Blind Mob Daddy. by Monah Li

12 05 2014

“I lika de puusee”, Armando grins and shuts the door to the van from the inside.
“I know”, I say and hesitate for a moment, but what the hell, I don’t care how he takes it, so I go on “That’s going to be on your tombstone if you don’t watch it”
He laughs and says that Pussy-thing again, this time with his hand dangerously close to what he talks about.
His swollen feet are shoved into old man’s slippers, his glasses so thick I can’t tell how blind he really is. He’s definitely on his way to get his tombstone soon and he knows it. Three years on dialysis, three times a week and not even on the kidney-list, he’s just about maxed out his days on the machine. My mother’s late husband died after three years dialysis. A body can only take so much.
Juvenile diabetes is a bitch, nobody’s fault. But it is slightly reassuring that the Meth he sells is not the cause of such physical destruction. Armando is only 38 years old.
The motor is running in place, filling the van with hot air and mixes with the piss-stink from his pores, especially sharp cause it’s a no-dialysis day.
“I like it” he begs again. “You no like sex?”
“I don’t. I just really don’t. It’s not just you. I never liked it” I lie, trying to stay calm. It’s the same conversation every time I come see him.

What the hell am I doing with a love-struck, horny almost-corpse inside an overheated van? Until six weeks ago, if anybody had predicted this, I would have laughed. No way. No fucking way, I would have said.
I took my first newcomer chip In June 1987 and besides a few problems with painkillers when my back went out, my recovery was flawless. Everything happened as it should. After a nightmare detox from Heroin, Methadone and Meth Amphetamines, I got my shit together and worked my ass off to make up for the decade – my twenties – I wasted with drugs, a gay ex-prisoner, but still con/ hustler/pimp with violent tendencies. I fled from him by first moving out and throwing myself into med-school and then when this wasn’t enough of a distance, I visited my mother who had never returned home to Vienna, even after her Stanford Fellowship in Psychiatry was long over, even though I was only 15 years old.
We hadn’t seen each other for ten years. I needed a mom; she needed a daughter, so when it came time to return to University, my mother had an idea.
“You’re never going to be a good doctor anyway, why don’t you stay and go to fashion school here? Isn’t this what you always wanted?”
It was. I stayed. She paid the school two years in advance and helped me move in with the two lesbians I had met at Club Lingerie in Hollywood. I made it to school less then ten times. The couple taught me how to shoot speed and that was that. Instead of a graduation, my mother had to bail me out of Sybil Brand and put me on a plane back to Vienna.
“Let your father deal with this” she hissed and I sobbed.
My father didn’t deal with it, but I did.
Four years clean and sober, I was married with a baby on the way and an exploding fashion career. Success and respect, motherhood and praise, not to mention an almost celebrity status and so much money, the $600.000 my accountant stashed away for herself, would have never been noticed, had she not been so sloppy and forgotten to remove the fax to payroll before locking up for the day.
But even this turned out to be a fall up. Creative director of a huge mall-company wasn’t anything to get high over. With my new boyfriend, a charming but moody bad-boy – I have to admit, sometimes I would have liked a drink. Or better yet, listening to him going on about the hardship of a girlfriend with a stupid fashion job, I often wished that he had a drink to chill out.
Of course, I lost that job, even though the boss made a few hundred people move to LA from San Francisco because he couldn’t get me to move up there. Quite possibly, me trying to direct a few hundred resentful people was a dumb idea and doomed from the start, but that was no reason to drink. I fight best on my back. Defeat brings out the beast in me and besides, with hardly any non-AA friends left, peer pressure and the idea of not being part of the herd, was terrifying enough to stay clean.
So when I first started to have my own thoughts about AA and my more and more unfriendly relationship, I did what I always do:
When in doubt, dig in and step it up.
For the next five years, I drove every day of the week from my job in Downtown to Santa Monica to be part of Pacific Group. Home was my house by Eagle Rock and bad boys house in Mount Washington on alternating days. My daughter too lived with never unpacked bags, one day with me, one day with her dad and no matter how tired she was, she had to sit through meetings with me, or what good would a drunk mother be anyway? Digging in even more, I made sure the relationship I should have left or better yet, never picked up 13 years ago, turned into an even unhappier marriage. When in doubt…..
There is something to be said about a proper dress-code and the enforcement of manners and respect – years of sitting behind butt-cracks and comparing my tasteful self with half naked strippers and fat guys in wife beaters or bare chested and sweaty at 3rd and Gardner and the Tropical, while reminding myself to not take rude rock stars and the dynamics of High school-like cliques too personal was tiresome and painful.
So now, fierce handshakes from people in real clothes displaying fake or real good manners was a relieve. It made the hours I spent inside my car and even the cult-adjacent rituals one had to undergo to please Glancy at least tolerable.

Until it wasn’t anymore. At a Thanks giving party at my only non-AA friend’s house, I had two hits of pot from a pipe being passed around. Driving home so stoned I couldn’t figure on if my lights were on or not and giggling about it, I was happy in a way I’d never been.
The meeting I attended after that was my last one and I knew it. Listening to the 60+ speaker going on about the slut she used to be when she was still drinking, I promised myself that I never had to listen to another speaker again, never drive for hours to fucking Santa Monica or thank Glancy for my sobriety.

Instead I used those hours to learn belly dance and screen writing. Losing a few hundred friends in a day was not as painful as feared. Facebook, still fun and exciting picked up some of the slack and the rest filled up quickly too. New friends, old friends, most of them in-control drinkers or recovered druggies tired of AA, made more then up for the loss and even when my marriage finally crashed, I had already a whole new group of new friends, ready to wipe my tears and listen with a bottle of wine. I had parties to go to, belly dance rehearsals and so many match.com dates, I never had time to worry about AA. Honestly, I did not miss it at all.

In college during the day to become a drug-and alcohol counselor and still designing clothes, I lived for my nights alone. Bundled up on the balcony, I chain-smoked, drank red wine and wrote my own screenplay, usually until 3 or 4 AM. If I was tired, I didn’t feel it, the excitement of a literary agent and an indie-company that had optioned my screenplay, I added another thing to keep me busy: My own store in a seedy part of Echo Park.
I was on top of the world. For a few months. But then, one by one, it all collapsed. First the financing for the movie fell through, after another complete rewrite to create a main role for the financier’s son, my halfmyage lover decided he needed the picket-fence and the babies after all, then the book was turned down by publisher after publisher for reasons my agent could not grasp, my stepfather died and shortly after, my favorite uncle. My new store’s location was almost but not yet there and suddenly, I was out of money and out of time.

But naturally, I hadn’t left AA quietly like a lady. Badmouthing it loudly (as well as my now ex husband), I felt guilty and was too proud to go back when the hangovers became unbearable. As the mountain of triumph I had laughed from the top slowly collapsed, the endless crying jags started and all I wanted was sleep. But I couldn’t turn to the place that had been my family for 23 years.
The last string broke when my literary agent informed me that she would be ok, should I decide to leave her.

Tired and dejected, I was working on a new collection of way too complicated designs – lack of confidence, compelled me to overload my clean shapes with detail and more detail until my dresses became impossible to sew and looked like misguided Holiday ornamnets, I befriended a cooler then possible stylist/photographer couple. One night, shooting late into the morning, every design flaw glared at me with glee. I was done and over, who would buy that crap and who did I think I was? A has-been deluded idiot, a moron who could have been a doctor and a soon-to-be old lady pushing a shopping cart. I was tired.
“Do you want a bump?” The more then attractive photographer asked.
“A what” I said.
“A bump” he repeated, “Speed”
“You mean drugs? No way. You don’t look like you do drugs”
Those people not only didn’t display tweaker-looks at all; they lived in a beautiful house, had white teeth and dressed in a style that went beyond hipster-cool. If this is how speed looks today,
how bad could it be?
I accepted, but didn’t do it then. I needed a good night’s sleep, so I wrapped it up and took it home.

The next day I called and requested an emergency appointment with my botox doctor. While he left the room, I emptied his medial waste container – unlocked – and stuffed my purse with all the used syringes I could grab, .
People who can afford botox can’t have AIDS, they don’t, don’t they? Right. Go for it.
I rushed home. For the first time after 26 years, a spoon was not just a spoon. It’s true that you never forget how to ride a bike or how to shoot drugs. But those needles were tiny. It took me an hour to finally hit a vein and then the whole thing was a complete letdown.
No euphoria, just an uptight and seasick feeling that forced me back to bed. It must not have been enough? But the more I did, the worse I felt. Soon it was gone, my depression and fatigue still not lifted an inch. Instead of seeing that this wasn’t working, I needed more. When in doubt…..
I nagged my friend until he gave in and introduced me to his connection.
Armando’s buddies checked me out in the parking lot of Mac’s liquor store. I passed and was allowed to drive Armando home. I didn’t realize what blindness means until he tried to direct me to his building and asked me what street we were on.
“Check it out yourself”
I snapped next to a street sign I couldn’t decipher myself as my vision had turned every light into seasonally appropriate, but annoying and confusing Xmas trees. I didn’t remember blurry vision, but last time I shot Meth I was 26 years younger, with perfect vision.
“Me blind” he said “Cannot see name”

That’s when I looked at the smelly bundle of misery in the passenger seat of the mini cooper I would soon lose. This dude was not only blind, but a pitiful mess. Nevertheless, he started right away:
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“No!” I said proudly, either not getting where this was going or getting it, fully knowing I would need him to like me soon enough.
That’s how I became the sex-dream of a blind familia mobster at an age where normal people think about retirement and grand children. I was 55, but for Armando I might as well been 20, who knows how they described me to him?

Even though I graduated with all A’s from the drug-and alcohol program, and even though I knew every danger and side effect in detail and therefore believed that my knowledge would protect me from actually getting any of it, I was dead wrong. I picked up every single side effect one can possibly get from Meth.
Even the voices.
Bugs? Oh Yes.
Convinced I had scabies, I landed in the Psych ward of USC where I listened to a grown-up man scream for his life.
“Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!” all night long. The beds so close together, whatever bugs came in could mate and replicate in a hospital orgy. It took 36 hours for a doctor to see me and to decide that I didn’t belong there.

Back home I went through the scabies-ritual again, for the third time. Boiling and drying my expensive Lingerie to shreds, I threw out all my cosmetics and make-up and covered myself from head to toe into a prescription-only pesticide. My liver was in heaven. 24 hours later, the new condo cleaner then clean, everything washed and sprayed, I stepped into the shower. When that crap came off me, I screamed in terror. I swear I could see the mites. The fact that they are microscopically small didn’t face me. I saw them.
But an hour later, they were back. I must have forgotten a microscopic spot somewhere.
My doctor would not prescribe another round of pesticide without seeing me. Broke and out of insurance, he offered to see me for free. My only friend who still took my calls, offered to bring food and gas-money. She drove up and opened her window just enough to drop a bag with groceries from her double gloved hands. Her head stuck out of a black extra sturdy trash bags, tied tightly at the wrists, her face behind a trashbag hood.
“Sorry” she mumbled “I looked scabies up online, they’re a bitch to get rid off and so easy to catch. I love you”
She was out of here before I picked up the bag.
I took my doctor less then a minute to know that what I had was surely strange, but in no way scabies.
What a relieve!!!!
But, since it had to be something that gave me sores all over and had aged me 15 years in less then 5 months, I got back online. A few hours later, there it was, how coukld I not have seen that? Mold! Fungus! Yeast!
Less then 8 months after I stole those syringes, I looked so bad that my friends waited for that one call, the one that would have happened, I’m sure: “Monah is dead”
The rehab I was placed in by Writers In Treatment was in Inland Empire and the most boring experience ever. But what gave me goose bumps and still sometimes does was it’s name: Thinking of the tackiest, most wrong name for the rehab in my movie – I was telling the story of my long ago past and since I was not in rehab, I had to make one up – I came up with Sunrise Ranch. How wrong is that name? How typical rehabby and phony? How perfectly right?
The name of the rehab I shook the Meth demon off was that same name.

But right now, I don’t have bugs. Not yet.
I’m in the parking space behind Armando’s building, in a white van that gives me the creeps.

He steps on the gas and pretends to throw the van into gear. Outside, the teenage neighbor’s kids watch and smirk. He stirs the steering wheel to the right, then back to straight.
“A little bit” he is relentless “Only touching, a leetle, please”
Now his hand is where he wants it. I see the tied up plastic piece in his fist and it looks big. Alright. I count to five.
“That’s enough, I’m a good catholic girl, I told you I don’t do this unless with my husband. Plus, I’m on my period. Remember what that means. You don’t want to piss a women on the rag off. I’m sure your wife taught you, didn’t she?”
“Is okay. Period not bad, no problem” he assures me and drops the baggie with Meth into my hand.
“No money, is a leetle something for you” He shoves my two twenties back to me and pulls two syringes, foil wrapped and very visible in full daylight from his pocket.
“Now da pussie, please Monah. I looove you” he means it and I feel bad for him.
“I love you, Is more then pussie.”
“I have a husband, I’m sorry. It would be better if you took my money”
“No money. I love you”
Stubborn bastard. But finally he lets go of the syringes. The boys outside watch. They know what this is about, most likely they use too. Everybody here in this building, not gentrified like the rest of Silverlake, is on Meth.
Suddenly, looking up from securing his goods in my purse, my face crashes into his kiss ready blue lips.
“What the, what are you doing?”
Before I can stop myself, I hit him. It’s a reflex, faster then my thoughts, I can’t help it.
Bad move. His buddies who checked me out the first time before he would see me and are never far away, would scare the shit out of me, alone at night. Armed and serious, this is their boss, blind and sick or strong and powerful. Familia. I wish I had that.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry!” I stammer, but his sheepish face tells me that I don’t need to go overboard with remorse; in fact, this is the first time I recognize something that could be respect. Removing his hand from my crotch, my voice returns to a stern and confident rhythm.
“I didn’t mean to do that. I get weird on my period, I told you. You should have listened to me. I gotta go. Thank you”
Finally outside, I promise myself for the 42th time.
“Never again. This was the last time I got in the van. I’m gonna quit. I have to. I will after this.”





Sick a la Americana, Part Two

23 10 2012

I can’t wait to get out of here to call everybody.

“ I’m not anorexic!!!! No, it’s not anorexia that has fucked me up.”

The reception area is empty.  What, when did it turn after five?

At three or so, I handed my insurance card through the window. When a human hand picked it up at the other side, I was shocked. Not about the five-inch plate glass between us – grumpy cancer patients with nothing to lose could cause security risks, I suppose, but that there was a hand, a real looking hand with a human attached that can speak!

During the last three weeks I have placed roughly 70 calls to this office. But an automated menu hangs up every time before I finish my message, no matter how fast I hop on the beep and rush through my line.

So I planned another strategy:  What if I don’t call at all anymore? Somebody has got to notice the sudden lack of frantic attempts to get through, miss being wanted and end up calling me!

Why not?

I was aware of a could-be glitch in my otherwise clever plan: the likelihood that my surgeon’s answering service was not programmed to act like a typical guy was a possibility, but I had to at least give it a try.

Well, nobody called.

That’s when it finally hit me: There’s no reasoning with an app.

A cyber-office is just not human, period.

I’m stubborn in matters that don’t matter at all.  Give me resistance or ignore me and I will fight, even if I don’t care for the price I win – once it is mine, you can have it. This challenge however, was the first one I remember that I could have sat out without a dent to my pride.

Was it not for several “Sowhatsupwiththeresultsofthebiopsy?” nags day after day, I’d have left it at losing to an app for cash strapped and awkward surgeons.

But naturally, the first time an ex-man called the very same number, the doctor himself picked up.  At the very first try.

Now I’m inside the elevator I don’t remember I called and stare at the buttons. There are three parking levels, three! Why can’t I ever write this shit down? It even says so on the ticket!

Damn, the ticket I should have had validated.

I cannot deal with this right now.  But since I can’t locate it, nor figure out where to look for my wallet, it’s just as well that I didn’t validate.

A yellow-haired lady cased in piggy-pink stretch-velvet fills every cubic inch inside her parking booth and is resting her eyes over a brand new US-Weekly. A spit bubble wobbles in the left corner of her lower lip. It bursts when I brake in front of a wimpy stick of brightly painted plastic, down in clear barricade mood. One of her lilac eyelids opens slowly and waits. She smirks and points to a slit in a box, very much next to my face.

“See that? That’s where the ticket goes. Thank You.”

“A ticket? I don’t have one, I mean, I might have had it but now I can’t find it, I think.” I say and hope I sound sweet.

With both eyes open now, her blue-pink-silver shaded nails – if you can call something twice as long as the hand it belongs to nails – draw my eyes to a sign spelling it out:

“Lost Ticket Pays Max – 28$” it says in English and Spanish.

“Cash or Credit.” She yawns.

I look in my purse, under the seats and tap my pockets, appropriately frantic.

“Can’t find my wallet either, I’m sorry”

She rolls her eyes. “ Pull over there, you’re blocking traffic.”

“Traffic?”

My car is the only vehicle in the whole building.

“I said pull over there. Or pay. Whatever”, she barks, as if this was her own business. “I’m having to need to call the supervisor. She’s out for lunch and she ain’t going to be back here today.”

That stick blocking my way, is no match for my German engine. There won’t even be a scratch. The speed with which she shoots up and rolls out of her container takes me by surprise, but that’s a sight already in my back view mirror.

‘Chill. That’s why your boss has insurance’, I think.

I step on it, around the corner onto Hollywood Way and even though there is no reason, I speed up once I hit Riverside.  A yellow light ahead turns red. I argue with myself and calculate for a moment. But since I’m usually a good person, I stop.

My hands-free microphone is tangled up in knots. No matter if I roll it up with care or throw it as it is inside the glove compartment, that’s how it looks when I taake it out. How it ties itself is one of those miracles nobody will ever be able to explain.  But without my glasses, I won’t be making that call, I can’t tell what’s my phone or my ancient Chanel compact.

I will never get used to not seeing everything I want to with perfect 20/20 vision or with not beeing young anymore, no, not without my contacts.

They’ve worked for years. But after this storm last year, when electricity was restored after four days, either my eyes or my contacts started to act up.   Even fresh out of the package, they were spiked with thorns – on better days, they made me think of sand-schnitzels. After a few hours in a bar or party, the first thing to do, was peel them from my stoner-red eyeballs. They were suddenly useless. And expensive: I wasted two two-week-supplies every day.  My eye-doctor in Santa Monica – the sight-god of Southern California’s aging visual-art A-Listers – wondered if I ate them. Hahaha, that was funny. But two days later I found another year’s supply of lenses in my mailbox.

This is just one of the reasons my credit card statements don’t make it out of the envelope. No, I never throw them out! No way! I keep them in a folder for later – in a clutter-free box of folders. Two years and never-missed-a-meeting in an anonymous program for people like me – people who look at money as a drug that always runs out – was not for nothing!

Always a sucker for public shaming I had an open mind and was prepared for a percentage of crazies. Even when everybody who shared sounded like a sales-pitch for  “The Secret”. Even when none of this added up – and, oh really, The Secret? Ouch.

However,  by the time we held hands I was sold. Twenty years of other ‘rooms’ fell off me like my jeans from last year. This was the real thing. I was in and cool with everything. Nothing could keep me from those weekend retreats in a rented two-story buiding , hidden in a monastery by Santa Barbara.

When I wasn’t rolling on the floor in giggles or tears, I power-walked through the lush gardens to the meditation park.

I clearly  had finally reached the root and the answer to all my problems.  Sometime during childhood, I must have entered into a fucked-up agreement. Part boarding-school guilt, part romantic sainthood, mixed with early hippie- dogma and with  what I picked up at home, I had chained myself to a screwed up mindset of deprived poverty, regardless of how much I was paid for my ideas.  Those things alone guarantee depression and constant anger, but I spread this believe out to every inch of my life. Money was only the visible tip of an incomprehensible chaos inside me.

Always late, time had long ago turned into my enemy. Never enough, always running out, yet not able to enjoy a free minute, I had not the faintest idea what comfort was supposed to feel like. Massages made me impatient, a TV was for couch-potatoes and forget doing nothing!

Suddenly I saw another connection:   my  bulimia –  behind me for more then a year then –  even its utter wastefulness, was  proof of my never ending productivity. Since I somehow didn’t deserve to take time out and read Vogue, I mean, not without something to show for,  I made sure that I had plenty to show.  Empty boxes and crumpled bags, dirty dishes and collapsed shopping bags justified wasted time somewhat, but the toilet bowl full with vomit, myself empty again provided a feeling of accomplishment I had not yet replaced with anything equally effective.

So I related and connected with everyone, even the reallly crazy Urban Campers –  the few who snagged a scholarship for the retreat – the New-Age priests and the competitive over-spenders that had of course hoarded all the good magazines while we others were at dinner. Leaving  only AAA-Westward and lame golf-magazines to harvest for our vision boards, they all left the retreat with wall-sized and intricate visions, but I forgave them.

Even when the wedding to my long-term sweetheart fell on a Friday,  day one of another retreat, I arrived at the ceremony with my own car, packed and anxious to leave as soon we were declared man and woman – hey, whatever one puts in the path of recovery will be removed anyway….

I can’t find my glasses  without my glasses.  Of course, those ones, carelessly stuck in my bag are not the ones I need. They are at home. After I capitulated the battle with my contacts, I went in to get glasses to really see with. But being able to focus wasn’t pretty. Noticing chewed-up nails, unnecessarily magnified, I returned them to the stylish box they came in and set my Word-program to Times 16 and up.

If only that was possible with seams and other details I need to see for my work.  Even if it’s all about delegating, the way my eyes are acting crazy, I’m gonna be way more confidant once I’ve met a blind fashion designer.

Damn! One minute at a red light is enough to scramble the simplest plan.  My mother is right. I must see to it that I get properly medicated for this ADD thing. Everybody else has it!  I bet I could up- (wo)man-ship everybody with the quantity of my distractedness and that’s without getting into the quality of it.

The light jumps to green. I’ve missed my chance to prepare for this. I haven’t even dialed a number with my glasses still on. I pull over to the curb, detangle the cord and start over. But suddenly, it hits me:

What was I thinking? This stupid line about anorexia is just the opening act, but then what?

I have to keep this to myself! At least for now.

Because if I tell friends or my family what the doctor just told me, the people pleaser in me will also hope – at least a little bit –  that I don’t have to take that back. I know myself by now. I can’t stand the idea that even one single thought  about me could be that I cried wolf or worse, that I enjoyed the pity and attention.  Oh yes, somebody will think it.  I will always wonder and search faces and hearts. The way I turn everything over until I find an unkind idea about me in others, I will surely discover plenty. So what if I end up not dying, after all? That’s easy: I will look like a pathetic attention-hogger.

This conflict will encourage those crazy out-of-control fucker cells to spread out, if they haven’t already. What if they start to rush? Empowered by my desire to be right,  Cancer will know that I would rather die soon  then be looked at as a liar.  It will spawn and nest with new energy!

I hit END on the call.

I can’t take a chance with this now, because I do want to live, I have to. Until this, until cancer, my life was the best it had ever been, exciting, beautiful and even at times comfortably peaceful and sweet.

What the bleep do we know about cancer?





  Belly Dance…

13 05 2012

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Why I haven’t posted new stories lately:

28 11 2011

Dear Readers!

I want to thank you from my heart, my mind , my soul and every other part of me!

Your interest, your comments and your readership (now over 6700! since March when I started this) have made me realize that you want and need to read and talk about the all-too secret issues of Eating Disorders, specially, bulimia (which is not easy to write and read about, due the considerable “gross-factor”), love-and sex-addiction, obsession and, most important, that it is possible to recover from it all.

My own way of recovery is like a patchwork carpet of  therapy, self-help books, 12-steps, all kinds of Spirituality I scraped together along the way, but specially what I learned in my Kabballah-Lessons (which I do not participate in anymore), FRIENDS!!!!!!!! and the miracle of Belly Dancing, that taught me how to love and respect my body in every size – we all know that our bodies change in size and shape and ability – and, did I mention, friends????

My confidence grew with every blog and with every reader and two month ago, I managed to get an incredibly competent, confident and super-cool  literary agent, who will, no doubt, get my memoir “Beauty and the Feast – A Hollywood Memoir of Binging, Purging and Healing” into the hands of the right Publishing House,  into bookstores and public awareness.

She even came up with that new title, that is so less stuffy then my working-title of “Showrooms of Perfections”.

But since this book is now shopped around, I cannot write about it anymore.

I will start again, with parts that are not in the book – my first proposal consisted of 76 (!) chapters, so there is a lot more to say and write about. I’ve been also very busy with the re-write of my screen play “Fashion Slaves” and the with the little boutique I opened up two months ago.

I still study belly-dance about five times a week (there are a few Holiday performances / Showcases coming up on December 10th and 11th) and I love my friends, dates and social life that I am extremely grateful for.

With all this, my blog had to take a step back, but I promise, I’ll get back to it – I really miss it! – very soon.

Happy Holidays to All!

Cheers,

Monah Li

 





A very honest and emotional interview….

28 11 2011

Monah Li to Host Show on Indie1031.com Tomorrow, Nov. 27th – LA …
We had a great time last week sitting down with design icon and author Monah Li . We shot a video blog of the designer (currently being edited) in her chic new …
www.lafashionweek.com/…/monah-li-to-host-show-on-indie1




Occupy AM 640

30 10 2011

OCCUPIED LA

 

I admit it: I listen to John and Ken. Yes them. The two white dudes on AM 640, who holler about illegal immigrants, LAUSD, State-workers, taxes and whathaveyou. Angry white men with wives and kids, middleclass, in their 40ies. Most of the time, I listen to KCRW, but some afternoons, I need my Jon and Ken fix. Because I want to know what the “Other Side” thinks, how they justify their reactionary, conservative and men-ways of perceiving the going -ons in our world.

But that’s not all: I sometimes actually like them. I enjoy their often-righteous anger and their sometimes-reasonable reasoning. Sometimes they are just so right. And when they really laugh about something bizarre, like the Octo-mom or Schwarzenegger, their laughs are infectious and they make me laugh too. Sometimes it’s a guilty laugh, because they are just so, well just so right about things one should not laugh about and certainly nobody laughs like them on the all-serious left-wing stations that can get a little bit dour and boring. Lately, specially when I was on my match.com-dating rampage I met a lot of guys who listen to them too; with the same feelings of slight guilt, but hell, when they’re right, they’re right.

 

Today, I went to the tent-city of “Occupy-LA”. I meant to go days ago, but I just opened my new store, then I had a fashion show, then I came down with the flu and it looked like I was going to miss this event. I was still slightly sick today, but when I heard that Jon and Ken were planning to visit the site, I took a handful of Advils and drove down there with Lisa Derrick from Firedoglake.com with $91 worth of peanut butter jars, pounds of bananas, apples, 35 loafs of bread and jars of applesauce.

The sight of the tents, the smell and the look of the diversity of people living there, took me back to a déjà-vu I did not expect at all: I felt like I was back in Vienna, 1976, the end of the summer, as a very young teenager. The only difference was that, here in LA, it was warm and sunny, but back in Vienna in September and October of 1976, it was starting to be bitterly cold. The City of Vienna had opened up a long abandoned meat factory and slaughterhouse for the summer as a cultural playground for bands, theater, dance, reading and parties. Thousands of people gathered through he warm summer nights and for many, like me, it was the first time to be free, to watch the bands we had listened to on the only radio station that played this kind of music for one hour a day, to enjoy our kind of culture, not our parent’s. The place was called “Arena” and when September came around, the buildings were supposed to be bulldozered and destroyed to make room for a shopping center.

A few of us decided to stay, to occupy the Arena and demand to keep it as a cultural center for the emerging punk=rock and cultural scene we had enjoyed all summer. The few turned into hundreds and more and more until the place was filled with people unwilling to leave. I was one of them. Even though I went back to school in September, I made sure to return there every afternoon, every evening and soon enough, a whole new city bloomed inside the historic slaughterhouse. It was my first experience with police-brutality, hunger, cold nights in sleeping bags and growing solidarity with my fellow occupants.

Just like Occupy LA, the mix of people was – well, mixed. A lot of druggies, crazies, the usual super-left wing idealists, trying to turn this event into their own agenda; from “Free Palestine” to God knows what, that had little to do what this was about: the cry for a place for just us, free from supervision and control, free from the usually expensive concert events and any kind of suppressions of our emerging creativity. But most of us were just kids, still in school, artists with a need for a space to work and to live.

My grandmother baked cakes for my sister and me to take there and other parents and grandparents, a lot of celebrities and journalists joined in and after two months of heated discussions on TV and in Newspapers, the place was ours. We had our very own cultural space and only because we did not allow the sometimes brutal and aggressive police force, the threat of cold and no food to run back into the safety of our parent’s houses.

Today, after Lisa and me delivered the much needed nourishment, Jon and Ken from “The stimulating” Radio station AM 640 showed up. Surrounded by stone faced security goons with visible weapons under their impeccable suits, their eyes hidden by sunglasses, they slowly made their way deeper into the center of the occupied tent city.

“The conservative pigs from the Rightwing Radio station are here” was soon followed by a howl of “We are the 99%”, “We are the 99%”, a hostile chorus that did not allow for any kind of meaningful conversation and turned the event into a cacophony of screams and burning rage.

“We can see your weapons, pigs”, a toothless man behind me raged, trying to make his way to Jon, who, with his headphones on, sweat running down his face, tried to find a place in the crowd that would leave him enough room to breathe.

“Shut up, please, you are making us all look stupid”, I hissed, while I tried to capture as much as possible with my iphone camera, “They are trying to listen and they have a huge audience”, I pleaded with another angry occupier. Eventually, some of the smarter people in the crowd realized too, that this was a chance to get across what “Occupy LA” is about. I was able to film a few conversations that were articulate and expressed what this is about.

Ken (or Jon?) interviewed a young single mom, half her face covered with a black scarf, with her four months old baby strapped to her chest. Another couple told about how they were screwed out of their home by a Bank of America scheme. Story after story emerged of people who had lost their jobs, their homes, their cars and their savings by unscrupulous banks and greedy criminals who will probably never see the inside of a jail cell where they surely belong.

All this was interrupted by “Commercial Breaks”, where Ken (or Jon) read their bizarre “You have a house, a car, a family, but your rotting teeth and gums and your horrible breath….” And “…. come and get your free eye-exam for the first 90 callers…..when you mention Jon and Ken….”

I never knew that they really read this stuff live. What a surprise. I always thought that this stuff was pre-recorded, but no, it isn’t.





Toilets, trashcans and how to be sorry

24 09 2011

FOOD, TOILETS AND TRASHCANS

We sit down in a both at Musso’s and Frank’s. My hands shake and my artfully applied eye makeup is a runny mess. I need a drink. But that’s unimaginable.
Were the master AA couple. People are in awe of my husband who is sweating profoundly because he has ADD and is medicated more then adequatelty with pure pharmacy Amphetamines.

I’ve dreaded this couple-)date for weeks. Any time we leave our house , the chances that we return as a couple afterwords are not good.
My boyfriend of too many light is red, oh yes! Because both windows are decorated in MY Designs. My work. Exactly the same stuff robbing his sanity now.

He sees it too and grumbles.
Just before the light turns green, he slams his forehead once more
” I can’t do it. I need an elegant wife comfy in a wellcut simple dress, not a freak bathing in attention any chance she gets ” he says this with an expression that makes him look 90 years old after biting into an extra hot peppe r. Suffering, plagued and not able to let me go for longer then a day, two max.
This we have in common. Besides books, it’s the only interest we share.

The valet Parker hands me a tissue and I rush into the ladies room.
When I return, Payne beams
” you know, this guy here, This legendary director knows beauty when he sees it. He almost had a coronary whe you walked in. He thinks you’re achingly beautiful” he turns to the lion maned legend, firmly patting his arm,
” you’re ok now, man? Your sure?”

HIS dining companions are a celebrated an respected director of real Hollywood movies ( no indies at this table) , a famous costum designer and her bear of a boyfriend. He’s sexy. Not handsome, but hot. The kind of guy dragging the woman of his choice away from a loveless marriage – he’s an animal man. He smelled that there was no passion. He would change that. And he did.

They are in love. Embarrassingly so. In love with each other and as much with the predictable scandal they caused, they tell and retell and repeat the story over and over. And over.

All of them intimidate me.

But I have the best intentions  to eat like a “normal person”. So I imitate what they order. I have no idea what a normal order looks like.

Starched linen napkins, plates and nice silverware – at home, I don’t bother with niceties like that – at home, I use my sleeve to wipe my face, eat with my hands right out of the bag or pot  – and plates?  Oh man, plates are too much work to wash, so why bother?

But here, cultured and successful people everywhere, I pretend to have manners. I mean, I grew up in a civilized house hold, my dad was a judge and my mom a psychiatrist. I went not only to a catholic boarding school where I learned how to keep my arms close to my body and eat like the educated, privileged lady I was to be one day. But I learned much more when I snagged that scholarship for the international boarding school , how to be sexy and coy and how to fake what I lacked. Hand me downs from the 13 year old busty Lolitas and stuffed bras turned me into a creature that caused blue collar daddies on their way from work to crash into traffic signs.

I order a perfectly healthy, low-calorie and balanced meal and pace myself, careful not to look greedy and weird. But I barely participate in the conversation at the table – I’m too pre-occupied to make sure to stop, so there is a little bit of food on my plate left.

But like always, that hungry ghost inside me starts his shit with me. I touch my thighs and my stomach under the table and feel myself swelling into monstrous dimensions. I’m a fat pig, an overweight monster, growing from 100 pounds into 120, at least.

I have to get rid of it.

And since I will get rid of it, why not pack it in, now that it’s all over anyway. I finish what I left so politely on my plate. I’m too embarrassed to order another dish, so I grab the bread from the basket, the bread that everybody else shrinks away from as if it was poison, smear it thick with butter and olive oil and under the horrified eyes of my boyfriend, I stuff it down as slow as I can.

“I missed lunch today – busy day – and I just realize how incredibly starved I am”, I smile apologetically.

“You are not you finishing this?” I ask my already suspicious boyfriend, while I reach for his plate that has a napkin thrown over it – obviously done and ready to be taken away

“You don’t mind if I try what you had?” I already stick my fork into his tiny piece of half-eaten fish.

“No, not at all, it was delicious, but I’m full” my boyfriend remarks while everybody else watches with growing curiosity as I shovel his leftovers.

“That’s incredible! Next time I have to order this!” I lie. I don’t taste anything. I could be eating horseshit balls or cat vomit. It doesn’t matter. As long as I can go on and chew and swallow and stuff myself into oblivion.
I discover another plate that has not been eaten all the way and go for it. Fuck it. Those people don’t like me anyway. They just put up with me because I am his, the famous and charismatic guy’s date. So, yes, fuck you too.

“I’m glad you like it, it was a little to salty for me” the well mannered date of my boyfriend’s movie star friend smiles with fake kindness, when I reach for her half-eaten meal. How could anyone leave food on his or her plate – what a waste! There are people starving outside on Hollywood Boulevard. There are people starving all over in this world.
Most of all, me!

“Knock yourself out,” my boyfriend mumbles with growing embarrassment. He has experienced this before with me:

Once in an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet in Santa Barbara, I got up twelve times to refill my plate. He looked like he was going to vomit, watching me descending in an uncontrollable binge neither he or I could stop.

I finally lost control after our  three day horror vacation in a five star hotel, filled with fights and silences and make-up sex that left me angry and jealous of the obviously happy couples, that seemed to occupy all of the hotel. The tension of it all exploded when I got a look at the overflowing tables with salmon, eggs, deliciously stuffed little mushrooms and oh, the deserts!

My boyfriend lived on a strict diet of vegetarian, no fat, no sugar diet, presumably to protect his damaged Hep C liver, but I knew better: he ate like this to keep his worked out and perfectly slim body. He picked at his food, the little he choose from the way too rich offerings of the rich-people buffet.

“You are eating AT ME,” he hissed, when I returned with the fifth overflowing plate.

“Why would I do that?” I spat back, “I spent the last three days biking and swimming with hardly a bite and it’s catching up with me. Look at me! Do I look like I eat too much?”

“That’s what’s freaking me out,” he whispered with blazing eyes, trying to keep his anger under control.

“Excuse me, I have to go pee” I squeezed by him, rushing to the bathroom, my stomach a filled to the rim , an end term pregnancy ball, making me look like a skinny, in control expecting mom.

Of course, I had checked out the bathroom before, the locks, the flushing and the privacy.

I have trained myself to vomit without a noise. When I see that there is somebody in the stall next to me, I flush to scramble the sound of splashing, bend over and let it all come out. I have this insane believe, that since it is so easy, I am meant to do that. If God would not want me to do this,  it would not be that easy, I tell myself.  No big deal.  No retching and burping, just a little splash and it is all over, all gone.

But in America, toilet stalls let you see the feet of the person next to you. Why is that? Why this lack of privacy in a land of puritanical rules and PG ratings?
I don’t get it. It’s a pain in the ass, that’s what it is.  It makes it so much harder to barf when I know that my feet, turned into the wrong direction can give me away. So I taught myself to throw up sitting on the toilet with my feet turned into the same direction as the person next to me. I have to practice this skill a lot, but eventually, I manage. I’d sit all the way back on the toilet seat and throw up between my spread legs. It’s not easy, let me tell you, but years of Yoga and Pilates had made me limber and strong enough

Where there is a will there is a way, and believe me, my will is incredibly strong and unbreakable. I make sure to remove my pantyhose and panties or my jeans and I am proud to tell you that I never had an accident. No wait! Once, in a hurry, I hit my expensive La Perla panties with a stream of hot vomit. I took them off and left them in the trashcan. For the  rest of the night, I tried not to scratch my newly waxed and tender crotch inside my new jeans.

But this night, at Musso’s with that annoying lady outside, sitting there with her out-dated offerings of hairspray and deodorant, with my boyfriend taking care of the bill while I sneak off to the toilet, I realize that this toilet looks kinda old and might not be able to handle the load I’m about to let off.

I’m so full and so disgusted with myself, I don’t need one more problem, like an overflowing toilet with a bored and resentful lady, just waiting for some kind of drama to make her shift more interesting .

I flush the toilet, lift the lid of the wastebasket, that is supposed to be used for female sanitary napkins and barf inside the plastic bag that lines the trashcan..

Now, skinny again and very relieved, under a surge of adrenaline and dopamine, I’m able to return to the table and finally join the conversation, high and happy, with much more enthusiasm than before my visit to the ladies room.
Of course, this high never lasts. All too soon, I find myself hungry, shaky and desperately looking for the next food-fix.

“Damn it, I just remembered that I have a deadline for tomorrow morning, I’m so sorry, but I can’t spend the night with you today” I whisper to my boyfriend, when he is about to sign the check.

“She is so busy with fashion week,” my boyfriend tells everybody at the table “You should come to her show at the Max Factor Smashbox studios next week”

“Of course we will” the movie star grins “I would not wanna miss that”

“Sure you wouldn’t” My boyfriend says “the models are something, exquisite and they would flip out to see you there. And there is always lots of fun afterwards at the party”

The movie star’s date looks a little miffed but plays along.

“I’d love to see your fashions, I heard so much about it” she forces a smile that looks almost happy.

“I’ll make sure to tell my PR agent to save seats for you all” I promise with confidence, but my thoughts are already on the Trader Joe bagels, the cereal with full-fat milk and the cans with whipped cream I have stuffed into my fridge before the date.

But this is now way too long for me to get to. I blurt: “
“Hey, what about dessert?”

“How can you eat a whole meal and still have room for dessert?” one of the female guests asks.

“Oh, I’m just blessed with a real good metabolism.  Look at my mom and my dad! That’s where I got it from”
I lie with practiced lightness in my voice. The people who have met my parents nod their heads.

“Your parents are really in great shape. Man, you are lucky! I wish I could eat like you and be as skinny as you. I guess it’s all genetic after all” the movie star’s date sighs.

What I fail to disclose, is that both my parents are anorexic, obsessed with exercise and diets and that I grew up despising overweight people, as if they were the source of all evil in the world.

And of course, I never, ever let on how panicked and terrified I was to gain weight and join the group of humans that had obviously no self-control and dignity and no right to take up so much space in the world.

Once, as a teenager, when I had to live with my father and my overweight stepmother, my dad told us during our usually meager dinner, that he had gotten into a shuffle in the subway. He was full of pride when he relayed his triumph:

“I was pissed that there was standing room only and when I saw this fat cow taking up two seats, I asked her politely if she had paid for two tickets. Of course she snapped at me, told me to mind my own business, but I got right into her face and ordered her to get up and make room for others who had paid their fair share. Half the wagon got into it and agreed with me. She heaved herself out of he seat, huffing and shuffling her weight and got out at the next station. Everybody was laughing. What a hoot that was and best of all, I got a seat!” he boasted.

Not funny, you asshole.
I kept that thought to myself and pushed the food on my plate around, high on diet pills, supplied by my grandmother, who was always on a diet.

Finally, after my disappointed and embarrassed boyfriend drops me off, alone at home, I don’t have to keep up the show of being a normal eater. I prepare enormous amounts of food, plates and pots lined up in front of me before I sit down to read fashion-and literary magazines; well written, convincing, intellectual and smart articles about politics, global warming, conspiracy theories and manifestos that would scare me to tears without the buffer of food between me and the information I inhale and even comprehend. I am able to focus and read difficult to understand information because I am stuffing my face with a drug that keeps me emotionally removed enough to read on for hours.

I am very well read and informed during those years and could join just about every conversation. People think about me as smart and intelligent and are in awe of the amount of knowledge I can provide at every discussion.

But during those reading-and food sessions, I have to get up every twenty minutes or so to rid myself of the food I shovel into me without tasting anything. Then I can go back to my books and magazines as if nothing had happened and keep going until I either pass out from fatigue or because there is nothing left to eat.

I have read about bulimics who are so desperate that they eat what they threw up and that really grosses me out.
I would never do THAT.
That would be really sick.

Until one day, I am out of food, but not ready to stop just yet.

I sneak to my neighbor’s trashcan. It is after two AM and everybody is asleep.  I find a few spoiled and disgusting leftovers that are thrown out for a reason, but what does it matter? It will not be long enough inside my stomach to do any damage. Leaning against the trashcan, I munch on green bagels, gruesomely covered with fungus and rotting chicken wings, spoiled cheese and suddenly – be still, me heart, I come across a half eaten birthday cake, fresh and moist, dripping with rich frosting and sugary letters on top. All I have to do is to scrape off the drips of candle wax. So? Hell, what’s wrong with eating a perfectly good birthday cake that somebody threw out?

I am sick a lot during those years, going from doctor to doctor, from quacks to healers, always complaining about the bloating of my hands and my stomach, the pain in my back and my kidneys and the paralyzing fatigue that makes me dizzy, tired and sometimes suicidal depressed.

Today, more than four years later, in recovery by some undeserved and wonderful grace, I always worry how to make amends to the poor fucks who had to handle the garbage bags. I imagine a tired overworked janitor, lifting the bag out of the basket, ready to go home after a 12 hour shift of cleaning toilets and tables, getting splashed by a totally unexpected exploding and leaking bag of vomit.

There are things that cannot be excused or explained.

The only thing I can do now, is to always tip generously and make sure to be extra nice to every janitor or toilet lady providing paper towels or deodorant. I leave at least two bucks even if I don’t need gum or hairspray. Sometimes, I hear the tell tale signs of some poor women throwing up in a toilet stall next to me. Their feet are always turned into the wrong direction.

I listen and am filled with gratitude and wonder that I’m not that person anymore. All I do now in a toilet is what everybody else does. I can leave without shame or fear of exploding trash bags or clogged up toilets. I don’t scarf other’s leftovers. And I can even leave food on my plate, without thinking about it.
I call this grace.

Some things cannot be explained.
But hopefully, they can be forgiven.








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