Traumatizing Moments From My Present, Volume Six: Like One of Those Rap Guys’ Girlfriends

If I had a dollar for every time someone freestyled a rap about how beautiful I am, I would have $1.

Now, if that one dollar came from a man named TUPAC, then all would be well and good, but unfortunately that dolla-rap came from a creeper of terror who was missing a significant portion of his face.


A few months ago, my boyfriend left town for two weeks. My pheromones must have been giving away my temporary singleishness, because lemme tell you babe, the men flocked around me like never before. Unfortunately, there were no dead rappers or Hugh Jackmans in the mix–just a savory compilation of the homeless, the very old, and the physically deformed. It wasn’t an ego boost. It was a roller-coaster of terror.

During these two weeks, I had a wedding to attend. I also had a tube of brand-new Dior lipstick. Let’s just say I was looking really good in my long white dress and veil–what? The invitation said Black Tie! Anyway, the day got off to a wonderful start–I almost missed my train, I screamed at my absentee boyfriend on the phone, and then I got a free iced soy chai due to my tremulous, fragile beauty aka panicked shrieks of I’m-so-late-for-this-wedding. The wedding was lovely (hi David and Emily!) and as I sat in the train station, waiting to return to the city, I was aglow with happiness and well-wishes. And I thought to myself: I totally want to buy a tabloid for the ride home. So I walked up to the only other person in the station and chirped, “Hey, is there a gas station or something around here?”

He began to turn around, and the moment I saw his smile I knew I had made a huge mistake. Ladies, you know exactly the type of smile I’m talking about–the OMG, a girl is talking to me, yessss smile.

And then he turned all the way around.

And he only had one eye.


The space where his eye should have been was a twisted mass of hardened flesh but what was I supposed to do? You can’t run away from someone just because they’re missing an eye! He told me that there was a Jewel down the road. I said thanks, and started to walk away. He offered to ride his bike there and buy me a tabloid. I almost died but declined his generous offer. He offered to walk with me. I said, “You know what? My train is almost here…I think I’ll just stay.”

So I walked over to a bench and sat down, and like any normal guy would do, he FOLLOWED ME. He then proceeded to tell me about his burgeoning career as a musician. He creates beats. Did I want to hear one? He pulled out his phone and started playing some sort of insipid fake-boom box thing as I smiled tightly. And then he started rapping along while gazing deep into my eyes as I tried not to laugh/scream/stare at his missing eye. He sung the lyrics that were in his heart, lyrics that have been burned into my memory forever, lyrics that were vaguely reminiscent of a serial killer-type obsession: You’re so beautiful. What I gotta do to get with you.

Then he told me that despite being 30-something, he lived with his parents, but he was thinking of going back to community college. I encouraged him to do so, because I’m a huge fan of higher education. Unfortunately, I think he viewed my platonic career advice more along the lines of a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife because he started talking about buying a two-bedroom. I was like, Um why would you need a second bedroom NO DON’T TELL ME. Then he asked for my number and I told him I had a boyfriend and he said, “But you’re allowed to have friends, right?” And I said, “Well, I don’t think my boyfriend would want me giving out my number to another guy, you know?” And he chuckled and said, “Yeah, cuz then I’d call you and he’d be like “Who’s that?” and you’d be like, “This guy I met on the train.”” And I said, “…yeah.” And then he told me I reminded him of his ex-girlfriend.

And as I got onto the train, shivering violently with repressed hysterics, he gazed deep into my two eyes with his one eye and said, “Studio vs. two-bedroom.”

I just smiled and looked away because I had no idea what he was talking about,  but in retrospect, I think he was asking me to move in with him.

An Open Letter to Lorin Stein

Hi Lorin Stein. I wanted you to be the first to know that I just did the coolest thing of my adult life–I JUST SUBSCRIBED TO THE PARIS REVIEW!

Mr. Stein, I feel really good about this. I feel like I am a useful member of the literary community now. As someone who also works in publishing (we’re so alike) I understand how frustrating it is when people see your magazine as nothing more than a platform to get famous. When people submit and it’s obvious that they haven’t read the submission guidelines and they don’t even know what kind of work your magazine publishes–ugh, that infuriates me. How do you work through your anger?

Also, I’ve been sort of haunted by this quote from Stephen King lately:

What’s not so good is that writers write for whatever audience is left. In too many cases, that audience happens to consist of other writers and would-be writers who are reading the various literary magazines (and The New Yorker, of course, the holy grail of the young fiction writer) not to be entertained but to get an idea of what sells there. And this kind of reading isn’t real reading, the kind where you just can’t wait to find out what happens next (think “Youth,” by Joseph Conrad, or “Big Blonde,” by Dorothy Parker). It’s more like copping-a-feel reading. There’s something yucky about it.

Lorin–is it okay if I call you that?–I don’t want to be that writer. I don’t want to be the creepy writer who doesn’t care about the literary magazines, who only wants to be published. I don’t even want to be a writer. I’m just a person trying to live life who happens to occasionally write erotic short stories.  I don’t want to read literary magazines as a sort of necessity of the job, gotta see what’s out there kind of thing–I want to really love them and the stories in them. I want to be entertained! Entranced! Captivated! I want to fall in love! Though some might say I’m already in love…but that’s a story for another day. You like stories, right?

I have no doubt that your magazine is good, I mean, I scour your website all the time for inspiration. But I want to subscribe to a lot more than just The Paris Review and I’m kind of worried that some of it is going to be terrible or artsy-intellectual in a way I can’t stand. Like, I’m super controversial, I don’t like a lot of the stuff published in The New Yorker. Maybe you can hold my hand and walk me through it?

I can cook, too, Lorin.

I can write you a love song.

To make you understand.

That is poetry, Lorin. I’m just a poet, who’s not really a poet, standing in front of an editor who she saw once at a literary event and thought was suuuuper cute, creepin’ on the internet.

Also, I’m totally stoked about the free beach towel that comes with my subscription! I’ll be the coolest kid on the block (IN A SWIMSUIT!!!) thanks to you…dearest.

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My Writing Process

A number of you have asked how I produce things like, I don’t know, Lolita, or The Great Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Here’s how last night’s writing process went. Note: not everyone can function like this! Don’t feel ashamed if your productivity doesn’t match mine.

  1. Come home from work.
  2. Fall onto my bed with a plate full of toast and a ginormous biography of Hemingway.
  3. Drift asleep for a few minutes.
  4. Wake up to the dulcet voices of the men who work at the tattoo parlor next door and often smoke weed/argue/TRY TO TALK TO ME THROUGH MY WINDOW.
  5. Go to a coffee shop to “write” (AKA buy expensive pastries).
  6. Leave coffee shop because the internet isn’t working (Microsoft Word? Huh?).
  7. Get struck by an intense craving for licorice.
  8. Weigh pros and cons of traveling 40 minutes round trip to get my favorite brand of licorice from Trader Joe’s.
  9. Sit on my rug in pitch black darkness and scream, “How do I become a writer?”
  10. Writhe on the floor.
  11. Remember horrifying centipede creature
  12. Turn on a light.
  13. Turn on my computer.
  14. Squelch feelings of inadequacy. 
  15. Start writing.
  16. Ice cream break.

Relationship On the Rocks

Charlie and I are at an impasse.

In general, things are great. He likes to wax on about jazz, I’ve perfected the art of half-listening, half-reading The New Yorker. I like to rant wildly about the problems plaguing the publishing industry, he nods supportively while downing a bottle of red wine. Our delusions of grandeur are perfectly complimentary. We both survived about 16.5 Bikram yoga classes without breaking up over the sight of each other drenched in sweat and wracked with agony. We have wildly different tastes in Ben & Jerry’s but he always lets me get Late Night Snack. He doesn’t notice that when we fight, I masterfully and subtly and continuously change my argument so that no matter what happens, I ALWAYS WIN.

However, something is ripping our love apart.

And that something is bugs.

Yesterday, we were drifting around my apartment when I looked at the wall above my bed and there, with a jolt of unimaginable horror, I saw the most disgusting bug of my life. It was like a centipede gone rogue. Its trillions of legs were incredibly long, and its brown, snakelike body had more curves than Bristol Palin. And it was creeping—no, gyrating—over my bed, poised to crawl over my face while I slept, biting my eyes into a raw, swollen casserole before slithering into my mouth and breeding in my stomach.

Now listen, I try to be a pretty decent girlfriend. But when it comes to bugs, I’m willing to use every undesirable girlfriend trait in the world to make the Man kill them. I will be clingy, high-maintenance, overly demanding, incredibly emotional, passive-aggressive, cold, oversensitive, pushy, and manipulative, and I don’t care if Charlie never speaks to me again, I NEED THAT BUG’S HEAD ON A PLATTER.

Unfortunately, Charlie is willing to use every undesirable boyfriend trait in the world to AVOID dealing with bugs. In his own words, “I feel no shame being a coward and a huge pussy.” I’m not saying he screamed when he saw a cockroach, but he totally did, hahahahahahahaha, and he won’t admit it but you heard it here first.

So when I started screaming at Charlie to kill that multipeded monstrosity, did he spring onto his white stallion and charge into battle to save his lady? No! He started, shivered violently, and tried to escape to the kitchen. I screamed at him again: “IT HAS SO MANY LEGS IT’S PROBABLY SO FAST!” and I think it heard us because it started to move. As if it couldn’t get any grosser, the thing was actually slow, as though its superlong legs were too spindly and weak to support its bloated body, ugh. While I pushed the reluctant Charlie toward the creature, he reached for my August Vogue and yelled, “Say hi to the bug, Sarah Jessica Parker!” and I screamed, “YOU CAN’T USE MY VOGUE!” and shoved a roll of paper towels in his face, and he jumped onto the bed and smashed the bug against the wall and wiped up its remains and flushed it down the toilet, as I writhed in horror and nausea and felt the first creeping stings of post-traumatic stress syndrome.

So all in all, he was a great boyfriend. But I don’t know how sustainable this is. The man clearly has bug issues. If I ever see a mouse and he doesn’t smash it with a frying pan within 0.5 seconds like Aleksandr Petrovsky in that one episode of SATC, but screams and tries to run away and leave me, I will start a charge account at Dior with his credit card, I don’t care if that’s the cardinal sin of girlfriendom. I will be the most high-maintenance girl the world has ever seen until that mouse is gone forever. But I don’t want to know whether or not it’s dead, I’d feel too guilty, I’m a vegetarian.

PS: When I went outside to steal internet so that I could publish this post, A GIANT CICADA FLEW INTO ME. I THOUGHT THOSE THINGS ONLY CAME OUT EVERY SEVENTEEN YEARS. THIS IS THE WORST.