Field Trip

Working on a lot of projects, so my pieces are slow-coming, but please take a gander at my piece on The Flip this week.  Click through below.

AZZ EVERYWHERE!  AZZ!  AZZ!  EVERYWHERE!

In front of us, on a stage flanked by dusty marigold curtains, a sweaty black man with relaxed hair and a red flannel shirt raps in front of a beautiful tableau: girls with their backs to the crowd, shaking, bumping, gyrating their asses to his oversimplified but altogether catchy song “Azz Everywhere.”

For the better part of ten minutes, the man known as Big Freedia continues to loop the same lyrics over and over again – AZZ EVERYWHERE! AZZ!  AZZ!  EVERYWHERE! –  the girls sweating and shaking and humping and lip-biting with an intensity that would make the casual, sober observer decide that they are hired hands and not just girls relieved to find out where the azz is (everywhere).  The crowd stands beneath Big Freedia, all of us willfully subjecting ourselves to the gratuitous ass shaking.  It’s like a circus of ass with Big Freedia as (azz?) the ringmaster…


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Crack Attack

The subway doors open.  My headphones are on as I cross the threshold.  Over my internet-procured, Pitchfork Best New Tracks-researched, I’m-so-indie bullshit I hear “OH MY GOD!  THIS IS THE WOMAN I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR ALL MY LIFE, MAN!  ALL MY LIFE!”

I keep my eyes down. I walk towards the other side of the train.  I hope and pray that this loud man, whose face I have not ventured to seek out, is not talking about me.  Dear God, I think, please let these words be intended for someone else.

“MAN!  MAN!  YOU SEE HER?  ISN’T SHE BEAUTIFUL?  HEY!  YOU!  LADY!  YOU’RE BEAUTIFUUUUUUUULLLLL!”

I notice that the lisped sound of this man’s excessively booming voice is pointing in my direction, and when I look up across from me, I am confronted with the humored stares of three boys, all looking at me, the victim of this embarrassing crime of flattery delivered by a lunatic.  Fucking hell.

I look back down at my iPod, turning the volume all the way down so I can hear everything being yelled at me.  A pair of sneakers appears in front of me.  I look up.

He holds onto a silver bar with aging hands and leans towards me with a maniacal friendliness.  “You so pretty,” he says, his voice lowered slightly, sweet as crazy candy laced with arsenic.  I squeak out a “Thank you” and place my gaze firmly back into my lap.  His charm turns towards the girl next to me, a young blonde in dark blue jeans.  “You so pretty, too.  I can’t choose!  Can I have both of you?”  She says something and he walks away.

After he has tired of wooing the ladies, his comments turn towards the men on the train.  “Don’t look at me like that, man,” he yells at a boy sitting across from me.  “People gonna think I like guys.  You fuckin ugly, man.  Ugly.”

The volume of his voice gains footing again, desiring to make its way down the train towards a man standing by the door.

“WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT GUY WEARING, MAN?!  LOOK AT THE COLOR COMBINATIONS!  JESUS CHRIST.  YOU UGLY MAN.  UGLY!  ANYONE GOT ROACH SPRAY?”

Crazy Pants snaps one of his arms back, bent like a pantomime snake about to attack, or, you know, someone spraying a giant human cockroach with a giant can of fake insecticide.

“SSSSSSSSS!!! SSSSSSSS!!!”  His mouth makes the hissing noise of an aerosol can releasing poison.  He dances down the aisle; his toes tapping on the linoleum floor that is his stage.

“You ever see a guy uglier than that?!” he yells, standing in a state of rest.  No one offers their personal opinion.  On the other side of the subway, someone stifles a laugh.  “Can’t dress for shit!” he continues.

The subway stops, letting out a number of confused and horrified travelers.  The man catches someone before he leaves.  “MAN!  YOUR HEAD SO BIG!  WHEN’S IT GONNA STOP GROWING?  YOU NEED A HELMET FOR THAT SHIT!  YOUR HEAD SO BIG!”  He looks down at the Human Cockroach he assaulted a few minutes previous.  “Pap, you’re not the ugliest man no more,” he assures him.  The doors close.

Our tin can subway rattles down the tracks.  Crazy Pants anticipates the end of our journey together.  “You guys have been great,” he says with wistful sentiment, as though we were an audience who paid good money to sit center stage at the insane asylum.  His acerbic tone returns, however, and he wraps up his monologue with “The ugly ones, you’re still ugly, though.”

The doors open.  My stop.  I shuffle towards the door, hoping he doesn’t follow me and his other favorite blonde onto the platform.

“CRACK ATTACK!  CRACK ATTACK!  CRACK ATTACK!” he yells, pin pointing with great accuracy the theme of the last five minutes.

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Field Trip

Check out my piece on The Flip today.  Click through on the image below.

These near-summer nights are like heaven to me.  A warm blanket for my frozen hands.  A good book for my silly brain.  Each week I shed a new layer, finding more of myself beneath.  Oh, this is what it’s like.  This is what it’s like to be sane. I’m starting to remember.

I take pictures of a flowering tree at 10 p.m., its colors bleached out with my weak flash, red turning pink.  The park is washed in color, even at night.  It screams to be seen.  Chartreuse foliage lines the boughs of trees that place themselves against hazy clouds soaking up city lights from below.  What should be smoky gray is rendered a smoggy blush.  I lift my hand to a branch.  I touch the leaves and feel their newness…

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Waking Limbs

“Come over and watch me pack,” she said.  Jo was leaving for Poland the next day.  It was 10:30 at night and I was feeling bored and boring.  “Come over,” she repeated.  And so I did.

I rode my bike along the water, Manhattan passing on my right.  Every single stupid, pent-up thought I had over the last three hours, sitting in the darkened quiet of my apartment, disappeared like plumes of smoke into ether.  What was once thick and gray and dense disintegrated into nothing.  It would come back, surely, but I felt distanced from myself for the moment.

The streets were empty, save for the occasional car, and the breeze was cold but not biting.  I tucked my scarf into my jacket, in and around my neck.  I listened to my thin rubber tires against the road.  I pumped the brakes with my hands around corners.  And into ten minutes, I was there.

Her hair was fresh and clean and brushed in her distinctive way – bleached blonde hair tousled at the top, voluminous and unique.  She pulled shorts and tops out of a closet and placed them into a bag.  My smoky brain had come back.  I lay on her white bed, groaning about a variety of self-obsessed calamities.  I thought about getting a real job with responsibilities and schedules and a ladder that I could at least pretend went somewhere.  Modeling was a slide that started at the top and only led you down if you didn’t get off it quickly enough.

You’re going through this stage to get to another, she told me.  It’s like you’ve been lying on one side of your body and it’s gone numb.  She said that, too.  You have to move over to the other side to balance it out.

My friends were filled with good advice.  It was just about whether I chose to listen.  The other week, when I was scraping a bottom I had become familiar with over the last few months, my friend told me that the depths of your lows match the reaches of your highs.  What we saw as a manic pendulum, was actually indicative of our emotional reach, the level of emotion we were capable of.  Those who felt the lowest lows were the only ones who could feel the highest highs.  It was a bit sick, really.  The fact that I could feel so horrifically, awfully, irredeemably sad was a good thing.  It meant I was capable of great feeling, for better or worse.

I was waiting for the better.

Jo continued to pack.  Denim shorts.  Cream tops.  Tie-dyed parachute pants and a donut sweatshirt for the plane ride there.  She showed me presentations she had given at work that week, singular words written over and over and over again on big, stiff pieces of white paper and then turned into something polished on her computer screen.  She had conference calls with people in Europe.  People weighed in on her work.  She made changes and then responded with the alterations.  It made me realize how quickly we turn into adults by default, how you become good at something, how people eventually pay you for your talents and abilities.  Years ago I hadn’t realized the importance of this – the self-worth that is derived from work.  All I ever had to do was show up and look good.

The previous week I had done an interview about modeling.  I talked animatedly and with weighty opinion on the industry and my thoughts on it.  I was candid and honest and likely sounded a bit ungrateful to someone who didn’t know the business.  Afterward, I felt overexposed, by no one’s fault but my own.  I emailed the editor, asking if I could read the piece before he ran it.

I could tell plenty of sob stories about nerve wracking self-esteem issues, but at the end of the day, as intense as it has been on my emotional well-being, the industry has been better to me than most.  Because of modeling, I have been afforded the ability to travel on a whim, pay for my life, meet interesting people and any other host of wonderful things.  Most importantly, it exposed me to the possibility of an unconventional world.  Life didn’t need to be so black and white.  There was beauty in struggle.  Struggle was the gray area.  Seeing the world as I have, living the way that I have been able to, was proof that I could build my life in any fashion I wished.  And though this new paradigm filled me with a massive anxiety, it came with it a freedom of mind many of my peers did not possess themselves.

Still, I was waiting for the next move, the next thing.  I was waiting for the tingling numbness to go away.  I was waiting to move on.

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