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Kristi Sanders & I Discuss Skateboarding

MoFo asked if Kristi Sanders and I would like to interview each other about skateboarding, and he mentioned a few points for us to touch on. Here is what happened!!

T: How old were you when you started skateboarding, and what made you start? Were there many women skating around you at the time?

K: I believe I was maybe 22 or 23? It was summer and the mountain snow was long gone. Skateboarding seemed like an obvious alternative to snowboarding, and soon thereafter skating replaced snowboarding.  There weren’t many women skating then, which made the few that did so apparent. My first couple years of skating I can recall two women that were regulars at the Vans Block of Orange; Karina Gibbs, and Madonna (can’t remember her maiden name) Thorne. They were both advanced skaters. Karina was dropping into the vert ramp, and Madonna could ollie into the mini ramp. They might as well have just transported from Altrusian Time Pylons because what they were doing was so alien to me. I was still mastering a kick turn! But the impression they left was less about their skill level, and more about their mindset.  They skated with authority, they didn’t ask permission. Even in a heavy lineup I never once heard “mind if I drop in here?” They skated like they belonged. No! They skated as though skateboarding belonged to them. 

How old were YOU when you started skateboarding and what made you start? Were there many women skating around you at the time? What was your impression of the women you did see skateboarding? I know you enjoy skating pools. What was the first pool you skated? 

T: I started skating at 36 years old, as is common for women. I started because my friend Shoshana von Blanckensee who was a nurse and working in the ER had another nurse ask her if she wanted to start skating in the parking lot on their break. After she’d been doing that for a week or two, she called me (I remember it was a PHONE CALL, not text, because it wasn’t as unseemly to call at that time in history) and mentioned she was doing something she thought I would like, which was skateboarding. We went to a small stretch of flat sidewalk on the top of Bernal Hill in San Francisco and I grabbed onto her arms and rolled up and down the sidewalk. Even though I was not comfortable or natural AT ALL, I knew I wanted to learn to skate very badly. The only other thing I’ve known that deep in my bones is that I am a writer.

Weirdly when I started I had a large crew of women I was skating with, most just learning. That was super helpful and made me much more comfortable than I would have been otherwise. I also met Holly Sheehan who was one of the people who started Skate Like a Girl in Seattle. She was so encouraging and stoked on our decision to learn that she introduced us to other women who skated and helped set up a community for us. It was ridiculously great and supportive. Almost all of the women I met were street skaters. They came out of the 90’s skate culture that was all about street spots, ledges, rails, stairs. They were rad skaters, though street wasn’t ultimately what I was drawn to. When I started going to the Pacifica skatepark, I learned about transition and dropping in. That got me OBSESSED. It took me over a year and a half to finally learn to drop in. I was hell bent on it.

Bob Lake took me to my first pool, which was Lorraine’s in Modesto. I think it was 2011 or 2012 when I first went there. It was amazing. I think it was a Blue Haven. I liked the idiosyncratic surface of pools, how you had to be in your body and just respond to what came, rather than checking out and depending on the perfection of the terrain. I still love skating pools and transition. I love a frontside grind on pool coping. That’s the extent of my TRICKS. I like flowing lines and abandoned spaces. I like having a crew of beautiful humans all together, stoking each other out.

Do you have a specific kind of terrain you love?

K: Pools, bowls, curbs, parking lots, skateparks, ramps… I skate them all! Lately my interest is in pools. I don’t skate them enough. Pala’s 3-week (un-buried) stint got me fired up on pool skating, followed by our recent Nude bowl AZ-CA session. How incredible was that? Although I think the stoke of the Nude bowl was more about the crew (you know who you all are) and less about the terrain. Some of my best skate experiences have been skating pools with you, Bob and the other round-wall cats. 

T: Has your experience of skateboarding changed as you’ve gotten older?

K: I cherish skateboarding even more now that I’m older.  Every aspect of it. In my younger days skateboarding was a junkie-thirst… must learn everything right NOW! It was all about demanding skills from skateboarding and inevitably craving more. Skateboarding for me now, as a seasoned human being, is more about experiencing skateboarding. Going on more trips, sharing the stoke with friends. Ironically I’m learning more skills now by expecting less and just enjoying the journey of skateboarding. The value of skateboarding has compounded over time, especially the way it has influenced my perspective on life. I’m definitely jumping more fences now than I did in my youth (both figuratively and literally).  I’ve always met rad people via skateboarding, the difference is now that I’m older I’m meeting friends that I share other commonalities with. How many friends do you know that discuss the environmental advantages to Earthship building or the timeless perfection of PJ Harvey’s 4-track demos while blowtorching the wet surface of a pool? This is mature, adult skateboarding at its finest! Also, in my early days of skateboarding there weren’t all of these philanthropic organizations providing a platform to use skateboarding as a tool for change. Volunteering for SkatePAL was one of the best experiences of my life, something I might not have considered doing as a skateboarder in my youth. 

You’re a writer and stand-up comedian. Have you written any skate-related pieces or used skateboarding in your comedy performances? Have you ever dreamt about skateboarding. If so, what was the dream? 

T: I have written pieces about skateboarding for The Believer and for xojane.com. I liked writing them, though of course the whole time I was writing I was worried that I wasn’t capturing the true spirit of my experience with skateboarding, and describing that accurately feels urgent since I believe it undermines the reliably boring nature of what adults are expected to do with their lives to create meaning (marriage, children). Obviously you can have all the marriages and children you want, and find meaning in that, but it should not be heralded as the only way to live a meaningful life. No one should feel pressure to do either. I feel like skateboarding untethers the spiritual human experience from capitalism. It’s pure soul, spirit and human connection. There is nothing in the heart of skateboarding that can be bought or sold. Just the plank of wood that gets you there.

Re: stand-up comedy, I did talk about how a lot of the skaters at the Chili Bowl (held by Blood Wizard at Potrero skatepark in San Francisco) look like tiny wizards. Very niche material. It was early on in my stand-up career. People have encouraged me to talk about skateboarding more in my material but I feel pretty ambivalent about it. I like to do weirder/less narrative stuff these days.

I totally dream about skateboarding!!! I can’t remember anything specific, lucky for all of you reading this. But let me assure you, in my dreams, I am pulling off stuff that I can’t in my waking hours and it feels GOOD.

Can you tell us more about your experience with SkatePal? What inspired you to take part in that program? What were the most powerful parts about your time in Palestine?

K: Volunteering with SkatePAL and giving skate lessons in Palestine was an incredible experience that I wrote about in detail here.  I discovered SkatePAL by chance. A friend who already knew I had inquired about volunteer opportunities for Skateistan had tagged me in a SkatePAL Instagram post. Palestine looked like a fascinating place and the month-long volunteer stint seemed like a reasonable amount of time. I immediately applied. 

SkatePAL’s program, or any program for that matter that offers the opportunity for individuals to express their capabilities through skateboarding is inspiring. The most powerful aspect of my experience in Palestine was the generosity.  The locals in Asira Al-Shamaliya, the town we were staying in, were really involved. They offered our crew car rides, hosted our dinners, shared their homes with us. Kindness was a constant and it really left an impression on me. Anyone interested to learn more about the volunteer experience with SkatePAL can read this interview with SkatePAL

What has been the most challenging aspect of skateboarding? What is your most memorable skate experience? 

T: The most challenging part has been learning to skate pools. Any modest skills I’ve developed over the last eight years of skating are put in a very humble place by encountering the inconsistency of pool surfaces, which of course are the whole point and why they are so much fun, and so compelling.

Another challenge is sexism. On one hand, most of the men I’ve skated with are highly evolved humans and have never treated me as anything but an equal. This is particularly true of all the men I’ve met from Virginia Beach. Exceptional humans: Bob Lake, Mike Yaccarino, John Baise, Joe Fro. Men not from that area but majorly influencing my skate life also are Yong-Ki Chang and Billy Valdes, Ray Sotto, Mike Neff, MoFo. But in Southern California, I’ve met some of the most sexist skateboarders ever. Men in their 30s and 40s who relentlessly objectify and denigrate women. I skated with a handful of dudes for a while who said troglodyte garbage like “stinky pink” and “box” and wouldn’t relent on talking about women as objects to fuck for more time than even makes sense for a functioning brain. I let them know in a mellow, off-hand way that it bummed me out and they would just double down on the filth and disrespect. I stopped skating with them. One of the men is still resentful at me for not liking how he spoke. What the hell does he care? I always said, “You’re a grown man, you can speak however you want.” I just choose not to hang around it. They kept their crew together, I struck out on my own. I’m so glad I did.

The first people I skated with in LA were a crew of women and they were really cold and unfriendly, but I had been folded in because of someone I was dating. It felt good to leave that whole scene of mean girls behind. Things have only gotten better since then. I met you, Ji, Shannon, and so many incredible people of whatever dumb gender to skate with after that. It’s never worth staying in a bad situation.

Young women who I don’t really know but inspire me and have amazing style: Eunice Chang, Vanessa Torres, Nora Vasconcellos, Alana Smith, Izy Mutu, Shanae Collins.

Women who I do know and have inspired me (and so many others) and have incredible style: KRISTI “THE COLONEL” SANDERS, Ashley Mott, Cara-Beth Burnside, Mimi Knoop, Cressey Rice, Jean Rusen, Jodi McDonald, Nicole Dodson, Shannon O’Connor, Ji Hong, Jenni Helms, Margaret Cutter, Elyse Clouthier, Holly Maeder Sheehan, Marie, Mels Bells.

I’m sorry to everyone I missed.

Colonel, who would you like to shout out?

K: YOU of course! What is a Colonel without a Captain and a Captain without a Colonel? There are SO many folks that stoke the session and too many to name that inspire. Some I have the opportunity to skate with more, and some less…but all hold equal value….and the value is HIGH! For me, skating really has evolved into the experience shared with others. I love you all (you know who you are)!

The Crime of Being Zany

Are you guys a bunch of naughty little scamps? Then why aren’t you in a casting office right now showing off your personality? Is your personality also a BRAND? Will it be what makes you successful, since your real skill is above-average intelligence and it’s so hard to quantify that? And it’s just not as strong as being in a sorority of your greatest assets: smarts, hyper-vigilance and SASS! Dammit someone should cast you in a movie or at least a vacuum cleaner ad! Isn’t it lonely being clever? Knowing you have so much to give, having higher expectations for yourself than retail or food service can match, and yet not knowing what job that means you should have while you wait for the world to LISTEN FOR ONCE. The USA needs to take a cue from an Arctic arts-loving culture nested in a country the size of Delaware and start paying people to be ARTISTS.

There are jobs out there for everyone. Well, maybe most people (and only a select few cats). If you’re obsessed with murdering women, I suggest you become a nurse or ex-armed forces person. If you’re obsessed with model airplanes, trying flying one of the big ones up in the hostile skies! And so on.

Today I went to an audition for a print/online advertisement. The casting call sought women who can jump over fires, climb fences, leap from boulder to boulder, who have crazy colored hair, or are otherwise living the philosophy of an older woman’s watercolor painting bought at a small town art fair: I CAME TO LIVE OUT LOUD.

I waited in the big main area/bus depot of a giant room with many little casting offices shooting off of it. There were long dongs covered in low-pile carpeting to sit on, so I plopped my bunz down behind a flautist with hot pink hair pulled up in two tight buns and an adventurous shirt covered in faces made out of sequins. There were a LOT of bold shirts in the room. There was a lady in a giant white chiffon skirt with black polka dots who played her accordion. When she came out from her audition she pulled on a big pair of dark grey sweatpants (bless her perfect heart) and slipped out of her skirt. Very “Working Girl.”

When my name was called I went in with five other girls/women AS THE CASE MAY BE. Each of us had to get our photo taken, then profiles, then a brief interview in which we were supposed to tell the people anything ZANY OR UNUSUAL about ourselves. You have to really know yourself in a suburban context for this. Because if what you do is normal everywhere else, well. You might just be living your life like you’re just a run-of-the-mill bimbo-about-town. But in the context of national advertising, even parroting a quick joshing phrase you saw on “New Girl” shows some real pluck.

There was a contortionist in our group. I really admire those broads. She did a couple cool weird things with her body. The woman next to me said that she is in MENSA. The casting director asked if she ever uses her smart math mind for things in everyday life. She said sometimes her husband points out a route they could drive to a restaurant, then she counters with a more efficient route!!! You crazy bish, men don’t like getting directions from ladies! CATHY CATHY CATHY LOCKHORNS LOCKHORNS LOCKHORNS BLONDIE BLONDIE BLONDIE HAGAR THE HORRIBLE JUGHEAD BETTY VERONICA

When it was my turn I flipped the switch on my neon sign of a smile, and it flashed “EAT AT BOB’S” and then “MILLER TIME.” I then said, “I am Tara Jepsen, a 44-y.o. adult woman skateboarder.” There was an admiring whistle from one of the women standing next to me that made me feel embarrassed. We didn’t need to say our age, but I wanted to. I said I skateboard bowls and pools. So I have climbed fences, and I’m comfortable with that. I said, “There are videos of me skateboarding online,” which was the actual dumbest thing I could have said. I had had a moment of thinking that they would think I don’t actually skateboard, and so if I mentioned video documentation, surely Susan Faludi would write a book about my day. So I made a weird face and said, “That is so gross, I don’t know why I said that.” I think I fit about twenty expressions into two minutes, whereas the gals next to me did one long bong rip of GRIN. I told them that I do not do a good ollie, so I shouldn’t be selected if they want a street skater. Overall, I really sold myself. Can you tell?

I am home now. I just turned in my novel for another round of edits. I have to call someone back so we can talk about ISOLATION. I hear a cat meowing outside. I’m trying to decide what to do next.

Some are writing

I don’t relate to or enjoy the hashtag “amwriting” and that’s mainly because it feels quaint. Are people really just mentioning on twitter that they’re writing? And you can go to that hashtag and see all the most dull tweets in the world? I’d rather go stare at my sock bin. If I want to see what it’s like for people to write I will FART FART FART. Do my laundry. Wash my dishes. Put BBQ sauce all over a sandwich. It’s not that I don’t need community, I do!! I am struggling like crazy to re-write the end of my fucking novel. This year has already been a toilet ring of poop bacteria, do I really want to re-hash my brother dying?? Not really! No I do not! All whilst my wonderful couch sits behind me like a lusty pile of donuts begging me to come closer and don’t be shy.

The rain has been nice. The small dogs have not. My neighbor’s terrier (from his head down to his derriere) barks non-stop from 4pm-5pm every day. I do not admire his internal clock. Hearing that plus reading about the horrific state of my country is enough to set my teeth (by now each about as wide as a corn flake) on edge and ripping through to the gums which apparently, if you’re in that biz, give a great BJ. The only thing I want to suck on is an inch-wide length of hose attached to a mashed potato and gravy tub (though if some gas huffer person could get it started that would be great).

It is New Year’s Eve and I am doing my laundry, talking to my cats, and otherwise prepping the house to lumber into another year of working hard and judging good people. I’m drinking a green smoothie which I think is probably not quite the best idea because it’s cold and I think I’m supposed to eat hot foods to keep my barren womb in fighting shape. And the goddess knows we’ll need all the combative wombs we can get these next four years, as we become the banana republic some people have always dressed for (at least on Fridays). We can let Ronda Rousey retire and hope she thrives as an action star or shilling bathroom cleaner or whatever. I wish her the very breast. I wish all you boobs the very breast! Happy New Year!

Have you ever been a shithead

I HAVE! I am currently being a rather major shithead, in the form of avoiding editing my novel and instead walking around my house singing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqUka3m4K80

In a hair-metal fashion, really loud and wailing and contorting my face into an ocean of emotion and wrinkles like a stressed Shar Pei (because the wrinkles are tight like folding a paper airplane instead of luscious and loose like the dog). I’m dressed fully in grey sweats and Christmas socks! Want to come over? What if I got rich and famous and then just invited a bunch of blowhards I met in the previous three years to all my parties? Like I was doing a thing of “I made it” and somehow I did it alone or whilst desperately needing to shed all the people who were integral to me getting there, who helped form who I am from our years of making freakazoid outsider art in San Francisco? That would be so cool, I would be so cool and people with really nice cars would find me hilarious. I would be a jokey belle of the balle! I often think of being on Sixth Street between Market and Mission many years ago, maybe 20? I think looking down the dead end part of Jessie Street (just looked at a map to be sure and there’s a BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE A BLOCK AWAY!! LET ME BE THE FIRST TO DECLARE THAT JUST NOW, SF HAS BEEN GENTRIFIED AND IF I COULD STRING A DECENT SENTENCE TOGETHER ABOUT IT INSTEAD OF THE FRAGMENTARY AND NAVEL-GAZING BUFFOONERY OF A BLOG ENTRY, YOU BEST BELIEVE I WOULD BE PITCHING THIS TO THE HEAD OF CUISINART). There was a residential hotel on the right hand side, I think. There was a lady with her head out a window a few floors up, maybe 3 or 4. I believe she was a sex worker because she was throwing bottles and other crap at the people she knew in the street and one of them yelled, “You’re going to have to come down eventually!” and then something about her only having an hour up there. She would PAY THE PRICE for shunning her people as soon as the temporary glory (really was it glory? Maybe!) ended.

How the mighty of our re-imaginings fall!

Anyway. I am listening to the rain slow outside, and thinking of eating a cough drop. I need to work on my novel.

I REMEMBER WHEN WE TALKED ABOUT LOVE IN THE BACK OF A CHEVROLET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

An Aftermath

I am not going to detail for you the extent of my disappointment with the election. It has a 2% chance of being interesting. I watched election results roll into the CNN trash compactor at a friend’s house, nested in queer hope, maybe a touch of excitement. We couldn’t believe how horribly things appeared to be going, and when my adrenalin gave out after weeks of sustaining a painful, fluttering panic, I went home. I moved dejectedly through the house, knowing there was no reason Kristina should care for me, when she just as likely needed care. I experimented with a lite catatonia. I thought that was interesting, in a Julianne Moore in “Safe” way. At least my distress had a cinematic quality.

To describe awakening to the fact that I am invested in government on all levels (local, state, national) seems like tedium without reward (unlike, say, nursing my neighbor’s Epiphyllums back to health over the course of a year and watching them bloom their heads off, describing how I realized that legislators in all arms of government affect me and people I care about would reward me with your CLOSED TABS).

I didn’t really cry that night though I felt my tears in my chest. I thought about texting my Republican dad, and I made plans to never speak to him again if he voted for Trump. I decided my dad had always been a devout misogynist, despite all the gifts of strength and resilience he gave me. I thought about him dying, and how daughters so often are charged with mourning complicated assholes both in their lives and deaths. I thought about how I would handle the realization that I was supposed to have: that I had been too harsh, that I had skipped learning to embrace a fraught relationship with my dad in favor of easy and sweeping actions that provided absolute answers. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with booting family permanently out of your life. A lot of them are genuinely terrible people, and I/you didn’t choose them. Fuck ’em.

I wrestled with asking my dad a question I couldn’t decide if I wanted answered. I was waiting for the Flyaway bus at Union Station yesterday and texted him: Did your candidate win? He responded soon after No, but that neither of them qualified as his candidate. That statement alone enraged me, that a highly experienced and passionate woman didn’t “qualify,” but I possessed in that moment the magical evolution that invariably falls on the abused ever-before the abuser: maturity. I didn’t say anything dickish. I just said, “Remember when I was sexually harassed in junior high?”

He didn’t remember. My mom never told him. We lived an hour south of him in a small town called Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. It would be easy for him not to know.

The vice principal at my junior high, Mr. Sackett (Pat Sackett?) sexually harassed me and several other girls in my junior high. He would stop me in the hallway when I was alone, walking to the bathroom or running to my locker during class (must have been bathroom, I don’t think we were allowed to run to our lockers? I’m just trying to imagine how the hell he found me going to the bathroom on so many occasions.). He always said, “You know you’re really beautiful, right?” and I felt terrible, grossed out, trapped. So I thanked him, because that’s what you do when someone compliments you. COOL MEMORY, BRAIN. Cool runnings, Sackett.

When I reported Mr. Sackett, along with the two other girls who were willing to come forward, we were met with disgust and disbelief. Toward us. I had teachers who would no longer speak to me in class. Who called me out for leading a “witch hunt” (exact words used). I was publicly ridiculed by Mr. Bemis, who I think taught Science. I was then called into the police station to be questioned. I sat in a chair, which I remember as a desk chair on wheels. I had been in the building before because my best friend Allyson’s dad worked there (in another city capacity, not a cop) and would let us practice our dance routines in the basement. In the police office, I sat in that chair and was surrounded by towering, large men who were standing. I found out later they were all friends with Mr. Sackett. They tried to call me a liar, tried to find holes in my story, drilled me and tried to make me recant my report. I would not. Ultimately Mr. Sackett was asked to leave our junior high, and he found a job as vice-principal of a Catholic girls’ school about an hour away.

I texted this story to my dad. He was shocked. I think we had the single most bonding conversation of our lives. He told me I was “SMART, FUNNEY, TALENTED” in all caps. He’s a great speller so I don’t know why “funny” was misspelled. He said he was stunned by my story, and that it sounded like there was more at stake than just two candidates who would invariably pass from our lives in 4-8 years. I chose not to go into the fact that most people are not white men like him and this election affects us specifically. (Real big slap to the boobs, all you white ladies who voted for the Repub candidate.)

I could have told countless stories to my dad to try and show him how much this election meant to so many of us. I went for the most personal for obvious reasons: I thought he was most likely to care. I certainly hope he cares about racism, Islamophobia, immigration (I am 3rd generation American and feel very connected to our family’s immigrant narrative. I think so often of my great-grandfather’s work laying railroad ties so he could support TEN KIDS after his wife died of breast cancer.), and sexism. Homophobia. And everything else that ensures safe, thriving, healthful lives for all.

I thanked my dad for the fortitude he gave me. I told him how often I think of his lessons in persistence and pursuing what you know in your gut is right, no matter what people think of you. You take the long road if that’s the right way to get where you’re going.

This conversation was the first blessing after that horrific election.

To be continued.

For Michelle Tea

Last Monday, October 3rd one of my best bros of life, Michelle Tea, had a party for her new book Black Wave. I’m 3/4 of my way through and loving it, though I’m an easy sell because baby I love Michelle. I wrote a special piece to read for Michelle at the party, and here it is!

ON THE OCCASION OF RELEASING BLACK WAVE

Look at me. I’m thinking about you, Michelle. Do you see the shape of my version of you on the front of my eyeballs? I’m just sitting in a high-backed tufted upholstered armchair, looking across this perfect French colonial-themed townhouse (I know that seems incongruous, but you have to create the world you want inside the compromised shell you’re given) with a perfect middle-distance gaze. I am allowing the reverie of your success to wash over me like a soft serve tsunami of Summer’s Eve Island Splash douche and Jergen’s Ultra Healing lotion. Sweet, comforting, clean, soft. Oops! You know what? I let my fluffy white robe slip open. There’s my beaver. Or as I’ve come to call it, my Barbie hat. I saw photographs from a wonderful performance artist named Patty Chang who had placed the head of a Barbie doll between her shaved labia. Ever since then I just see a cute pair of earmuffs down there, rolled up and stored between my legs, staying warm. When the warmer is warmed. Michelle you love and support so many writers, and now we’re here to love and support you. You are the earmuffs between my legs.

Michelle. I do love you. I feel the breeze from the small limbs of your popular body swinging in the air like an air traffic controller making love to a wind turbine on a platform bed on a rocky promontory with the full blood moon shining brightly and the waves of the mighty ocean crashing below, as real as they are metaphorically beneficial, signaling me to LIVE OUT LOUD. I’m listening. I want your dreams for me of yours to come true. I want to shine like only a woman with framed motivational drawings from a local art fair can. I feel the lady who made those primitive drawings in my psyche. This lady, who sat at her drafting table and screamed to the rafters, then realized the rafters were but a glass ceiling in sheep’s clothing, so she broke it, hollering I DO NOT HAVE TO DRAW IN A PHOTO-REALISTIC MANNER, I AM MY MOTHER’S DAUGHTER, I KNOW HOW TO CONVEY MY POINT USING SHAPES THAT EMERGE FROM MY SUBCONSCIOUS LIKE A BAD TOUCH FROM A DRUNK RELATIVE BABYSITTER. I GRANT MYSELF FREEDOM TO LET MY ANGER AND MY SELF-LOVE DO THIS DRAWING TOGETHER. And if my thighs shall be rendered like a raging bull and my head be small and a little flat on one side, so it is. I won’t wear hats. Lest these feral scribbles speak too much of a depressive nature, I shall splash them with bright non-toxic gouache like Mary Cassatt painting a long-torso-ed toddler on a spring day. But with the color palette of a plastic play yard for children at a fast food restaurant or activity corner at a dentist’s office. I will invoke confidence and self-love like a denim duster swirling around my mother’s ankles as she climbs in and out of her Camaro. With short hair. That has been curled with a curling iron. Starts out clumpy crispy with mousse. Then gets brushed out with a round brush from Walgreens. Like finally getting permission to eat that extra slice of pizza. From yourself. The call coming from inside the house. Which part of the house? Your gut. Your soul.

A Day for Gals and Vals and Johns

Hi All You Lovely Lonely People!

Welcome to another donkey ride through another meaningful holiday in the brief but notable list of holiday card changeovers at CVS. Being in alignment with our nation’s drug stores is just one of many worthy goals, like perfecting your toss in a game of Corn Hole!

So Kristina and I have put our heads together, lit a TON of votives, and come up with what we think is a flawless Valentine’s Day experience. Feel free to poach and enjoy!

We assume you slept on a giant mound of cotton balls and donuts (depending on if you’re a ballerina or a Homer Simpson), and woke up gently to the scent of Stetson and cinnamon sugar candles. As your eyes delicately parted, a perfect cup of bulletproof coffee arrived at your side, handily affixed to a leather coffee saddle worn by a Norwegian Forest Cat. YUMMY! In the background, the crackle of breakfast being cooked by your beloved.

Despite the rumble of breakfast cooking, your beloved hears your long eyelashes part and puts on a record: Portishead’s “Dummy” and lights the finest candles yet, the Nest brand Elton John collection. The “Sir Elton John Fireside Candle” the “Sir Elton John Woodside Garden Candle,” and of course, the “Holiday Candle,” though it just doesn’t have a good ring to it.

One of your cats, probably the Tabby, is drawing you a bath. He has dropped several Sexplosion Surprise bath bombs into the water, making it a glittery, grainy, game-y delight. A profusion of essential oils dissipate into the water. Lavender, rose, vanilla, confetti cake, Duncan Hines frosting from a can, edible undies, Gerbera Daisy petals (hot pink), and a pair of invisi-socks float into the water. Your tabby adds a cup of Tide with Bleach and a dryer sheet (the non-toxic kind, Lavender Fields scent). Yummy. You peel off your red teddy and slide into the water.

You hear the notes of Wandering Star pipe out of your Crossley. Your black domestic short hair cat applies a hot oil treatment to your hair since your ends are fried and it hasn’t grown for two years. You look like Prince Valiant, you goof!

Two quick erotic scenes, one for a mixed-gender relationship and the other for a similar gender relationship:

Mixed Gender:
Your beloved enters the bath room with two glasses of Lambrusco and hands you both of them. He briefly leaves, then returns with his arms outstretched. One arm has five plastic candy canes full of red, pink and white M&Ms. The other arm holds a People Magazine, an OK! and an O Magazine. His boner holds a loofah and a washcloth.

Similar Gender:
Your beloved enters the bath room with a tray of Cape Cods for you. S/he opens a shopping bag and pulls out a feather tickler, fuzzy handcuffs, and a rainbow feather boa. S/he then doses you both with molly (unless either of you are sober, in which case s/he gives you each a tube of Traumeel or Ben Gay if you don’t have a Whole Foods or the internet nearby.).

You can imagine the rest of each of those scenes yourself.

You get out of the bath and put on a teeny nightie. You also put on the rainbow feather boa. You walk outside to your white pre-fab gazebo and sit down at a white iron work breakfast set to eat a glorious meal of Dove milk chocolate hearts, PB&J sandies on white bread cut into hearts, white chocolate dipped strawberries and a 24 oz. strawberry Quik brevé made with half and half. Also a small, clear bowl of Special K filled halfway with milk. For the main meal you eat a plate of cocktail weenies laid out to spell “I Love You” and a multitude of tiny ramikins filled with various sauces and dips for your baby dongs. The dips include:

Classico brand Alfredo sauce from a jar mixed with fresh dried chives and diced green olives
Frito Lay Jalapeño Cheese Sauce
Cottage cheese seasoned with Lawry’s Salt and pineapple
Mum nem
Teriyaki sauce w/ extra powdered sugar dusted over it
Nutritional yeast sauce made from trish, soy milk, ginger, caraway seeds, fresh dill, stiff peaks of egg whites and Easy Cheese garnish.

After your meal you spend the rest of the day nested together in a large papasan under a mohair blanket watching movies. You watch Pretty Woman, Sleepless in Seattle, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Repo Man, Enough, Glitter, Aimée and Jaguar, A League of Their Own and Thelma and Louise.

By the end of the day you’re both asleep in the papasan, quietly farting and providing warmth for your cats.

Things We Can Do

Last night Kristina and I were going to bed and had a wonderful mutual realization, after letting some empowering television commercials surface in our minds for no reason other than we’d been watching Dateline episodes about women being murdered for HOURS. You know when you feel so connected with another person you know you will repeat the same lines from Laverne and Shirley at the same time and you will know when the other is in danger of buying a synthetic fabric? THAT kind of connection. The kind that protects you, binds you, and makes you smarter. Like when you discovered Melt butter substitute when you’d been eating Earth Balance for YEARS. These are leaps I never could have imagined when I was in my 20’s, just like I could never have predicted the microwave when I was a baby.

Here is what we realized:

Women wearing maxi pads during their period can still be active and exciting women!!!

Here is a list of things women can do while wearing a giant pad (this doesn’t apply to pantyliners because if you’re wearing one of those, you should just stay home and wrap yourself in a sleeping bag and read those dusty Trixie Belden books you’ve been meaning to re-visit. Let her be your surrogate!

1. A woman wearing a pad can ride a bike. If anything, it makes riding a bike nicer because there’s more of a buffer between your soft downstairs and that mean old seat. It’s like adding a mezzanine level to your Holiday Inn (piano lounge optional).

2. The pole vault! This isn’t about having sex with a man or any kind of person wearing a dildo or just having an arm. This is about being a woman in a small pair of shorts, hopefully tight on the leg so your wings aren’t visible, running toward a horizontal line that is high in the sky. You plant your pole in the appropriate spot, let the bend lift you, and aim your pad over the pole. Ideally any lost blood will be read as sweat. Most women wear bottoms that are more like bikini bottoms now, which is great for sealing in the juices (like cooking a turkey in a bag), but that doesn’t mean you have to do that.

3. Deliver the mail. These days women can walk for many blocks with pants, shorts or a skirt on while wearing a maxi pad. Though several exertion points will receive strain during this process, a good pad is plenty wide enough to catch all of the period, at least for a couple hours (depending on what day of her period is happening) (if you’ve hit day twenty please see a doctor) (and stop drinking milk or anything else fucking up human hormones, like tofu).

4. Reset an Internet modem. For decades women have been unplugging, waiting a minute, and re-plugging in these important devices. Without modems, we could never buy novelty shower curtains and deeply hate all the people we actually like on social media websites.

5. Be a drummer in an all-girl pop band. There are many times I’ve watched a band of all women and had a strong sense that at least one of them was wearing a pad. How else could they be so creative and free?

6. Climb a ladder. Birth-age women have needed to climb ladders for centuries. Sometimes they are hanging hummingbird feeders, other times, changing the proverbial “how many women does it take” light bulb. Still other women are hoisting a hand-lettered sign for the opening of their new medical marijuana dispensary or heavily-perfumed bath product store.

7. Drive a lawn mower. There is no more complete feeling than taking your heavy flow for a ride across a great expanse of weeds and/or grass. Circle around your trees, glide gently past your metal fairy sculptures, and regard the neighbor’s seasonal wreath from the throne of your soaking wet maxi pad and the mower underneath it.

8. Be president of a company or nation. Women in power are more likely to wear a pad than tampon or diva cup. That is because they want results they can see. While some less intelligent humans and their minions have suggested that a menstrual cycle presents emotional obstacles that the man leaders and their strong, large, steady hands don’t face, it is our opinion that women, having suffered the utter insanity of having a body, could rule any organization effectively with minimal exertion and maximum absorption.

Thanks for reading, and happy bleeding!

Engulfed in a Chevy Spark

This last week I went to Portland, Oregon to skateboard and go to a wedding. Guess which was more fun? NEITHER, THEY WERE BOTH GREAT!

Kristina and I rented a Chevy Spark. It is very tiny, like if one of my dad’s generic foot covers/shoes had wheels and three cylinders or whatever it has. A 9-volt battery. But it has lots of tiny pockets and tiny spaces, so we made a list of what we would hold in each area. Katy Davidson also contributed to this collection.

Where to hold stuff in a 2015 Chevy Spark

Passenger side compartment next to vent/above glove box:
Tacks, pushpins, paper clips, mini stapler, single hole punch, staple remover.

Passenger side door compartment under door handle:
Junior Mints

Driver side door compartment under door handle:
Werther’s

Driver side door compartment along bottom of door:
electric pencil sharpener, pencils, dishwashing gloves, Johnson and Johnson baby powder.

Passenger side door compartment along bottom of door:
Mini bike tire pump, single can of Dinty Moore beef stew, can opener, chopsticks, tongs, pair of no-see socks

Trunk:
Ceramic Santa, 6-lb. medicine ball, neon green Crocs, zebra print duct tape, one pack Salonpas sore muscle pads, strobe light, theremin, large candle (Fresh Linen scent)

Two Dead People from History allowed in backseat:
Gilda Radner
James Baldwin

Drinks we provide for them:
One cranberry chia drink
One smoothie made of: radicchio, craisins, caraway seeds, pinch of cumin, diced Good-n-Plenty candy for garnish

Glove Box:
Pack of Pall Malls (no filter), one can of Sofia, lighter, pack of female condoms

Under driver’s seat:
Puffy trapper keeper (matches car interior)

Under passenger seat:
TV tray w/ cold cuts: Bologna, Mortadella,

A Life from Years Ago

The year 2000, am I right?

It was a time. On a long life ruler that includes: being born and dying and the destruction of more species and the one time for ten seconds a butterfly landed on your finger and you called it Magic. It feels good to feel good. Let’s get more of that midnight snack.

People around me were making a lot of money. It seemed great. I remember watching Beth withdraw $100 from an ATM and I thought HOLY FUCK THAT IS SO COOL, I would like to achieve that level of casual around $100. I only withdrew $40 at a time. I had quit yet another job to go on tour. I needed work.

My girlfriend at the time worked for Macromedia. They paid her well. I was aware that making money was an option, and yet, I felt unclear how to gain access. I finally got a job at a web design company and, in true low-expectation form, I made $15/hr.

I was a copywriter. I don’t remember doing a good job, but I do remember caring about doing a good job. I learned a bit about designing a CSS and some basic HTML. At a time my friends were pulling in dough hand-over-fist, I made a babysitter’s wage.

The company I worked for rented a house in Potrero Hill to be our workspace. No one checked if it was zoned for working and then it wasn’t and the neighbors reported us. We were kicked out and the company folded. Because the money was drying up. My gf’s employer sent us to Las Vegas after she finished another Flash manual. They put us up at Treasure Island and bought us tickets to Siegfried and Roy and Cirque du Soleil. If I wasn’t young and combative it probably would have been more fun. I did pay $18 for a Siegfried and Roy coffee mug which I am drinking out of this second and should not have put in the dishwasher.

So I lost my job and panicked and lost sleep. Fret, fart, worry. My friend worked for a non-profit that needed a payroll lady, and I was hired. It was a very special time in San Francisco when all my friends were obsessed with cocaine and fucking each other. I chose not to get involved with that stuff because I knew I would go in way deep and never come back. My texts frequently went unanswered and I felt frustrated, alone and shut out from friendships I relied on before everyone doubled down on their drug and alcohol consumption.

My gf didn’t want to pay for everything and I didn’t want her to either. It caused stress in our relationship for her to shoulder the cost of all our sushi and other extraneous activities. Queer women are often profoundly uncomfortable with having mismatched resources, which I think doesn’t happen as much in straight relationships where men are understood to be more capable earners. Is that true or is this like when I try to describe what penises do?

My friend and her gf were selling coke to our boss and he was trolling for dates in Tijuana. He moved his boyfriend, his boyfriend’s wife and their four kids into the apartment under his in Santa Monica. They got a wonderful education in the USA. My friend’s mom was hired to be our boss’s assistant and so it was really all very intimate. My friend came to work ripped up and hungover almost every day, and it was hard to navigate her moody ups and downs. But I had a job getting people paid, taking out lines of credit for our boss’s rehab (same one as MK and Ashley) and his boyfriend’s (a lesser rehab). We also paid for the boyfriend’s family to go to Disneyland. I hope I see one of them write a memoir one day and I can read it and think, “I mailed the check for that.” More kids were born and they didn’t look like the first three. I salute that woman and her sacrifices.

Our boss had a fancy apartment with rented furniture in San Francisco. It all cost around $5000 a month and he was barely there. We were paying people the salary equivalent of $12/hr. and often paying them late, but our boss had oversized rented furniture from Cort, a downtown apartment and a membership at one of the fanciest athletic clubs in SF that we paid for. It was unnerving to be in such weird financial peril all the time. The people who hired us hated us but apparently, all the 22-y.o. recent college graduates who worked for us did great work and their spirits were not yet broken so the clients all got what they needed and stayed with us. Just like a marriage!

A woman named Sashamay was hired as our boss’s second assistant. Ugh he needed so much help!! She stowed bottles of booze in her desk and was a ripping 89 pounds wearing matching children’s clothing. She reminded me of my grandmother. She was diagnosed with Hep C and disappeared for several days. I was told to take a car to her apartment and find her. I climbed over the fence and found her apartment, then knocked and knocked until she answered. She was vague about her health and what support, if any, she wanted. My boss got her an appointment with his Freudian analyst in Marin, which was $300/hr. $350? I don’t remember. I was charged with driving her up there for her appointments. I remember the first time we got out of the car in Ross, a very wealthy and verdant community, she sniffed the air like a bunny and wondered aloud what they were spraying to make it smell so good. I wish I had pointed to a giant bottle of Shalimar but I pointed to all the plants and flowers and said I thought they were the cause. She didn’t believe me.

My friend eventually left the company and no one around there got sober. Apparently our boss became a BUDDHIST. Horrible. I gained a new boss who was very sure he was hiding his crystal habit, and you guys, he wasn’t. Our boss hired a VP he met in rehab who had a very big personality and even louder singing voice. He really let ‘er rip in the office, and from what I can tell, he heard a lot of “thank-you’s” that weren’t actually being said. All the high-up guys got along great in that way that narcissists do. You take the time to let the other person speak because THEN YOU GET TO!

Life was just a general bad feeling with occasional pizza and then my brother died. I had that stereotypical re-ordering of my priorities and was like FUCK THIS I’M OUT. My boss was really upset because he said he relied on me. Did he? Was I reliable? I was a really unhappy person. And I knew I wanted to get happy and I threw that shitty jerga from my shoulders and have never looked back.

I have to continue this later but you get the gist.