Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sometimes I Really Love Myself

Self Portriat

A cigarette dangles carelessly from her fingers. Smoking Joes, full flavors. Cowboy killers made by Indians. “$20 bucks a carton at the Res!” she will tell you proudly even if you don’t ask.

Her hands shake as she brings the cigarettes to her lips repeatedly. She talks fast and loud with excitement, commanding the attention of everyone around her. “Hey, all I’m saying is that I love my coffee and my cigarettes and I’ll never stop.” She pulls on the cigarette every time her lungs need to inhale, as if she can’t breathe if the oxygen weren’t nicotine ridden. She smokes like a nervous coke head. The way she shakes, it would seem that she has too much energy to contain inside her body. Or she suffers from anxiety. Or she drinks too much coffee on little sleep. It’s actually a potent combination of all three. But she continues on with little regard for concern.

She makes sure to converse with everyone she makes eye contact with. She makes obscene jokes and loud confessions. “I’m going to tell you honestly. I like my men fat and insecure. I’m not ashamed!” And she isn’t. She will tell you she used to scrape her arm with needles in middle school so it looked like she was cutting herself. She will next tell you what’s purple and oozes puss and cries [“a skinned baby in a bag of salt”]. She doesn’t care if you’re young, old, male, female, white or yellow. She will throw a laugh and a question at you and force you to catch it and engage in a while conversation with her. All the while nervously taking drags from cigarette after cigarette.

When she stands, she locks her knobby knees. Often, on days when the coffee is strong, she will shake them back and forth, locking and unlocking like a door to a room she can’t decide is safe to leave. Her legs are bowed and they support a skeletal frame that seems to shrink day to day. Her hips protrude around her shrunken stomach and beneath her shirt, her ribs angrily stick out. It’s as if her bones are wearing away at the skin, desperate to get out and dance. She is excruciatingly thin and is void of any obvious signs of womanhood. They say she looks sick but her laugh makes them think twice.

Her hair isn’t sexy, but it’s fitting. It’s a coppery, frizzy mop that refuses to be tamed. It’s not natural, it’s a perm. Her natural, baby fine, straight, mousey brown hair just didn’t fit her. So she changed it. Just like the name her parents gave her. She changed that too though she won’t tell anybody why. “Do I look like a Jessica to you?” she demands when asked.

Her clothes are no sexier than her hair. Ordinary t-shirts she collected over too many thrift store visits are the only thing she can think to wear on normal days. She wears them with the same pair of old jeans and black and white chucks that were once fashion statements but are now the only ones that she owns. She tops her average outfit off with large, loud sweaters that look like she raided a retirement home in search of jackets when the weather dropped. She wears them with confidence, despite the fact that they’re dumpy and they cost her $2.

She talks with a lisp and has a line of stubborn freckles that cover her nose and apple cheeks. The only thing beautiful about her is her eyes and she knows it. She won’t date anybody with blue eyes because she insists that “a man needs to have such ugly eyes that he thinks mine are the most beautiful in the world and he tells me so every day.”

Sometimes you’ll find her in the kitchen, cooking and dancing at the same time. Sometimes you’ll find her in the library or coffee shop chatting with a friend or to her journal, or buried knee deep in a book. Sometimes you’ll find her staring, spacing out the window of the bus. Sometimes you’ll find her spacing out while walking down the street. And sometimes, you’ll find her scribbling something in her notebook in the worst place to start scribbling in a notebook because that’s where the mood struck and she’ll forget what her brilliant thought was if she waits to find a sensible place to squat.

But you’ll nearly always find her with headphones on while Yoni Wolf and Benjamin Gibbard sing songs of angst from the MP3 player in her pocket.

And you’re guaranteed to always find her in a good mood.

This is a self portrait exercise I did for my new writing project, based on Jenny in Buffalo, which isn't really different from Jenny in Japan, though I'm always changing to my circumstances.


  1. don't worry, you'll outgrow your narcissism someday. you won't always feel the need to post comments shitting on other people, because you'll feel secure within yourself as a writer. it just takes time, dear.

  2. it also helps if you realize that nobody is going to read stuff that usually costs 150 dollars and hour to unload in a therapy session... i know this from experience.