call from here

Alex: Thank you for calling Mama Mia's Pizza, Alex speaking. What can I get for you today?

Me: Hi, Alex. Um, I was wondering if you guys deliver?

Alex: If we deliver?

Me: Yeah. Do you offer delivery? 

Alex: You, to the mountain or something?

Me: Well, no. I was actually hoping you could send it a little further than that.

Alex: (pause) Where exactly would you like your pizza delivered, ma'am?

Me: Los Angeles. 

Alex: Los Angeles?

Me: That's right. 

Alex: You want me to deliver your pizza to Los Angeles.

Me: Yes, please. But there's one other thing. I need you to deliver it to future, too. 2013, to be exact.

Alex: (sigh) Look, lady, we're really busy here, so thanks for the prank call, but--

Me: Wait! Don't hang up! Please don't hang up. I want something. I want to place an order. I'm just not sure I can get back to you. I'm having a hard time remembering, that's all.

Alex: Okaaaay, wellllll, did you want cheese, pepperoni, sausage, veggie, or supreme? 

Me: Ummm, I think he'd want sausage. Or maybe supreme. Yeah. Supreme for sure. Except no mushrooms. He hated mushrooms.

Alex: So this is for two people?

Me: Yeah. Just two. I think. Well, I don't know. I don't remember who took the picture. It could have been my mom, or it could have been a stranger. But I think we might have gone alone...

Alex: Ma'am...?

Me: Sorry, yes, just two. So a medium I guess?

Alex: Ok, medium supreme, hold the mushrooms. That'll be eleven dollars, ready in twenty minutes, and you can pick it up at Snoas--

Me: Alex?

Alex: Ma'am?

Me: Could you just...could you just tell me what it's like there today? You know, like, describe it a little bit? It's been a really long time.

Alex: What it's like...where, ma'am?

Me: There. Wherever you are. I'm trying, but I just... I can't...

Alex: Ma'am....? Are you...ok?

Me: Yeah. I'm good. It's's a year ago today that he died, and I'm looking through all these photographs, and most of the moments I remember, but I don't know which trip this was, or what it was like, and I don't even care about the place or the date so much as I just...I just want to be there, yanno? In my mind, just for a few minutes. I want to close my eyes and feel what it was like. But it's been so long, almost thirty years, I don't even... I can't...

Alex: Ok, ok, calm down. One sec, my manager is yelling at me...

(muffled voices) 

Alex: Alright look, I'm on my lunch break in a few minutes, anyway. What it is you want to know?

Me: Just tell me about the place where you are. About what it's like there today. Anything at all.

Alex: Okaaaay, well, I'm in a shack the size of my parent's bathroom at the bottom of a big ass mountain. It's not snowing today, but it did last night, so the powder's pretty good, and everyone's in a good mood. They're tipping for once, anyway. Some little girl left a sweater in here a little while ago, so I gotta--

Me: Wait, what did you say?

Alex: Some little girl. She was in here with her dad. Cute kid, total tomboy. Looked exhausted though. They got a supreme pizza and sat at the counter. The kid picked all of the veggies and stuff off of it and put them on her dad's slices. (laughs) Anyway, yeah, she left her sweater, or I guess her dad's sweater, it's pretty big. I gotta run it over to lost and f--

Me: Alex?

Alex: Yeah?

Me: Listen, I'm sorry to be a pain in the ass, but I need to cancel the order. I can't...I can't get to you. I'm sorry. I wish more than anything I could, but I can't.

Alex: So no medium supreme?

Me: Yeah. I mean no. Not today. But thank you. Really...thanks.

Alex: Sure, no problem, I didn't put the order in yet, anyway. Have a good day, ok? 

(dial tone)

Me: Thanks, yeah...I'm sure we did. 

coachella 3 - getting high (in which I go to the circus, or rather the circus comes to me)

So now I'm in. I'm frazzled and sweaty, I'm furious at myself for not having been better prepared for security, but at least I'm in. And I'm glad I've come as early as I have, because in spite of lines that are choking the entrance, the grounds are still pretty sparse. The relatively clear expanse of the main field is relieving to see, and I feel like I can relax, catch my breath, and get the lay of the land.

And it doesn't take long to do so. When I walk the perimeter of the festival, mentally ticking off each of the stages, I'm shocked at how much smaller it seems than Bonnaroo and Outside Lands. I see immediately that this layout has a vastly better flow for foot traffic; stages are closer together and arranged in a way that makes sense and will be easy to navigate in the dark.

While it normally takes me some time to get my "festival legs", at Coachella I feel comfortable almost right away. Bonnaroo and Outside Lands are massive, sprawling festivals which felt intensely crowded, all the time. Coachella instantly feels different to me. Roomy, chill, not overly packed. There's plenty to see - art installations and sculptures and various structures for viewing and climbing - but it doesn't feel nearly as chaotic and jumbled as Bonnaroo, or as epically huge as Outside Lands.

Despite having taken the first shuttle, what with the first day security lines being so ridiculous, I've missed Lord Huron. But I'm okay with it; they're a new group, based out of LA, and I'm pretty sure I can catch them back at home sometime. Next up on my schedule, my first show of the festival, will be Youth Lagoon, in about forty five minutes. This is perfect, because it gives me time to sit down for a bit, take in the sights/sounds, and eat.

On my lunch menu: grilled chicken pita with rice, and a small handful of magic mushrooms. And lots and lots of water to wash it all down.

I find a shaded spot under a tent next to a string of food vendors, near the tented outdoor stage where Youth Lagoon will soon play, lay out my vinyl-backed sheet, and sit to have my meal. Music floods in from every corner of the festival, weighing heavily in the bright afternoon glare. There are small groups of people sitting all around me, and festival staff tending to the tables beside us. I'm completely alone, but surrounded. I'm anonymous.

The food is decent, but nothing remarkable, and I make to myself the only negative comparison that I'll log the whole weekend, between Coachella and the other fests: the food is nowhere near as good or as varied as the gourmet food trucks of Bonnaroo and Outside Lands.

This is the first time I've eaten loose mushrooms; I've only ever had them mixed into small bars of chocolate before. A. has warned me that they'll taste bitter and awful, and advised me to to tear them into tiny pieces to sprinkle on my food. They don't smell bad at all, I'd said, when he'd handed me the baggie and I'd held it under my nose. They'd smelled to me like tea, or herbs. Trust me, you won't want to eat them plain, he'd replied.

I glance around before casually reaching with both hands into my backpack, which sits open beside me. I carefully pop the lid of one small plastic cup and pick out what looks like a tiny, twisted twig. It's shriveled in a way that reminds me of something my mother kept all of her life, much to my horror and fascination, in the sewing box that now sits on my sideboard: a small section of my umbilical cord.

The stem is easy to crumble into smaller pieces, and I carefully wedge one into a lump of chicken before chewing the combination down to bits and swallowing.

I taste nothing but chicken.

I repeat my efforts with a slightly larger piece of the stem, but again I taste nothing unusual. I have a few more small bites of regular food, sans toadstool, again chewing fastidiously, and follow up with several large swigs from my water bottle. I'm aiming to eat enough to give the high legs, but not so much that it will be eclipsed by my body's digestive efforts.

When I figure I've had enough chicken and rice, I pluck the rest of the allotted shrooms from the container and cup them in my palm. I pinch a centime-sized cap between my fingertips and examine it. It looks like an acorn top, and smells earthy. Gingerly, I take the littlest of bites, careful not to let any flake off and be wasted.

It tastes bland and inoffensive, dry but slightly chewy; like a tiny leaf giving up the ghost in autumn.

I slowly eat the rest of the shrooms in this way, unbothered by the texture or flavor, which actually strikes me as strangely pleasant. This having been done, I pause for a moment - a deep breath, a conscious effort to take inventory of my senses, my surroundings. I've just eaten enough mushrooms that, if I've estimated the dosage correctly, will take me on a harder, deeper trip than I've ever gone before. I've done this on purpose. Today I don't want to experience just a happy, lighthearted and lightheaded tingling of my senses.

Today, I want to hallucinate.

Today I want to feel the full range of effects that this organic drug has to offer, for better or for worse. I've primed myself by reading and listening to the stories of other users. I have some idea what to expect, and I'm both excited and nervous. A tiny voice in the back of my mind has started chirping what ifs at me, posed less like questions than vague threats. What if something goes wrong. What if you react badly. What if you freak out. What if you have some kind of seizure.

But I'm not scared. I've done enough drugs by now to understand how important the mind-body connection is, despite being someone who once scoffed at such a new age concept. It's true though; I've learned that, as with much of life, attitude has a big role in the experience of a drug. Sure: there's only so much conscious effort we can direct into it, and at a certain point chemistry and biology are going to do what they're going to do. But fear makes for a terrible guide, because he just slaps a blindfold on you behind which you cringe and cower until the ride is over.

And I want to see everything today.

I gather my things, shake off my sheet, and slowly drift over to the Mojave tent, stopping to snap pics of some art along the way.

There's a bit of a crowd at Mojave, but nothing overwhelming. I check them out as I pick my way through groups and pairs, curious to see the sorts of people who are just as into the dreamy, trippy, shoe gaze sounds of Youth Lagoon as I am - to see who cared enough to get here early, and get a good spot.

For myself, I choose the back left section, where I'll have some room to myself but still be in direct line of a massive, angled speaker. It's important to me to find my concert "sweet spot" (that place where I have some breathing room, though not so far back as to feel left out of the scene ), but that's all for naught if I can't hear the music good and loud. Nothing I'm going to think or feel, nothing I'm coaxing my mind and body into experiencing will matter, if the moment isn't scored correctly. Because I'm here for the music, first and foremost. I put down my sheet, though folded up to only allow enough room to sit cross-legged with my bag in my lap. I know there's a good chance I'll want (need) to sit when the shrooms kick in, no matter who's standing around me, and I don't want to be a space hog. Once situated, I look around at the crowd. Young. Really young. Eager. Happy. Gearing up. I check the time. Five minutes until the show starts; twenty minutes since I've finished eating...

It starts fast.

Shockingly fast, in fact.

In my previous experiences with mushrooms, the effect settled on me slowly, almost imperceptibly. There would come a moment when the glint of sunlight would be especially golden and warm, or the tinkling sounds of a fountain would linger suspiciously long in my ears, and I'd know: something was happening. But that was a gentle intensifying of my senses - a teasing them into a state of extra wakefulness, and heightened capacity.

This is something different. This is what I'd seen mentioned on one forum online, in doing my dosage research. The phrase had jumped out at me from the screen, intriguing but a little bit scary, too: The only thing I don't like about shrooms, this poster had written, is the rocket ride up.

The rocket ride up. Rocket ride up. Rocket ride. 

When I'd read that, I'd dismissed it, based on my other experiences. Nah, I'd thought. That's not how they are for me.

Well. Amendment time. That's not how they were for me. Until today.

All of a sudden, it feels as if the air has thickened. That's the first thing I notice: the change in the atmosphere. In my atmosphere. The breeze that was playing across my bare arms is still there, but someone somewhere is squeezing a handbrake, and it h a s   s    l   o   o   o   o   o   o  w  e  d   d o w n. And it feels less like air than...water. The smoothness of water; the way the miniature tides of a heated swimming pool will caresses your skin, in subtle jets and waves - that's what it feels like.

And now it's above me. This water. This weight. I feel as if I'm being pressed to the ground, but not in an oppressive, uncomfortable way. Just a matter-of-fact way. Like, Hm. Well. There's absolutely no way I could stand up right now, even if I wanted to. But whatever, that's cool. I'm sitting. And it feels almost as if there's intent behind it. As if, while I'm obviously not in control, someone or something else is.

I'd shortly know who that someone was.

But for right now, I'm here. I'm sitting. In water. I look around. Whoa. The sun. Very bright. Ok. It's starting. And now color. Color makes itself known. Presents itself. Again - intention. The colors of things shrug off a dull outer layer, like when you run a fingertip down a foggy window. What was there on the other side is suddenly really there. Flushed cheeks are pinker, more alive. I can't see anyone's pores from here, that would be ridiculous!  - or the movements of their tongues behind their teeth...but that's what it feels like. Life, magnified. Life, coming to life.

And then I get the giggles. In a really, really bad way. Like, sitting-in-the-back-row-of-homeroom-with-your-best-friend-making-faces-at-you type giggles. Like, absolutely-cannot-make-a-sound-because-if-you-do-you're-getting-detention type giggles. And I'm fascinated by how it happened, because though I may be reaching, I think I understand the genesis of it.

From the moment I'd gotten to the festival, I'd been more than a little bit ... spooked, by how young the crowd was. It seemed much younger to me than Bonnaroo or Outside Lands. And it had challenged me somewhat, and made me more self-conscious than I usually am. And I'd realized when I'd been waiting in line, pressed up hot and sweaty with all of these kids, that I was going to have to work a little bit, to get past those feelings. And the strategy I adopted for the short term? Ignore them. Just blot them out of my sight. Look through and past them. Focus on the fest, on the sights and sounds, and on myself.

And that had worked great up until the mushrooms found out about it. But when they caught wind of what I was doing, they were all, Nuh uh, Ellie. Not so fast. Let's have a closer look at that, shall we? I found myself gazing around at everyone who, wait just a minute--what's going on with time??

And that's when things, heretofore a little bit weird, get really fucking weird. Because I realize, with what remaining shreds of lucidity are fast fleeing my brain, that I have no idea how much time has passed since I've been sitting down. I can't tell if I've been there for hours or seconds. I mean, I know the music hasn't even started yet, I'm aware enough to realize that. But it's as if I've blacked out during the minutes that all of this has been happening. Lost time, as they say.

At any rate, I barely have time to register this psychological development because I'm gazing around at everyone, at all these legs, bare and young, all these faces, bright and smooth. I can hear their voices, emerging into a cacophony of sound that just ... sounds ... so ... young. Like, b a b i e s.

Yes. God. T h e y  s o u n d   l i k e        b    a   b   i   e   s.

You know the dream where you're naked in front of a class, or a lecture hall? And it's the worst, most mortifying and embarrassing thing ever? Now invert that, in every way possible. You're not naked - everyone else is. You're not humiliated - everyone else is. Well, that's what happens. I am suddenly about to watch Youth Lagoon with a crowd of crying, naked, crawling babies.

My brain has seized upon this idea that everyone is so much younger than me, has thrown a jet pack on it, splashed in some nitro, and strapped it to a rocket ride to the fucking moon. And there is absolutely nothing I can do about it but hold on tight. I'm not in the throes of hallucination - not yet. I don't actually think I'm seeing a crowd of diapered infants. But my brain is so complicit with the drugs in wanting to see this, in wanting to burst through this barrier I've subconsciously set up for myself, that I don't think I would have reacted much differently if I'd been fully hallucinating. The absurdity of my thoughts pins me down and tickles me until I can't breathe. I look around at these people - adults, all of them - and all I see are helpless, wailing babies.

Already sitting with my knees pulled up tight against my body, I stuff my face into the crook of my elbow, horrified. Oh my god. I'm giggling. I can't giggle. I'm at Youth Lagoon. I look around me, desperate for a partner in crime. Someone must surely see the state I'm in, and even if they don't see what I see, they'll sympathize with the poor girl who's clearly tripping, and smile at me, and wordlessly tell me that it's ok?

Yeah, no. No such comfort to be found. No nasty looks or anything like that. Just, no one's looking at me because, because, wait, what? Because...

...because the music has started. How long has it been going?? I don't know. I don't k n o w. I  d o  n  o t  - - -  w  h  o  a . . .

Down, look down. Dizzy. Heavy. Washing down. Don't look up. Nausea. Too much. Water. Water? On me. Around me? In me? Water? I slowly, slowly, slowly tilt my head down and see a water bottle poking out of my backpack. I take a sip, and in doing so, throw my head back. No. Noooooo. Not up. Don't look up. No. 

Grass. The grass. Focus on the grass. Yes. Just the grass. That little bit, right there, right in front of your legs. Yes. Ok. Ooooooookaaaaay. Grassssss. Green and yellow and you can breathe and yes. Grass. 





Oh. My. God. The music.

Stop reading this post for a minute. Stop and pull yourself out of it, leave the scene I'm describing and think of a time when you felt immense, jaw-dropping wonder. At some sight maybe, a breathtaking landscape or a beautiful woman - or your first taste of fois gras. Whatever. Some moment when life put out its hand, flat and hard against your sternum, and stopped you in your tracks.

That's what it feels like, when one part of my brain catches up with another part, like kids skipping together on a playground, who've dropped hands when one stopped short, and the other goes on ahead but then her friend runs to catch up - and I realize what I'm hearing, and it isn't just music, it isn't just the same collection of sounds I've been looping on Spotify for months. It's dimensional. It's layered, but not layered in the abstract way music is always described. It has actual, physical layers that I can feel, as if someone is throwing blankets on top of me while I sit there, then yanking them off again seconds later, and then throwing another back on, this one silky and cold, and now here's a quilt, lofty and light, settling s l o w l y and airily on me but wait now it's gone, oh here comes something thick and heavy, wool, on top of me, but now that's gone and here's just the whisper of a sheet and and and

This is what it feels like, but translated into sound.

And I'm staring at the grass, which has started to pulse, the tiny blades are moving, like a moving sidewalk, pulsing and swaying and and and now they're starting to breathe, oh my god, it's breathing, it's alive, the grass is alive and everyone is standing on it!! They don't know! THEY'RE GOING TO KILL IT THEY'RE GOING TO KILL THE GRASS I HAVE TO ---


I hear him before I see him.

Shhhhh, he says softly. It's ok. Shhhhh.

And I believe it is ok, because the voice is so sure and true and I trust it. I trust it completely, even if I don't know where it's coming from, even if ---

Oh. There. There you are. I stare down at my patch of grass, my safe place to direct my thoughts, my energy. I can see him there. He's in the grass. Was that you?

Yes. It was me. Shhhh.

The tiny blades of grass pulse and sway, some move this way, some move that way. And just in the same way you see shapes emerge from the clouds, I see the monkey in the grass. The shading of colors in the ground is just right; the bits of dryer, yellow grass form his two eyes, his nose, his lips. The slightly shaggier green edges of the patch form the fur around his face. His jaw is lean and angular. His features are sharp. His eyes gaze up and bore into me.

He's actually rather terrifying, but I don't have time to react because because because time is speeding up and slowing down, all in the same split second and and and

this is all too fast, and who's driving? are we moving? is this safe? please slow down (music music music), this water is wet, and the grass monkey said it's ok, because he's obviously not a baby, and is made of tiny yellow pasta noodles, like penne or or or what's that other tube? Macaroni? 

And he's (music music music) directing all of this, conducting it. He's rising floating should I close my or just keep them rising floating directing he's a puppet? No. No. He's a     ....    ringmaster conductor monkey. Just for me. He's just for he said it's ok I'm scared by I thought I was here for the music but Youth Lagoon he's at an organ in the back of the circus tent I'm at a circus for me just my circus the ringmaster monkey is above and floating, large just a face, it's ok, he's in charge, I watch soundtrack by Youth Lagoon and I h a  v  e    t   o   c   losemyeyes now. Now. Now.

But closing my eyes is exactly what he wants me to do. Because that's where the the the

the circus tent what's the circus who's in it animals? no.  people? no who who what is this circus, I can see a big open tent

music music music (I know, I know. It starts very, very weird. Give it until 2:30, if you're curious, if you're interested to know what the soundtrack was for this experience. Then just listen for another minute or two, and keep those crazy sounds in mind while you read the rest.)

Oh. Oh. Of course. I suddenly get some traction to my thoughts, to this whirlwind of nothingness and everythingness that's spinning me around in my own mind. It becomes clear and simple: just colors and shapes. That's the circus. That's all. I'm going to watch a circus in my mind, with my eyes closed, but instead of animals or people, it will be performed by shapes and colors. Easy peasy. I can do that.

And so, with my ringmaster monkey friend floating up in the corner, overseeing and directing, and Trevor Powers off to the side, working away at his keyboard and his computer, I watch a circus, my eyes shut tight for an hour, while I sit wrapped up in my own limbs. And what sucks is how predictable it is that I'll say something like And it was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen and heard, but I have to, I have to say it. Because it is. It is geometry and light, for an hour straight, behind the drawn curtain of my mind. It is planes and patterns, shrinking and growing, zipping and cutting, flexing and bowing. It is sound that oozes and drips all over everything, coating it and stretching it, teasing it or smashing against it. The mushrooms take the music and enrich it in a way that defies metaphor, and you guys know I love me some metaphor, but I can't even try with this. Just: rich, richer, richest. Enriched.

And there are other things that sneak in there, too. Faces, some scary, all foreign, all with intent that I don't understand. They're there when I open my eyes, hovering in the glow of the afternoon, flattened against the backs of people who don't know they're there. But I like it better in the dark, with my eyes closed, where they recede quicker into the black, and I can contain them. Sort of. All the while, though, I know I'm safe. The monkey figure is a guide and a guru. It feels like he knows me, like he's always known me. I don't know what part of my subconscious has projected him out of me, or what he represents, but I know he won't hurt me, even when his face contorts with the music, ugly and elastic.

It is probably impossible to convey these feelings and thoughts from my brain into yours, even if I spend hours describing them. Or maybe it's not. Maybe you get it. Or you get it enough, anyway. I don't want to sound mega hyperbolic or crazy dramatic or any more obnoxious than I know I already do with this hard-to-read stream of eyeball-stabbing consciousness. You could be sitting there like Lady, enough already, you tripped on mushrooms, we get it. 

If so, I'm sorry, because holy shit was it incredible to me, and exactly what I'd wanted and hoped for, so I can't help but be effusive. It was intense, but not overwhelmingly so. I felt like I went right up to the edge of whatever it was I wanted to edge up to, but I didn't fall off. I just leaned out over the abyss, anchored by some invisible thread, and surveyed the things I knew existed but had never seen.

tldr; Youth Lagoon on shrooms was amazing, and I loved it.

(Even though it didn't even remotely compare to the way I would feel two days later, when everything I thought I knew about the way my mind and body could make me feel would be turned inside out and upside down, taken from me and given back, a promise and a lie that I will tell you and tell myself and nothing will change except for the fact that it happened once, if never again.)

Two caps and two stems. That, I now know, is the going price of admission to the color sound circus in my mind, orchestrated by a macaroni monkey and scored by a genius with black curls and a heartbreakingly haunted look.

I just wish I could have bought him a ticket, too.

possible loss of humor in transcription

Context, part the first: M. has been seeing a girl named Ashleigh, and for no good reason, I have been teasing him about the way she spells her name. Well, maybe for this reason: she's, like, eighteen or something. (Ok fine, she's twenty-seven. Same thing.) We also have a rich and storied history of assigning less than flattering nicknames to one another's flames/SO's, because we are besties and NO ONE IS EVER GOOD ENOUGH FOR MY BESTIE (and vice versa). Anyway, my new Text Joke That Never Dies is to similarly change the spelling of every word with a long e sound, because mockery. So for instance when she was at church the other day, I cracked wise about how At least she's close with her famileigh! And when he forwarded a pic of her in a room with questionable decor, it was She's cute, but her design skills leighve something to be desired. Etc, etc.

(This is the level of comedy you get, as one of my friends. Pick up your application at the post office.)

Context, part the second: I want to be delicate here, but the fact is, there've been a few guys lately expressing some interest in/paying some attention to me, in one fashion or another. And that, like, never happens. For real. So that's been the topic of some recent conversations with M. And I do not mean to even REMOTELY imply that there's some line around the block, but there has been a 300% (give or take) increase in the amount of Presumably Available Dudes Somewhat Into Ellie over the past few weeks. Anyway, that's context, part the second. 

Context, part the third: I've been making pasta sauce with some frequency* lately. 

So tonight, I'm just putzing around cleaning, cooking, not writing Coachella recaps - stuff like that, when M. texts.

M: So who did you spin the wheel and go on a date with tonight?

Me: Oh, you got jokes? That's very funneigh.


Me: This is my date tonight: (I take and send a pic of a bubbling saute pan on my stove, and the cutting board beside it.) ...THAT'S FRESH BASIL, BITCH. 

M: Why don't you branch out, Bataleigh?

Me: LOLOLOL ...IT'S CALLED RECIPE MASTERY**, OK? ...We only move on once when we've perfected.

M: That's why I had pop tarts earlier.  ....I'm officially over [my ex] btw. She's sitting twenty feet away from me, might as well be my mom.

Me: She's with what's his ugly?

M: Yeah, laughing it up like he's Chris Rock.

Me: Ugh. Are they showing off for you?

M: Yes. Total peacocking.

Me: Children.

M: I realize why I'm in love with my new haircut, btw.

Me: Oh?

M: The lady CHANGED my hairline. (Blogmistress's note: the only thing wrong with M.'s hairline is that, regarding the status of his hairline, his head - and therefore said hairline - is totally up his ass.) 

Me: Like, brought it forward with her artful shearing?***

M: Yes!! It's like a face lift.

Me: Dude, I want one. ...Does she do asses?


* Twice weekly, possibly more. 
** Not the reference some of you might think it is! The phrase just fit. Seriously. 
*** "Artful Shearing" is also the name of my as-yet unsigned ska band.

hell no, I'm just s...(WHAT? WHAT AM I JUST??)

Gah, ok, this blog has devolved into a shitty collection of flame wars, promises of future posts, and dumb screenshots. Here's one of the latter, that I'm using as a placeholder, because I hate the fact that my most recent post is just a pool of red, angry ink.

And I hate the fact that I subjected everyone to it, because what the hell, how boring and sort of juvenile. But I have a hard time letting things go when I feel I am criticized unfairly, which is what I felt was going on.


I'm posting this screenshot for the LOLz, and no I'm not fucking pregnant, and jeez, I don't talk about dog penis that much, and why, mystery searcher, would you put "electronic festivals" in quotes, as if they are a mythical thing?

I assure you they are real and wonderful.

Ok, seriously better stuff is in the works, I SWARE.

opinionated person is opinionated

Ugh, I can't believe I'm giving this any play, but whatever.

Someone on the internets has a different opinion than me. It's the same person who holds this alarmingly lax and ignorant attitude towards the exposure of naked children on the internet. I'm quoting her post below; my responses are in red.

I read Elliequent's blog (she is a skilled and rather lyrical writer, so I enjoy reading the blog even though she has some serious psychological issues). LOL. How nice. If only I was in better company. She is "childfree" (aka someone with no children who's self-righteous about it), which in itself doesn't bother me at all. No, clearly not. That must be why you put the term in scare quotes. Incidentally, "childfree" is the term that confident and reasonable adults have adopted when engaging in this conversation, since "childless" both implies a lack we don't feel and, more importantly, is the specific designation for people that DO want to have children, but cannot for whatever reason. When someone insists on using the term "childless", that suggests to me their need to believe I'm lacking in some way due to my choice to not to procreate. Trust me. I'm not. It was and is a deliberate choice. But hey, whatever makes you feel better. It's great that people know what they want (no kids) and are willing to pursue it despite societal judgment and expectations. Good for them! Societal judgment and expectations weigh extremely heavily on me, as you can tell by the openness with which I talk about things like depression, sex, drug use, and atheism. 

But her post about how she is entitled to give other people (strangers) parenting advice is truly horrible.  It sort of encapsulates all the worst stereotypes about non-parents: their ignorance of children and everything pertaining to them, their self-righteous "I could do it better" attitude (thus the joke "I was a great parent before I had kids"), their idea that they are so helpful and considerate to parents (hahahahaha) Not even sure how to respond to that. But boy is there a lot of assumption going on, and a huge amount of mischaracterization of my post. It actually sounds like the only stereotyping that's going on is YOU stereotyping the childfree as knowing nothing about children. Clearly you've had some bad experiences with the childfree, that have embittered you in some way, because you sound really angry. That sucks. Maybe the fact that they were childfree had less to do with it than the fact that they were just assholes? Just a thought. And don't you think you're tarring me with that asshole brush, when you know NOTHING about my interactions with parents, and whether or not I am in fact helpful and considerate to them?  ...Just to complete the stereotype, she often refers to her dog as her child. I love this. I love when parents get SO FURIOUS when the childfree or childless or childwantingsomedays refer to their pets as their kids, or their babies, or whatever. What is that all about? I mean, you do know that we, um, realize that we're not biologically related to our pets, right? I really, really love my dog, but I didn't fall so head over heels for him that I lost my mind and now imagine he traveled through my birth canal and latched onto my breast afterward (WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN AWESOME). What is it that bothers you so much, about people playfully and affectionately referring to their pets as kids? I think that's more your issue than anything. Does it anger you to think that I could love my dog as much as you love your kid? Because how do you know I don't? And what difference does it make, anyway? Does the amount of love I have for my dog in any way detract from the amount of love you have for your kid? Or maybe it just pisses you off to think I could enjoy my relationship with my pet as much you enjoy your relationship with your child. But who the fuck cares, either way? IT'S NOT A COMPETITION, AND WHAT I CALL MY PET HAS NO BEARING ON YOUR HAPPINESS AS A PARENT, DOES IT? Maybe you should think about why that's a problem for you, Grace, or Amanda, or whatever your real name is (your blog has one name; your email had another). 

Actually, though, the post is a good learning opportunity. I tend to be judgmental and opinionated myself, with strongly held beliefs on all sorts of topics, including those about which I know almost nothing. This is a reminder of how obnoxious such an approach is, and how important it is for me to continue to strive for empathy, tolerance and understanding when making statements (or even thinking about issues). It doesn't come easily or naturally to me, but it is essential. Yes. Nothing says tolerance like mischaracterizing my post with a title that implies I gave "awful advice", when all I did was put a call out for parents not to exploit their kids' privacy on social media. Nothing says empathy like saying you enjoy my blog even though I have "serious psychological issues", as if talent and depression are mutually exclusive. Christ lady, did you miss the artistic output of the last five hundred years? 

Speaking of which: I need to cultivate such an attitude about Ellie herself (after all, she was expressing concern about children: a nice impulse in essence even if her execution was bad). I was so irritated by the post that after I read it I wrote her a long, critical email (she doesn't allow comments). This was probably a really bad idea (certainly not falling under the category of "What Would a Loving Empathetic Person Do?") and I am now rather regretting it. Good. Because that long, critical email was full of absurd assumptions, mischaracterizations of my argument, straw men, insincere over-dramatizations, and insults. And your second one was even worse. So maybe the post was also a good chance for me to think about improving my impulse control and emotional reactivity. Food for thought: I guess I owe Ellie thanks after all! Anytime.


Ok. We now return to our regularly scheduled mix bag of posts about festivals and doodz and sad days, shitty maudlin poetry, and esoteric short fiction. Thank you for your patience.


The other day I watched a TED talk which I enjoyed so much that I want to recommend it. Dan Barber, a chef from New York, traveled to Spain where he met an eccentric fois gras maker with a unique approach to raising and keeping geese. I'm not a foodie and I've never even had fois gras, but I loved his story so much. If you've got 20 minutes, I promise you won't reget giving them to him.

After I'd watched it, I texted a friend to recommend it. He asked if I'd ever seen Sarah Silverman's TED talk, which apparently was pretty controversial. So I checked that one out, too, out of curiosity. If you haven't seen it and don't care to, the controversy boils down to the things she said about wanting to adopt "a mentally retarded baby with a terminal illness."

I think she made an interesting point in her interview with Bill Maher afterward, which was that the PC or un PC nature of the word "retarded" doesn't concern her, because the people that get upset by it aren't the mentally handicapped people themselves - they're their advocates. And she doesn't give a fuck about their advocates.

Anyway, what to me was more interesting than that part of her talk (which was more or less disjointed and unrelated bits of stand up), was her weirdly vicious attack on adult film actresses, in song form. It was just so strange and, like, cruel. And grossly misogynist, completely ignoring male porn stars. I just found it mean spirited and shaming and unfunny and sad-making. Sex workers are human beings too, for fuck's sake.


I unfollowed someone on Instagram yesterday, because he started adding Bible verses and religious quotations to every photo he posted (his pics are mostly various nature macros). I didn't say anything or flounce or whatever, I just quietly clicked the green button and showed myself out of the room. Well, this morning he commented on one of my pics, saying he knew why I'd unfollowed, but he still liked me anyway.

And we had a friendly exchange where I explained to him that while I understood that the verses were important to him to share, they made me feel like I was having to sit through commercials for something I have no interest in buying, when all I want to do is watch the show. His perspective was that he believes in heaven and hell, and he loves everyone, including me, and doesn't want me to go to hell, so he feels obligated to do what he can to prevent that.

So that was how that broke down.

It's the second time I've done that on Instagram. The first time, I think the woman must have lost a lot of followers, because she stopped doing it, and made a sort of outreach back to followers she'd lost, being very like-y and chatty with them. So I added her back, because I truly do enjoy her photos.

I enjoyed this other person's, too (as well as interacting with him), but when the verses and quotes are coming at me every single day, all day long, it feels a little heavy-handed and aggressive, and it's just alienating.

I suppose I could play the devil's advocate with myself here, though, and say that there are plenty of people who post lengthy comments, or poems, or song lyrics with their photos, and I just ignore that stuff when I'm not interested in it. So why can't I ignore the preachy stuff?

Well, I guess partly because I respect the creative endeavor of adding a bit of short flash fiction or original poetry or something like that. And the occasional quote (that someone else has written) doesn't bother me, and can in fact be cool. But I feel like those people who make an effort to match up quotes with their pics are at least diversifying a little bit, instead of just plunking down the same source (the Bible) again and again and again. I find the Biblical stuff alienating and boring, so I just change the channel.


Walking Chaucer has been so lovely lately, at dusk. The weather is amazing, and the grass at Grand Park is so nice. And none of the security minds if I unclip him and we play fetch on the (relatively, we are in the city after all) huge expanse. He just runs and runs and his tongue hangs out and he smiles and it's my favorite part of the day.

Here's our daily view:


And finally...out with the old, in with the new!

(Recaps still coming! They're just pretty epic and I've been waiting until I felt ready to tackle 'em...)

this came, and that's coming

Presented without comment, a snippet from an angry email I received in response to my last post:

I also don't understand the pedophile concerns. Assuming the photo is just a photo (rather than actual child porn), you aren't harmed by its existence. If some anonymous creepy dude is masturbating to it, that is gross but reflects on him rather than you. People find all sorts of things arousing, but you aren't responsible for tailoring your life to avoid triggering their lust. That argument just leads to burkas. I think, since the Internet is a public forum, you should feel free to put up any pictures showing what you would do in public. Since small children run around naked in public all the time, I see no problem.(Especially because the pedophile on the Internet is almost certainly never going to meet your child: he very likely doesn't even live in the same country; whereas the pedophile watching toddlers cavort on the beach is at least within touching distance.)


Aaaaand now I'm going to sleep.

I owe you kids some hawt Coachella posts, I know. Today got away from me. And I was also gonna sneak in a scattershot post, and mayhaps a post about a party I went to Sunday, because - gasp - I met a boy there, and had a ridiculously good time with said boy, and it was all very unexpected and fun. And I've even seen him again, since then.


I love you, invisible strangers and visible friends out there. You weirdly save my life sometimes.

your kids; my opinions

I have a few things to say about the idea that, because I'm not a parent, I shouldn't voice opinions about parenting. And I'll just be direct and say that this is more or less in response to Jenna Cole's retweet of @benjhaisch's tweet, which was this:

And all I know about Ben Haisch is what he describes himself as, on his Twitter profile: a husband, a photographer, and a "jesus follower."*

And really, this isn't about going after Jenna. Jenna, I'm not going after you on this, honestly. This has nothing to do with you personally, other than the obvious fact that I disagree with you. It's just something I've seen said before, and it always rubbed me the wrong way. But since I never took the time to collect my thoughts into some kind of coherent post, I want to do that now. And yes, I know I'm probably not saying anything that hasn't been said before along these lines. But when people propagate a belief with which we disagree, we have two choices: a) sigh, say nothing, and be frustrated, or b) stand up and say something, and humbly dump our teaspoon's worth into the conversation.

If you don't have kids, keep your opinions on parenting to yourself.

It's an easy, pat little sentiment. Superficially it seems sound enough, right? Somewhat fair and logical? I mean, I'm not a surgeon, so I wouldn't go around advising people on what sort of operations they need. Likewise, I'm not a dietician, so I wouldn't presume to dispense advice on diet and nutrition - or exercise.

I just don't think it's quite as simple, however, when it comes to parenting. Because no, I don't have kids. But childrearing doesn't occur in a vacuum, or on some isolated island, where the decisions you make as a parent affect no one but yourselves and your children. It happens in the collective society, where I live, work, pay taxes, and vote. As a parent, you're raising children who will be interacting with me, directly and indirectly, for the rest of my life. Your parenting decisions affect me now, and they affect my future.

Let me back up and say that there are obviously some parenting choices that have nothing to do with me. Though now that I've written that, I'm having a hard time coming up with examples. Because there is very little that you do or say to your children that won't shape who they grow up to be, or the kind of person they are, out in that world they share with me. But let's assume that while I can't think of any but the most trivial (such as what toothpaste your kids use), that there are plenty such examples.

What you teach your children at home is what they'll carry out into society at large: kindness, or a lack thereof; empathy, or a lack thereof; generosity, or a lack thereof. Etc, etc, etc. And as we all know, children learn more by example than by verbal instruction alone. Do as I do, not as I do say sure sounds good, but we all know it doesn't work.

Children repeat and manifest the behaviors that are modeled to them by adults. Every single thing you do, all day long, teaches your child something about life, whether you mean it to or not. In your life choices - big and small, in your words and actions, you are passing on your values, day in and day out. Parenting never stops. Every single thing you do says to your child, Hey, it's ok to do this. The lessons your children are gleaning from your behaviors are the mold into which you're putting them. And when they reach an age when you gently flex that mold and pop them out - where they're venturing out into the world they share with everyone else, including the childfree - those lessons will be put into action. And each night they come home to you, until they're of an age that they leave the nest, they're climbing right back into that mold.

And as a thinking, feeling human being, as one of the seven billion people on this planet, I sure would like those little humans to be decent, thoughtful, and kind. And as someone who contributes to their welfare by way of public schools (among other collective services),  I deserve them to be such, as well. And for my part, I have a responsibility to them. Because I'm helping to shape them, too. Every time they see me hold the door for their mother and smile; every time I stop to let them pet my dog (though really, Chaucer and I get equally as much joy out of those encounters), or clear a seat for them on the Metro, I'm having a hand in their molding, too. In some small way, I'm teaching them, too.

The idea that the childfree shouldn't opine about your parenting is problematical for another reason. It almost posits the child as the property of her parents. As if the child is some belonging, something that is kept in a bubble, an entity only affected by the two people responsible for its primary care. But this isn't the case. Children aren't property. They aren't just dolls to be dressed up and shown off. They aren't mini yous.  Don't be fooled by how small and cute they are - they are fully formed (and forming) human beings, complete with their own personalities, their own needs and desires, their own capacities, and their own value. They're just as unique and special as you are; being charged with their care only gives you so much dominion over them. They need guidance, but they deserve respect. They're yours to cuddle and love, but they also need the things they can't easily ask for, because they don't yet understand them.

Things like privacy. And now I'm going to wax tangental, but only a little bit so, because I think this is a good illustration of the larger picture I'm trying to paint. It makes me sad and sometimes concerned, when I see the lax attitude some parents have towards sharing photos of their children on the internet. And I'm not talking about 95% of the photos I see, which are happy and harmless and sweet. I'm talking about that other 5% that are questionable. Photos of children undressed, partially or completely. Photos of children in emotionally compromising or embarrassing situations. When parents post photos of their kids selfishly, without regard to the child as a complete, respect-deserving human being on its own, they're doing exactly what makes me cringe: they're treating that child as property. As a toy of theirs, or an accessory to display however they choose. It's selfish and it's unfair to the child, who is simply just a small human.

And I'm not even going to get into how grossly inappropriate and dangerous the undressed photos are. I've had two - TWO - real life anecdotes come my way in the past six months, having to do with child pornography. People, it's real. It happens. One of my best friends had his world turned upside down when, out of the complete blue, his roommate was busted for it. And this is a man with a four year old child of his own. 

So yeah, I don't even want to get into that. Point made, I hope.

Here's another problem I have with this idea that I should keep my ideas to myself. The same people who want me to shut up about their parenting choices tend, in my experience, to be the same ones who complain the loudest about what they deem to be society's apathy towards their parental plight. They're the ones who bitterly decry the lack of consideration when a stranger fails to help them with their stroller in a busy subway station. They're the ones who get insulted when I comment on their pregnancies. When I ask the "wrong" question, or the right question the "wrong" way. They get indignant when I express interest and curiosity about this child they've created. Well I'm sorry, but you can't have it both ways. You can't ask the world to accommodate your choice to procreate and then dictate how all of us respond to that choice.

Look, I'm happy to help. I'm actually quite grateful you've taken on the tremendously difficult work of raising a kid or two, maybe someone who'll approve my bank loan in twenty years, or help me cross the street when I'm eighty. Because hell, I certainly didn't want the job. So thanks. But do me a favor and stop demanding, out of one side of your mouth, that I back off - and complaining I'm not contributing enough out of the other.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. But that expression hails from a time when children grew up in actual villages. The distance and time elapsed between "village" and "multibillion person global community" is vast. And while in some ways we're closer to one another, in many ways, we've become more isolated. But no matter how much time your kid spends playing on my block vs. holed up in his room staring at an iPad, he's going to be a part of my life, in some way. You might not like that I have opinions about the way you're raising him, but it's hardly fair to expect me to fork over my tax money, to pony up my empathy and attention when you want it, and then to shut up the rest of the time.

It just doesn't work like that.


* and in case it needs explaining, yes, I used scare quotes purposefully. I'd also put "teapot follower" or "unicorn rider" in quotes, because to not do so, IMO, legitimizes the worship of a supernatural deity, and that just ain't my game.

coachella 2 - getting in (in which your blogmistress violates the law and also her own lady parts)

Friday morning I do a thing that can't really be called "waking up", because the transition isn't that defined. I just sort of drift from a state of wakeful dreaming to one of dreamy wakefulness. I haven't gotten nearly enough sleep to healthily sustain myself for what the day has in store, but whatever, it's Coachella. I've been banking "healthy" for weeks, for just this scenario: eating well, exercising, barely drinking, and sleeping on as regular a schedule as I can.

I've been hoarding vice points, and I'm going to cash every one of those suckers in this weekend.

But it's only eight a.m., and vice is still fast asleep even if I'm not, so I order a small pot of coffee from room service and slide the heavy balcony door open. The desert morning is everything I remember: that certain quality of light, the redness of the dirt, the subdued chirping, and the unmistakably dry smell in the air. When I retreat back into the still-dark hotel room, I notice how prettily the daylight spills in, and I take a couple pictures of the view - and myself inserted into it. I post a rather risque shot of my legs and butt to Instagram, and feel a little giddy and hedonistic, doing so. And we're off...

After coffee and some emails, it's still only a quarter after nine, and much as I'd love to sneak in a little bit of R.E.M., I know my excitement will make it impossible. So I slip on my shoes and head downstairs to explore. It's hot, really hot, but before I know what I'm doing, I've broken into a light jog around the grounds. I quickly realize this is a waste of my energy, and head back to the cool of my room.

Showering, hair and makeup, dressing and packing my backpack are a snap, since I've already got everything neatly laid out for the day. The only thing that remains to be done before I leave is portioning out and hiding whatever drugs I want to take to the festival today.

Despite having meticulously planned out every other detail of my weekend, I'm still not sure how I want to go about this. I'm assuming that security at Coachella will be similar to what it's been at Bonnaroo and Outside Lands: a quick once-over of my bag and belongings, and the most cursory of pat downs. I've never had a problem smuggling contraband into a festival, whether I hide it in my bra or leave it more or less in plain view in my bag; say, inside my sunglasses case, or zipped into the coin pouch I use as a wallet. It's just never been an issue. (This is not to disparage the efforts toward safety and security that I've seen at the aforementioned festivals. But scouring festival goers' belongings for no-no's was just not a priority at them, in my experience.)

On this trip, I've brought a couple of small lidded mixing cups from an art supply store to stash my, uh, stash in. I wanted something that would keep the MDMA tablets and the mushroom pieces from getting crushed, when they were transferred, post-security, into my backpack. The cups are about the diameter of quarters, and maybe half an inch thick. They cost three dollars, I think, for a set of twelve.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have anticipated the near heart attack that these stupid little pieces of plastic would give me, in about two hours' time...


On the shuttle ride in, I'm antsy and anxious. I switch my phone back and forth from airplane mode about a half dozen times, trying to gauge how much battery power I lose after sending a handful of texts and replying to a few comments on Instagram. I've brought a mobile charging pack for my phone, but I hate the feeling of being incommunicado, and don't want to go dark until the last possible minute.

I glance down the front of my camisole about every thirty seconds, where I can see two lidded cups plainly. I've carefully divided out today's serving of Happy between them, as well as extra, Just In Case. Each container has a few pieces of magic mushroom, and two purple tabs of ecstasy - way more than I'll need or should take, but You Never Know. The tiny cups are resting in the space between the corset wiring of my top and the bottoms of my breasts. I plan on buttoning up the second shirt I've brought over my camisole, as soon as I get off the bus. The containers will be completely out of view, and can only be felt if someone very deliberately feels me up, essentially. The security persons who patted me down at the previous two festivals I attended barely touched my rib cage and sides, much less the area around my breasts.

I'm convinced I'm going to breeze through without a problem.


Well get out your popcorn, bitches, because shit is about to get entertaining.

There are two security checkpoints to get into Coachella, when you enter the festival on a shuttle. I did not know this.

Both security checkpoints are incredibly thorough. I did not know this.

Pat downs at these security checkpoints are extremely thorough. I did not know this.

I'm gonna paint you a picture of the next twenty minutes, which were some of the most nerve-wracking, if hilarious, of my entire life. First, know that it is some ninety degrees out. Blazingly hot. It's noon. The sun is beating down on me and a few ten thousand twenty-somethings. Fuck them. This is my story right now. But they were there. In clusters and pairs, loud, drunk, excited, singing, sweaty, and also loud.

I approach the first checkpoint, which is a series of metal scanning machines (for wristbands), manned by security teams of one man and one woman - men to pat down the men, and women to pat down the women. Since I'm one of a small handful of people disembarking the early shuttles, there are essentially no lines yet. It looks like this:

first security checkpoint

So everything happens really, really fast.

Before I know it, I'm standing in line behind two girls, both of whom are handing over their purses to be checked. I notice that security is looking through these purses pretty closely. Ok, no problem. Nothing in my bag, anyway...

Then I witness the first pat down. And I realize I'm fucked. Eight ways from Sunday fucked. I watch as the female security officer runs her hands over every inch of the girl's body. This is only a slight exaggeration. Forget rib cages. The security staff person not only firmly, slowly, and thoroughly slides her hands up and around the girl's sternum and bra line, she lifts the bottom of the girl's bra.


Now, think back to where I've told you my goods are. Oh, did you need a picture? No problem, I took one on the bus, because I thought I was so goddamn clever. Here you go!

Nice, right? LOLOL (side note: holy skin damage, Batman! WEAR SUNSCREEN KIDS!!!)

Now, imagine being me, with the above pictured load of organics/inorganics tucked oh-so-conspicuously into a bra top that, in about twenty seconds, is going to be completely felt up and pulled out. There is no way this woman is not going to feel these containers in my shirt. No way in hell. The jig is up. And if by some miracle she doesn't feel them with her hands, they're going to fall out when she slides her finger underneath the top with the express purpose of dislodging exactly this sort of shit.

But there are already people in line behind me at this point, and there is nowhere to go. If I were to step out of line, a) it would look majorly suspicious, and b) I'd have nowhere to go, anyway! There are no bathrooms at this checkpoint. The shuttles are leaving. The only traffic flow is through security and into the festival. Not to mention, it's broad daylight and I'm amongst maybe ten, fifteen people tops, most of whom are either looking directly at me or facing my general direction. If I reach into my shirt right now, it's going to be clear as day what I'm doing.

So as far as I can tell, I'm totally fucked. And there's nothing I can do but just go with it, and when I get busted, say something like, Oh well, you caught me, haha, you can just keep that stuff, thanks...I can haz entrance into Coachella Music Festival now, please?? 

Well, this is what happens: I'm next. I step up to the female security officer. I'm asked to take off my outer button down. I do so, and hand it over. She shakes it out. She looks through my bag. She asks me to open my sunglasses case, to unroll my socks.

All of this takes maybe fifteen seconds. It feels like hours.

She asks me to turn away, and then she pats me down, just as thoroughly as she did the previous two girls. My hips, my sides, my thighs - even the area around my crotch. Aaaaaand she gets to my top. Aaaaaaand sure enough, she feels the plastic containers in my bra. She's standing directly behind me as it happens. She's about twenty eight, maybe thirty years old. She's somewhat shorter than me. My face is turned back toward hers, so I see the look come into her eyes. A slight crease in her brow. Wait a second, what the heck is--

"It's the boning of my corset top," I blurt out, in the snottiest, smuggest, most condescending Valley girl tone I can muster. I look directly down at her, over my shoulder, as I say it. My voice brooks no dissent. It's the voice of a girl who is NOT going to deal with this shit, thank you so very much, because ohmygawd, it's hot okaaaayyy? And this is my rully awesome Free People top with CORSET BONING, okaayyyyy?? And could you be any stupider for not realizing that that's what you feel??  I mean, HELLO??

And people? It works. It unbelievably fucking works. The girl has her hands ON these plastic cups, she can feel them plain as day in her fingers, but whether it's my ohnoyoudon't tone, or the fact that it was all happening so fast, or the fact that she knew but just didn't want to deal with works.

And she says "Ok," and waves me through, and down the dirt path towards the festival field.

Which is great. Except that it's only the FIRST. FUCKING. CHECKPOINT.


So now I'm shaking like a leaf, obviously, and I know this isn't going to fly a second time. And people are starting to pour in by the thousand from the camping section, into the grassy area that constitutes this next, main security checkpoint. Lines of several hundred people are forming quickly. Clusters of kids singing, cavorting, downing the beers they can't bring in. Hot. So, so hot and sweaty.

By now I've transferred the containers to my backpack, for the short term, while I figure out what I'm going to do next. My "plan" (LOL) is to hang back and watch this security, to see what if any loopholes there are to getting through. There are so many people streaming in and pressing up that I'm convinced this has to be a more lax checkpoint - otherwise it would take an hour of waiting in line to just get into the festival.

Well, yeah. That's exactly what's going on. It is about an hour wait. And security is just as tight as it was at the first point. I see that almost immediately. In fact, it's even stricter - there is the added measure of requiring attendees to spread their legs as they receive their pat downs (#foreshadowing). I also see mounted security officers on horses, scanning the crowd for precisely idiots like me - people panicked and scrambling at the last second to hide their drugs.

At some point, I have a truly cringeworthy inner dialogue with myself, where I act as both my parents, every guidance counselor I've ever had, and a handful of my favorite professors (including my high school French teacher) - all shaming and scolding me for this ridiculousness, while I cower in a corner and just nod balefully. What the ever loving FUCK, Ellie? How old are you again? Are you really a nearly forty year old woman, trying to sneak drugs into a music festival?? Mon dieu!! 

Oui. Oui I am.

Welllllll, if you're a woman - or at least a man vaguely familiar with the female anatomy - you know where this story is going. It's going the only place it can go. It's going to the only place it can be kept a secret, and out of sight. The only place it will safely fit.

Yep. That's right. In broad daylight, in plain view of about a thousand (mostly sober) festival goers and at least one pair of mounted security officers (that I saw), your blogmistress crept off to as "private" a patch of grass against the fence as she could find, knelt down to pretend she was adjusting something in her backpack, and shoved two quarter sized plastic containers full of drugs up into her underwear. Thank GOD I was wearing a skirt, right?! Not to mention tight, non-thong underwear!

And let's get specific here. These pat downs? They included a nice little pat-pat-pat of the girls' bikini areas. This shit was no joke, yo. So I couldn't just slip those little guys down the front of my underwear. Oh no. They had to ride up in the undercarriage, if you know whumsaying. Without the help of any, you know, fastening agent? Like tape? Or pins? Or anything at all? That's how secure the cups were. In other words: NOT AT ALL. That's what I had to concentrate on not dropping, as I waddled walked back into line. That line looked like this:

second security checkpoint


Your blogmistress then maneuvered her way - with as natural a gait as she could muster - through a densely packed line of singing, cursing, yelling, laughing, drinking, and sweaty revelers, only occasionally reaching down to make, um, adjustments to her wardrobe and ensure the success of her mission. Basically, I looked like some kind of physically impaired person with a raging STD that I needed to scratch every other minute.


But bitches, success was had. I was patted, petted, felt up, looked over, and finally, nodded on through, at which point I shuffled my way into The Promised Land, with as cool a game face as I could fake, even though the whole time my thoughts were something like Ohholyshitohholyshitdontdropthemwalkslowohmygodaretheyfallingoutohholyshit, and proceeded with all due haste (if not much grace) to the nearest Port-a-Potty, where I triumphantly relocated my party favors into my backpack, where they goddamn well belonged, because while yes, I admit to enjoying the occasional hallucinogen or empathogen with my live music, I'm still a lady, goddamn it, and I don't appreciate the inconvenience of The Law getting in the way of my Recreational Drug Use, and forcing me to such drastic and truly unladylike measures, okaaayyyyy?

At any rate, I was in.

five years on

Well, I wasn't gonna do this to myself, but then I decided to do this to myself. No plans for tonight, anyway. May as well have a date with the ghost of Ellie past. I hope she likes Chardonnay, because that's all that's in the fridge.

Five years ago right now, to the hour, as I am composing this, I was doing this:

And I'll tell you right now, I have no idea where, if anywhere, this post is going. I can see some vague "Aaaaand it all turned out ok in the end!" sun setting on the horizon, but I'll try to steer the ship clear of cliches, because really, right now, all I wanna do is look at some pretty wedding pictures.

Because holy christ was my wedding pretty, full of pretty things, pretty people, and pretty moments.

True story: I had big time hots for the cellist from our string quartet. I wonder if he's still married.

Ridiculous. God, it was such a beautiful day. I was going to add a bunch more photos, of all the pretty details, the flowers and the clever table decor, but gah, enough. This is already overly sentimental as it is. I shouldn't fetishize the material, or the materialistic. It was gorgeous. I know it was. And I'll always remember it that way.

And incidentally, I'm not trying to blot out the existence of my ex-husband, by showing him so slightly. It's just that we're not in touch anymore, and I don't want to drag him into my little exercise in navel-gazing. He's moved on, and I wish him nothing but the best.

Anyway, it's irresistibly seductive, to look back at all of it. But now what? What do I do with all of this, now that it's laid out before me, like a bunch of flowers strewn across the bed? Is there some pat takeaway to be had, if I just distill it all down?

Probably not.  

It was another time. I was another person. Life happens. Life goes on. Most of the people in those photos aren't even a part of my life any more. Some are still firmly planted in it, though.

I didn't have bridesmaids, but I had a best man, and it was that guy. And at this very moment, he's in NYC, at a rehearsal dinner for another friend's wedding where tomorrow he'll resume the best man mantle again - for the fourth time, in fact. Four times as a best man. Not to brag or anything, but that should give you an idea of how good I am at picking friends.

Other than that, I've still got my other best friend - Chaucer. And that, folks, is about all that is the same in my life, five years after these photos were taken. 

It's not that surprising, I guess - a lot can happen in five years. My current life is populated by people I didn't even know existed, when I stood in front of that mirror in Tucson, Arizona, carefully applying my wedding day lipstick. I guess if nothing else, that's an encouraging thought. The months leading up to and following our separation were brutally painful and scary, and even though people promised me that amazing things were waiting for me, just around the corner, I didn't believe them. 

They were right, though. 

If nothing else, then, I guess I could spin this post into some kind of pep talk for those who are struggling - particularly those stuck in unhappy marriages? I could say something like, Chin up, your life will be unrecognizable in a few years! But I don't know those people, and I don't know that it will be.  Reflective posts are too tempting, to wax facile. I don't want to be facile. 

My life is unrecognizable, five years later. Am I happier now? Yes. No question. Don't be fooled by those photos. I mean, I was happy that day. We both were; we really, truly were. But that was just one day. And if you can't be happy on the day that you're surrounded by all of your loved ones, who are holding you so close in their hearts, pouring love and attention onto you, then good grief, forget it. 

But wedding days come and go, and then you're left with the reality of the daily. And our reality wasn't reflected in any of these pretty pictures. I married a fun-loving, funny man, who was entirely wrong for me. But that wasn't even the real problem. The real problem was that I had no business even getting married to begin with. I had no idea who I was, or what I wanted out of life. Hell, I'm still figuring those things out!

I got married because I was desperate to feel, and to find meaning in my life. To be something. Becoming a wife was the perfect answer, because it let me off the hook of designing a life for myself.  Getting married created an insta-life for me. An insta-existence. An insta-identity. But it didn't work, and I was miserable. I hated myself, I hated my husband, and I hated marriage. I felt suffocated and trapped, lost, unsure of who I was, unsure of who we were, and just so, so unhappy. Christ, it's only in the past few years that I've started to understand the things I need to make myself happy. My former, younger self didn't stand a chance.

Anyway. What a terrible, rambly, pointless post this is! Ugh, sorry. I just wanted to look back a little bit. Five years is a milestone, after all, even if it's an inverted anniversary. It's a little bit melancholy, but mostly it's relieving. I'm worlds away from the person I was in these photos. She wasn't a bad person, but she was a person who had a lot of growing to do. She still does. But she's happy to have the chance to do it.

The older I get, the more I understand how little I really know. Five years on and I'm still working to understand my place in the world. But five years on, I think I'm doing ok. 


all photos courtesy of Chris Richards Photography

coachella 1 - getting there (in which I get advice and lolz from friends)

I can't remember the last time I struggled so much with starting a post. Type, erase, space down, save that bit for later maybe? No, fuck it, start over: type, erase... It's like trying to gift wrap a dancing elephant. It's essential that I get all the important parts covered: the trunk and tusks, the ears and tail, but the bastard is huge and crazy and won't sit still long enough for me to even size him up - and I'm not sure I have enough wrapping paper to do the job, anyway. So expect a big, wrinkly mess with tape sticking out all over the place. I'll do the best I can, but it won't be my prettiest packaging.

EDIT: I'm going to serialize this, and it might end up being in some inconsistently-sized chunks. I've spent the last few days in an absolute funk, the come down after the fest/drugas was brutal, and my place is a disaster. So I've just written this first part to get something down before it starts fading from memory, and now I need to spend some time cleaning and unpacking, catching up on emails, IG, etc. Plus tonight I'm going to Booka Shade in Hollywood with a new friend from Coachella. :) (details to come)

Thanks to everyone who's reached out to say hi both during and after my trip; it's taking me ages to shake off the dust and catch up with everyone and everything - hope to be on top of things soon! - e


I'm already beside myself by the time I get to Palm Springs, from which I still have another thirty minutes of driving. The ride out has been nearly four hours of stop and go festival traffic: cars and vans and small RVs loaded with kids in shorts, telltale wristbands, and not much else. Legs on dashboards, tanned arms tapping window frames, sunglassed smiles sizing one other up across lane dividers. For my part, I've switched from an electronic stream on SoundCloud to blasting Of Monsters and Men. 

I am so, so ready.

A. texts me as I'm about to pull off the freeway.

- I take it all back: I don't know how much of that to take. I took some a little while ago and it's mixed. Maybe try taking 1/3 of what I gave you, waiting an hour, and then going from there.

He's talking about the handful of dried mushrooms that are sitting in a small baggy on the hotel room desk, atop a laminated room service menu. I picked the shrooms up from him at his apartment the Friday prior, where he carefully portioned them out into what he imagined would be three solid trips (going by my body weight and his own familiarity with the drug, which is substantial). 

Then we had sex in his bathtub, after which he made me chicken parmesan, from scratch, for dinner.

Don't look at me like that. No, there wasn't a post. I was busy packing and studying, and my god, how many sex-with-ex posts can I write, anyway?  They're starting to give the impression that I don't know what I'm doing with my life. (lolsob)

- I took about double what I told you to, but then again my cheeks are now starting to tingle. :)

- LOL So should I take two caps and two stems?

- Were you laughing out loud so much that you couldn't type the words out? 

- Stop, I'm driving. 

...Yeah, try that. Are you headed down to Coachella? I hope you have an amazing and safe and fun time.

- Thank you, George!*  ...Let me know how the shrooms are.

- They're painty. 

He sends a pic of a massive painting on his floor. Cartoonish, bright, playful, weird. Definitely mushroom-inspired. 

- Yay painty!

My hotel is way beyond what I expect, because I haven't really paid much attention to where I'm staying. By the time I booked it, my choices were very few, and I don't care what it looks like as long as I have a roof over my head at night and a place to shower in the morning. Well, it has that and then some. In fact, it's pretty impressive, at least compared to what I've been used to in the post-divorce years, which makes me feel substantially better about the arm and leg I've forfeited to afford it. I have a room over the pool - a really nice room, in fact. And the staff is incredibly friendly. 

I unpack while I text with Wally, who's late night channel surfing.

- I wish you were here. Palatial hotel, massive two bed room over a waterfall pool with tiki torches, and enough drugs to make Pablo Escobar blush.

- Where are you? Coachella? Thought that was all tents and such. ...You had me at drugs. 

- I'm not camping. You don't have to camp. There's tons of hotels.

He sends me a picture he's taken of the cable guide channel: a title and a description. The American Bible Challenge. 11-12 am. A game show in which teams answer questions about the Bible. (Game Show, 60 mins.)

- What do they win? A cruise on an ark?

- A single box of Rice-A-Roni, but Jesus will make it last a whole year. ...It's so sad. The nuns are playing to support some nuns without any retirement.

- Doesn't exactly recommend God as an employer.

- Actually, since they're brides of Christ, I think it's less about the lousy boss and more a matter of marrying badly. Next game: guess the biblical tweeter.

As curious as I am about biblical tweetage, I tell Wally I need to finish getting ready for tomorrow and crash. I skit nervously about the room, arranging and rearranging what I've brought. Clothing, toiletries, snacks, my own blanket, sheet, and pillow. Scissors, tape, rubber bands, and baggies. 

I text A. again.  

- Hey, what was the verdict on the mushrooms? 

He replies by way of another painting. It's...intense.

- Whoa. That's amazing. It's so different for you.

- I'm very stoned.

- I see that.  ...Can you give me a lil guidance on the shrooms? I don't want to overdo it or underdo it. 

He replies with two more photographs of two different paintings. Vivid color, abstract human form, oversized and aggressive. 

- A? Focus. Did you do anything other than the shrooms?

- Stick with what I said last time. Take two caps and two stems to start. My texts are sending super late because of reception.

He calls me and we chat for a few minutes. He's high, but lucid. He's leaving for New York the next day, for his neice's naming ceremony. He wishes he could come to Coachella instead. He's going to get off the phone now, because he misses me and he's going to get sappy.

After we hang up, he sends one more text.

- I hope you have the best weekend ever. :)

It takes me hours to fall asleep, exhausted as I am. The anticipation is a stronger drug than anything I've brought from LA.