Mariah On The Coast


hqdefaultGood evening, lovers. This is Mariah on the Coast, spinning the hits and taking your calls in the wee hours of the morning. It’s just about 2am here in beautiful San Francisco, and the bay window in my studio tells me it’s clear and quiet for miles around. Not a sound to be heard. Not a bark, not a heartbeat. All is still and dead.

Except for my phone lines! Ha! Oh listeners, we have fun. My first call tonight is from Dianne in Palo Alto. Steve, if you’re listening, Dianne has a message for you. She wants you to know that she never stopped loving you, even after all the pain and ugliness you caused her, and she’s ready and waiting to take you back into the shelter if you’ll just promise not to eat any more of her children. Steve, this sounds like a one-time-offer. I’d give her a call if I were you. Now, from Dianne to Steve: How Deep Is Your Love, by the Bee-Gees. How deep is your love, Steve? Call in and let us know…

Oh, that has always been one of my favorite songs. Do you remember back when the Bee-Gees were all you’d hear on the radio, gentle ones? They were the kings of the airwaves, back in my day. If you remember the Bee-Gees, why don’t you give me a call? Speaking of calls, I have a message for Jeannie from Marissa in Verona Beach. Jeannie, Marissa wants you to know that she’s so sorry for everything that happened between you. But as you know, shelters have quarantine periods for a reason, and nobody asked you to go foraging after dark. That was your decision, Jeannie! To you, from Melissa, here’s Don’t Stand So Close To Me by The Police…

Listeners, I love these records. Don’t you? They’re my oldest and dearest friends. Listening to them takes me back to the old days, back when good friends and great music were all we needed to be happy. Who among us doesn’t yearn for a simpler time, every now and then? I thought I was the only one until I started hosting this show. Your phone calls keep me going, listeners, and I’m grateful for you. Who knew these records would make such a comeback! Perhaps we could have guessed, if we’d realized that an catastrophic electromagnetic event could destroy the internet as we know it as well as nearly all of our modern music and entertainment playing devices. Do you remember Spotify? It seems like magic, now.

Do you remember running water? I do, too.

Ah, but I’m off on a tangent. I’m neglecting your messages and I am sorry for that, my loves. Here’s our next song, a memorial dedication from Shelter 47 down in Rancho Cucamonga. This one goes out to their dear departed friend, Roger Anderson. Roger, if you’re listening up there somewhere, the boys want you to know that they miss you every day. But you lost the lottery, so them’s the breaks! Just for you, here’s Maneater by Hall and Oates. You gotta laugh, Darren!

God help you if you can’t.

Listeners, I apologize. I just fielded a barrage of angry calls, and apparently you didn’t find my little joke very funny. Well, I respect that for some of us the wounds are pretty fresh, but that’s why there’s a first aid kit in every bunker. Take it from me, if you can’t find the lighter side of things, you’re going to have a hard time of it out there! For example, the funniest thing happened to me before the show today. When I slipped outside to check the atmosphere readings, a figure cried out to me from the darkness. The creature was slight and shadowy, and it spoke in a hissing croak, as people tend to do these days. I mean, get a lozenge, people! You know, if they remembered to place them in your first aid kit. We were pretty rushed there at the end. Nobody had time to double check!

Anyway, I could hardly hear him through my containment suit, so I motioned for him to speak up. Whoopsie! I guess in whatever primitive culture the outcasts have formed to govern their little tribes, waving your hand is a sign of aggression! So of course he withdrew his dagger and came at me- those little suckers are fast! -but he was weakened by exposure to the Cloud. He stumbled and fell to the ground, green ichor dripping from the edges of his cloak.

I almost pitied him in that moment, but we all know the price we pay for pity these days. Your Mariah is no fool, and I wasn’t about to give him a second chance to strike. I took a swing at him with my Safety Baton and knocked his hood away–

— and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the withered and deformed but still spitting image of Mr. Phil Collins!

Listeners, I was starstruck. I tried to calm him down by telling him what a fan I was, and singing a few bars of Sussudio, but you know how they are once their over-sized adrenal glands kick into gear. Before I could even get to the chorus, he stabbed right through my suit and ran cackling into the mists. I suppose he thought I’d follow him, as suit punctures and the subsequent biochemical reactions within our bodies tend to be the final curtain for most of us. But I’m not a quitter, listeners. I have a job to do, and I do it for you. I have a vinyl bin full of easy listening hits and a view of what’s left of the Bay, and I will die with my mouth full of blood and my ears full of Christopher Cross before I abandon my post. That’s my promise to you.

Some people, you know, they give into the anarchy. They think society isn’t coming back, so it’s perfectly okey-dokey to run around starting orgies in open fields and eating babies and whatnot. Well, I say to heck with that! That’s what a fool believes!

Ha! Did you see what I did there, listeners? I love it when you get my little jokes. I wish you’d call me. It’s so quiet here, and dark. Right now all I can hear is the blood pounding in my ears. My heart is beating faster and faster, and sweat is just pouring down my face. Listeners, I look like I just ran a marathon. Too bad the only marathons I run are all day blocks of Law and Order: SVU!

I miss USA. Characters really did feel welcome there.

Oh my darlings, I’ve nattered on for too long. I know you want to hear a song. Isn’t that why you listen, after all? Isn’t that why I’m here? I know you’re listening. You have to be. If there’s ever a time in this world we’ve needed the Doobie Brothers, it’s now.

After all that excitement, I’m in the mood for something mellow. Aren’t you? Let’s close out with a classic: Take it Easy, by the Eagles. It’s good advice for this day and age. You’ve got to take it easy, no matter what comes down the pike. This song reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

Oh wow, bummer patrol! How about we crack open what’s left of the wine rations, kick our feet up in our bunks, and let Glenn Frey and the boys take us home. Until next time, gentle lovers. I’ll see you soon.

Maybe sooner than you think.

Choosing Fat Visibility vs. Ducking Creepshots at the Dunkin Donuts

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Here is a photo of me, mid-workout, taken with my permission. Enjoy!

It was a Sunday, bright and hot and sunny, and despite a difficult morning I was feeling good. I’d just had my final session with a fantastic therapist I’d been seeing for almost two years. With her help I’d worked through some things I thought I’d never have the courage to face. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone who changed your life so profoundly, and even though it was a professional relationship, there was real emotion and affection there at the end of our time together. She was leaving her sporadic private practice for a full time job with benefits at the VA. We shared tears over our parting, and excitement for her new adventure. Getting a secure gig would allow her wife to quit her dull day job and make a go of turning their shared home into a rescue hostel for abused pets. My loss was to the gain of many furry little friends, and I couldn’t help but be happy for them, even as I was mourning the end of one of the most productive therapeutic relationships I’ve ever had. My eyes were red and puffy, but I was smiling, which is the best you can ask when you lose someone you rely on.

My Sunday mornings are crowded affairs at this point in my life. I have therapy bright and early, then a half-hour break, then my yoga class. It is my custom to swing through Dunkin Donuts on my way to class, because it is convenient to my therapist’s office and after an hour of letting her rummage around in my skull I usually want a treat. The promise of iced coffee is all that has gotten me through some of these sessions, and there is no iced coffee I love more than Dunkin Donuts. I only lived on the East coast for a brief and unhappy time, but during that stay I developed a thirst for Dunkin Donuts iced coffee that rivals a vampire’s thirst for blood. I lived around the block from a DD in Baltimore, and by the time I moved away my sweat smelled like hazelnut. (Honestly, it was an improvement). On this particular day I was sorely in need of a pick me up, so I grabbed an apple fritter as well.

I was dressed as I usually am for yoga; black leggings, a long lightweight tank top, a supportive-if-flattening sports bra, and sandals. No makeup, as sweat and eyeliner are a poisonous eyebath and the sort of vibrant blood-red lip color I favor ends up making my yoga mat look like I murdered someone on top of it. For the record, I was also wearing a hat.

This is a lot of boring detail, I know. There was nothing interesting about what I was doing that day, or what I was wearing. Which is why I was surprised to see a young white dude surreptitiously taking my photo from a perch by the pick-up window.

It was unmistakable. The lens of the camera was pointed right at me, he was looking at the screen intently, hunched down like the Formica counter was some kind of excellent camouflage, and his thumb was pressing the home button. My suspicion was confirmed when I glared into the lens that was pointed at me- an angry eye for an angry eye -and he jumped.

“Did you just take a photo of me? What the fuck, dude?” I snapped.

He stood up quickly, bright red. “Sorry.”

He didn’t deny what he’d done. He didn’t seem to feel an apology was merited. He muttered a half-hearted acknowledgement in a tone that I’m sure his parents and teachers have had plenty of opportunity to grow weary of over the years: the apology of someone who is only sorry that they were caught.

I wish I’d done more, now. I wish I’d demanded he hand over his phone, forced him to delete the photo, taken a photo of my own for public shaming purposes. I wish I’d stomped his stupid phone into plastic shards and glass dust. I wish I’d throw a coffee right in his weaselly little face. But I was taken aback by his lack of shame, and stunned into inaction by the oddness of it all. So he walked away, and now there is a photo of me sweating and crying and eating a donut on some stranger’s iPhone, and there is nothing I can do about it.

You may feel that I overreacted. And maybe I did! Maybe there are a thousand innocent reasons a complete fucking stranger would use a take out counter like a duck blind to snap a secret photo of me. But I find that hard to believe, because I am incredibly fat, and I have been navigating this world in this body for a long time. I am accustomed to the ways it attracts attention to me, and that attention is rarely kind. Secret photos are only the latest expression of a truism I’ve known since I was young: when you’re fat, your body belongs to everybody else but you, and everybody feels entitled to give you shit about it.

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Come See Me at Feast on Words!


I’m excited to share I’ll be the featured writer for Asempe Kitchen’s Feast on Words event  this Sunday, April 23rd at Wild Goose Creative. I’m going to talk about the joys of writing essays and eating good food, and then we’ll do a little of both. Learn more and RSVP here.

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Apparently writers are supposed to have websites, so here we are. I’ll use this space to alert you to new work, events I’ll  be at here in Columbus, or whatever else strikes my fancy.

If you don’t know who I am, I have no idea how you found this website. But on the off-chance you need to know more about me, would like to read more of my work, or are just dying to follow me on Twitter, see the links to the left for more information.

Thanks, all! More to come…