I ain’t got no crystal balls

john-edwardI was driving somewhere in the Valley when I saw a billboard with John Edward’s face on it. You know, John Edward. That psychic that had that television show sometime over the last decade. He would assemble people in a room and start calling out random numbers and letters until a person (sucker) in the crowd made sense of his ramblings.

I can’t remember what happened to him. I think he was dogged by some scandal. Something about his ability. I think it started with the letter B and ended in shit.

Or maybe it’s real. What do I know? I’m an atheist that is afraid of ghosts.

That billboard was long behind me, but his name kept swirling in my head, John, Edward, John Edward, until I landed on the spirit of the Democratic Party’s past: John Edwards.

john-edwardsOh my God, John Edwards. He came back to me like an old nursery rhyme. His father worked at a mill, he put himself through law school, his hair was impeccable, he was John Kerry’s running mate, and then he ran for president. He stood out between Clinton and Obama as the only candidate to really talk about the struggle of the working poor and explain, in simple terms, the solution for helping them thrive.

But everything went to crap. He was dogged by some scandal. Something about his personal life. I think it started with the letter D and ended with a baby out of wedlock with a woman that was on payroll, while his wife was dying of cancer.

Or maybe that’s normal. What do I know? I’m a lesbian that has never been with a man with hair so irresistible.

Similar to the way the Republican party erased the entire presidency (and failed economic policy) of George W. Bush, the Democratic party expunged Edwards from existence, along with his legitimate platform on combating poverty.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone else that came after him repeated his words. But he was the only one among them who lived it. He was as authentic as his sex scandal, and as vain as he was magnanimous. His southern drawl was ever-present. It didn’t disappear at fundraisers on the west coast and re-emerge stronger during rallies in red states. He was him, flaws and all.

I understand that things were different back then. The country was exhausted of hearing gross stories about powerful men and their weak penises. That’s why the populous elected two wife-loving, monoga-men to the white house back-to-back.

But those days of oppression are over.

As a society, we put a middle finger in the air to all that evangelical pretentiousness and silly talk about family values and elected a thrice-married sexual assaulter who is very (small) handsy with one of his daughters. The prettier one, of course.

So this means that we can bring back John Edwards. After years of quietly helping poor people from his tiny law firm in small-town North Carolina, it’s time to dust off his gorgeous hair and set him loose.

Let the conversation return to what it’s like to live paycheck-to-paycheck or to have to send your children to terrible schools because you can’t afford the rent in the better districts or to be unemployed because you have to check a box that says you have been convicted, regardless if you paid your debt to society.

And let that conversation be led by the guy with two crystal balls.









Flowers in your hair

I heard the crowd roar in the distance and if I tilted my head a certain way, I could see Wesley Schultz’s beard on the big screen. (I live in L.A. now, prepare yourself for a barrage of name drops).

A slight hiccup in my otherwise perfectly timed festival schedule now made me late to The Lumineers‘ set at BottleRock. I had already committed 50 minutes to standing in line for dinner and I was just 10 people away from the window. Sure, music festivals may seem like whimsical drug-laced fun, but if you’re serious about catching as many acts as your ears can physically handle without bleeding, then you haz needz to have a plan – and stick to it. Otherwise, you’ll end up hangry while listening to a local band that plays Billy Joel covers on kazoo.

It was the last day of the festival and up to that moment, everything had gone as planned…even better than expected. And now I just needed sustenance to get me through the final stretch, as I was going to need the extra carbs to dance and scream to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (It took everything not to mention all of them by name just now. Los Angeles in the house!)

Prior to The Lumineers taking the stage, Darren Criss (GleeHedwig and the Angry Inch and the name that I just dropped) darted through my food line to head toward the main stage, along with a long conga line of concert goers, so when a flower-crowned young woman in a white dress said, “Excuse me,” I immediately took a step back to let her through.

Only she didn’t want through, she wanted in.

“She is very hungry,” she said pointing to a perfect 6-year-old blonde, blue-eyed girl.

“Me too” I said in that way you answer and look away when a stranger engages you in unwelcome small talk while trying to listen to Neyla Pekarek on cello.

Nonetheless she continued, “The line is like an hour long and she is very hungry. She is a child and can’t wait.”

Wait. What? This woman is serious. I looked at her in disbelief. I looked at the people in line around me in disbelief. After 50 minutes standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them, they were my new best friends, so it wasn’t weird. Steve, one of my new BFFs, said, “Wow, she’s using the kid card.” (Steve is probably not accurate, but I hadn’t dropped a name in a whole paragraph).

Clearly this woman, being incredibly attractive, like a French Jemima Kirke, was not expecting much of a push back, let alone such harsh judgement. So, she continued her ramble, “When you have a kid, they don’t understand to wait. And the line is very long.” She repeated, “The line is like an hour long.”

“I’m aware how long the line is because I’m in it,” my face transformed and my (h)anger was surely palpable. “Go ahead.” I let them in. She thanked me profusely, but I didn’t engage. I was in a silent internal rage. I couldn’t hear The Lumineers anymore. I could just hear my heartbeat and that terrible voice that lives inside of me saying all of the following things:

  • She played you like a fool.
  • You let her in because she’s hot, even though she’s wearing that ridiculous last-season-Coachella flower crown.
  • That’s not even her kid.
  • She is holding a beer. I wonder if she stood in line for it or used the kid to cut for it?
  • If the kid was really hungry, she would’ve been crying.
  • If the kid was really hungry, she would’ve asked to cut at the front of the line, not 10 deep.
  • You could’ve said no.

That was the only part of my internal monologue that was true. I could’ve said no. But I didn’t. Because it’s not the kid’s fault that her parent (but most likely guardian) is an idiot. And what’s two more minutes of waiting versus a lifetime of that little girl’s face popping-up in my head every night before going to sleep with a dubbed over voice saying, “I’m hungry, so hungry.”

I calmed myself and resumed listening to the distant chants of Ho, Hey. It was fine. This wasn’t going to ruin my perfect weekend in Napa. I envisioned grabbing my grilled cheese, plopping down on my blanket and enjoying the rest of the show.

But when it was finally her turn at the window, she didn’t know what to order…so I fucking lost my mind again.

Starlight, starbright

When he answered the phone I asked him if he knew that I would be calling, but he humorlessly explained that he wasn’t a psychic, but an astrologer and that there was a difference.

Apparently his House of Funny was in Mercury retrograde.

This was the first in a series of red flags that I refused to acknowledge. Instead, I continued the conversation, providing him with some basic, personal information so he would be able to construct my astrological chart; and we agreed to meet later that week at his home in the charming neighborhood of South Miami.

I was expecting you.

The date of the appointment arrived and prior to our meeting, I went to happy hour, as one does. Liquid courage they call it, but I soon found out I didn’t even need it.

I pulled up to the astrologer’s house expecting to find a large telescope in front of a teepee, and, for sure, the faint smell of pot mixed with sage. Instead I got a rather large ranch-style home surrounded by a really well-kept garden. To add insult to injury, when he opened the door, he wasn’t wearing excessive jewelry or a fancy broach or even a cape. He was in Dockers and a collared shirt and immediately regretted it all. The happy hour. The appointment. Giving this guy my date of birth. Everything.

How can I take this guy seriously? I grew up watching Walter, Las Estrellas y Usted. Everyone knows a respectable astrologer has to have a broach collection to rival that of Secretary Madeleine Albright.

Nonetheless, I went inside and sat across from his desk, where he painstakingly explained my natal chart. I rested my face on my fist and listened to the gloom and doom that awaited me over the next few years.

“Bummer,” I said.

He tried to cheer me up by saying that my planets would finally get their shit together in four years. This was 2012, though. What my astrologer was suggesting was that I basically had to send my planets away for college and watch idly as they changed their major every semester, experimented with drugs and hair color, and live four years in questionable hygiene.

I left his house and, a few days later, forgot all about my cape-less star-guru. Until today, when I was going through some old files in search of a receipt, when I came across a green folder with the word, “Astrology,” written across the top.

Inside one of the pockets was a cassette labeled with the name of the astrologer and the date, September 13, 2012. I held it in my hands and thought this was what those archaeologists must’ve felt like when they uncovered King Tut’s tomb or Machu Picchu or that weird Miami Circle in the middle of Brickell.

I popped in the tape with giddy anticipation. Hopeful that it would say some illuminating tid-bit that didn’t apply then, but somehow applies now. And then, there it was, in the middle of his monotone blathering about a cusp, a trine and my Uranus becoming activated, which sound like things that go on in the backroom of Ramrod, he said that I would finally have my shit together in 2016.

I looked at the folder, so neatly labeled and I remembered the rest of the folders in the filing cabinet, also labeled in clear pink ink. I ran my fingers across my records, neatly stacked under the stereo and glanced across the room at the neatly stacked book shelf. Holy crap, he was right, my wife finally got my shit together in 2016.