Monday, October 27, 2014

factory girl

the clothing manufacturing factory i worked at in china let nothing go to waste. i'd fallen out of favor with the floor manager and he'd pulled me off piece work and put me on my feet for my 17 hour shifts gluing scrapes of fabric from the floors around the cutting tables into patchwork yardage that would eventually wind up as cheap (nearly one time wear...) garments to be sold in bulk in africa. for weeks now i'd been waking up with headaches that stayed with me the whole day. i had no doubt it was from breathing in the volatile compounds off-gassing from the adhesives i was using to glue the pieces together. it was well known that the gluing room was a kind of death sentence- but  i wasn't having nosebleeds yet, so i comforted myself by thinking that maybe i wouldn't get leukemia like the others.

i sent most of my meager pay back to my family on the farm and after i paid my employer for my job station, i had just enough left over for a week's worth of cheap ramen and a loose black tea that was mostly stems. i thought about my mother and father almost all the time. i worried that my sisters would leave the country and come to the filthy city to work in the factory like me.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

andrew b. hayden

andrew b. hayden was a baby sitting in a wooden high chair. he did not want to wear his shoes or keep his dinner on the tray. he was not exactly crying, but since he was preverbal, all of his dissatisfaction manifested in the form of angry sounds and little balled up fists covered in smashed peas wiping the wooden tray like hammy, stubby windshield wipers. his fretting mother wore a simple 1940's house dress and was in perpetual motion gathering up the green smears from the floor.

as i sat comfortably in the kitchen chair a safe distance from the lilliputian chaos, i sipped my coffee and watched without a single thought of helping in some way cross my mind. the coffee was strong and delicious. i thought about how much work it was to raise a child and thought again about whether or not i should get another dog.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


she was a falconer and i was a queen traveling incognito as a pauper. I paid attention to every detail before me as i journeyed through my kingdom.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


she was so angry. her degree had put her in a giant financial hole and now her boss had increased her hours (without pay) and handed her a piece of paper with the address and telephone number of the welfare office in response to her request for a living wage. i walked with her to the bus stop and waited with her until it came. as i walked back to my own office, i began to feel waves of sadness. by the time i sat down on the couch near my desk, i was an absolute wreck and could only lean forward holding my face in my hands. lili's sadness and frustration had turned a key inside of me and all of the lonely parts of the changes i'd made in my own life in the previous months were starting to kick me around in the surf. i didn't even realize giant john had walked into my office until he put a gentle, concerned hand on my shoulder. the simple compassion of the gesture opened a floodgate and soon i was hiccuping tears. giant john's face turned to panic. he began to pat my shoulder as though he'd broken me and mumbled out disjointed instructions for me to 'stay put' while he got help. his care and confusion seemed so sincere and adorable, it only made me cry harder. by the time hugh arrived i was curled up in a fetal position with my head resting in a puddle of my own tears. hugh walked in, pulled me into a sitting position, moved as many of my soaking wet hair strands from my eyes as he could before squeezing a motorcycle helmet on my wobbly head. he threw an arm around my shoulder, walked me to his bike where big jon picked me up and plopped me as carefully as he could behind hugh. 'you hold on now' instructed big john. i nodded weakly that i would. hugh slapped my leg as he revved the motor and kicked up the stand. 'don't worry, girl, nothing bad is happening and everything is really, really good. we're gonna ride until you feel better, okay? i wiped my nose with my sleeve before i slipped my arms around hugh. he took off with so much intensity, i stopped crying and concentrated on keeping my seat in the saddle and hanging onto hugh. soon, the only thing i was thinking about was how many stars of light were resting on the surface of the water and how nice it felt to be tucked in with the wind rushing in my face as we headed north on PCH.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

crossing paths

we kept crossing paths. performances, lectures, restaurants. always we would lock eyes for a moment, sometimes smile- but most often trade an unspoken question before we each turned attention back to the venue and company at hand. one day i passed him as i was entering and he was leaving the dry cleaners. again, our eyes locked and we smiled warmly at each other, but neither of us broke our step. as i put my laundry on the counter, a strangely familiar touch travel down my arm until i felt electric fingers entangling magnetically with mine and in a moment my hand was cocooned tenderly in both of his. i turned to him and for the first time we shared words. 'your hair is different,' he said as he gently lifted up a few strands 'your hair is always different every time i see you...' i smiled, 'well, that is true.' i affirmed. 'why haven't we ever-' before he could finish, i interrupted, 'that is a mystery isn't it?'. we stood facing each other and for that time everyone/thing seemed to be in suspended animation around us. without breaking the spell, i said. 'do you want to go see what the day might have in store for us?'. 'yes,' he answered most sincerely, 'i do. i really, really do.'

i left my laundry on the counter, waving goodbye over my shoulder to the shopkeeper as always- but this time i was stepping into an adventure.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

green toes

kelly put the last stroke of clear-coat on my toes and patted my leg with a smile, 'just a few minutes to dry, hon, and you'll be good to go. i smiled back but did not answer. as kelly picked up her things and went on to her next client, i looked down at my mermaid green sparkling toes (a special color in honor of my impending voyage) and assessed my legs; more sun than i typically liked, but they looked fit and pretty. i knew i was as strong as i needed to be for the adventure ahead and the satisfaction and pride i felt about all my hard work made me smile again. i sat for a few minutes more and then gingerly slipped my toes into my (dedicated) leather pedi flip-flops being careful not to dent the uncured polish. through he window, my friend and i spotted her father coming out of the market with a mother-load of supplies. 'does he know how small the boat is?' i asked my friend. she nodded 'yes' and rolled her eyes in exasperation. we slipped out of our chairs, paid kelly and then headed toward the car. i beeped open the back door from across the lot and as the tailgate 'mysteriously' yawned open before him, i could see that my friend's father seemed annoyed that he could not be annoyed that he'd been left waiting by a locked car. we both laughed as he shook his head and started to load the groceries. as we walked toward the car, i caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection of a window and laughed out loud. i looked so girly! i had on my favorite 'johnny was' summer shorts and top (again, emerald green in honor of my journey), my hair was down in piece-y, beach-y waves and with my delicate leather flip-flops definitely looked more like i was about to go on a high-end shopping spree than spending the next 3 months climbing over the rigging of a sailboat like a monkey. when we reached the vehicle, my friend's father aggressively took the shotgun spot as i crawled up into the drivers seat of the giant tahoe (a vehicle that always made me feel like it was using the blood of baby fur seals to propel itself). as we pulled out of the parking lot, i spotted 3 older women trying desperately to wrangle 3 stray dogs out of traffic. as i put my car in park, my friend's father barked, 'just leave them!'. ignoring him, i opened the doors and whistled to the dogs. immediately they all came running and with a little help on both ends (grabbing collars/ pushing butts) jumped up into the truck. the ladies were nearly in tears with relief. my friend wrangled the happy, panting, stinky dogs into the back of the tahoe to sit with the groceries. my friend's father was fuming. at that moment i decided we would sail to catalina first and put him ashore with a ticket back to the mainland. there was no way he would be agreeable to helping any distressed sea life we encountered along the way (fully half of the reason we were going...). later, when i shared my intention with my friend, she enthusiastically agreed. my friend and i discussed the best place for the dogs and made a detour to drop them into safe hands.

when we arrived at the dock, our small, beautiful boat was waiting. she seemed happy i thought. we began to load supplies and it really took forever. by the time we finished, most of the day had gone and the waters were choppy. my friend's father insisted we start sail right then and there. after some discussion back and forth, we reluctantly agreed. after we cast off, almost immediately we were getting drenched from the waves. i realized that even if we were in ideal conditions, my friend's father just added too much weight to my spry little boat. we headed back to the slip and told my friend's father we would try again the next day if the water was calm.

when we reached the dock, my friend's father stepped off the boat without a word or a look back and headed to his car. my friend and i stood on our now buoyant little vessel and watched as he drove aggressively out of the lot. i looked down at my drenched outfit and started to laugh. my friend assessed herself and did the same. we laughed until tears fell from our eyes. we happily secured our little boat and agreed that we would leave just before dawn the next day- without her father.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

les moonves

les moonves had requested my presence at a meeting to figure out malin's new show opening. i was thrilled. the theme centered around christmas and so i brainstormed and painted a story board with a beautiful vintage 'White Christmas' theme. malin would start at the top of a magnificent white bannister stairway (which was draped in christmas greens) with the camera behind her, as she finished up the last strokes of tidying up using 'Our Sponsors Best Ever Cordless Vacuum', her head would come up when she heard the bell chime to her front door. as she easily switched off the vacuum with 'a feather-lite touch of one toe' and she began down the stairs, the camera would swing around and move in front of her to see her descending with smiling, twinkling eyes and joyful look of anticipation. the camera then cut to outside the door, over the shoulder POV of her guests (arms loaded with gifts and yummy dishes for the holiday dinner...) and as malin throws open the door with an expression of pure delight and warm welcome, a satin ribbon title appears over the scene and her theme music begins.

the only thing missing was bing crosby.

i was early and found my spot in the conference room. i felt confident and happy. just as i perfectly placed the last piece of my presentation, the room was overrun with over-dressed lower ranking new york executives who tore at my boards like hungry vultures as they claimed the bits and pieces as their own. by the time les arrived, my boards were in tatters and the greedy suits were all screaming over me as they waived fragmented bits of my concept in the air and ad-libbed their 'brilliant ideas' behind. i tried to make an opening to speak, but it was useless. finally i'd had enough. i folded up what was left of my work, grabbed back what i could and before i headed out the door said loudly, 'i will tell you, that as the world's first black supermodel, (the snowy white malin now sported naomi cambell's rich, ebony complexion...) malin will NEVER agree to the vacuous ideas being put forward in this room.

i was beyond angry as i crossed the lot to my car. i dialed malin nearly in tears and told her i was on my way and please have a glass of wine waiting.