Team America

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Charles de Gaulle.  Again.  Possibly the worst airport in the world, filled with slow-moving idiots pushing bulky carts with unnecessary heaps of luggage, equipped with bathrooms that are no better than Porta Potties, and food options that make hospital slop sound appealing.

I thumb through my passport, recently a source of pride, each paper page stained with arrivals and departures, arrows and countries.  Black ink, green ink, dates as evidence.  Happy to be here, people.  Happy to be here.

I walk to the self-check kiosk with my overstuffed rolling luggage and a massive bag meant to count as my “smaller item.”  In it, I have shoes, a winter coat, my actual purse.  It stands away from my body like a bum hauling a garbage bag.  Knowing I am pushing my luck, I check in quickly and then disappear to a row of chairs to wait for my friend.

“Excuse me!  Excuse me!”  An American Airlines representative is waving me down from her place behind the counter.  “Are you checking that bag in?”  This is more a passive aggressive theoretical than anything else.  “No,” I say plainly.  “I’m not.”

“Is not possible,” she says, her French accent doing its best to trick me into her noble authority.  “Is not possible!” she repeats, gesturing violently at my green rolling luggage and not the black bag which is clearly the legitimate offender at this point.

The French think everything is “not possible.”  France is the land of “no.”

No, you can’t have this croissant to go.

No, you can’t drink your coffee here.

No, you cannot get whatever you want.

Listen, lady.  I’m a goddamn American.  And in America, I’m the customer and I am right.  When I tell you that I flew over here in a plane that easily accommodated this very same bag, you’re obligated to believe me.  The consumerist culture shames you into cowing to me.

I.

WILL.

WIN.

Lady France tells me to try to put it into the metal skeleton that determines whether a bag is of appropriate size for the overhead compartments.  Emboldened by my frequent flier miles and my familiarity with this whole charade I tell her, “Yeah, fine!” and then reorganize my bags so that the overflow of the rolling luggage fills whatever extra space I actually have in the massive shoulder bag.

I walk over to the skeleton and push it in easily, holding my arms up in victory.  “Is possible!” I yell, pointing like a vindicated teenager.  “IS POSSIBLE!!!!!”

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Good Jobs and Worthless Boys

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I check in with the front desk, the showroom buzzing from beyond a swinging white door, people talking in foreign languages, flicking through unending racks of clothing, taking pictures of bored models standing 7-feet tall and weighing no more than 110 pounds.

“Hi, I’m here working for [Blank],” I say.

It feels nice to say it.  I AM WORKING FOR [BLANK BLANK BLANK], I want to scream.  I HAVE BEEN MODELING FOR A DECADE AND I AM FINALLY WORKING FOR [BLANK].

“Just a minute,” the woman says, seeming confused, which actually makes me a nervous.  Maybe I’ve had this wrong all along.  Maybe, just as I suspected, I am not special enough to do e-commerce for an expensive department store.  This is a similar kind of logic to one a pretty girl develops who has been dumped often enough that she has scaled back her perception of self-worth, left scraping the proverbial barrel, freaking out about that the 19-year-old barista who doesn’t speak English WHO WON’T FALL IN LOVE WITH HER EITHER!

Not that I’ve been there before.

She comes back, followed by a sales rep.  “Oh!  It’s you,” she says.  “I was so confused.”  The front desk assistant assumed I was one of the buyers, not a model.  I probably look ten years older than 14, which makes me ten years too old.

We walk through the doors and I am assaulted with that all-too-familiar frenzy, thankful to not be a part of it.  Someone tells me to have a seat, grab something to eat, have a coffee.  I sit on the sidelines, espresso in hand, surveying the scene like an All Star Player on the injury bench.

This is how it always works in modeling: the easiest, most pleasant jobs pay the most.  Fuck off, supermodels.  You and your fruit plates you won’t touch and your business class seats to the Dominican Republic can all go to hell.

The showroom girls drag their pointed heels across the cement floor, lamely turning for buyers requesting photographs.  I recognize the look in their face – that deadened, I-fucking-hate-life face.

“They’re making 1,200 Euros a day,” Becky says, “I don’t know what they’re complaining about.”

I know what they’re complaining about: Paris agencies take 70-percent of everything they make, they’re spending a couple grand to live in a shitty models’ apartment with bunk beds crammed into small rooms like prison cells, their feet are flared and pink and likely undergoing permanent damage that will show up some fifty years from now.

But no one cares about that.  No one cares unless you know, unless you’ve sat at the edge of a bathtub with your face against the tiled wall, soaking your feet in Epsom salts and praying for a swift and sudden death.  “Psh,” Becky says.  “Come on.”

Becky is the leggy and long-limbed assistant to someone but I don’t know whom.  She runs around with strides too long for her frantic pace.  There is something cartoonish about her, a character of a girl living in New York, working in the fashion industry, getting drunk at parties and running late to work.  I have come to love Becky for what she is.

I am lead to the model’s area, a stuffy, subtropical holding cell where everyone sits around naked or changes into clothes, bitching in foreign accents when they don’t have anything else to do.  Most of the models are Russian.  Most of the dressers are from Italy.

It’s late in the afternoon and most of the appointments are already done.  The girls are splayed out half-naked on the beige sofas with an end-of-day listlessness.  My outfits are there for me, hung one at a time, twenty-five in all.  Becky is steaming shirts with some shitty handheld European thing that only serves to soften the hard-edged wrinkles, not rid the fabric of them completely.  All night, I put on cold, damp garments, thankful that they are numerable, that there is already an end in sight even though we are just beginning.  For the first time, I am the one with the better job, unlike the showroom girls who have to look forward to seven more days of a never-ending deluge of pants and shirts and jumpsuits with skintight sleeves and broken zippers.

They glare at me with an understandable jealousy.

Becky asks me about the guy from LA.  “Are you still dating him?” she asks, and I have to think back to who she is talking about because even calling what we were doing “dating” seems generous.  There should be a word that exists somewhere between dating and not dating, a word that accurately encompasses semi-meaningless sex and a few free meals.

L.A…

L.A….

Oh, Trevor.

It comes to me from the depths of some buried place, having selectively blacked out the memory of him.

“Oh, that one?  That ship sailed a loooonnggg time ago…like in a blazing, horrible inferno.”

“Yeah,” Becky says, “I’m not dating the French guy anymore, either.”  She squats on the sofa, holding the steamer against a poplin button-up.  “Ugh!  Fuck this thing.”  And throws it on the sofa, leading me out the door to stand against a white wall and pose like a person without problems, a girl without baggage.  A pretty little thing that looks nice in clothes.

Photo courtesy of Fashion Lover

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Flip Collective Field Trip!

Click through on image below for my new installment inspired by Brooklyn Love Stories, aptly titled Insignificant Others.  Check it out.

FEEL MORE!

Golden words commanded from their place on a clean windowpane. Words advertising clothing and midcentury furniture, a lifestyle this particular store wanted to promote.

FEEL MORE!

Lourdes wanted to feel less. She wanted to feel nothing. She was in a horrible mood, one that had become distressingly familiar. The strain in her chest, the whirling brain, the helpless feeling that made death sound less than disagreeable, if only to make everything stop. These bouts of depression were like a barreling train with incomprehensible force and speed. Walking along the darkened sidewalk of La Brea, she unscrewed the childproof lid of a plastic orange canister and swallowed a Xanax without water…

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Sadist in the City – FIELD TRIP!

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

“It smells…like…like flowers in here.”

The four of us walk through a marble lobby, complete with doorman, $1,000 centerpiece, and an aroma I only ever associate with impossibly expensive hotel spas. Care for a cold towel, Miss Bahn? It’s literally the nicest smelling lobby I’ve ever walked into in New York – an incredible feat considering, just five minutes ago, we were awash in a chilly-breezed cocktail of old trash, dog shit, and that septic scent that sits just below the surface of any street in Manhattan. We have officially crossed the threshold into the land of NYC Rich People, evident in the complete and utter absence of lingering smell Korean take-out in the elevator, which, conveniently, opens right into the apartment where the party is being held. Oh, what six million dollars in New York will buy… 

[Continued on Flipcollective.com]

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