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Monday Morning Medusa

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Who came up with that term anyway? I often wonder who gets to name things. New activities, urban phenomenon, hurricanes. I know I can easily find the answer online, but really, the question leaves my head almost immediately after it enters it. I move on. What bill is due today? What the fuck is my weird dog chewing on? As for Doris, my very rotten dog, the answer almost certainly is she’s chewing on: A) my glasses, B) my mechanical pencil or C) a plant that will try and kill her and cost me at least $3k at the vet. Don’t feel bad for me though, when we were thinking of getting a dog, I literally asked God for the “naughtiest and laziest” dog. I did this because as a kid I didn’t feel I was ever allowed to be naughty or lazy. I wanted a puppy that could fully be who she wanted to be. I AM THE LITERAL DUMBEST. I got exactly what I asked for.

The world is so hard right now. Which feels ridiculous to even write. Murder, poverty, disease, extreme social inequity. People are enraged. Heartbroken. Lonely. And they come by that shit honestly. Things don’t seem so much “hard” as they seem impossible to live through. And yet, here we are. I remember in high school listening to Annie Lennox. Dying is easy, it’s living that scares me to death. I was like, “Oh come on, Annie, it’s not so bad!” But it hit me even then, maybe the thing I most afraid of is not actually the thing that will cause me the most suffering. But, like the naming of things question I mentioned earlier, in 1993 I didn’t stop long enough to really ponder the question. There were boys to fall in love with, malt liquor to drink, weird shit to needlessly shoplift from local businesses. As I worry about my bills these days, I think of the stuff I did back then and cringe. Seriously, I shoplifted on MORE than at least THREE occasions from a store in my hometown called, “MOSTLY HANDMADE.” Jesus Christ. I picture artists making beaded earrings, hoping to God, someone will buy their wares to validate the fact that they aren’t wasting their time on something that brings them joy, and then MY CHUBBY AWFUL ASS comes along and filches their bobbles. The worst. Dear bead-ers, crochet-ers and folksy crafters, I know you were probably trying to just get your side hustle on in the 90s. Pay some bills, break up the monotony of life. And I stole from you. All I can say is, I felt unloved and

hated myself. I was not well. For what it’s worth, I am very sorry.

The other day I drove into the city to see a friend. She’s caring for her father who had a stroke, and she rarely leaves the house unless it’s for his medical appointments or to grocery shop. So, when I can, I drive from Ventura, where I live into Los Angeles. I leave at 6am to avoid traffic and yet, there is always traffic. “WHERE THE FUCK ARE WE ALL GOING?” I say when I find myself knee deep in 6 lanes of traffic on the 101, my GPS telling me it’s going to take me 36 minutes to go 6.3 miles. The answer is always the same. We’re all going where we think we have to go. Eventually I reach my exit, make a right onto Western, and see something I’ve never seen before. It’s 7:40 in the morning. The sun is out. Kids are walking to school. I do a double take. A pair of sex workers, one completely topless, are talking to a car full of men who have stopped and are now blocking traffic. I’m stopped at a light, staring at one of the sex worker’s asses. It’s a normal ass. In pink see-through tights with her black thong showing. She has a bikini top on. The other woman, on the other side of the car has on a short black skirt and legit no top on. Just free tits-ing it on this early Monday morning. The women are laughing. The men look nervous, their windows only rolled down about 5 inches. And although they are causing a backup, no one honks. No one says anything. Everyone just waits. Except the kids who are walking to school. They use the hold up as a chance to cross against the light. The littler ones, who walk with their moms, keep their heads down, following the examples of their elders. The older kids, walking in pairs, sneak glances, and snicker to each other. Here’s what I notice most about the whole scene. All of us appear obviously nervous except the sex works. I catch a glimpse of myself in my rearview mirror. If my eyes were talking, they would say, “ This is not safe, no one is in control, we’re all in danger.”

But the sex workers? They’re laughing. Like full on laughing at something. And shouting to each ther from across the hood of the 2002 dented Toyota Corolla. And then more laughing. They don’t look scared. At all. They look almost bored. If they weren’t standing on Western, you could totally plop them in a high school hallway somewhere, in front of their lockers, dawdling after the bell has rung. Laughing and shouting. Lingering. It would be a completely normal scene. It hit me that the two women probably can’t afford to be afraid. And they most def cannot afford to show it. It would mean death. They are laughing to survive. Which reminded me of that movie, Gangs of New York. I was struck by several things in that movie, HOW FILTHY EVERYTHING WAS ALL THE TIME, HOW EVERYONE JUST CONTINUALLY HAD TO ADAPT TO NEW LEVELS OF AWFUL WITHOUT SHOWING A SMIDGE OF FEAR, BECAUSE FEAR MEANT CERTAIN DEATH. Imagine, everything around you is covered in grime, blood and the unbelievable stink of human depravity and desperation. And on top of that, you have to pretend to be brave or you’re gonna get raped, murdered or at the very least robbed and humiliated by scumbags on your way to your job at the stockyards where you slit the throats of baby cows, if you’re lucky enough to even have a job. Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

My light changed. I rolled on. I looked back. The Corolla had now pulled off to the side. The sex workers were still laughing, their heads thrown back. The topless woman had a long dreads that danced around her face as she laughed. In that moment, she looked like a modern Medusa. And as I turned down my friend’s street, I caught myself thinking, “I hope she turns us all to stone.”

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