Saturday Love List #1


My name is Tori Telfer, and I’m a fatalist.

I just finished writing an extremely inflammatory blog post about Girls, Django Unchained, and Silver Linings Playbook, which I’m pretty sure would have lost me 90% of my friends (whatever, I’m right, ART IS NOT OBLIGATED TO REFLECT THE REAL WORLD OR TAKE THE MORAL HIGHGROUND ABOUT ANY ISSUE WHATSOEVER, BE IT GENDER, INCOME, RACE, PRIVILEGE, OR MENTAL ILLNESS–AND YOU’RE DELUSIONAL IF YOU THINK IT SHOULD. L’ART POUR L’ART! L’ART POUR L’ART!).

But then I stopped yelling for two seconds and skipped on over to my dear friend Rose’s sunny, adorable, quirky blog (check it out now or I’ll knife you) and I thought to myself: IS TORIDOTGOV TURNING INTO A WASTELAND OF DEPRESSION AND RAGE, HAUNTED BY THE ARCHETYPE OF THE SHADOW? (I’m really into Carl Jung right now.)

And then I thought: Tori, you are a nice young girl of considerable talent (capslock, making simple syrups, adding gin to things). Why are you giving yourself wrinkles by slouching around the wilds of the Midwest, scowling like an old Norse god?

So–hells bells, this is hard–I have decided to be positive for five seconds and write a love list like Rose does. Ahem. Here goes. Okay. Here are some things that I’m not totally bummed about:

1. My amazing morning.

This Saturday morning has been so blissfully lazy that it may have catapulted me into early retirement. My bed has been drowning in a patch of sunlight and I have been lounging in it like a cat for hours, drinking a cafe au lait from Feast and alternately reading The Writer’s Journey and re-reading Blonde (it honestly should have gotten the Pulitzer, Joyce Carol Oates is never going to get nominated again, it’s a total shame, the book is utterly heartbreaking and exquisitely crafted). I stayed off the computer for a few hours and was reminded of how amazing books and coffee and zebra pillows and white sheets are when you pile them all in the same place at the same time and dive into them like a salmon leaping upstream.

2. Certain hysterical girlfriends.

This is both a boon and a curse, because missing my girlfriends is like being in a SECOND long-distance relationship. But today on Facebook I was reminded of a sleepover that we had in Geneva, Illinois, and it gave me a serious nostalgia buzz (it’s at thing, trust me). This sleepover involved way too much wine, movies about sex cults, wandering through adorable antique stores, and being yelled at on trains. We attempted to get over our hangovers by throwing a FASCIST PROM-themed party the very next night (no joke) and drinking gin-spiked champagne while crying about our futures (guilty). We danced to “Bitch” and they hugged me and pretended like I wasn’t a total maniac. Every day is a Girls episode but cooler with these ladies.

3. My camera.

Yes, my parents don’t understand me in a lot of ways. But this Christmas, they patiently waited as I returned presents like a spoiled child, stalked Craigslist, analyzed and deconstructed the cameras therein–and then they drove me to a really creepy area of San Diego so I could buy my first DSLR Camera. And then my dad took me to a photography museum so I could be inspired. That was really nice of them and it’s so easy to forget the nice things that parents do when you have psychologically never left your teenage years behind.

4. Knowing actual poets.

I feel bad for people who aren’t friends with actual working publishing poets. I mean, nothing is cooler cuz people are like, Keats and Shelly are long dead!!! and then you rip off your jacket and you’re wearing a Poetry Lives t-shirt (that was an extended metaphor, something my poet friends taught me how to wield like a sword at long mojito-fueled picnics, and that sword thing was called a SIMILE). Check it:

Gulls by Lisa Hiton (Guernica)
Lion Orders a Frisco Melt at Steak ‘n Shake by Doug Paul Case (Vinyl Poetry)
Thirty by Leslie Marie Aguilar (Emerge Literary Journal)

5. My boyfriend (awwwww).

First of all, he secretly has the greatest comedic timing of anyone I’ve ever met. Second of all, his hair looks great at any length (yes, ladies, we sort of hate him because of it). Third of all, I’m not saying tomorrow is our anniversary or anything, BUT MAYBE IT IS. xoxo


(Notice that “writing” is not on this list today. We’re at a very tempestuous stage in our relationship now.)

Pizza Toppings to Impress Your Very Best Friends

Chunks of Raw Fish

Tired of writhing in envy as your sophisticated compatriots slurp down eel, octopus, and yellowtail amberjack at the chicest of sushi bars while you nibble on well-cooked sweet potato tempura? Decorate your pizza with large chunks of raw fish. Cast a judgmental look on anyone who expresses nausea, and murmur something about “Western hamburger culture.”

Pages From Your First-Edition Hemingway

Is that first edition of For Whom the Bell Tolls really worth $11,000 if it simply rots on your bookshelf? Paper from the 1930s has the delicate flavor of Depression glass and pairs wonderfully with fresh mozzerella and a good Pinot Grigio. Just before pulling your pizza out of the oven, top with a few pages of Hemingway (check for graphic depictions of Spanish Civil War violence first) and allow to crisp slightly. Serve immediately. You might want to give Bob the piece that says “Look at the ugliness… After a while, when you are as ugly as I am, as ugly as women can be, then, as I say after a while the feeling, the idiotic feeling that you are beautiful, grows slowly in one again. It grows like a cabbage.” He’ll understand. Bob will understand.

Your W-2 Form

Your friends will be in awe of your ability to construct such a delicious pizza from farm-fresh ingredients when they realize you make less than twenty thousand a year.

Dehydrated Earlobes

This topper is a two-hit wonder: not only do earlobes look and taste like delicate Hen of the Woods mushrooms, they do wonders for your artistic credibility. Your dinner guests will immediately recall Van Gogh, giving you a chance to pull out your prized posession from beneath the kitchen sink: the original of Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear, Easel and Japanese Print. Unless, of course, the next pizza is topped with…

Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear, Easel and Japanese Print by Van Gogh

A delicious, oily, vegan substitute for pepperoni!

Shade-Grown Coffee

Who isn’t obsessed with coffee these days? It’s a cultural phenomenon! If you cry yourself to sleep because your friends toss around confusing terms like “crop rotation” and “Stumptown” and you’re just so tired of their intellectual posturing, SO SO TIRED, WILL YOU EVER SLEEP AGAIN?!, then cash into this red-hot trend by pouring a Siphon of fragrant coffee on top of each friend’s head until they die.

Proper Arch-Nemeses for the Modern Young Lady

1. The Aging Bro

As today’s modern Miss languishes at her unfulfilling office job, she is likely to encounter an Aging Bro in the form of a Director of Marketing or an Agency Account Executive. Given your brains, spunk, and the charming way you blush under pressure, the Aging Bro will frequently attempt to take advantage of you, be it personally, professionally, or artistically. He may try to wheedle you into finishing his screenplay. He may lure you into his office with false promises of promotion. He may swear that he can get you into the club his “buddy” owns, despite the fact that you are under 21. When he tries to manipulate you with high-gloss business cards and expensed arugula salads, smile in sympathy at his existentially barren existence and walk politely out of his office and into your next job.

2. The Overly Seductive Neo-Housewife

Though we dwell in an era of modern conveniences such as toaster ovens and iPads, a proper young lady may occasionally encounter the Overly Seductive Neo-Housewife: an attractive, buxom nemesis who’s not above using her feminine wiles to lure your man away. She may bake him bourbon-infused cupcakes. She may wash her kitchen floor on hands and knees, humming an alluring tune. She may own several low-cut aprons. If her culinary prowess threatens to shake your decorous confidence, merely point to your well-stocked bookshelves and ask her to borrow a feather duster. The pen is always mightier than the bundt pan.

3. The Bitter Elder Relative

When an au courant young lady chooses a life of art and intellect over a life of drudgery and soulless ladder-climbing, she may rouse the interest of the Bitter Elder Relative during holidays and other family affairs. Lamentably, the Bitter Elder Relative never found the courage to pursue his own creative dreams, and disguises his unhappiness by scoffing at your tenuous artistic future. “What’s the net worth of a poem?” he may sneer. A terse dedication to the Bitter Elder Relative in your first novel–To Uncle Gregor, who taught me perseverance–should silence him forever.

4. The Lecherous Barista

Sometimes he foams your cappuccino just right, and you embark on a life of cortados and croissants together. But sometimes he leers at you over the lukewarm percolator and tries to charm you by drawing comics on your to-go cup. At first it’s all so French, but ladies, you are under no obligation to be flattered by his coffee-stained intentions. An unwanted advance is an unwanted advance. Hint gently that your future lies elsewhere by tipping your scalding macchiato onto his toes.

5. The Craiglist Sociopath Who Wants to Kill and Eat You

These are trying times, ladies, and even the most comely peeress may occasionally finding herself surfing the Craiglist “gigs” section, hoping to make an extra dollar or two to support her no-chip manicure habit. As she ignores uncouth calls for “seXxY laTinO or whiTE gUrlZ 18-21,” she may perk up at the sight of innocent-seeming ads that ask for a “talented young writer to beautify my novella” or “well-mannered housekeeper to dust my antique dictionary collection.” Ladies, beware! Do not click on the anonymized Craigslist email address. Do not attach your resume and the required “recent full-body shot” that displays your lusciously full cheeks to mouth-watering advantage. Close your browser window, take a calming moment to water a houseplant, and remember that you feature prominently in Aunt Cynthia’s will.

6. The Fauxrtiste

Her jeans are paint-stained, her hair is tousled, and she insists loudly that she’s “not a dress-up kind of girl.” It’s only natural for a proper young woman to feel threatened by those whose bohemian ways and shrieking denouncement of the Establishment seem to hint at a rich inner life. Ladies! Remember the Bronte sisters, who lived out their narrow lives under the watchful eye of their father, drinking water contaminated by graveyard runoff. Remember Emily Dickinson and her white cotton dresses and her habit of speaking in a low voice from the other side of the door. Remember that the young ladies who change the world are often in the corner, watching everything with lavender-rimmed eyes. The Fauxrtiste may garner fleeting attention as she spins beneath the disco ball, tossing around the words “meta” and “aesthetic” like so many ironic paperback novels, but she is no threat to the mind that simmers inside your small, well-coiffed head.

Creepers I Can See From Where I Sit

1. My ex-husband. He just vanished through a filmy curtain into the back of his coffee shop. Is he avoiding me? I hear his sweetly deceptive voice berating another employee for something something latte temperature something something oolong tea.

2. The woman sitting alone on the park bench outside my window. Her fashion sense screams, “NEW YORK! NEW YOOOORK! THE SARTORIALIST, BABY!” Is that a plastic bag? Oh, she’s homeless. Continue reading →

Hipsters of the Heart

Today, my boyfriend and I got a very very very very very early coffee so that I could sob into his arms and plead, “Don’t go home for Th-th-th-thanksgiving! I NEED YOU!”

And as a matter of fact, I do need him, because I am staggering under the weight of how truly awful my writing is. If you thought Twilight was bad, YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR LIFE! I mean, YOU MUST READ MY STORY. I know I know, I’m quoting Kafka or whoever wrote that poem–oh yeah, Rilke, sorry, that k+vowel combo always throws me–and you must think I’m all smart and literary but I AM UNWORTHY TO PICK UP THE HUMBLEST OF PENS.

Very real emotional breakdowns aside, Charlie and I were snuggled up in a corner of the couch when who should walk through the door but Hipster Husband himself, fashionably late for his shift. He walked past us, averting his eyes at the sight of me with another man (we have an open polygamous marriage) but maintaining that so-elusive and ever-appealing hipster swagger (you know the type: the my-Toms-are-too-big shuffle, the I-can’t-see-where-I’m-going hangover eyes).

“That’s Hipster Husband,” I whispered to Charlie.

Charlie watched Hipster Husband shuffle away, and then turned to glare at me. “He’s an asshole,” he said.

“What? You don’t even know him! He’s totally shy and sweet!”

“I can just tell. It’s like how you can just tell when girls are biddies.” (Quick aside: Male intuition? Do we buy it?)

“Okay,” I said, meekly. “I’ll divorce him.” I took a forlorn sip of my coffee, somehow managing to look dewy and fresh despite the early hour and the heartbreak that was ravaging my eyes.

After a while, we got up to leave. I took my mug over to Hipster Husband. “Have a good day!” I said, although my heart was screaming, I’M NOT READY TO STOP LOVING YOU!!!!!

As I walked out of the coffee shop with my cruel, cruel boyfriend, he put his arm around me and said, “Actually, that guy is chill.”

I looked up at him, mute with hope.

“You don’t have to divorce him,” he said, and walked on, stoic and ever-cool.

To Love a Hipster

The saga of the heart continues. When we last parted ways, I was toying with the idea of reuniting with my ex-husband, the one who broke my heart by scoffing at my grandparents, the one who tried to kick me and his other wife out of his coffee shop a full minute before it closed. My polygamous dreamboat. I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated you on the state of my love life, and believe me, I’ve heard your screams: DID YOU TAKE HIM BACK?

Faithful subjects, there has been a twist. A new husband has arrived on the scene. His name? Hipster.

A few weeks ago, my sister-wife and I went to our favorite coffee shop, as we so often do, to complain about the bourgeoisie. Imagine our consternation—picture the blushes that played over our perfectly spherical faces like the aurora borealis over the Arctic snows—envision our wrists, trembling with nervous energy, encased in their rows and rows and rows of impossibly thin Cartier chains—are you still with me?—visualize the way our hearts reverberated in our chests like the wild, untameable leopards of the Brookfield Zoo, when we saw that there was a new barista behind the counter. His hair? Curly and black. His eyes? Hidden by square-framed glasses. His feet? Encased in weatherbeaten Toms. He was a hipster. And he was ours.

To love a hipster requires two things: well-worn Converse and a laissez-faire attitude about art. Thankfully, I possess plenty of both. I knew he was mine when he said in tones that could melt the most organic of butters, “I like the state of your Chucks.”

Cell phone tour of the coffee shops of Portland, OR, provided by your faithful correspondent.

Second Chances

Shawty, you keep playing with my heart.

Things are back on with my ex-husband. Sort of. It’s not like we’re getting married again–we’re taking it slow, you know? Trying to make this work the second time around. We’re still seeing other people, obviously,  but just between you and me–things are different. As Carrie Bradshaw told her girlfriends about Big, “It just feels so right this time” or something.

Even though I swore I would never go back to his coffee shop, no matter how delicious his cortados were, something kept pulling me there. Dare I say that “something” was…love?

As I walked to the counter, lips trembling, wrists aflutter, he reached for my credit card before even asking me what my order was. He knew exactly what I wanted. Or did he? I couldn’t help but wonder: was he just using me for my money?

Coy as a geisha, I plucked my card away from him. “I’m getting something different this time,” I said, my voice fraught with meaning. “An iced coffee.” My lips were smiling, but my heart was screaming, Iced like your soul, you heartless bastard! Why don’t you love me anymore? 

I arranged myself by the nearest window, letting the sun play gently over my long burnished hair. Okay, full disclosure, I was wearing a huge hockey sweatshirt and my hair was in some sort of bird’s nest disarray from a long day of lying in bed and listlessly flipping through books of poetry. Kind of an off-duty model look. Off-duty unemployed homeless model, age 51. But suddenly the very air of the coffee shop was different. Electricity crackled in my fingertips. My iced coffee appeared on the table and I looked up–up–up into his dark eyes. He was smiling.

“I’ll get you a straw,” he said, and vanished.

By then, my heart was busier than a hive of bees when the virgin queen bees FIGHT TO THE DEATH in order to establish which one will rule. I was filled with a sudden desire to fling myself into his arms. I didn’t care about the fact that he was rude to my grandparents, or the time he tried to kick me out of the coffee shop one minute before closing, or the countless times he told me he couldn’t replace the blue cheese on my salad with something more palatable, or the heartless way he sneered, “We’re out of croissants today.” I didn’t care. I wanted him back.

He brought me the straw and handed it to me with a little bow. I melted. “Thank you,” I said breathily, looking up at him through my impossibly thick eyelashes. He understood me perfectly. “You’re welcome,” he said, and went back behind the counter to steam some milk.

Messy Divorce

Faithful subjects, I have learned an important lesson from the slew of embarrassing memoirs with little girls on the covers currently ravaging our bookstores and that is: I NEED TO TALK ABOUT MYSELF MORE.

So I’m here to tell you a painful tale that lies very close to my heart.

I was in a polygamous marriage up until last week, and now we are getting a divorce.

Let me set the scene: a coffee shop, three blocks from my apartment. Steaming, well-crafted cortados. The best croissants in the city. A handsome owner. It was only a matter of time before we were wed. My friend–who I shall call only by her surname, which is Huevos Rancheros–was also his bride. We shared our glowing prize with the graciousness of two old French duchesses.

We went to his coffee shop at least once a week to bask in our husband’s beauty and sip down his exquisitely foamed creations. ALAS! Nuptial bliss was but a fleeting dream, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, for soon enough, his darker side began to show.

He was a total jerk.

Alas, young maidens, let this be a warning to you: don’t spring into polygamous matrimony after knowing someone for a mere 2 months. Most importantly, don’t spring into polygamous matrimony with someone who never comes out from behind the counter to speak to you, someone who lures you in with the richness of his espresso and the adorable way he always remembers your drink order but who has A HOLLOWNESS IN HIS EYES! A HOLLOWNESS.

We gave him three chances–he struck out three times:

1. At exactly 9:59 pm one night, he looked at us, pointed at the door, and said, “Alright, time to pack up!”
2. He was rude to Huevos Rancheros’ father. (I suspect he may have been jealous at the sight of his second wife on the arm of a tall, rugged, silver fox.)

But don’t cry for us, Argentina. Soon after the divorce proceedings began, we noticed that his lips were way too pink and he always wore Crocs. Totally gross. It’s just awkward because where are we supposed to get our cortados now?

Read more about my melodramatic love life in my upcoming memoir: I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR MEMOIR.