The Girl Called Rachel

Dedicated to the One I Love

Tip: Listen to your iPod (with headphones) on shuffle while you wash dishes. You can’t easily skip songs, so you give “new” music (that really has always been on your computer, but somehow you have avoided ever listening to it) a chance to be heard in its entirety with a bit of focus. It makes dish washing infinitely more joyful and it’s so fun to discover music that you really love. Also, remember every now and then to listen to an album from start to finish. That’s how it was meant to be heard.

I don’t know what I would do with my life if I couldn’t have music. Taking a page from Degrassi (as always), maybe I’ll use song titles for my blog entries. I almost posted this on Facebook during that whole trend, but then I remembered that I didn’t want to. But it’s pretty good, so —

My Life According to Ani DiFranco

1. Are you male or female: Lost Woman Song

2. Describe yourself: I’m No Heroine

3. How do you feel about yourself: Shrug

4. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriend: Imagine That

5. Describe your current boy/girl situation: Anyday

6. Describe your current location: Here For Now

7. Describe where you want to be: Every State Line

8. Describe your best friend: Fixing Her Hair

9. Your favorite color is: Pale Purple

10. You know: The True Story of What Was

11. What’s the weather: Beautiful Night

12. If your life was a television show what would it be called: My IQ (and I would challenge people in a battle of wits a la Ben Stein, but instead of giving away my own money, my parting gifts would be more in the vein of dryer sheets or slightly expired yogurt. )

13. What is life to you: Educated Guess

14. What is the best advice you have to give: Make Them Apologize

15. If you could change your name what would you change it to: Akimbo

16. Describe how you live: Evolve

17. Describe how you love: Willing to Fight

18. What would you ask for if you had just one wish: Virtue

19. What’s the worst thing that could happen: What If No One’s Watching

20. Now say goodbye: Come Away From It Continue reading this entry »


Kindergarten’s Gone

A little woman in girl’s clothing with a gap in her baby teeth.
Parents divorce.
Kids kiss on TV.
Asked to describe her teacher in a poem she writes:
A sponge for things not made for her.
But maybe
they are pleased she is soaking up their shit.
Her Mom guards her from the subway and kidnappers and “New York”,
but still she’s being snatched.
She’s called a hot mess, but let’s change that.
Someone must look after her
and my reign is over.
She is beautiful.
She thinks she’s a woman, but let her be a girl.
She’ll be famous one day.
Get her there safely.

“You’re special. Will you remember that?”
“I think I can.”
My little Limbo Princess.
Put your skirt down.
Remember that.


What 5th birthday party is complete without Hannah Montana plates?

What 6th birthday party is complete without this girl's face on some paper plates?

Talk to Her

Apparently, it’s physically and emotionally impossible for me to not watch Before Sunrise when it is on IFC. I’m trying to figure out what is so appealing about this movie…

I guess it is because it is without any kind of high concept or action. It is a story about two people getting to now each other intimately and quickly, mostly through the power of conversation. Trains ridden, questions asked and answered, anecdotes laughed about, fortunes told, spontaneous poetry recited. There is no gradual wading through small talk. There is an inherent trust between these two people that any feeling can and should be expressed. Memories are precious and should be shared with someone who will appreciate them. Not only are they asking each other questions, but they are really listening to the answers. I understand that this is a scripted production choreographed to be a romantic juggernaut, but it never fails to suck me in every time.

“If there’s any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt to understanding someone, sharing something. I know. It’s almost impossible to succeed, but, who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt.”


For those of you who know me, I’m sure you would agree that I’m a private person. This privacy has infiltrated all of my relationships, including the one I have with myself, to the point that I spend an inordinate amount of time stifling who I am and what I want to say because I’m afraid of being vulnerable. (Who isn’t, really? But I seriously take it to a different level.)

About three months ago I watched a movie that has since changed my life. It has been such a constant source of comfort and inspiration for me that I wrote a letter to the filmmakers.

In the film, one of the main characters recites the Emerson quote, “Knowledge is when you learn something new every day. Wisdom is when you let something go every day.” Let’s let some things go, shall we? By sharing this letter with you I don’t expect these fears and problems to melt away all at once, but publicizing them will start to diminish their taboo for me and maybe open some doors for growth and change down the road.

Holy shit. This really is scary, but I’m told a little fear is necessary in life. I started this blog to talk about what I have learned from pop culture throughout my life, and this film has taught me more about myself than anything else before.

Dear Marianna,

First of all, it’s an honor to have bought your first DVD because I feel like Good Dick has left a definite and permanent stamp on my life. I’ve been working on this letter for an entire month, partly because I’m a perfectionist and I don’t want you to read something that I don’t think properly conveys my feelings about you and your film.  Mostly it’s taken so long because I have a hard time sharing personal details about myself, because once they are out there… who knows what can happen or what people will think. I do feel like I can share personal things with you (and I hope you won’t mind) because I think you can relate to me and you understand where I’m coming from with my view of the world and my place in it. Even if Good Dick wasn’t autobiographical, it came from you and the fact that this film was made is proof that these characters and this story, which I relate to so thoroughly, are worthy of an audience.

I’ve never had a reaction like this to another movie, and I think that’s because I’ve never seen my reality in mainstream film. I watch movies or TV shows about beautiful people with problems that I don’t relate to at all. Then one day I saw Good Dick and it was so realistic and it scared me to think, “Oh my god, this is exactly what I want and what I think love is going to be like for me”. I’ve always distanced myself from all different kinds of love. I’ve never thought about what it’s going to realistically look like when I am in a relationship and I find real intimacy with a person who truly understands me. The thing about Hollywood is that it really shapes the way people see themselves and think about love from a young age. I work in a kindergarten class where all of the girls are in love with Zach Efron and High School Musical, and they heard somewhere that only boys can save girls and not the other way around. I try to talk them out of it, but it seems like they’ve already been indoctrinated into the mainstream culture of fat-versus-skinny and they are waiting for Prince Charming. I think it’s extremely valuable for people to see themselves in pop culture, because when you have watched a lifetime of TV and film without seeing someone who represents you, how are you supposed to know you aren’t alone?

This movie is so therapeutic for me because I see someone like me being loved, and that’s the image I need to see often. I need to watch people like me who are loved and comfortable with themselves and are able to overcome any past or present hurt. I need to see that this is a possibility. I feel like I come up against obstacles and just stop and turn around instead of maneuvering through them and continuing to grow. I’m stunted because I haven’t allowed anyone the opportunity to love me regardless of my faults. It’s hard enough for me to stomach my imperfections, let alone embrace them, so I have very little faith that someone else will accept me for who I am. I have always thought of my relationships as a precise balancing act that will crash down with any misstep on my part. I constantly compromise and silence myself in order to keep the equilibrium. Nothing this fragile can survive for long. The most important thing I need in my life is an honest relationship where I’m not afraid to show my flaws and I can trust that people aren’t going to leave me because of them.

My first real connection I felt with Good Dick was when she lets the guy into her apartment for the first time and we see what a mess it is. Just seeing it made me so anxious because my apartment is a like that and if anyone ever saw it I would be mortified. If anyone knew the real environment that I am living in, the shit that I’m surrounded by all day long, that would be more than embarrassing. And it’s just another wall between me and everyone else, an obstacle that hinders any kind of spontaneous visitors. No one knows how chaotic my home really is because I don’t allow anyone the opportunity to see it if there is any incriminating evidence of my real lifestyle. I’m unable to provide a certain standard of living for myself, and it totally stems from a lack of self-respect. I eat shitty food all day, don’t throw away my garbage, and don’t do my dishes or laundry until someone comes in and does it for me, or the threat of someone coming over sends me into a mad rush to clean up.

You know, I look both ways when I cross the street so I don’t get hit by a car. I don’t really care about getting hurt, I care about someone taking me home from the hospital and seeing my apartment in all its gross glory. Seriously, that’s one of my fears in life. That there is going to be an emergency and I’m not going to want the police to come until I clean my apartment. What kind of fucked up logic is that? These are the kinds of things that make me nuts because I don’t know where all of these behaviors came from, but I can recognize that they are totally unhealthy. Why can’t I just clean up after myself, and why do I think that someone seeing my dirty apartment would send them running away from me? Where did all of my confidence go and when and why did it happen?

Another thing I have in common with your character is that we are both supported by our parents. I feel guilty about it. I don’t deserve their money. I feel like I’ve fucked up my life. Why are you paying my rent? I never finished college, but my parents paid for me to almost fail out of two different schools. All they want is for me to go back to school, but I’m afraid I’m just going to waste more of their money. If I won the lottery I would immediately give it to them, because I feel like I owe them thousands of dollars, and maybe that would help alleviate some of the burden I feel I have put on them. I feel this heavy chain attached to my parents money. I have to do what they want me to, and if I don’t I feel guilty about their disapproval. And then I use my apartment, which they pay for, as my den of iniquity.

I also watch porn like your character. I started as a young teenager who was just curious about sex and I think it was pretty normal behavior, but now I feel like I’ve replaced the potential for real human interaction with porn. Why put myself out there and probably get rejected when I can watch people who are prettier, or at least more confident, than me have sex? I know that porn doesn’t replace real love and movie characters aren’t real friends, but sometimes it’s easier to live vicariously through other people than face the challenges that plague your own life.

I think you certainly accomplished your goal of making a romantic movie. This story is about realistic romance; different from the saccharin sitcom plots and predictable romantic comedies that Hollywood bombards us with in the cineplexes every weekend. It was so bizarre to see the hair-washing scene because the day before I watched Good Dick for the first time I was thinking how intimate it would be to wash someone’s hair. That was when the light bulb went off in my head and I knew that I was going to have a real connection with your film. The scene where you sleep together in the bed is so amazing, with the combination of the lighting and music and the sheer fact that pressing your back against someone else’s seems so comforting. In the ice rink, Jason’s character says, “real sex, loving sex”. I love the fact that the main male character in your film characterizes real sex as “loving”. I feel like if I had seen this film when I was younger I would have a much more positive opinion of men today.

When Jason’s character says, “I care about you” is when I first thought, “Oh my god, this movie is making my heart hurt”. I want to hear that so badly! I care about you. I care what happens to you. I care how you feel about yourself. I care how you feel about me. I care what you do everyday. I care how you are treating yourself. He makes himself so vulnerable by letting her know that he cares about her when he probably knows she won’t reciprocate the feelings openly. It makes me so envious and so ready to hear someone say that to me and to say it back.

A lot of people comment about how the woman is so crazy and brutal and irrationally mean, but I found her totally honest, and I was jealous that I stop myself from being\ that way. I feel like I put myself in situations where I’m going to be uncomfortable and I stay there as a sort of punishment. Like feeling miserable when other people aren’t will prove that I am not normal and I have to change. But your character says no if she doesn’t want him coming into her apartment. She doesn’t open the door for him, she doesn’t put herself in a situation where she won’t be in charge, and I love that. I see her very much as a heroine. A woman who knows what she wants, even though she has demons that dictate some of her behavior and decisions. She has taken her sexuality in her own hands; she has set rules and says, “These are my boundaries and if you cross them, it’s over”. I found that so refreshing and I wish I could be like that. I wish I could be honest with people and say, “I don’t want to be with you right now because you are driving me insane” and not feel guilty that I seem anti-social or think about what my friends are going to say about me. I need to find a partner who can acknowledge and understand my hesitance when it comes to both physical and emotional intimacy. It makes me uncomfortable to think I could be at the mercy of someone who may not have regard for my feelings and insecurities. The fact that Jason’s character is completely accepting of her rules and doesn’t want to move faster than she is prepared to go makes him such a fantasy boyfriend for me. Through his gentle persistence, she realizes that she is worthy of love and self-respect and she is given the tools to help herself improve her life.

I feel like your movie came to me at a really important time because my plans to finish my degree were somewhat sidetracked, I found out I won’t have a job in the fall, and my lease is up on my apartment in October. I feel like, come this fall, I have a million choices to make and an infinite number of paths I can take. It’s freedom, but it’s also fucking scary. Now is the time when I actually have to think about what I want my life to be like, and try to start living that life. I think that I’ve finally realized that I want to be a filmmaker because I want to create something that might impact someone in the same way Good Dick has impacted me.

I want you to know how much you mean to me, even if I never meet you, even if you never make another film, you have done enough for me to really think about my life and think about the world and reality and love in a realistic and attainable way. I want you to remember me, whether or not you remember my name or the specific things I said. I just want you to recall the feeling that you really affected change in the world, because I am changing, I am going to reach out to other people who may change. I believe we are all connected in this way, that we live life and we grow by learning from other people and hopefully teaching a few along the way. All of my life I have used movies to escape or avoid my problems. It’s very passive to sit in a room and see faces in front of me without having to deal with the reciprocity of real friendship. The stuff I was watching wasn’t helping me understand or deal with my life, but drown out my desire to help myself change. I needed a movie like Good Dick to hold up a mirror to my face so I could see what it looks like when I isolate myself, neglect people who love me and deny myself happiness and self-respect. Now I want to be a filmmaker so I can reach other people, help them learn about themselves and continue this chain of humanity and real people talking to each other.

It sounds strange to say thank you after all of that. I think that goes without saying.

Rebecca Martin

P.S. Good dick means to me… a relationship that encourages growth and intimacy and makes you feel safe with the people you love or by yourself.

Waiting for the panic after pressing send on the letter

Waiting for the panic after pressing send on the letter

blood orange

I have realized exactly how much I shield myself from any exposure at all. Nobody knows the majority of things I think about, worry about, love, hate.

It’s not an exaggeration that apart from work, I could go entire days without talking to anyone, even longer could I remain silent about anything of substance. And at work, little can be said about my communication with the teachers, the lack of which led to the notification that I wasn’t invited to go out on Friday night when “everyone else was there…”. Uh, ok, thanks for telling me?

This past week I did literally spend silently, due to a swift and inexplicable case of laryngitis. It was in these days that I felt myself really wanting to talk to someone and connect in a way that I usually find so frightening and uncomfortable. Now that I can physically speak again I’m even more frustrated than being mute, because I feel like all of the potential talking I am able to do is too intimidating. I felt vulnerable when I couldn’t speak. Now I feel vulnerable about saying anything I unearthed when all I could do was think and fantasize about what amazing things would happen if I really allowed myself to be seen and heard by someone who isn’t my reflection in the bathroom mirror.

I feel heartsick and I can’t tell anyone about it.

And it really feels good when you listen to three seven year old boys (not really) whispering about how you are fat and disgusting while you are sitting four feet away from them and staring into their fucking eyes. It’s the first time in 23 years I have ever been made fun of to my face, and I have to say it broke my heart a little today.

blood orange

“You’re a neat girl.”

Isabella Rossellini and Kyle MacLachlan in Blue Velvet

Isabella Rossellini and Kyle MacLachlan in Blue Velvet

As David Lynchified as the rape scene is between Isabella Rosselini and Dennis Hopper, this kind of abuse is a reality for some women and that is terrifying. That man has rage in his eyes that I never want to see or know.

Maybe I’ve never been in a relationship, but I’ve also never begged to be slapped in the face and felt deserving of that punishment. I may occasionally think I’m ugly and fat, but at least I know that I don’t deserve someone else’s anger and a black eye. God forbid anything like this happens to me. This story may be exaggerated, but there is at least a grain of truth.


“I had a dream.

In fact, it was the night I met you.

In the dream, there was our world,

and the world was dark because there weren’t any robins

and the robins represented love.

and for the longest time there was just this darkness.

and all of a sudden

thousands of robins were set free

and they flew down and brought this blinding light of love

and it seemed like that love

would be the only thing that would make any difference

and it did.

So I guess it means…

there is trouble till the robins come.”

(The delineation is obviously my own. I thought it looked more like a dream recitation formatted in the center.)

Laura Dern and David Lynch

Laura Dern and David Lynch