19.6.12

Another Girl Finds Its Place in the Happy/Fuck and Run Continuum



WORDS BY LAURA JANE FAULDS/ DRAWING BY JANE ALMIRALL



Last summer was boring but in retrospect kind of beautiful. It began at the end of May, which is the color green, and at the end of May what I cared for was the song Happy by the Rolling Stones.
        That past January, I'd read Keith RIchards' book, which I called The Keith Book or My Keith Book or sometimes Keith: never Life, and I fell in love with the Rolling Stones, the same way I fell in love with the Clash, only that time, I didn't want to write about it. I didn't want to write about rock and roll ever again, I thought. Writing about rock and roll reminded me of the saddest thing that ever happened to me; it was writing about rock and roll's fault that it happened as I saw it, and I didn't want to put myself back in that place. I didn't want to open myself back up to the possibility of it happening again: highly flawed logic, I realize.
        So I fell in love with the Rolling Stones and let it sit and settle into me, get all deep and good into my bones, and by May, I was a little less sad that I'd been in January, and I listened to Happy: I only listened to Happy. In the world. 
        It made so much else. I related to Keith: "Mick's the rock, and I'm the roll"- he said that himself, in the Keith Book. And I liked that, the roll, it sounded so easy. Like a shell on the beach, letting the tide roll over you. It sounded chill as opposed to aggro: everything's got to be one of them, as I see it. And it sounded through my ears like it was in my gear, like every song I love: it's about me. It's about being a scrappy fuck-up who likes being a scrappy fuck-up and wants someone to love them for being a scrappy fuck-up but is coming to terms with how hard it is to find someone who can effectively love a scrappy fuck-up with their whole body and self, for being a scrappy fuck-up and not in spite of it. 
        
(Right now I am writing this on my friend Kritty's patio and she just put on Champagne Supernova and pushed a chair over to me and I put my feet up on the chair without even noticing I was doing it, like when the doctor knocks on your knees with the hammer or whatever. The chillest reflex ever- Keith's roll in full effect.)

        When I left my old blog last April, I made up a rule for myself: I was only allowed to write fiction, because writing anything else meant terrible ego-things about me. This was extremism, yes, but I needed it. I needed it more than this paragraph can hold. Point is, I wrote a short story based around Happy by the Rolling Stones, and I loved it. Every three months or so I get better at writing, and with that story I made a tremendous jump. I grew considerably more than I usually do when I grow. It was a gorgeous feeling, reading it back and understanding that I had written it. That I had written it. 
        But speaking of terrible ego-things: it wasn't good enough, to just have written it. Walking home through the park a few nights later, I made a deal with the Universe: I would sacrifice anything, everything, to get this story published. I asked for no man and no love, and would willingly rob myself of all the prosaic ego-pleasures that thrill strangers. I've always responded really well to the concept of asceticism: it's the easiest way in the world to justify self-sabotage.




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It was a long summer, because it wasn't a good summer. July took up as much time as three regular months; it was Endless Summer gone awry.
        I walked home from overnight shifts at 8 in the morning and I felt like I lived in Saudi fucking Arabia. The air was so dry you could just about crack it in half, and the sun was white. Every day felt like an eclipse day, where if you looked at the sun you'd go blind, it was such a loudmouth of a Leo of a sun, a neglected obnoxious child always begging you to look at him do some stupid shit you don't care about; every morning, it picked a fight with the day and it won. I'd once written the sentence I like the sun, but I'm not like the sun. Last summer I changed it to I don't like the sun, but I'm like the sun. 
        I'd stop into the Portuguese bakery and buy a cheese and tomato sandwich on a rye bun, the kind of bread with dust on top. They wrapped it in paper that was paper on the outside and silver underneath- unwrapping that sandwich was the highlight of my every day. Jess and Erin and I got high in the park, and Erin and I would talk about how much we hate Toronto: "Toronto??? Ontario??? That's so bleak." Jess asked us where we'd rather live and we went on for fifteen minutes, naming every single city in the world. 
        My roommate went out of town for the week, and I got really into Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair. I'd play Fuck and Run really loud on the kitchen speakers, curled up on the floor under the table like a cat. I Tweeted, "RT if yr a chick who's ever listened to Fuck & Run and cried" as I listened to Fuck and Run and cried. A lot of chicks RTed it. 
       The last dude I'd slept with was a benevolent nerd, OR SO I THOUGHT. My therapist was really pro- me going after this guy because dating a nerd seemed like an appropriate comedown from dating seventy five thousand assholes who thought they were rock stars but really just were assholes in a row. He stayed over the second night I moved into my apartment and I did not want to believe I'd try to love him. I always start out telling myself I'm going to be a playa this time: fuck a bunch of guys, fuck a bunch of guys over, never give one tenth of a fuck about any of it. But I just can't pull it off, because I want to fall in love. And I'll convince myself that any man is worth falling in love with, without even noticing I've already developed a tight and sound argument that I explain gracefully to all my homegirls as I imagine him saying the same five sentences I've been imagining men telling me since I was sixteen. And then a week passes, another week, and I'm in his bedroom, and it's gross. His breath tastes sour, which is an omen, and then he tells me he's a robot. 
        "You're not a robot," I tell him and he says Yes he is, he says he's a computer. Some other weird shit happens, and he asks me if I've ever read David Foster Wallace- God, like, FUCK. Is this because I'm a writer? Is he trying to, like, speak my language?
         "I don't know. A little bit. Not really," I say, and he asks me if I've read a story I've never heard of, and I'm all, "Hmm. No, no, I don't think I've read that one." Like, "Oh, perhaps I may have come across it..." And then he quotes it, he tells me this quote, this quote to mean This is who I am. And it's about being a lizard. I've Googled "david foster wallace lizard" so many times trying to find it but to no avail. But he knew the quote by heart. There was a part about no one wanting to touch his scaly skin I think.
        He goes crazy, he must be on drugs: either Asberger's or drugs, I think, is the answer. He grabs me by shoulders so hard there are bruises of his fingers on my shoulders tomorrow. He shoves me up against a wall and screams "NO" in my face and I can smell his nasty breath again. He hurt me. He really hurt my shoulders and back.
         ("So then I just stood there, like... what's the word? Cowering? Does it mean, like, to shrink down pathetically in fear?"
        "Yeah, cower. You probably cowered."
        "Yeah. I definitely cowered.")
        His bedroom is bare white walls, a mattress on the floor, and a thousand computers and computer parts. He grabs me and takes me over to one of the computers, and yells another This is who I am thing: it's a screen. He's a screen. It's a program-thing. One half of the screen is black, and there's a triangle with one short side and two long sides, isoceles maybe. On every corner of the triangle is a neon green dot. He tells me, he's being pretty unnecessarily growly about telling me, that this is the thing he's doing. The coding is an algorhythm or whatever, designed to make the angle of the triangle, one of the angles of the triangle, move by like one degree.
         I stand there, looking at the stupid triangle, looking at the stupid dots, trying to make myself understand. I don't know why I bother doing that. He tells me to get the fuck out of his bedroom and I look at him, once more, before I leave. A few weeks later I try to write a short story called The Night I Looked Into the Eyes of the Man I Thought Would be my Boyfriend and Saw Pure Evil but I couldn't get much further than "Her hair was pulled back into the desperate ponytail of a woman whose hair has finally grown out to the minimum length a ponytail requires," "Her ponytail reminded me of a little piece of poo."

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As an artist, I relate to Liz Phair more than almost anyone. We both do the same "I'm going to say all the things I'm not supposed to and be a big old vulnerable asshole about it" thing- it's called the "sweetheart/badass dichotomy," and Ernest Hemingway invented it.
         God bless us tough guy sentimentalists, the note of sadness resounding loudest through the snarl. It's sticking I want a boyfriend in the middle of your brassy ode to hating sleazebags, it's a man famous for being a raucous drug addict admitting I need a love to keep me happy. It's hating someone harder than you ever knew it was possible to hate someone, but still wishing he'd come back and break your heart all over again; you never wanted to hate him. You wanted to love him.

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It was a brazen, sultry August, and the sun was behaving like the hugest macho dipshit honking down his car horn at your body 'til your ears bled, sticking his tongue down your throat with bare dead eyes and one eyebrow cocked. When I think of that August I think of the smell of my roommate's shit: the worst part about living with roommates is everything; the second-worst part is having to pee or brush your teeth after they just used the bathroom, pretending to yourself that everything is totally alright and normal and there is nothing in the world unpleasant about living your life inside the stink of a stranger's shit.
        That summer, Liz and I made our Beatles zines, and I was working on a story called Another Girl, named after the Beatles song Another Girl. It was an okay story, a sassy little lark about having bad sex with a dude who didn't deserve me, blah blah blah, poor Laura, men are stupider than her, ha ha ha, sex is gross. Wine wasn't working, and I was bored of myself- all I could do was put on a record, check the Internet, wait it out. Oh, that's cool, Laura. Check the Internet. That's a really smart thing for a writer to do. No, no, the Internet, though- it could be good. I had a Tumblr; I could Tumbl something. Gmail, Facebook, Gawker maybe... my old Hotmail! If I wanted.
         I put on Exile in Guyville to make myself feel bad about not having written it, and got sucked into a Liz Phair Wikipedia wormhole because whatever the fuck. Things about Liz Phair, Liz Phair did things. Liz Phair's past relationships; the shittiness of Why Can't I. This new weird song about Bollywood where she raps and it kind of sucks/is kind of good. Exile in Guyville was written as a song-for-song response to Exile on Main Street, yeah I think I already knew that- why Guyville? I'm confident she could've thought of a cooler name for her fake man-town than Guyville. Exile in Dude City, even, I would prefer. Yeah. It makes a lot of sense that 6'1" is Rocks Off, Soap Star Joe is so not Sweet Virginia, not even close girl! Divorce Song is Ventilator, that's neat. And then, you know, I'm sure you can see where this is going. 
         I realized that Fuck and Run is Happy, and I started to write.

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Summer reveals itself in blackening shades of yellow, and ends on the last day of August. September is transparent; it's the only colorless month. I wrote it, and it was great. It's still great! I ripped apart every sentence until they told exactly the truth, and that's how I got it to be beautiful. They say the devil's in the details, but so is everything else.
        And yeah: it's both of those songs, but it's also neither of those songs. It's a member of the only club I ever wanted to join.
        Last summer was a sweetheart and a badass, a tough guy sentimentalist, a raging jerk-off with a heart of gold. It beat the shit out of me for three straight months, but in the end, it couldn't help itself: it gave me a happy ending. 
         It worked, you know, that deal I made with the Universe. On August 29th, I found out my story was getting published. It came out on the last day of the month. 

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At the end of February I took drugs with a stranger and I couldn't leave his bed because his heart was beating really fast and I was afraid he was going to die. I put my hand on his heart and told him "We're strangers," and I thought about that word, strangers- it's a very cool word. The world is full of strangers and we call them all strangers. There are entire countries full of people and they are strangers and will stay strangers forever. 
        His heart calmed down and I napped. He asked me, "Is it cool if I eat your pussy and play with your butt while you sleep?" 
        No, was the answer to that question.
        I walked home in the cold listening to Straight to Hell on headphones, wiping blood off my lips from where they'd been cut by the cold. When I got in, I walked straight to the bathroom, before even taking off my boots. I wanted to look at my eyes in the mirror, to check if they were dead. They weren't, and it irritated me, actually, the extent to which they shone: as if none of it had ever happened, and I was happy.

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Summer started early this year, on the Saturday I drank cheap champagne out of a Venti iced cup and wrote a short story about all the different ways to kill yourself at a sushi restaurant. Two days later, on the Monday, I sent it out to my favorite literary journal. It was accepted for publication on the Wednesday. It's coming out in December, which is nice: December's black, and I'm going to need it.
        On the same day I got that Yes, that Wednesday, I came home from the gym and saw I'd received an email from a stranger. Her name is Jane Almirall, she's an artist, and she'd drawn a picture: the picture at the top of this page. She named the picture Another Girl, after my story.
        I don't know if Jane's Another Girl is Happy and Fuck and Run too, but it's definitely my Another Girl. And that day, that Wednesday, it's not the day I found out I was getting a story published anymore. That day was the day I realized I am capable of being for someone else what Keith Richards and Liz Phair were for me last summer, and I love that girl. She just ate off her own hair, but she's happy. She's like the sun and she likes it. 

4 comments:

  1. It's a wonderful thing to have a Keith, Liz and Laura Jane. <3 _ <3

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have seriously missed your writing since you left your old blog.

    I stopped writing a long time ago and it's been bleak since then, but your writing inspires me to want to pen to paper again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. this comment means more than anything & i am so grateful. rest assured i am back!

      now GET WRITING!!!!!!!

      Delete