Friday, March 18, 2011


Tonight I had the distinct honor of reading at Mortified Chicago, a reading series in which willing participants get onstage and read ephemera from their youth.  It was fantastic/horrible, and really funny, and great to hear everyone's horrible/ fabulous stories.  Here's mine:

My name is J.P. - in 1988 I was 16 going on 17 yrs old -- I was in my junior year at a boarding school in Poughkeepsie, New York, I’d transferred out of regular high school after the 9th grade because I was getting really terrible grades.  In April of that year, I met a boy named Mick, who lived in Brooklyn, where I lived when I wasn’t at boarding school during the week.  On our first date we saw the Spike Lee film “School Daze,” and once, when we were talking on the phone, he played Pink Floyd’s “Wish you were here” to me on the guitar, it was very tortured and romantic.

April 30th, 1988.

I have never lived so much in one weekend.  I have never laughed so much, I’ve never talked so much, maybe I’ve cried as much but not like this.  Like this it’s like a shooting star came by and left a silver dust in my eyes.

I know I am bleeding, but I am a woman, and a woman is most a woman when she bleeds.  I was bleeding when it started too.  (Aside - for the men in the audience, this means we dated for approximately 28 days)

And where did all those lights come from?  Did god put them there?  What’s so scary about the cornfield anyway? 

I must confess, I have no shame.  It’s true; it’s shameful how much shame I don’t keep inside.  It was I that insisted on knowing all about Mick’s wet dreams.

June 20, 1988

Mick is everywhere.  I ran into him five times yesterday and once today.  Can't he stay in his own neighborhood?  Every time I see him he's on 7th avenue.  Why?  I mean, it would be one thing if I was on Eastern Parkway when I saw him, but all 7 times I've seen him in the past 3 days it's been right here on 7th avenue.  Twice I saw him right across the street.  What's he trying to prove?  Okay, maybe I'm getting a little carried away.  But you know he's probably saying to all his friends "I wish she'd stop following me."  That boy is too much.  I'm wondering if he's part of what's been going on with the phones lately.  Playing with fire.  I just don't get it.

June 24, 1988

The cigarette ashes on my windowsill look like bird shit.  Somebody calls your fucking name.  FUCK YOU you're everywhere.  Yeah, don't think I didn't see you duck into Lisa Polanski (a clothing store) what were you doing, trying on women's clothes?  Jesus, you really piss me off sometimes.  "Hey everybody, its Mick the dick."  "Have you ever been Micked over?"

June 28, 1988

I'm having a dilemma - Mick has my earring with him and I'm not sure I want it back.  He's kind of scummy - but at the same time he's my friend.  He's going after Melissa Wolf, and he's already gotten Robin.  I feel like I'm just another slave of his harem.  I mean, how much would it prove if I got my earring back? 

This is really ill - he's going for both Melissas (there were two of them) and Robin.  Somebody has to castrate him quick.  Some of us have more control over our hormones than others.

I then wrote the following letter to Mick, but I didn’t just send it to Mick, I read it to him. To his face.

June 28, 1988

As you may or may not have noticed, I've been bitchy to you on and off.  And it's because, well, I'm getting offended at some of your behavior.  And by this, yes, I mean your "going from woman to woman like the honey bee goes from flower to flower".  It's really hard for me to watch you because I know I would never let anyone treat me that way, but it's very hard for me to separate me from them.  I mean, I know that I wasn't treated like that but I feel like I'm just like another girl and it makes me feel so cheap.  And I know I can't ask you to stop, but as a friend I'm asking you to please stop and think about what you're doing because even if you think that what you're doing isn't affecting anyone, you're wrong.  It's affecting me, and it's affecting the general atmosphere of things, and it's affecting other people.  And it's turning me into a dissing machine.  I feel like I have to be rude to you to maintain that I'm not one of them.  And being rude doesn't really help anything, it just makes things unpleasant.  So if you could just stop and think about what you're doing, or something, I'd really appreciate it.

July 21, 1988

Why don't I just start dating Claus Von Bulow?

So I kept on obsessing about Mick – and I continued to be a terrible student, and ended up having to go to summer school.  And over the course of the summer I read "Catcher in the Rye".  And it really made an impression on me – I even quoted it on my senior yearbook page with the line “I always pick a gorgeous time to fall over a suitcase or something.”   I wrote this journal entry mere hours after finishing the book, entirely in the voice of Holden Caulfield.

August 9, 1988

So I’m sitting here reading this book about some kid who lives in New York City and goes to boarding school and totally fucked up his junior year, among other things.  And I’m sitting there saying “Jesus this book is about me.”  I mean it really was.  And then I got really depressed like I do sometimes when I think too much about what’s gonna happen to me later on and stuff, so I took my cigarettes and went for a walk.

Now I’m not a smoker, it’s just that I smoke.  Believe me there’s a difference.  A smoker will buy a pack of cigarettes every day.  I’ll buy a pack of cigarettes and stash them away in a drawer for three months before I touch them.  This particular pack was almost finished, I bought it in June.  I never smoke them in public though, for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I’d ruin my priceless angel image that I seem to build for myself whether I like it or not, and everybody’d think I was a smoker, which I’m not, like I said I just smoke.  The second and most important reason I don’t smoke in public is that this particular pack of cigarettes I had, they’re really just about the most retarded cigarettes you’ve ever seen in your life.  Capris.  I got them cause I wanted to see how thin they were.  Jesus, if you’re going to smoke a cigarette, smoke a real cigarette, not one of these fancy thin Capri bullshits.  It’s embarrassing if people just see them in my drawer, you know, who the hell smokes Capris? 

So anyway, I grabbed my jacket and my cigarettes and went for a walk.  I couldn’t believe how late it was.  It was 3:30 when I looked at the lounge clock, and there were still people sitting around the lounge.

“Hi Jess,” my roommate said.
“Hi,” I had to say something, even though I really didn’t feel like it.
“Are you going to see CSN?” Rajiv asked me.  (That stands for Crosby, Stills and Nash.) 
“Yeah,” I said.
“You got a ticket?”
“Yeah, kind of,”
“Did you charge it?”
“You think you could charge me one?”
“Well, Allison charged it for me,”

I left the lounge and walked outside.  I couldn’t help it but all of a sudden I started to cry, and I don’t cry too easy.  At least not here.  It’s like I have to put up my defense and all, I know that sounds awful, but you have to do that around here.  I’m not saying it’s a bad place or anything, but still I wouldn’t want to walk around the halls crying.

So I go outside and I’m crying and I light one of my goddamn capris.  I figure as long as I’ve got them I might as well smoke them.  It’d be a waste to throw em out, even if they are retarded.
So I take in a huge breath of smoke and exhale.  Things got a little dizzier soon, cause I have a very low resistance to cigarettes.  I could take two drags off a cigarette and you’d think I was fucking drunk, I swear.  I start walking crooked and shit, it’s a riot.  It’s also another reason I don’t smoke in public.

So I’m walking along, just letting the tears come out and smoking a goddamn Capri cigarette, and there’s nobody out on account of its 3:30 in the morning.  I was a little scared, I’ll admit that, but I needed to get out.

So I’m thinking to myself "my God this book is about me."  And it really made me depressed because it really was, and it really made me think about stuff.

So I’m thinking and all of a sudden I start thinking about Mick.  Now Mick is this jerk I used to run around with for a while, and whenever I’m in trouble I seem to think about him.  And I was thinking about all the crazy things he did.  Like one time when we had to dress up formal.  Now you’ve gotta understand, Mick is always dressed up, so when we had to dress up formal, I thought “Jesus, how’s he gonna get any more dressed up?”  Well you know what he did?  He showed up in red polka dotted (boxer) shorts.  It killed me.

Or the time I was wearing my Amnesty shirt with the dancer on it and he said “Why’s you’re goddamn pizza bleeding?”  And I guess the dancer did look a little like a pizza, but I’d never noticed it.  That killed me too.

So I kept thinking and I thought how absolutely pathetic I am sometimes.  I mean, he was just a kid right?  So why do I think about him every time I’m in trouble?  I don’t know.  I never understand men.

So then I sit down and I’m not crying anymore, and I’m on my second cigarette.  And I think to myself “Jess, you know you’re probably just overreacting.”  I’m good at that, it’s my specialty.  I always get overemotional when I’ve stayed up too late or something, I’m like a little kid that way, it’s pathetic.  So I’m thinking that I should probably just go to bed and sleep it off.  So I go back and it’s 4 already, so I head for bed.  And all of a sudden I’m so tired I couldn’t do anything if you paid me to.

Really, so I don’t even bother washing my face or anything, I just take my lenses out.  I don’t even bother cleaning them, and I take my shorts and my socks off and I get into bed.  I’ve never slept so hard in my goddamn life I swear.

You never know what a good piece of reading can do to you.  It’s kinda dangerous sometimes. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


at Massmouth last month in Boston, where I was judged harshly for going off topic. Photo by Paula H.S. Junn.

I've kind of been burning the candle at both ends, if working in a gym and making appearances at local storytelling venues can be considered burning the candle at both ends.  I'm a featured reader this Thursday at Story Club, and I couldn't sleep because I was thinking about what to read.  Meanwhile, I've been ignoring this blog.  I thought I'd stop in and say "hi", and post this goofy picture of me telling my UTI story to a Boston audience.  While the judges at Massmouth gave me a bad score, the audience responded really well.  At the intermission - when all the women lined up for the ladies room, I got more than one "you were robbed, I don't know why the judges did what they did!"  Which was hilarious, considering it was coming from women who were waiting in line to pee  Even from my seat on the stage (it was standing room only, and people were encouraged to sit onstage if there weren't any actual seats left), I got a couple of mouthed "you were great!"s from women sitting in the front row right after my bad score was unceremoniously written in black marker on a sheet of paper on the back wall.  Hooray for the ladies at Massmouth!  Boo for the judges!  Ha!

Okay, more soon I promise, hope you all slept well.