Casey: Damn, I feel like an asshole.
Casey: I just told that girl that we couldn’t take her because she was fifteen minutes late to her appointment.
Me: Ah, that sucks. But why do you feel like a jerk?
Casey: Because…….she was blind.
Me: Casey, she’s blind. She’s not a retard.
Me: Hey, I’m an equal opportunist.
Michelle: What are you gonna get?
Me: Uhm, I think the chicken pita. You?
Michelle: Hmm…I think I want the baked potato.
Me: That sounds like diarrhea.
Michelle: Rach! Well now, I don’t know!
Me: At least you won’t have explosive diarrhea.
Me: Hey guys, you want to know what’s cool?
Me: I never ate my birthday cake.
Group (unconvincingly): We didn’t eat it! I mean, who wants to eat chocolate chip red velvet cake these days?
Me: Careful, I’m 23 now. I can tell when you’re lying. I might bust a cap. Or something.
Rachel Trillo (b. 1987) was born twenty-three years ago today. Three days after she was born, the San Gabriel Valley violently shook as the earth heaved under the Elsinore Fault Zone. Later, they would call this the 1987 Whittier Earthquake, but Rachel’s mother knew that her daughter had come tumbling into this world, demanding her existence to be known. Rachel’s childhood would be defined by her keen awareness; there was a marked inquisitiveness about her, so much that her attention often drifted away from schoolteachers and peers. Her teachers called her “quiet”—other ones called her “imaginative.” When she was seven, Rachel learned about mortality, but became more intrigued with the scar she had received after falling off her bike. In the third grade, her best friend, Blake, told her it was raining because the Angels were crying. She believed him. Later, Rachel would encounter the preliminary years of teenaged-angst, and these awkward yet memorable years served her well. When Rachel was 19, she woke up one fine morning and made love to a spontaneous idea: thus propelled her lust for world travel. Currently, she lives in Southern California and attends University. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Academic Elitism and is finishing up her Master’s in You’re-Not-As-Smart-as-You-Think. In an old journal entry, Rachel once wrote: “I am constantly evolving. I am sure of who I am today more so than yesterday. But tomorrow is uncertain. Perhaps we may never fully know ourselves. Because living and continuing to live also means creating and re-creating different versions of ourselves […] We hide in ourselves, disappear into ourselves. And on some fine mornings, we discover ourselves.”
Here’s to relentless self-discovery. Here’s to 23.
Today the Universe shat on my face, criss-crossed dung around my eyes and nose. The smell was vile, the consistency revolting. Vision blurred, I turned my eyes toward the sky and cursed the butt-hole of humanity for choosing me as dupe.
Lucky for me, though, I use double roll two-ply.
And besides, it’s barely 6:00p. My day is yet to be over.
I have the sort of grandma that is 9 times out of 10 going to be cooler than yours. This is not to say that your old lady sucks, that she’s not with the times, that ‘ohmygodyourgrandmacan’ttext??”, etc etc. But I have this sort of snobby admiration that for this woman, insomuch that I am willing to trample on other hypothetical grandmas, and in doing so, risk looking like an asshole.
Jests aside, we started meeting once a month when I started graduate school. She told me, “Otherwise, I will never see you.” To a large extent, she was right. If it weren’t for these once-a-month dinners, I’m not too certain when these meetings would happen. The first time we had dinner, she had just gotten back from teaching Global Health at the University of Oxford for the summer. I wish I was trying to sound pretentious, but this, friends, is all too true. She walked in with her Gucci sunshades and sat down at my table, smiling at me with her dazzling teeth.
“Hello, gorgeous.” She has an illusion about me, but I take the compliment anyways.
“Hi, Grandma…how was Oxford?”
Then begins our two-hour dinner/discussion; we talk about traveling and academia; we discuss politics and religion. At one point the waiter comes up and asks if we would like to order more food. She orders us coffee. Our time was not over yet. As I sat there listening to her recall her favorite memories, I was amazed at how this woman kept up. I mean, really—she text messages me in short hand and even once created a facebook account (which she readily deleted. I think all her friends were either dead or afraid of this global networking beast). In all her 70-something years of living, this woman had effortlessly achieved style and grace. What had she done right?
Just this last week was yet another once-a-month dinner. This time she offered some unsolicited advice. I didn’t even ask. We weren’t even on the subject. But she said it anyways.
“Rachel,” the corners of her mouth frowned and her tone became all-together serious, “Rachel, I want you to know something.”
I nodded. I was listening.
“Do not be jaded. Do not feel inadequate. And most of all, do not settle.”
To what she was referring—I had no idea. We were on the subject of meeting up in France next Spring, and how she would drag me back to the Eiffel Tower since as a ten-year-old, I was deathly afraid of heights and refused to go up the Tower. I was in the middle of explaining to her that as a ten-year-old, a fear of heights was perfectly normal, that I also believed my fear of heights would’ve probably induced me to wet my pants and thus instigate a chain of horrific events, when she felt compelled to drop some serious knowledge on me.
I always had the option of asking. Of inquiring what she meant. But there was something in her eyes that told me to refrain. So I did. I nodded. I sipped my coffee.
And then she smiled.
I regret to inform you that despite the inherent joys of modern theory and all its glory it has to offer my enthused self, the Dirty Projectors will be playing at the Glasshouse this Thursday. Ever so inconveniently have the gods scheduled their show, but I’ve decided to compromise the three hours the University has allotted for class; and I, dear sir, will be leaving during our routine 10 minute break. I deem it necessary to explain to you that I am upholding my position as a responsible graduate student—namely because I could alternatively choose to watch the Dirty Projectors on Friday at the Wiltern, but I also have a Saturday morning class to which I am deeply committed. I also find it fitting that after reading Jameson’s assigned essay on the postmodern subject as isolated and fragmented, I hereby argue that my experience of the Dirty Projectors is nevertheless fragmented until I can wholly experience them live at the Glasshouse this Thursday. Though deeply apologetic, I am eternally grateful for your understanding, as you too were once a creatively frustrated graduate student who, at one time or another, disobeyed the rigid laws of class attendance and tended to other (and perhaps better) affairs.
I look forward to engaging in (partial) class discussion this Thursday, and will readily send you photos via blackberry mobile to provide proof of my postmodern experience of the isolated and fragmented self.
Bound in cordial affection,
1. Winter, please.
2. More books, please.
3. The certainty of certainty, please.
Poor Oliver and I—we shall hunger together.
last friday, i did the typical girl-friday-thing and found myself shopping for shoes. aside from the fact that i had a wedding to attend, i convinced myself that out of all the shoes stacked in my closet, there was not a single pair that would suffice. i found solace in the rows of shoes before me, as if they held all the answers to my woes. one of my girlfriends came for consumer support, and we spotted the pair at the same time. she-gasps-i-gasp, shoes slide on, glance in the mirror as if gazing upon a newborn. my friend simply said:
“it’s like an orgasm on your foot.”
we haha’ed here and there. feet posed and mouth agape. the cashier rang me up, and i walked out feeling like a sucker. later that night, instead of studying for my saturday morning class, i reflected on my friend’s comment about my shoes. lately, it seemed, my life was full of “like orgasms.” strictly speaking, i mean to say that my life was almost always verging on that blitzed out feeling of awe and fear, some deeply profound moment coated with the visceral bliss of seismic sensation. but never was it fully reached. the people i had been meeting, the moments i had been experiencing—something always felt short-changed, like peaking only to find a flat-lined terrain, barren and dry. there was a void of connection, of inspiration, of something.
as i was thinking about this, i played with the heels that i had purchased earlier that night. i fingered the straps, twirling this way and that. turning off the light, i listened to a siren passing in the night, some ambulance or police car—it was all the same. i found that i liked the sounds of sirens. its relentless urgency, its wailing cries.
yes, something had been missed. or was missing.
so it was, i fell asleep.
today she woke up to the sound of gnashing teeth, grinding like metal to metal, scraping glass. yawning, she threw off her white bedding and looked around. the room—books lining the walls, pictures hanging apologetically, sorry to have exposed themselves in this small space—gave a melancholy air. lately she tip-toed on that line of exhaustion and mental breakdown, only to be countered with the vague illusion that it was all going to be worth it. on her floor lay the copy of ulysses she was reading before falling asleep. in her dreams, she had met with stephen dedalus. she remembered him walking towards her, hesitatingly. together, they lamented over the loss of something, something all too ambiguously felt, then ended their meeting with a single embrace. she touched her jaw, recalling the sound of her grinding teeth. she remembered the sounds of her younger sister’s teeth when they were children. the doctor had called it bruxism. the sound had always made her cringe, much like the thought of maggots. listening, she heard a record looping quietly in the corner, forcing her to get up and switch it off. she looked outside: overcast. and it was only wednesday.
rachel likes it so she’s gonna put a ring on it.
rachel is swimming in modern theory and sexuality.
rachel currently resides in coffee shops or anywhere with free wi-fi.
rachel needs more book space.
rachel knows her way around los angeles.
rachel is em-dashing for days.
rachel wishes it were otherwise.
rachel is looking elsewhere.
rachel is turning 23 this month.
rachel admits to having skimmed over your article, sir.
rachel sleeps sprawled, corner to corner.
rachel labors on labor day: ironically so.
rachel is verbing it up.
rachel begins her sentences with conjunctions.
rachel is duly noted.
rachel has daily crushes.
rachel is daily crushed.
rachel is feeding elephants in her room.
rachel is slighted, slightly.
rachel has been disillusioned.
rachel still believes.
rachel will be right back.
It would be in my lot in life to find that two weeks into my 2nd year of grad school I do not, as previously thought, have superwoman-like qualities, attempting to endure14-hour days with virtually no sleep. As it turns out, I am susceptible to needing nutrients and plenty of water for a day’s worth of energy. Naps in my car and endless cups of coffee aren’t doing my body good (or my social life). I suppose all those times I smugly told wide-eyed friends that “sleep is for the weak” came back to bite me in my ass. Or my sleep. Either that or I am increasingly becoming a weak soon-to-be 23 year old—which I will passionately contend!
It would also be my lot in life that the cute-employee-boy-at-Panera happens to be gay. My gay-dar, as they say, seems to be perpetually fighting against my male affections. As I ordered my coffee he wished me a fabulous day with that winning smile—all I could do was smile sheepishly back. Filling my coffee, I sighed, resigning to the fact that yet another boy is not enamored with the female population. I cursed his trendy topsiders and fitted jeans, the side-swept hair, and noteworthy customer service. Then realizing that all the coffee containers had been empty, I had to return to the aforementioned boy and ask for more coffee, please. Sheepishly, of course.