1976: This cursed bloodline begat me. Cries at cold air. The beginnings of pain.
1979: Health freak mother teaches me that soda pop and the red cherries on top of ice cream sundaes are poison. Poison I desire.
1993: “I feel the need for speed,” yells Tom Cruise. Boxy television plays Top Gun on VHS. In my parent’s San Diego home I can always hear freeway traffic. Waves like the ocean.
2001: I am twenty-five. Living in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. Stepping over human feces in stilettos. Corpses in combat boots. To get to the studio I can barely afford.
2002: Jasper is thirteen. Her mother dies of cancer. Everything in her life changes forever.
2003: The TL, bitches!” Screams from behind a DJ booth. In a dark nightclub. Poisons my playground. Alcohol. Cocaine. Methamphetamine. We call crystal meth “Speed.” We call Molly “E.”
2006: Graduate school. Fascinating. Useless. Non remunerative métiers. I remember experimental theatre. I remember blow jobs. A tree by the provost’s office smells like semen on summer nights. I remember red wine in plastic cups. Art openings on Thursday nights. Xanax. Adderall reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer. Cocaine with a filmmaker in his sub level studio. Slaking thirsty obscurity with Hollywood kool aid. Phantasms of fame and fortune. Los Angeles has a way of bringing out unslakable thirst for mass love. Fool’s gold.
2008: I step away from the microphone to applause. Stick the loose pages of my thesis in a manilla folder. Retire to the next room for the reception. First year Erica approaches me. Says she too once lived in the Tenderloin. Strange “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” in San Francisco. I listened to Marianne Faithful’s version unaware of Green Day’s. My twenties. Knowing together that unique space and time. Erica and I bond instantly. Unshakably.
2009: “Will You be My Rock Star?” Daisy De La Hoya coos to the contestants left after elimination. I watch Daisy of Love with my arm around my girlfriend in North Hollywood. Our new kitten in my lap. The chosen whoop and holler. Guzzle tall boys. The forgotten pack their bags. Leave the Hollywood Hills for home.
2010: Dark nightclub converted to a Silicon Valley brunch haunt. Where face recognition software is discussed. Over $30 crepes.
2011: White roses and eucalyptus. My true love Katie and I are married in a Japanese Garden in Little Tokyo.
2012: I wake up next to Katie’s corpse. No pants. Head surrounded by my empty psychiatric medication bottles. “Suicide! Don’t do it!” Refrain sung on the film Heathers. I hear nothing but my own silent scream.
2013: Detox. Rehab. Caffeine is my poison. AA meetings never clean their coffee pot. Styrofoam cups of scalding black coffee. Surrendering to white bearded patriarchy in the sky. Reading out loud everything bad I’d ever done. Shame. Penance. Confession. Always the tears.
2014: “Just say no,” to cults. I say yes to Wicca. Do a spell at the new moon. Have the power inside me over alcohol and drugs. Not AA helpless after all. S.Pellegrino sparkling water in my refrigerator instead of Smirnoff Vanilla Vodka. Escaping into Twitter’s virtual world of words and concepts. Where pitched battles are fought in pixels. Alone and together.
2015: I notice things as a lesbian widow. The man I date in Los Angeles is jealous. Bobby is hostile towards my dead wife’s memory. Asks me to call her my ex-wife. I shall not. Katie and I are married. Not until death do us part but for eternity. Bobby is divorced. Ex-wife is language he understands. My allegiance to a ghost bride challenges his desire to marry me. Impregnate me. Load me up with mortgage debt. Make me his property. Over steaming hot bowls of Tatsu Ramen. With hard boiled eggs. Raw garlic. Nori. Tender slices of pork. Homemade noodle soup.
2016: “My race is almost run. I’m going back to spend my life beneath the rising sun,” sings Nina Simone. I drive from Los Angeles to Reno. Move into my own House of the Rising Sun. Create YouTube videos. My makeup face and scantily clad body on a computer screen. Chasing fame as Internet phantasm. Memories, ghosts and dreams chase me. I use Twitter as a periscope to the outside world. Protect my vulnerable physical body behind locked doors and security cameras.
2017: Solar eclipse. I make a deal with the Devil. Voodoo’s underworld deity Papa Legba. My terms are simple. May I live in this House of the Rising Sun until the end of time. I blood bind my soul to this address. That way, no matter what belief system turns out to be true? I spend the afterlife exactly where I want to be. I am happier in this ancestral home then I have ever been in my sad desperate life. The Sun rises here on my future. Do I have a future?
Time passes. I am alone. Anytime now, Grim Reaper. How long are you going to keep me hammering away at screens? An Ouija board I consult says I have two years left to live. That should do it. I give up on my body. Just use my mind. If those Silicon Valley tech bro’s could download my consciousness into a black box? Like in Neuromancer? Immortality is possible. Psychopharmacological cyborg will do for now. Electrified with Monster Energy drinks. Poison. The teenage boy in me. Who wears Old Spice Swagger Deodorant. Comes out when I drink Red Bull. Plays Call of Duty. Chugs Mountain Dew. I don’t drink soda. Poison.
2018: Over the phone, late at night, Erica convinces me to get an Instant Pot. She says energy drinks are dangerous, “For someone of your age. Your heart could stop.” We all have to die somehow. I have a heart arrhythmia. Having my heart just stop? Sounds like a dreamy way to go. Peacefully surprised at home. Despite Medicare’s offer of a routine wellness check up, Getting a Doctor’s appointment set up? Paying for it? Getting there? It all seems as far away as Narnia. I would rather enjoy this life. Then chase false extensions. When all must fall. I’m not afraid of death. Perhaps Katie awaits. In her black veiled hat. Louis Verdad couture wedding gown. To give me the Kiss of Death.
Erica is right about the instant Pot changing my life. I make Eggnog Cheesecake for Christmas. Oreo cheesecake for my new girlfriend. New York cheesecake for my family.
Erica’s energy drink advice is taken with a grain of salt. As I take all advice. Psych meds permit enough of a grip on reality. I don’t need the sane to lead and control me. Appoint themselves conservator. When there is no need. Being mentally ill, it would be actively dangerous for my health if I took absolutely everyone’s advice. To go off meds. Do yoga. Drink wheatgrass. I reserve health advice for medical professionals. Outsource a phone psychiatrist and therapist from California. Nevada ranks forty-eighth in America’s fifty states in health care.
2019: Friday night in February. My butch bae Jasper drinks Coca Cola from the bottle. Nude in the breakfast nook. We use both L Words. Discover new kinks. She tells me of the food from her native Georgia. Ham sliced. Baked. A cup of Coca Cola and pineapple chunks poured on each slice. Fried squash. Stewed okra. She says she’ll make my mother this dinner. Our courtship is ritualized.
Jasper says to me, “You’ve proven yourself. You take care of your own shit.” We are equals, but different in key ways. Both haunted by women. Her mother. My wife. Wedding rings I cannot take off. Wedding pictures I cannot take down. Despite this new love.
“We fit together like two combs,” Jasper says. Pillow talk. “You fill in where I’m missing and I fill in for you.” I tell her about the experimental writing form Oulipo. To demonstrate a point forgotten. In actuality demonstrating the fancy uselessness of this education.
Jasper tells me about working as a firefighter. Entering a room in a burning house. Closed door bursts into flames. Trapped, Jasper feels death approach. Feels her dead mother’s spirit. Whether to guide in the crossing over? Or talk her through an escape? She carves a hole in the trailer floor. Crawls beneath it to safety. She rescues a badly burned boy from a trailer aflame. Gives him CPR for the entire ambulance ride. At the E.R. he is pronounced dead. His dead lips remain stuck to Jasper’s mouth as the ambulance pulls away.
“Eat the rich,” is a glib buzzword in too many tweets. I insist cannibalism is never the answer. Tweets infer I should have the decency to die. Stop being a public charge. On Disability Benefits. Unlike the more worthy Disabled. Offensively visible. As this obscene monstrosity. By being alive this long? Minor league successful? Damningly indicative. Call out the guillotine! Activists tweet how such a cursed bloodline must have generationally stole for centuries. From the more worthy proletariat. They want to drink my herpes infected blood. Suck meager flanks of poisoned flesh from my hollow bones.
Wee hours Saturday morning. Jasper gives me advice I take to heart about my Twitter addiction. She has an Android without the Twitter app. No computer. Unplugged from the virtual ballet of words. Living meat life fully. Biker tattoo she had to earn on her elbow. She won’t tell me how. Jasper schools me. Online spouting of ten thousand strangers? Don’t deserve to take up space in my mind. Mind better suited to create. As art therapy. Jasper reads every essay/ Watches every video. She is my muse. My audience. My biggest fan. Reads Jet Set Desolate on her lunch break. Instagrams the cover with “#taken #myfavoritewriter.”
I pray, “If there is a God? Or Satan? Ave Invocatio Mallum. Oh Dark Lord, thank you for sending Jasper to me.” The whole package. A reborn unicorn. When my first unicorn killed herself long ago. Leaving me broken for almost a decade.
Saturday night: Five or six inches of snow fall. Reno schools are cancelled. Sunday dinner postponed. The Instant Pot Cheesecake #17 stays the refrigerator until Monday. Jasper sleeps long beside me. Before Sunday’s night shift. Building robots at an electric car factory. Awake, I watch Daisy of Love on my iPad. An elimination dating reality show. Silicone injected starlet Daisy De La Hoya tries to find a boyfriend. Among twenty-some alpha males. Each Almost Famous for something lost as Angelyne. I leave the bed of our madness. Living room blinds open to the “Winter Wonderland” outside. Drink a Rockstar Recovery Energy Drink. Crumple the tall yellow can in my fist.
Jasper wakes. Laboriously scrapes snow off her car. Writes “I Heart U” on the snow blanket on my front lawn. Makes a snow angel. Peels out. We are equals. Not master and property like with Bobby. Two combs working together to hold up Virginia Woof’s updo in A Room of One’s Own. Self own? Subtweet?
Subtle caresses take me away from the Internet’s virtual wiles. To her body the night before. I lick whipped cream off her chest. Bite her nipples. Suck Ready Whip down on them like a Frappuccino. Brandish the whippet can at the foot of the bed. Try to frost the peach for dessert. Overestimate how much sugar I can eat at once. Her breasts overwhelm me with sweetness.
“I’m going to start calling you ‘Sugar Tits’” I say. As ridiculous as her girly birth name sounds addressing this butch. She looks like a muscular man clothed. Strangely soft face. Naked she is female. Her mannerisms male. Her sexual identity tied up in doing male coded chores around my house.
“Don’t threaten me with a good time,” I fall into her arms again and again. Cup my hand around breasts that look like pecs under her binding garment. Juices cover my face as I devour her papaya. Upon orgasm her tough shell falls away. Revealing inner tenderness.
Ascendo spirituum. A female spirit ascends. Her dead mother? My dead wife? The divine feminine gasps out between her lips as she comes.