5 Things to Love and Loathe About Living on South Beach

Note: This was written shortly before I moved off of SoBe. Opinions still stand and I think if/when I return to Miami, i’ll be opting to live a bit further inland – say, Coconut Grove?

This building was down the road from me. I saw it every day. (Yanked from flickr.com/photos/mrclean/)

I’ve been an unintentional, sometimes unwilling, unofficial resident of South Beach for the past 5 months. The first of those 4.75 months were spent living inside a cramped hotel room with my soon-to-be husband and his cat – but more on that later. As a lifelong Miamian, i’ve had the opportunity of living and hanging out in several of our city’s fine (and not so great) neighborhoods, including Sweetwater, Kendall, Pinecrest, and Coconut Grove. In younger years, I often dreamt of packing my things, getting a room mate, and testing out some beach front living, but it never really panned out – until now. South Beach, a conglomeration of too much bass, khaki shorted tourists, and sun tans in every possible shade of bronze, wooed me for a few weeks and has subsequently left a foul taste in my mouth. Like the salt water that burns your nostrils after a dip in the Atlantic, i’ve learned that perhaps I, too, am not a fish. Still, sometimes it has its’ moments…

5 Things to Love

24 Hour Eateries

Coming from the suburbs, there’s nothing quite like moving to a place where your midnight craving for falafel can be (fairly) easily fulfilled. SoBe is the closest thing Miami has to NYC eating habits. There are plenty of bodegas open late, lots of 24 hour pharmacies, and you can basically find a pizza or a burger well into the evening. I discovered one of my favorite pizza joints, Primo’s, when I was starved for a slice at 2am, and my god is it phenomenal pizza. There’s also Crazy Mexican for when you’ve got the taco itch, 8oz Burger Bar when you need some meat (they also have 2 vegetarian patty options!) with a craft beer, and Chow Down Grill if you’re drunk and not very picky about your fried rice.

Walkability

I wouldn’t exactly say that South Beach is pedestrian friendly, because we’ve got more drunken asshole driving around per square mile than the majority of Dade County. What I would say, though, is that walking the streets of SoBe is much more entertaining than attempting to hike around in most other parts of Miami. From my current apartment, I can very easily walk to a number of gas stations and pharmacies and bodegas, 2 laundromats, a yoga studio, a bank, a few restaurants, and oh yeah, the ocean. My old place in Kendall would have me walking for at least 35 minutes until I reached any center of commerce. Plus, walking around here, you’re sure to see something at least remotely interesting.

Architecture

SoBe is home to Miami’s infamous Art Deco Historic District. On top of that, even the not-so-Deco structures here have a personality all their own. I mean, just look:

We could see this one from our bedroom.

The Goddamn Ocean

I mean, have you seen the beach?! I always took it for granted when I was younger until I wound up taking a trip to New York’s Rockaway Beach (I was having a bit of a Ramones moment last year). Although not the most beautiful beaches i’ve been to (that title belongs to Pochomil, Montelimar, and San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua), South Beach definitely has much to offer. (Relatively) clean, long stretches of sand and cool, blue waters to splash around in without so many waves that i’d be afraid to go in, it’s pretty fantastic. Plus, it’s where my husband proposed to me. I can’t really argue with that.

Not engaged (or pregnant) here yet, but certainly falling heavier in love on the beach.

5 Things to Loathe

Parking, Parking, PARKING!!!

Mother. Of. GOD. Parking is fucking terrible on South Beach. Unless you are an official resident (I.D. and all) and are willing to shell out near $100 a month for a parking pass, you will be fucked on South Beach. I’m fairly certain that the Miami Beach Parking Department are in bed with Tremont Towing and Beach Towing, who have their hands beyond full on any given day. Let’s see… Public parking garages are few and far between, and anyone staying more than, say, 5 hours is destined to pay $20 not to have their car impounded. As for street parking, you might be lucky enough to get to a metered space but this means paying over $1 an hour and hoping the meter doesn’t run out before a meter maid comes by and writes you up. And by god will they write you up. Over and over and over again. I left my car for a day once at an unfortunate meter (never park on Meridian south of 5th!) and got 4 parking tickets in under 12 hours. That’s practically $100 – more so if i’d waited over 30 days to pay it off. Oh, oh. But always MAKE SURE TO PAY YOUR PARKING TICKETS. JB and I had the misfortune of finding my car missing right before dinner on Father’s Day, only to find out that my 5 outstanding tickets had granted Tremont Towing a free pass to hunt down and take my car and then rape me with a $300 fine (on top of the practically $400 I owed from overdue tickets). Lesson learned.

However, there are ways around the parking fiasco. When we lived on Ocean Drive, we came to realize that we would only get ticketed on weekends, and only once in a while. We cut our losses and decided not to pay meters, and still wound up only paying maybe $40-$60 a month on either car. Additionally, living on 5th street, we found certain meters don’t appear to EVER get ticketed – not even on weekends! If you can find one of these golden locations (and sorry, I won’t be telling you on the off chance I move back to SoBe and need it myself), you’re pretty much set for life.

High Cost of Living

SoBe living ain’t cheap. I’ve never been to a more expensive Publix in all of Miami ($6 for a small pack of string cheese? You fuckin kidding me?!). You have to pay for parking always (see above – or again, I had to PAY to use the Publix parking garage if I were staying longer than 2 hours. Granted, who shops for that long? But you never know!) Although some entertainment (people watching, swimming in the ocean) is free or cheap, plenty of other stuff (concerts, comedy shows, festival entrances, night clubs, bar tabs) are much more expensive around here. Unless you know your way around to the cheap joints (like Las Olas Cafe for the $4 breakfast special or Club Deuce for you seedy bar flies out there), you’ll end up overspending within a few hours of visiting the island.

Some girlfriends and I before an afternoon at the Deuce, back in my own bar fly days.

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

Hello, police state! I’d never actually been to SoBe on Memorial Day Weekend (a.k.a. “Urban Week”) until this year, and I can see why. Absurdly long lines to get in and out of the island. Checkpoints as far as the eye can see. More obnoxious party-going tourists than you can shake a glow stick at. And cops everywhere. Everywhere. All up and down the street. In cars, on bikes, on foot. In the fucking SKY! Seriously, helicopters were flying above our apartment for days on end. Luckily we knew our way around some of the annoyances (taking the Venetian instead of the Macarthur helped at times, as did living/using the streets south of 5th). We didn’t even go out to explore that weekend. We were better off indoors until the craziness passed.

Tourists

This is just me being a snob, but after a while, being around tourists just gets old. I figure this is what NYC people must feel like hanging out in most of Manhattan. Too many teenagers looking to “party” and trash my town and if it isn’t them, it’s old folks with too much sunblock, scared to cross the damn street and taking too long once they do to look up at the pretty buildings. If only life were more like Grand Theft Auto…

It Smells

Yeah, I said it. It’s possibly not the worst smelling part of town, but it is pretty funky. The mixture of sunblock and tanning oil sizzling off people’s sweaty bodies, homeless dudes in every possible state of cleanliness (fun fact: during “Hurricane” Isaac, JB caught a naked bum showering next to our trash bin), and more sweaty but probably not homeless folks walking around without caring about their personal B.O. (you’ve never been to a worse smelling Whole Foods – or maybe that’s just the overcrowded hot food bar – and I normally love WF!) makes the streets of SoBe the wild west of odors. But hey, it could always be worse!

All that being said, I miss the damn beach. Being landlocked in a town where you can’t walk to anything is insanely frustrating. I got spoiled having a 24 Hour CVS across the street as well as a variety of open-late amenities a few blocks away. South Beach, you will always have a place in my heart – you crazy fucking bitch, you.

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From Morgan Avenue with Love (New York City Stories – Take 8)

(…Continued from Part 7)

Disclaimer: This part of the travelogue doesn’t have much about the travel aspect. It’s about a moment during the trip that needs documenting. There’ll be more travel-related destination banter in the next one. So there you go.

The next day, I woke up in the Bronx with a pounding headache, lying next to a near comatose Italian* chef from Detroit. This man was NOT the DJ; this man was not who I was supposed to end up going home with. So what the hell happened?

I wish that I’d taken pictures that night, because my memory is not quite as sharp as I wish it were…

When Lisa and I got to the DJ’s gig, the first thing the DJ did was take us inside and make sure his bartender friend Neela took care of us. We sat at the bar and got comfortable with the plethora of shots that began making their way to the bar, into our hands, and down our throats. The DJ was in good form. He was always in good form. He’s one of those people who always maintain the perfect amount of positive energy. You know when people say “your smile could light up a room”? He’s one of those people you’d say that about. And boy did he like to keep those dark rooms bright.

Throughout the night, we saw the crowds come and go, mixed bags of yuppies and out-of-towners and aging hipsters and people just looking for a night cap. The DJ played on, and took cigarette breaks as often as possible, and then began taking dance breaks as often as possible; his tall, lanky self pulling Lisa and Neela and I out on to the dance floor, smiles aplenty. And the drinks, and the drinks, and the dancing and the drinks until my head was swimming and I wanted to grab him and kiss him and tell him that he still meant something to me, that he always had. The streets of Manhattan were quiet outside while the noise in my head was only muffled slightly by the alcohol.

The hours went on and the party did too. I would sneak over to the DJ while he worked sometimes, and I held his hand, and he squeezed his fingers in mine, and I would get sad because I knew that it might be years before I got to see him again, and how long would this go on? More drinks, more smokes. And then another man walked in, and this one knew the DJ well, so much so that he and the DJ began to dance. Then the DJ introduced us, flinging me into the strangers arms as he made his way back to the DJ booth. This is how I met Parker.

Parker hit me like a ton of bricks. That’s not the right way to say that. He didn’t hit me. But something about him hit me. He had another one of those smiles, though nowhere near as endearing as the DJ’s. But still, he had a good one, and I’ve always been a sucker for a nice smile. Parker was working overtime that night. The way he’d look at me. The way he’d do anything to force me to stare back into his eyes. And my god, did he lay it on thick. “Beautiful.” “Baby.” “Gorgeous.” I would tell him he really didn’t have to, but then he’d spew another “I’m not a player or anything, I’m being serious,” and i’d laugh it off because there really wasn’t anything else to say or do. Lisa began sitting out more dances, buying us more drinks. Parker kept on, and on and on. Until he’d invaded every inch of my personal space, and with his finger tips lifting my chin up, he kissed me. It hit me. Like a ton of confused, awkward bricks that have landed everywhere after an explosion. It was fantastic and awful and i’m pretty sure the only thing I said or thought for a good while afterward was, “Oh, fuck.”

The DJ saw everything. The DJ kept playing music. The DJ kept drinking and smoking. The DJ, the DJ. Hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ…

I ran to him like some scared little girl, unsure of what to do next. The DJ was still my friend. I felt terrible about Parker, and worse about what I knew would happen next. I grabbed the DJ and asked him what he knew about Parker, what he thought.

“He’s a good guy.. I like him. You should go for it.”

 

…Alright, It’s been over 6 months since this incident. It’s taken 6 months for me to say all of these things and be (almost) okay with them. But I’ll tell you this: at that moment, it was one of the worst things I’d ever heard anyone say to me. Ever. It’s tough to admit when we’re wrong about something, and even tougher still to admit when things just don’t go your way. Because I know deep down I would’ve wanted there to be some kind of jealousy, or at least a sign to say “hey, maybe this isn’t such a good idea.” Nothing. Go for it. So let’s just say this: It fucking hurt.

Why didn’t he care? This plagued me to no end. He didn’t seem thrilled about the situation, but I couldn’t tell if he cared at all. At that point in our lives, we hadn’t been talking very much. For all I know, he was seeing someone. Maybe having an affair with Neela the married bartender. Maybe he had a girlfriend that he didn’t like to talk about. Maybe he’d just finally stopped feeling that chemistry that had existed between us for so long. I couldn’t be sure. When you’re plastered at 3am in the city that never sleeps, it’s hard to be sure about anything.

What I did know was that Parker seemed to have taken a liking to me. He wasn’t the DJ. The DJ was lost to me now. Parker was real, and his arms would wrap around me, and his lips would kiss me deep, and my head would spin. So I said fuck it.

“Parker wants me to go home with him,” I said to the DJ on our final cigarette break alone.

Parker was back inside, maybe talking to Lisa or Neela, maybe drinking more, I can’t be sure. I couldn’t care less at the time. He was a man I didn’t know and the man I did know was doing everything possible to crush all the feelings I’d harbored for him for the better part of a decade. He smiled and hugged me tight. I wished with every fiber of my being that I could read his thoughts, that he would tell me something that would reassure me that I wasn’t insane. That whatever that thing was that existed between us still did indeed exist. That this would not be the last night. That he cared in some way but didn’t know how to say it, just like every other time had been, when he’d act like everything was fine only to tell me months down the line how much I’d actually been wanted and missed. For fuck’s sake, anything.

“He’s a good guy. Like I said, you should go for it.”

I’m surprised, given how drunk I was, that I didn’t cry or yell or even get angry. Maybe I knew it was coming. I could hear tires driving over the slick streets blocks away. It had rained again, just like it’d rained every day that I was in NYC. I met his gaze and gave him the saddest false smile I’ve probably ever given anyone, and I let him go.

Parker was eager to get out of Manhattan. Lisa thought I was crazy to go home with a near-stranger, but I trusted the DJ. He wouldn’t send me off with a total nut job. At least, that’s what I figured. Parker bummed a final cigg from the DJ and I said goodbye to Lisa, Neela, and the infamous Mr. DJ. Parker and I walked/stumbled down the street, searching for a cab to hail. I could see his Squee tattoo on the back of his calve and figured he couldn’t be so bad if he was a Squee fan. I grabbed his hand and decided to go with it.

In case you're not familiar with Jhonen Vasquez's Squee...

A cab ride to the Bronx. My first time in that most avoided of boroughs (aside from Staten Island, although I’m not sure which one is avoided more – any native New Yorkers wanna take a stab at it?) And then we were inside the apartment, which was by far one of the most spacious NYC apartments i’ve ever been in.

“Just one of the perks of living in the Bronx,” said Parker, who actually absolutely hated New York City, and who had plans to move back to Detroit to open up a fine dining establishment someday.

Sigh. From there, you can guess what happened next. The sex was alright, but not terribly memorable, probably for numerous reasons (we were both too drunk, I was still hurt about the DJ, we’d only just met a few hours before, etc). I spent the next morning hydrating and smoking (his very low grade) grass while he snored away, sleeping off the hangover. I felt terribly awkward about not coming back to Tyler’s for the night. Not that I owed him explanations, but all my things were there and he’d been nice enough to let me stay with him for the duration of the trip. I tried to come up with different excuses as to why I hadn’t made it back to Manhattan. I tried to forget all about the DJ.

Parker had to get to work that afternoon, so we took the train back to Manhattan that afternoon. He got off two stops before I did.

“It was nice to meet you,” we both said, with the knowledge that we’d likely never speak again. I thought about how ridiculous life could be sometimes. So many years feeling one way about someone, regardless of time and distance, and now it was over. 6 months later, I still don’t know how I feel about all of it. Except maybe a little grateful.

The DJ and I discussed the matter about 2 months or so later. I told him how awkward the whole thing was, how strangely I felt about it. He was candid, telling me he just wanted me to be happy and have a good time. That he didn’t feel like he had any claim over me, and that he genuinely felt that Parker was a good guy, that he also wanted him to be happy and have a good time.

“I may be perpetually unavailable, but I’m not a bastard; you’re still a good friend, and I do care.”

…And that’s it, really. That’s the anti-climactic conclusion to the longest non-relationship i’ve ever had, all wrapped up in one New York City night. It feels strange to write about it now, but I couldn’t have written it any sooner. So much has happened since then that I’m able to be somewhat disconnected about the situation. The DJ and I have spoken very briefly online since, but for the most part he’s rarely around and it’s for the best.

By the end of the next day, I wanted nothing to do with anyone. Sometimes people need a night away from the world, to walk silently with ones’ thoughts and memories in a city of eight million people. Lonesome as can be. And that’s just what I did.

But I’ll write about that later, because that night did take me to some unexpected places, including making my first friend from Amsterdam. For now though, it’s 5am and definitely quitting time. Quitting on the past, and quitting on tonight.

Here’s a song to keep you company that’s been helping me out while writing all this.

 

Part 9 in this series will be up soon!

 

*He was Italian and a chef, not a chef of strictly Italian cuisine. There’s a difference.

Song of the Day: Neutral Milk Hotel “Three Peaches”

Taken from the Neutral Milk Hotel official website.

If there’s one thing I love about meeting new people, it’s getting into new (or old) music. Last month, I met a pretty fantastic boy that was really in to Neutral Milk Hotel. NMH is one of those bands I had kind of put on the back burner. Not because they’re not an amazing band. in fact, Jeff Mangum’s voice and lyrics have been haunting me for years now. I first heard about them through WVUM 90.5 FM (the radio station that, funny enough, I wound up working for year later) and then later through my friend Hector who put a few NMH songs on a mix cd for me.

From then, i’d kind of forgotten about them until 2005, when I met a boy in California who absolutely loved them. During one of my trips to Los Angeles, he even tried to teach me how to play Two-Headed Boy on the guitar (I got a little of it but have forgotten since). But after I came back to Miami, and after that short-lived romance had ended, I stopped listening to them. Things didn’t work out with the boy and although I wouldn’t admit it in those days, enough time has passed to say that I was really heartbroken.But  It wasn’t their fault that things didn’t work out with that particular boy. The music is never responsible. It only serves as a reminder of things that might have been, things that once were, things that can’t be. And that’s alright. Because it’s making me realize something important.

See, I’ve spent about 3 hours now listening to this song on repeat, going over so many things in my head that might’ve mattered, that could matter, that probably shouldn’t. The great thing about listening to something over and over again is that eventually, the song means something completely different. It’s like when you say a word over and over again until it begins to deconstruct, decompose. It gets pulled apart, shredded, torn, and eventually it’s completely unrecognizable. The same is true for music. You can analyze a song to death, you can cherish it until it’s gone, you hold it close until you can’t remember why you were holding on in the first place.

And so it is with this particular song, Three Peaches, that I’ve gone through all of this, that’s seen me go through this, that continues to exist. I didn’t even bother to look up the words at first, but then I did, and of course it took on more meaning. But the more I listen to it, the less I want to cry and the more I want to be inspired, the more I want to do. It’s the kind of song that shackles you to the bottom of the ocean just long enough for you to find the key and rush back to the top. It resonates- because we’ve all felt that thing that sits in the back of Mangum’s throat. It’s the same thing that’s in the back of our minds and at the bottom of our bellies and hidden deep within the cavity of our chests, a harsh reality that simultaneously slaps you in the face and then cradles you until you’re okay again.

This song isn’t just a song. It means so much in its simplicity. So much emotion in each note. And to me, it means more than that. It means moments, it means history, it means everything i’ve felt for so few, on such rare occasion, when i’ve actually been capable, and it means a fresh start when it’s finally all behind me.

So listen. Just… listen. And if you hear it, if you know what i’m talking about, well.. then that’s all there is to it. That’s all I can say about that.

This Week In Amazing: Booze Blogs, Airplanes, Crunchy Granola, and the Margaret Cho Powerhouse

I don’t know if it’s the new year, or if the planets have just been aligning in the right way, or if it’s all my positive thinking as of late, but 2012 is shaping up to be pretty grand. It’s been another busy busy week – hustling to find work and making time for the amazing people in my life.

It’s been a little extra boozy around here this week... On Tuesday, a friend of ours came in to town from Las Vegas and we all went out to one of our local haunts (Scully’s Tavern, as seen on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives – please try the Garlic Fries if you’re ever there!) for a few pints. Had to dedicate a cheers to our friend Germs, whose been sailing on the high seas with his new gig as an airbrush artist for Carnival Cruises (what an awesome gig to land!). Also joined Miss Emily Gingham for a few daytime cocktails at Chilis (note: we didn’t have the pizza shooters or extreme fajitas) during the week, and this was when we came up with our new brain child… or rather, booze child. See, Miss Emi and myself have some pretty extensive knowledge of the Miami bar scene. Plus, we love booze. So with that, we decided we’re starting up our very own blog about our misadventures with alcohol!

Our "contract," written appropriately on a bar napkin.

Emi's first contribution to the booze blog.

We’re still finalizing a name but we’ve got plenty of ideas for writing and artwork to go along with it. I’ll post a link up to it here once the site’s gone live. Seriously excited about giving ourselves another excuse to bar hop, hah.

Speaking of bars, I hung out with a friend a few nights ago who actually showed me a spot in Kendall I didn’t know about. If you’re a Kendall rat, you already know the Ale House, Flanigans, Gridiron, and the rest. However, tucked away inside of Tamiami Airport is a little insider secret called the Runway Cafe. A decent beer selection, plenty of Jamaican food, reggae and latin music, and most importantly – a seriously chill vibe are what make this one of my favorite new Miami finds. After a round of beers, my friend took me out on to the actual airport runway and showed me his plane (not a euphemism, I swear). It was my first time hanging out in a cessna and it made me think I should add “Get my pilot license” to my ever-growing bucket list. I can’t imagine how freeing it is to know that you got yourself up in the air! But one thing at a time… On a side note, my new friend is looking for someone to join him in some indoor rock climbing (something i’ve been wanting to try out for ages now), so watch out for some embarrassing posts about my fear of heights at the rock climb gym!

Of course, these kinds of activities will require a bit of money. And speaking of money, I started one of my gigs this week. It’s running the front desk of a dance school. Extremely part time, but a gigs a gig and right now I take what I can get. The job hunt is a slow and frustrating process, but I feel like it’s partly about the numbers and the rest is who you know. This is just one of many reasons why I love meeting people. I’m currently in the process of possibly obtaining another PT gig for a small software development/consulting firm. Regardless of whether I get the gig, I’ve already met some new folks and learned some interesting things as a result of the interview. My potential new employer asked me to come attend a tour of his home as part of a local permaculture class.

For those of us new to permaculture, let me guide you to a short wiki description:

Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that is modeled on the relationships found in nature.It is based on the ecology of how things interrelate rather than on the strictly biological concerns that form the foundation of modern agriculture. Permaculture aims to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs; it’s a system of design where each element supports and feeds other elements, ultimately aiming at systems that are virtually self-sustaining and into which humans fit as an integral part.

So basically, it’s keeping in mind both multipurpose design and sustainability when creating living and farming spaces. There’s some great people and great ideas to be found in the Permaculture Miami group. They offer a 6-week course twice a year, so any local folks interested in this sort of thing should definitely join the Facebook group and sign up! In a simple tour, I learned about the importance of having lots of windows, how to make your home look bigger by design, how to use composting bathrooms, and how people use groundwater to keep their homes cool. There were so many different kinds of people in the group too: bankers and socialists, interior designers and dancers, all together because they want to see how they can build their own beautiful living spaces cheaply and as green as possible.

After the tour, I came home to two pretty great family-related moments… The first was a conversation with my grandmother, whom I hadn’t spoken to in about 2 years. In the past few years, there were a few falling-out moments with a lot of my family in Nicaragua and as a result, I’d basically been unable to speak with anyone over there in a long while. Finally getting to talk to my now 85-year-old grandmother, hearing her speak, still sharp as a whip, brought me a whole lot of joy and made me realize that I seriously need to book a flight over and visit my abuelita in Corinto. Life is much too short and in my life, there are few people I have ever felt loved by so unconditionally as her.

Chloe and Sophie know what's up.

My second family-related moment came when my nieces, the Wonder Twins, came home while I was having a nice 90’s dance party on the solo in my kitchen. As it turns out, Chloe and Sophie both share my great love of TLC and NKOTB and every other 90’s group with acronym names! I had a blast lecturing these almost 9-month-olds about never settling for “scrubs” and I even confessed my formerly undying love of Taylor Hanson.

Oh, yeah. I'd still hit it.

Yeah, I really can’t complain. It’s been another amazing week. As I type this, I’m also in the process of getting ready for a mini-vacation to West Palm Beach to hang out with a rad artist friend of mine. To say it’s going to be good times is most likely an understatement.

One last thing before I go… If you read anything this week, make sure to read Margaret Cho’s recent piece that up on Jezebel. The short of it is that she said everything that every woman (hell, every PERSON) has ever wanted to say to any asshole that decided it was their job to criticize another person’s body. Here’s an excerpt:

Some outside Facebook observer said that my “language” was too much and told me that I had “lost a fan” because she couldn’t condone my “language.” I am sorry for that, as I love my fans, and it sucks to lose one, but obviously she doesn’t understand that when you grow up the way that I did, with kids at school throwing rocks at my face because they hated it because it was so ugly to them and they wanted the blood from my wounds to cover it so it wouldn’t have to be seen and at summer camps stuffed dog shit in my sleeping bag because I was told time and again that I looked like shit — and that I had to empty myself in the dark forest and still sleep in smelling that shit all that night and for weeks after because my family was too poor to afford a new one — my “language” is on the strong side. I apologize for offending the former fan, but I am only myself. That is all I can be, and if I must apologize for that, I don’t mind. All I am trying to say is that no young girl should be told she is ugly. If she is, you kill her spirit, and she may grow up like me, and lose a fan.

Ms. Cho is gorgeous and for her to have the kind of strength to share this and to really lay into someone that deserved it makes me respect her a million times more. As someone who grew up at times completely hating what she looked like, I can completely relate to her anger and frustration, and also to what I bet was a nice catharsis when she finished writing all of this. Some people grow up oblivious to how cruel words can sometimes be, especially when you’re deemed as “different.” (How appropriate that TLC’s “Unpretty” just started playing as I write this?) I spent years wanting to get a nose job, a boob job, laser hair removal, and wanting to lose weight so I could fit in to the mold of what I thought was supposed to be beautiful. I grew up admiring my Barbie dolls and as a 10 year old was convinced that when I turned 23, I would magically go blonde, grow huge tits, have a tiny waist, and look like some imaginary Caucasian model version of myself. When I turned 13, I realize that would never happen, and real depression set in. Compile that with ignorant kids saying ignorant and hateful things, walking across a hallway in order to not have to walk near me, getting spit balls thrown at me, having people play mean tricks, and it’s no wonder that I had suicidal thoughts before I even got to high school. I’ll write more about this another time, but basically – Margaret Cho, thank you.

That’s it for this week in amazing. Time to prepare for the next one! Here’s a little outro music for your listening pleasure. It’s an oldie but a goodie: