31 January 2006

boob tube

i was never allowed to watch talk shows
which made them endlessly appealing to me

I would stay home sick from school with diet cherry seven up, liptons chicken soup and paperdolls, all I needed spread out on the coffee table and the princess bride in the tape player
but as soon as my mother left the house I would flip on the television,
scan through the channels,

the screen would glow bright with
longlegged lolitas, ball-breaking jailbirds, incestuous cousins,
I would stare wide-eyed as oversized drag queens paraded across the box
shaking what god didn’t give them
the aphrodites would raise from the audience, born in the waves of excitement, screaming ‘how can you live like this? you are a disgrace’
Aphrodite the hermaphrodite
which garnered responses of hiss and blur from the pink and turquoise stage.

girls in short sequined skirts would dance on imaginary poles, shouting, can you believe I was a geek in high school? a thousand pound woman would brag about her lovers
or a punk rock goth boi would be made under into mr republican 1993

the phone would ring, and I would answer, exaggerating the weakness in my voice ‘yes mommy I feel ok, but I wouldn’t say I feel good.’
‘are you watching television? what are you watching?’ she would ask
‘just price is right, mommy.’ it wasn’t any use, she always knew the truth, even if she didn’t hear the audience screaming ‘it’s a man! no it’s a chick!’ in the background. ‘they are talking about a blender’ I would say. ’12 dollars!!! $12.50!’ I would add for affect.

she could tell I was eating up the 12 year old Mexican runaway, the Saturday night latex model/ Sunday school teacher. my eyes devoured the salacious titles,
‘I was fat but now I’m all that!’
‘my man will stay and you will pay!’
‘don’t be crazy, you know its your baby!’

I learned the terminology of daytime tv, like ‘cross dressing’ and ‘paternity test’, ‘three way’ and the perfect way to drag my words when saying
that just ain’t right.’
and it just wasn’t right. but it was perfect
it was the world outside of my cul-de-sac, a world bathed in neon lights and techno beats, where everyone has an opinion, an identity,
and a rhyming juxtapositional slogan.
some of those men were the women I wanted to be.

[the rainy season]

one day crawls the sky with black
and following are
Mississippi summers, but that is quite long
by me,
only me bollywood and the girls

all in the same place all
who we are in the same place,

no where
all being.

is and in
a londonite train small and clearly delicious

the Catherine
that smoldering scot which wins each French man
with his spirit
and a soft accent

the bottle precisely does disappear and not a responsibility
not No not a step No
required : the need the whole

30 January 2006

how a bad joke is born

i was waiting to be xrayed as part of my green card process.

my head was heavy because my boy hadn’t called in four days and I was convinced his car was wrecked in a ravine.

I went in the little room and the woman told me to take my shirt off and stand against the wall

“Are you pregnant?” she asked me.

I looked at her, paused, looked some more. I was a few days late, I suppose.

“Do you speak French? Are you pregnant?” she asked again.

I had understood what she said, and at most any other time in my life it would have been an easy reply. “No” I said, though it came out as more of a question than a response.

“the procedure is dangerous for the fetus” she explained. “are you sure you’re not pregnant?”

getting an appointment at this place had taken three months. “I’m not pregnant!” I said to her, with a stronger and more certain tone.

she carried on with the process, xraying my chest and then sending me back out to the waiting room. I was all white.

“whats wrong?” anna asked. “what happened in there?”

“well, I think I am pregnant and I just deformed my child who’s father hasn’t called me in four days.” I replied.

And that was how Lou Deformo was born.

24 January 2006

la fille des baobabs

Our second day in Morondova we decided to drive out to the Allée des Baobabs. It was sticky hot and my flip flops made sand cake on the back of my legs. The trees were larger than I had imagined them to be. Thousands of years were in their trunks. White and strong and thick, with the leaves brushing the clouds in spurts on the tops.

I walked along the sand path and almost immediately a little girl approached me, with the greeting I had become accustomed to, “Salaama Vozaha!” basically, hello white person. Her voice was sweet and high and matched her pretty face. She was wearing a dirty skirt that hung to her knees, and no shirt covering her little girl body.

“Salaama” I said, looking down at her.

“Comment tu t’appelle tu?” she asked, inquiring about my name.

“Je m’appelle Lola” I said to her.

“Lola” she mouthed. “Lola.”

She had asked so casually, as if we had been seated next to each other at a dinner party or were rubbing elbows at a bridal shower. She wasn’t afraid of me and wasn’t off-putting in her boldness. She reached her hand out in order to put it in mine, as opposed to the thin, bony fingers always reaching towards me, palm upturned, sad begging eyes saying more than the meager “Madame??” coming from tight lips.

I took her hand and we walked along the allée. I told her there were no baobabs where I live. She giggled and skipped, and I wondered if she even understood what I had said. Her short life had all been lived under these trees, these monsters. They were as natural to her as daisies or pines.

We passed by her village. A little boy ran up to me and proudly pulled the wings off of an unsuspecting butterfly, lifting the carcass up for my approval. The little girl brushed him away, she was possessive, I was her vozaha. Then she started singing.

The song was like little bells ringing. It was a French children’s song, and the way she sang it with her soft Malagasy accent made the notes dance in my ears. “Will you teach it to me?” I said. She did, and we sang it together as we walked back down the allée. I got back to the car and looked down on her big brown eyes. “I have to go now, ma petite. I’m sorry.”

I cupped her face in both of my hands and just looked, just looked at her. She was so beautiful. I had seen so many beautiful women, bent over in rice fields, two babies tied to their backs. Beautiful women had sent their children out to me on the streets. “Un petit peu Madame? pour partager?”

She lifted her hands back up to me but she was too small to reach my face. She looked at me with pure love and acceptance. I wanted to give her everything.

I wanted to tell her to be good and study hard in school. I wanted to tell her to be strong. She pursed her lips and waited. I bent over and kissed her. “Au revoir, ma cherie.” I said. “Valoom.”

23 January 2006


Dear Readers

I have spent the last several weeks clearing my mind and my bank account in the hills of Madagascar. Thank you for your sweet comments. I will reply when I have shaved and slept and drank tap water.

Réunion has never felt so refreshing. Madagascar is a strange, beautiful beast.

05 January 2006

i'm breaking your monopoly on my words/ breaking with a snap/ snap

you don’t have
morals like me lola,
you don’t even believe in god.
and (you’ll cheat on me, I’m sure,
when I am gone.
c’est pas toi, c’est moi.

I wore my brown dress (anna said you could never leave me in that dress) she was wrong.
when you told me you don’t trust me I cried mascara streaks all over your shirt.

(history- what a funny thing, I would have left you too)

is it that you don’t ever want to see me again? ever? I sobbed -- now is not the time to correct my French, professor -- he thinks I am pretty when I cry.

holding in the hallway (I think you should go) you wanted to take me to my bed (one last time) I almost said yes

just to have you around
just a little bit


02 January 2006

Diversity Essay

I am diverse. I contain layers and multitudes.

I do not fit in a box.

Unless it is a really big box.

01 January 2006

open letter to law school

Dear Sir or Ma'am,

This is a swiss cheese application.

I am somewhere right in between, in the holes [the wholes], in the voids. I am that smudge on the corner. I am the paper clip dent. This is a swiss cheese application.

Enclosed are all the minutes -ticktockticktock- of everynight that I have lay awake thinking of you. The dampness is my pain and worry. This application is my 15 year old child and I can't stop my neurosis. She is out of my hands now but I hope that all I have done for her will lead her home at night.

It comes down to this: I will work hard for you. I will make you proud of me. When I leave your fine instutition I will make millions of dollars and give them all to you; you don't even have to give me a library or dining hall in my name. Just send me that letter now that says

we want you. we believe in you.

Please. Please.

I promise you.

Look there. Look in the holes [the wholes]. This is a swiss cheese application.
Thank you sincerely for your 5 minutes.

Yours truly,
Miss Nobody

PS I was eating babaganoush at dinner parties when I should have been saving children from burning buildings and then drafting new preventative legislation. I'm sorry.