“Operation Bleed” excerpt
What follows is the first half (ish) of a piece I wrote as part of a nonfiction essay collection called Love in the Time of Chemtrails. I spent four years writing and overwriting it, and then put it in a drawer (okay, a hard drive), and forgot about it. That is, until the planet erupted in mass hysteria of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and my editor reached out, and reminded me that I wrote this, and said it would be a stellar time to get it published.
Alas, the publishing world has changed rather drastically since I was playing in those realms, and all seven of my pitch letters remain unanswered. And so it is that I am publishing a portion of it here, while reserving the full shebang for my paid Locals subscribers, because a girl’s gotta eat. As you’re inspired to read the whole darned thing, I encourage you to support me over on Locals, where you can read it in its entirety.
“Stomach flu,” I groan, pulling myself onto a rattan stool at the Tonic Bar. “Help.”
“Symptoms?” resident master herbalist, Jesus, asks in that weird, affectless way of his.
“Are you contagious?” asks Zoe, sneaking up from behind.
“Ugh,” I say, leaning in to receive her neck nibble, still clutching my abdomen. “I don’t think so.”
“Good. ‘Cause I have a bladder infection, and I don’t want anything else messing with my system right now.”
“Oh, and I’m on a crazy deadline; so, throw in some stamina, inspiration and creative genius,” I say to Jesus, already emptying capsules into the Vitamix, before turning my attention back to Zoe. “How are you treating it?”
“That’ll take a while,” I say, scrunching my face. “Are you in pain?”
“Agony. What should I do?”
I am my every girlfriend’s de facto natural wellness advisor – even here, at the Tonic Bar, where Jesus is being paid to play that role for all of us.
“A heaping tablespoon of sea salt, another of raw Vitamin C, three droppers-ful of colloidal silver, and four drops of wild oregano oil. In one massive glass of water.”
“Wild oregano oil,” I clarify.
“That’s rather aggressive,” Jesus chimes in.
“Have you ever had a bladder infection?” I ask.
Again with the alien in the headlights stare.
“Every minute’s torture,” I continue. “Better to give it all you got, and knock it out fast, than dilly-dally with candy-ass baby steps that your body may or may not decide to respond to.”
Jesus opens his mouth to say something, then stops himself, and turns to Zoe.
“You’re going to want to follow-up with some really good probiotics,” he says, dropping a spoonful of coconut oil into the blender.
Zoe looks at me for confirmation. I nod, hands splayed in the universal gesture for No duh.
“Okay. Yay. Thanks. Cute shoes.”
Cute is an understatement. My shoes are fucking fabulous. They are red suede moccasins – the perfect red, in fact – hand-stitched with contrasting rawhide, and garnished with a massive cluster of iridescent beadwork atop the toe – an otherwise incongruous burst of sparkle that, when paired with my usual baggy jeans and tri-blend sweatshirt, renders me effortlessly chic. They are my breakup shoes – a splurge of infinitely unreasonable proportions indulged to offset the pangs of guilt and grief my breakup with Thor only sort of inspired. Sort of because I’ve been too busy having rebound sex with Ethan to really let myself feel the separation. Still, the tiny droplets that have seeped through the distraction and the denial were enough to inspire a late night Internet shopping spree. I am a fan of break-up presents – big ticket items I would otherwise eschew as impractical or over-budget, thus acquired to mark the ending I am grieving with something tangible, with weight and mass, that, when considered, utilized or, in this case, paired with my over-dyed Rogans, will remind me that for every door that closes, there exists a mass-produced something I can procure to fill the empty space, allowing me to take comfort in the knowledge that said breakup trinket will inevitably outlast whatever crumbs of love, lust and codependence I’d collected, molded into a gummy snot ball, and dubbed a meaningful relationship.
“Thanks. They’re Miu Miu,” I reply, because what’s the point of wearing designer shoes if other people don’t know they cost a fortune?
“Oh,” Zoe says, not fully grasping just how high-end wonderful my shoes really are. It’s not her fault. She was raised in a cult, by hippies who didn’t drag her to Rodeo Drive for annual Boxing Day sales. Poor thing. “What’s your deadline?”
“I need to make, mount and frame twelve pieces for a group show this weekend.”
“How many have you finished?”
Even though I’ve known about the show for months, I am only now getting around to drawing the Self-Love series of masturbating figures I am slated to drop off at the gallery tomorrow afternoon. It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d known about it for years, I still wouldn’t have picked up an extra fine Faber Castell until the eleventh hour. It’s how I roll. I can’t even think about diving into a creative project until the deadline looms so near as to arouse heart palpitations and panic attacks. I not only prefer tight deadlines – distract, avoid and procrastinate such that every regular deadline I ever have ultimately becomes tight, if not downright suffocating/impossible, I feed off them.
aquariusgirl: sorry i couldn’t take you to the airport, babe
ezethan: that’s okay
I’m mainlining Yerba Maté and sweet Mary Jane, while pulling an all-night art-making session, and iChatting with my rebound/boyfriend, who is waiting out a New York layover en route to the Ukraine, where he is directing a credit card commercial.
ezethan: i know you’re on a deadline
aquariusgirl: i feel bad for not seeing you off
ezethan: there’s no reason to feel bad about THAT
ezethan: when there are so many other reasons for you to feel bad
We didn’t break-up after The Great Twenty-Four-Hour Shack-Up of 2007, though I’m starting to suspect we should have. It would have been clean, timely, appropriate. I can’t really offer any solid reasons as to why we didn’t, except that neither of us felt quite “done,” and, well, the sex is still great. The good news is that Ethan seems to be embracing the power shift (albeit in a markedly sadistic sort of way), while I am cozying up to the doghouse, which is fast becoming my relational sweet spot – not just because it’s stifling and familiar, but because there, my boyfriends get to say aloud all the horrible things I usually just say to myself.
“It’s not Ethan you’re clinging to,” posited my therapist, as I lamented my devolving rebound while whining on his couch. “It’s your old way of being – that outdated, I’m bad, I’m terrible, if only I were a perfect Olympic champion, my parents would stop fighting and be happy story that’s still running your unconscious.”
He’s probably right, but I wasn’t listening. I was too busy fretting over how to get back into Ethan’s good graces, figuring that if I showered him with enough adoration and attention, if I punched-up his treatments, sucked his cock well and often, and took really good care of his Wacom tablet that he would remember that I am brilliant, and adorable, and hilarious, and decide not to dump me – well, at least not until I find my own apartment, and a cuter, better rebound boyfriend (and the perfect butter leather backpack to ease the pain of our separation).
I stare at the blinking cursor in my iChat box, waiting for Ethan to…I don’t know. Take it back? Apologize for being too harsh? Type JK, and top it off a winky emoticon?
The discomfort is too craggy to bear. As my fingers skitter across the keyboard, I don’t ask him to stop berating me for honoring my intuition, and I don’t tell him I’m not available for his resentment, and instead, I default to my doghouse patterning, and simply type:
aquariusgirl: i’m sorry, ethan.
And then I close my laptop, and take a massive hit off Molly’s bong, and go back to my illustration, the one I am titling: Unconscious. Codependent relationship patterns. Are awesome.
I collapse onto Molly’s couch sometime around four in the morning, fall asleep for what feels like thirteen seconds, and wake with a whimper as the gongs rouse me for yoga at six.
“Please God, no,” I whine, fumbling to silence the Zen alarm clock balanced on the arm of the couch just above my head.
I catch a glimpse of my reflection en route to the toilet.
“Huh?” I grunt, stopping dead in my tracks.
I’ve been subsisting on a diet of pot, stimulants and sleep deprivation. Yet, for some reason, I am gorgeous – and not just regular gorgeous, quantum gorgeous. My skin is glowing. My eyes are bright and twinkly – the whites almost iridescent. My hair – usually a tangled rat’s nest of fine, flat dullness is thick, shiny and wavy. Even my teeth seem whiter.
“What. The fuck?” I mutter, wondering how my eyelashes got both longer and thicker overnight.
It doesn’t add up. I should be pale and puffy with big, black bags hovering beneath my bloodshot eyes. I should be wan and grey, and tousled and zitty. I should look like shit. I should be–
“Your urine tested positive for pregnancy,” the physician’s assistant informs me across an empty desk in a tiny room at the free clinic.
Given that I’ve been having sex for almost twenty years, the bulk of it unprotected, it’s crossed my mind that this could happen. I rationalized that because I didn’t get my period until I was sixteen, and that I barely bleed and rarely ovulate, I must be barren. Still, I’ve often wondered what I would do in this situation. Even though I am fiercely pro-choice, and have yet to cultivate any active urge to breed, I’ve always assumed that if I ever found myself inadvertently pregnant that some higher maternal consciousness would seep its way into my heart, wherein I would embrace the path of motherhood, and gracefully surrender to the task of rearing a spiritually-inclined quantum physicist who would cite her mother as her greatest role model when accepting her Nobel Peace Prize.
“How soon can you fit me in for an abortion?”
Clearly, I assumed wrong.
I hadn’t counted on the resounding “NOOOOOOOOO” every cell in my body is now screaming from the top of its every fractal lung. It seems that my internal landscape is devoid of even a trace of maternal instinct. All I can think about are my projects – my scripts, my books, my illustrations, and the lucrative multimedia empire they will inevitably spawn. If I have a baby, they will die. If they die, I die. Thus, by the logic of deductive reasoning/ninth grade algebra: If I have a baby, I will die.
“We don’t offer terminations.”
But, I swear I’m not judging you, the look on her chubby, young face means to imply. She was trained in this look. It was its own half-day workshop: How to Inform the Inconveniently Pregnant Woman Your Clinica Does Not Vacuum Aspirate.
She hands me a many-times photocopied sheet of paper that lists a handful of LA clinics that do offer terminations, along with a plastic bag filled with a trio of condoms and a tiny foil packet of lube – as though I’m ever having sex again.
I dial the first clinic on the list while waiting for the elevator, eyes darting across the empty twelfth-floor lobby, on alert for any passing conservatives who may catch wind, and decide to rustle up an impromptu stoning.
“Hi. I need to schedule an abortion.”
It’s strange, this word, now pouring forth from my mouth for the second time today. It’s not like I haven’t articulated it plenty of times before, but those instances were political, hypothetical, rhetorical – me railing against the patriarchy, or amping the stakes while revving up narrative tension. Now that it’s personal, it sounds different.
By the time I step out onto the street, I have three a-bore-shuns scheduled at as many clinics – just in case.
“Can you drive me to my abortion Monday at eleven?”
It’s getting easier, I think, jaywalking across Pico, praying the rectangular strip of paper flapping against my windshield isn’t a parking ticket.
Floyd’s not my first choice ride because he is compassionate, nurturing, or gender appropriate, because he’s not any of these things. But, Molly’s in Ketchum, tending to her dying grandmother, and Floyd’s the closest thing to Ethan, who is somewhere in the Eastern Bloc without a dependable Wi-Fi connection or international cell phone plan.
“Egads, Jew” Floyd exclaims, as I pluck a $70 parking violation off my windshield. “And, no. Sorry. I’m on a deadline.”
My witchiest girlfriend Cyd is in rehearsals for a play; and Gina, my pot dealer, is making a run to Napa. Sure, there are other friends I can call, but three is the magic number. Three is a sign. Three means there’s a kink in my plan.
I ponder my options as I crawl east through rush-hour traffic: Let’s pretend I want to have a baby: I will be responsible for its survival, health, happiness and overall development all day, every day. Now, let’s pretend this sounds appealing, and I’m on 24/7 baby watch: When will I meditate? When will I practice yoga? That’s about as deep as I need to delve into this option to know it’s not gonna work. My whole morning routine would be obliterated in the face of diaper changes, three AM feedings, and rides to chess club and jujitsu. Just thinking about it is exhausting, and I haven’t even begun to ponder modeling emotional intelligence and integrated psychological well-being, which is where the whole child-rearing thing gets really scary, because I’m still trying to figure those things out for myself.
Plus, even if I wanted to sacrifice my every dream to raise a child, terminating is still my only responsible option. For all intents and purposes, I am single. I scrape by well below the poverty line with freelance crumbs, the odd illustration gig, and minimum wage plus tips. I have no health insurance; I have no home; and, I’ve spent the better part of these unknowingly knocked-up weeks stoned, which I’m guessing isn’t all that wonderful for a tiny developing fetus. The flash-forward scenario to me having a child is only utterly ridiculous, with me bartering pervy line drawings for diapers, and putting my pot-stupid welfare baby to bed in the back of my veggie Benz every night.
My only responsible move is to abort. I can go to a clinic and pay two hundred bucks for them to suck it out of me with minimal anesthetic, or go to a spendy doctor and throw down twice as much for them to knock me out and remove it. I can take a really expensive pill that may or may not make me miscarry, or I can throw myself under a bus. Any way I slice it, my options suck.
“Sorry,” I shrug, squinching my eyes and tilting my head so as to remain tip-able while delivering the news. “The Brussels Sprouts are already marinated in bacon fat.”
I was going to call-in to have my shift covered, but I need the money for my abortion because my fetus-daddy’s not around to float me the cash, if he even has it to float. So, here I am, pretending to care about my customers’ dietary restrictions, when all I can think about is how to get this baby out of my womb immediately.
“The See Me is extra onions,” I yell across the line to the dykey sous chef, “and Gruyere instead of Manchego. Have you ever had an abortion?”
“What?” she looks up from her frenetic chopping.
“Never mind,” I mutter, racing back out on the floor to greet a table of eight.
The more I think about it, the less sense a traditional abortion makes. I don’t do tradition, don’t jive with allopathic western medical “care” for about a zillion reasons, the primary one being that it’s a shortsighted system that seeks to profit off the procedures and pharmaceuticals its minions prescribe for the pathologies they ascribe to the symptoms they seek to repress. Plus, the body is a self-correcting mechanism that has infinitely more healing capabilities than our western medical paradigm would have us believe; and Mother Nature is a full-service pharmacy which – when engaged wisely and consciously – can heal just about anything. Plus, I hate being told what to do, can’t stand giving my power away to an alleged authority figure who claims to know my body better than I do; and I happen to get off on the challenge of figuring shit out myself, especially when it means accomplishing the “impossible”.
When my dentist told me I had four cavities, I regrew the molars by eating eggshells and swishing with comfrey root tea. When my gymnastics-ravaged wrist gets really achy, I pee on it. When a homicidal wasp flew through my car window, bee-lined for my thigh and stung the shit out of me, I treated the infection with bentonite clay, lavender oil and honey.
“You should do infomercials,” ex-boyfriend Ari once joked, as he applied spot-bandages to the bloody holes I’d carved into my neck while removing skin tags with nail clippers.
“Why throw away hard-earned money on incidentals like anesthetic and stitches?” I launched into my pitch, using my hairbrush as a microphone. “For the low, low price of forty-nine ninety-nine, you too can have your very own home surgery kit, including cotton swabs, hydrogen peroxide, needle-nosed tweezers and an assortment of blades, saws and pokey things you never imagined could double as surgical tools.”
I’m the girl who treats yeast infections with tea tree oil, removes moles with apple cider vinegar and staves off infection with colloidal silver. And as the lyrics to Nirvana’s “Pennyroyal Tea” flood my headspace, I realize I’m the girl who’s going to give herself an herbal abortion…
NOTE: The ensuing 18 pages are available for paid supporters on my Locals page. You can subscribe at danikatz.locals.com, or DM me to arrange for private purchase.
 For the record, he’s not, like, certified, or anything. But, he is super psychic, and has taken quite a few spiritual-psych classes at Santa Monica College, while charging on a really flexible sliding scale.
 Cobain’s searing ode to his debilitating stomach pain, titled after the well-known “hippie” abortive herb