked through both sides of her feces-colored t-shirt. "Would you like a glass of water?" I offered, unsure how to proceed. She nodded, her flushed face grimacing in desperation. Karen quickly regained her composure, and proceeded to regale me with the details of Zoe's bowel movement activities.
The next day, the same thing happened. This time, Karen managed to stay out for 16 minutes, and again returned drenched in sweat and on the brink of an agina. Logic dictated that if Karen walked the dog for an average of 15 minutes while I was sitting right there, it was unlikely that she was taking Zoe out for the requisite 30 minutes when I was at work. Fearing that Zoe's muscle mass was in danger of atrophying, I wrote Karen an email. I told her she could feel free to stand in one place and throw the ball to Zoe instead of walking her--it was Zoe who I wanted to get exercise, not Karen. Although it did appear that it was Karen who was more in need of it. I had always been of the belief that fit and fat were not mutually exclusive, but Karen, a professional licensed dog-walker who could not walk more than a few blocks without panting, was proving me wrong.
Karen wrote me a few indignant emails in reply, and I realized that arguing with a fat, bitchy dogwalker was not my idea of a good time. I decided to allow Zoe to suffer, but promised to make it up to her by taking her to the dog park when I got home each night. I learned that despite my love for Zoe, dogs are boring. They want you to throw balls to them. You have to pick up their doody. They sleep on your pillow when you are at work, despite not being allowed on your bed. Goddammit. They look at you mournfully a lot. They have the ability to make you feel guilty by wagging their tails and cocking their head in a certain way. And really, it was the guilt that I couldn't handle.
I'm lazy. Not quite as lazy as my professional dogwalker, but lazy nonetheless. Zoe is the sort of dog that would happily trot beside a long distance running, and at the end of their half-marathon, would wag her tail and indicate that she was ready for a walk. I knew I wasn't able to satisfy her, and it left me feeling inadequate.
Wondering what Zoe did all day, I trained my webcam on my living room, and left for work. I found myself unable to accomplish anything for the next few days, so busy was I refreshing a page every 3.5 seconds, despite having set the camera to update only once per minute. I quickly learned though, that the dog I once thought was filled with boundless energy was little more than a useless sloth, much like the rest of her family. Zoe slept, on average, close to 11 out of the 12 hours that I was gone from the house. Occasionally she would get up, get a drink of water, and slink back to her bed, the very picture of malaise. This only exacerbated my guilt. She was obviously, much like myself, clinically depressed and unable to function for much of the day. I couldn't help but think it was my fault.
After my boss caught me watching the dog-cam a number of times, I finally took it down. And after countless doleful looks from Zoe when I refused to throw her bone for her (again) or haul my fat ass off the couch to walk her, I decided that I was not yet ready for motherhood, and fobbed the dog off on my friend Kim. When I see Zoe now, she looks at me not mournfully, but resentfully--for only she knows how inadequate I truly am.
"I don't want you writing for Playgirl," my grandmother insisted as my family and mother looked on, snickering.
"Well what else am I going to do with my time?" I questioned. "I might end up sleeping around."
"You already ARE!" My grandmother replied.
Unable to properly respond to this unfounded claim, I sputtered, "Well, I need a hobby!"
Ever ready with an argument, my grandmother quickly replied, "I thought you were thinking about taking sewing classes!"
Yesterday, I was shopping for underwear with my mother. As I am often wont to do while shopping for lingerie, I raised my hands to the heavens and cried, "What am I going to do with the rest of my life?"
My mother turned to me and cheerfully replied, "Pornography, probably."
Soon after, my phone service died, and I was forced to communicate with my brother--who lived only a few blocks away from me--by instant message. The logs have been recently unearthed, and I present to you the highlight of our September 11th, 2001 conversation, completely unedited.
Max (10:40:55 AM): should we be trying to leave the city?
Lina (10:40:59 AM): nah
Lina (10:41:05 AM): they are after the pentagon now
Lina (10:41:11 AM): we should be out looting
I had to get my hands on a copy of this magazine, though, before I could respond to the email. I wanted to make sure that my story queries about subjects ranging from armpit sex to anal bleaching were both tasteful and appropriate. So, as my father and I got into our new Chevy Malibu (a rental) and he innocently asked if I needed anything for the two-and-a-half hour drive to the Jersey shore, I quickly blurted out, "A copy of Playgirl."
This led to us stopping at nearly every rest stop on the turnpike, searching for this particular compendium of tributes to the phallus. "Excuse me," I would say brightly, as my father lurked in the doorways, consumed with shame, "Do you carry Playgirl?"
After the first few episodes of this, my father decided that he would rather wait in the car. The last time, I skulked back to the car muttering, "By the way they reacted you would have thought I had asked to fuck their children," and it was then that we decided that perhaps there were no Playgirls to be had that night. Apparently, New Jersians didn't hold the male figure in very high regard.
Today though, my mother gamely suggested that we try the XXX store out on Route 9, that she had been eyeing for a while. My father declined to join us, so together, my mother and I set off in search for the one magazine that published tasteful pictures of rock-hard erections.
We approached the cement bunker that housed the XXX shop, and with a snicker, walked in. I spent the first few minutes inside not searching for magazines, but rather, trying to get my mother to touch the lifelike "Spanky Butt" that came with its own paddle. "Touch it," I cried, camera ready to capture the moment.
"Oh I couldn't," she said demurely, "I'm not wearing makeup today." Her concern was clearly not in touching the Spanky Butt, but in how it would look when it inevitably appeared on this very site.
Before long, my fun was ruined by the clerk, who gruffly told me that no pictures were allowed. The clerk had blond hair, with straight bangs across the forehead. The clerk had clearly been born male, and was now in the midst of some sort of womanly transformation process. However, this was easily the laziest transsexual I had ever encountered. Most drag queens put bio-women to shame with their elaborate preening, sequins and makeup. This clerk though, seemed loath to do much beyond the dutch boy haircut, and a quick, uneven shave. He wore a baggy t-shirt that hid what could have been either small, saggy breasts or the lumpy memories of pectoral muscles. The denim cutoffs were short, so short that this clearly wasn't a man just having a bad hair day. I quickly asked about the Playgirl and the clerk shook his head.
"Only Playboy," he said. We scuttled out, and sat in the car, mouths open, looking at one another.
"It was like Pat," my mother said, a modicum of wonder creeping into her voice, as she referenced that ambiguous SNL creature. We finally ended up at a newsstand, somewhere in New Jersey that had a large amount of hardcore pornography. Because my mother appeared to be enjoying leafing through it so much, I forced her to ask the clerk. She put down her copy of "Huge Butts" and approached the counter. Finally, it seemed, I would have my very own copy of Playgirl.
When we got it home, my grandmother looked at us disapprovingly. She picked up the magazine and said, "Well let's see what all the fuss is about." She began leafing through it, and gasping, she held up a picture of a reclining man with a large erection. "Look at this," she cried, horrified.
I did, and innocently asked, "Oh, haven't you seen one of those before?" I had a pretty good idea of the answer, based on the existence of her four tiresome children. She glared at me, and continued to gape, before finally retiring to the couch, Playgirl in hand.
"Well," I said, "I guess it's time to go back the flags of Europe project."
"Does that mean what I think it does?" she asked, the twinge of concern in her voice overshadowed only by her curiosity.
"Yep," I replied.
"Well," she said, sighing, "At least you are being witty about it."
Since then, I've found myself in the position to finally be to use the expression "So that's why they call it French kissing!"
My brother couldn't resist commenting on the situation when he called me the next day.
"Why didn't you answer my call last night?" he asked me accusingly.
"I was on a date," I replied.
"With another fucking foreigner, I hear," he said scornfully, confirming my suspicions about the familial grapevine.
"COME BACK TO AMERICA LINA," he shouted into the phone. "COME BACK TO AMERICA."
"If you ran anywhere," he continued, smiling smugly, "you certainly waited until you had finished scarfing down your hot dog."
I waited a minute for his laughter to subside. "While that may be true," I responded, "you're still an asshole."
Trying to make up for childhood traumas with corndogs.
I don't remember how old I was, maybe six or seven. My brother, Max, was a picky eater. My parents would joke that the only thing green he was wiling to put in his mouth were the M&M's of that lustrous color. One of the few things he was willing to eat were hot dogs, either in his Kraft macaroni and cheese, or on buns.
Our lunch one warm Saturday afternoon was, in deference to my brother's palate, hot dogs.
The two hot dogs were lined up neatly on the kitchen counter, as my brother and I stood there looking up at them and salivating. My father pulled the ketchup out of the refrigerator, and picking up one of the hot dogs, carefully wrote my brother's name, Max, in careful, curlicued script on it.
"Ooh!" I squealed with delight, as my father handed the hot dog to my brother. "I want one like that!"
"Just like Max's?" my father asked.
"Yes!" I cried, impatient to get a hot dog with my name on it. "Like Max's!"
My father grinned and began to carefully spell out my name in ketchup on my hot dog. Except, when he handed it to me, I saw that it said 'Max.'
"But.." I wailed, my mouth open slightly in confusion and a slight dampness gathering around my eyes.
"It's just like your brother's! That's what you said you wanted!" My father began to laugh loudly, his face contorting and turning nearly purple as he enjoyed his own joke. My brother laughed also, between giant, greedy bites of his hot dog.
I understood then, kind of, as the tears began rolling down my chubby cheeks. I ran out of the house and into the heat of the California midday sun, slamming the screen door behind me and not stopping until I reached the roundabout at the end of the street.
There I crouched, under a yellowing oak tree, wiping the grubby tears from my face, and slowly, bite by bite, eating my soggy wiener.
"Rousseau in the course of his Confessions narrates incidents that profoundly shocked the sensibility of mankind. By describing them so frankly he falsified his values and so gave them in his book a greater importance than they had in his life. They were events among a multitude of others, virtuous or at least neutral, that he omitted because they were too ordinary to seem worth recording. There is a sort of man who pays no attention to his good actions, but is tormented by his bad ones.This is the type that most often writes about himself. He leaves out his redeeming qualities, and so appears only weak, unprincipled, and vicious."
--W. Somerset Maugham
My mother has a certain whine that one expects only to hear out of the mouth of a teenage girl--the sort of girl that would end all conversations with the word 'whatever.' She uses this whine only rarely, but when she does, it is usually accompanied by a slight shake of her clenched fist or a stamp of her dainty hoof. "Lina," she cries, regretting whatever it was that she just said, "Don't put that on your web page."
"Oh Mother," I sigh, "I'm a journalist. I'm obligated to tell the truth," I say, sniggering behind my hand.
"But," she squeals, "you only post when I say something offensive. You don't mention all of the nice things that I do."
My thoughts are that since I mention that she's my mother, the clear implication is that she gave birth to me, which was a pretty nice thing to do. This, despite the fact that she continues to complain about the birthing process twenty-six years after it culminated in my glorious entrance into this universe.
And perhaps she's right. It is possible that I don't repeat every single thing my mother says to me because frankly, most of her popular topics don't appear to be as interesting to the general public as when she talks about anal sex.
It hasn't occurred to her that the easiest way to get me to stop posting every time she says pudendum is for her to stop saying pudendum--at least in the presence of her daughter. This however, is a pleasure that she cannot forsake. She appears to receive no greater joy than to say naughty things in front of an ever younger audience.
Just a few weeks ago, she was holding Holly and Rene's baby. He was only weeks old, and she was cooing softly to him while Holly and I talked about the issues of the day. "Just like the BBC!" I exclaimed.
Holly innocently asked,"What does BBC stand for anyway?"
"Big black cock!" my mother crowed, overjoyed. She cuddled the baby closer, satisfied with both her nurturing and acronym-deducing abilities.
She's not the only one that has had her values falisified on shutitdown, though.
"Your page isn't real," my ex-boyfriend used to claim spitefully, "That's not what you are really like."
I tried to explain that the main difference was that on my webpage I was clothed, whereas in real life I was occasionally disrobed, and therefore he should count himself lucky. He didn't see it that way however. He was enraged by my apparent glibness about the problems that he felt were serious, the jokes about gangbangs (which he also thought were serious). He didn't like the fact that I didn't mention my relationship with him until our break up.
I thought perhaps, in the face of these complaints, that he would prefer that I write about him, so finally one day, a year into our relationship, I offered to include him here. "I want to read the posts first, and I don't want you to mention what country I am from. And don't imply that I'm a homo." These were just a few of the rules that he initally set down, and in the face of this, I decided that he wasn't very good material anymore, and never wrote about him.
As a side note, it was me repeatedly using the term "big black cock" in his native tongue that led to one of our most embarrassing (and public) fights. Fran can verify both the embarrassment and the publicness. Like mother, like daughter, I suppose.
Apparently this fellow didn't want to get painted by my writer's brush, one which reduced him to a caricature with little more than a limp wrist and a questionable nationality. And although my mother complains, I know that she enjoys the fact that she's a popular, cartoonish character. It's hard to be honest on a web page, and it's even harder to be interesting. It's too easy to fall into the trap of detailing one's food consumption and cd-buying habits. Luckily, my family keeps me in enough material to avoid writing about anything (or anyone) too mundane. Even more fortuitously, most of them are weak, unprincipled, and vicious, so I'm not often forced to exaggerate.
My father's response was to refuse to directly respond to my lament, and rather, detail the myriad of ways in which his life was far worse than mine. He cited finding a receipt from a couch that he had purchased in 1981 and which was removed from our house sometime in my childhood. Finding this scrap of paper, he claimed, was the ultimate proof of a life not worth living. "I still have the receipt Lina," he bawled. "Do you know what that means for me? Do you understand how much crap I have to throw away?" He paused for a moment. "I," he mused, "really have no reason to live." A moment later he told me that he was too busy to talk, and then hung up. Needless to say, despite learning that my father's list of reasons to jump out of a window was longer than mine, I didn't feel better.
His response though, was not a surprise though. Just like his overbite, I've inherited his overwhelming negativity and tendency towards depression. I've spent the last 20-odd years trying to fight them both, with no noticeable progress in either category.
The older I get, the more I seem to be behaving like my father. The only things that make him happy are insulting other people and seething quietly, his face marred only by a rictus of murderous rage and a single throbbing vein in the middle of his forehead. Luckily, I lack the vein, for now. The rest, however, is all falling into place.
My aunt is an actress, and one of my earliest, most traumatizing memories of her was when she invited me to see her in one of her one-woman shows. I was eleven, a fact that was well known to both her and my mother, who accompanied me to the show. This night was a groundbreaking one--it was the first time I heard the term "bestiality."
The show included a scene in which she described being on a subway and thinking lustfully about engaging in sexual intercourse. She proceeded to describe each occupant of the subway car and the acts she would like to perform on or with them.
The scene culminated with her description of screwing the homeless man on the train (with graphic talk of all his scabs). Then the blind man. Then his dog.
I was in the audience. I was eleven.
By the time I was a teenager, sodomy was old hat. I had heard my aunt describing it (while pretending to be a sailor) for years. To music, even, with my uncle singing backup.
When my brother was around eleven, he was taken to one of her shows. Apparently, in my family, eleven is the age of consent, and no subjects are barred once a child reaches that milestone. This time, in front of my horrified brother, my aunt removed her top and proceeded to straddle an audience member and rub her huge black lace brassiere in his face. Unfortunately, these are all the details that have survived, as my brother claims to have blocked out all memories from that night, and from the preceding two weeks as well, just to be safe.
I come from a clothed family. A very clothed family. We aren't nudists, we don't rub sunblock on each other, and we rarely wear sleeveless shirts. This is a fact that upsets my aunt to no end, and it is not uncommon to find her frolicking around the house in a camel-toed swimsuit anytime between May and November.
Sometimes, however, even this thin layer of spandex is too much. Last summer, we were at the beach house, and I was sequestered in my room. I heard the phone ringing in the kitchen and ignored it. It continued to ring, and realizing that I might be the only person not out on the beach, I ran into the kitchen to answer it. There I discovered that my aunt had gotten to it first.
I ran away as quickly as I could, but not before we made eye contact. I saw her naked and she knew it.
I spent the rest of the day trying to avoid her, or at least her gaze, unsuccessfully. Finally, she approached me and put her hand on my shoulder. "What's the matter Lina?" she asked, not able to comprehend why I couldn't look at her. "I feel like you're mad at me or something. Is something the matter?"
Currently, my younger brother lives with our grandmother. And although he enjoys his duties walking the dog and the constant nagging, he was nonetheless excited when he found out that our grandmother would be gone for the weekend. He was pleased that he would have apartment to himself, and there was a spring in his step when he approached the building.
On opening the apartment door, however, he was confronted with one of the most horrifying sights he had ever seen. Our aunt, who does not maintain a residence there, was lying atop the grand piano.
Better yet, she was wearing a French maid costume complete with a low-cut top, tiny skirt and even tinier apron.
And--it gets better, her legs were spread as wide as she could get them, which, since she's almost six feet tall, is mighty wide.
Best of all, there was a photographer perched on the balcony, taking pictures.
Traumatized, my brother rushed to his room, where he curled in a fetal position and rocked himself slowly back and forth. When that didn't help, he tried pounding his head against the wall, and finally, sensing there were no other options, lost himself in a drunken stupor.
A few days later, I received an email from my aunt. A group email, sent also to my mother, father, brother, and uncle. In it was one of the pictures of her in the famed French maid costume, this time lying on her mother's bed, the same one that her father died in but six months ago.
It took me not more than a glance to ascertain that at least she was wearing panties. I was only able to confirm this due to the fact that they were clearly visible. But at least they appeared to be clean.
My aunt is constantly providing me with material like this. To her, sending the entire family a picture of her fetish photography on her dead father's bed is always a good idea. Like most show folk I have known, my aunt is willing to do just about anything for attention, and perhaps that is why I have until now steadfastly refused to write about her. That and the fact that she reads my webpage on a regular basis. But that picture broke my resolve. As someone who makes a habit of writing about my dysfunctional family, I realize I would be doing a disservice to the public if I were to leave out this crucial part of the story.
So, if you'd like to see my aunt's rack, go check out her new show, Cervix With a Smile.
Having read in all the parenting books published in the late seventies that they should try and include me in the process, they asked me what I thought we should name my new little brother.
"Driveway," I replied, thus setting the stage for our relationship for the next twenty years.
Other than him, I've always been fond of babies. Having been born with wide-set hips, I can't help but coo at babies despite my natural proclivity towards negativity. I make faces at them when their parents aren't looking, and when they cry, I tell them sternly that they have no idea how bad it is going to get.
So when my friends Holly and Rene decided go and get pregnant, I was pretty excited.
My friends have had children before--well, one of my friends had managed to pop two out before the end of high school, and another two by her twenty-first birthday. She was a religious girl, and didn't think that God wanted her to use birth control. Unfortunately, she had skipped the day at Sunday School where they were warned about the injunction against pre-marital sex, probably because she was out boning one of her many older boyfriends.
Eventually, I convinced her that God wanted her to have her tubes tied, and saw her through the process after the birth of her fourth child. I also talked her into giving her son the male spelling of his name rather than the female version she had her heart set upon, and left feeling like my work as a good friend to a new mother was done.
Holly, however, hasn't needed this kind of help. One of her few requests of me during her pregnancy was to learn how to make Bloody Marys so that I could have one waiting for her the minute the baby crawled out. This however, has presented too much of a challenge for me thus far.
Despite my lack of bartending abilities, I'm thrilled about Holly and Rene's new baby. Most babies come out looking smooshed and deformed, leaving one forced to grimace and compliment wildly, hoping that anything might seem plausible. Luckily for me, Baby Rene is a beautiful specimen of a child, from the minute Holly squirted him out.
Recently I was exposed to another set of young parents, who made me thankful for the remarkable amounts of laidbackness and coolness that my friends have shown. This couple had a young person, around the age of four or five. The father of this little boy insisted on talking in baby talk for the entire afternoon that I was there, even when there were no children in the room.
This fellow also insisted on calling his wife's brother, also present, "Uncle Mark," making comments like, "Wud Uncle Mark wike a wittle bit of cheese?" Aunt Lina was considering vomiting, when the young father turned his attention on me.
"So, when are woo going to have a wittle one?" he asked.
"What?" I replied, dumbfounded.
"When are WOO going to have a wittle one?" he repeated, this time gesturing towards his son's toys, which were strewn all over the floor.
Momentarily at a loss for words, I finally muttered, "I'm barren," and left the room to fix myself a drink.
So for now, it seems, I'm going to stick to babysitting, and leave the actual babymaking to my more capable and genetically superior friends.
The other day my mother attempted to convince me that the only way I would stop sabotaging my own life was if I started thinking positively.
"Just repeat positive affirmations to yourself," she instructed me. "Try saying, 'I deserve to be happy' to yourself during the day. It'll really work!"
So yesterday, as I was driving to work, I muttered to myself, "I deserve to be happy, I deserve to be happy, oh eff!"
I had driven my car, once again, into another car.
This, I decided, was God's way of telling me that I was wrong.
My relationship with God, like all of my others, has been little more than fodder for the comedy routine I call my life. A few years ago, after I caught hand, foot and mouth disease from a subway train, I decided that God was punishing me for not believing in Him. I told my mother about this theory last night while crying about my latest vehicular "episode," and she responded by saying, "Oh Lina, I hope you aren't serious."
"About what?" I asked.
She sighed deeply and replied, "This evidence of some kind of faith. I'd like to think we raised you better than that."
And they had. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher, Mrs. Smith asked the group of collected five-year-olds to have a moment of silent prayer for some major world event. Perhaps it was the Soviets' refusal to participate in the Olympics, or Michael Jackson's heinous pyrotechnic accident that result in severe scalp burnage. I sat quietly, while we prayed. I related the story to my parents that night at dinner, thoroughly confused. "Quiet time," was hard enough for me to comprehend, having experienced this at home so rarely. But this "prayer" thing, now that was a complete mystery.
When my parents heard about it, they grabbed me by a pigtail and marched me down to the school, where they filed a complaint regarding my teacher's attempt to inject some sort of spirituality into my my day-to-day heathenism. My parents' complaint was effective. Never again was I asked to pray, or even for that matter, silently reflect. I was free to go on shouting "penis" on the playground as I was wont to do before they tried to break me--it was a more innocent time.
Around the age of eight, I decided for a few weeks to pretend to be Jewish. This was something I did now and again when I wanted to cause trouble. Didn't want to participate in the school's Christmas Pageant? Must abstain, I was from a marginalized peoples. Before the time that I wielded Judaism as a tool to make my teachers uncomfortable, I actually gave it a serious go. Meaning, I read Anne Frank's diary and cried, and then insisted that my ungodly family have a Seder that year for Passover.
For those of you not in the know, Seders can be seriously painful events, despite the alcohol consumption requirements. Imagine sitting at a table with your family for three long hours, eating hard, unleavened bread and reading aloud a hefty manuscript about God, the only momentary reprieve is getting up to open a door for an imaginary friend.
My family solved this by creating a non-denominational, seven minute Seder. There was not a single mention of God, and the bulk of the seven minutes focused on the plagues. Vermin, boils, and locusts--now that's something my family can embrace.
This display of religious fervor was matched by a Hanukkah celebration we had one year. The meal featured latkes (potato pancakes) and applesauce of course, but also a giant pork loin that my father had decided would be somehow appropriate. "What goes better with applesauce than pork?" he implored us, raising a meaty fist to the sky in celebration of that cloven-hoofed swine. The men in attendance, having no yarmulkes, put napkins on their heads and recited, "Baruch atah adonai...blah blah blah." Not able to remember the actual prayer, they mumbled for a moment and lit some candles before feasting on juicy pork.
Never fear, our disrespect for Christianity was just as ardent. Our Christmas tree was topped not with a traditional angel or star of Bethlehem, but rather with a plastic lawn flamingo that had been hollowed out and stuffed with lights, giving it an unearthly pink glow. One year that I remember, we decided to not to celebrate Christmas on the 25th of the December, the anniversary of Jesus' birth, but rather on a day that we found more convenient.
My apartment is adorned with a 3-D picture of Jesus, that at different angles is a portrait of the Virgin Mary. My parents brought it back for me, on a recent trip to Italy. They like to feed my adoration of (usually violent) religious imagery. It is framed with shellacked pink Peeps, that ubiquitous Easter treat, and a gastronomic celebration of Jesus' resurrection. It hangs slightly crooked, unable to keep a straight face.
A few years ago, I found a gift under the tree with a name tag that read:
From: The Baby Jesus
It's no surprise then, that I reached adulthood, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, without the presence of a higher power in my life. I've been lucky though. I've managed to fill the spiritual void with a lethal cocktail I've concocted, comprised of shopping, carbohydrates and hibernation. I mean, what more can you expect from an infidel?
First, my mother deposited her two cents. "You really shouldn't sleep with him on the first date, you know."
Keep in mind, this wasn't actually in response to anything that I had said or done; I hadn't even indicated that this was possibly on the agenda. Then, my mother proceeded to summarize the plot of "A Round Heeled Woman" (a book written by a woman in her late 60's who sleeps around) while applying the life lessons of this senior with loose morals to my life.
Without a break in the conversation, she went on to tell me about an article she read in Marie Claire about "dogging." "They just pull up in rest stops, Lina, and take on anyone that comes by! And their husbands like to watch!"
Exhausted, I left the room after vocally declaring eternal celibacy and continued my pre-date preparations.
I was scheduled to meet my date at 8 pm downtown. At 8:03 I was still on the way there when I received a text message on my phone from my ever-protective younger brother.
Has he raped you yet? it read. As a way to break the first date ice, I greeted my date with a hug and then showed him the text message. Luckily, I was asked out for a second date.
My next date was a mere 48 hours later, due to both the limited time I had in New York and my inability to escape my family in any other way. I walked downstairs, prepared to leave when I was confronted by my grandmother's sister. "You would look nice, except for the fact that I can see your brassiere."
"Oh Mary Louise, I'm just wearing a tank top under my shirt," I explained. "All you can see is the tank top."
"Still," she said, resolutely shaking her head, "I can see your undergarments." My tales of wearing a camisole, and attempting what the kids call 'layering' clearly hadn't swayed her.
"Well," my grandmother said, emerging from the kitchen wearing her 'I prefer the company of dogs' shirt, "I think you look nice even if I can see your bra." She paused for a second to let me digest this. "And don't you go sleeping with this fellow on the second date!"
Since I had by now realized that protestations of my virtue appeared to have no effect, I decided to try a different tack. "But Cosmo says it's okay on the third date," I whined, appealingly.
My grandmother harrumphed loudly and didn't grace me with a response.
The next day, when I logged onto my computer to check my email, I immediately got an instant message from my brother.
Max: are you wearing the same clothes you were yesterday?
Max: you weren't home when i came in at 5:30
Lina: that's odd
Lina: must have been a trick of the light
After my mother suggested to me once again that girls shouldn't have sex with boys too soon, I confronted her. I questioned whether it was appropriate to be giving such lectures to me at the wizened age of twenty-six, when it would have been much more valuable to me as a young and impressionable teenager. The only response I received was a shrug, and the claim that it had taken her all these years to read enough women's magazines to have such advice to give.
On the night of my third date, my grandmother patted my shoulder and told me that I looked pretty. Upon hearing that my date would be taking me to yet another nice restaurant for dinner, she began to worry. "I just don't want you to feel obligated. He seems very nice, and certainly better than that last one," she turned and whispered an aside to her sister "He was a dud." She turned back to me. "Just because he takes you out to dinner doesn't mean you should sleep with him on the third date."
"But Grammy!" I protested, "Why can't I give him the milk for free?" My great-aunt shook her head disapprovingly as I tottered out the door in one of my many pairs of painful pink heels.
The next day, sitting around the dinner table, my aunt looked at me and said, "Where have you been? You look so freckled, so sun-kissed!" She looked at me knowingly, and then around the table to make sure that each and every family member was listening and said, "It must be this new boy who has put roses in your cheeks!"
Family portrait where I am wearing the Mofo shirt and smoking a fake cigarette.
Proof positive that I don't make this stuff up.
When I was nine years old, I was in fourth grade and I liked to laugh. My parents knew of my affection for chuckles and chortles, and would occasionally take me to see the magician-slash-comedy stylings of Penn and Teller. Now, although the performance wasn't necessarily sexual in nature, it was most certainly intended for adults and not nine-year-old little girls. My favorite part of the act was called Mofo the Psychic Gorilla. Mofo was a giant box, covered with flashing LED lights and glittering wires, and topped with a giant gorilla head. Mofo would do poorly constructed mind-reading tricks which served to impress no one in the audience except for me and perhaps my little brother.
After the show my parents offered to buy me a shirt that said across the front "MOFO" and in smaller letters "the psychic gorilla." The shirt had white lettering on teal--which I have since decided is my most flattering color--and I wore it proudly. I never understood why my parents would stand in the doorway snickering as I marched out the house, flaunting my prized t-shirt. To school, to softball practice, to play at my Mormon friend Tiffany's house, I wore that mofo everywhere.
Then, one holiday season, my parents, knowing of my fondness for the primate genus, gave me a present of a large stuffed gorilla. I sat on the couch, surrounded by my loving family, debating what to name my new furry confidant. "How about 'Mofo?'" one of my doting parents suggested. I mulled over the proposal and quickly acquiesced. What, pray tell, would be a better name for my new pet gorilla than Mofo?
Soon after, my class had a show and tell day. It was a day where we could all bring our new presents to class and show off to our peers. When my turn finally arrived, I marched up to the front of the class wearing my Mofo shirt and proudly displayed my stuffed gorilla that I had dressed as a clown for the occasion. "His name is Mofo," I boasted.
That day at recess, Tony roughly pulled me away from my tetherball game. Tony was the enormous, abrasive boy who sat in the back of the class, wearing dirty t-shirts and sticking his tongue out suggestively at all the girls. Tony was from the wrong side of the tracks, and I had never before had occasion to talk to him.
"Dude, do you even know what Mofo means?" Tony asked me, leering in the way that only a nine year old boy can.
"It's a name, stupid." I glared at him angrily, but inside I started to feel uncomfortable. I knew that Tony's command of language far outstripped mine--he was the one who had gotten suspended for telling a girl that her mother was a "snowblower"--a word that not even the teachers knew the meaning of, other than it was most certainly a bad word. I worried that perhaps this Tony character knew something that I didn't.
My fears, it quickly emerged, were warranted. Mofo, it seems, was an abbreviation for motherfucker, and something that as it turns out, my stuffed gorilla most certainly was not.
I spent the rest of the day with my arms crossed over my flat chest hiding the sordid word, my cheeks burning with shame. For not only had my parents forsaken me, I realized, but Tony the fat kid had finally proven, once and for all, that he was the smart one.
We walked past a few, and decided that although seedy, they weren't quite up to our standards of seediness. As we approached another, I noticed a haggard woman in 5-inches heels standing outside. "There's your girlfriend," I giggled and poked my companion in the manner of an awkward 14 year old. The outside was painted a garish purple, and a sign proclaimed, "Cocktails Dancing Live Entertainment." Before we could make it to the door the woman went inside, and we followed her in.
Despite the $4 cover charge, we proceeded in past a cubicle that contained a mustachioed man wearing a badge from a candy machine, and we bellied up to the bar. As we waited for our drinks, I looked above our heads, and saw a six foot painting that depicted, in the style of Frida Kahlo, a reclining man with large, flaccid penis. Confused, I looked around. Brawny Hispanic men in muscle tees crowded the dance floor. Cher was blaring. My chaperone, laughing hysterically, turned to me and said, "You're the only woman in here." A quick survey proved him right. As I looked at the crowd, no white faces looked back at me. I fixed on what I thought were women, and quickly realized that they hadn't been born that way. It slowly dawned on me; I was in a Hispanic transvestite bar.
Soon after my realization, the drag queens working the bar took the stage and appeared to introduce themselves in Spanish, although I didn't understand what was being said, much like the rest of my day-to-day life. They left to circulate with the bar's patrons, leaving one of their brethren onstage with a microphone.
I've had experience with drag queens before. More so than I would have liked, I lived across the street from a drag restaurant in the East Village for a few years. But in my long, pathetic life, I'd never seen drag queens as ugly as this. Their faces and accoutrements were that of Jewish grandmothers, and their legs were that of a baby grand.
The drag queen on stage was lip-syncing to a Cher song that she didn't know the words to, and when she finished, she made an announcement in Spanish. I'm not sure what she said, but it may have been "look at the Gringos," because soon after, a man from Guatemala named Javier attempted to introduce himself to us. He shook my hand twice, and my associate's thrice. The possessor of bad breath and English skills that matched mine in Spanish, our new friendship with Javier was doomed.
When he walked away, we tried to figure out if he was looking for friends, thought I was born a man, attempting to play hide-the-salami with my chum, or possibly all three. By the time we finished our drinks, I was ready to move in. A bar filled with non-threatening men, and I was the prettiest girl in the room. It was everything I've always been looking for, but sadly, I was dragged out in under an hour.
I called my mother the next morning and told her that I had been to a Hispanic transvestite bar. She sighed, deeply and loudly. When I didn't respond, she clicked her tongue menacingly.
"What?" I whined. "It was fun!"
My mother sighed again. "I'm just so... jealous."
lina: like, irl?
max: and they said you cant say lol irl
max: because lol is implied irl
max: and it was improper
max: i told him to gtfo
lina: i say it all the time
lina: and people at work get so mad at me
lina: I say THAT IS SO LOL
lina: and they say
lina: shut up lina
lina: and i say no you stfu
max: start saying gtfo
max: ftw = for the win
lina: i thought it was fuck the world
max: it is
max: but thats secret
I dismissed my grandmother’s idea at the time, but now, on my 26th birthday, I’m starting to reconsider. Sixteen was a good age for me, I think. I can’t remember most of it, but the pictures indicate that I smiled that year. Perhaps it is time to finally cede to her wishes and start getting younger instead of older.
It must come as no surprise to the reader that upon entering high school and being forced to take a language course, I chose German. My teacher, Herr Silber, favored an informal approach to teaching, which consisted of us watching American movies in English and then, after the screening, he would parrot our favorite lines back to us in German. During the two years I studied under his tutelage, we watched Jurassic Park six or seven times. Although this brought us no closer to mastering the German language, we did have the pleasure of hearing our esteemed instructor repeat 'that is one big pile of shit,' in both English and German, more than a dozen times, after we all voted it to be our favorite quote.
In addition to American movies, Herr Silber found that the only way that he could get through the early classes of a California public school was by adding large quantities of alcohol to his morning coffee. His nose was lined with the telltale red veins that one sees in the faces of chronic drinkers, and on occasion, his eyes would well up with tears as he reminisced about his native Osterreich.
Depending on where Herr Silber found himself in the continuum of drinking to hangover, would determine the class format that day. Sometimes we cracked our books and repeated dialogues about riding bikes and traveling via bus. More often though, we would intensely debate the textbook's main character, Jens Kroeger, and the unnatural rosyness of his cheeks. Was this a mistake on the part of the color calibration department at the textbook factory, or were the German-speaking peoples indeed more flushed than we? As the only actual native German speaker that we knew, Herr Silber was our only basis of comparison, so we studied his complexion in great detail as he glowered at us from behind his podium.
It was known in the public school system that you only took a language class if you had some possibility of going to college. Two years of a foreign language was required for admission to any accredited school, so those of us who considered going to one of said schools enrolled in either Spanish, French, or German. In our class, however, there were four young men that appeared to have enrolled on a lark, rather than due to any sort of collegiate ambition. Herr Silber referred to the group as 'The Quartet,' and took their insults much more seriously than he took those of the rest of the class. There was no obvious reason for this, other than perhaps Herr Silber didn't consider them to be serious scholars like the rest of us.
By the beginning of our second year in German, we had learned how to claim 'my pocket calculator is lost!' and the Quartet had been reduced to a Duet. These two, however, were far more dedicated to class disruption than the ones who had bent so easily under Herr Silber's will and dropped the class. Travis was one of the two that remained in our class, biding his time until he was old enough to drop out of school legally. He was fond of taking my hands while staring boldly into my eyes and claiming, 'Your hands, they are so soft, they are like baby hands.' Although amusing the first time, it was apt to be repeated two or three times during any given 50-minute session. His daily routine also tended to include obscene outbursts whenever any question that was directed at him wasn't answerable with one of the two words that he knew after taking a year and a half of German.
After being sent to the principal's office several times for various offenses, Travis settled down, and ignored the class completely, even when directly addressed. He was silent for a few weeks, studying his textbook intently, and jotting down notes on a scrap of paper. Finally one day, a look of serene calm gracing his face, he walked to the front of the class and approached the instructor's podium.
'Well Travis, what do you have for me?' Herr Silber questioned him.
And then, in flawless German, Travis replied, 'Suck my third leg.' His victory complete, he picked up his books and left for the principal's office, without needing to be asked.
Only a few weeks later, we were given our quarterly progress reports. Our current grades were recorded, and the instructors were allowed to mark any of a few canned responses. Travis' current grade was the lowest possible'an F'and his comment read 'Working up to apparent potential.'
I, however, had the highest grade'an A'as did my friend Kim. This was not due to any inherent ability on our parts, rather, Herr Silber had promised Kim a perfect score on both her midterm and final exam if she would take the German exchange student, Ena, into her house. I had jumped onto the offer and suggested that I should be given perfect scores too, since I was living at Kim's house at least half-time. When I was refused, I told Herr Silber that I would report his alcohol consumption to those in authority at the school, and miraculously my grade shot up as well.
Ena had already been kicked out of her original host family's house. She was a large, broad-shouldered girl, with a propensity towards cowl-necked sweaters and a fondness for Budweiser beer. Her cheeks were as rosy as the children in our textbook, and she smoked more cigarettes than any teenager I had met previously. She didn't seem to believe in the regulatory laws of the United States either--she would light up a cigarette anywhere, whether on campus or in class, and always seemed surprised when she was forced to extinguish them. Kim had been chosen as her new host because of the extremely lax parenting in her household, and due to the fact that she lived only a block away from campus. This would allow Ena the ability to sneak back home to drink during lunch, which Herr Silber recognized was a formidable need.
Each day, Ena would sit on the diving board of the pool, a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other, with the phone from the house on the end of its tautly stretched cord tucked under her chin, chatting away in German. Judging from the number of phone calls that Ena made that semester, she missed her life on a horse farm in Germany very much, and found our attempts at alcoholism pathetic. We didn't actually learn any German from Ena, although she did teach us that in Germany, a sixteen-year-old can easily both look and dress like a woman twenty years her senior.
Those two years of German did help in the bid to get me admitted into college, however, beyond that, it has helped me very little. I am fluent, if you consider being able to say, 'Lick my ass,' and 'You are a pigdog,' fluency. I can also riff on pocket calculators'the possibility that they are lost, to your left or right or even right in front of you.
I've considered the possibility of studying another language, now that I am older. Were I to pick one, I'd probably choose French. During my last trip to Paris, I entered the country knowing only the words, 'yes' and 'I love you.' By the end of my trip I knew how to say 'ham.' Clearly I have a natural ability when it comes to the French language. I've also mulled over learning how to fake an English, or even possibly an Australian, accent. I think perhaps, due to my talent with languages, this may be more appropriate for my skill level. I mean, if Bridget Jones can be played by an American, I can certainly learn how to start throwing around words like 'bloody' and 'tosser.' I've been paging through travel guides, and practicing how I will say 'cheers' rather than 'thank you' when the stewardess hands out peanuts on my flight. Thusly, my language studies will begin.
After looking mournfully at the pile of gifts sitting in a corner of my apartment gathering dust, I realized that perhaps I should treat myself by unwrapping them. As I tore through the paper, I started to grasp why Peter took the approach that he did, and I saw that I had inadvertently done the same. Here, finally was the Seinfeld box set that I had been hoping (to no avail) that Santa might bring me. And a pair of socks with glow in the dark skulls on them that would look smashing on my gorgeous gams. With each present that I opened, I realized that luckily, I had only gotten gifts that I wanted myself, and I was intoxicated by the fact that they were mine, all mine. A glimmer of hope flickered in my mind, and my future gleamed with the shiny glow of consumeristic bliss.
During this painful, yet exhilarating, recovery phase, I've also found that buying expensive jeans and polka dot sheets have brought me some solace. I've tried to spend time attempting to understand the real me and have posed such philosophical questions to my mother as, 'Is it possible to be attracted to someone's language usage?' and 'Why do I find the use of the word 'hyperbole' when pronounced with an English accent so incredibly titillating?' I've tried to understand these things about myself, and barring that, accept them, and spend more time in hot tubs. I'm not sure if that will help, but it certainly can't hurt. I've been searching for answers during these long days of introspection, but thus far I've reached few conclusions. I have, however, vowed to clean my apartment more frequently, and I can't honestly ask more of myself than that.
Crap, I thought. There is nothing more embarrassing than having your father send you flowers at work. I slunk towards the reception desk and picked up a beautiful bouquet of pink and red tulips, and then waited until I was safely alone before opening the card that was attached.
'SNAP OUT OF IT,' the card read, 'Love, Holly'
I returned to my desk, smiling. I realized that perhaps despite the fact that no one ever calls me besides my parents, my friends cared about me. Over the next few days nearly every time someone walked past my desk, they commented on the beauty of my tulips.
'Who are they from?' they would ask. 'Oh, my friend Holly,' I would reply with a grin.
It wasn't until a girl I kind of new gave a look of surprise at my answer that I realized that she thought that Holly was my 'friend.' I turned to my co-worker and asked her if everyone who had asked about my flowers now thought I was a lesbian. 'Well,' she replied, 'I'd say that about 50% of them think you are an avowed homosexual. You did say, 'friend.'' Apparently 'friend' is the new 'lover.'
I wrote to Holly and told her about our newfound love for each other. And because of her impending motherhood, I wrote, 'I guess that means that I'm having a baby.'
She wrote back, 'You mean WE'RE having baby.'
Later that night I told my mother about what had happened and she said, 'Well Lina, if you're going to go gay, Holly would be an excellent choice. At least she knows how to treat a woman.'
My brother teaching Red about "the shocker."
I'm in New York right now, where I came to watch my grandfather die. Dying, I have quickly learned, is not funny. And although I recognize that, I'm going to try to focus on only the amusing parts of this saga, because the other parts make me cry.
One of the only positive things about this situation has been how my family has managed to come together and use our terrible sense of humor to cope with an actual problem, rather than to just gather like buzzards circling for the weakest member of the group to mock mercilessly. This time, we used our brutal sarcasm to build a wall against the feelings that were threatening to, well, make us feel. And when humor fails us, we can always fall back on the liquid morphine that the hospice left behind.
The hospice, in addition to sending large amounts of narcotics, sent a social worker to help us cope with the situation. Little did she know what she was getting into. Red (he was a redhead, thus earning him this nickname) had cancer and was in terrible, terrible pain. We all knew that the end was near, but we worried that he would linger on, in misery. My uncle asked the social worker what we should do if this went on for a long time. She was quiet for a minute and then said something like, "To be honest, I think it will only be a few days before he passes."
My uncle turned to her wide-eyed, and said with complete (feigned) sincerity, "You mean, he's going to die??" The social worker was flabbergasted. My mother suggested to my uncle that he not make jokes with the social worker, whereupon I cautioned him that it might land him in foster care (he's over 40). At that point, everyone in my family begin jousting to see who of us might be allowed into foster care, hospice care or just into the bottle of liquid morphine. A ripping good time, if only for the look of horror on the social worker's face.
On Wednesday at 2 am my grandfather died, which due to his condition was a relief to all of us, and to him I am sure. Within 5 minutes of his passing my grandmother commented on the corpulence of my upper arms when I hugged her, and I realized that although Red might not be around, my family life would go on.
I miss him, but I am glad that I have spent so much time with him recently. I had some wonderful times with him this summer--the picture above is from August at our family reunion. That night, when he was outside the restaurant with my brother and me, he told us that he was worried about getting grief for not wearing his hearing aid that night. "I'm thinking about stuffing breadcrumbs in my ears instead," he told us. "No one will notice the difference."
My grandfather was totally rad and I'm sorry that he's gone. But it's nice to know how many people there are in the world that loved him.
Of course though, I am sick! This is the first time I have gotten sick this school year. Last year I got bronchitis on my birthday, which was only massaged into becoming an acceptable situation by the fact that they gave me codeine. So I feel kind of crappy, but I'm sure I won't remember that by the time I get my pictures developed, you know what I mean?
In other news, Fran is taking me to get cupcakes next week. Details to follow. My dad called me yesterday and said, "I suppose this means I am going to have to call you again tomorrow, doesn't it?"
My mother called me to discuss the sheets she plans to get me for my birthday (white 4.5 oz flannel). She was ordering them while she was on the phone with me and said,
"Oh look Lina, we can get them monogrammed for only $5 extra! How about 'RAW DOG'?"
Mom: "Ooh or you can do three line, 45 character monogram...How many letters is, Abandon hope all ye who enter here?"
Mom: "I know! "Bow down before the one you serve, you're going to get what you deserve!"
So I'm off to cry into my hot cocoa but if you think you can do better than sheets monogrammed with "raw dog" from my mother, check out my wishlist. Or, mail me a picture of my name written on your knuckles or something. Party.
Halloween, Lina Squared-style.
Here's me and the other Lina on Halloween. Yes, we were "Nurs Lina." What I love about Halloween is not only does it give me the opportunity to dress up, but I get to dress up like a trollop. And as you have probably noticed, I'm not the only one. I went to the Castro in San Fran for a minute, which is like a wretched miasma of cute shirtless gay boys and women dressed like chippies. I was watching them go by me, "Oh, there's a slutty nun, there's a slutty cowgirl, there's another slutty nurse (whereupon I high-fived the other Lina), there's a slutty bumblebee, there's a slutty...what the hey? A slutty Q-tip?" Yes folks, I saw a slutty Q-tip on All Hallow's Eve.
In other news, my brother finally admitted that he loves me. Good stuff here.
lina: read the rules about siblings
max: one sec
max: People that have siblings should set up some kind of a call out code in advance.
max: this is fucked up
max: (Bananaslug, kumquat, or something like that is a good codeword)
lina: now listen
lina: as your sister
lina: if i knew that you were going to an orgy
lina: especially one that only had 35 people at it
lina:I'D STAY HOME
max: thats why you are the best sister ever
lina: let's go to tijuana
max: will you give me shit if i buy percoset?
lina: depends how much..
max: ive always wanted to go
lina: me too
lina: the other lina wants to go too
lina: you will like her
max: but will she like me?
lina: she won't sleep with you,
lina: but she will like you.
lina: she wants to spend half the trip whoring and the other half buying whores so we break even.
max: women whores or man whores?
lina: i don't think she cares.
lina: she just likes the idea.
lina: she also wants to smoke crack on the way there
max: so i should bring the camera then too?
lina: oh yes
max: do you plan on driving?
lina: if she's smoking crack, yes.
max: id try smoking crack.
max: if i was with big sissy.
lina: i love having a little brother. <3
Now as my long time readers can guess this is an actual conversation I had with my mother. (Remember when she said "pudendum"?) Particularly amusing was the fact that this conversation was being held in front of both my father and a number of my young friends. The trip itself to bring said young friends and my parents together was also pretty entertaining. According to my mother, my father started whistling circus music as my friends and I drove away. Comedy gold.
Many of you seem to be interested in my gym-going activities. I, your indolent webmistress, who has garnered a reputation as one of the laziest girls in the entire Bay Area has been going to the gym both regularly and furiously. They have incredibly trashy magazines there which basically serve to keep me on the machines in a way that the desire for exercise or physical fitness never could. Jane Magazine particularly is notably horrifying--I read an article about "Ivy League Hookers" that detailed one Columbia student's ordeal licking 67-year-old anus in her quest for Prada clothing and accessories. No people, I am not making this up, they used the word "anus."
My goal for the summer is to develop some sort of abdominal muscles. Not the kind you can see, mind you, but the kind that are safely hidden under a layer of tummy. I was talking to the girl who works at the gym and together we analyzed my exercise history. Basically we came up with the hypothesis that it was just through sheer luck alone that I have enough muscle mass to propel myself from the couch to the bed on a daily basis. Thank Christ for the little things, you know?
I got a number of complaints about my recent posting of a dick pic without warning, so the above fansign is my way of apologizing. Well, not my way, exactly, because that sweet ass is not my own. In fact, my own is nearly triple the size. But really, that's not the point. The point is I am posting a hot ass up here and you'd better appreciate it. Show your love in the comments, people.
My parents took me out to dinner the other day to reward me for finishing the semester without slitting my wrists. We were fistfighting for the the appetizers when my mom said, "Oh! Lina, did I tell you that--"
My dad interjects, "that you're adopted!"
He then giggled until his melon started to sport a slightly purple hue, which is soo not in this season.
Tonight I was on the phone with my mommy and she was telling me some story about someone and she said, "She's adopted, you know." My dad is listening in the background and shouts towards the phone, "You meant she say she's adopted too." So this week I've been mainly cleaning the house, looking for work and having my patrimony, or more precisly my entire genetic make-up denied. Not that my genetics have panned out thus far--in fact they have resulted in a number of things that only radical cosmetic surgery can fix--but hope springs eternal.
Now that was weird, I started writing this about an hour ago and then got lost in sorting my MP3s and started reading Pride and Prejudice. And then I saw this window up and thought "goddammit lina you didn't finish the update." I suppose, of course, the reason I didn't finish my update is that I have nothing to say. I have gotten a lot done already this week, but I can't imagine it's anything that anyone really cares about. For example, last night I started to watch The Unbearable Lightness of Being and ended up turning it off after 10 minutes because they wouldn't stop DOING IT. So we watched Clerks instead, because the only coitus in that movie is with a dead guy. In other news, I went to the food bank today, and to an art show. Good times. So you see what I mean about having nothing interesting to say? No one has tried to hurl themself through my window lately, I haven't gotten any terribly interesting email lately, and I've been doing a lot of Christmas shopping. Am I boring now? What's happening to me? Today I was talking to Danny and he told me that the reason everyone thinks I am older than my age is because I dress like a stockbroker. And I was just like, "WTF." He tried valiantly to pry his hoof out of his grill, but only suceeded in saying, "Well, in a hip New York day trader sort of way." And that's my life, folks.
Yes, this is from last year. Shut it.
I really hate it when people say "turkey day." Happy Turkey Day! I mean seriously, is there anything more annoying than that? I don't think so. So today, on turkey day, for the first time in 3 years I think, I am going to my parents house for the big day. This is very exciting for a number of reasons. First, my parents are gluttons. I clearly inherited their fine genetic stock, because none of us have that special mechanism that allows one to stop eating. To be honest, I'm a little bit surprised that they have never tried to resurrect the idea of the vomitorium. The old dad has made two turkeys for the big day, plus one last week so he can use it in the stuffing for these two. I'll take "Is that psychotic?" for $1000, Alex! Looks like I am going home with the cash prize because GOD KNOWS THAT 10 PEOPLE DO NOT NEED THREE TURKEYS. I would write more about my crazy family because this is basically going to be one of the more entertaining days of the year, but since they all read this freaking webpage and then harrass me (or my mother) about it, I can't post any of the good stuff. Sad, isn't it?
I really don't have anything funny to say. I could quote my mom again though, because she's always funny. A few days ago my parents came to visit me and we were all in the car together and I said something or other and my mom says, "You are weird."
I was shocked. I said, "Why am I weird?!?"
She replied, "Probably because you were badly brought up."
Lately I have been noticing a trend in my life. Consumption is the only thing that makes me happy. So I eat like a sow and shop till I drop. The problem with this equation is that I have no money so I can't actually shop. I like the idea, though. I have myself convinced that it's okay because it makes me a good american and that because we are on a "high terror alert" the only way to respond is to shop more. I just want to buy underwear that says, "I put out, just not for you." I told the Liz about this plan and she said she will just make me a shirt that says that because that way someone will actually see it. As it stands, the only person that sees my underwear that isn't one of my split personalities is my landlord who seems to let himself into my apartment when I am at school on a near-daily basis. This provides me with hours and hours of musing and trying to figure out precisely what he is doing and where the puddles may be.
Thanks to Tracy for making me update. Keep talking about those things you talk about, girl.
Wow. I am sleepy and it is only midnight. Go figure. Thinking about English literature and underwear all day really takes a lot out of a girl. Sigh.
max werkn (8:46:21 AM): ?
lina (8:46:26 AM): i put my hand into the toaster to retrieve my frozen waffle
max werkn (8:46:31 AM): DING
max werkn (8:46:34 AM): YOU WIN A PRIZE
lina (8:46:39 AM): and my hand touched the top of the toaster
max werkn (8:46:53 AM): dude
lina (8:46:58 AM): and part of my skin immediately turned brown and sizzled
max werkn (8:46:59 AM): even a dog would have learned by now
lina (8:47:03 AM): it was so fucked up
lina (8:47:09 AM): it stinks like burned flesh
max werkn (8:47:10 AM): DONT TOUCH THE HOT THINGS
lina (8:47:20 AM): i didn't mean to, asshole
lina (8:47:34 AM): i mean, this is coming from a guy who sticks screwdrivers into his own hand
max werkn (8:48:00 AM): it was always on purpose
max werkn (8:48:03 AM): for sympathy
lina (8:48:32 AM): did it work?
max werkn (8:48:40 AM): not sure
lina (8:48:47 AM): i felt sorry for you
lina (8:48:56 AM): a little
lina (8:49:01 AM): i was definately grossed out
lina (8:49:05 AM): so i felt something, at least
max werkn (8:49:07 AM): it did gush
max werkn (8:49:18 AM): member when you were putting foil in your hair
max werkn (8:49:26 AM): and i put a mouse trap under a piece of foil
max werkn (8:49:33 AM): and it nearly broke your finger
lina (8:49:38 AM): no???
max werkn (8:49:40 AM): i felt sorry for you
max werkn (8:49:41 AM): a little
lina (8:49:43 AM): did that really happen?
max werkn (8:49:47 AM): yes.
max werkn (8:49:50 AM): mom remembers
max werkn (8:49:57 AM): you were in my room for some reason
max werkn (8:50:03 AM): and you were doing your hair
max werkn (8:50:13 AM): wrapping it in foil for some reason
max werkn (8:50:19 AM): when we had all the mice problems
max werkn (8:50:28 AM): and i took one of the mouse traps
max werkn (8:50:36 AM): and put it under a piece of foil
max werkn (8:50:41 AM): and you went to pick it up
max werkn (8:50:44 AM): and it snapped
max werkn (8:50:49 AM): and you screamed bloody murder
max werkn (8:50:55 AM): saying i broke your finger
max werkn (8:50:56 AM): and i hid
lina (8:52:11 AM): now that i know about this, i'm gonna get you
lina (8:52:15 AM): you should hide now
max werkn (8:52:29 AM): pft
lina (8:53:08 AM): i totally blocked that out
max werkn (8:53:28 AM): with good reason
lina (8:53:34 AM): yeah no kidding
lina (8:53:37 AM): christ
max werkn (8:53:44 AM): remember when we were fighting
max werkn (8:53:47 AM): all through out the house
max werkn (8:53:53 AM): and we ended up on the floor in the dining room
max werkn (8:54:04 AM): and i grabbed your head and smacked you face first into the tile
max werkn (8:54:07 AM): and your teeth bled
max werkn (8:54:12 AM): we didnt fight much after that
lina (8:54:35 AM): you fag
max werkn (8:54:53 AM): you remember dont you
max werkn (8:54:59 AM): our parents were horrified
lina (8:56:31 AM): no i dont remember at all
lina (8:57:21 AM): you savage
max werkn (8:57:51 AM): ask them
lina (9:00:22 AM): i just called to ask about the mousetrap
max werkn (9:01:44 AM): sacred memories
The little girl with the fat face and side ponytail is so cute and reminds me of my fat sugar glider. SO CUTE!
So, since I blocked my mom from reading my webpage, I can go ahead and start publishing her emails again.
|----- Original Message -----
From: My mom
Sent: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 14:19:16
Subject: from the onion with love
|----- Original Message -----
To: my mom
Sent: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 14:31:28
Subject: Re: from the onion with love
|----- Original Message -----
From: my mom
Sent: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 14:41:03
Subject: Re: Re: from the onion with love
I like my mom, and my mom likes freaks. My brother and I got my mom some crap for her birthday, that I mentioned at the time, but forgot to link for fear of ruining the surprise. So here it is, you should all run out and get these things for yo mommas.
Lina (4:05:21 PM): are you there???
max (4:06:31 PM): yeah
Lina (4:06:59 PM): omg remember that park/projects that is on fifth street? and you could walk through it to get to your house?
max (4:07:19 PM): yeah
Lina (4:07:27 PM): well there was this squirrel there that I was in love with and you used to make fun of me and said I was gonna be one of those old ladies that talks to my 69 cats
Lina (4:07:40 PM): well today i was just walking through there
Lina (4:07:48 PM): and the squirrel started following me
Lina (4:07:58 PM): and then i stopped and i said something to it in the glider voice
Lina (4:08:02 PM): AND IT JUMPED ON ME
max (4:08:08 PM): HAW HAW HAW
max (4:08:12 PM): DID IT BITE YOU
Lina (4:08:14 PM): no!
Lina (4:08:17 PM): it likes me!
Lina (4:08:24 PM): i freaked out tho cuz i didnt want rabies
max (4:08:24 PM): carry it on your shoulder
Lina (4:08:29 PM): and he jumped off
Lina (4:08:35 PM): and followed me through the whole place
Lina (4:08:38 PM): it was INSANE
Lina (4:08:42 PM): A SQUIRREL JUMPED ME
max (4:08:44 PM): heh
Lina (4:08:47 PM): IN THE PROJECTS
So I didn't update my site for a week because I had blocked my parent's provider from accessing my web page, because my mom was being annoying. So then once I was there, I realized I couldn't access it either. Haw. I needed a break though!
My favorite internet drama queen ghetto lady is back in town! Well, not really, I think Jamie is in Germany but her site is back up. Here at shutitdown.net we commend Jamie for not having bloated, saggy breasts! Cheers!
"GET A PART TIME JOB THAT PAYS THE SAME AS A FULL TIME JOB!"
Round of applause please, thank you thank you.
Poor little Zilch in his e-collar.
My little baby got his testicles removed today, it was a very long day. He has been trying to rip out his stiches so they put him on an anti-psychotic. It made me reminisce about the long, lazy days filled with anti-pyschotics and ovaltine. Oh sweet 17, where are you now?
So anyway, he's all fucked up and in an e-collar, which is one of my favorite things for animals to do. I have to hand feed him for 7 days and keep him in a separate cage. Poor baby.
On my way home from the vet (where they tried to charge me $250 until I ACTUALLY CRIED), I got kicked off the bus, called the bus driver a bitch, and then came home and got locked in my apartment. I had to pound on the walls until my neighbor came out into the hall and took care of it. Thank god I didn't have to call the police to have them rescue me from this crackhouse. Trauma all around. I really have a headache.
Whelp, it's that time of year again--ball-cuttin' time. Tomorrow, my baby zilch is getting neutered. He has a little bald spot (like all real men) but once I get him fixed it will start going away. I tried to take a picture of his balls for all of my faithful readers, but he was cranky. Sugar glider testicles are actually quite adorable. They are fuzzy and look like a little pom pom that you would use in crafts project. They hang from a little string sort of thing, so when he is relaxed they can be hanging almost a half inch. Like a little christmas tree ornament. I BETCHA NEVER THOUGHT BALLS COULD BE CUTE!!
That will be it though for the gliders, I will have gotten all the boys fixed so I am feeling a real sense of accomplishment. No more inbred-seizure-ridden-babies! I mean, until I get pregnant that is.