by Marisa Crawford
I was in my room masturbating with a frozen hot dog, which is just one of the many examples of things that make my room truly my own. The clock turned 11:11. I made a wish. 11 x 1 = 11. I can’t tell you what the wish was and I won’t. I wish I had an apartment with art all over the walls and that the art was all linked together by one cohesive theme. And maybe that theme could be the forest, or the trees. Spooky light browns and bright, deep greens. I wish I had a second room, a sort of parlor room, and that its theme was “poodles.” And I could go there to get grounded, to not lose sight of where I came from and who I am. To think about how devastating my body image is, how I miss Katie, how fantastic I might look in a tight white sweater, if you’d let me! Oh if you would let me. Like you were ever even around when everyone was saying to “Imagine Sisyphus happy,” let alone present. I was in my room writing my name in cursive. I worked so hard for so many years, crafting and re-crafting my signature, all its intricate pleats and loops.
They say, “If the descent is thus sometimes performed in sorrow, it can also take place in joy.” I talked to Tore last week and it was like being in hell. Or like being in Georgia. I mean, he was in Georgia. It was like that weird smelly stuff that my mom used to put on our cuts when we were little, the stuff that looked like blood. I know that he stopped talking to Katie when she got on a plane and moved to California. We all did. Even me, and I moved with her. And I know the only reason why he keeps her in his Top Friends on Myspace is because I told him you need to maintain a certain respect for the parts of your past that are sacred.
A man on the street asked me, “Can’t you smile better than that? Is that smile the best you can do?” Well, no. But I smile when I’m happy. (This is the rock's victory, this is the rock itself.) Dude walking behind me called me “beautiful.” Doll. He said, “Keep up the good work.” Maybe when he said that, he was talking about my writing, or about how I stopped shaving my armpits, like a French babe, how I miss Katie. How I felt like an enormous dying steam engine, gripping your little finger with my balled up fist. You said, “If Marisa is cute in the forest, and there’s no one there to see her, is she still cute?” It’s a really important question. How I want to say all the same things I always want to say, so predictable, the rock rolling back down the hill.
When I moved into my apartment the walls were deep cheerleader maroon, and I painted them a soft, fuzzy peach. So now I can rub my back up against the fuzz of the wall whenever I’m feeling scared of getting robbed or getting stabbed, or missing Katie. And then I start crying, or maybe sometimes I have an orgasm.
The frozen hot dog defrosted and broke off inside me. I was chastised, then renowned, then eventually accepted by my peers. Whether or not you stuff your bra is really just a question of authenticity. And power, maybe. On the airplane to California I sat by the window and looked down. The city was covered with lights and clouds. My town looked like little dollhouses, earnest and willing, white and green and brown.
Whiskers Bought the Farm
There’s a mouse that lives in my kitchen and my friend Chrissy says maybe there’s more than one. I call him Whiskers. Whiskers, wriggling in the sticky trap, all like, Oh no, I’m stuck! My friend Chrissy says, do not personify it if you’re going to kill it.
But I played hide-and-seek with the mouse. I pulled back the curtain and there it was, clinging to the back with pleading eyes. Looking into its eyes was like looking into my own. Like looking into a lover’s eyes, the vegan sensibilities, the furrowed brow, coffee brown.
I’m kind of psychic I think, like how I knew to look for Whiskers behind the long, green curtain, and how I decided one evening to fantasize about you kissing me on the dance floor, taking me home and then you did.
I imagine Whiskers in a tiny chef’s hat, with a moustache, diving into my spaghetti pot and swimming around. Whiskers in a kimono, eating my sushi with chopsticks. I come home from a long day’s work, have a dance party with the mice that live in my closet.
I bite into the tofu at the Vietnamese restaurant and imagine that I’m biting into Whiskers. But I’m not. I’m so self-sufficient it’s scary. I masturbate with a big, blue dolphin-shaped dildo. It’s sort of kinky and sort of like I’m dying. I think, the dolphins have eyelashes. The mouse sleeps in a tiny bed. Like coming back to life.
I stand on a chair, shrieking. Like, the sticky traps are cruel, cruel, cruel, but love is crueler. I bake Whiskers chocolate chip cookies. I fashion stairs out of feminist books, push the stairs against a trash can. Whiskers climbs the stairs, falls in, eats a triangle of cheese inside the trash can, then climbs out. Whiskers says, death is not cartoonish. Sorry. But sometimes it kind of is. I come home and Whiskers is twitching in a trap. I come home and Whiskers is doing yoga, listening to Enya, downward-facing dog.
Talking on the phone as I walk to the train, my skirt keeps riding up, blowing up in the wind, kind of like Marilyn Monroe only not cute and only awkward, not so much an icon of feminine beauty as a tired, sweaty brunette with glasses, yanking down my dress and smoothing my pilly tights as I walk to the train.
Which is not to say that I’m not aware that Marilyn Monroe was a size 16. I am. And that the clitoris contains about twice the number of nerve endings found in the penis. And that the Suicide Girls soft-core pin-up website’s claim to alternative notions of beauty includes skinny white girls with tattoos. I know it all. And that Marilyn died “in the nude” of an apparent barbiturate overdose/probable suicide, and that when asked by a journalist what she had on during her Playboy photo shoot, she said, “the radio,” and when asked again what she wore, she said, “Chanel No. 5.” And that Coco Chanel was affiliated with the Nazi party, a fact that sort of makes me want to wear enormous bejeweled swastika earrings. Coco Chanel replaced the corset with comfortable, casual clothing for the modern woman. About Chanel No. 5, she said, “this perfume is not just beautiful and fragrant. It contains my blood and my sweat and a million broken dreams.”
The New York Times Magazine recently ran a nude photo spread of starlet-gone-bad Lindsey Lohan reenacting Marilyn Monroe’s last photo shoot. Known as The Last Sitting, she’s naked and playfully sipping champagne on a bed of white linens, six weeks before she was found dead. I share her birthday, and Alanis Morrisette too. And if people were offended by my Chanel earrings, I would smooth down my skirt and give a sleepy, saucy wink that says, “You don’t understand art. You don’t understand art at all.”
So Hard That It Hurts
My best friend and I spend every day together sitting around in cafes laughing in loosely fitting yet flattering sweaters. We break all the glasses wearing whipped cream moustaches we are laughing so hard. My best friend has a necklace of tiger shells and cone shells and she has the perfect amount of lip gloss and the perfect amount of money. And whenever I rest my head on her chest I always almost get lost in the sea. We ride on dolphins and the dolphins propel us with their noses. We climb rocky cliffs into hot pink sunsets and kiss each other so deeply and platonically. She’s so pretty and archaic. I fit my hand into her handprint. Pure metallic nail polish is real, and fake, and real.
My best friend and I transform nondescript apartments, toss throw pillow after throw pillow across states and countries. Pinky swear who you have to stay, who you agreed to be. We eat adorable, expensive donuts on china coasters. Glazed donuts and cinnamon donuts and chocolate frosted donuts and chocolate icing donuts and the ones with sprinkles and crullers and terrible, incredible coffee and I stuff them into her mouth while she’s sleeping and she doesn’t judge me and I don’t judge her and we don’t have any money, and we don’t need any money.
I dropped my candy bar on the street, picked it up and ate it. I had this best friend mishap where I kept waking up bored and angry and wearing the sleep mask from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. My best friend and I lay casually across enormous plush sofas with beautiful faded orange paisley pillows. She stirs her tea. If you listen hard enough you’ll hear the echo of the sea. If you feel hard enough you’ll feel the breeze.