21 February 2009

Love to Hate

Having a very public online persona can be a double-edged sword, as you might well imagine. Offering yourself up for public scrutiny is not for the faint of heart. I am fortunate to have readers who have nothing but concern for my well-being. They celebrate my triumphs, laugh with me at my foibles and exploits, and hopefully learn from my mistakes or occasional insights. Whatever their reactions, they are always impassioned. Take for example, this comment left by one reader, so concerned for my intellectual depth and my emotional future, that he (or more likely, she) couldn't help but write in:

I've read a certain amount of your writing (friend of a friend, et cet.), and on a formal level, I've seen worse. But the content sags under the weight of its unearned megalomania—you're a cute girl and you get unsolicited attention from guys? Fascinating. While you're at it, you should start a blog about brushing your teeth.

It feels like you're here to celebrate how "hot" and sought-after you are. I'm pretty ubiquitous in Portland, and have never met you—at least not that I remember. Investing in some substance now might forestall a future great depression. Vacuousness, after all, is not only endemic to cheerleaders.

Well, my dear FOAF (friend of a friend):

I appreciate your concern, which is what would undoubtedly spur you to carefully craft your remarks. I say this because time is precious and few people waste it on a cause they believe to be unworthy. I am unable to thank you personally, dear FOAF, since you posted anonymously, but I can tell you: I now aspire to your example. I am slow to pass judgment, but you, based on one single entry (thank you statcounter for that info!) were comfortable making a quick assessment and expressing it. Kudos for efficiency!

I have embraced a medium which is inherently frivolous, and indulged in it...well, frivolously, one might say--- using it as an outlet for expression and an exercise in writing. I now see my time could be better spent policing the web, which is world-wide I hear. I have avoided such actions in the past, thinking that if I found content truly vacuous or unappealing, I shouldn't give it a second thought. Thank you for your inspiration!

As to why we've never met? Well, that is a wonder in a city with over half a million people, and you with so much leisure time spent roaming the city.

Although...there was that time I hired a minion to walk ahead of me everywhere I went, holding a banner proclaiming "Make way for The ICG!", but he just kept getting in the way.
Good help is so hard to find these days!
In any case, most of the time these days, I just work, hang out with a select group of quality people, and keep a low profile...

Ah, but I jest, dears!

This has never been called "Juliana's Diary" for good reason.
It isn't.
I write based on my experiences...well, in part due to laziness---I'm too lazy to make things up. And why invent when truth is often so much more surreal? But it's not always exciting stuff, and that's just part of the human condition too. Sometimes I sit in CoatCheck bored out of my skull, observing the parade of drunken jack-asses in line for the bathroom, for lack of other entertainment.
Do I think it some great compliment to my charms that these guys talk to me?
I'm a captive audience, sitting there in my CoatCheck cubby, a mere distraction while they wait to take a piss.

Eh...I'll leave the intellectual policing to our friend FOAF, because, really, who else has the time?

I'll continue to subject readers to my frivolous little stories, corresponding with those who write to me about their own experiences with the death of a parent, an assault, abortion, or a relationship gone wrong...
That's really the most rewarding thing about this little exercise--- connecting with people through common experiences, desires, or disappointments. Ok, maybe that and the occasional gift I get from one of the readers (see the next post!)...

All Content Copyright 2009, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved

14 February 2009

Under the Influence

Sunday was one of those nights--- when the moon was full, the Red Bull flowing, and the baseball caps abundant.

CoatCheck is a crap-shoot under the influence of the full moon.

I usually stand separated from the rabble by a flimsy swinging door/counter, but the same device which affords me that separation also makes me a captive audience, and one directly in the path of every drunk guy who has to urinate.

I always hope the scantily clad girls on the stage and platforms will draw attention away from me but, alas, I was not so lucky. No amount of hiding behind a book or the glow of a laptop could save me.

"Gimme your number."

Just like that.
No preamble.
No "hi", "hello", "hey, how's it going?".
I was equally blunt.


"C'mon! Gimme your number!"


His tune didn't change. Neither did mine, until I finally said "Ok, move along".

And no sooner had he gone, than another popped into place.

"Hey. I'm just trying to make conversation."

I blinked at him expectantly.

"Uhm...ok." I prompted. *blink, blink*

During the long pause that followed, I swear I heard the faint sound of crickets despite the loud, pounding beats.

"That's all. Just trying to make conversation..." he muttered, as he ducked his head and slunk away to rejoin his friends.

I took a breath and steeled myself for the next onslaught. But I had a reprieve. My friend and respected colleague Mister Graves wandered by, and provided me a much needed drink and some amiable, intelligent conversation. He proved to be a poor deterrent however, to a determined young man.

I had seen this guy at the club for the past four nights, trolling. The first night, he had sidled up to me outside at closing time and asked me if this was "a good place to hook up." Then he'd unleashed his tale of woe..."in a band, from L.A., here mastering the new record, some Australian bitch dumped me, so alone...blah, blah...your waitress is a bitch, she wouldn't talk to me..."

I had suggested that the trouble might be in his approach before ducking back inside.

But he was back, and making the rounds and apparently it was my turn, sentry or no. Mister Graves looked on in amusement as the young rake mentioned I'd caught his eye a few times.

"So I noticed. You've been here the last four nights."

I recited his whole litany back to him from memory.

"How do you know an Australian girl dumped me?" he asked warily.


It could have been so easy to mess with his sense of reality and spin his head even more, but I mustered some restraint.

"You told me the other night."

He still looked a little suspicious.
Mister Graves snickered, already sensing the poor boy's fate. "I'm gonna leave so you can have your fun with this one."

My young admirer turned his focus back to me.

"You probably get hit on by guys all the time, huh?"

"All the time," I echoed. No amount of sarcasm could penetrate his drunken haze, so he boldly forged ahead.

"So, what's up with girls in Portland? I mean, I don't think I'm unattractive. And I'm in a band..."

"Maybe that's your problem" I pointed out. "You're in Portland now. Every guy here is in a band. You gotta have more than that..."

We chatted for a while, during which he tried to convince me to give him my number because "we'd look good together".

"How old are you, dear--- 23?" I asked him.

He puffed up his chest and said defensively "No! I'm 28." He withered under my arched-brow gaze. "Ok, yeah. 23"

And how very 23, with all its concomitant confusion, misplaced confidence and desperate desire to seem wise and jaded.
Very cute.
For about 5 minutes.
I bored of the game and sent him on his way.

I saw him outside at the end of the night--- his confidence was gone. He'd been reduced to a crying little ball of self-loathing. I even started to feel a little sympathy for him, as I watched tears and snot running down his face.

"I'm such a piece of shit." he moaned "I know you get hit on all the time. You're such a cool girl and I'm such a piece of shit, I'm just another piece of shit trying to hit on you."

I handed him my bottle of water and tried a there-there pat on his shoulder.

"I'm so lonely in this town, I'm just gonna go home and kill myself."

I rolled my eyes. My patience was wearing thin.

"You should come home with me," he continued. "Not for sex, but just to talk, you know? I'm so depressed. You'd be doing something good, talking to me..."

I firmly declined and offered to call a cab for him, which he refused.

I darted back into the club and shut the door behind me. I almost had to admire such temerity.


A few nights later I was again sitting at the bar, and looked up to see him walk in.

"Hey look, you're still alive!" I teased.

He turned a deep crimson and lowered his head. He'd actually come in to apologize. And give me a copy of his band's cd, of course.

There's always an angle...

All Content Copyright 2009, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved

12 February 2009

on CoatCheck

There is something meditative about working in CoatCheck.

Some part of it is a routine:

"That'll be $2, please."

Hang up coat.

Hand customer a numbered tag.


"No you can't have my phone number. Enjoy the show!"

Smile and dismiss with a wave...

The rest is unpredictable, a barely controlled chaos I often find equally soothing. It is a fascinating microcosm, my little CoatCheck world, and one full of contradictions. I am the observer and the observed, a part of but apart from the melee.

Sometimes it's mildly amusing, like a few weekends ago when I looked up from my book to see REM's Peter Buck repeatedly thwarted in his attempts to pee. Twice, I saw guys dart into the bathroom ahead of him.

"You'll have to be quicker than that!" I said with a chuckle.

"Yeah" he replied sighing. He slumped heavily into the stool next to my window.

"Aren't you playing tonight? Why don't you go downstairs (to the green room)?"
I asked.

"We go on in 5 minutes. This'll be faster"

I doubted it.
I gave him a "suit-yourself" shrug and went back to reading Eduardo Galeano's musings on Latin American politics.
Much more interesting.

And then there are nights when...well, that's best left for another blog...

All Content Copyright 2009, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved

10 February 2009

Dear Cupid

Dear Cupid,

forget Love. Bring me one of these:


and one of these, while you're at it:


and batteries...lots of batteries...

All Content Copyright 2009, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved