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A Woman's Worth

There was a Lauryn Hill shaped hole in my heart in the years between her debut solo album, "The Miseducation . . ." and the MTV Unplugged acoustic album released in 2002. Thankfully, during her absence, Alicia Keys came along. Hal Davis, the president and CEO of the Songwriters Hall of Fame announced today that Alicia Keys will receive the Starlight Award, which honors gifted songwriters in the early years of their careers, at the 2005 Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards gala.

Alicia Keys stands out among the waste that proliferates as American pop music. Beyond the obvious reasoning that she is a trained classical musician, she is also able to inhabit a song and give it life. Most starlets on the music scene today know how to decorate the video. Some can even reasonably mimic the notes of an "improvised" trill to give the effect of vocal competence. However, few if any have proven any adeptness as soul music artisans. Alicia Keys is the exception.

It is surprisingly difficult to craft a good pop/soul song. Lyrically, the song should be simple, but not trite. It should be able to reveal the heart, not the cliche, of an emotion. It is not (or should not be) as simple as plugging the appropriate adjective into the equation. If it was so elementary, then there wouldn't be a difference between: "I don't wanna bore you with it, oh, but I love you. I love you. I love you," and "I just called to say 'I love you'."

This video is from a song on "Songs in A Minor." Cuz a real woman knows a real man ain't afraid to please her.
Sing it girl.


link * Miss Marisol posted at 2:03 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 2:03 PM   |



I hate it when the words don't come. You send out the psychic invitations and patiently wait in front of a desperate white page. You sit with a cup of coffee. A goblet of wine. A large martini. You light a candle, burn some incense, light a smoke, put your hair up. You wait. And wait. And wait. And the words don't come.

You get up, pace the room, open the window, turn on Air America, turn on some music, feed the cat, eat a cracker. You sit down again. And still the words don't come.

You adjust the margins. Try a new font like Verdana or Minstrel. You wait. You open a window for a game of Solitaire of Free Cell. Play an illegally downloaded mp3. You try to make the words come. Thinking that even bad words are better than no words, you start to type. You type your name over and over and over. You see if there is a synonym for your name in the Word 2003 thesauras. No synonyms. No words.

Last night, Patrick and I went to see Leonard Lopate broadcast his radio show from the Titus theatre at the shiny new MoMA. I love Leonard and I hope I attain some sort of relevancy in New York culture someday and get to be interviewed by him. The theme of the program was "collaborations" and one of the collaborative teams he interviewed are the screenwriters (and married couple): Tamara Jenkins and Jim Taylor. Jenkins is the writer and director of Slums of Beverly Hills and Taylor is a collaborator with writer-director Alexander Payne. They co-authored last year's little film with a big heart, Sideways.

Jenkins talked about how living with a writer could be really difficult for anyone, writer or not. There is a certain amount of whining and self-loathing that you experience when your work is to mine the human condition for interesting stories and then to find interesting and original ways to express them. I can't speak of all writers, but for me, it is very difficult to define exactly how the writing process works. It is even harder to predict when it will work.

People who know that I try to confine my work week at Florent to three or four days think that I must lead a charmed life. And I do to a certain extent. But, on those days "off" I am certainly not laying around on silk cushions and eating bonbons. I spend a lot of time researching publications that might accept something that I have written (or am writing). Usually, these jobs are non-paying. I spend time revising and editing things that I have written and I spend time starting new writing projects. And some days I sit in front of a blank screen and feel immensely sad. I realize the state of the world and the tragedy of human suffering across this planet. My sorrows are miniscule in comparison to, say, a woman my age in Sudan or Iraq. I realize this and I realize that it is also completely valid to be sad for a future that appears to me as only an endlessly blank white page.

Posted by Hello

link * Miss Marisol posted at 1:03 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 1:03 PM   |


Ahh....The Midwest...

I seem to keep encountering these insane news stories and the all seem to come out of the Midwest. Having spent a portion of my life in that area, I can't say I'm surprised. This is the kind of place where there will be an ice storm in the morning, a heat wave in the afternoon and a tornado at night. It can make you a little kooky.

For example:

In Michigantown, Indiana (wait...it gets funnier), pet shop owner, Bryan Dora, claims that a turtle who survived a fierce fire that killed 150 other animals now sports the face of the devil.

According to reports:

They say the intense heat of the fire revealed distinctly Satanic eyes, lips, goatee and pointed devil horns on the shell of the creature, now named Lucky. Lucky lost two tank mates in the pet shop fire, but he, somehow, came through the ordeal unscathed. Owners Bryan and Marsha Dora plan to sell Lucky to the highest bidder.
The couple saw their exotic pet business gutted by the fire and most of their animals killed.
After discovering Lucky's markings, Mr Dora became convinced their turtle was not alone that night.
"The marking on the shell was like the devil wanted us to know he was down there," he told the Frankfort Times newspaper, Indiana.
"Regardless of the cause, I feel the devil was present. To me, it's too coincidental that the only thing to come out unscathed would have this image on it."

Mr Dora and his wife believe it was the heat of the fire which may have caused Lucky's shell to change colour, revealing the new markings.
(Wait...it get's worse...)
In a bid to use his story to help rebuild their shattered business, Bryan Dora produced a DVD, called "The Pet Shop Story of Lucky the Turtle", which he plans to auction on eBay.
Unable to sell Lucky because of eBay rules against selling live animals, Mr Dora plans to offer the turtle to the highest bidder in an off-line sale.
It is unclear to what extent Lucky's Satanist credentials will enhance his sale value.

In Royal Oak, Michigan, pastor Mark Byers of the Calvary Church urges his parishioners to bring their guns to church. This was brought to the attention of the Royal Oak police because Byers also admits that he allows senior staff at the church's day care and school to carry concealed weapons. Pastor Byers claims that he brings his own handgun to church and keeps it on his person while he is preaching. Apparently, his gun once fell down his pant leg and he just kicked it under the pulpit and kept on with the sermon. His son, David Byers, stated a week ago, "If you can't get behind the vision of the leader, you are in the wrong church."

And finally, in Bay City, Michigan (home of Madonna!), a 12-year old boy pummeled the Easter Bunny at the mall. Bryan Johnson, 18, who portrays the Easter character at the Bay City Mall, suffered a bloody nose. He kept his cool during the attack, deeming it inappropriate for the Easter Bunny to fight back. But he's not willing to forgive and forget. "They (the sheriff's deputies) told me it was up to me, and I feel that the boy should be prosecuted," Johnson told The Bay City Times.
Johnson told Bay County Sheriff's deputies that the boy hit him in the face at least six times before running away.

The same thing happened to an Easter Bunny in a mall in...wait for it...Wisconsin.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 12:40 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 12:40 PM   |


You say "Easter." I say "Esther."

On Ash Wednesday of this year, I was sitting in a bar having a martini at Varjak. The bartender there is this wonderful Irish woman, Caroline. She remarked to me how early Easter is this year. Certainly, all around the city, I had been encountering people on the street with the tell-tale smudge of soot on their foreheads. Turning my coat into the cold winter blasts at every corner, I also thought, "Could it be already?"

Since then, I seem to have been a part of more conversations about Easter than any year I can remember. There is a lot of confusion to the Protestant public about the whole Lenten season and because I was raised Catholic, I am often expected to know the answers to their inane questions. Specifically, "What's so Good about Good Friday?" My response has been, "I'd really rather not discuss it."

Ask any lapsed Catholic and they will tell you, we try to block all that minutiae out of our brains as soon as the Confirmation outfits come off. The moment I step into a church, though, it all comes back. I remember when to kneel and when to stand, every word of the Nicene Creed, the way the dry Communion wafer sticks to your tongue and melts into a tiny wad of paste in your mouth.

I may not agree with the politics of the maligned Catholic institution, but there was a time when I was wholly devout. There was a certain comfort to the ritual of it all. It gave me a sense of what it means to honor a tradition, to be a part of something vast.

After I read Christopher Moore's Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal (one of my top 10 all-time favorite books), I had a wonderful realization. After spending most of my early adulthood forgetting about the tenets of the church, I remembered what makes religion interesting: the stories. The story of Jesus is indeed an interesting tale. You can choose to believe what you want about him. But, if you remember that he was just a man who was also once a boy and a teenager, it makes it easier to see why so many people want so desperately to believe.

And, for those of you who simply must know, here you are:

In Christian countries Easter is celebrated as the religious holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God. But the celebrations of Easter have many customs and legends that are pagan in origin and have nothing to do with Christianity. Scholars, accepting the derivation proposed by the 8th-century English scholar St. Bede, believe the name Easter is thought to come from the Scandinavian "Ostra" and the Teutonic "Ostern" or "Eastre," both Goddesses of mythology signifying spring and fertility whose festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox.
The Christian celebration of Easter embodies a number of converging traditions with emphasis on the relation of Easter to the Jewish festival of Passover, or Pesach, from which is derived Pasch, another name used by Europeans for Easter. Passover is an important feast in the Jewish calendar which is celebrated for 8 days and commemorates the flight and freedom of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt
The early Christians, many of whom were of Jewish origin, were brought up in the Hebrew tradition and regarded Easter as a new feature of the Passover festival, a commemoration of the advent of the Messiah as foretold by the prophets.
Easter is observed by the churches of the West on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or following the spring equinox (March 2I). So Easter became a "movable" feast which can occur as early as March 22 or as late as April 25
Christian churches in the East which were closer to the birthplace of the new religion and in which old traditions were strong, observe Easter according to the date of the Passover festival.

Easter is at the end of the Lenten season, which covers a forty-six-day period that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter. The Lenten season itself comprises forty days, as the six Sundays in Lent are not actually a part of Lent. Sundays are considered a commemoration of Easter Sunday and have always been excluded from the Lenten fast. The Lenten season is a period of penitence in preparation for the highest festival of the church year, Easter.
Holy Week, the last week of Lent, begins its with the observance of Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday takes its name from Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem where the crowds laid palms at his feet. Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, which was held the evening before the Crucifixion. Friday in Holy Week is the anniversary of the Crufixion, the day that Christ was crucified and died on the cross.
Holy week and the Lenten season end with Easter Sunday, the day of resurrection
of Jesus Christ.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 2:18 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 2:18 PM   |


I Got A Boy in Kalamazoo-zoo-zoo....

This image and other fabulous ones like it appear in the misterg8s blog.

In a perfect world. . . Posted by Hello

I met g8s in college because we lived on the same floor of the same dorm and we had a beautiful friend in common. (We actually met at a Denny's during my infamous elbow dancing phase, but that's another story entirely.) I had a memory today of going to his room and saying something like, "Hey...We're, like, meant to be friends." We chatted briefly and agreed this to be a good thing.

Later, I remember seeing him in the staircase and he said something like, "Hey. I want to shoot you sometime." By shoot, I assumed he meant with a camera, not a gun. I had heard from mutual friends that g8s was an amazing photographer and I felt such glee at being chosen by him to be a subject.

The first time I sat for g8s, I was actually standing. It was nighttime and it was cold like only Michigan can be. Freshly nineteen years old, I was wearing a tuxedo for the first time. We were on the black tar roof of an adjoining building that linked two sections of the grand old Trowbridge Hall dormitory. We called this rooftop -- Pebble Beach. When I first arrived at college, most people seemed to hide the fact that they smoked cigarettes. I suppose they were still preserving vestiges of youthful innocense. Those of us who didn't hide our dirty habit from the world, gathered in clusters on Pebble Beach and defiantly blew our cancerous Basic Light clouds to the wind.

I recall feeling a little unprepared at our shoot, not really knowing how to be in front of the camera. Most of the shots from that day were probably pretty dull. At one point, I stopped trying to pose and lit up a smoke. I remember looking away from the camera and in that moment, a relationship was born. In the print that g8s made for me, my hand is blurred in the motion of pulling the cigarette away. I am looking away and smiling because it is cold and it feels good to be outside. Instead of trying to look a certain way for the camera, I was relaxed and easy. Somehow, g8s is always able to sense those perfect moments. He has always had a knack for showing people the best version of themselves.

I have heard him speak about the qualities of light and dark. You speak to him and realize that he is one of those people who actually listens and observes. He doesn't just wait for his turn to speak. In the contact sheet above, I get to see the people that I have loved the most in the world, places that have meant so much to me and a world that is still so thrillingly mysterious to me. I always want to be able to see the world the way that he does.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 4:52 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 4:52 PM   |

Spring in New York. Posted by Hello

link * Miss Marisol posted at 12:04 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 12:04 PM   |


Like Vodka for Olives

Relationships are difficult. Sometimes you realize that, although you may love someone deeply, you do not necessarily enjoy them all the time. It is inevitable. However, every once in a while you are reminded of why you chose each other and it makes it easier to continue to make that choice.

Jason and I had a nice evening last night. We made food together which always seems to make the world nicer. People who know that Jason is a chef always say how great it must be to have someone to cook meals. Anyone who knows a chef knows, they do not cook at home so much. But when they do...it's incredible.

Last night's meal --
Coconut Shrimp with Jasmine Rice
Sauteed Fiddleheads with Roasted Poblano and
Papaya, Yellow Pepper, Cilantro Salsa

Ooh, and Fresh Coconut Pina Coladas!!!

link * Miss Marisol posted at 10:34 AM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 10:34 AM   |


Didn't even know it...

It's not raining tonight, but it should be.

on a rainy sunday night in manhattan
07.18.04 -- C.M. de la Rosa

on a manhattan night like this,
the decadent languidly dab
the smell of wet rain pavement on the soft flesh of wrists and elbows.

in short views, the yellow squares of peerless windows
interrupt black panes of perfectly stained glass night.
the carefully orchestrated ballet of ochre-dipped cabs
dissolve downtown along ninth avenue's avaricious sprawl.

couples waltz in clusters like confections
underneath the careful turtle shells of umbrella,
and sweetly turn down the blush of late evening.

the street is elegantly stippled
with a sunday evening spoonful of stalwart walkers--
the city's patient accomplices.
suddenly, the clop of a distance horse,
draws the attention of the cosmopolitan
landscape into sharply contrasted view.
the modern urban stroll is momentarily plunged
into a distant century.
the solitary mind jarred into desire's ancient base.

a wordless wish is spoken for the carriage
to whisk away this impetuous desire for endless night,
perhaps to turn the steady drop of moonless air into
a simple furrow of the city's sweeping reach,
a clandestine desiderate for eternity's elusive span.

the sonic interlude is relieved of its consequential pause.
the horn's bleat returns through the whisk of wheels
on wet pavement, journeying through another night
to join in perpetua
one lover to another.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 8:55 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 8:55 PM   |

Everybody wants a box of chocolates and a long stemmed rose.

If you were to ask someone about me, they may tell you that I am a happy person. This is generally true. However, happiness is a manufactured state. Being happy is an activity, it is not something that befalls a person just for being alive. It is work.

My thoughts today turn to happiness because it is spring. The cold shoulders of winter are no longer clenched near the ears, but are loose and free. The sun touches them lightly, promisingly. The sky is a bridesmaid's blue, a thin wrist over which recherche tendrils of cloud are lightly dragged. Really just memories of clouds. In spring, people become markedly happier. They look forward to the days. As do I. However, a part of me is sad as well.
It seems as though time continues to pass and it becomes harder to be happy. I try to be grateful for everything that I have, but sometimes I wonder how long a person can chase their shadow towards the horizon knowing they will never reach it. Is it possible that such a happy person can feel melancholy while the world becomes so optimistic? For what I feel I want never seems to be, and I fear it may be my own fault.

On that note, I turn to poetess and the 1996 Polish Nobel prize winner, Wislawa Szymborska.


I am who I am.
A coincidence no less unthinkable
than any other.

I could have different
ancestors, after all.
I could have fluttered
from another nest
or crawled bescaled
from another tree.

Nature's wardrobe
holds a fair
supply of costumes:
Spider, seagull, fieldmouse.
each fits perfectly right off
and is dutifully worn
into shreds.

I didn't get a choice either,
but I can't complain.
I could have been someone
much less separate.
someone from an anthill, shoal, or buzzing swarm,
an inch of landscape ruffled by the wind.

Someone much less fortunate,
bred for my fur
or Christmas dinner,
something swimming under a square of glass.

A tree rooted to the ground
as the fire draws near.

A grass blade trampled by a stampede
of incomprehensible events.

A shady type whose darkness
dazzled some.

What if I'd prompted only fear,
or pity?

If I'd been born
in the wrong tribe
with all roads closed before me?

Fate has been kind
to me thus far.

I might never have been given
the memory of happy moments

My yen for comparison
might have been taken away.

I might have been myself minus amazement,
that is,
someone completely different.

My parent's backyard in Maine last weekend.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 12:48 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 12:48 PM   |


What is means to be from . . .

If you drive north on Route 4 from New Hampshire, you will see a sign as you cross the state border that reads: "Maine, The Way Life Should Be." Behind the sign is a red farmhouse and rolling green hills that lead the eye to the a seamless horizon of primordial evergreens. There are cows dotting the landscape and, in summer, years ago, there was wooden stand that sold fresh corn and tomatoes.

However, Miss Hag. spent the first seventeen years of her life in Maine, and so when I return to this northernmost reach of the United States, the feelings I have are rather different. I enjoy the clean air and the way everyone is so outwardly friendly. But I also remember thinly veiled prejudice and blatant ignorance. The state politics and culture are generally progressive, especially in regards to environmental protection. But, being so far removed from the general populus also creates a certain attitude of separateness which in the wrong person becomes rejection of outsiders.

Today, one of the headlines of the Portland Press Herald regards a bill that is being fought in the state senate. This bill would force libraries to tell parents what books their children check out. It is a prime example of misplaced energies. Whoever proposed such a bill is concerned about what their children might be exposed to, but not so concerned about their right to privacy or the fact that they might not read if they feel they are being watched.
It's this bizarre self-protection that makes Maine a nice place to visit, but certainly not how I would model my life. I'll take Manhattan.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 3:21 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 3:21 PM   |


Why is the measure of love loss?

When I was in college, my best friend, Betsey, wrote, "The List." It was posted on the wall of her freshmen dorm room. "The List." consisted of characteristics that Betsey desired in her ideal man. Eventually, we collaborated on a list that numbered in the hundreds, things like: "Pronounces 'library' correctly," and "Has a job."

Some men found this to be offensive, objectifying. The idea, though, was not a list of demands. It was a list of reminders about the mistakes we had made and the compromises we didn't want to make someday. Women often try to change men or create them into this ideal in their minds. Eventually, they learn that it is best to just try to accept the other person for who they are. However, when love involves making so many compromises, a person can forget that it is not wrong to desire something unattainable, to hope for something greater. Love should be transcendant; therefore, should not our lovers be as well?

One of the most important characteristics on my list was: "writes my name in the margins of books next to meaningful passages." This was something I did/do for people I have loved. It is the pinnacle of admiration to me, to think of another while reading. This feeling came to me from a gift I received from an old friend. The gift was a copy of my favorite book, Written on the Body, by Jeanette Winterson. My copy has been read by many people. People I have loved. In the margins are notes and asterisks, other's initials. There are underlined paragraphs and circled words in black ink, pencil and blue ball point.
I circled this paragraph. Sometimes, it is all I know. . .

I am thinking of a certain September: Wood pigeon Red Admiral Yellow Harvest Orange Night. You said, 'I love you.' Why is it that the most unoriginal thing we can say to another is still the thing we long to hear? 'I love you' is always a quotation. You did not say it first and neither did I, yet when you say it and when I say it we speak like savages who have found three words and worship them. I did worship them but now I am alone on a rock hewn out of my own body.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 1:20 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 1:20 PM   |


Another Day, Another 84 Cents After Taxes

Sigh. Posted by Hello

I just finished my work week and I am exhausted. Usually I only work three days, but this week, I worked four.

If you work the standard 9 to 5 job, that last two sentences sounds horribly selfish. However, put it in this perspective. If I were to get hit by a cab tomorrow, I would be described in the newspaper (if I made it into the papers) as a 29 year old waitress. Nothing about my writing or singing or my very clean apartment. Nothing about my way with accessories and my good manners.

I would be remembered as the waitress who got hit by a cab and complained when she had to work 4 days instead of 3 a week. Oh, the humanity.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 9:02 AM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 9:02 AM   |


Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset . . .

Miss Hag. would like to apologize to her readers (that means you, g8s). She has been slacking on her posts for the past two weeks.

New Yorkers are selfish about time. Outsiders talk about how fast paced the city is and how it's inhabitants are crazed stress balls. This is true and not true at the same time. Living in New York is a complex equation of hemorrhaging money to slumlords, creating livable homes with limited space and finding efficient walking paths to destinations that are fast and attractive.

If my time were a change jar, then someone just brought it to the penny arcade at Commerce Bank while I was snoozing because I seem to be broke again. If you need to find me, I'll be at the Qi Gong massage place across the street.

Look and she's gone. Posted by Hello

link * Miss Marisol posted at 10:14 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 10:14 PM   |



Posted by Hello

And Now for Something Creative and Slightly Unreal

It was the end of the seventies. America no longer wanted to do it one more time to Captain or Tennille. I was 5 years old and infatuated with Lorne Greene from the Alpo dog food commercials. It was a time when the most popular colors for dishware were olive green, mustard gold and dirt brown. It was also a time when my body was small enough to fit fully laid out in the back of my parents' silver Subaru hatchback and still have enough room for a week's worth of groceries.

The youngest of four children, I was often forced to find the narrow, airless spaces to inhabit on road trips and in daily life. Like an afterthought or the finally period in an ellipsis, my existence was reduced to the lowest common denominator. It became my personal desideratum to mutiny this forced oblivion. Children have little capital to wager power, but all the potential that becomes spent with age. My goal was to quantify my strengths and parlay them into a desirable future.

They say Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection. His sorrow from being shunned by the image of his own face reflected in a clear fountain overwhelmed him. It literally drowned him. Imagine instead if he just learned to float.

In order to excavate meaning for myself on my little allotted space on earth, I would often spend time looking in mirrors. I would climb onto the edge of the faux marble sink in the upstairs bathroom and curl my brown legs into the oval basin. My toes clung to the silver faucet spout like a monkey grasping a spindly branch. With my face perched on my knees, I would stare into the medicine chest mirror for hours. I practiced the close-up frozen emotion shots from the end of soap opera segments. Shock! It's not your baby! Despair!His body was never found from the fire at the mill! Elation! She's back from the dead but she has amnesia! Minutes would pass without a blink, until salty tears strolled plainly down my wide cheeks. From an early age, I was an adept crier.

These periods of contemplation would be interrupted when my older sister would realize that I was missing for several hours. She would come pounding on the bathroom door.

"What're you doing in there, CHarmaine?!" she demanded loudly.

My first name is pronounced with a soft "Shhh" sound at the beginning, but my sister would always say it with a hard "Ch" sound. Like I was a verb describing what happens to overcooked meat.

"Nothinggoaway!" I would blurt as I jumped down from the sink and ran into my sky blue room.

My bedroom was adjacent to my sister's bedroom. Their themes were based on characters from the Strawberry Shortcake cartoon. My sister, being older and dictatorial, got the pink room dedicated to Strawberry herself. Her walls were as pink as fresh saltwater taffy and her curtains had images of Miss Shortcake galavanting with her pink kitten, Custard. My room was done up in the theme of Strawberry Shortcake's sidekick, Blueberry Muffin. This meant that my room was painted blue, like a boy's room. My parents felt that it was a cute thematic choice. However, the decidedly boy coloring coupled with the fact that I illogically got my brothers' hand-me-down clothes instead of my sister's made me feel kind of unfeminine. My mother also tamed my hair in the same manner as my male siblings, with the blunt kitchen scissors excising our black strands into a decidedly bowl shape.

Lacking a mirror of my own, I learned to be resourceful with what I did have. In the middle of my window, there was a shiny silver oval sticker. On the reverse side, the side facing out, was the reflective silhouette of a fireman carrying a child. The bold print words over his helmet read, "Tot Finder", a signal that a child lived in this room. With this admittedly less powerful mirror, I would continue to practice my regimen of facial expressions well into my early adolescence. By then, I had developed a subtle discipline for the art. It was during one of these sticker mirror meditations that I also decided that my nose was the problem. After consulting with the blonde, button-nosed girls from my Young Miss magazines, I became emphatically resolute.

I ran to find my mother and tell her that I needed a nose job. She was in the bathroom gently applying Oil of Olay in long strokes along her ivory cheeks. The clean gardenia smell was intoxicating. My mother had inherited the porcelain complexion of her German grandparents. The color of skin that many of the upper class Filipinos achieved through racial interbreeding with colonizing rulers. My father hailed from the lower island provinces. His skin, like mine, is brown like brewed iced tea.

"Mother. I need a nose job."

To emphasize my point, I squeezed the flat tip of my nose with my forefinger and thumb and pulled gently outward, creating the illusion of a long, sweeping bridge.

My mother glanced at me with no expression. She said too quickly, "You're right."

Not anticipating such easy agreement, I stood silently and breathed through my mouth.

"I tell you what," she continued, "If you still feel this way when you are eighteen, I will take you to the plastic surgeon myself." She then grasped my face in both her hands and smiled broadly. She shook my head back and forth. She raised her eyebrows and smiled pleasingly.

My mother's parenting skills were questionable at best. However, whether she planned it or not, her logic prevailed. I did not in fact want a nose job by the time I turned eighteen. This decision came to me after one of my cousins suggested sleeping with a clothespin clipped to my nose. She claimed a friend had tried it and woke up with a perfect Romanesque proboscis. All I got were deep red gouges like I was bitten by a mouse.

However, my image contemplations would never end. Mirrors would continue to dominate the landscape of my life into adulthood. Eventually, I would live in an apartment with no tables or chairs in the living room but seven mirrors. I lived with The Boys, three gay men whom I met in college. We moved together to New York City during my early twenties and they continue to reflect an image of me that soothes my inner Narcissus. Together, we collected these mirrors and lined them up along one wall of the narrow main room. Two of the mirrors were cheap, flimsy rectangles that we found abandoned in the street garbage outside our apartment building. The rest were collected from trips to thrift stores and rummage sales. They were sturdy wedges of thick glass framed in dark stained wood.

One evening, I sat in front of this long line of mirrors preparing for a date. The memory of my conversation with my mother came to me as I swept a thin layer of bronze powder over my cheeks. The Boys were scattered about the apartment immersed in their own reverie. The windows were open. Fausto stood outside his bodega on the corner below our apartment and played the accordion. He sang songs in Spanish about unrequited love that floated up through the night sky and died on the steel fire escape.

"Do you know my mother once told me I could have a nose job if I wanted?" I announced suddenly.

Patrick looked up from his sketchbook and snorted, "What?!"

After relaying the story of my nose and my mother's abrupt conclusion, Patrick and g8s began a tirade about unhealthy body images being perpetuated in society. Dennis had been sitting in the kitchen windowsill smoking a cigarette. He was uncharacteristically quiet and I watched him slowly inhaled and exhale long plumes of smoke. Finally, he walked over to the line of mirrors and knelt down near me and kissed me on top of my nose.

"Sweetie Darling, do you know what happens to girls who get nose jobs?"

I shook my head. "What?"

He smirked, "They live happily ever after."

link * Miss Marisol posted at 4:16 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 4:16 PM   |


Don't Go Changing . . .

Teenage angst is not new. Today, we have pills to combat the symptoms of this adolescent anguish. In the 80's and 90's, we just channeled our frustrations through meaningful song lyrics. I have always been more of a jazz, soul and r&b gal. But, for a brief period in my teen years, I fell in love with Robert Smith from The Cure. I sat in my locked bedroom with the lights out and sang along with Johnette Napolitano to the Joey in my head. My cassette collection broadened from New Edition and Aretha Franklin to include The Replacements and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I wore bright red lipstick and all black.

Although I would never have described myself a fan of the punk band, Fugazi, their song “Burning” meant so much to me when I was seventeen. I used a lyric from the song as my senior quotation in the high school yearbook. “I wanted a language of my own. I mouthed the lines of this crowd that surrounds me. Punctured and parceled, I fold my hand.” It matched my senior photo. In it, I am crouched in a precarious sitting position wearing jeans that have large red and yellow flowers hand sewn down one leg. That leg is bent at an angle and tucked close to my body. I am hugging my opposite leg close to my chest. I have bare feet and a bit of a scowl on my face. My hair is wild and curly. The runner-up choice for the caption under this photo was unprintable with the profanity. It was my favorite line from the film Heathers:

"I don't really like my friends. It's like, they're people I work with and our job is being popular and shit." Posted by Hello

In junior high, I was in a clique of the most popular girls in school. We dominated everything. We were smart, athletic, pretty and well-dressed. We made out with boys, but we didn’t smoke cigarettes. We took the free condoms from Planned Parenthood, but we didn’t use them. I carried a small faux crocodile purse to school stocked with every variety of prophylactic: colored, flavored, ribbed, glow in the dark. In the school gymnasium, there was a small locker room sectioned off from the main changing area. The girls and I took that over as our own private boudoir.

I had three lockers to myself filled with clothes that I would change into between classes. I had panic attacks before I knew what they were. If I felt insecure or anxious, I put on a different scarf or changed my pants. People at school thought I was fashionable, not crazy. What they didn’t know was that I had a disorder. I had been diagnosed obsessive compulsive before OCD was mainstream. My obsessive behavior was changing my clothes. In my closet at home, I kept a calendar of all the outfits I could make from the clothes I owned or could borrow. I made sure I never arrived at school wearing the same thing twice in my whole eighth grade year. It made me feel accomplished.

My parents complied with my erratic behavior because they were so involved in their own personal war against each other. As long as I had all A’s on my report card and kept quiet, I was fine even if my bald therapist thought otherwise. My mother barely noticed that I would often bring a bag of clothes with me to school and change several times in the car on the way there. She was the designated victim in the family and there is never room for more than one of those.

While other girls binged and purged their way around their insecurities, I accessorized mine. It is a behavior that is not clinically severe in my personality today. However, every once in a while, when I feel particularly out of control in life or unconfident about my body, the behavior will recur. I will look down and see that I am half naked and standing in a pile of clothes in front of my closet. Sometimes, I choose those moments to call my mother, pick a fight and then make myself a martini.

" And if you're somewhere drunk and passed out on the floor. . ." Posted by Hello

link * Miss Marisol posted at 12:32 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 12:32 PM   |


Like a Virgin. Touched For the Very Sixth Time


I found most of this information in a journal I kept during the fall of my sophomore year of college.

A Compendium of My First Six Fucks

The first time I had sex was on December 13, 1991. I was fifteen, M.D. was nineteen. We were in his grandmother’s car parked in the driveway of my parent’s house listening to the Metallica Black album. We didn’t use a condom and he pulled out and came on the slipmat on the floor of the passenger seat. While M.D. scrambled to untangle himself from the awkward position, I told him I was on the Pill. He said, “Why didn’t you tell me before?” It didn’t occur to me to explain; I just remember making out with him for a bit and then grabbing him and pulling him on top of me. We had fooled around many times before that – kissing, blow jobs, etc. It was quick and painless. I was impatient not to be a virgin, but when I got out of the car, I realized I didn’t really feel anything. I ran up to my room and called my best friend, Angie, who drew a certificate of congratulations on notebook paper and gave it to me the next day at school.

Losing my virginity was like opening the doors to those metal gates that holds back racehorses at a track. Once I got that pesky virginity thing out of the way, I felt the need to acquire the sexual history of a much looser (and surely, older) woman. Thankfully, I have always taken a weird interest in listing the men I’ve slept with, and in the early years of my sex life, I was particularly detailed in tracking dates and places. Fourteen years later, it would require a little more effort for me to even come up with first names of some of the men in my spotty past. When they still numbered in an amount I could count on my two hands, I spent some time pouring over the details of the men I had chosen.

And certainly, it was my choice. Although the boys were willing partners in my choice, it seems that I exerted my sway on these candidates. If you peruse my notebooks, you may find elaborate pie charts and graphs detailing my personal racy statistics.

Now, I have the benefit of these old lists to help me reference some of the less memorable moments of my sexual history. According to a list I found today, if the dates I wrote down are correct, I slept with three different boys within a month of losing my virginity. One of the boys was a virgin himself. I went from innocent to corruptor in less then thirty days.

The second boy I slept with was an old boyfriend from years before. JF and I were infamous for make-out sessions on the top bleacher of the junior high gymnasium. Once, we sucked face for the entire half-time of a junior varsity basketball game. The head coach was so appalled by our intensity that we got banned from attending games together. This was quite a controversy since JF was the starting forward for the varsity team. I had to join the cheerleading squad just to watch him play.

By high school, he still ran with the jock crowd and I got more interested in the people smoking pot. But we remained secondary friends. JF and I had done “everything but” until that night which was again in a car in my parents driveway. Apparently, the boys were fine to fuck, but not to meet my parents. He had a girlfriend at the time and she was one of the really good girls in school. My status changed overnight into “maneater” and I loved it. Girls grabbed their boyfriend’s hands when I passed in the hall and I just laughed. It was never a matter of my “stealing” boyfriends, just borrowing them. I would rather fuck the boys then pretend to be interested in whatever they had to say.

The third boy was the boy I devirginized. He was one of my friend’s brothers. (Did I have any moral fortitude?) My mother, whose parenting skills were questionable at best, allowed me to skip school that day because I told her I had a date. He had called me because he was home from college on break and wanted to take me to a movie. We drove half and hour to a theatre to watch Beauty and the Beast but the theatre was closed. The natural second choice to missing a Disney movie is apparently to lose one’s virginity. His penis was small and fat like an overstuffed cocktail weenie and the sex (if you could call it that) lasted as long as a sneeze. He was so nervous and freaked out that he immediately stripped the bed and washed his sheets. I felt like such a pervert.

Boy number four was my first uncircumcised conquest and the first time I think I experienced any degree of pleasure during the act. Mind you, I don’t think I had actually had an orgasm at this point into my sex career. We did it on multiple occasions over a short span of time; the most famous being the night we did it on the 50 yard line of the school football field while everyone else was at a school dance. Why? Because we felt like being in a John Hughes film.

I barely remember what happened with boy number five. We fucked in my best friend's parents' bed during a party. I woke up next to a different boy whom I don't think I fucked.

Most of my sexual knowledge was gained through a relationship I had with the sixth boy I had ever slept with. Over a period of less than ten months, we had sex 863 times. I kept track in a little book. We had sex in a movie theatre while watching The Crying Game, in every room of his parent’s house, in his car while he was driving, at the 1993 Woodstock concert in upstate New York, in all of our friend’s beds and some of their parent’s beds as well. We fucked in hotels. We did acid and fucked. We got high and fucked. We drank forties of malt liquor and fucked until we passed out. His dad was in charge of deploying the plow trucks during snowstorms and we would always know before the rest of town if there would be a snow day at school. We took those days as opportunities to have 6 to 8 hour fuckfests. Anything we wanted to try, we did. It was ridiculously fun.

Thirteen years later. Posted by Hello

link * Miss Marisol posted at 10:12 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 10:12 PM   |


Keep Your Hands off My U.N. Declaration

U.S. Drops Demand for Abortion Reference
World - AP Asia
By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS - Under intense global pressure, the United States on Friday dropped its demand to amend a declaration reaffirming the U.N. blueprint to achieve equality for women, saying it was satisfied the document did not guarantee the right to abortion.

U.S. Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey said the United States would join other nations in approving the declaration endorsing the 150-page platform for action adopted at the 1995 U.N. women's conference in Beijing.

The proposed U.S. amendment would have reaffirmed the Beijing platform and a declaration adopted with it — but only "while reaffirming that they do not create any new international human rights, and that they do not include the right to abortion."

But the United States found itself virtually alone, with nations from Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia all opposed.

The attempt to amend the one-page declaration had overshadowed the start of a two-week review of the Beijing platform that began Monday, angering many of the 130 governments and 6,000 representatives of women's and human rights organizations. They had hoped to focus on obstacles to women's equality in the economy, the family, education and political life — not on the abortion issue.

With the United States in agreement, delegates were scheduled to adopt the declaration by consensus later Friday.

Sauerbrey said the United States sought to amend the declaration because of concerns that advocacy groups were attempting to hijack the term "reproductive health services" in the document and define it in a way that guarantees the right to abortion.

On Thursday, Sauerbrey announced at a closed door meeting that the United States was prepared to drop the last phrase of the amendment referring to "the right to abortion" but still wanted affirmation that Beijing did not create any new human rights.

The reaction was again overwhelmingly negative.

Nilcea Freire, Brazil's minister of state for women's affairs, said not a single country supported the revised U.S. amendment and every speaker insisted that the declaration be left untouched.

Sauerbrey had said then she would consult with Washington and await instructions.

On Friday morning, she reiterated that the U.S. goal was to clear up what the United States believes has been misinterpretation of the Beijing platform, and to make sure that decisions about abortion are made at the national level.

After a week of intense discussions, Sauerbrey said Friday that the United States was very pleased that other nations agreed with the U.S. position that the declaration did not guarantee a global right to abortion but left decisions on such subjects up to individual governments.

"We have heard from countries that our interpretation is their interpretation," Sauerbrey told reporters. "So the amendment, we recognize, is really redundant, but it has accomplished its goals. We will be withdrawing the amendment and we will be joining consensus today on the declaration."

Alexandra Arriaga, director of government relations at Amnesty International USA, welcomed the U.S. decision, saying, "it reaffirms that women's rights are human rights."

June Zeitlin, executive director of the Women's Environment and Development Organization, said she was pleased but not surprised that the United States dropped the amendment in the face of solid opposition.

"We're very pleased that the declaration can be approved today, and that we can now move to focus on how to achieve implementation on what kind of concrete actions government — which is what we all came here to talk about," she said.

It befuddles Miss Hag. that the United States, the country that brought the world the Jerry Springer show and the visible thong over low slung jeans, is also the staunchest adversary to abortion rights in the world. When Betsey visited Maldives recently, she told me about their draconian policies on birth control. You need to have a prescription to purchase condoms.

However, abortion is still legal. Let us not forget that. As long as the law allows (and it may not allow it for long), it is not just an option, it is a right. A human right. Have a gun, have a coke and a smile. Freedom's on the march and it's letting you take your uterus with you.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 4:24 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 4:24 PM   |


Thelma or Harold

I decided this weekend that I want "Don't Leave Me This Way" to play at my funeral procession. I also want to be cremated. The only questions is, do I want the Thelma Houston version or the Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes version? Maybe someone could do a mashup for me. Please contact Miss Hag. if you want to do that for her.

Don't leave me this way.
I can't survive ... I can't stay alive, without your love.
Oh baby. Don't leave me this way, no.
I can't exist ... I'll surely miss your tender kiss.
Don't leave me this way.

Ahhh, baby! My heart is full of love and desire for you.
Now com'on down and do what you gotta do.
You started this fire down in my soul.
Now can't you see it's burning outta control.
Com'on, satisfy the need in me.
'Cause only your good lovin' can set me free.

Don't, don't you leave me this way, no.
Don't you understand I'm at your command.
Oh baby please, please, don't leave me this way ...
nooo baby.

Don't leave me this way, no.
I can't survive ... I can't stay alive without your love.
Baby, don't leave me this way.

Ahhh, baby! My heart is full of love and desire for you.
So com'on down and do what you got to do.
You started this fire down in my soul.
Now can't you see it's burning out of control.
So com'on, satisfy the need in me.
'Cause only your good lovin' can set me free.

Need you lovin', baby ... need it ... need it ...

Satisfy the need in me.
Satisfy the need in me.

Well baby, come and satify the need in me.
Whoa baby, come and satify the need in me.
Oh baby. Don't leave me this way ...
Don't leave me this way ...
No, don't leave me this way ...
No, don't leave me this way, baby ...
Don't, baby ... Don't leave me this way babe ... Oh, baby ...

link * Miss Marisol posted at 2:58 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 2:58 PM   |