Sunday, May 8, 2011

Life is Short

...and please, kids, don't forget it!

This weekend has been a blitz of preparation for final exams, last minute reports, checking various family members in and out of various rehabs, and the usual barrage of guy dating drama. After a long day of not studying and a long 20 minutes of stressing about wasting this weekend's ample academic opportunities, I did what I always do in times of stress: call Liz.

After dialing I realized that she likely had to get up early tomorrow and was in a later timezone than me. But she answered the phone cheerfully. Conversation as follows:

Jyll dials Liz.

"Hi! What's up?"

"Wow, someone sounds wide awake. What are you doing?" I ask, relieved that she is awake and happily settling into the couch for a long overdue Sunday night chat.

"Oh, I think that's the morphine. I know that it's supposed to knock you out but I'm wired!"

"Wait, what? Where are you?"

"Well, actually I'm in the hospital. I got hit by a car today."


All jokes and glib remarks aside, y'know...we joke about how fast things roll by, and how suddenly things change. You can be riding your bike to work like Liz and find yourself on a stretcher being rushed to the hospital the next. You can be going about your day thousands of miles away, and not know that your best friend has nearly been crushed to death by a minivan, or that she was millimetres away from hitting her head and cracking her skull open. It changes so fast, and it happens whether or not you are there, or aware of it. You'd think that when something happens to someone that you love, that you'd be able to stop it, or change it, and you'd never dream that something could happen to your loved ones while you're dithering around a shopping mall in central Texas or piddling through the store on a routine grocery run. It's quick and it's dirty and it's vicious and it's pure luck that this time, it was a near miss, and that this time, it didn't happen to her. Or, selfishly, that the loss of a great love didn't happen to you.


(After various details were given, profuse reassurances uttered, and composure was restored):

"Lizzie I just still can't believe that you're--I'm going out first thing tomorrow and buying a helmet!"

"No you won't."

"Well, I won't ride with my ipod on!"

"Yes you will."

"God, I am so glad that you're okay."

"Oh, you know what's not okay??? My favorite dress! They insisted on cutting it off of me. I was like, 'no just pull my shoulder through the sleeve', I mean it was only broken it didn't hurt that bad, but the assholes just ignored me and now it's completely ruined."

"The Banana Republic wrap dress?"


"The hell is wrong with people?"


some things never change.

Thank God.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

October in Bushwick

by Jyll

Just got back from the gym. First time I've gone in months, if we discount that hilarious stint with that trainer back in September (and believe me, I do). I just go and mess about on the elliptical machines, because I'm too intimidated by all the boys to go near the weights, but man it feels good. I love this gym, too. It's in an old wherehouse. It has a row of 16 barely working treadmills, two floors of weights, black and white TV's with wrestling and telemundo, and official commissioned signs (as in, they paid someone to make these) posted that say things like, "If U Walk On The Tredmill Backward U Will Lose Ur Membership!!!" and "DO NOT WEAR BOOTS ON THE EXERCISE EQUIPMENT THIS IS NOT A CLUB".

The guys there seem pretty cool, too. Maybe I'll join one of their gangs.

Guess I should mention that this is in my new and beloved neighborhood of Bushwick, out in Brooklyn. My area is basically a Mexican ghetto that is steadily gentrifying by the minute, which means there's still good food and good times to be had but enough cops and hipsters around that the risk of mugging goes down by like 76%. Living out here in the barrio makes me feel right at home, I feel like I am back in California. It's been so hot and humid that it's still like borderline summer out here, and no one knows how to summer harder than Mexicans. Mariachi music blares, windows open, little scream-y Mexican kids run around the streets, their parents sit on the stoops and talk, and you can smell what Abuela is cooking from the middle of the block. It's fun. And they do it until well into the night, like, little kids will be up running around until 1 or 2 in the morning on a school night. Must be so fun to be one of those kids.

Nearly time for bed but I wanted to post before I half-assedly plan Saturday's lesson. I teach a 4-hour ESL class to adults, and I told them that we'd have a Halloween party in class. Forgot that I am going to be something slutty this year and that it'd be highly inappropriate to teach a class dressed as a bumblebee whore, especially if I want to get tenure. What can I wear that I more or less have in my closet so that I don't have to spend $$$? Any ideas?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Women, Food, and God. And Oprah.

by Jyll
San Francisco, CA

My little sister Aria and I are holed up in bed, watching Oprah. We didn't do much today, apart from drive her to her new chemical dependency rehabilitation center, park outside, decide the place was a hole (it was) and drive back home. That sounds like a lot, but after the last week, which more or less consisted of Aria swallowing half a bottle of vicodin, me flying down here from NYC to spend the night with her in the ER/ICU, her doing it again the next night, and me being so over-nerved that sleep, basic conversation, and things such as 'showering' and 'meal time' became remnants of an era long gone. So, anyway, today was not a very stressful day, considering.

After 9 hours of psych evaluations, pharmacy runs, and consulting with her counselors at her out-patient program (and by 'consult' I mean me telling them to take our $200 a month premium and contract to a better facility) we came home and put on jammies, pulled out the trashiest, starchiest, sugariest junk food we could find, and commandeered our mother's bedroom (complete with king size sleep number bed, flat screen TV, air conditioning, and 1000-thread-count sheets). She will probably be less than thrilled to come home from work and find cheetoh prints all over her sheets, and maybe a little upset that little Aria isn't checked into rehab, but I did lock the medicine cabinets and I'm sure I'll remember to wash the sheets at some point this week so it should be fine.

My mom had some Oprah tivo-ed, and I insisted that we watch it, especially because it seemed like the episode would be about fat people. Always reassuring to see people with far more weight to lose than you ever will, especially after a long day. The topic was a new book, Women, Food, and God. The author is a life-coach, or whatever they're called these days, and she works with women who use overeat food to fill up various holes in their lives. She maintains that women express who they are in every thing they do, and when one stuffs oneself with food it is an act of defiance or great sorrow. When we lose our connection to the greater universe at large, we supplement by filling ourselves with food to try to hide the pain.

It was a very interesting program, and as Aria and I watched it we downed a box of crackers with dip, half a Costco-sized bag of popcorn, cheetohs, PBJ, popsicles, a bag of some organic hippie flax seed arugula chips, chocolate, and a family sized pack of chocolate chip cookies that weren't 'tasty' so much as they were 'there'. So much for awareness. Even though we, and by we I mean I, knew what we were doing, we were so stressed and as the author would say, disconnected, that those cookies were better than anything that we could talk about or think about. After spending two weeks with my family, and especially with my baby sister that I adore (but who rivals Lindsay Lohan in both attitude and lifestyle decisions) but can't really help right now, I have to say that those nasty cookies were the closest thing to calm that I've had in a long time. Roth is definitely onto something. And of course just I'm self-aware enough to know enough about the wonderful world of eating disorders. I am definitely eating my worries about Aria, and focusing on hitting serotonin receptors with chocolate rather than actually acknowledging my feelings of what I assume are shades of grief, anger, guilt, and complete and utter terror at the thought of losing my baby sister to the demons of addiction and self-destruction. Sure is a lot easier to deal with those cookies, though.

Women, Food, and God
By Geneen Roth

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rainy Day Women

Bus to Boston (the bus has wifi)

It is pouring rain outside. The wind is 35 mph, and it's cold. It's an all around miserable day. I'm not one to talk smack about a day based solely on the weather, but when that weather blows water into my makeup and makes my hair look like my mom's circa 1993, I get a little snippy. I decided to sit by the door so that I could be the first to leave but as we're at a reststop and the driver left the damned door open I'm rethinking that decision. We're in Connecticut right now, it's as cold and wet and soddy out there as you can imagine. A few people got off to use the restrooms, and I was just going to sit on the bus and stretch out but I realized that I'd never peed in Connecticut before, or even set a foot on Connecticut soil, so I ran off the bus and did both. Nothing to report, though. Connecticut feels just as rainy and miserable as New York, although the bathrooms were nice.

I'm heading to Boston to stay with a friend for a few weeks while I figure out what my next move is. I have quit my comfortable, rent-free job as a live-in nanny in Manhattan and am going to try and get a Real Job. And since I want to remain friends with Liz I'm headed to my friend Jon's house to job hunt and apartment hunt. Not that Liz would mind putting me up, she's a saint, but I'm a messy houseguest and annoying on a few different levels and I don't want Liz's roommates to start associating her with me. Jon has no roommates, and he's a guy so he's a pig anyway.

Today I packed my stuff up, everything I own fits (barely) into a large rolling suitcase and a duffel bag. I intended to somehow lug it to Penn Station on my own, figuring that I'd probably throw my back out taking it down the stairs but that I could sleep it off tomorrow. Liz, however, had different ideas, and the little angel enlisted her two best friends who were here on vacation to help me out. I've never had anyone help me move before, be it apartments or countries, and while I've spent many an afternoon lugging, and I do mean lugging, several overstuffed suitcases through trainstations and streets by myself I've never had anyone help me. It was nice on a physical level, eg my back is in great working order at the moment, but even more so on a personal level. A good friend is truly the best thing one can have. And she is a good friend, because Manhattan was a giant puddle today, rain blowing sideways at gusts of up to 50 miles an hour, and her having worked a 9-hour-shift and having slept less than 6 hours the night before. She's a right legend, she is.

So here I am in Connecticut, soon to be in Boston with old friends but thinking about my good ones in New York City. Be back soon!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Liz is...

by Liz

…eating the corner nubs of a day-old croissant.
…drinking expired orange juice.
…listening to Brandi Carlile at the cafĂ©.
..."Time is tickin' on me / Alone is the last place I wanted to be."
…sucking Skippy from a silver spoon.
…lock and key.
…benevolently judgmental, if there ever were such a thing.
...accountable, if there ever was such a thing.
…hovering around her coffee cup as if it were a furnace.
…thinking about old friendships.
…licking her lips at the thought of an afternoon catnap.
…contemplating future cat names: Sugarfoot or Cat Power?
…listening to Eva Cassidy.
…going to change her name to Rose. Not really.
…straddling an inferiority and a superiority complex.
…listening to U2.
…"If I could / I would / Let it go / Surrender / Dislocate”
...daydreaming. Waiting. Dislocating.
…wearing a $9 blouse.
…spilling drops of black coffee on her $9 blouse.
…listening to Laura Nyro. Moving on.
…increasingly fond of James Taylor.
…contemplating frankness (and its worth).
…sitting at 9:25am without a single customer.
…looking down at a plate full of fishfood; of croissant confetti.
…hoping he doesn’t come in with his girlfriend.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hi, My Name is Liz and I'm an Introvert.

by Liz

A few months ago, in August perhaps, I sat on a bench in Washington Square. A girl my age approached me, clutching a black leather binder. "Can I ask you a question?" she implored with an inordinate amount of sweetnees. "Where do you get your hair cut?" My hair was, at the time, an orange bramble, impressively untamed. I realized she was hawking spa services, but played along for the moment.

"Mmm, I don't. Haven't had a haircut in almost a year. Can't afford it."

"Oh. Well, then. I suppose you don't want to take a look at our services..."

"Sorry, really. I can't afford it."


She took a few steps, then stopped. She paused. "What is it that you do?"

"I'm a barista."

"Oh. Where?"

"East Village."

"Oh...what else do you do? Like, in your free time?"

"Um. Hmm. I sit in parks. And think. I sit on park benches and think."

"...I see that."

A few days later, as the morning shift at the cafe was ending, a co-worker asked a similar question. I sensed a certain air of reproach, and responded defensively.

"Liz...what do you do? Like, when you get off of work?" the teenager asked.

" know...hang out. Go to the park. Or a movie."

I once read a magazine article which posed that American society values extroversion over introverted behavior, tending to view the latter as negative, abnormal or counterintuitive.

The article also attempted to re-explain the two behavioral types, relating them to the way in which one gains energy. Extroverts, the article stated, are solar panels; they absorb energy from others. Introverts, though, are rechargable batteries; they require adequate alone time in which to recharge themselves.

I should think that most people fall somewhere between introversion and extroversion; I suppose one's behavior is also dependent upon their current mood and frame of mind. But beyond politically correct equanimity, I do require an inordinate amount of alone time. I enjoy movies, candelit bistros and long walks on the beach...alone.

I was reminded of this today, at the cafe. I stood behind the counter, arms crossed, staring into nothingness. I was interrupted by my Russian co-worker.

"Lizzy! Do not think so much!"

I've been admonished before; I'll be reprimanded again. It's inevitable.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And in keeping with the holiday spirit...

by Jyll

I am ready to never eat again and it's not even Christmas yet. This season has truly outdone itself in fried, gooey shit that I can't resist. So much for 6 months of carb-free sugar-free livin.

On Saturday, my dad picked me up at the airport with a traditional California meal:


This was followed by Going Home And Doing Nothing With my Sisters. Except by 'Doing Nothing' I mean eat cheetohs and watch Rock of Love.

It's been fun though, being back home in the mountains with my family. Last night we had my favorite: fried deer liver, cooked in the style of my late grandfather*.

*in bacon grease

It was amazing. And an excellent meal for me on many levels, because a) I adore it, 2) it reminds me of Grandpa, and d) eating it makes me know for sure that I'm not a yuppie (yet).


My dad says to note that this "big sucker" (the deer) was "shot by a woman."

After all this cheetohing and fried deer livering, I'm bound to return to New York at a healthy weight for my height and frame. Fuck that. Fortunately I found some of my mother's medifast from the 80's (best-case scenario, early 90's) in the attic, so I'll be doing that for the next two weeks. I want to look properly heroin chic when I ring in the new year.

Seriously, though, fried deer liver. You simply must try it.