I’m Lena Cosentino. What you are about to read is true except when it’s not. I’m an unreliable narrator. Some names have been changed but not all. Just to keep you guessing. The genre is autobiography/fantasy. This is a novel about a time and a place that doesn’t exist any more except in my mind. Memory is a slippery mirror. Things change. Through the haze of memory. The mistakes of things I may have altered or left out or changed to make more dramatic. I tell the story of my early twenties in nineties Portland contrasted with my life in Los Angeles pushing forty in the late twenty-teens. The story begins in the fall in my senior year of college: 1997. I was twenty-one.
It was a different time, nineties Portland. So much has changed. So insidiously. Now I think I can’t live without being plugged into the Internet and Twitter and Facebook almost all day. Back then that whole digital world just didn’t exist. There was primitive DOS email that seemed more troublesome than it was worth. In a world free of screens, except the occasional TV but free of interactive screens, we were left to our own devices. I read a lot more books and zines than I do now but there was also so much IRL social time. We weren’t hiding behind hashtags. We were having “You’ve been talking shit about me, bitch!” showdowns behind the Delta Café with arms waving. Eyeliner fierce.
I’m not going to look through the fuzzy haze of an Instagram filter in telling these stories of the Dustbin. I‘m going to try and tell you what I remember. Being twenty-one: freshly minted, barely legal. Every experience was something explosive. I felt and saw for the first time. The story begins when I moved into twelve-person punk house called the Dustbin up the street from Reed College while in attendance. Ready for adventure but at the same time scared of not being cool. Punks are a tough crowd.
I guess you could call this a coming of age story. It is about my very early twenties. A time in my life that was difficult but magical and fun at the same time. This is what happens when you’re young and unaware of how naïve you actually are. Then are thrown head first into a cauldron of dogmatic ideology. Emotions. Half-baked anarchist ideals. Class war. Condoms. Negotiating things like boundaries. Everything slipping the opinion of that foxy unwashed girl or boy you just met.
Read on. Let it explode around you. It is a novel of transformation.