Dine & Dash
a lack of cash + other confessions
A Personal Column By: Tricia Callahan
It would be a stretch to say I’m down on my luck, but I have been allowing myself to wallow in my self-assumed mediocrity for quite some time. Although it’s hard to continuously congratulate myself when members of my family, professional associates, and even old friends find it more interesting to focus on my flaws than triumphs. I mean I don’t make it too hard for people to criticize. (Ah, the journalistic conundrum). I can’t keep a job for longer than a year, I travel despite mounding debt, I struggle with alcohol addiction, and I don’t take care of my body as much as I should, not when I have Multiple Sclerosis (brain/nerve disease). I don’t feel sorry for myself, I don’t blame anyone, I’m just not sorry about it.
If storytelling was like social media I would probably have it start and end 9 years ago on a street corner in Brooklyn, NY. My eyes wide, optimism at full capacity, my style, non-existent, yet there I was. From my cozy city apartment I could hear the comforting sounds of angry cars and chatting passerby’s. The mornings were cold but the Subway Train was only a few blocks off. I would pass a school for little Jewish boys and girls, the boys with their tight black curls framing their face. I was a long way from a small town in Virginia, it was exhilarating.
The L train took me to the thick of things. I would grab a coffee, stare at billboards, and blare My Chemical Romance on my silver discman until I made it to the office. I took the cramped elevator, that was most likely carpeted in the 80’s, to my floor. After I scanned my fingerprint (which was pretty bad ass at the time), I was at the The Village Voice, NYC’s beloved alternative weekly publication. I had my own desk and cubicle that I happily decorated. I researched politics all day, fielded my editor Wayne Barrett’s (who in 2017 sadly passed away) emails, and felt at all times, that I was doing everything wrong. In that way I haven’t really changed. I guess I just couldn’t believe Barrett gave a small town girl like myself such an incredible opportunity.
The bright lights of ChinaTown at night, visiting the 9-11 memorial and the Statue Of Liberty, watching a Broadway show at Madison Square Garden, Times Square, New Years Eve and hell, even watching a dog take a shit on the sidewalk while I ate a Subway sandwich, it was the highlight of my life and I didn’t even know it.
That’s the trouble with youth we never think that the last best thing, will be the last best thing.
College ramped me up with symposiums, jealous fellow students, and my own thriving publication (No Apologies) which I was selling at the college bookstore and in multiple cities at Plan 9 record stores. My heart and soul was bright and hopeful. Graduation seemed like a beacon to my fullest potential. Rolling Stone here I come!
Then, life, disappointment, and the inevitable decline in print media. I fell in love with someone 5 years my junior, lost my job and my boyfriend, and was an unemployed cheerleader drinking a handle of vodka a day while I watched Maury (The lie detector determined he’s not the father!). My life was, for lack of a better explanation, an utter mess. There was, as Rilo Kiley would sing, a silver lining though. I was free of expectation shamelessly dancing in the candle light to Sublime. My new free spirit initiative had me at the center of every party being dubbed the stoner who didn’t smoke.
This period of my life led me to develop one of the strongest friendships I’ve ever known. Smoking cigarettes on the porch looking out at the parking lot, crying about boys, romanticizing the past, and reflecting on our very own existence while looking out at the night sky.
Unbeknownst to me she would become one of my biggest inspirations and supporters as not just a journalist but as a story-teller. This shitty ass portion of my life was when I felt the most: confident, inspired, and fearless with every story I wrote. Who would have thought?
My twisted little corner of happy is mine and not anyone else’s… this has taken my whole life up until this point to realize. My dearest friends can see clearly below the surface of what the mob so readily points to and so can I.
I’m still the girl that was afraid to even hold a cigarette in college, the girl that dealt with a boyfriend that said my cat eyeliner made me look like a whore, the girl whose only childhood dream was to move to California, the girl that was terrified of the devil lettuce, the girl that didn’t drink till she was 21, the girl that is always giving rides because she knows how much being car-less sucks, the girl that’s been disowned by her parents after a lifetime of trying to make them proud, the girl that was grounded 9 months of her high school senior year, and the girl that has been a published writer since high school.
Yes, I am that bitch. My jaded edges are just to protect a heart of mush and an emotional threshold of a toddler, I’m not crying, you’re crying.