18 March 2013

When I was 17

When I was 17, my grandparents gave me a computer and set me up with an AOL account (that they paid for for several years). At first it was kept at their house. I can't remember why, but I'm sure there was some good reason. Maybe there wasn't room for it, wherever we were living at the time. We moved a lot the last couple of years I was living at home, before moving into the dorm in college. I had a car so I would drive to their house sometimes to go on the internet. Most of the time they were away in Massachusetts.

They got it for me because I was the rising star genius of the family. I was going to go to medical school. I was going right my mother's wrongs, beginning by not getting pregnant freshman year of college. I was wildly successful at that; Chem II, not so much. I switched my major from pre-med to psychology probably in the first semester.

The screen name my grandparents picked for me when they set up my AOL account was "carklet," and the password something like "premed." As soon as I got access to the computer, I set up another account, "prdinpink." Some of you might recognize it. At the time, there was a strict character limit on screen names, though I'm sure that even if there hadn't been, "prettyinpink" or any variation on the actual spelling would have already been taken. In 1997, there were no social networks. At least not that I was aware of. Maybe for techies, or hacker types, but not for average folk like me. We had chat rooms and fan club listservs. That's where we filled out very simple profiles. Name, age/birthday, favorite quote, favorite band, marital status, occupation. If I recall correctly, not unlike Friendster in its early days, except without the photos or commentability or messaging feature. There was messaging in friendster, right? When I was 17, I was quite goth. Prdinpink might not sound particularly goth, and "Pretty in Pink" wasn't (isn't) my favorite John Hughes film, but for a few years there, my hair was colored pink. Prdinpink just made sense.

Morrissey was (is) one of my major faves, so under marital status I wrote "Will Never Marry," the title of a Morrissey song. Also, a sentiment I felt at the time (and maybe now-ish too). My quote was from an Ayn Rand novel. I still remember it, by heart. Judge if ye will. "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, or ask another man to live for mine." It was in "Atlas Shrugged." That sentence was a password to gain access to some kind of vault or entrance. Only if spoken with conviction would the speaker gain access.

Under occupation, I said "Telling people I'm a dominatrix and then laughing when they believe me HAHAHAHAHAHA" (ah, the foreshadowing!). When I was 17, I had very little idea of what a dominatrix really was. Being goth, of course I had some notion, but it wasn't until I was 24 and living in New York that I learned what it really means to be a dominatrix. I would get messages from people, men, older men, probably much older men, who thought that I might really be a dominatrix. Maybe they stopped reading at "Telling people I'm a dominatrix." That would chat me on AIM, seeking domination. I would ignore and block them.

It's striking to me now that I had absolutely no supervision on that computer. My mother never asked me what I got up to on there, never seemed concerned. My poor sister, with whom I shared a room, had to sleep through the glowing screen, me typing away late into the night, chatting with internet folk, mostly strangers, sometimes a friend. She never asked me to turn it off. Had it been the other way around, I might have gone postal on her. The patience of a saint, that one.

09 March 2013

Chicago Summers

I spent a summer in Chicago when I had just turned 21. The Chicago area. The north(west?) suburbs. With Stella and her mother (RIP) and her mother's boyfriend, Steve. I tried to work at the main suburban Borders, at the big shopping mall, Woodfield I think, but they wouldn't quite have me. From an inventory supervisor in Tampa to a sort of barista in Chicago? It was a mess. They were a mess. They didn't care. They didn't want anything I had to give. Even wiping down the tables in slow times wasn't enough for them. I'd brought my own HR file with me when I traveled to CHI, so when I decided to stop going to that store, it wasn't that huge a deal. I went to a different suburban store, one further away. The manager thought I was a corporate spy, and got her other managers to think the same. In other words, I was hired on the spot. I guess I was just well spoken enough. Enough for them to think I knew what I was doing, REALLY knew what I was doing. Little did they know. I mean of course I knew. I always know from day one. It's only ever a matter of polishing. Isn't it that way with everyone? To know that you have something down ("I got this, man"), but just have to polish it?

It's hard to remember that time. It doesn't feel real, if you know what I mean. It was over ten years ago at this point. It could have been a dream. I wonder if I've tried to forget it, that's how vague a memory it is. I remember the GM, the one who thought I was a spy, she was quite homely. She had these gnarly chin hairs. I later heard that that had happened when she had a baby, and I was horrified to think that that homely monster had a child, that she had someone who would make love to her and that they would procreate and a delicate lovely child would emerge from the ashes. Who was apparently quite adorable. I don't remember her name. Her right hand man name I think was named Cindy. She was a huge ditz. A late 40s ish blonde ditz. I remember having a thought quite like that, like how does someone get to that age and be such an airhead? It's weird to be younger and in a position of less power/authority than that person. She was nice though. She trusted me well enough. I seemed to have more savvy and forward thinkingness than anyone else at that store.

It shared a parking lot with a dying mall. Sort of a dying star, it seemed. Very Tampa mall-esque. So many stores closed down. But the food court was a place to get lunch, at least sometimes. I only remember going there when I first started working at the store. I guess I probably started bring my own, or bought food from the cafe. Once I tried to buy cigarettes from a nearby drugstore, Walgreens or somesuch. But they wouldn't accept my out of state ID. I was so incensed. I wasn't a heavy smoker, but I smoked, and I wanted cigarettes, and also injustice gets me up in arms. They didn't believe my accept my ID because it was out of state. But it was a real ID, I reasoned. Really real. They wouldn't take it. Ironically, when I was under 18, I was the (non-smoking) one that my friends would coax to buy them cigarettes, because i looked old enough, when I took my glasses off. I don't recall ever being refused back then, when I was under 18. No one ever even asked for my ID, never mind questioning the really real ID I might have shown them.

Melissa (Mel) was one of the supervisors. Of what, I don't recall. She had a crush on me though, sort of. She was a lesbian, definitely, but I don't recall her relationship status. I feel like I probably definitely milked that crush. Me and her and some other people went for tiki drinks one night, somewhere sort of between the suburbs and Chicago proper. Somewhere sort of shady. Though in those parts, you're almost always in a car, so shadiness doesn't matter quite so much. It's not like walking the ten blocks from the bar to the subway, or the subway to your apartment, blocks during which you could be mugged, raped, or pass out, because you didn't bother to take down the number for Brooklyn Bike Patrol, even though you've known about it forever. I mean, are you tempting fate or something?

I worked with a man named Jarek. A boy, I guess. I've been getting myself into the habit, lately, of calling males of my age-ish or above, "men." It seems appropriate. But back then, I think he was a boy, as I was a girl. He was heavily Polish, as many of the people in Chicago and its suburbs are. As in, his parents were immigrants. His name the name of an immigrant son. Another co-worker told me that in high school he'd gone back the nickname "Jack," because it was easier, more American. Jarek is pronounced something like "Yah-rick," but with one of those "r" sounds a hard "r." Do you know what what I mean? Like the "r" is a "d," almost. Anyway. He sort of liked me, a bit. LIKED me liked me. Sort of in a way the average intellectual twenty something man can be expected to like the average intellectual twenty something lady. I didn't know what to do with it. At the time I was a virgin, in most every sense. He drove a mustang. We went to some sort of outdoors classical music thing once, I suppose maybe he and/or some other people may have taken it as a date. He brought a bottle of wine, and maybe even a bottle opener, but no cups. I can't remember if we opened it and drank from the bottle, or just forgot about it altogether. Back then I was very much not into drinking, so I wouldn't have made a fuss about it. I do remember him being a bit sheepish about not having brought all the right implements. I'd worn high heeled shoes, but brought something more comfy, knowing it was outside and I'd be doing some walking on grassy land. I ended up leaving my heels in his car and wearing the cozy shoes to the seating area, and ended up leaving my heels in his car at the end of the night. It was a bit of a scandal at the store when he was returning my shoes to me after that. Shoes are sort of intimate, aren't they? Something you'd only entrust to someone special, a lover, or someone of equivalent standing.

I was never into Jarek. I was into someone else, someone whose name eludes me absolutely. He had the look of someone who needed comforting. Not just that, though. A certain effeminiteness, though not downright so. A prettiness. Full lips, devastating eyes, slight curls in his short blonde-ish hair. He was so depressed. He didn't care for anyone, least of all me. I tried to flirt, to no avail, no avail whatsoever. He was like a rock. Impenetrable. Not the rocks in Iceland, obviously, the ones that house elves and fairies. He was a different kind of rock. I befriended one of his dude friends at the store, who only affirmed his disinterest in me, and people/girls in general. Frankie, I think that was. I seem to recall that Frankie was rumored to have a large penis. Lord knows who told me, or why. He was on my side though, Frankie. Sort of. He wanted his depressed friend to not be depressed, and to have a lady, and he thought I was an alright gal so why not me?

I only ended up staying a few months, though, not long enough to get involved with anyone. That had been the plan from the beginning, though three quarters of the way through I started to think about staying. Why? Was it because of Tory, who'd already way fucked me over? I'm still not sure quite what possessed me. I started looking for an apartment in the city, pretty seriously actually. I met up with a guy, a friend of a friend, who was looking for a roommate to find a place in the city. He was a photographer, and he ended up taking a series of slow exposure type photos where a man was beating me, or close to beating me, with a frying pan. I think he got one of his current roomies to be the frying pan wielder, though I suppose he might have put himself in that position, given the camera set up. I've wondered about those photos, what they ended up looking like. I have no idea how I'd find this fellow though, or any of the people I worked with at that store. This chunk of my life, vanished. Where are they now?