Saturday, August 31, 2013

Everything Else is Noise

I'm having trouble concentrating. I can hear stories and everything else is noise - coworkers, traffic, the voices of people I love. It's a very inconvenient Narrator who speaks to me. I've got a life, ya know.

No, she doesn't know. She just knows what she wants me to write and doesn't care where I am or who else is talking to me.

This was the conversation with the narrator who made me write "Linda's Flowers" last week:

Narrator: Were there roses at the time of the dinosaurs?

Me: I can't write that down right now. I'm driving.

Narrator: So pull over. You'll forget it if you don't.Were there roses at the time of the dinosaurs?

Me (pulling over): I'm going to have a hard time forgetting it when you're yelling it.

Narrator: I'm not yelling.

Me: You're louder than that ambulance! You're taking up all of the space in my head!

Narrator: But I got you to pull over, didn't I?

Me: Yes, I've pulled over! Are you happy?

Narrator: You don't have to yell, you know.

Later at work that day...

Narrator: Can I ask you a question? Sure. Have you ever been in love?

Me: Look...I'm at work. Can you bother me with dialogue later?

Narrator: Write it. Write it now or I get louder.

Me: But see, that's not actually my job.


Me: Would you stop that?!


Me: You're going to get me fired!

Narrator: IN LOVE?

Me (writing it down): I hate you.

Narrator (smiling): No you don't. Finish it up and post it on your blog.

Me: But what if-

Narrator: POST IT OR DIE!

Me (blogging): Would you go pick on someone else?

Narrator: But you do everything I say. Some of the other writers I've possessed have fought me just like you're trying to.

Me: What happened to them?

Narrator: They died unhappy.

Me: Jesus Christ.

Narrator: I hear talking, I don't hear blogging...

So I finished Linda's Flowers. And then she had another story for me. So a few days later at home...

Narrator: I saw her, yea I saw her, with a black tongue tied round the roses, fist pounding on the vending machine-

Me: Would you stop singing to me? I'm helping Emma with her homework.

Narrator: But the rhythm of it goes with the dialogue I want you to write. And it puts an image in your head of an irate woman punching a vending machine. Why is she doing that? Is she always violent and impatient or is she just in that mood right now? Is a boy watching her? Is he wearing dusty sneakers and a Budweiser cap? Does he know her yet?

Me: I don't know. Maybe he-

Narrator: Write it down.

Me: I can't right now.

Narrator: WRITE IT DOWN.

Me: I'm not finished with-

Emma (who has just asked me a question): Mom? You're not listening.

Me (to Emma): Yeah, I am. What - what was that you just said?


I struggle to listen to Emma as the Narrator's will tips like a bucket of water over my head, drenching me to the toes. I am soaked in it. Every movement and thought is heavy. I struggle miserably to listen to my daughter and to focus, because to do so is important to me. When we're finished with her homework I'm tired and frustrated from the fighting. I wonder if Emma's noticed how frustrated I am, and hope that she hasn't taken it personally. My mind feels like a dry, crumbled biscuit. I sit down, turn on youtube and play "Girl" by Beck.

I saw her
Yea I saw her
With a black tongue tied round the roses
Fist pounding on a vending machine
Toy diamond ring stuck on her finger

The story I was thinking of comes back to me, the rhythm of the dialogue in time with the music. The Narrator is quiet now because I'm writing it down. There's no noise. I'm only vaguely aware that I'm in the kitchen. I've only got a foothold in the world where I'm in the kitchen, where I have a job and have children, bills, and nine pets. The rest of me is in the Third Place.

Have I ever told you what the Third Place is? It's the place between awake and asleep. It's not drug-induced, like you might think. It's where the Narrator talks to me and lulls me into a trance. It's the place that I only found myself in sometimes before, and where writers go when they tell you that they've hit a groove with their writing. I'm in it all the time lately. It's the place where I hear the lives of other people, what they say and what they've decided to do, and I write it down, and every other sound from the First Place (the awake place) that tries to get through is just noise. I understand why the Narrator said the ones who ignore her die unhappy.

And while I thought it cold when I first read it, I now understand a quote I read from Edgar Degas who remained a bachelor his entire life. He said, "There is love and there is work, and we only have one heart."

Can I ask you a question?
Have you ever been in love?

Yes. And it's in The Third Place.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Linda's Flowers

Remember how I was playing with my new character Valley? I was listening to "Tomorrow Tomorrow" a couple of days ago and began to write this story. I thought of Elliott Smith when I imagined Martin. I don't know what I'm calling it yet, so for right now it's "Linda's Flowers" And gosh, it needs work.

Martin is thinking about buying Valley roses but he'd have to put his cigarette out. Standing across the street, he watches the florist spray something onto the ferns that hang on either side of the flower shop entrance, like long bangs framing an open face. He thinks that she looks like the kind of lady who wouldn't sell him anything if he walked up to her with a cigarette in his mouth. Her gray hair is in a bun and she's got shinny, tanned arms with spots. Maybe she smoked when she was younger, before they knew that smoking and sunshine were bad for you, and he imagines her having a cigarette on the beach with long, unspeckled arms. Seeing him pale and smoking might remind her of everything she's no longer allowed.

He never used to think this way. It began last Tuesday when he and Valley saw the painting that meant nothing. The painting had no form, only purples, blues and greens that swirled together and came out at him, not loudly, but quietly as he looked at it, like waking up. It'd had the same green as the ferns.

He looks at his hands, the empty one and the smoking one, and imagines spraying plants. He's afraid he would kill them and he doesn't know why, just like how he's afraid that the flower shop lady will cough at the sight of him. It's not the cigarette - it's him, reeking of himself. Bad face skin from old acne, unwashed jeans, and only indecipherable glances from Valley. How could she love him back, even if he gave her a plant?

And, yes, a plant would be better than roses. When they met in first grade, Valley was into dinosaurs. She would show him pictures of bones and fossils of plants. Were there roses at the time of the dinosaurs? He imagines a place he's seen in cartoons with ferns, impossibly tall trees, creatures with dry, saggy skin like the flower shop lady, and smoke in the sky. But he doesn't know if that's what it was really like, he's never studied time like that. Since last Tuesday, he's only studied Valley and he sees roses everywhere.

That day he'd been walking through the museum with her like she'd asked him to. He didn't like art museums because he didn't understand anything he looked at and it made him feel dumb. But he always went if Valley asked him to go.

She stopped at one point when they were walking and frowned at the wall.

"Are we going to go soon?" he asked, scratching the back of his head. Standing two feet away from her, and two minutes away from falling in love.

"In a minute," she said. "I want to know this one."

She always talked like that, like looking at a painting was getting to know a person.

"I need a smoke," he whined.

She smacked his stomach with the back of her hand. "Stop smoking."

"You can't beat it out of me."

"Come on, look at this," she said. "Help me figure this one out. I'm just not getting anything from it."

He sighed loudly because he wanted her to know he was frustrated. And then he looked at the painting.

It was just colors at first. He thought smugly about how he could have painted it in kindergarten. But then he saw a shape in there - a curve, and then something round like the shape of an eye but it wasn't an eye. It was like the hint of a face of someone he knew, but he couldn't remember who it was.

He needed to know. He'd been through 12 years of grade school and six years of college and had never really wanted to know any of what he'd learned, but he wanted to know this, this person he'd forgotten who was lost somewhere in the purple, blue and green. He kept looking, hoping it would come to him, but instead the painting began to brighten and glow. It was warm, and it felt good.

The goodness made him suddenly aware of his stained T-shirt, his hands that stunk like cigarettes, and the dark bangs hanging in his eyes. Had he combed his hair that day? It was as if the good feeling had caught him sleeping on the couch in the middle of the day, and he was unprepared for company. How long had he been sleeping?

"What am I doing?" he asked out loud.

Valley glanced at him. "We can move on if you want. I'm not getting anything out of this one."

He looked at her. He had always noticed her long, red hair and her green eyes. And since they were fourteen, he had been noticing the curve of her waist and breasts. But he'd never really noticed her, and she was so often standing right there next to him - this woman who in the first grade introduced herself to him as Valley because her real name (Valerie) wasn't big enough. She couldn't explain it further than that at the time, but she was into dinosaurs back then and she said that her mother was just happy that she hadn't decided to call herself "Seismosaurus." In twenty-eight years he'd never met another woman like her. She'd dated so many men. Had she ever noticed him?

Was there anything to notice? He was 34, unemployed, living on his dad's couch, and interested in nothing. Valley kept telling him how smart he was and how much she thought he could do, but he wasn't sure that he was anything more than a cloud of smoke covered in bad skin.

"Come on," she said to him, shoving her hands in her jeans jacket pockets. "It doesn't mean anything. You want a cigarette?"

He looked back at the painting, unable to speak. Since he was so often quiet, she didn't wait for an answer but walked towards the entrance and, after a moment, he dutifully followed.

He'd gone back to the museum every day since then to look at the painting that had meant nothing to her. It was on his way back from it today that he noticed the flower shop and thought of roses.

He's sure he's right, roses are wrong for this woman who'd chosen the name Valley because Valerie wasn't big enough. He feels that she needs something ancient, something beautiful that's from a history he doesn't remember but that she knows.

He decides to cross the street and find out how much the ferns are. He has about 75 dollars in checking to blow. He'll have to get a job again soon.

"Jesus," he thinks. "What does that mean about me?"

Because since last Tuesday all he does is think about what things mean.

As he approaches, the florist smiles at him and asks if she can help. Her voice is gravely but in a soothing way.

"How much is that?" he asks, pointing to the fern she's spraying.

"This Boston fern is..." she pulls a white tag from the hanging pot. "$6.99."

"Ok. How old is it?"

"I got it in two days ago."

"No, I mean, when is it from? Was it around, like, in prehistoric time?"

She looks at him funny."Well, I don't know. Maybe not this species but something like it."

"Something like it is good," he says, suddenly afraid that she might think he's crazy. He wonders if she's right. "I'll take it."

She smiles at him. He can tell it's a real smile and not just one that she gives him because she thinks he's crazy and is trying to keep him from flying into a psychotic rage.

He follows her inside, where he is immediately stunned and shamed by the beauty of the store. Shelves of cypress wood are lined with potted plants and flowers, and in the center of the room are water tubs of fresh cut roses, lilies, daisies, and carnations. He feels like he's in a cabin filled with flowers. The sign on the front of the check out counter says, "Linda's Flowers."

"Are you Linda?" he asks, pulling his wallet out of his back pocket.

She sets the fern on the counter and begins punching numbers into a cash register that's the color of old paper. "Yeah, that's me."

"I'm Martin," he says, handing her his check card.

She smiles without knowing that this is the first time he's ever volunteered that information to a stranger. She swipes his card and says, "Is this for you?"

"No, it's for my friend. I think she'll like it. I mean, I hope she does," he says, brushing his bangs out of his eyes.

Linda frowns at the credit card machine. "It didn't go through, honey."

"It what?"

"Let me try it again, sometimes it takes more than once."

"It should," he says, thinking about it, remembering the number "75" the last time he checked his account.

How long ago had that been? He doesn't think he's spent anything since then. Had it been 75 cents and he'd looked at it wrong? It couldn't have been.

But a minute after trying the card a second time, Linda shakes her head, hands it back to him and apologizes.

"It's ok," he says, shoving the card in his front pocket and the wallet into his back pocket.

He starts to leave and Linda says, "Are you ok?"

He turns around. "Um, yeah. I just need a job, I guess."

"I would say so."

"Can I ask you a question?"


"Have you ever been in love?"

She laughs but he doesn't laugh back. "Yes," she tells him.

"How'd that go?"

"Went fine until he died a couple of years back."

"I'm sorry."

She shrugs. "It's ok. It was bound to happen to one of us."

He smiles at her.

"I think if you want things to go well with your ladyfriend you should get that job."

"Ok. Well, thanks."

He turns to leave again. She says, "Martin."

She walks out from behind the counter, goes to the center of the room, and pulls a red, long stem rose from a bucket. She holds it out to him and says, "Good luck."

He takes the flower. His fingers are big and it's impossible to avoid the thorns. He holds it lightly, so that it tilts in his hand. Linda has a smile for him that aches like the truth of the painting, like the truth of Valley. But he smiles back.

As he walks out of the open door the daylight shocks his eyes, but he's getting used to that now.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Out of Milk

I don't know how this happened, but I am out of milk for my coffee AND I just used up the last of the coffee grinds. My coffee making materials is the litmus test as to when it's time to go to the store. And the time has come. And this is not good.

I know this is going to blow the minds of people who enjoy believing stereotypical things about men and women, but I don't enjoy shopping. Really, I think some people cultivate beliefs about men and women as a hobby. Whenever you have a discussions with them they are excited to cart them out, like an antique plate collection or one of those window boxes where butterfly bodies are pinned down and labeled.

"Look at this one," he'll say. "She acted like she didn't want to be caught and it was a hard chase but she gave in in the end. Just like a woman."

"She's dead and is pinned to the box," I point out.

"I know." He rolls his eyes. "Women, huh?"

Anyway, so I don't like shopping. For anything, really, although food is sometimes an exception if I'm cooking something in particular. But stocking up for the week? AAAAAAHHHHH!  There's planning meals ahead of time, budgeting, gathering coupons, taking a calculator with me to the store, filling my basket and then waiting in a long line because it's the weekend. And then what if I buy the wrong thing? What about THAT? What if I buy the generic brand peanut butter because it's 30 cents cheaper and  no one likes it so no one eats it? So it sits in my pantry for a year, watching jar after jar of name brand peanut butters come and go because that's what I'm buying now because that's what the kids and I really want, and we end up giving the old jar to the dog. The emotional consequences of choosing the wrong peanut butter are too high.

Then there's clothes shopping. Gadzooks. How much money is too much money for jeans? I don't know, different people have different ideas about this. What is MY idea about it? I don't know, I haven't even come to a conclusion on peanut butter. What if I buy a pair of jeans and I don't like them? Do I return them? Which means I have to GO BACK to the store? With the beeping noises, and the salespeople who want me to buy things, and the music playing overhead that I think is supposed to make me feel like I'm on a runway but because the sound system is bad and there are shoppers arguing in the background, instead I feel like I'm visiting a model's retirement home and this is what's playing over the loud speaker during shuffleboard? I can't go back there, so I give the jeans that don't fit me to Good Will. For me, giving clothes to Good Will is not a demonstration of my good will as much as it is avoidance of Old Navy.

This brings me to the subject of clothes, which could be a whole post in and of itself, and I would love to launch into it but I have to get ready for work.

And luckily this morning all I need is milk for my coffee. I think I can handle that without any serious mental damage. Now do I get the brand where the cows haven't been given hormones or the cheaper one where they have been shot up with hormones? I need a personal shopper.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Valley Kitcher - Pocket Fiction

I was going through my dresser this morning and found something I wrote on a scrap of paper over a year ago. Did I ever tell you that I find my writing everywhere? Just scraps of things? I don't remember writing this, but I remember this character that I made up because I've been playing with her since she came along. I put her in different scenes and try her out in them to see how she fits. I haven't found her story yet, but I know about her name.

Her name was Valerie but when she was a little girl she didn't like it because it was too girly. She liked Valley, because it was practically the same name if you took out the "r" and because a valley was so much bigger than a Valerie. She felt like she could really be in the world with a name like that, stretching over miles without any pressure of being something that she wasn't.

So here's what I wrote, and if it's not so good, please be kind. I wrote it all off the top of my head and probably found it in my pocket and tossed it in my dresser at the end of the day:

Valley pulls a piece of paper out of her pocket. It's a receipt for chips and a Mocha Java at a Chevron and she wants to write on it, but she has to keep it and record it in her checkbook because every dollar counts.

But she wants to write "Molly" on it. She wants to push the pen down so hard that it tears the paper. Molly's name cut into paper the way it cuts and shreds into her mind. But that's not enough. She needs to force Molly's name out of her. The need is suddenly so great, she thinks she'll scream and she's standing in the middle of the library. It occurs to her that she could fake a sneeze but "Molly" doesn't have a sneezy sound. Not like "Ashley" or some other name with an "a" and an "sh" in it.

So she runs to the bathroom, like she can't hold it in anymore, scrambles into a stall, crams a ball of toilet paper over her mouth and screams, "Mooooollllllly!"

And now it's out and now she's crying, loud, heaving sobs, and now someone's walking into the bathroom, and the thought of someone hearing her cry is more embarrassing than the scream so she stuffs the toilet paper into mouth.

She takes a deep breath to calm herself down and sucks in the toilet paper.And now she's gagging.

She bends over, retching the wet, flimsy paper into the bowl, scratching bits of it off her tongue. And she wonders if she'll ever be in a relationship where she doesn't throw up at the end of it.

I need to do more with Valley. Poor thing, I could have atleast sent her to Starbucks for coffee instead of a Chevron.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

No More Webantics!

Before I launch into the website discussion, can someone tell me why when I search for "meditation music" on youtube "Underground LSD Palace" comes up as one of my options? Which features a blonde chick in some kind of leather bra? This is not the kind of serenity I had in mind so I clicked on "Chinese Bamboo Flute" instead. Serene though it is with it's flutiness and birds a'chirping, I still see a picture of a woman in a leather bra in my mind and I imagine her telling me to relax using words I don't say like "chillax."

I was looking for soothing music because my website shopping has made me a bit frantic. There are just too many options. I become like one of those lost-looking customers who go into Starbucks and are overwhelmed by the menu.

"I - I just want coffee," they say, knowing that somewhere in that confusing jumble of words like "grande" and "caramel macchiato" is the thing that they want.

I look at other writer's websites and I ask myself questions. How do I want mine to look? I don't know. What kinds of things do I want for readers to click on? I don't know, how about everything? Just let them click on everything. Let them do searches for Underground LSD Palaces if that's what they need. Do I want a picture of myself on it? All of these other writer websites have pictures of themselves. Goddamn it, I don't like pictures of myself. My Facebook profile picture is one of Dorothy Parker sitting in front of a type writer, I can't use that in a site where I'm promoting myself. I am not a famous dead woman. Not yet, anyway.

"Well, Gen, what DO you want?" I think to myself.

"Um...a grande caramel macchiato?"

My inner voice sighs deeply. She does that a lot. "What do you want on your website?"

"Do I HAVE to have a website?"

"To be a professional writer? Yes. Everything you read about the business side of things says you need one, every writer that you like has one, and you know this because you, as a reader, have looked them up because you wanted to see what they're working on. It's what readers with computers do."

"Ok, ok. I know. Oh! Here's what I want. I want it to have a cool picture. And I want music on it and updates about concerts because I want it to be very rock n' roll, and I want it to maybe have bread recipes because I think my readers might like that. And I want there to be surfers and links to pictures of puppies."



"Don't you think it might be a good idea to feature your writing?"

"Well...that might be a little showy, wouldn't it? Like I'm bragging, like here's all my writing and I want you to read it?"

"But you DO want them to read it! That's why you're building the site!"

"Yes, but I don't want to make someone do anything they don't want to do. If they don't want to read my stuff they don't have to bother, really, it's ok. In fact, I'll read their stuff. Yes! Yes, I'll have a place on my site where people can submit their writing and-"



"Your website is going to be about YOU! People aren't going to go there because they feel like they have to. There are a hundred million writers in the world, and you are struggling to be noticed. You have to take this seriously if you want to be popular before you're dead."

I consider this. "I always did want to be popular."

"There ya go. Now - you should have a bio, contact information, a list of your books, which is only one at the moment but that's ok, and a link to your blog, and your writer Facebook page."

"Can I do a link that says 'gay stuff' and 'not so gay stuff?'"

"Yeah, you do have some gay stories out there, don't you? Yeah, that's fine."

"Can I have a Panic! At The Disco video on it?"


"Yes! It's just that those things are so boring. It's just like a list of information. There's no car chases or songs that I dance to or firecrackers."

My inner voice sighs again and starts rubbing her forehead. She would take a break from me, but she lives inside of my head and there's no place for her to go.

"Gen, focus and do what I say," she says.

"Alright, fine, chillax."

"What did you say?"

"I said that Liz Braswell's website is pretty cool. Though the print is kind of small, and I don't want my readers to strain their eyes. Of course, that could just be my old eyes."

"Oh thank goodness! You're looking. You might actually have a following in your lifetime."

Which is the goal. So I will keep looking and decide what I want some time this weekend because my deadline for this is coming up soon. The barista is tapping her foot waiting for me to make a decision and I can't keep agonizing over the menu.

And so I have come to the end of this post and as promised in my last post, I believe I have incriminated myself five times. I said that I have gay writings, I admitted that I'm a Panic! At the Disco fan, that I sometimes use the word "chillax," that I talk to myself, and...let me scroll through and see if there's another...there isn't one so I have to add one now. What can I tell you about me that's incriminating?

Oh! I know one. This morning I danced around my kitchen like the girls in this video. I'm thinking that might be my author's photo for the website.

You Might Have Noticed a Change

Anyone who checked out the blog yesterday might have noticed that the post "The Bitch of This Terminal Disease" has been taken down. Since I'm not entirely sure how I feel about revealing stuff that would embarrass my family on my blog, I've decided to revert it to a draft until I figure that out. I think it's important to write about that kind of stuff but I'm thinking about publishing it under a pen-name so that I can write freely about it without incriminating anybody. Other than myself, of course. I live to incriminate myself.

So today I'm working on something different. Just wanted to write a quick note about it so that my loyal vigilantes wouldn't check out the blog and say, "What happened to all of that stuff she wrote yesterday? Why do I live in such an unpredictable, inconsistent world?" I like to think that you say things like this because it means that your world revolves around my writing and those are the kinds of readers I need.

Since I've been writing more often, I've been giving serious that as to how I would like the blog to be. After all, it's going to be part of my website that I'm working on which will be tied into ALL of the writing I'm working on. Books, short stories, essays and blogginess. So do I want my blog to be a place where I occasionally write about the addicts in my life? I'm thinking no. I'm keeping posts like Performance Art because I don't really out anyone but myself as someone who's survived sex abuse. And I don't have a problem with writing about how that affects me today. As to naming my abusers, that's a little different and I think that might be where the pen-name comes in. I would share my ideas of pen-names I'm thinking of but then that would blow the idea of anonymity.

A new post will appear later today. I pinky swear. AND I promise to post a link to my website once it's up, which means I need to get on the ball today for figuring out how I want it to look and what's going to go on it.

Hold on, I think I'll blog about that. And in it I will figure out how to incriminate myself in five new ways.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Uses of Tall

I am six feet tall and have never played basketball. It's not that no one believes me when I tell them this, they just don't understand. They look at me as if I've just told them that I have 25 billion dollars in savings that I've never spent.

"But why?" they ask, looking bewildered.

"Because I don't like basketball. I play softball, I like that."

"Why would you play softball when you could be so good at basketball?"

"Because," I say slowly. "I do not like it."

And most of them say, "So?"

This gets me every time because I thought I'd just put this discussion to rest. So I say, "So...I don't like the game. Why would I play a game I don't like?"

"Because you're tall!"

"Ooooooh," I say, as if this is something I've never noticed.

I also have never understood why people think that being tall would automatically make me good at basketball. Have these people ever stood next to a goal? And if they have do they not notice how MUCH taller it is than them? These people talk to me as if I can take the ball, step over other players like ants and then drop the ball through the hoop. Because my skill is that I am enormous. No, no. I have to aim and shoot, which is hard to do when half a dozen short, stealthy people who are all angry that I'm taller than them are trying to make me fail. I suppose that aiming, shooting, and trampling short people are things I could improve on, I just don't want to. I prefer softball because I like to hit things with sticks and run.

The other thing I haven't done with my height which disappoints the general public is modeling. I don't know if tall men get the modeling comment, but I've gotten that one since the first grade. Because I have been tall since I was a fetus. If there had been ultrasounds in 1975, the obstetrician would have taken one look at my fetal legs and said to my mother, "Mrs. Rheams, it's a model."

"A model?" she would have said.

He would have shrugged. "Or a basketball player. I'm not sexist."

A relative whose name I don't remember was the first one to insist on my modeling career. I don't feel guilty about forgetting her name because she never got mine right. She thought my name was Jennifer and to make matters worse she pronounced it with a Y'at accent, so even though my name is Genevieve, she called me "Jennifa."

"Jennifa, ya so TALL!" she cried. Then to my mother, "Jennifa's gotta be a model! Look how tall!"

"I don't want to be a model," I said.

She smiled preciously. "Ya will when ya get olda. So tall, ya just gotta be a model!"

Maybe it was because she'd failed to phrase it glamorously enough, but I never did want to become a model. Eventually I fell under the pressure of it, thinking maybe people knew something I didn't, maybe their insistence that I become a model meant that they knew something about the course of my life, maybe I REALLY WAS failing to use a talent, a gift from God. I didn't think I was particularly beautiful but modeling, it seemed, like basketball, didn't need pure natural talent - just height. I was tall and thin enough and all other imperfections could be hidden with makeup and just the right lighting.

So I enrolled in modeling school when I was 18. And flunked out. I don't remember exactly why, but I do remember getting points taken off for wearing jeans to class, and I remember being bored out of my mind because all they did at that school was talk about looks.

"Jesus!" I thought one day, listening to some guy who'd come to talk to us about our hair. "This guy is going on and on about HAIR? How can someone talk about hair for 45 minutes? And look at these girls. They're listening! All these people do is talk about makeup and hair! Hasn't anybody read anything lately? And why do we ALWAYS have to talk about our fucking clothes?.....oh. This is modeling school. Well, I'm out."

I've never been one to fuss over hair and makeup in real life so it made no sense to me to do it professionally. I can't tell you how many women I've disappointed with this news.

"Have you ever been a model?" they ask now. Now that I'm over 20 and considered too old for pose for pictures. Honestly, trying to start out at 18 was pushing it.



"I hate fashion."


This especially disappoints short, fashionable women who tell me that they used to dream of being a model. In fact, the shorter they are the dirtier of a look I get. Though they don't say it, this look communicates something to the effect of, "You unappreciative motherfucker." Then they call me Jennifa just to spite me.

"So what do you do?" they ask.

"I'm a writer."

And that just seems to piss them off more. There is no height requirement for writing. Two foot tall apes have been known to type, so it really hacks them off that I take these long legs and cram them under a desk.

"Well, I jog. So I run with them," I try to explain. "Oh! And I reach things!"

This is where the listener begins to accept that maybe my legs aren't completely superfluous if I can reach things in high places for short people in need. Then I double as a step ladder.

I'm perfectly willing to do this, by the way. Reach things up high, and stretch my arms behind furniture to reach something that's fallen. Really, by focusing on the things I haven't done with my height to make money, you could focus on the little things I do every day for free for the good of the world. Like dust fan blades. On second thought, scratch that, I don't clean either.

Ok so maybe instead of focusing on me, I can point out some of your gifts. I don't know if you've ever noticed, Short People of the World, but you're fast. You're fast and you're dodgy and that makes it difficult for me to catch you with a ball. Having my head a half a foot closer to the goal than you has not made a difference in my ability to make it from one side of the court to the other.

Short Women of the World Who Have Dreamed of Modeling - models are ugly. They're too thin. Whatever beauty is in their faces and their bodies is washed out by makeup and bone. A lot of them have no breasts because they have no fat. Women are curvy, they are round in places and flat in others with a delicate complexity. To flatten yourself everywhere is to flatline your beauty. Some of the most gorgeous women I've seen have been under 5'3" with no makeup on. Some of these women love basketball. I am happy to reach things on high shelves for them.

In honor of short, pretty women I offer you Lily Allen who is singing of something along these lines. Her lyrics would be perfect to go with this blogpost if they also included aspirations of tall organized sports, but she won't answer the phone and has ignored my voicemails where I offer suggestions of alternate lyrics. She must be jealous of my height.