Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Thirty Chronicles: The Last Ten

thirty looked different at twenty. it certainly looked much older than it feels today, and i'm very thankful i’m not turning twenty this year. that was a sweet enough time when life seemed so limitless and people seemed so genuine, but it was also a big waste of time, because people in their early twenties are a total waste of cells.

i certainly was, strutting around as I did, convinced i had already unlocked the mysteries of the universe when i was still figuring out how to do my laundry properly, perplexed every time a wool sweater shrank in the wash. those were the salad days, when i could subsist on a diet of coffee and cigarettes and think nothing of the way i was ruining my credit. ten years and twenty pounds ago.

if i could talk to my 20-year-old self today, i’d give her a good shake and smack -- and a long hug, though she'd probably fight me off. she was a bit angry then, capable of mega-bitchiness, and wholly convinced of her immortality and infallibility. she could have never conceived of the minefields and piles of quicksand that she would encounter, the obstacles needed to humble her.

not that my twenties were so horrible, but they had their mania and moments of despair. i changed cities a few times, must have lived in ten different apartments, gone through numerous jobs, boyfriends and paradigms. it was like a decade-long coming-of-age film that i've surely romanticized in being something better than it was.

i know i won't miss my twenties, as i spent most of that time being poor, confused, anxious and fearful. sometimes i cook it up to be something so pure, an age of innocence even in its anguish, but when i go deeper and remember my excesses and missteps, the many nights of lying awake wondering what will become of me, i am so thankful a new demographic is here to wipe my slate.

but if i had that coveted hindsight to do it again, the opportunity to give my 20-year-old self the shake, smack and hug i needed, my stubborn ass probably still wouldn't have listened. perhaps if i stabbed her and wrote the following in blood, it might have gotten her attention:

• quit smoking. it's doesn't look so cool, especially in california, and it makes you smell bad.
• calm the fuck down. you'll waste so much time trying to be tough, independent and self-assured that you'll forget how to be yourself. i know that's who you want to be, but that’s not who you truly are. you’re sensitive, insecure and needy, and you’ll still be that way at 30. get used to yourself and know that it's ok to be vulnerable. it doesn't mean that you're weak, only that you're human.
• be nicer to your parents. they have been so good to you.
• in general: eat more bran, take better care of your skin, never drive drunk, use condoms every time, exercise more, whine less.
• at 23, you'll fall madly in love and be persuaded to leave San Francisco just as you begin to enjoy your life there. don't move back to LA for this man; make him move north instead. a few years later, you'll have the opportunity to attend NYU for grad school. GO!
• trust your instincts more than your heart.
• cherish your friends. they are even more important than you already think they are.
• your writing is atrocious now, but keep trying, though avoid writing poetry altogether. you’ll also keep a blog in your later twenties. it will be a cheap 'sex and the city' ripoff that will amuse your friends and cause you occasional embarassment and intruige.
• don’t skimp on personal hygiene products, coffee, the perfect gift for someone else, a good mattress, a good haircut, sushi.
• on men: give up the fairytale. your happy ending is not guaranteed. it's work and you will make mistakes, but you'll keep trying because you are a romantic at heart. and you won't be married with kids by 30 like you think, but that's ok because you will still like your life.
• don't worry so much. nothing is insurmountable.
• there's more that i'll need to tell you offline -- additional stuff on men, about drugs, and the self-destructive and depressive tendencies you'll be grappling with always. some mistakes you'll need to make; others you don't need to make twice. when you finally know better, do the right thing.
• talk less, listen more. swallow your pride sometimes. stay out of your own way. trust life to take care of you.

now go get 'em, tiger.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Friday, June 02, 2006

I Made It Through the Wilderness

and at the other end was beautiful inglewood, california, where i saw Madonna perform the other week. madonna. madge, madge. fucking madonna. the one, the only madonna. in inglewood, at the Great Western Forum, where the Lakers used to play before the Staples Center, named after a bank that no longer exists.

i was stoked on getting the tickets, figuring i would never again have the opportunity to see my childhood idol shake her 47-year-old moneymaker. i paid a fortune for the seats, which were among the crappiest in the house, just five rows away from being the row farthest from the stage. greedy bitch charged about 350 smackers for the floor seats closest to the stage, meaning the crowd consisted of professionals who could pay that ticket. not a kid in sight. plenty of fags in sight, however, many with their fag hags. my extra ticket went to my bi friend Dee, the hetero hag i’ve known since college. we arrived late, of course, reaching our nosebleed seats about 10 minutes into the show when “Like a Virgin” was ending.

Like a Virgin. that song is THE madonna song for me. i remember singing it around the house, completely oblivious to what it meant, gyrating my pre-puberty hips, arms overhead, determined to become the virgin Madonna made sound so fantastic. it became my grade-school quest. i think i even asked my mom once, “how can i be like a virgin?” i must have been 8 years old.

the thing about Madonna is that everything she touched she legitimized, from sex and blond hair to marriage and motherhood. she owned it. androgyny, disco, fashion, religion, gayness, england. she embodied it. she made being a slut respectable and never apologized for a damn thing. Madonna was the secret alter ego every girl wanted to have. and as this was a time before Angelina Jolie, Madonna was also every girl’s secret lesbian fantasy.

sadly, i had long thrown out my black spandex bicycle shorts and the ruffled skirt i would wear over them. i also couldn’t find a lace bow to put in my hair for the show, but i had some bangles -- though none rubber -- which i piled onto my wrist. i almost shed a tear when i realized i missed the song, my song, coming into the packed Forum as the chorus of “whoa-whoa-whoa-oh” was ending. fucking traffic.

but she made it up to me... kinda. on the whole, the show was great, the performances energetic and the dancers very sexy, but the music just blew. she performed too much new stuff, much of it from her last few albums, none of which i was interested in. i kept waiting and waiting for the hits -- and she threw me a few bones a la “La Isla Bonita” and “Live to Tell” but i still left feeling cheated.

come on, Madge. i know you want to stay relevant and be the artist of today, but admit that your best work is behind you, far behind, like in the ’80s. don’t fret, because the world is still interested in everything you do, but as a musician you’ve peaked already. it’s not a secret and it’s ok to play the old stuff. you are the artist of my youth, the powerhouse who taught me to Express Myself and to Justify my Love. i haven’t bought a new album of yours in ten years and i don’t plan to. i wanted to see you Vogue and wear that pink Material Girl dress and you insisted on closing with Hung Up.

also, Madge, and don’t take this wrong, but your live show could use some work. something about it was strangely out of touch, especially that bit about gang violence. and we’ve all seen you playing with crucifixes and crowns of thorns before; it’s not shocking the millionth time. i did appreciate all the motivational altruism on display, with images of starving kids in africa and videos of Bush and Blair being assholes, but the moving stage, overdone lighting and big-screens made it so theatrical, so Cirque du Soleil. plus, your live singing voice was mneh and all that interpretive dance was tiresome.

but hey, i still love you. you’re Madonna and you’ve earned the right to do whatever the fuck you want without having ungrateful little shits like me judge you. you and that midas touch of yours will always stay on my radar. your impact cannot be overstated or paralleled. you are still the answer to the fourth wave of feminism. and from what i could catch on that big-screen, your ass looks amazing.

still forever your fan.