Another Scene about Race

When my sister came over, she wore little blue boots with metal straps around the ankles that resembled silver belts. Her boots were accessorized with belts. Why stop there? Why not wear pants that had their own chandelier earrings hanging from the pockets, or a jean jacket with a Burberry scarf tied around the button? Her outfits were so annoying. I thought about all the time she put into shopping and dressing and how many circles she had spun in front of her mirror that morning. I wanted to convert that time into cash money and give it to charity, to orphans maybe. What a trifling bitch she was, with her little blue boots leaving their wedged stamp across my wall-to-wall carpeting.

“Whoa,” she said, picking up a brown wicker Jesus that was resting on my coffee table. “Who might this be?”

“He’s from Mozambique. I would have brought you one as a souvenir but I knew you’d prefer the coral necklaces. He’s fragile. A hunter gatherer made him. He only wanted a couple bucks for it but I gave him ten.”

“Well worth it,” she said, dangling the Jesus by his little wicker toe until his head hit tabletop.

            “Was it weird being the only white girl? Did all the Africans stare at you?” As she sat, my sister tossed her blonde hair over the back of the armchair so it wouldn’t get flat.

            “No, Cass, all the Africans didn’t stare at me. Because I wasn’t prancing around like some girls. I didn’t wear tube tops or mini skirts. Plus I wasn’t the only Westerner in the country. And later I was traveling with Raoul. Guys don’t bother you when you’re with a man.”

            “Oh yeah, Raoul, your Mexicali boyfriend.”

            “He wasn’t my boyfriend.”

            “Mm-hmm. I read the postcards, senorita. I know what’s up.”

            I missed Raoul. In Mozambique he took me to the best local bars and told me what to order. If I was very drunk, he kept me from giving all the change in my purse to panhandling kids. And he always tried to kiss me at the end of a night out. I always rejected him, but I liked that he tried. One night I showed him pictures of my family. “This is my older sister Cass,” I said. “She’s shallow. She would never come to Africa on a mission, or even join the Peace Corps. She’s such a little sorority girl.”

            “What’s a sorority girl?”

            “You know. She’s really into fashion.”

            “I see.” He stared more closely at her picture, taken under an umbrella at the beach. “You look nothing like her. Does she live in New York too?” He stopped trying to kiss me after that, and began asking about visiting me when I got back to the States. One night he didn’t stop me when I got wasted and gave whole dollar bills to hungry orphans. I made him buy my café au lait the next morning to make it up to me

My sister began tapping the wicker Jesus on the head with her blue boot.

“Tell me something,” she said, “When you were in Africa, did you feel, I dunno, did you feel weird? Was it weird to be there?”

“That’s a retarded question.”

“No, come on, you know what I mean. Like, the other day, I was in Neiman Marcus, and this African-looking lady – you know, she was wearing one of those colorful sari type things and had the blanket wrapped around her head – she came into the store with her three little kids, like, to buy them polo shirts or something, because they looked American, and she seemed so out of place. And I wondered if when you were in Africa, if that’s what you felt like. Like if Africa was Neiman Marcus and you walked in wearing culottes and jellies or something and the salespeople gave you dirty looks.”

I felt so sorry for my sister, who could only compare whole continents to department stores. How could we have come from the same womb, when I was born wanting to help people and she just wanted to commodify things?

“I think that’s a really ignorant comparison to make.”

“Why?” she said, “You bought all that stuff.”

High School Klansman

“Does this make you feel racist?” she said, dipping the tip of her mocha finger in the tar-colored head of my diet soda. The foam already looked contaminated, like an eddy in a dirty river.

“No,” I said. “Of course it doesn’t.”

“How about this?” she said, and licked the length of her finger like a malicious porn star. Then she stuck it down to the knuckle in my glass and swirled it, making a dark whirlpool. Did I want to drink it then? Could I? I thought that the taste might have changed from the addition of her spittle. Was it because she was black that I suddenly wanted a fresh cup?

“You’re a jerk,” I said.

“You’re a Klansman,” she said.

“Look,” I said. “Look how thirsty I am. I’m so thirsty for this soda.” I lifted the glass to my lips and sipped from below the foam she had swirled.

“Tell me,” she said, while she wiped her wet finger on her jeans, “Am I your only brown friend? Am I what you might call a ‘token’? Just admit it if I am. It doesn’t even matter anymore. You can keep inviting me over and showing me off to your lily-white parents, trying to prove to them that you’re more enlightened than they ever were. You can keep pretending like you’re attracted to my older brothers, even though they’re darker than me and they probably scare the shit out of you. You can even keep writing your stupid English essays about how multicultural you are, about how you love Chinua Achebe. You can keep getting A’s on your papers, while I get B’s because I want to write about Robert E. Lee. Just fucking admit it though. Just admit that you think I taste different. That you think my skin feels different. That you don’t want to use my toothbrush if you forget yours when you spend the night. That you’d rather have the bad breath. Just acknowledge that I am black and you are white and that means something. Why don’t you ever see me? I stuck my finger in your drink. If anyone else did that, you would smack them.”

“You took me by surprise, that’s all. I mean Jen, we have made out before. Racists don’t make out with black people.”

“You were so wasted, Sienna. I had to remind you the next day what we did. And believe me, it was nasty. I would not do it again.” I did sort of remember our kiss. We were at a Halloween party and she tasted like pumpkin pie. I had been eating from a box of Fruit Roll-Ups that I found in Brian’s parents’ pantry. There were still bits of what looked like green plastic stuck between my teeth. The senior boys had egged us on, then they all turned away once my tongue was in her mouth. But I kissed her, and I knew what I was doing, and no white boy had asked me out since.

The soda really did taste bad now. I wondered if the dishwasher hadn’t rinsed all the soap out of the glass. I just sipped it anyway. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Some of her greasy lip gloss was on the rim and I drank around it.

“I really like you, okay? You’re my best friend. And when it’s just the two of us alone together, I forget you’re black. It’s just that I always find myself thinking about your blackness when we’re around other people or your family or something.”

“So the ideal is to forget that I’m black? It’s not to accept it – it’s just to forget it? That’s what you’re going for?”

“We should all be ignorant of color.”

“You know what I just became ignorant of? Your phone number, where you live, where you sit in the cafeteria, and what your name is. Later sister.”

Oh My Lord I Will Keep Going Until They Stop Me

There is always microwave popcorn to put an end to all of this jibber jabber. Put something in the microwave and I will be distracted forever. Same goes for ice in a glass. I am going to sign out. This is enough for tonight.

Do You Hate Me?

Does everyone hate me? Is this a mistake? Should I be doing this? Am I being paranoid? Is this one too many? I’m not talking about the drinks. I’m talking about the revelations. Is this going to lead to divorce? Disownment? Amputation? I worry sometimes. Isn’t that what bloggers do?

She knelt down beside his chair and asked him about Anne Carson. “Do you want to go to the bathroom with me?”

“No,” he said.

“Oh my God,” she said, when I was paying her check by the bar. “Is he afraid? Did I scare him?”

“Yes,” I said. “Next time, less makeup, less poetry.”

This Is Weird

I know that when you are in the water for a long time, your body’s soft spots get all wrinkly. For instance, if you soak in a pool for an hour, your toes look like Jabba the Hutt’s. BUT. Here I am, only a few drinks into the night, and I look at my knuckles and they are OLD. Like crow’s feet and cow udder old. Is that because I have been soaking so long in stupid conversations? What is it? I feel like I have come back home much prettier and smoother than this. I hope this wrinkly blood doesn’t flow into my face.

After a Short Night out

The short nights out are the best. You’re still lucid enough to blog, but you’re drunk enough to be blogtarded. I passed up the after-party. The guys retreated to play video games, the girls didn’t know they were done drinking (which means they’ll be hooking up tonight), and I was all white & rose’d out at the French bar, looking for my next entry. On my way out the door to Boheme, I almost ran back inside because the outdoors smelled like peanut butter. It was the first time I’d been outside today. “Peanut butter!” I thought. “I have to blog about this.” It was all I could do to put myself in my little car and tear my brains away from the internet. I wonder if I’m going to link my family. That’s the big question. I am already holding back, and I just got my blog today. I have a picture of my mom taped to my hard drive, and she says, “Don’t write about that. Don’t write about the gross stuff. Your grandmother will read this.” She is better than all the other moms. She hasn’t had the Botox like them, even though she’s naturally prettier. Tonight I was talking to the proprietor of the bar. “I pictured your boyfriend as more flamboyant,” he said. What does that mean? Does that mean Darren should be wearing leather pants and riding a motorcycle? I only used that example because of the overload of Wild Hogs DVD commercials of late. By the way, my older brother just rode a motorcycle to Nova Scotia. This is a good opportunity to tell you about my brothers and sisters:

Brad: 28. Motorcyle enthusiast. In medical school. Handsome. I’m actively looking for his future wife.

Jack: 24. Lives in Jackson, Wyoming, which means he smokes a lot of pot. He also runs a radio show. His DJ name is “The Body.”

Margaret: 21. Manages awesome bands. Her first just signed to Mercury Records. She is the Big Time.

Stephen: 18. Recruited by Loyola to play D1 lacrosse. The ultimate sweetheart jock and my baby brother. Cuddly as a kitten.

Fan letters accepted here.

My parents will get their own blog entry, God bless them.

My boyfriend went to a movie

He went to a guy movie with some guys, and I am taking this opportunity to write about intestines. I realize this is not a great introduction to me, the chief blogger of my blogosphere. I am home on a Friday night, geeking out, fascinated by being published in the wilds of the internet. I get disappointed a lot because my mind leaps ahead. This blog is my big break. People are going to write me love letters. How do I stop myself from doing this? I’ve watched two special interest movies in the past month. The first was Carmen Electra’s Striptease Workout. I have never felt less sexy in my life. I had to push the coffee table aside, crowded with all its New Yorkers, Discover Magazines, Wired Magazines, Chinese takeout debris, and nonstick coasters, in order to prance around on the living room rug in workout gear, not realizing that every girl in the video was wearing an outfit. Who works out in knee-highs? Who works out with her finger in her mouth? I gave up when I realized Carmen couldn’t do anything in one take. There were more cuts in that video than ___blah blah funny metaphor__. But this brings me in a roundabout way to my point. The second special interest video that I watched this month was The Secret. This movie was forced on me by two women in my writer’s group as well as my college friend who writes a sex advice column in Barcelona. The Secret is basically the new god of good parking places and cash money. You envision what you want and the universe provides you with it. So from The Secret’s point of view, I am not being ridiculous by believing this blog will provide me with love letters. But from my boyfriend’s POV (to use writerspeak), The movie was decent and dudes are cooler than chicks and you did what with your evening? So I’m going to quit lusting for a blog audience and envision myself leaving the house and finding wine and friends, and not having a hangover tomorrow. It’s better to start with small, manageable goals, not with winning the lottery. And I have to write lots of entries on top of this so no one will be lazy or bored enough to skip all the way back. The fresher stuff will be better, I promise.

I Seem to Be out of Drugs: A Phone Conversation

Hi baby. How are you?

I’m lousy. I think I’m out of drugs.

What do you mean?

Last week I forgot to take my pills for three days in a row, and now I’m feeling it deep in my brain.

Oh. Do you think it made a difference? Sometimes I don’t take my pills for weeks at a time on purpose.

Does that make you feel crazy?

I always feel crazy.

I can’t tell if I feel lousy because the drugs are out of my system right now or because I forgot. Maybe I just hate myself because I forgot. Now I’m punishing my brain by making it feel bad.

If that’s true, then it will work the opposite way. Think happy thoughts. Think about…um.

I lay in bed this morning and dreamt about aborted fetuses of friends, all grown up. They looked like race dogs except in their faces.

I have been trying to clean my apartment. I stare at the mess and the crap for an hour and then I turn on Montel. Then I sleep until 8 pm and then I call you.

I think it has to do with this heat. This heat just saps the drugs right out of my system. The happiness sweats away.

I know. I stay inside. I have to stay inside anyway or other people will smell me. I am ripe in the summer.

How long before I feel like myself again? Three weeks? I can’t wait that long. I’ll kill myself. Everything looks different. In the middle of the night, I can’t remember who my boyfriend is sleeping beside me, and I think of running away.

When my brother was in the hospital, he tried to kill his roommate once. He got his own room out of it though.

I want my own room. I want to hibernate there until the drugs are back in place. I miss the drugs. The drugs were making it all work. I feel like I’m just a prescription form waiting to be filled.

Have you tried talking to your therapist?

I accidentally missed my appointment and now I owe her $100 for nothing and it’s embarrassing.

Yesterday I spent half of my rent money from the government on colored pens and pencils.

I spent my last $20 on Mexican food. I couldn’t stop eating it. I could focus on the chips and not my own supply. I could dip them.

Last time I went to the doctor, he told me I lost nine pounds.

That’s great. That’s what I’ve gained in a week. Every night I say no more ice cream and then I discover ice cream for the first time and I hate it for making me feel better.

Coffee and cigarettes make me feel better.

Those are expensive habits.

Maybe, but I know a barrista and I smoke Kools.

At college I found an old man at an auto parts store who sold me local cigarettes for $10 a carton.

Sometimes I just smoke butts that I find lying on the sidewalk.

Sometimes I throw out the cookies and then dig them out of the trash can later.

What time is it?

I don’t know.

Do you want to come over? You can’t come inside because there’s no floor left but you can meet me at the frozen yogurt place.

I can’t. I’m sick. And I don’t have any money to buy stuff with and it will just make me more depressed because I can’t eat anything. I’m just going to stay here and count the minutes. Maybe make some macaroni and cheese.

Put on some music. That helps me.

Music makes me cry.

I’m reading a good book.

What is it?

It’s about shame.

Can I borrow it? Actually – nevermind. I am already reading something.

What?

An erotica novel. I found it at the bottom of a stack.

Is it sexy?

I guess. If you’re into sex.

Only with myself.

I gotta go. That dog is barking next door again and I can’t stand it.

Okay. I hope you feel better.

Thanks. I love you.

I love you too.