Stop Hatin’ On Vaginas


I’ve always loved L’Origine du Monde by Courbet. The first time I saw it at The Musee D’Orsay, it stopped me in my tracks. It seemed revolutionary, even 130 years after it was painted, even after having seen Annie Sprinkle proudly display her cervix on a stage. There’s something arresting about the defiant beauty of it.

I wasn’t going to weigh in on this issue, but I keep driving by a Remember Me billboard three seconds from my house and every time I do, I get pissed off.

I know I’m late to the angry vagina party and that it’s old news by now that Rob Pattinson told Details Magazine, “I really hate vaginas. I’m allergic to vaginas.” But it just makes me furious every time I pass by his giant, lovey-dovey, romancey billboard face and think that twelve bazillion twilit tweens who are already struggling with their feelings about their bodies have to hear that the mere proximity of their genitals would cause their heartthrob to require an emergency shot of epinephrine.

Whoever you are, you came out of a vagina. I don’t care if you’re inclined to be sexually interested in vaginas or not, you should love vaginas regardless. So fight the powers that be and join me in loving a vagina today.

Pretend That We’re Dead


Yesterday, I played a dead ballerina in Margaret Cho’s outrageous new music video. I can’t say too much about it, but I can say that it shocked even me. It was directed by my friend Liam Sullivan, better known as Kelly, of “Shoes” fame. Here’s a picture of Penny Starr Jr. and me as we waited for our big moment.

Music video sets can be dangerous, in that you sit around for far too long and sometimes wind up saying too much out of boredom. Kind of like a bar, without the drinking part. For instance, I sat down next to Ryan Heffington (only my favorite choreographer in the whole universe) and poured my heart out about all of my little girl dance-class-damage. Maybe it was the purple tutu that made me get emotional. Luckily, he was as lovely as can be and I walked away swearing to attend his legendary Sweaty Sundays dance class this week. And I will, darn it.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Eggs and Airplanes



Whenever I have a few posts in a row about writing or ghosts or reviews or whatever, I inevitably get an email from someone saying: Um, that’s great and all, but can you please post some more pictures of the baby?

Here are a couple of pix from our favorite breakfast spot, Annia’s Cafe at the El Monte Airport. T likes it because he gets to say two of his favorite words over and over again. Eggs. Airplane. Eggs. Airplane. Eggs. Airplane.

This breakfast was particularly fun because T got to see one of his oldest friends, Lula Tarikie. It’s always special when we get a chance to visit with one of the other adoptive families with whom we traveled to Ethiopia. There’s something relaxing about not having to explain this fundamental piece of our existence. It’s not that I don’t like talking about our adoption. I love talking about it. But I also love just being understood in an arena where words often fall short.

Blonde On The Inside


Here’s a copy of my review of Joyce Carol Oates’ Blonde, posted at The Rumpus this morning in “The Last Book I Loved” section:

My framed, original Marilyn calendar has been glaring at me from my den wall ever since I finished Joyce Carol Oates’ Blonde.

When I look at it now, I feel as if I was there when it was shot. I’m not sure if I was the camera, the photographer or the desperate, naked girl- doomed and luminous and ashamed of the soles of her feet. Whomever I was, I was so close to the action that I could smell the dirty fifty dollar bill that the blonde was paid for the job. And now the calendar itself, formerly one of my most treasured objects, seems like an odd piece of taxidermy.

Blonde is Oates’ fictional biography of Marilyn Monroe. Written in five parts and traveling a somewhat circuitous route from Marilyn’s awful childhood to her worse death, the gorgeous and grisly prose is comprised of voices channeled from a host of spirits, some famous, some not. Oates assembles her Marilyn collage from a constantly shifting collection of perspectives and moments. The most entrancing voice in the book is Marilyn’s, breathless and heartbreaking and almost audible. However, the perspective always shifts back to an omniscient narrator, who has already seen the film through to the end and beyond. The presence of this narrator reminds us, lest we become too hopeful, that Marilyn’s end was there from her beginning.

Not only is Blonde a success in its searing and constant poetry (over 700 pages worth), it’s also a triumph of humanism and feminism, in spite of its ghoulish finale. It is a profound feminist statement to take a woman who was owned by all and cared for by no one, who was the ultimate sex object to a public that both adored her and tore her to pieces, and give voice to her soul.

Ghosts Don’t Live Here Anymore



For V Day we got Goth-ed up and drove to Long Beach to have dinner on The Queen Mary and then go on the Paranormal Shipwalk Tour. I figured how bad could it be- a night dining while looking out at the shimmering water and then creeping through the bowels of the picturesque old behemoth while hearing spooky stories.

Bad. It was bad. Long Beach is exactly forty-five minutes away from the largest population of unemployed actors in the world, and you’re telling me you can’t find a cool ghost tour guide? The apex of the experience consisted of standing around in a pitch dark swimming pool changing room (apparently a vortex of supernatural activity), with our apathetic guide calling out, “Jackie? Jackie, are you here? Talk to us Jackie!” Then (to us, not Jackie), “Did you hear that? Does anybody feel dizzy?”

Well, everyone on the tour except us had at least twelve drinks in their system and we were all standing in the dark breathing toxic mold spores. So yeah, quite a few people felt dizzy.

Handing around in some dank old engine room and commanding the spirits of the old ship workers to make noise (as if, even if there are such things as ghosts, they hang around waiting for tours to show up so they can get their jollies banging on the pipes) is NOT scary, unless you think an allergy attack is scary. What I had hoped for was a good story, the kind of story that can creep up behind you on a dark street, breathe on your neck and send you running for the nearest well-lit storefront. The kind of story that cranks your imagination into a high enough gear that the very dust motes in the air start forming filmy apparitions.

Our ghost tour reminded me that in the hands of the right storyteller, any room can become haunted in the flick of a light switch. In the hands of a hack, even the majestic Queen Mary can seem dull as a 7-11.

On the up side, Scott has been walking around all day saying, “Jackie, can you make me some bacon for breakfast? Are you there, Jackie? Will you walk the dogs, Jackie?” etc, etc. If you can’t have horror, you might as well have comedy.