a million stories in the naked city.

Posted on Tuesday 11 October 2011

it happened quickly, so fucking quickly he was halfway down my block before i realized that he had ripped my earbuds out of my ears and had my phone in his hand. this is not at all like i imagined getting mugged would be; i imagined being menaced with a weapon in a dark, unfamiliar neighborhood. in reality i was 50 feet from my front door, in Center City Philadelphia, and it was early evening. the streetlights weren’t even on.

i didn’t even bother giving chase. i had sprained my ankle the week before and was wearing wood-soled cowboy boots that, though giving a solid clop every time i set my foot down, were not meant for any kind of running. instead i screamed down my empty street at the retreating figure.

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

i walked to my front door. by then i was shaking, and by the time i shut the door i was sobbing. not for my lost phone, really, but because i felt so unsafe. right before he came up behind me, i was thinking how much i loved my little neighborhood and my quiet little street and its quirky mix of occupants.

D called the police. i called my mom and told her to suspend service on my phone. about 10 minutes later, a cop knocked on my door. i had expected that he would take a statement in the house and then leave. instead, he told me to hop in the car. we were going to find the perpetrator.

i didn’t bother telling the officer what a waste of time this was. i had barely gotten a look at him. to be perfectly honest, i can’t even say for sure it WAS a him, though he was dressed like a guy. i could not really tell gender, race, or age. i had the barest impression of a black hoodie. he was slim and maybe 5’9″. i berated myself quietly for this – i can’t tell you how many times i have memorized the features of someone on the street i was sure was going to end up fucking with me, but never did. i am the ultimate paranoid urban walker, always hyper aware of where i am, who is around me and where the next safe place will be. not this time. i was too zoned out listening to Marketplace on NPR.

we rolled past a small group of kids. “any of those?” he asked me.

i sunk deeper into the uncomfortable plastic of the cruiser’s backseat. “no.” i said in a small voice. i wanted to disappear.

we continued south, and then onto a diagonal street. i knew it was either Grays Ferry Ave or Point Breeze Ave, but was too tired and out of it to care. we stopped at a precinct and it was then he took down my information. when he asked my age i felt strange telling him. 30 year olds are adults. they own houses and have kids. they don’t get mugged walking home from work.

from there, it was down to another police building, to give a statement to a detective. Tasker, Morris, then Snyder, Jackson and finally to Wolf. we were driving through one of the worst parts of the city. watching it all go by i felt vaguely, uncharacteristically horrified.

the detective that took my statement was a tall, statuesque woman, her strawberry blonde hair swept up neatly in a bun. i first saw her leaning over a filing cabinet before she came over to me. she was a wearing a pink blouse, which contrasted oddly with the gun holstered to her hip.

she had a strange but graceful way of typing. name. address. social. age. phone. she paused for a moment when her iPhone chimed sweetly, gently sweeping her fingertip over it before pinching the top to turn it off. it had a lavender case. she murmured sympathetically when i berated myself for not being more careful. it happens to a lot of people. she had me look over the statement before instructing me to sign and date it.

“five weeks.” i said ironically.


“i’ve only been here five weeks. well, i mean, i lived here for eight years before i moved to Massachusetts for grad school, but yeah. i’ve only been here five weeks. this is first time this has ever happened to me.”

she smiled a bit. “yeah, Philly will get you like that.”

the officer who had driven me around was still waiting for me, and kindly drove me home. as we passed the point in my street where i had been mugged, i expected to feel something. mostly i was just tired. as he opened the door in front of my home, he admonished me to be careful and to call him if anything else should happen. i said that i would.

m. ravian @ 10:36 pm
Filed under: D andla familia andmaterial possessions andmental health andthe illadelph
all’s well that ends well.

Posted on Saturday 17 September 2011

well, i am a Philadelphia expatriate no longer.

D and i moved here about three weeks ago. a lot has happened in the time since the entry in which i said i would write every day for the rest of 2011 (a fool’s errand if i ever heard one). i can say, pretty much without a doubt, that the last month have been the most stressful of my entire life. and i say that having gone through three years of graduate school. moving is a difficult thing. moving with another person is a difficult thing, and when you are transitioning from one job to another, moving in the middle of August, moving over 400 miles away, and then arriving to find the house you thought you had rented was in the same condition has when you saw it two weeks previous (despite promises that all the work would be done in time for your move). the events of the last month are an incredibly LONG STORY that someday i will tell.

needless to say, i have never been so consistently frustrated, demoralized, sweaty and exhausted in my life as i have been in the last month. so you’ll forgive me not writing. i don’t think i would have been able to say anything compelling, let alone coherent.

the last few nights have been beautiful and cool. fall is coming. we have slowly been unpacking our new house, savoring our perfect view of Liberty 1 and 2, and enjoying all the cute neighborhood spots.

m. ravian @ 11:18 pm
Filed under: D anddomestica andmaterial possessions andmental health andneuroses andreal estate andthe illadelph

Posted on Saturday 6 August 2011

recently, for some reason, i’ve been thinking about the online journal world. circa, let’s see, maybe somewhere between 1999 and 2002. before blogs, before tumblr, before it all became incredibly easy to self-publish your writing. i had a long list of wonderful sites i visited daily, and they were all hand-coded and beautifully designed by people who put in dozens, maybe hundreds of hours creating and nurturing these sites. there were no comments (only the most sophisticated had this feature), and so these writers sent this amazing, insightful, incredibly personal writing out in to the world with little fear that it would be torn apart and critiqued in an extremely public way.

these kinds of online journals are all but gone now, which is sad. it’s been replaced by LOLcats and FailBlog and Tumblr with endless quotes and surveys and links. i have no doubt this is a great way to share information quickly, but it always struck me as incredibly confusing and choppy. i miss the slower, more forgiving introspection of online journals, where people wrote in long form.

i guess lady pilot dot org, when it is not asleep, is still a throwback to this era. i always meant this to be less a stab at accolades and readership and more the ongoing creation of a narrative that would be personally valuable for me. i’m well aware that about a dozen people read anything i write here (which is fair, considering i’ve updated it about ten times in the past year) and that’s okay. it was never for you, anyway, but i’m glad you’re here.

i posted this status on facebook yesterday: “TRUTH: being a good writer will save your butt every time.” and it is true. my life has been infinitely easier and more interesting simply due to the fact that i am a decent writer (i hold no illusions about my abilities past that). the fact that i was able to write a bitching thesis last year with little strife (okay, maybe a moderate amount of strife), that fact that i wooed D via email with my witticisms before we even met, the fact that i can pound out an excellent cover letter in record time has gotten me more than one really good, interesting job, and is in fact possibly poised to get me another job in the very short term.

all of this, i think, i owe to writing online. i owe it to The Sky Cathedral, Hejira and now lady pilot dot org, all the previous permutations of my online journaling. go and read my entries, starting in August of 1999. i was a shitty, shitty writer. no idea what i was doing. but i wrote. and wrote. and wrote. angst angst angst. college angst. relationship angst. body angst. you get the idea. it was all valuable practice, and got me to where i am today. it’s because of this that i am sure the source of good art is not the result of a lightening bolt from the sky, but simply a result of pounding at it, every day, even when you hate it. because that’s what i did, and it worked.

so. more writing here. in fact, i am making a pledge, one that i may regret: writing of some sort here, every day, until 2011 ends. oy.

m. ravian @ 9:13 am
Filed under: art andblogness andD andmental health andrants andteh interwebs
dear college graduates.

Posted on Friday 20 May 2011

well, look. the NYT has released its yearly article on how the job market for new college graduates is shitty.

for college undergrads, it seems like the de facto thing to move home with your parents after graduating. i have seen this happen to many, many people i know – former students, relatives, acquaintances. this disturbs me on a variety of levels.

but first, i will get up on my soapbox and tell you what i did when i got my BFA at the end of 2003. moving home, for me, was never an option because i knew there was no way in fucking hell i was ever living in Lebanon, Pennsylvania ever again. and i love my parents too much to destroy the awesome relationship we have by all of us living under the same roof.

so. i found a small, cheap apartment in a dodgy neighborhood in Philadelphia. i found a low-paying job that was not in my field (even in those so-called flush years of the early 2000s, no one was dying to hire someone with a BFA in ceramics. go fig). i ate ramen. i shopped at thrift stores. I GOT THE FUCK OVER MYSELF.

in about six months to a year’s time, things got better. i found an affordable place to do my art (and was able to stop working in my kitchen). i found a job at a ceramic supply store that allowed me discounts on the materials i needed and a halfway decent paycheck that paid the rent on my 400 square foot studio apartment and kept me in ramen and clothes from Old Navy.

not to be the person who grumbles about “those darn kids”, but every time i hear of someone packing up and moving home after graduating, it hurts my heart that they didn’t even try. didn’t try to be independent, didn’t try to scrape by on their own, didn’t move somewhere and create their own life, rather than folding themselves back into their parents’ lives. i have a theory about this – many young people have lived lives of comfort, and when they compare the existence i outlined above (bad neighborhood, crappy job, ramen) and then compare it to living at home rent free (laundry done, free food, etc) – well, of course they choose to move back home. and by doing this, they’re missing out on a huge, amazing opportunity.

entering art school at 18, i had no illusions about the monetary compensation for my field. i did not want to be an art teacher, and so i knew there was no job on the immediate horizon that would make me comfortable. and so i prepared mentally for being poor for a long, long time. i think that made it okay for me to not move home, not be comfortable, to push my limits and see what i could do on my own.

so, college graduates. don’t move home. instead, do this:

if you went to a college in or near a large city and if that city is decently affordable, move into it. you will not be making a lot of money. you will probably live in a neighborhood that’s kind of dodgy. this is okay. that’s where all the interesting people are, anyway. get some mace. watch your back. don’t move to a wealthier neighborhood, i guarantee it will be full of Starbucks and rich, boring white people.

rent a house, if you can’t afford your own place (chances are, you won’t be able to). rope some of your college friends into your plans. if you love your friends and can’t bear to leave them, don’t. move in together. get one of your parents to co-sign the lease if needed. decorate your house Joni Mitchell-style with tapestries and thrift store finds.
find a job. any job. it will probably not be a job in your field. it will probably not pay that much. you will waiting on people, or staring at a computer doing boring shit. once again, get over yourselves. you never know what will come of these jobs. maybe nothing. or maybe that person who you serve a latte to every morning knows someone or something that can help you out. keep your ears open.

you have big student loans. big deal. so do i. so does everyone. you have six months’ grace period. after that, call those people up, send them your paystubs, explain you’re not making any money, and they will reduce your payments. it is not worth sacrificing your quality of life to pay the man $500 or $700 or $1000 a month. it’s just not.

finally, keep your eye on the prize. you want a job in your field, so keep looking. take unpaid or volunteer positions in your field if you’re able. network network network.  talk to people. stay open.

i said to Dave the other day that, on the slim chance that i do have kids, the one thing i would teach them above all is self-reliance. it is probably the most important thing you will ever learn. so go out and kick ass.

losing the record.

Posted on Wednesday 27 April 2011

i was on a plane and i was exhausted (why do these two things seem to always go together?), i was trying to put my phone into airplane mode when i somehow ended up rebooting it to its factory restore and lost all of my text messages.

i was very upset by this, which is slightly ridiculous. they only went back to the beginning of December. but still, i get an incredible amount of pleasure going back and reading through all of my text messages, particularly the ones between me and D. they are probably the best written account of our relationship. the more i thought about this fact, the more it depressed me.

“we don’t write letters to each other.” i moaned to him tonight in the Detroit airport (a prison that i found myself stranded in for almost eight hours due to missing a connection). it’s funny, how little the written word governs our relationship. though we’ve been together for over a year and lived together since August, i don’t have a clear idea of what his handwriting looks like; i would be hard pressed to pick it out of a line up. i have never written him a letter (outside of the stray postcard when i was on Nantucket last summer). he has never written me one. it’s not something i even thought of until right now. how utter strange for me especially, the long-time die-hard analogue journal writer.

i have an obsession with keeping track of what i was doing when. on Sunday, i was desperately trying to remember where i was and what i had been doing last Easter. i racked my brains to no avail, and finally gave up and went through my Twitter archives to find out. the record of my life has been broken down into text messages and tweets. little digital tidbits, 140 characters or less. i don’t like that.

i guess this means i have to start beating this dead horse again.

m. ravian @ 7:54 pm
Filed under: art andD andgeekery andneuroses
the craigslist rule book.

Posted on Friday 19 November 2010

craigslist has been much-maligned in the media during the last few years. some of it has been well-deserved, some has not. i myself have used craigslist for the last 7 or 8 years for a variety of purposes. like many people of my generation, i have found furniture, books, jobs, a kiln, a studio, several apartments and even a roommate on the site. i have sold many things as well, including what seemed like a good half of my possessions when i moved from New Bedford last summer. by and large, my experiences on craigslist have been positive. i have met really interesting people. it’s always intriguing for me to have a small, momentary window into another person’s life.

today, i drove to Lowell to pick up thirty boxes of Christmas lights for my upcoming 30th birthday party. i had been searching all over the innertubes for a large quantity of lights for little money, i quickly realized that buying them new didn’t make much sense. and so i took to craigslist and found my man. he had sixty boxes available, i asked for thirty and named my price. i arrived when i said i would, he was friendly and had the merchandise ready in his basement and even helped me load it into my car. i had exact change in my pocket and handed it to him. all parties left happy and satisfied. this, i think, is the miracle of the internet.

i also recall annoying moments last summer, when i was trying to sell several large pieces of nice furniture, when people said they would show up and didn’t, were rude when they did arrive, and tried to lowball me when we had already agreed to a price. that said, these incidents inspired me to write down a guide for the usage of craigslist. mileage may vary, of course, but these are rules of thumb i have found that worked for me. most of them are common sense, then again, common sense doesn’t seem too common these days.

1. arrive on time.
if you and the seller have agreed on a time, for god sakes, be there on time. if you can’t, call them and tell them your estimated time of arrival. which leads me to my second rule:

2. have a contact number.
if the seller doesn’t give you a number, ask for it. this prevents them from being left hanging if you for some reason are delayed enroute, whether it’s for a mundane reason like traffic or if your car breaks down.

3. have good email etiquette.
this is mostly for sellers: be prompt when communicating about a purchase, usually within 24 hours. if you sell the item, be nice and email all other interested parties and tell them the item has been sold. some might say this unnecessary. all i know is i hate to be left hanging.

4. take good pictures.
hey, everyone: decent digital cameras are cheap as dirt now. learn to use one. don’t use your cellphone camera unless it’s fucking amazing. i know CL only allows four tiny low-res pictures, but work with what you have. if it’s a big ticket item like a car or an apartment, there are numerous sites which can host high-res photos for free or next to nothing. TRUST ME your shit will get sold quicker and more easily if you have good pictures.

5. be accurate.
more information in a listing is better than less information. give me model numbers, brands, how long you used it, etc. also give me the condition, including whether or not the item came in contact with pets or smokers (especially good information for furniture and if you’re selling to someone like me who has rampant allergies). be honest about the condition. like new means like new. very good means it’s been used but well-taken care of. okay means you should probably put that shit in your basement and Febreeze it.

6. on bargaining.
i am all for bargaining, within reason and without insulting the seller. so no, when i post my car on CL for $3000, i won’t take $500. i don’t care what your wife’s car sold for last month. for small items and items that are brand new and in the box, like the above-mentioned Christmas lights, bargaining via email before the sale is acceptable. for larger items, like computers and furniture, obviously one must see the condition before making an offer. this is also acceptable.

7. payment
cash, almost always. i’ve only been paid a few times with a check, and it was for a small amount, and i took down the person’s phone number, the check cleared okay and all was well. have exact change if you know exactly what you’re paying. nothing more annoying that having to dig up some change for someone who wasn’t thinking ahead. i have also used Paypal, but this is only if both parties are saavy enough to know how to use it. in general, people selling stuff on CL are not too tech-saavy. i think that’s actually the nice thing about CL – you end up finding random interesting things that people are trying to get rid of for a minimum amount of money. it’s really like the best yard sale in the world.

and finally:

8. don’t be a creeper.
as a girl going alone into a stranger’s house, my hackles are up, as i rightly think they should be. fortunately, should the person you are buying from try to ax murder you in their house, there’s a good chance he won’t get away with it since there will be a significant digital trail leading police to their door. that being said, i use similar rules for first dates as i do for craigslist trips: make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you’ll be back. check in with them when you get home. even better, take someone with you. that way they can help you carry your new awesome stuff to the car.

m. ravian @ 4:45 pm
Filed under: art andbostonish anddomestica andgeekery andmaterial possessions andrants

Posted on Sunday 3 October 2010

my three years in graduate school was characterized by many things, most of them expected: lack of sleep, lack of a social life, abject poverty. the domestic part of my life fell apart most dramatically, and strangely, it ended up being the thing i missed the most. there were months where i only saw the inside of my apartment when i came home for 6 or 7 hours’ sleep. trash piled up, food rotted on the dishes in the sink (miraculously never attracting any insects; i attribute this to my spotlessly clean Portuguese neighbors), mildew built up on the shower liner, papers and mail piled up until after crits when i went through the month-deep pile. all of it was kind of disgusting. i always felt most clear-headed when i cleaned the place and spent a good four or five hours cooking enormous amounts of food (which i would then freeze for the lean times).

as a child and teenager, i took a particularly dim view of domestic tasks, and did a spectacular job in avoiding the absorption of any knowledge of cooking, cleaning, laundry or even the barest basics of keeping a home. to my recollection, the only chore i was made to do with any regularity was make my bed and occasionally set the table (sorry mom and dad). and so i was sent to college at age 18, woefully unprepared to take care of myself, a state that was similar to most of my peers. as a result, i spent that first year ruining my clothing from incorrect laundering and drinking copious amounts of Wild Cherry Pepsi.

i got my first apartment, ALONE (which was glorious after a bruising roommate experience my first year of college), at age 19. domestic skills saw no improvement. i do recall throwing out many, many 6-month-old tupperware containers filled with excellent homemade food (sorry mom).

this state of affairs continued. i did not learn to cook or clean or do laundry, and i was almost fiercely proud of that fact. then when i moved back to Philly after my time in Houston, i got a roommate who was pretty much a domestic goddess. soon after we moved into our tidy Fishtown rowhome, she informed me (perhaps only somewhat ironically) that the way to get a man was to know how to poach an egg. and so she taught me this, and how to make fried green tomatoes, and how to cook a number of other things. it’s sad that our relationship as roommates deteriorated fairly quickly, but when i left the house 14 months later, i moved to New Bedford armed with lots of new culinary knowledge. knowledge i ended up not having the time or will to use for the next three years.

which brings us to today. i moved in with Dave after my summer on Claustrophobia Island. we have been cohabitating quite happily for a little over a month now. and i have surprised myself by how relentlessly domestic i have become, both by will and by job circumstance.

the economy being what it is, i knew i was incredibly lucky when i landed a job that started literally the day after i went off island. not in a million years did i anticipate what that job would be, but i am a nanny slash personal assistant slash household manager. i applied for the job while still on Nantucket, and it happened to be the right family, the right amount of time per week, the right salary, the right fit. and so my life, in its every facet, is domestic: in addition to childcare to two very cool kids (5 and 8 years), i am making dinner a few times a week, picking up dry cleaning, keeping track of library books, walking and feeding their klutzy but lovable collie. i am finding that this job is exactly what i need, right here, right now. i LOVE grocery shopping (remember when i was terrified by it?), i love cooking them food, i love running errands, i love the opportunity to have a trial run at parenting (which, though i love them, hasn’t changed my aversion to my personal procreation). i love that i am the glue that helps make their lives run a little smoother.

one of my domestic role models is a good friend from high school, Katy Rank Lev. she makes her own granola and her own cleaning products, has a bitching garden and subscribes to CSA, all while freelancing, teaching and chasing after her 18 month old. i am in awe, and working toward that level of awesomeness. since Dave usually sleeps late on the weekends (and i mean late – he’d sleep into the afternoon if i didn’t cajole him to get up), i’ve spent his sleeping time whipping up all sorts of good stuff, including constantly tweaking the Moosewood Cookbook mac and cheese, my usual standby of Carrot Ginger Soup, and experimented with some gluten-free baking (since i suspect gluten is making my skin unhappy). i’ve even tried granola, though i burned it rather dramatically (like a few puffs of smoke away from calling the fire department).

i’ve also gotten better at cleaning and basic home care. Dave is far, far, FAR cleaner than i am, and so i have had to raise myself to his bar. which is fine, really. a few days ago, i told him my cleaning and living habits from grad school, and he was rightly horrified. and since we share a 780 square foot space, we have to be really neat, since we don’t have a lot of space. i’ve embraced some of his clean minimalism, and he’s embraced some of my clutter and books and use of colors other than grey and black. i’m excited to see how our next place will turn out: if a goth started working for ReadyMade magazine, i imagine it would be close to that.

the last homecoming.

Posted on Wednesday 1 September 2010

i had been imagining it almost since i had set foot on Nantucket: the final homecoming. the end of the week-long separations, the end of the hour and twenty minute drive, the end of long phone conversations with spotty reception, the end of saying goodbye on a Sunday night or Monday morning. i imagined it so many times, in perfect detail: i would probably get a very early morning ferry, and of course, having packed up my car the night before, i would have not gotten much sleep. i would drive from Hyannis to home, and let myself in to an empty apartment, exhausted, and collapse on our bed for a nap. he would get home from work around 7 and wake me up, and as i opened my eyes, i would immediately remember that i never, ever had to leave. because i was already home.

of course, that’s not exactly how it happened. the feelings were all the same, but i ended up booking the ferry for late afternoon, not the morning. that last day on Nantucket was strange and acrimonious. i’m not exactly sure what happened but i am guessing there are a few people i worked with this summer who will be very happy to never see me again. for now, anytime someone asks, i just reply that i was a bad fit for the job. end discussion.

i arrived obscenely early for the ferry, as i do for most things, and so went to the Easy Street Cantina and picked up a bite to eat. i brought it back to the ferry terminal and waited some more in the bright sunshine, revelling in the fact that i never had to set foot on this evil island ever again. drove my car into the hold, and made my way up to the passenger cabin with pillow in hand, and for the next two hours attempted to sleep, despite the rocking of the boat, the shallow benches, the fluorescent lights and the soft play by play of a Sox game.

i got gas once i disembarked from the ferry, and texted D: “I’ve never been so happy to be in Hyannis.” the drive seemed interminable once i got on Route 3. but exactly an hour and 15 minutes later, i arrived home, and as i parked, i could see the lights on in his apartment. our apartment. i was already tearing up as i knocked on our door. i didn’t feel right to open it with my key right then.

“hi,” i said, my voice cracking, “i’m home.”

m. ravian @ 3:21 pm
Filed under: mental health andnantucket
small things i will forget.

Posted on Friday 16 July 2010

one thing that happened in the intervening silence of this blog was that my grandmother (my father’s mother) died suddenly at the beginning of April. it was unexpected in that there was no long decline, no hospitalizations immediately before. she simply died in her sleep, which, as my father pointed out to me, was exactly the way she had wanted to go. having been a nurse her whole life, she had no doubt seen the dying process take place in a hospital setting many times and wanted none of it. i don’t blame her.

her death affected me far more than i thought it would. even now, i get emotional thinking about it, which is surprising considering that she and i always had a sort of distant, fraught relationship. she was in Scranton, where my dad grew up, and the 2 and a half hour distance resulted in us never being close. i always felt a strange kinship with her, i think perhaps because we were so alike (which was also probably the reason for friction in the relationship, as it has been with my dad). i like to think we shared the same stubbornness and tenacity. she grew up in some very difficult life circumstances (her mother died when she was 7) and i think that really affected the way she dealt with her life. of course, this is all speculation at this point. i never will really know.

the moment my dad called me to tell me she was gone, i felt sad, of course, but also overwhelmingly guilty. last summer, i visited her in Scranton with my dad and we ended up having a long talk about the family’s history. she told me all sort of interesting and strange tales, and i took notes in my moleskine. i intended to record her telling these stories, and a few weeks later returned to her house with my dad and my Uncle Bill’s digital camcorder. i was only going to be there for a day, and i arrived from New Bedford so exhausted from being stuck in traffic that i immediately lay down and took an extremely long nap. i woke up in time for dinner and by then, it was too late to do the recording. my dad assured me could get to it on our next visit. we left right after dinner.

i will always regret taking that nap.

m. ravian @ 8:27 pm
Filed under: la familia

Posted on Wednesday 14 July 2010

i really like teaching teenagers. teenage girls, especially. i first had this experience at Tyler (when i was barely out of my teens myself) when i taught the Weekend Workshop class, a Sunday morning (yes, Sunday morning) pre-college type class where i taught ceramics to a small group of somnolent teenagers. in between chasing them across campus and making them PUT OUT THAT JOINT AND COME BACK TO CLASS, i had a lot of fun.

so here on Nantucket i am teaching a teen class on reconstructed fashion. this has been a recent passion of mine, after finally giving up on regular stores actually stocking clothing that fits me and is fashionable at a reasonable price, i said fuck it, and started to make my own clothes and accessories. so i am trying to impart my clothing and fashion wisdom (as it were) to a small group somnolent teenagers, once again.

there is an informal teen intern program at the school that allows them to take a class for free if they assist with another class. i had met one of the interns two weeks before. she was sixteen, drop dead gorgeous, and incredibly intelligent and articulate, but intelligent and articulate in that pandering way that teenagers have toward adults. i suspect she has spent her life being told how wonderfully interesting and precocious she is (this is Nantucket, after all). alarm bells went off in my head as soon as i met her. we talked for a bit, mostly about photography, which she was really interested in. i have to say i admired her passion for it. no doubt her parents were planning private lessons with Annie Leibowitz or some such.

anyway, on Tuesday she showed up a few minutes before my teen fashion class started, and sullenly informed me that she was my assistant. i welcomed her but told her that given that most of the students in the class were right around her age, i probably wouldn’t need too much help, but she was welcome to stay and do the projects.

well, i can’t say why, but it was like a switch had turned off. as i taught the class, she sat sullenly, idly flipping through her Blackberry, sometimes giving me these insane crazy looks that were a combination of apathy, pity and contempt. i was crazy intimidated. by a sixteen year old girl. i couldn’t help but think that if i was 16 and we went to same high school, she would have eaten me alive.

she came to the opening at the school the next day, turning on the charm and the confidence around the adults as usual. i watched, fascinated. my social anxiety kicked in, i did everything i could to stay out of her path while still observing her interactions. of course, everyone here loves her. they think she’s brilliant. why wouldn’t they? she is. but i get it. the pissed off angry sixteen year old still lurking inside me gets it. i know girls like this. they don’t have to DO anything. in the hyper-charged world of teenage girls, all it takes is a look, a word, a well-placed roll of the eyes to do incredible damage.

she makes Regina George look like Mother freaking Theresa.

m. ravian @ 8:23 pm
Filed under: art andnantucket andneuroses