Bent: the Book Life Life in L.A.

Stuff That Probably Won’t Make It Into “Bent”

July 6, 2016

This is a running list of babble I’ve written that sounded super clever at the time, but I’ve since figured out it’s either a) not, b) completely irrelevant or c) according to my editor, “too cryptic.” But I didn’t want to trash it all.

When it comes to mangled body parts, I realize something like a Chelsea Smile would be way more badass than a sliced finger, considering I know of no yoga book written by anyone with a Chelsea Smile, but I’m not a gang member from a bad Scottish neighborhood, or the Black Dahlia. Although I used to live in an apartment building in Hollywood where they said the Black Dahlia once lived. Which means it could have been me

The subject of The Exorcist might come up often here, more than any other yoga book. Because what’s the opposite of spiritual enlightenment? It’s bondage of the soul—the worst kind. It’s a 12-year-old girl possessed by the devil who talks shit about your mother and does nasty stuff to herself with crucifixes. It’s called balance. (Also, I was already thinking about The Exorcist, because my friend Gretchen called earlier today and told me she had been looking for an Exorcist snow globe for me on eBay, because she knows I love her Halloween movie snow globe. But the “snow” is red, so it’s more like a “blood” globe. And then she said, “what other friend would call you and tell you that?” Answer: none. Absolutely no other friend would do that.)

When I was younger my mother told me little Buffy from “Family Affair” had crawled into a refrigerator, closed the door on herself and died. How or why you would do such a thing, I have no idea. (Answer: you wouldn’t.) My mother, the bad chooser of normal cautionary tales, didn’t want to tell me Anissa Jones really passed away from a drug overdose at 18 years old. Cocaine. PCP. Prescription drugs. All that would have been way better than the refrigerator thing, which I’m guessing would only happen if you were on drugs anyway. 

I could say sometimes I try to do things, and it just doesn’t work out the way I wanted to, I get real frustrated and I try hard to do it and I take my time and it doesn’t work out the way I wanted to, but by the time I get to the part where I just wanted a Pepsi and my mom wouldn’t give it to me you might figure out I’m ripping lines from a Suicidal Tendencies song and I’ll lose all credibility. Even though it’s true. (Except for the Pepsi thing—although I did used to beg my mother to let me get my ears pierced, which she would not, because “earrings are tacky.”)

I’ve always felt safer at night. Where I could hide. It wasn’t the worst thing. I could be more forgiving of myself, not to mention the world and everyone in it, when my shortcomings weren’t threatened by the brazen light of day. And by shortcomings, I mean damage. I was no longer a broken, alcohol-saturated wreck, but the scars were there, the ones I had covered up, ignored. Besides, statistically speaking, you’re safer from violent crime at night. You’re actually better off on the streets at 3:00 in the morning than you are at 9:00 in the morning. Even criminals sleep. If they want to assault you and steal your shit, they’ll do so during decent hours. I never understood why they shine a fluorescent spotlight in the faces of alleged culprits in old movies to get them to tell the truth. Put me to bed, and turn off the lights. I’ll tell you everything. I’ll be who you want me to be, I’ll be honest. I’ll be who I want to be, I’ll be braver. Just don’t ignore me. I really did want to be stronger, sweeter, less petrified all the time. Maybe it’s a within-the-womb thing, but it’s safer in the dark. What they should really warn you about is the light.

When I was in my 40’s, which is way later than you would think anyone would be able to hold onto this kind of information, my mother told me they almost named me Cherry. Cherry. After a friend of hers. I would have preferred something slightly more exotic than Anne, because Annes are invisible. Anne is vanilla. Anne is so not the name of someone destined for greatness. But either is Cherry, unless “greatness” means “2nd tier burlesque dancer.” Annes are not mysterious creatures who can command the undivided attention of armies and snakes with a look. I guarantee no Anne ever got burned at the stake for suspicion of being a witch. Anne is boring. Anne is probably your middle name. I believe I speak for all Annes of the world when I say Tallulah Bankhead had it made.

I make snappy decisions because I have to know things. I’m a flame toucher. I’m a socket licker. I poke things, like the watermelon quadrants in the market wrapped in Saran Wrap because the edges look too perfect and I can’t resist. I’ll drink fungus tea from a kombucha mushroom if it’ll keep me young and prevent gray hair. I’d like to try Fugu, the incredibly toxic Japanese pufferfish, just to see if it kills me. I once bit into a raw clove of garlic outside of Joe’s in North Beach because Michael dared me. Plus he told me it tasted like candy. It didn’t. It tasted like oil from a dog’s butt.

No one ever really needs to do acid when they’re in Haight-Ashbury. The vividness of the colors everywhere are enough to induce a hallucination. Everything looks as if it’s been soaked in varied amounts of grape soda with oranges and lemons thrown at it. I think it’s made of acid. It makes you feel like you’re on acid. Maybe I was on acid and didn’t know it, but it’s doubtful, because I was always told to never, ever put my drink down at a party because that’s how you get drugged. And the last thing I wanted to do was end up like Go Ask Alice. I can honestly say because of that book I was never once tempted to do acid for fear I’d have some kind of schizophrenic episode and end up strapped to a bed in a mental ward chewing my maggoty fingers to the bone. Even though it’s fake. It’s not real, y’all. That book is complete, utter hooey. Still, doing acid is probably not the best idea in the world. (And if you’re on acid right now, all I have to say is lobster claws. Hebrew alphabet. Red. So much red. Don’t look behind you. The sky is laughing. Bunny rabbits!)

It’s weird when you’re met with something exotic and unfamiliar and you find yourself immediately rejecting it for no good reason. And completely judging the person who brings it to your attention. I’ve seen it when people find out I’m sober. I’m brainwashed. I’m a drag. I’m not to be trusted. I become a perplexing symbol of WHAT THE FUCK. I’m Hester Prynne with a scarlet A. I used to feel the same way. Why in the world would you choose to not drink? It seemed to antisocial and almost rude which, if you were in Russia and someone handed you a shot of Stoli and you refused it, it would be considered rude. So why would you quit drinking if you might go to Russia one day? You don’t want Russia to hate you, RIGHT?

Maybe it’s a younger child thing, but I hate feeling like I’m in trouble with someone I’ve just met. Like at the store when you’re buying vodka and condoms from a checkout woman who looks exactly like your aunt Judith.

When I lived in San Francisco I used to walk up Hyde Street, all the way to the top of Russian Hill, where I would look out over the bay at Alcatraz, the one-time maximum security prison turned tourist attraction which is kind of creepy if you think about it, and wonder a) how long it would take to swim there and b) if anyone ever thought about buying it and turning it into a lavish private mansion, where they could live a Bukowski-esque existence, all alone, harumphing with contempt for people and forced conversation. I guess that would be weird.

Yoga is crack. But healthy crack. (And I realize I probably shouldn’t say it’s crack, healthy or not, because that would be “inappropriate.” Not that I’ve ever smoked crack so I wouldn’t really know. But it’s what I imagine crack is like.)

When I was young I invented Halloween in July. I would get dressed up like a ghost or a cowgirl and venture door-to-door in the middle of the year with a brown paper bag and say “trick or treat!” As in, YOU GOT WHAT I NEED, MAN. Like a little junkie frothing at the mouth. More than likely the neighbors would be thinking, “oh dear lord, here comes that little Clendening girl again. Does her mother know where she is?” (Of course she didn’t. This was the 70’s, when even a modest level of child supervision was more like an option, and not at all an indication of bad parenting.) You’d be shocked by how many people will give you Hershey’s Kisses and cookies and other stuff that would otherwise just be sitting there in a cupboard, going to waste in a house where carrot snackers probably lived. I still think it was genius.

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to catch on fire? I have. I’ve imagined what it would be like to end up hopelessly trapped inside my super fly James Dean Porsche 550 Spyder (the one I don’t have) as the result of a fiery car crash on a two-lane highway in the middle of nowhere with no one left alive to pull me from the wreckage. Or I could suddenly burst into flames, all on my own. It’s called Spontaneous Human Combustion, a very real phenomenon where your insides abruptly ignite and cook you to death for no apparent or identifiable reason. My funeral would be attended by friends and family and curious yoga people and a smattering of arson investigative team members. Then my grieving husband would probably get arrested for manslaughter, because they always suspect the spouse first. But I’d hate for everybody to shun my husband just because they’ve never heard of accidental self-combustion. So, just in case, I’m telling everyone now that my husband would never light me on fire, no matter how many times I use the kitchen sink as a trash bin.

I would literally rather fall into a river and be polished off by a thousand ferocious piranhas than burn to death. And by the way, so would you. Piranhas are assholes, and at least they’ll get it over with quick.

And that’s just a little.

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