The Stoke Is Real, But The Image May Not Be

As a lady who is kind of a tomboy and friends with a lot of straight guys, I hear men talk about women all the time, specifically their looks and how crazy they are. Ladies, if you got a nice butt, you better put dat ass on Instagram because the men will hit you UP. I say this not because I’ve plastered my rear end onto the Instagram and know from experience, but because I know that thanks to Instagram, guys can now spend idle moments of their lives scrolling through images of women’s bodies in bikinis on the beach and they just talk about it constantly. I was at work, surrounded by empty plastic bags, trucker hats and surfers in wetsuits when I found my woman’s perspective being the shrill voice in a male dominated conversation. Chance and his crew of surf rats were all hanging out at the store, taking a break from surfing while I priced hats. “Jenn, you could just go to the beach wearing a scandalous bikini and hold a surfboard and you could probably get sponsored,” Chance was telling me, holding up a picture of a girl in a thong next to a surfboard on his phone. “You don’t even need to know how to surf,” he added. I started scrolling through picture after picture of girls on the beach, cleavage and ass cheek everywhere. “Ugh, I don’t like having wedgies, and I really don’t want a wedgie photographed so close up,” I said thinking about all the times I’ve disappeared into the stock room to relieve myself of wedgies and looking at my audience of tan, broad shouldered surfer guys, who were all staring at me, cringing every time I said “wedgie.” “Thats what it is, these girls are running around with string up their ass and string covering their nipples, those girls aren’t running out into the ocean, they are so constricted by the placement of all that string, one turn of the head and that nip-.” I trailed off realizing this was a pointless argument given my present company, whose eyes were slowly glazing over as I went on and on. “What about people’s personalities? What about things like sense of humor or intelligence or ability to carry on an interesting conversation?” I continued, sounding like a naggy old bag. “That’s important too,” Chance said, “I once dated a girl with huge boobs, but I dropped her so fast.” “Why?” I asked. “Because she had this little dog that she carried around in her purse. Like, she took this dog with her when I took her on a date to a rooftop bar and it was just so odd. Why did she put that animal in her purse and bring it, I just never understood,” Chance said, shuddering at the memory. I had stopped listening at the association of little dogs and large breasted women being boring, because they are, and had begun shoving the empty plastic bags from the shipment box into my shirt, in a matter of minutes transforming myself from an undeveloped chest to one worthy of being Instagrammed. I stood up, examining my new curves, “I’m..sexxxyyy now,” I proclaimed, sticking them out and noticing how much better my shirt now fit. “WHAT are you doing?” Chance said, “take that stuff out. Don’t be weird.” 

“These babies will fall when I hit fifty,” I said, examining my lumpy chest in the mirror, “all of those boobs on Instagram will,” I told them. “Think about THAT.” As I took out all the plastic bags, I continued my rant. “You have to think of girls as old ladies,” I said over everyone’s groans and comments like “ew, sick.” “If you fall in love with someone in their twenties, you have to remember, one day they will be old, and their long pretty hair will be grey and styled in that poofy grammie do’ the one that must be the product of some sort of perm or heat and rollers, I’m not quite sure how they all get that hair, but they do, it’s an inevitable fact of life. And they better not care about being old, and they better be funny and want to travel in hot air balloons and be compassionate and make sure you take your heart pills everyday because if they aren’t you will just find yourself stuck with some old poofy haired bag of bones that you don’t want to talk to but are forced to see first thing every morning when you wake up.” As I said this, I realized I had only taken out half the plastic bags, and I was preaching with one solo, large, lumpy fake boob. There are many, many reasons why I am undateable, but this is the main one, the stink that looms around me that after a few days, everyone can smell. She’s crazy. 

In a culture so obsessed with images, it’s hard to not wonder what all these images are subconsciously teaching us. Human nature has always associated beauty with goodness, but the Internet has glorified that assumption. I wake up in the morning and am bombarded with images, images teaching me that tight, tan, female bare asses generate millions of “likes,” followers, attention and validation from others, and that looks, the image, the outside shell is what will make you important or interesting to others. Chance was recruited to work at Aviator Nation through Instagram. The kid has hundreds of cool surf pictures and ten thousand followers. A tiny indigenous pigmy from some deserted plain of Africa would probably assume Chance was a celebrity of some sort. A middle aged woman from Arkansas would maybe assume he’s a pro surfer she just doesn’t know about.  A designer of a vintage seventies inspired surf clothing brand would see that Chance projects the look and vibe they are looking for to work for their company. I believe Chance is just being followed by the entire state of Missouri, where he is from, or he simply paid some mysterious source for robots to follow him, but whatever the case, Chance has marketed and branded himself though using social media in a way that got him enough attention that it resulted in a job opportunity. My friend Connor believes this type of thing will be the future of our world- we will all be our own brands- marketing ourselves in ways that eventually we will capitalize off of. Which means to remove yourself from any and all social media would be to live as a pennieless ghost silently roaming around a world that doesn’t know you exist. 

Sports can be a good example of this. Attractive tennis players like Anna Kornawhateverhernameis spent her career losing tennis matches to everyone, but made tons of money in endorsement deals and got to make out with Enrique Iglasias in his music video “Escape.” Alana Blanchard is a well known surfer, and she can surf, but there are other female surfers out there who are better. But Alana is pretty, and therefore more marketable and more popular. Chance may be right that an attractive girl holding a surfboard could get an endorsement deal without ever even paddling out, because as long as the image is there, who cares about anything else? I’m probably just pissed about it because if I snapped a picture of my true self, me standing in the middle of a surf store with one big stuffed boob, speaking my mind to my male peers- my message would be entirely lost. All people would see would be a hauntingly confusing image, void of any emotion or point of view, or feeling, or all the millions of details and characteristics that make humans multi-faceted and complex individuals. Which makes me think about how we will have to adapt or alter ourselves to thrive in an image obsessed culture.  

“I just want to know what it will be like for us in the future…when we are Grammies. I want to be a beautiful Grammie, full of life and still young at heart. I don’t want to get caught up in looking young and pretty that I forget to develop myself as a soul,” I said, finally returning my chest to normal. “You ask way too many questions and think about being a Grammie too much,” Chance said, grabbing his surfboard and looking out the window at the waves. “The stoke is real!” he screamed as I started stuffing all the empty plastic bags into my shirt again. 

Malibu is for Lovers and Skinning Deer

“In Missouri, we hunt deer and after you shoot them you drill holes in their hooves and hang their bodies by trees-” I interrupted Chance, my co-worker, a tall, tan, surfer with broad shoulders and long sandy blonde hair. “You hang dead Bambies in trees?” my eyes were spinning around and around in my head and I felt like I suddenly had to pee, that frantic type of urge when you are nervous and your body compensates by forcing you to urinate every few minutes. “Deers, not Bambies,” Chance said and continued. “Then we skin them and take their guts out. I don’t even wear gloves when I do it.” “HOLD ON,” I said, sweat dripping down my forehead. “You reach inside a dead Bambi, that is hanging from a tree, and you pull out it’s organs with your bear hands?” Chance nodded, his blue eyes looked worried. “People in LA think I’m a barbarian,” he said nodding. “But in Missouri, thats what you do. You hunt.” From first glance, Chance looks like he was born and bread in California, but the second he opens his mouth, everything comes out dripping in the dirty dirty South and you realize he grew up tossing deer innards over his head before untieing a dead deer from a tree and bringing its flesh home to Ma for dinner. “But just you wait, when the apocalypse comes everyone in LA will be dead and I’ll be eatin’ deer and rabbits.” “Bunnies too?” I said, “Like Jim Morrison?” Chance and I work together in Malibu, at one of the coolest stores I’ve ever been in, in one of the best locations I’ve ever worked in (minus Hawaii), right across from the pier on PCH, and our boss has a bunny named Jim Morrison. “Yeah, rabbits explode when you shoot them, just poofs of fur. I could show you how to make traps and maybe we could hunt Jim- I mean not kill and eat him obviously, but catch him in traps.”

I imagined Chance and I running around the store, which contains a teepee, rock stage and coffee bar, setting traps and releasing this tiny ball of fuzz named after the infamous Doors front man, The Lizard King, and trying to catch him for sport. Life is so ka-ooky! “Chance, do you kill cats?” Chance paused, “Now, I don’t like cats all that much, but I don’t kill them.” “What about dogs?” “No, never dogs.” “What about birds?” “Of course, crows are extremely smart by the way-” “What about other animals people domesticate..like gerbils?” “Why would you kill a gerbil?” he asked. “I feel that way about Bambies,” I said somberly. Chance rolled his eyes, “You know, y’all pay tons of money for ‘organic grass fed beef’ or whatever, but out on the farm where I grew up, we raised the cows, fed them and ate them. I mean thats as organic as you get. I actually knew where my food came from.” “Because you were raising them….to…slay…” I said slowly, my world rocked and rolledThe Lizard King. I looked at Chance standing there in his oversized tank, cameo pants, and flip flops. Strange…Alien. “Chance, I have camo crocs you know,” I told him. “Camo crocs? Now that’s ugly,” he responded. “But they would match your pants!” I pointed out. “These are my lounging pants,” Chance said. I thought about myself, getting home after a long day and kicking off my boots and slipping my feet into my crocs, footwear that. if I ever needed to blend into the wild with ease and comfort, I could wear. “But why are you wearing your lounging pants to work?”

Chance had wandered onto the porch where he began cutting the bushes in the front of the store. I grabbed a broom and followed him. As he chopped and I swept, the ocean mere feet away, a car drove by and some guys hollered out the window. Chance looked at me. “Why do people do that?” I asked, “I tried that once to a guy and nothing happened.” “What’s supposed to happen?” Chance asked. “When I worked in construction we used to holler at hot cats all the time, it’s just for fun. You’d be on a roof in the heat and some hot cat would walk by and you’d just be like, ‘YeeeeEEEEeeeeeeEEEEE look at that!” I stood holding the broom and staring at him in silence. “Hot cats?” I repeated. “Yeah, hot cats” he said. I put my broom down and popped my hip out, flipping one side of my hair with my hand, “Chance, let’s stand on the porch and holler at them hot cats soakin’ in them sun rays at the beach just there across the waaay.” Now it was Chance’s turn to stand there staring at me, in silence, holding gardening shears. “Look at that taaaaall drank of water! YeeeEEEeeeeEEEee!” I exclaimed as a middle aged man with a farmers tan shuffled by, pausing to squint at me in confusion. “No, no,” Chance said, “I don’t think you hollerin’ at hot cats is a good idea,” he said gently grabbing me by the shoulders and leading me back inside.

In lulls at work, I always ask Chance to tell me a story. He doesn’t even pause to think of one, he just starts going on and on about a truck rolling down a hill or a fat girl running into a barbed wire fence and I sit there listening, silently lusting after a childhood in Missouri. “What adventure,” I tell him. “I told that story about the fat girl running into the barbed wire fence in my public speaking class in high school,” he told me. “The class looooved it.” If you ever want to escape the la la land-ness of Los Angeles, all you need to do is befriend someone who grew up in the middle of the woods. The other day I noticed there was a suspicious looking jar of peanut butter on top of the fridge. The jar had a picture of cartoon Peter Pan on it under the words, Peter Pan’s Creamy Spread. “Chaaaanceee,” I yelled. “Yeah,” he appeared from around the corner. I stood holding the jar, “What’s this?” He looked confused, “Peanut butter,” he said, adding, “you’re on crack.” I never knew that peanut butter could be rachet before I met Chance. Sweet sweet Chance. 

Besides pretending I am from Missouri all day at work, I meet cute beachy couples who I both love and loathe equally. There is nothing more uplifting and soul crushing than seeing a tanned golden couple holding hands and wearing cute hats strolling around dancing to The Rolling Stones music playing from a record player in the store. Will I ever be part of a beachy couple who shop for clothes together? Where is my cute hat man who does adventurous things and fights for the woman he loves? I think to myself, perched at the coffee bar, shoving spoonfuls of Chance’s rachet peanut butter into my mouth. The other night, I was doing just that when a tall, tanned young man strolled into the store, and paused in front of the baby clothes. Oh great, he’s probably a cute young dad shopping for his newborn daughter-where’s the peter pan peanut butter. He turned around and smiled at me, a big white smile. What a hot cat, I thought, noticing his big light brown eyes. “This is a cool store,” he told me. “Yeah,” I said my head bobbing up and down like a goon. As we started to talk, I learned that this hot cat is a musician who grew up singing in church in Colorado, who in his spare time tutors special ed children. From my serial dating, I now have various lists of characteristics I would like to find in a romantic partner and a good looking musician who teaches special ed children is on the dream list, the list I gluttonously made without reservation of reality. “So will you be around here all summe-” he was asking me before being cut off by a frantic blonde haired woman barging into the store. “I need to make an exchange!” she said breathless, like she was alerting me to someone drowning across the street. “Well, I’ll let you get back to work, it was really nice to meet you,” he said and off he went out the door. I reached my arm out, nooooo, I whispered, curse the fickle finger of fate. 

I was left with this woman, this old bag, who I was now looking at with such contempt, almost wanting to ignore her completely and just begin writing my ad that I would later post to the missed connections section on Craigslist. Man who cares about children and music with great hair, please come back, sales girl trippin’. “That guy was really cute,” the woman said to me. I wanted to fling her ill fitting sweats up into the air and scream. “Alas,” was all I said. She looked at me and in my head I heard Chance’s country drawl, “Jeaaaan, you’re on crack.” I helped the woman and a few hours later, began closing the store. As I was turning off the record player,  a guy riding a vintage motorcycle pulled up in front of the store. In walked hot special ed man. He rides a vintage motorcycle? Wait, am I on crack? Is there crack in this Peter Pan Creamy Spread that’s making me hallucinate?  “Hey,” he said. “I know you were telling me that restaurant on the pier is good and you’ve never been..I thought I’d come back and see if you’d be here next Sunday, and if you’d want to get dinner there with me.” I stood there baffled. “A date? Next Sunday?” He smiled. “Yeah, a date. Next Sunday.” I felt like I had to pee. He came baaaack. My heart will go on. 

I am aware that it is sad and pathetic that a man making the effort to come back into my place of work after meeting me and asking me out is so thrilling to me, but in the state of the world today, where single people live with the constant fear and anxiety of their ex tinder dates breaking into their apartments to kill them- it is truly refreshing to experience something normal and old timey. That, and the refreshing realization that there are people out there skinning deers and eating rabbits and just having a jolly good life.

 

 

 

 

The Regulars

When I came back from Hawaii, my friend Jane had a new spot she loved to hang out at in Hollywood. She liked it mainly because she had a crush on one of the bartenders, a slim actor from Canada. When someone tells me they are from Canada I instantly am on their side. When introducing myself to a new group of people, I like to add that I am half French Canadian and I can tell people are already endeared to me. I have found people are also endeared if you say you’re from Wisconsin, Georgia or anywhere in Europe. If you want people to immediately become apprehensive of you, tell them you were born and raised in Los Angeles. Jane and I would sit at the bar whenever Canada was working, and before I even had become aware of what my life was turning into, I had become a “regular” at this bar. I’ve never been a regular at a bar before and it was nothing like Cheers. Nothing makes you feel more pathetic than walking into an oriental themed bar and having a Canadian say, “the usual eh?” while he fills up a wine glass. Being a regular at a bar also meant you met the other regulars. Jane was not Canada’s only admirer, he also had a middle aged man named Stuart who hung out at the bar after work or when his wife wanted to watch The Voice in peace. While Jane was fixated on Canada, I became fixated on Stuart. Stuart knew everything that happened in that bar. “You were talking to that good looking guy three days ago around eleven pm, how did that go? Have you heard from him since?” he asked me one night. “I was what? You were here? How did yo-” Stuart shook his head, “I talked to that guy last night for an hour. He’s a good guy but I don’t think he’s interested in anything serious with you. He gave you his favorite books didn’t he? Don’t read too much into that, you look like the type that might.” I took a sip of my wine and stared into his eyes, I am that type, I thought.

While Jane and Canada’s relationship was either going nowhere, or progressing at the pace of a beached whale trying to make its way back to the ocean, I had observed enough of Stuart that I now considered him an oracle of sorts, a person with the ability to perceive information hidden from the normal senses through extrasensory perception. “Do you think Stuart is…enlightened?” I asked Canada one night. “That man tells it like it is,” Canada said, “I think it’s interesting, some people can’t take the honesty though.” We looked at Stuart at the end of the bar, he was sitting directly under a light which cast a soft glow around only him. “Look at that beeeaaauty! What a beauty,” Canada said as we both gazed at Stuart wearing shorts, loafers and a baseball cap, aglow. One night Stuart had gotten deep in a discussion with Jane who I could tell he was very fond of. I was sitting there on the outskirts of the conversation with my phone, sending out texts to ex-boyfriends:

On a scale of 1-10 how bad of a girlfriend was I? 1 being the worst.

Hey, do you hate me? 

When Canada appeared. “What are they talking about?” he asked as Jane screeched “He was a drug addict, but I loved him!” I shrugged as my phone lit up with a text from my very first boyfriend: who is this? I sighed. “I can’t believe you’ve never read To Kill A Mockingbird,” I told Canada, remembering a discussion all of us had had the week before. “Boo Radley is one of the greatest fictional characters in my opinion.” Canada shook his head, “Hey if you bring it to me I’ll read it, I’ll bring you my favorite book that you have never read,” he told me. “I can’t believe you’ve never read a Mario Puzo book. Not even The Godfather.” I  shrugged and then realized Jane had gotten up and had run out the door crying. I turned to Stuart. “What did you say to her?” I asked. He was studying me. “You have Bambi eyes, that’s what it is about you. I bet they probably get you into trouble all the time. You also look better with your hair up, and you don’t look as tired as the last time I saw you. Also, you speak very slowly, you’re a slow talker, has anyone ever told you that before?” I stared at him. “Is it true you sell your daughter’s girl scout cookies to people at this bar?” I asked, in a semi-threatening tone. He slid a napkin towards me. “Write your name, number and how many boxes you want,” he said, “unfortunately, we are sold out of Thin Mints.” Canada and I looked at each other. “I need to close out,” I told him. I paid our bill and went outside to find Jane, who was in tears over Stuart analyzing all her past relationships with men. “You can’t listen to that guy. I mean who even is that guy? He doesn’t know you,” I said and then added, “Hey, would you say I’m a slow talker? Did I say that slowly? Am I speaking slowly now?”

The thing about LA, a city full of good looking actors/models/musicians that need day jobs, is that even though you can be (not seriously) dating or involved with someone else, you also end up developing crushes on everyone you see: cute barista at Starbucks guy, every bartender and waiter/waitress everywhere, the bouncer who sits in front of the medical marijuana dispensary that you walk by everyday on your way to work, your cute lyft driver. In theory it makes sense, you date around until you find someone you connect with more than the others and then you become exclusive and all of the sudden you stop noticing how cute the guy who is making your sandwich at Subway is. In reality, all that happens is you upset absolutely everyone and lose not only all your credibility and respect, but followers on Instagram. Jane had been dating a guy who was a total dick but had a crush on Canada, Canada seemed interested in no one but his acting career, I had been tagging along, newly single and just obsessing over old boyfriends like a psychopath, and eventually what happened was I did bring Canada To Kill A Mockingbird,  just before the ground beneath my feet split open and I burst into flames and was swallowed up by evil. This confirmed that Stuart is not in fact, an oracle, because apparently exchanging books is a big deal that should always be very carefully read into no matter what type of person you may be. The book lead me to hang out with Canada and once I realized I was in fact interested, it was way way way too late. A good friend would have asked Jane before ever scandelously lending out a book and asked permission to be interested in the guy, a really really good friend would have just ignored Canada completely.  I called Jane to apologize, and talk about it, and she told me she wanted to meet me at The Grove.

The Grove is the perfect place for shit to go down. The fountains, old timey music playing, trolly, chain restaurants and gigantic three story Abercrombie and Fitch creates an idealistic setting to tell someone you want a divorce, or you are pressing charges, or filing for a restraining order. As I walked through the crowd of tourists I saw Jane. She was wearing a colorful jumpsuit, large sunglasses and her hair was up in a bun, adding height to her. I walked up and before I could even get a word out she took off through the crowd. “FOLLOW ME,” she barked. An overweight man wearing a Disneyland t-shirt and eating a Wetzel Pretzel looked at me like you better follow her. I tried to see where she was going, I lost her in the crowd until I heard, “I’M NOT UPSET THAT CANADA CHOSE YOU OVER ME. I’M UPSET THAT YOU CHOSE HIM OVER ME.” I started jogging to keep up with her. “I didn’t choose him over yo-” “NO. LISTEN TO ME. I’M TALKING. YOU LISTEN.” I realized we had just walked through an Asian family trying to take a picture of themselves in front of the Nike store. They were all staring at me, “I’m so sorry,” I said, thinking about once they return home and are sitting around showing their friends and family their trip to LA, a picture of the family blocked out by Jane, red in the face from screaming, tears running down her face and me wearing a black romper chasing after her wide eyed and fearful.  “YOU ALWAYS TRY TO JUSTIFY EVERYTHING WITH YOUR FEELINGS, BUT YOU DON’T REALIZE YOU HURT PEOPLE!” she yelled. In the background Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me,” was playing. “WE ARE NOT FRIENDS ANYMORE JENNIFER.” In llama-land there’s a one-man band and he’ll toot his flute for you. Come fly with me, let’s take off in the blue. We had now gained an audience and I felt like I was on a special episode of Maury that was filmed at a 1940’s themed lounge. “It’s not his baby! It’s not his baby!” I wanted to scream over Frank Sinatra. “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DID THIS, DO YOU REALIZE WE ARE NOT FRIENDS ANYMORE.” Everyone was looking at me and I wish I could have paused the moment and interviewed members in the crowd. “What do you think is going on?” I would have asked the large black man who just exited Cheescake Factory. “Obviously that skinny bitch slept with her husband,” he would say. “Or maybe that skinny bitch stole money from her. Maybe murder…. that skinny bitch has wild eyes.”  I had never really had someone yell at me before like this, especially in public, not even my mother when I was five and walked out of Ralphs with a ring pop we didn’t pay for, so I had begun to shake. “Maybe we should talk about this later, when you- we, feel calmer, maybe take some time to think-” I said meekly, and I realized that in paralyzing fear, I clench my butt, like people do when they are trying to hold in farts. Which probably added to this whole scene we were putting on for The Grove shoppers. “NO. WE ARE NOT FRIENDS ANYMORE! AND IT’S YOUR FAULT. YOU DID THIS.” As Jane kept yelling I realized she probably wouldn’t stop unless I either ran away or vanished into thin air. If I could have vanished into thin air I would have, mainly because I’m a puss, but also for the benefit of the tourists, so they could go home and tell everyone they saw a real life evil witch when they were in LA. “How did you know she was evil and not a good witch?” their friend would ask. “Because this enthusiastic woman was screaming at her,” they would reply, “screaming in a BAD way.”

I often wish I was born a man, and this was another one of those times where I was just like, God, men are better than women. If this situation was happening among brethren, and a boy went out with a girl his friend had no history with except for having a crush on her, a crush that was not reciprocated, I don’t even know if they would talk about it. “Dude, I know you are interested in her, but since I’ve been going with you to this bar all the time, we talk and I don’t know, it seems like we may have a lot in common. I think we may be interested in each other, can I move forward with my feelings or is she off limits?” I mean I can’t even imagine that conversation. I had a guy friend who once dated a girl all through college, broke up with her and she started dating one of his friends and no one gave a shit. And even if it resulted in anger and hurt feelings, one swift punch to the face and all would be forgiven and forgotten. None of this screeching and yelling in the middle of a retail complex. Jane was still exploding and we were now in front of Barnes and Noble. I, with clenched butt, opened the door of the bookstore and closed it on Jane, her muffled voice through the glass “WE ARE DONE! DONE!” I turned around and a tiny elderly couple was standing behind me, they looked shocked. “My girlfriend and I are fighting,” I tried to explain. “Oh, not my girlfriend girlfriend, like my lover, just my friend who is a girl. She likes this guy, he says ‘aboot’…it’s cute, lots of girls like him I think, who really cares, love is crazy bullshit…” I trailed off as they walked away. I sat down in an oversized chair next to a stack of Maxim magazines. Stuart is going to hate me, I thought and then slapped myself across the face.

Now when I am a mother, I know exactly what to tell my children when they turn 21. You never want to become a regular at a bar my child, Cheers was nothing but television magic…..also, friends are always more important than boys, so think before you act. Also, books are like your virginity, only give them away to special people who love you, don’t send mixed messages or be a whore. And never mix wine and whiskey, that is so irresponsible and stupid. Don’t be a fool.

 

 

 

 

Dear Online Diary

A side effect of being in your twenties today, (or just another unfortunate side effect of being born me), is the inability to sleep. I find myself completely and utterly exhausted, lying face down in bed, my whole body shut down except for my mind, the crypt keeper of my existence. What’s tourturing me varies, it could be anything from worrying about the civil war in Syria to beating myself up over adding too much bleach to my laundry and burning holes into three perfectly good pillowcases. A lot of the time I become haunted by the past, a thing I have been heavily dwelling in lately. As if not being asked to your sixth grade dance by a boy was painful enough to live through the first time, who knew that decades later I would still be using it against myself.

The other night I was torturing myself over this very blog and a specific incident relating to my blog where I wrote about something and offended a large group of people, you know, as you sometimes do. Awhile ago, I went to a Christmas party with my boyfriend and all his friends. I was there, behaving like I normally do in most situations whether they are social or not,  usually participating as a semi wallflower, sometimes actively involved, and sometimes silently observing everything from a safe removed distance- but in general, always observing and absorbing everything. If I were to cast myself in a movie about my life I would cast Spongebob Squarepants, not only for the poetic metaphor, but for several other reasons, the main ones being, of course, that he is an optimistic sea sponge, has large crazed eyes, and he never develops a more meaningful career than flipping crabby patties at the Krusty Krab. In my defense, it is my life, and I can observe as much as I want, but the problem is after I observe, I think. It’s not enough to just add details and notes to the overwhelming library in my mind- things ranging from the color of the inside interior of my dentists office, to the conversation I had with the postal worker about Vegas party buses, to my old neighbor Steve’s early 90’s rocker hairstyle, I have to  ponder over these things. Maybe they painted the walls blue because blue is calming and people are usually anxious when they go to the dentist? I wonder if more people get anxious going to the dentist or the doctors office? I want to go on a party bus to Vegas with Denise, she said she drank four Adios Motherfuckers, I would have pegged her as a tequila on the rocks woman myself, but she’s even more badass than I thought. I wonder what shampoo Steve uses? I don’t know why but I want to say Tresemme. 

So, I’m there at this Christmas party which coincidentally happened around the time I had really started to care about my boyfriend. The fun and flirty stage was over. I had begun to believe in him, in his talents, abilities and character, and now I kind of gave a damn about what happened to him. What I kept seeing happen to him at these various different outings and parties- birthdays, holidays, bon voyages, Saturday nights- was beginning to remind me a lot of my college days where people’s nights ended with their head in a bush puking, and everything is photographed and posted to Facebook the next day with very unclever captions. Because I had started to care, I now had begun to worry that this was a forever lifestyle, one that I didn’t really fit into or see myself adopting, and what would that mean for our relationship- which I now cared about losing, losing it at that point would break my heart. So while everyone was joyfully celebrating Christmas, I was somewhere else, panicking, unsure of how to relay these fears to my boyfriend, unsure about myself, and now unsure about the entire Christmas holiday season- people at the party must have just figured I was a grumpy, practicing Orthodox Jew, uneasy in this foreign territory. So I did the only thing I really knew how to do, I tried to find the humor in it, and then later on I wrote about it. I posted it onto my blog, I didn’t use anyone’s names, and the general feedback I got was that it was relatable and made readers laugh.. except for all of my boyfriends friends. “They all read it,” he told me. “All of them? They read my writing?” I asked, flattered, my voice full of pleasant shock. “What did they think?” I said, hopeful. My boyfriend shook his head and I knew, it had not been received well and I was now that bitch with the creepy blog. Not the funny blog, or the heartfelt blog, but the creepy blog.  I know creepy is the appropriate adjective to use because later at a bar one of his friends referred to my blog as my “online diary.”

The word “diary” is the sharpest of insults to me, someone who has tricked herself into fancy-ing herself a kind of writer. When I think of a girl writing in a diary I think of purple glitter retainers and hair scrunchies, a mouth breather, a girl who loves horses in an obsessive and slightly aggressive way, a girl who is bitter and misunderstood with nowhere to turn except her Lisa Frank hard cover diary where she keeps all of her disturbing feelings. “Online” diary meaning she publishes her writings onto a web platform where the background is a picture of a unicorn and the page is titled “Jenn’s World.” If only I had been born a painter. Everyone likes painters, they are harmless, gentle souls who can paint a picture of anything really- an obese nude woman holding a feather, a realistic portrait of a coyote, a potted plant- and stand proudly next to their work at a gallery opening and just be quietely admired for their vision and motor skills. But a writer, people hate those. Writers are the creepiest of misanthropes. They have opinions and ideas, they see things and point them out. Now thanks to the Internet, they have access to publishing their kookoo ideas and littering the web with useless mumbo jumbo.

It made me feel horrible that my (what I thought) comical post about holiday party debauchary angered the people who had inspired it. While I had kind of wanted my boyfriend to read it and maybe reflect for a second, it also was just another experience in my life that I used in my writings. Maybe I had somehow become deliriously confused after reading authors like David Sedaris or Dave Eggers or Tina Fey and all the other people who have written a book of personal essays, and I thought hey I can write about myself and what happens to me, it’s ok, people do it. The morning after the party everyone had spent a good lengthy amount of time reinacting all the stupid things everyone did and said the night before, and laughing about it, but somehow I guess when they read about what they did and said everyone got their feelings hurt. Stupid uncool sixth grade Jenn, you are not apart of the group and you never will be. You are a creepy diary girl, devoted to horses, and full of misplaced feelings.

What I’m really trying to do, is just share and connect. I’ve always been a reader and the reason why is because when you read you realize you are not alone. Someone, some author who you’ve never met before wrote something, a feeling, a situation, an idea or concept, that after you read it you thought I’ve felt this way too, and suddenly you don’t feel so alienated from the rest of the human race. It could be a character growing up in the fifties like J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield that could resonate with you today, or something Anne Frank wrote in her diary that somehow translates to a struggle you are going through in your own life and that you can draw inspiration and strength from, but literature is a pretty powerful connector. Most people want to feel that their experiences, thoughts and feelings are all uniquely their own but a lot of the human condition is just that- the human condition- felt and experienced by all humans. I’m not trying to write and post my experiences and thoughts to a blog to be vengeful, mean or creepy (but I will admit, sometimes I do want to argue a point).  I’m just trying to channel my life into an honest, creative expression that someone else may be able to relate to, or, if nothing else, just entertains someone else.

As I lie awake at three in the morning, these are the that keep me awake. I was thinking of maybe changing the format of my blog so that each post was in fact a diary entry. And maybe making the content more basic, simplify the idea without cluttering it up with useless context. It would be like this:

Dear Online Diary,

Jenn here. It’s Monday. I’m thinking about when boys were mean to me. I hate boys. 

Dear Online Diary,

Jenn here. I feel bad because I ate an entire Little Ceaser’s pizza. I am gross and do not look like Gisele Bundchen and probably never will, especially now that I ate all that five dollar pizza. It was so good though. 

Dear Online Diary,

Jenn here. Hooking up is so confusing and kind of scary. Am I prude?

Dear Online Diary,

Jenn here. Will I ever date a boy who can’t fit in my jeans comfortably?

Dear Online Diary,

Jenn here, I’m sad Stephan Colbert is leaving the Colbert Report to take over The Late Show. Life doesn’t make any sense ever.

Dear Online Diary,

Jenn here. I feel pressure to start tweeting but I don’t know why….

Dear Online Diary,

Jenn here. Why do I feel guilty when I see a homeless person? Do others feel that way too? 

Dear Online Diary.

Jenn here. I’m thinking about when I am mean to boys. Why am I mean to boys?

Dear Online Diary,

Jenn here. Cried all day today. 

Maybe I could collect all my dear online diary posts and turn them into one of those under $10 coffee table books you buy at Urban Outfitters. They could be animated and…completely pointless.

 

 

 

 

No Flamingos

Once upon a time I was making out with an attractive boy when he stopped and pulled away from me. “Sorry,” he said. “I just, I started to think about your Dad.” I stared at him in awe, completely intrigued, wondering if this had anything to do with my broad shoulders. “My Dad? His name is Steve, er, why?” I asked, the heebie jeebies creeping all over me as if my father, a man who has a law degree, cactus garden, and who dressed up as the Beast for my Beauty and the Beast themed sixth birthday party, had just walked into the room- still wearing the Beast costume, and wedged his way in between us, taking off the oversized beast head and revealing a face wearing an expression more horrifying than any fictional monsters, and asking “Young man, what are your intentions with my daughter?” I felt like I was about to throw up. “I just was thinking, you are someone’s daughter, there’s a man out there who probably cares a lot about how you are treated,” he said. “You have no idea the kind of man either,” I told him, an image of my father rolling out pie dough in the kitchen and singing that Joni Mitchell song about the painted ponies going up and down on the carousel of life. “What’s your favorite song?” he asked grabbing a guitar from the corner of the room, “I’ll play it for you.” “I like many Celine Dion songs,” I admitted, without thinking first. He broke into a smile. “You give off Celine Dion-ish vibes,” he said. “I do? Like immediately, right off the bat?” OMG Jenn, Celine is batshit crazy, no more listening to My Heart Will Go On. “Play whatever you want,” I told him. He paused, thinking for a second. “Ok, I’ve been working on this one,” he said and he began to play “Heart of Gold” by Neil Diamond and I dropped dead.

“That’s fucking weird,” my friend exclaimed when I told him what happened. “What!” I said shocked, “I thought it was so…nice.” “Well that’s because you’re fucking weird too,” my friend said and then sighed. “I’m just saying, it’s like he’s not acknowledging you as your own person, but instead is seeing you as something in relationship to other men in your life.” I thought about my Dad, the first man I ever had a relationship with. There’s this picture of us in the hospital on the day I was born, he looks young and handsome and he’s holding me, I’m so small that I almost fit in the palm of his hand, and he’s looking at me like he just fell in love with this little person he doesn’t even know yet. From then on, my Dad spent time building me up, encouraging me, validating and protecting my thoughts, making the world around me safe. When I was going through my decade(s) of painful awkwardness, unnoticed by my male peers- I was tall, stick think and had huge bug eyes- my Dad was the one who introduced me to Audrey Hepburn. We watched Sabrina together and at the end he said, “Audrey is a beauty icon, and see? She has big brown eyes like you, and she is sweet. You are beautiful like she is.” The day I brought my first boyfriend home and all the others that followed, I know my Dad was hoping they would care for me the way he has all my life, not because I’m not my own person, completely capable of caring for myself, but because I’m his daughter, who he loves in the most insufferable way.

I’m incredibly lucky.

And also doomed. This is turning out to be an incredibly intimidating world if you you are single and mingling. People’s love stories begin with we met at a bar and hooked up on night, we were both blacked out..and then we kept hooking up and now we are dating. “Don’t you ever think of people as being someone’s son or daughter? It changes the way you view them. For some reason it always causes you to be gentler, more compassionate towards them,” I continued. My friend considered this for a minute. “I really just don’t get what you are talking about. When I’m making out with someone I’m just thinking about my dick,” he said. I shuddered.

The next day I was driving when Chris Brown’s song “Loyal” came on the radio. As you can probably guess, I am not a huge fan of Chris Brown, but the lyrics to this song had captured my attention: “You all about her and she’s all about hers. Birdman Junior in this bitch, no flamingos.” Chris went on to whine about disloyal hoes, asking questions like why give a bitch your heart when she’d rather have a purse? Why give a bitch an inch when she’d rather have nine? And going on about how he can make a broke bitch rich but he don’t fuck broke bitches. It was all very complex, confusing, and real. Chris Brown has lost his faith in the goodness of hoes? I thought. Love is officially dead. It is a confusing time to navigate through the waters of courtship, love and sex. If Chris Brown is confused, the average bro shmoe wearing a pastel colored V neck in the bar must be completely baffled over hoes. The all-access-everything-is-instant culture does’t help either. I’ll be standing in line at the grocery store and people will be casually browsing profiles on Tinder. You didn’t get the attractive person you saw at the coffee shops number? Oh well, there’s probably someone more attractive on Tinder who you can connect with. There’s no need to fight for anyone, just find somebody else real quick. Anything requiring effort, courage, or patience is no flamingo. I had a friend who loved Tinder because she enjoyed rejecting others. “I love nope-ing people,” she would exclaim, hitting the big red ex at the bottom of the screen. “This person is ugly, they can’t get with this!” “Who are you?” I’d ask.

This DGAF attitude is becoming a popular mantra to adopt. Strength is perceived as power, the person in the relationship that has the upper hand, the one that nopes you first before you have the chance to reject them, but usually to have the upper hand in any relationship, one must be aloof, selfish, and at times, manipulative. This only leads to disconnection, lack of true intimacy, and loneliness, a community of personal islands ruled by narcissists. But I can’t imagine that’s what people truly want. I was at a bar in Hollywood awhile ago, meeting up with some friends who were visiting from out of town. Bars in Hollywood are full of progressive haircuts and flannel T-shirts. Girls wearing droopy hats and guys with the same swished back hair style, after awhile everyone blends together, especially in a dimly lit room. The bar was packed, full of woodchip smelling hipsters standing around with whiskeys as a band performed. “We’ve got to dance,” one of my friends said, “the band will be so bummed if no one dances.” The two of them took off making their way through the sea of people just standing around until they reached the front and began to dance as if they were alone in a pitch black room, no one else around to witness such movement of the body. As I watched them bounce around one of them almost taking out a frail boy in a beanie, I overheard the girl next to me comment to her friend, “what the hell are those guys on, right?” I looked at my friends, the only people dancing in the room, my one friend pumping his fist in the air with his eyes closed and wiggling his hips. Ok, it was clear they were white men dancing, but they were having so much fun. I wanted to lean in close to her and yell, “LIFE,” when I was struck with a thought. Probably everyone in this room was looking at my two friends and secretly wishing they could be as carefree. Everyone out on a Friday night wants to feel this type of freedom and release, but yet if they can’t be enveloped in the safety of a crowd, no one will allow themselves to out of fear of judgment or criticism. The same general idea relates to people’s conceptions of love and romance. Everyone secretly wants someone to sing them their favorite song, or even ask them what their favorite song is, but no one will openly admit it, for fear of pity, rejection or the biggest of the no flamingos-weakness. But in the sea of sameness, you will always find, when you are at the brink of losing all hope, you will come across that one rare heart of gold- in this case two hearts of gold. I charged my way through the flannel and joined my two friends. “I love like a Justin Timberlake song, not a Beyonce song, and there’s nothing wrong with that!” I exclaimed. “Whatever pretty! This is not the time or place for those emotions!” my friend yelled, spinning me around and around.

I have experienced a lot of different relationships, some really good and some really bad, and the one thing I have learned is that everyone loves differently. In my last relationship my boyfriend and I were the best of friends, we had more good times than bad, but at the end of our story, we both loved differently and it ultimately forced us to go our separate ways. The way I love, I suppose is because of my relationship with my father. I grew up witnessing how he treated my mother, and his mother, and women in general, and of course my own experience of how he treated me, and all of this formed my ideal for love over any displays of love I saw in the media. There has to be a deeper connection than just having fun times, and enjoying one another’s company, it starts out that way but as you get the privilege of knowing someone else, you also start to become responsible. You become responsible for someone else’s happiness, for making that person feel wanted and unique, for listening to that person without the intent to respond. You stand up for them, you believe in their dreams, their vision. You know their values, their sense of humor, their position on just about everything and you are on board. You are their no matter what person. You protect them. When they act small you are there to remind them they are bigger, because you believe they are. It takes time and patience, but if you are able to do that, that’s true strength. And it is important that strong women are loved by strong men, and strong men are loved by strong women.

 

You Will Learn

The other day I was writing in Starbucks, like I always am, and I couldn’t help but overhear two teenage girls talking about boys. “I’ll text him and litz three hours later he will respond,” one girl was telling her friend. “And you can see that he totally read the text!” her friend exclaimed, disgusted. I started to sweat. This was one of those moments. A moment where I, an old woman, or an older woman than these sixteen year olds, can now bestow my hard earned wisdom to a pair of souls on Earth. “Ladies,” I began, butting my head in between the two of them, causing the brunette to let out a scream in alarm. “As an… elder,” I continued, “I can give you some knowledge….some very hard earned knowledge, knowledge only gained through painful, horrifying mistakes.” They looked at me in equal parts alarm, suspicion and awe, and I felt like Ursula in The Little Mermaid- a terrifying overweight old octopus woman, who if existed in real life would most likely be a participant on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, about to tell these girls that the only way to find true love is to surrender their voices to me, the evil drag octopus queen. “Send one and only one text,” I instructed, their eyes growing big. “What?” they asked. I paused dramatically. “Text, ‘hey’ at 2 am…..and then just turn your phone off.” They stared at me. “Then what?” one of them asked. My brow furrowed. “You just go to sleep,” I said in a tone that suggested, look at me, I clearly get all of the menI could sense from their silence, I was losing some, if not all my credibility. “Men today are slobs,” I declared in a hushed tone. One girl sighed like she just figured out that I was not a person to take any advice from ever. I was losing them. “Give your voices to me or else Prince Eric will never love you!” I exclaimed. As they both ran away, I was left sitting there to stew, in shame.

As I watched them from the window I realized they would most likely go home to their parents overwhelmingly disturbed by the scary woman in Starbucks. “I’m sorry…” I called after them. In retrospect, I would have just told those girls that if he doesn’t text you back don’t worry. As you grow up life is going to throw so many more obstacles in front of you, boys will be the least of your concerns. I started to think about myself as a sixteen year old- I looked like a stick bug and I spoke to no one- and myself now- I still look like a stick bug and I talk to like, three people,  but there have been so many things I have learned since being sixteen, valuable things I could share with someone younger than I.

I would have admitted that the hardest part about growing up will be not becoming that scary woman who has let all the painful lessons and failures of her life leave her jaded and bitter. Because there will be boys who don’t text you back sure, but sometimes you won’t text boys back, and there will also be boys that tell you they love you but don’t really know how to, and you will tell someone you love them but end up not knowing how, and there will be boys who use you, and you will use boys, and you will make and lose friends, succeed and fail at jobs, fall down over and over and have to get back up. And you will always have to get back up and keep going.

You will go out into the world, and nothing will be fair. It will shock you. You will have to figure out which battles are worth fighting for and you will realize everything in your life will be a choice. You will have the choice to fight or not to fight. You will have the choice to blend in or stand out. There will be moments when you will need to be brave. Moments when you will need to listen instead of speak, and moments when you will need to speak instead of listen- and you will need to know the difference. You will need to figure out how to love yourself, others and the world- in that order. Your heart will get blasted into a million pieces and, this will be one of those moments you will need to be brave, you will need to put it back together using yourself, others and the world- the very same things that shattered your heart to pieces in the first place. You will have the choice to let your defeats, embarrassments and failures define and weaken you, or make you a more empathetic and courageous human being.

You will have to face a media shitstorm. Everywhere you look there will be someone to compare yourself to, something to live up to, some person making you feel inadequate, threatened or afraid. And you will have to be smarter. You will have to investigate for yourself, you will have to form your own opinions and ideals and it will seem impossible and lonely at times, but it’s a struggle worth embracing- and it may take a lifetime, so don’t ever surrender. You will want to be beautiful. You will see beautiful women everywhere. You will hear men talk about beautiful women. You will have to define beauty for yourself because one day you will hopefully be a wrinkly old woman, and you will have to look at yourself in the mirror. You will be disappointed by how the world is presented to you. You will need to be more than creative, you will need to be innovative and take what’s given to you and recreate it. You will have to learn to seek- to really hunt for the good, and you will realize you have to be the good in the world, and you will have to figure out how. You will have to follow through. You won’t always follow through or honor your word- and you will learn how detrimental that will be.

You will lose things- innocence, dignity, pride, friends, lovers, family members. Your parents will get older- their hair will turn grey, they will get sick, you will need to be there for them. You will need to suck it up and be strong for others. You will have to prioritize your time and energy. You will have to determine what and who is important. You will have to be dependable for the people you love. You will need to stop thinking of only yourself. You will need to take responsibility. You will need to care. You will need to connect. You will need to be able to recognize those who are toxic to your wellbeing and you will need to learn to forgive them and let them go- because, you will learn, that sometimes you too, are toxic and worthy of being forgiven and let go.

You will feel sad. There will be some days where you won’t want to get out of bed and try. But there will also be some days where you can’t sleep because you are so excited about something, there will be moments when life will feel perfect. You will learn to remember the good days on the bad days and you will get out of bed and keep trying.

You will learn how complex you are.  You will surprise yourself. You will disappoint yourself. You will be proud of yourself. You will hate yourself. You will love yourself.  You will realize others are as complex as you are. You will learn not to fear different people, or opinions, or lifestyles. You will learn to embrace everything foreign to you with open arms. You will learn to be tolerant. You will become more interested in people, more forgiving, and more loving because of this.

You will learn that people in power are sometimes cruel. There will be people who have authority over you who will abuse you. You will have to learn to stand up for yourself. You will have to remind yourself that you are powerful too, even if they don’t think you are. You will learn how to help others see their own power- you will learn that breaking others down is a sign of weakness, not strength. You will learn how to be a leader and not a dictator.

You will learn to laugh. Laughter will be your saving grace, and you will realize it’s the only weapon you will need in any battle. You will learn that people who can laugh at themselves always win.

You will learn it’s worth it to pay attention to everything and everyone, even though everything you see, experience or encounter will most likely leave you completely bewildered and confused. Be conscious. Don’t ignore things just because it’s easier.

You will find soul mates. People who, in a crowded room, you can make eye contact with and just know what they are thinking. You will know who these people are because they will be around for all of it, they will endure your messy life with you. This doesn’t mean they will be physically with you all the time. Your soul mates will be traveling along on their own path, fighting their own journey, but along the way you both will be each others teachers and safety net. They will let you go out into the world and be there in some form when you come back completely fucked up from whatever happened to you out there. You will exchange stories with them. They will challenge you, they will see the best in you, they will bring out the best. They will remind you of all your strengths when you are downtrodden and they will call you out when you are being an idiot. They will protect you, sometimes from yourself. You will learn that being someone else’s soul mate is even better than having one.

You will love and lose. And love and lose. And love and lose. Each love will be different, and awesome, and horrifying. And you will learn to always be brave enough and willing to love again. And when you find that love you can’t live without, you will learn to fight for it every. single. day.

But most of all, you will learn to keep learning and re-learning. You will learn that your mistakes make you a good teacher, a more empathetic member of humanity. You will learn that throughout the different stages of your life you will make new mistakes, and that you will be ever evolving and in flux. And you will hopefully learn to make peace with this and accept your own humanness. And I hope you will, at the end of it all, have enjoyed being alive.

At this point, I had begun to weep- in the middle of Starbucks. As I blew my nose into paper napkins and rubbed my gigantic red watery eyes, one of the baristas stopped wiping down a table nearby and put her hand on my shoulder. “Uh, are you ok?” she asked. “Life is so crazy, but so beautiful…..so sorrowful.  I just didn’t want to be Ursula, I wanted to be Grandmother Willow,” I told her. She nodded kindly and said, “There’s always tomorrow.”

The Face In The Dollhouse And Angelina Jolie

“Success is an illusion,” Connor said, his blue eyes wide. “It’s not like you cross a finish line and suddenly you have everything you want and life is perfect. You have to keep living and moving forward.” We were on Hollywood Blvd, trapped in a crowd who was waiting to see Angelina Jolie at the premier of Maleficient. Behind Connor, a young tan girl was standing on her tip toes trying to peer over everyone shoulders. She turned to me, her voice thick with a Brazillian accent and asked, “Is that Angelina Jolie?” I looked at the blue carpet where a woman was standing in a dress, her hair pulled back into a bun. “No, I think that’s just an especially pretty normal person,” I told her. “Or maybe someone else in the movie, I’m not sure.” She nodded, completely confused. Connor added, “You’ll know when Angelina comes because everyone will start screaming.” I began to imagine what it must be like to have people scream at the sight of you. I imagined myself in a normal setting, like walking through the doors of Chase bank, having to wave at all the people who were now hyperventilating at the sight of me in real life. I’d acknowledge them and they would all start screaming and I would feel like an all powerful Goddess, blessing the mortals with my presence here on Earth. I really like when you go into Chase bank and everyone says hello and asks you how you are in a really genuine way, one that suggests you can tell them the truth-that you are completely stressed out and knee deep in debt and need help. They don’st get annoyed and instead sit you down, offer you a piece of candy, and walk you through your money crisis. I always fall into the chair across from the Chase representative in relief, comforted by the realization that these complete strangers care about me, and my whole faith in humanity is restored. I wanted Angelina to feel like that. I would scream when I saw her but only so she could hear me saying, “HEY ANGIE, HOW ARE YOU? I’M HERE BECAUSE I CARE ABOUT YOU! DON’T WORRY I’LL WAIVE THAT OVERDRAFTING CHARGE!” 

In front of Connor were three Korean girls, their arms decorated with shopping bags. Next to me was a dad and his teenage son. We were surrounded by people, trapped in a massive mob. The blue carpet was cluttered with people who looked famous. “Is that Britney Spears?” the dad asked his son looking at a blonde girl. “Is that the girl from Modern Family?” someone else asked, everyone googling “girl from Modern Family’s name.” “This is a picture of her,” someone said showing her friend. “That girl kind of looks like her, maybe it is.” The problem wasn’t that we were really far away, having to peer through binoculars to make out human forms. We were actually really close and could see everyone perfectly. The problem was everyone looked the same. A group of girls strolled down the carpet talking to reporters and taking pictures and everyone in the crowd tried to discuss who they were. “Are they on Pretty Little Liars?” someone asked. A boy with swishy hair would walk by and he looked like every other boy I see when I go out. Wait a minute did I go on a date with him? “Who is that?” was the question everyone was asking, followed by shrugs of who cares they must be famous! A beautiful Korean woman wearing a kimono strolled past us, surrounded by her enterouge, one of which was holding a binder near her head to shade her from the sun. “Who is the chick in the kimono?” someone asked, just as the three Korean girls in front of Connor went ballistic. They began jumping up and down screaming in Korean and snapping pictures. From the blue carpet the kimono woman stared at us, and I imagined the scene she was looking at. A sea of people just staring at her surrounding three Korean jumping beans waving frantically at her and screaming, her three biggest fans, everyone else silent and blinking at her.

“Look at all you assholes, waiting around to watch someone else live life when you could be out living your own!” a male voice boomed from behind me. Yes! I thought, whoever is behind me is my soulmate. I turned around and found myself face to face with a tiny toothless man, wearing a dollhouse on his head. You. We gazed into one another’s eyes. I began studying his hat, how did he- and realized he had cut one of the walls off of the plastic pink children’s toy, revealing the inside rooms of the house, his head in between the family room and kitchen. The characters of the house- the mom, the dad, the kids, had all been taped into different rooms. The dad taped to the floor of the kitchen, the mom lying face down on the stairs, the kids taped to the ceiling of one of the bedrooms. His depiction of the nuclear family, complete with his own head in the middle of the household was so compelling, I just wanted to discuss his message with him. He looked at me, his eyes ablaze with enlightened truth. “This doesn’t matter,” he said. I shook my head in agreement and he wandered away, leaving me reaching my arm out to him. “Wait, but what does….” I asked wistfully. “Come back…” I looked at Connor. “His hat-” Connor cut me off. “I know, I could easily make that for you.” I imagined myself in a matching dollhouse hat and my heart raced. I wiped my sweaty palms on my pants.

I was starting to get annoyed that we were trapped in a mob. The last time I was trapped in a mob on Hollywood Blvd, I ended up participating in a four hour long protest, and I wondered if this would end up being a similar experience. A man dressed in full Maleficent drag was strutting up and down the blue carpet and next to him was a shortish man, dressed in a tux wearing Maeficent horns and a matching dark expression. “I bet he’s that drag Maleficent’s assistant,” Connor said. The little man was just following drag Maleficent, standing out of the way when media photographed her, sometimes drag Maleficent would whisper something in his ear and he would disappear and then return a few minutes later. Elle Fanning walked by, looking like a real life princess in a beautiful gown, but people didn’t even know who she was. “It’s Dakota Fanning!” someone yelled. I began to wonder why tourists even come to Hollywood. What is the appeal if all they are going to do is return home with a slideshow of pictures of some blonde girl in a gown, telling all their friends they saw the real Dakota Fanning until someone informs them they have confused two young blonde actresses who share the same last name? Their whole trip must just come crashing down around them- what a waste of perfectly good plane tickets, we could have gone to the Florida Keys and swam with real life sea cows. 

“That girl is hot. That one in the dress with the hair,” a man next to me said to his friend. I looked around. There were packs of women wearing dresses with hair, everywhere. “Which one?” his friend asked. “That one,” he said pointing. “That one is hot too though in the purple dress,” he said. “That girl in the white pants is too,” his friend added. In my head all the woman on the blue carpet had merged into one ginormous hot girl, towering above everyone and crushing us with their skyscraper high heels. When I am in Hollywood I usually dress like I am on the plains of Africa. Boots, fishing hats, windbreakers, hiking socks. The reason is because as a woman, I don’t want to be just another hot girl with hair and wearing a dress. These guys next to me would hit on any of them, they didn’t really care, and I need people to care about more than the surface. I need them to say, “look at that girl, her boot is so lumpy, I am so intrigued at what she’s hiding in there, I just have to know.” I looked around, where did the dollhouse hat man go? 

“Is that Britney Spears?” the dad next to me asked his son and I looked at him in disgust. This man was highly confused. He obviously was not a well informed member of society, completely unaware that Britney Spears is and has been locked in a basement somewhere in Calabasas, not allowed to be seen by anyone since her demise in 2007, only allowed to walk around on stage and lip-sync once in awhile in Vegas. “Dad, every blonde girl is not Britney Spears,” his son informed him. “Believe in the power of The Lord!” “Believe in the power of The Lord!” Behind us, a group of people were trying to take advantage of the mobs of sinners gathered all in one place and relay their beliefs through chanting at us through megaphones. “Dad,” the son asked, fearful, “what are they doing?” The dad put his hand on his son’s shoulder. “They are preaching a spiritual message son. You either believe it or you don’t. Is that Britney Spears?” he said pointing to another blonde girl. I had to interject, “Sir, Britney Spears is locked in a base-” I began to tell him but then was interrupted by loud fierce screams. “Brad Brad Brad Brad!!!!!!!”

Brad Pitt was being rushed by, surrounded by bodyguards. “That’s not Brad Pitt, that can’t be,” Connor said. It’s true, in person Brad is kind of on the smallish side. I thought if I ever saw him he would be glowing, or maybe levitating above everyone else, easy to spot, but he kind of is just like another shortish Hollywood guy. Everyone was on Instagram, searching “#maleficentpremier” and looking at pictures of the stars, even though the stars were on the same street as we all were, in front of our faces. “Apparently Brad got punched in the face,” someone said reading an Instagram post of someone who was standing further down the street. “Angelina just got out of the car,” someone else said looking at a picture someone else posted eleven minutes ago. I was busy peering over the Korean girl’s shoulders, completely enchanted by their Instagrams. At the bottom of their screen was a row of an Asian girl’s smiling face, only displayed in the different filter options. They were busy uploading pictures of the chick in the kimono. The kimono star had walked by a few more times, but now not even the Korean girls cared. They had their Instagram pic already and didn’t feel the need to scream or wave at her anymore.

I was starting to feel like Jodie Foster in The Panic Room. I was trapped in a crowd of people, I was starting to get hungry, I missed my mom, and I had lost my dollhouse hat man forever. I had come to terms that this would be where my story ended, in the middle of these people who were waiting for Britney Spears to show up at the premiere of Maleficent, and that I would never get to accomplish any of the things I really wanted in life- like eat dinner at Mel’s Diner with Connor like we had originally planned on doing, or raise a son to be a strong, compassionate, independant gentleman who gives a lot of damns, when Angelina suddenly showed up. As everyone lost their minds around me, I quietly watched as she calmly smiled and waved at us. And I realized, it’s true, her life is more important than mine or the dollhouse man’s, or the Korean girls or the dad and his son. I wondered if the dollhouse hat man was on the other side, walking the blue carpet, if people would care about him and if so why that is. I respect Angie for her talent but more so for her activism. I like her for taking her celebrity and power and putting it to good use in the world. And I have that same respect and admiration for the millions of other people who are activists and who work hard to help or contribute to humanity, who aren’t movie stars. Hollywood is a real rat race, it is full of people with their heads down trying to gain the type of celebrity or power or money that Angelina has, things that in the end I’m not sure really make you feel fulfilled as a human with a soul, because if they did, why would Angelina feel the need to become an activist? Why wouldn’t she just sit around in her mansion in France, play with her kids, and get massages all the time?

One of my old friends wants to be an actor. He once told me that when he assessed all his skills, acting was the thing that he felt he could really succeed at. I’ve always thought it was interesting because when I assessed his skills and characteristics, I never came to the conclusion that he should be an actor. “He would be a good teacher, professor, coach, father, physical therapist, journalist, scientist…” I once told him this but none of the things I named had any appeal to him. But why? What was it about playing make believe for a living and performing that outweighed his choice and ability to be anything else in the world? I suddenly saw the face in the dollhouse, you assholes are watching other people live life when you could be out living your own. I stood in the middle of people bursting into tears at the sight of Angelina and I stupidly, for the first time realized, this must be what people are chasing. But it’s kind of like the hot girls, those guys don’t know anything about the hot girls except that they are attractive on the outside, and they worship them because of it, but that’s just the shell, the body of a person, and why would you only desire that part? I don’t know Angelina personally, why would I cry at the sight of her? I think she’s wonderful at what she does, but I would cry at the sight of the heart surgeon who saved my father’s life before I would cry over her.

Once Angie left, everyone else did too. The crowd dispersed and Connor looked at me. “Run,” he said. And we bolted through the mass of people, freeing ourselves. “You know when actors play the roles of important people in history? Like how Morgan Freeman played Nelson Mandela or Ashton Kutcher played Steve Jobs?” I asked Connor as we ran by a woman lying on the ground, her face right next to Ryan Seacret’s Hollywood star, as her friend took her picture. “Yeah?” Connor said. “I would rather aspire to actually be Nelson Mandela, or live a life that turned out to be such a great or inspiring story, that the tiny ego obsessed people in Hollywood wanted to make a movie about it,” I said. Connor looked at me, rolling his big blue eyes.”That dollhouse hat man really got to you huh?”