Boom Boxes in the Sky: Summer Memory

I grew up in the top-floor apartment in a building off Myrtle Avenue. I can tell you I only appreciated this location exactly once a year: July Fourth, when I had front row seats to Macy’s fireworks display. Otherwise I didn’t think about it. I didn’t have any of the adult heaviness I now carry in my shoulders and lower back, the kind that a pleasant view helps alleviate. When I was 12 and out of school, I wanted to be down below in the courtyard, with the kids from my block.

Summertime unfortunately didn’t much ease my grandma’s strict rules. If she didn’t personally know your family you were probably just another fast ass girl or drug dealer; she was an all or nothing kind of woman, and that extended to the types of friends I was allowed to make. If I wasn’t at day camp or if sleep away camp wasn’t in that year’s budget, I found myself alone at home, creating my own worlds from books, journals, comics, and model plastic.

I was getting curious about (real) music around this time, seventh or eighth grade, and I owed much of that of my cousin Tate, five years my senior. Just as troubled kids were sent down south for the summer, the reverse was also common, and his mom had booted him from Newport News directly after school let out that year. He was everything I wasn’t: good-looking, charming, popular. (Perhaps too popular, as I later learned he was sent north to “save him” from a baby he’d fathered at age 15.) He arrived on our doorstep to spend a week with his paternal grandmother, all lanky and southern twang. He never left.

Continue reading “Boom Boxes in the Sky: Summer Memory”

Happy New Year from Almost No One at MTV

Hey! Here’s that story I promised. I’m a woman of her word.

So this asshole… Oh my God, you can’t start a story like that! What a terrible setup. What’s that saying about being told not to think about elephants…

Let’s try it again. Fresh start. In 2006, I was dating a guy who worked for MTV. I’ll call him Johnson. He gave me a day’s notice that he had a plus-one for the New Year’s Eve party, the gold party.

When I wasn’t panicking over what to wear, I was panicking over meeting Johnson’s entire staff and his boss at what I felt would surely be the world’s biggest holiday party. What does a person wear to MTV? I wasn’t watching the channel actively anymore, and TRL was a season away from wrapping for good, but outside the city, I knew the channel still had cachet. This was a cool invite, and I wanted to fit in.

“So what do I wear?!” I demanded immediately.

“Just look cute,” he said offhandedly. Look cute, I thought. OK, I can do cute, surely. The day of, however, the boots I wanted for my conservative, cute look were missing. I knew cops were putting the city on lock, avenue by avenue, street by street. My zone was tightening as I hopped on the train and rode past 42nd Street to my job, where said boots were tucked into a cabinet among assorted other slingbacks and flats. A temporary security guard I didn’t recognize followed me from the security desk to my cubicle. “I have to get downtown really fast,” I said. “I’m not here to for computer stuff or paperwork.” Nevertheless, he watched solemnly as I changed out of my sneakers, and wished me a joyless New Year on my way out. Awesome start.mixed couple