you are about to read is not a novel. It is a long and painfully
honest journal with a newspaper article tacked on the end.
Presenting the whole thing as a work of fiction was the
you will soon find out, this journal began as a project in Julia
Fleischer’s writing class at Portland Community College.
Although it spans some five months, only the first thirty-four
pages were handed in for credit. The remaining pages are, as
Julia says, a record of “life experiences.” They chronicle
her beginnings as a cowgirl in Mt. Angel, Oregon, and the steps
leading up to her explosive rise into the professional rock
years have passed since her death, two long years, but there
isn’t a day goes by when I don’t feel her presence. When she
died, Julia had it all: a talented band, a million-dollar
recording contract, dozens of friends who would have done
anything for her that was humanly possible.
also had Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, and eventually, it caught up
with her. Yet she got farther than me or anyone else in her
position could have gotten. I should know. As Julia’s best
friend, I saw her change from a jubilant young woman into
something else entirely: A wide-eyed mystic with tales of angels
and demons—accounts gathered from sojourns in a murky realm
that divides our world from the next.
brushes with the supernatural were neither welcome nor
appreciated. But rather than shrinking back in fear, she
utilized each new experience to create a working model of God
and the universe.
By this I don’t mean to suggest that Julia Fleischer
was some kind of spiritual seer or prophet. That’s not for me
to say. Everything she felt, everything she experienced in the
last few months before her death has been recorded here. Along
with the songs on her album, those memories are all she had left
to give, her legacy.
this manuscript to an agent was the hardest decision I’ve ever
had to make, but ultimately I think it was the right one. Now
Julia’s message can reach the world—and by extension, you,
the reader. That’s who she had in mind when she wrote down her
most personal secrets.
if you begin to feel a bit like a voyeur, don’t worry, it’s
part of the experience. To Julia, artistic integrity meant full
disclosure. She wouldn’t have had it any other way.
New York City
Journal of Life Experiences
June 14, 2001
Jeff called to ask if he should buy
me a ticket for Dee-Dee Ramone’s show at the Satyricon. “We can
watch the punks slam themselves into oblivion,” he said. “It might
be the last chance we’ll ever get to pogo dance along to the
that, I couldn’t possibly go. It would spoil the memory of the time I
saw the real Ramones when Joey was up there on stage—all six
and a half feet of him jumping up and down with his long black hair
flying and his big nose sticking out in the most adorable way.
I tried to
explain, but Jeff took it personally. He got all defensive and choked
up, like he does when he feels not in control. The last thing he said
before he hung up was, “Alright, fine. I’m going with or without
you. And either way, I’m getting ripped. For Joey.”
Excuse me, but is
that any way to talk to your girlfriend of sixteen months? I think
Jeff’s starting to get the impression I’m stuck up because I’ve
lost so much weight and other guys are looking at me for the first time
in my life. If he keeps it up, maybe I will go out with some
pretty boy just to piss him off.
supposed to be keeping this journal for my English teacher. His name is
Mr. Oden and I’m in his Writing 121 class at Portland Community
College. He said we could either write daily reactions to things that
happen in Oregon and the rest of the world or just keep a personal
journal of our lives.
We also have three
essays and a pass/fail final exam that’s an in-class essay. On top of
that, he’s got daily assignments and readings in our textbooks. Can
you believe it? God, does my life suck. I won’t even have time to pick
my nose this term.
Yesterday when I
got home from school, I almost went ahead and started the boring current
events journal because I thought Mr. Oden might be a perv or something,
you know, like he might want to spy on my personal life in a voyeuristic
kind of way. Most English teachers are either pervs or homos. That’s
what my friend Ruth says. But I don’t think Oden is either one. He
didn’t mean “personal” like that. He just meant a diary of the
significant things that happen to us as our lives unfold and how we
relate to the world.
I’ve had some
time to mull over the whole thing, and I’ve come to the conclusion
that if I’m really going to do this assignment right, then I should
pretend that I’m only writing for myself. I can edit out the private
I like Mr. Oden’s class, I guess.
It’s not always boring. But he tries a little too hard during
the lecture. Especially if he’s drinking coffee that day. His jokes
are really weak but sometimes I can’t help laughing. He makes all
these puns and I’ve never heard a really good pun from anyone ever.
According to Ruth,
puns aren’t kosher. She’s also in my class and she’s
Jewish. Her parents are transplants from New York (pronounced “N’Yawk”).
She uses a lot of slang that she calls Yiddish. When I asked her about
“kosher,” she said it means that you can eat something without
feeling religious guilt if you’re Jewish. I guess it must have broader
applications than just that because you can’t eat a pun.
Ruth has very long
blonde hair that’s too frizzy and jet-black at the roots. I told her
to let it go straight and natural, but I don’t think she listened to
me. I tried to convince her that guys notice if your hair is long
and silky, the color doesn’t matter as much. But she says
blondes have more fun—at least according to Marilyn Monroe.
Ruth also plays
dumb whenever a guy talks to her but I refuse to do that. She’s way
smarter than me, and I need to utilize whatever brain cells God gave me
to the fullest.
Mr. Oden plays drums. He’s in a
band called Mammy Jammer. I think he must have thought up the name
himself because it sounds suspiciously like a pun. Word around campus is
Mammy Jammer’s an alright band, at least by Portland standards.
They’ve got a young lead singer who’s a dead ringer for Ally McBeal.
Also, they’re the only act in Portland with three keyboardists.
this week’s Mercury, it said they’re playing Dante’s on
Saturday night: The warm-up band for Saving Ophelia, this local band
that sounds exactly like Dido. Maybe I can get Ruth to go. That would be
too weird seeing our English teacher rock out. Two Friday nights ago,
the line outside Dante’s stretched practically all the way to the
night’s even more popular than Friday. So I guess that means Mammy
Jammer’s front girl can do more than strut around on stage looking
like the most annoying bulimic star on television.
Time for a little background info.
This is probably the one and only chance I’ll ever get to write my own
personal liner notes:
Julia Annika Fleischer
Born: June 14, 1979
Weight: 153 lbs
Hair color: “Dirty” blonde
Eye color: Blue
Born: Mt. Angel, Oregon
Favorite bands: Hooverphonic; Björk; PJ Harvey; Esthero; Mazzy
Favorite book: Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
Favorite movie: Jesus’ Son. “We’re wrecking like
Favorite night of the year: Halloween, or sometimes New Year’s
I moved to Portland on my eighteenth
birthday. For the first couple of years, I displayed my wares at the
Saturday Market and shops in Old Town—handcrafted candles mainly. When
I wasn’t at work, I spent a lot of time hanging out with people on the
But I was
different from most of my friends at that time and what separated me was
a love affair with books. On my twentieth birthday, I calculated that
I’d read approximately one thousand of them. And we’re not talking
about light reading, either. Just because I was out of school didn’t
mean I lacked ambition.
In some ways, I
think I learned more in those two beautiful free years than all my hours
in the classroom put together. I was like a girl possessed. Whenever I
walked into the library, all the big names jumped out at me—Plato,
Kafka, Einstein, Dante, Shakespeare—and I devoured them whole, picking
my teeth with their spines.
though, I wised up and decided to go to college. Even if I swallowed the
entire cannon of English literature, it wouldn’t get me hired without
I still don’t know what I want to
do in terms of a career, but I’ve been taking classes at PCC for the
past three terms. It’s not like high school. The teachers don’t even
talk to you (unless you ask them a question). Some things are more
formal and some things are less. Half my teachers introduce themselves
by their first names to the class. I’m sorry, but that’s just plain
I want to go to
Portland State University after I get my associates degree at PCC. Or
maybe Reed College on Woodstock Blvd; it’s supposed to be pretty wild,
a throw-back from the sixties. And it’s famous. Even Ruth’s uncle in
New York City has heard of “those crazy Reedies.”
Most of the
classes I’ve taken here have been in the sciences, but I’m starting
to get interested in English. Fall term, I took Drama As Lit, and then I
decided to go back and start taking writing classes because my
instructor said I definitely had some talent there.
At first I wanted
to take Creative Writing, but my drama instructor said I’d be better
off taking WR 121 first—so I did, and that’s what I’m doing now.
I met my best friend Ruth in Human
Biology. She wants to be a doctor of some sort. She doesn’t know what
kind, but I’ll bet she becomes a plastic surgeon or something totally
useless to society. Don’t get me wrong: she’s got a big heart and
all. She’s just a little hung up on things that don’t matter. Like
looks. I think she should try to become a writer but I’ve never told
I saw one short
story that she wrote, totally amazing. It was about a girl who lived in
a Kibbutz in Israel and had a housemate who discovered that datura, this
hallucinogenic drug, was growing all over the countryside. He brewed up
a big pot of the stuff and they all had a datura party. He was into
Carlos Castaneda’s books and so he knew how to prepare it using a
little of the flowers and a little of the stems and a little of the
roots, to get the balance just right.
totally lit except for the narrator of the story. She just kind of
kicked back and watched the freakshow. One girl took a bus to Tel Aviv
and got lost and came back several hours later wearing only her bra (but
it was a sports bra so it didn’t look that unusual). The rest of the
people had some pretty weird experiences.
Weirdest of all
was the guy who made the datura soup. He disappeared and went out in the
desert for the longest time. When he came back, he looked different. Changed.
A little while later, everyone around the fire looked over at him in the
shadows because he was laughing this really freaky laugh; it almost
sounded in stereo, like there were two voices laughing together.
Of course, it was
only him standing there, but he had has his arm hanging out in the air,
like there was someone standing next to him. The way he was leaning, his
weight seemed more on the invisible friend than on his own two feet and
that just totally wigged out everyone else because they noticed this.
They overheard part of the conversation he was having with this
invisible friend and they realized it was another language. But when
they listened closer, it didn’t sound like a language any of them had
ever heard before.
The next morning,
they asked the guy what he’d been speaking and he couldn’t remember.
He said he only knew how to speak English and Hebrew. Over the next few
weeks, he started experimenting on all kinds of concoctions made from
datura. Nobody else wanted anything to do with the stuff because
they’d gotten such a splitting headache from the party, but this guy
was hooked. He kept going and going until one day they found him out in
the desert half dead. So they sent him to a clinic and kicked him off
I’m not really
describing the story very well, but you get the idea. It was a cool plot
and it had the added bonus of being 100% true. When I asked her about
it, Ruth said she’d read a few of the Casteñeda books the housemate
had left around. Don Juan, the narrator, explained how datura has a
reputation for putting people in touch with the other side. And what
better place for that sort of thing than out in the deserts of Israel
where it’s absolutely crawling with demons and angels?
I didn’t want to
seem too impressed with Ruth’s story because she was kind of
aloof about it, but I did ask for a copy. She seemed really flattered. I
think I might submit the copy Ruth gave me to the school newspaper.
I’ll bet you anything they offer to publish it. Ruth will be so
psyched if they do. Then she’d officially be a “Woman of Letters.”
I’ve been a vegetarian since the
seventh grade when I saw the butcher truck come out to the ranch and
slaughter two of our best cows. Dad told me not to name any of the
cattle or sheep, but I did anyway. All of them. It wasn’t fair because
the bulls and rams always end up with names, but I guess that’s
because they don’t get slaughtered; they live like kings, the spoiled
So Janet and
Chrissie took a spike for us that day. Right through the head. The
weapon looked like that thing in The X-Files they use to kill
aliens with—the ones who can’t be killed with a normal gun. This
spike shoots out faster than the eye can see. It shot right through
Janet’s and Chrissie’s foreheads and knocked them out so their
throats could be bled with a minimum of fuss. One second they were
scared and mooing—and the next, wam, bam, thank you mam!
Goodbye Janet Jackson, soft chocolaty brown fur, big eyes and the
prettiest moo you ever heard. Goodbye Chrissie Hinde, you sexy thing. No
more shaking that tail to drive the bulls wild. No more pro lapses for
me to sew up, no more nothin’.
My brother, Hans,
thought I named Janet and Chrissie from the characters in Three’s
Company. He even tried to mess with my head and called the butcher
“Mr. Roper.” I hate Three’s Company. All those stupid
seventies’d-out shows. But I kind of liked the fact that Hans didn’t
know the real connection. I should never have told him their names in
the first place.
That night, my mom
served steak, of all things. I couldn’t touch the food on my plate.
Not after seeing Janet and Chrissie get the spike. Gravy is just cooked
blood and it was soaking everything in death. I had to run to the
bathroom. After hanging onto the toilet for dear life, puking my guts
out, I went straight to bed.
And when I woke up
the next morning, I just knew: Meat is murder, especially the red stuff.
I’d never be able to touch it again.
A lot of religions have this thing
about cows. Mohammed wrote a whole chapter in the Koran about
them. A kind of extended proverb. The Hindus think cows are sacred. In
my opinion, that’s going a little overboard, but they must be higher
up on the cosmic pecking order than, say, chickens or turkeys.
There’s a turkey
farm on the way from Mount Angel to the rodeo grounds in St. Paul and
it’s the stinkiest most disgusting place on earth. One time, late at
night, some activists from the Environmental Liberation Front cut the
fence to set all the turkeys free. But instead of running away, most of
the birds just cowered inside. A few intrepid ones got away and they
ended up getting hit by cars on the road.
When the farmer
who owned the place discovered what had happened, he rang the dinner
bell and they all came waddling to the food troughs. While they were
gorging themselves, he and his neighbors tended to the fence. As a joke,
he even left up the “calling card” ELF had spray-painted on the side
of his barn:
to the language of the birds? We hear!
Ah, well. Better luck next time,
guys. I read all about it in the local newspaper. A grainy B&W
photograph of the turkey rancher standing triumphantly in front of
ELF’s slogan; it made the front page—not once, not twice, but three
times. For months that’s all anyone in Mt. Angel would talk about.
“Those environmentalist wackos.”
yack yack. Day
and night. Night and day. Enough to make you scream. And not one of them
ever breathed a word of regret for those poor turkeys that died in the
name of liberty.
If I’d been born
a sorry bird in that feedlot, I would have run out of there so fast that
no one could have caught me. So what if I got squashed in the middle of
the highway? It would sure beat the heck out of a visit to the butcher
so a family of humans could eat me, celebrating a holiday that’s
supposed to embrace freedom but really just reinforces the same dull
Beast of burden,
beast of prey: One law for the lion & ox is oppression.
I remember in Sunday School hearing
this Bible story of a king who had a dream: Seven fat cows and seven
skinny ones rose up out of a river and the thin cows devoured the fat
ones. The king called in all his magicians and wizards and Nostradamus-like
servants, but no one could help him, except Joseph, this Jewish kid who
knew all about what the king’s dream really meant because God told
him. God said it foretold a famine that would eventually starve all
these Egyptians to death if they didn’t get their butts in gear and
store enough grain to last them seven years.
Anyway, the point
is, I had a terrible dream that night. The Bible is supposed to be
comforting, but it can really scare the crap out of you when you’re
little and impressionable. What a nightmare! Don’t let anyone tell you
that people don’t dream in color. That dream was more vivid than the
biggest movie screen you’ve ever seen in your life.
Time has faded the
images, thank God. All I can remember now is that I had to relieve
myself (in the dream) so I got up out of bed and went into the bathroom.
While I was sitting on the pot, I happened to look down at my stomach.
It was clenched tight because I couldn’t go pee-pee—even though my
bladder was totally full—and I noticed in this horrible realization
that my ribs were skin and bones, like those pictures of starving
African children, all covered in flies—only my skin had a fine dusting
of hair. And between my legs I’d grown a tail.
The next morning,
I told my folks about the whole thing and they laughed it off. Dad said
that being skinny was the least of my worries. If I ate my Wheaties, he
promised I’d never turn into a cow. Maybe a pig, but not a cow.
Before dad passed on at Portland
Health Sciences University, he’d been having some absolutely God-awful
dreams. The doctors said it was just a side effect from the
Alzheimer’s, but I know they were lying. It was a side effect from all
the drugs they were pumping him full of. Even when he was awake, he
would scream at the things he imagined were creeping up the blanket.
Every time I
visited him, I tried to pick off every particle of lint or dust,
anything that could pass for creepy-crawlies, but he still saw the
things come alive and crawl up the sheets that he’d tucked so tightly
around his neck.
That was near the
very end after he couldn’t really talk anymore.
When he could
still put whole sentences together, and he was still himself, he would
never have dignified a nightmare or bad daydream by speaking of them.
Instead, he always wanted to hear about me and my life. Something to
take his mind of his troubles. As I sat looking out the window of his
room in the hospital, I tried to pick out only the good things: finding
these really cool new outfits at thrift stores, going to see my favorite
rock bands in concert, playing my guitar, getting the job at Rose City
Happy details, the
little things that reminded dad of the outside world, cheered him up the
most. Near the end of my visit, he would smile so warmly and blink the
way he did when he wanted to show his love for you. Then he’d close
his eyes and whisper how I’d made him proud. So slim and trim, so
pretty. “Yes, m’dear, all the cowboys are gonna be fightin’ over
you. A few more years and you’ll have your own ranch and a whole house
full of little snot-nosed devils runnin’ around!”
It’s Sunday afternoon and the
weather is nice for once. Summer’s definitely on the way. I’m
writing this journal entry at a table in front of Café Lena. I like it
here because it’s one of the few places around that actually pays
homage to writers. They’ve got pictures of all the great Beats on the
walls. My favorite is this picture of Jack Kerouac and Neil Cassady.
I’ve read On the Road three times and it just keeps getting
Last night at Dante’s was awesome!
Everyone was there: Ruth; her friend, Ginny; Joan Compton, who I’ve
known since I first moved to Portland; and all these other students from
I’ve driven by Dante’s a million times, but I’ve never
actually gone inside because the cover at the door is always very steep.
But Ginny told us that if we got there before eight o’clock it would
be free. We all met at Hung Far Low’s, a Chinese restaurant in the
oldest part of downtown Portland. I ordered this plate of chow mien that
ended up being totally disgusting, but the drinks were cheap and really
strong so it made up for it.
We ended up
getting to Dante’s around nine o’clock. The bouncer—this really
cool black guy with dreads—let us in without paying cover. I bet if
we’d brought dates he wouldn’t have been so willing to make an
It was totally
deserted inside. The décor was nice, though. Everything painted in red
and this burning pot of coals by the window that flamed up like
hellfire. I guess it’s supposed to look the way Satan might choose to
decorate his palace if he were entertaining, but I’m sure most people
don’t make the connection. How many clubbers in Portland know the
difference between The Inferno and The Towering Inferno?
I put a few
quarters in the pool table and played Joan a game of 8-ball. Then people
started showing up and before we knew it, some guys had bought us these
really expensive drinks, the kind with little umbrellas in them.
Usually, I don’t
accept drinks from people I don’t know because of Roofies, etc., but I
talked to these guys for a while and we played another game of pool with
them as doubles and I could tell after that that they weren’t the
types to drug up girls. Judging by the way they were dressed in matching
G-style suits you would have thought they were gay for sure. But they
definitely made a point to check us out. One of them kept looking down
my blouse every time I’d get down low to shoot the ball. I think he
liked the black bra I was wearing. After they won the game, they went in
the bathroom and came out with red watery eyes.
really brazen, asked them for a hit of whatever it was they had, but
they acted all surprised, so she let up. It was obvious they’d done
some lines, though, because after a few minutes they got more drinks and
started talking non-stop about themselves: fast cars, model girlfriends,
vacations to Belize and Costa Rica… bla, bla, bla.
Finally, Joan gave
them the brush off. It didn’t take much because of their big egos. By
then there were other girls at the bar for them to impress.
Mr. Oden was the first “Mammy
Jammer” to get there. He brought a really nice Gretsch drum kit and it
took him forever to carry all the pieces inside and set them up on
stage. Some guys from Writing 121 offered to help, but he politely
declined. I guess he figured it could be construed as a bribe.
Once Mr. Oden got
his drums in place, he didn’t bang on them and show off like most
drummers. A few light taps here and there, and he was good to go. After
that, he sat at the bar and drank by himself.
I took the
opportunity to walk over and say something. He didn’t recognize me,
but when I mentioned 121, he perked right up. He looked quite a bit
different outside of class: a more stylish pair of glasses, a tank top
that showed off his arms. He must work out, because he’s got fairly
wide shoulders despite a spare tire around the middle. Not bad for a guy
in his 30’s. I could tell that he didn’t want to talk about his day
job, so I asked him about Mammy Jammer: How long had they been together,
stuff like that. He seemed preoccupied. Stage fright, probably. Then the
singer got there and he had to go consult with her. She wasn’t dressed
up or anything. Just a T-shirt and jeans. How lame. I mean, if I were
playing Dante’s, I would have put a little more effort into my outfit.
That’s the one time looks are important; as a rock star, it’s part
of the job description.
Mammy Jammer went on late, about
eleven. Usually the warm-up band goes on earlier. I have to admit, they
were pretty good. A hell of a lot better than Saving Ophelia ending up
being later on. Mammy Jammer had lots of cool synth samples. I was wrong
about them having three keyboardists—they only have two. The other guy
plays guitar with a million effects pedals, which is practically the
same thing, at least if you’re listening and not watching.
Mr. Oden played
with a lot of feeling, especially in the slow parts. It was cool how he
rocked along with a drum machine most of the time. A lot of drummers are
afraid to use click tracks and machines because it gives away their bad
time. Not so with Oden; he nailed down those beats and hit plenty of
loud cymbal crashes.
didn’t talk between songs. Ruth thought she was stuck up, but I think
she’s just shy. Her voice was a little on the weak side. It was
obvious she’d never had any formal training; she had to work twice as
hard to get the notes out, but they were always right on key, with a
fairly strong accent—Danish maybe, or Dutch.
That picture in
the Mercury didn’t really do
her justice: she’s much more striking in person. Very petite and
delicate. I don’t think she looks like Calista Flockheart at all. In a
few of the songs, her voice reminded me of a cross between Portishead
and the Cocteau Twins. I think maybe she doesn’t speak English too
well and that’s why she didn’t acknowledge the audience. Plus she
seemed kind of depressed.
OK, here’s the deal with Jeff: I
love him, but he’s got a few issues that I’d rather not deal with at
the present time. We’ve been dating since my first term at PCC. At
first, I was attracted to his personality; his looks grew on me later.
That’s a polite way of saying he’s not the most handsome man on the
But he’s not
ugly, either. He’s probably a good fifty pounds overweight, but it
doesn’t really show since he’s over six feet tall. Like the saying
goes: “he carries it well.” He’s also very sweet when he wants to
be, and he’s got amazingly clear skin with blushing cheeks and the
cutest little boy dimples that make you want to reach out and pinch them
when he grins.
Jeff comes from a
small town on the coast (Coos Bay) where he played football in high
school. He also lost a parent (his mom) recently. So we’ve been a
great comfort and a support to each other in that regard. It formed this
amazing bond that made us both stronger.
I guess the
biggest gripe I have about Jeff is his lack of ambition. He doesn’t
know yet what he wants from life. And that’s kind of a turn-off
because it means he’s got an excuse to bomb out. Take school, for
instance: He could get straight A’s but he’s never gotten anything
hirer than a B in any of his classes. Mostly he gets C’s.
And he doesn’t
try very hard in his jobs, either. I think he must have had around four
or five in the year-and-a-half we’ve been dating. Usually, he ends up
getting fired because of personality conflicts with his boss.
Jeff’s working as a fry cook at McMenamins under The Crystal in
downtown Portland. I call it “McMinimals” even though it’s
technically named Ringlers. That really pisses Jeffrey off because he
says he’s finally found an organization that cares about its
employees. Yeah, right. As if. He just likes to work there because they
give him free beers after work.
Jeff called me up yesterday and we
went out for brunch. I was kind of surprised because I thought he’d
have a raging hangover from the night before. It turned out he did go to
see Dee-Dee Ramone at the Satyricon. And yes, it had been the
best show of his whole life.
I didn’t know
whether or not to believe him because he would have said that even if it
sucked just to make me wish I’d gone. After he went on and on about
it, though, I could tell it really was an exceptional show, not just a
ruse to make me feel bad. I sat there almost wishing I’d broken down
and gone, even after Jeff had dissed me so bad on the phone. I could
have showed up with Ruth and ignored him for a while until he got drunk
He said the crowd
was just like the old days when the Ramones ruled. I didn’t contradict
him, but I couldn’t help smirking inwardly because how the hell would
he know? Dee-Dee Ramone is practically old enough to be his father! Jeff
wasn’t even born yet when the Ramones cut their first album (back when
everyone bought vinyl—not CD’s or cassettes).
I let Jeffrey go
on and on about the show, how there were all these fights, how he broke
one of them up right on the dance floor and how Dee-Dee was spitting on
the crowd and they were spitting back, how it was kind of surprising
that Dee-Dee didn’t say a word about Joey, but that was probably
because everything that could be said had already been said; you can’t
mourn forever, especially if you’re the last Ramone on earth who can
still rock the house.
brunch, we rode bikes over to Jeff’s new pad. It’s kind of a weird
set-up down on Water Street by the Ross Island Bridge, freeway on-ramps
and off-ramps all around it, hundreds of feet up in the air, dwarfing
what might otherwise be a rather agreeable three-story house. From the
kitchen, it almost feels like you’re a troll living under a bridge in
your own little troll cottage waiting for some unsuspecting person to
come along that you can catch and boil in a pot for dinner.
The landlord is
fairly cool, as far as landlords go. He owns everything on the block and
he calls Jeff’s house the “pumpkin” house because it’s painted a
pumpkin shade of orange. Despite the fact that he’s a yuppie from the
tip of his nose down to his Birkenstock-clad toes, he responds quickly
if something breaks and generally acts polite and respectful. He’s
also got the house fixed up pretty nice considering.
The backyard opens
onto a deep grassy ravine, and there��s an old May pole down there from
the hippies who used to live on the block way back in the 70’s when
all the houses were falling-down shacks. Jeff told me they used to have
Moonlight Madness parties where they’d get drunk on dandelion wine and
dance naked around the May pole. He vowed to carry on the tradition, but
May is already half over and I know he won’t get around to throwing a
party for another couple of months.
Since none of
Jeff’s other roommates were there, we had the place to ourselves.
After we talked for a while and drank coffee on the deck overlooking the
ravine, we went up into Jeff’s new room and made love. It was OK. We
went through all the right motions (and positions) but the old
tenderness just wasn’t there. Part way through, I started wondering if
maybe Jeff has been cheating on me. He tried a kinky move that I
seriously doubt he could have thought up on his own.
Maybe I’m just
paranoid now that he’s working at a popular bar. Especially with all
the free beers and late night barflies drifting down from Crystal
Ballroom on the weekends.
instead of taking his customary bong hit, Jeff went over to the big
chair by the window. He stared, grinning his boyish grin. “Hey, Jules:
why don’t you stand in front of the mirror and pose for me?”
When I did, he
said I looked the best he’s ever seen me. How much weight had I lost?
I told him I didn’t have a scale. He said he’d buy me one. In the
meantime, I’d better watch out. Another five pounds and I would be too
skinny; most of the weight so far had come off my boobs and ass. Pretty
soon there’d be nothing left to grab.
We had a pillow
fight over that one.
Later, I started
thinking about what Jeff had said. Me too skinny? It didn’t seem
possible. I’d lost a few pounds, so what? Plenty of girls on campus
were skinnier than me. Way. And they probably starve themselves.
You’d never catch me throwing up in the bathroom. “Ewe, like, ohmygod!
Gag me with a spoon!” Not this chick. I’m still a corn-fed dame at
heart. So what if I woke up one morning to discover that I’d become a
clotheshorse? These things happen when you loose your baby fat.
Which reminds me,
I’ve got to call Ruth. She promised to go shopping this week and help
me pick out some new outfits. We’ll hit all the best thrift stores in
Southeast, then we’ll have dinner at the Old Wive’s Tale. I hear
they’ve got a new salad bar that’s to die for.
After class today, I asked Mr. Oden
about Ruth’s short story. He said the school paper wasn’t the right
periodical to send it to. PCC has a special journal that’s published
twice a year called The Alchemy. But it probably wouldn’t be
such a good idea to submit another writer’s story without her
permission, even if she was your best friend.
conversation got switched to Oden’s rock band. How were things going?
He said that Helena (the singer) had to fly back to Belgium for a family
emergency. The band was dead in the water until she got back.
mentioned that I sing and play guitar, I could fill in for her in the
meantime. Mr. Oden didn’t laugh. Instead, he asked if I had a demo
tape. Can you believe it! Holymama! I almost died.
Mr. Oden walked me
out to my car where I had a few extra tapes in the glove box. I was so
nervous that my legs were shaking the whole way.