The Struggle to be Treelike When You’ve Always Been a Cat

There is that saying that it’s none of our business what other people think/say about us. I believe that’s a pretty healthy way to approach life and social interaction. There is too much biased and sometimes completely untrue garbage spoken about each one of us that only wounds us unnecessarily when heard. It’s always a limited interpretation from the outside, like that parable of the blind men and the elephant.

I try to be as open as I can in conversation and online because I value honesty and I prefer that information about me comes directly from me. I know it won’t always be received as I would like, but that’s the chance taken. I also feel that an openness about my “journey” (barf) is helpful to others who may be having similar experiences. I get a lot of emails from people thanking me for articulating their thoughts and emotions, and that’s the payoff for me. But writing about personal experience is tricky because it’s nearly impossible to exclude opinions and details about other people. None of us live in a vacuum. So while I try to be loving and protective on this public forum, I have my own dislikes and discord, like anyone else.

I am in the process of regrowing a protective skin after a long period of having everything painfully burned off, down to muscle, down to bone. I cry easily and don’t enjoy battles the way I once did. Conflict makes me anxious. I don’t necessarily mind being so raw; it’s certainly healthier than walking around with the gut full defensive rage I once carried. It’s made me kinder and more understanding of other people. But it also makes my somewhat public persona a liability at times. Lately I haven’t posted links to this blog on Facebook or Twitter because it feels safer to stay low-key.

On my last day of summer vacation at my mother’s home in Michigan, I woke up to have an exchange on Instagram that felt pretty devastating by the end. I was called embarrassing and desperate, and someone who knows me better than most and whose opinion I value highly was said to be included in that opinion.

InkedBoyfriend 1_LI

InkedBoyfriend 2_LI

InkedBoyfriend 3_LI

InkedBoyfriend 4_LI

 

InkedInkedBoyfriend 5_LI

[Ed. Note –  Okay, I will admit she has a point with the relationship crack]

InkedBoyfriend 6_LI

Admittedly, I fueled the fire by not reacting as gently as I could have. And I know where she’s coming from because I could have easily sent something like this when I was in my 20’s. But it was early in the morning and it felt like an attack out of left field from someone who has never been great to me. So while I wasn’t fully rotten, I didn’t hop all over apologizing either.  Also, I should probably note that we’re talking about 3-5 photos posted over as many years, and nothing had been posted too recently. I was half asleep and completely unprepared to compose a kindly older lady response.

It’s taken me a couple of days to regain my equilibrium and consider the source, which I have definite opinions about, but in the interest of operating as close to loving as I can muster, I will keep them to myself here.

What is more of note to me, and the reason that I’m still thinking about it, is that I felt more hurt than the situation warranted, and all of a sudden vulnerable to the world. Does everyone see me as embarrassing and desperate? Does someone I trust with my innermost thoughts and have been friends with for decades think this of me? Is my self-identity a lie? I thought I was posting fun old photos that are a part of history and of interest to friends. But maybe I don’t know my own motives? I know for sure that I don’t want anyone’s boyfriend, especially one that I’ve already had. Still, I couldn’t stop myself from internalizing words that seem designed purely to injure, words that were self-serving lies, words that left me feeling nauseated upon ingestion. Literally–I felt like I had to throw up and couldn’t eat all day.

Happily, I have a beautiful, loving, group of friends that are kind, honest, wise and hilarious. I sent the exchange to a couple of my closest female friends, and they immediately understood my feelings without question. We talked about how we had each experienced hurt and frustration at the hands, or words, of this person. The screenshots triggered one friend into realizing that she too had felt abused but was so busy trying to keep the peace that she had never admitted it to herself. Then I sent it to Sam, somehow a constant voice of reason for me, and he said : “You’re being gaslighted”. And then he asked if I was okay and what he could do to help me feel better. This concern and rallying from all of them helped me feel safe and normal again.

Interestingly, at the same time that this all went down I have been in the process of reconnecting with a friend who I thought I would never speak to again. The falling out, partially due to the words and opinions of other people, was so big that we were lost to each other for years. Then we ran into one another by chance and all of the anger/mistakes of the past fell away. I just saw her smile and the warmth in hr eyes. All those bitter words floating away like dust. I can’t help thinking the timing is not coincidental.

So why am I posting this here now? I don’t want to perpetuate negativity. I don’t want to injure my friend, no matter how questionable his taste in women might be. I am not angry or sad anymore, and at the end of the day, after I calm down and stop reacting, I very much want to operate from my higher self. So now I’m simply curious about the mechanisms of who we think we are, who others see us as, and how we navigate a peaceful existence between the two without forcing ourselves to become numb or shutting down all social media.

On this journey of the last few years I have been forced to jump headfirst into the murky water of disdain by someone I thought would always love me. The Universe has shoved me repeatedly into finding a way to stand up and get through painful moments in the face of loss and harsh judgment, my own and others. I wouldn’t wish some of it on even this particular Instagrammer, but at the end of the day, I’m grateful. The more I am forced to face my fear and shame about myself, the less I have to hide from the world. I feel pretty open right now, and so blessed by the love that I do have around me every day. The rest, really, is just noise.

So I bless her for bringing me a lesson this week. And shout out to the insanely awesome Melody The Metal Yogi for showing me this quote.

praise-and-blame-gain-and-loss-pleasure-and-sorrow-come-13782493

As always, Namaste, Bitches.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Everything

Wheee! 2018 has been pretty bananas so far. Here’s a quick recap of all the Wendigo Productions stuff that’s going on:

Wendy (Scripps, owner of Wendigo) and I went down to Nashville to see two of our bands–The Liza Colby Sound and The Tip play at the Hutton Hotel. We got some time with old friends Bebe Buell and Eerie Von and strong-armed Tip singer Benny Carl into BBQing for us.

The Liza Colby Sound went to Spain and played sold out shows and ate so much good food that Liza is still worried about it, unnecessarily of course.

Liza Spain

Sam’s band The Sweet Things are recording a new album at Flux Studios with Matt Chiaravelle producing.

Sweet Things studio

(Photo by Nat Koho)

The Threads are working on a new video and already have an album in the can that we will help them release soon.

Mick Stitch

Ten Ton Mojo are regrouping at the moment in order to rise like a badass, guitar driven phoenix. In the meantime their tees are showing up in some pretty fresh new places:

38270354_2443186889041232_7529464032261046272_n

Wendy’s birthday party on July 18 was beyond awesome, with sets from The Shrine (featuring our good friend Corey Parks slaying the bass), The Liza Colby Sound, The Sweet Things, and The Tip. I’m especially proud of this because I put the whole thing together, complete with shrieking at everyone about everything and then getting super wrecked after to assuage the guilt over all the shrieking.

(Stage shots are courtesy of Johan Vipper, people shots and video below courtesy of Anjanette McGrath)


We filmed everything and will have a video out in a month or two.

Wendigo is helping produce this benefit for the Joe Strummer Foundation happening in September, so Wendy, Liza and I are headed across the pond once more.

Jesse.jpg

And lastly, in December Liza Colby Sound is headed to Japan with Wendigo artist Reiko Lauper in tow to act as interpreter, fashion consultant, voice of reason, eye candy. I’ll have more on that later.

Right now I sit here happily in the woods of Michigan at my mother’s beautiful, fairyland home. Hours of time alone, the guest cottage to myself, with only the sound of wind in trees and squirrels scolding my dog. It feels like cool water running over my parched energetic field.

Usually there is a lot going on during these summer visits: my brother and his wife vacation at the same time and my sister lives down the road, so we cook and argue and eat and go to the beach and watch movies and drink too much wine on the porch or patio. For over a decade the-ex-who-is-a-total-dick-now-and-thus-shall-not-be-named came with me, and for the most part it was perfection. Storm is here with me sometimes, last year it was Sam too. He would have come this year but he is recording. So it worked out according to what was needed, just me and the dog. No loud music, no navigating through crowds on the street, just books and a bit of yoga and staring at green–a welcome refueling and reflection after months full of shows and travel.

My experiences and emotions of the last few years have been so raw, so deep. so buoyant, and at times so rife with sadness that I can’t help but assume that I still have much to learn. Why else would my soul insist upon thrusting me into so much at a time when most people are looking toward settling quietly into a life of comfort and peace?

I can see now that my spirit has always known exactly where it wanted to go. My brain and heart not so much. My intuition and some weird drive deep within have thrust me into difficult situations that test all sanity, and wonderful situations that other people only fantasize about experiencing. Highs impossibly high and lows well into the abyss. I am both incredibly lucky and simultaneously stuck in an accelerated math class that no one could possibly enjoy.

One of the NPC’s in one of my favorite video games occasionally shouts as he’s dying, after behaving quite badly, “I feel EVERYTHING!!!”

(last ten seconds)

Ayup.

Recently I found myself in the company of a physically gorgeous, carnally gifted, emotionally intelligent and decidedly cavalier young man. I didn’t seek the experience out, it sought me and I was taken by surprise. There is a homing device that some people have toward each other. There is a recognition of sorts; your drives and damages match one another’s in a way that you can operate comfortably, at least temporarily, within a personal parameter, like familiar dance steps.

Anyway, the experience, as pleasing as it was (which was very) held up a mirror for me to have to examine once again who I am and what I fear (aging, inferiority, being a fraud, blah, blah). In other words, it made me feel crazy. But it did set something in motion within me that while not exactly comfortable, feels necessary to come to the surface at this time.

My favorite dance is one of control, of taking care of. What do you need? I will provide. I am grounded, let me calm you. I love playing the great mother. So the people that seek me out desire my energy, my care. If they are attractive to me in some way–physically, emotionally, mentally, I will take over for them. And they will love and occasionally resent me for it.

I have always been unsure of my value, especially with men, if I am not the giving tree. But that can be draining and at some point I find myself depleted, fed up and rebellious, usually pulling it all back and leaving people feeling bereft and confused.

Half my people think I’m the sanest person they know, the other half thinks I’m completely bonkers. They’re both right. I have spent most of my adult life trying to prove sanity, always failing miserably in the end with too much emotion or a ramped-up-to drunken tirade. I’m finally willing to accept it–I’m fucking nuts. Not all the time, but often enough to be a source of exasperation to the men who love or have loved me and an even bigger source of frustration to myself. I want to be normal; but I never have been. Not when I was a little girl, not now.

But you probably aren’t either, are you?

So with that final, sighing acceptance comes this thought – maybe the nutty part isn’t what it appears on the surface. Maybe the “crazy” is actually my spirit’s sane reaction to the constant pressure that I put on myself to be admirable, to be loveable, to somehow be a holy badass, both chaste and solemn but also exciting and fun. In practical terms that means I should be more: a more thoughtful friend, a great partner to one person for the rest of my life, less dramatic, less emotional, more sexual, less sexual, more NORMAL.

It’s exhausting.

I am thoroughly enjoying this time alone and I wonder if I am one of those women that will live out her dotage without the usual one to one partnership. My mother is one of them. My closest female friends seem to be on that track as well. There are lovers and loves, but in the end we choose not to stay. We always blame ourselves, but what if there is no blame to be had? Maybe some people’s souls need to create a bit of chaos now and then. Maybe normal is different for every person and it’s okay for some of us to vibrate at a higher pitch. At the very least it gives the saner ones something to do.

When I landed in this peaceful place a week ago my mind was running, running, running. I couldn’t stop the obsessive thoughts. I can obsess over anything– people, the past, work, why I’m not exercising more, hair color, anything, everything, nothing. At first I tried to slap the thoughts down. For days I shouted in my head “Stop it!!” But to no avail.

Then it occurred to me–if this is happening and there’s no way to fight it, there must be information to be gleaned before gaining freedom. Maybe this default-mode chaos is trying to tell me something? I sat quietly and let the thoughts flood, working to observe impassively. letting lie the urge to pick up the phone for distraction. Until finally my higher, deeper self spoke over the chattering.

This what came to me; maybe it can help you too:

My rush of thoughts and obsessing is like any other addiction; it is noise designed to keep me from feeling everything. Everything which is often unpleasant: sadness, shame, regret, anger, confusion, fear. But knowing that still doesn’t immediately create silent space. What do we do with it, or how do we learn to live with this particular defense mechanism comfortably?

My inner voice said clearly and simply: “I love you.”

To which I responded, “Are you fucking kidding me? Really with this shit again?”

GROSS! So gross. It’s always the same stupid, Oprah book club answer. But I knew it was right. That’s it. There is no defense. Fighting only makes the demons more determined to be heard. There is only a slow, quiet shift one excruciating, mundane, non-immediately gratified moment at a time.

So I sucked it up and have started saying “I love you” at myself, or the spinning thoughts, or the brownies my mom made, maybe my dog, at whatever is handy, whenever I feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed by my bad, bad brain. Doesn’t really matter who or what is being addressed. It’s simply the act of allowing love to enter the energy field. And the chattering, while still there, has quieted. I am comfortable in my own skin right now; I can breathe fully in this moment.

For me, a loving acceptance seems to be the key to everything. It’s not enough to just say it’s okay any more. It has to be deeper and kinder than that–more forgiving, more heart-centered. We have to love the parts of ourselves that don’t gibe with that ideal and impossible version that we’re always hammering ourselves to attain. We love the weirdnesses of our lovers and friends; we must do the same for ourselves.

I wanted to stay in that relationship I thought was forever, but I couldn’t. My soul wouldn’t allow me to take the easy route and deny my own wild, weird, lonely nature. I would have missed all the amazing, sexy, gorgeous, terrible, devastating things I’ve been through since that implosion. I wouldn’t have Sam to lean on as partner-in-crime and confidant. I would have missed this beautiful time in the country with just me and my dog, and maybe only postponed the inevitable calculus class set to a Motorhead soundtrack that my life insists upon being, despite all efforts to tame it otherwise.

Namaste, bitches. ❤

Craziness

Yoga.jpg

Fluidity

Sam and I have decided to change the parameters of our relationship. Which I suppose is another way of saying we’ve broken up. But our situation has been so unusual from the get that to call it a standard breakup would be misleading.

If it were a bit more normal I probably wouldn’t put out this open blog entry. Breakups are always too complicated and painful and personal to sum up well in words. But people have been so fascinated by our connection–some creating distorted rumors and suppositions, some just understandably curious, that the story might as well come from the horse’s mouth. And it’s easier for me to put it down here than have to explain and re-explain to everyone in my social media orbit.

Despite this, 2018 has been pretty great so far and I am clearer than ever on who I am and where I’m going. This is a welcome change from the confusion, self-hatred, and sorrow I experienced during 2016 and 2017 that Sam helped me navigate through. I feel infinitely lighter and more optimistic in general.

He and I came together at a time when we needed each other but didn’t know it. It made no sense to me in the moment. Why would a 24 year old (at the time) be interested in spending quality hours with a woman as old as his mother?  And vice versa. Why would I damage the comfortable, partnered existence that I had and had loved to enter into something so clearly unwise? I had fully intended to spend the rest of my life with my ex. It’s still difficult to wrap my brain around it sometimes. Looking back I can see that I was in denial about some aspects of him and about some aspects of our life together.

Many people in the orbit assumed that hormonal changes had driven me out of my mind. And it is partially true–there was an element of uncontrollable madness that took over steering the ship. I was so confused about what was happening inside of me that I coped by partying and running from silence. In quiet moments my brain never stopped racing. In my retrospective mind’s eye the images from that time period are midnight blue tinged and spinning, like a drunken polar night that goes on for months into years.

That murky phase is done, not to be repeated. My wise mother says that once we learn something fully it becomes a tool we add to our personal toolbox, then it’s unnecessary to have to purchase it again. Now I understand that my soul insisted upon change that my brain and heart didn’t want or understand. There was a rhino-sized weight of baggage that needed release and I couldn’t do it in the relationship I was in. I had to burn myself down to bitter ash to make that happen. It was excruciating, devastating. But at the end of the tunnel I found some self-forgiveness and let go of crap I’ve carried since childhood, maybe from other lifetimes.

Throughout all of this soul-searching chaos, there has been this stalwart kid who is not in any way equipped to handle the midlife crisis of a woman who is high-pitched on a good day. He hung in nonetheless. He still hangs in, with patience and acceptance of who I am at any given moment. And he has taught me some things. That I can trust some people. That life doesn’t always behave in predictable ways but that I can trust my inner voice, no matter how far from the beaten path it sends me. That sometimes our spirit might be ahead of our thought process. That love doesn’t always follow the rules.

I have also learned quite a bit about societal perceptions about aging which is my mind are often erroneous and imprisoning–serving to delude us into thinking that sickness and decrepitude are inevitable, and that people automatically become undesirable and uninteresting after the first blush of youth fades. This mentality is outdated and I refuse to adhere to it.

Most of Sam’s male friends are unbothered by the age difference between him and me. I have noticed that his buddies see women as people more than men my age. Which is not to denigrate my peers, just to say that there is an ease between the sexes that we didn’t have growing up. Some of my male friends in my age group initially found Sam’s presence somehow personally threatening and took it out on him by treating us and/or him like a joke. I still have near-strangers on facebook adding snide comments under photos, as if by denigrating him they can somehow take the sting out of it for themselves.

Women in all age groups veer wildly on opinion. Some women I know, and some that I don’t, have sent me facebook messages with enthusiastic variations on “You go girl!” I’ve been extended fist bumps at parties. Then at other times Sam and I have experienced women’s anger toward me when they figure out what’s up. Young women sulk at my thievery. Women my age are much more straightforward. We overheard one growl, after groping him, mind you, “Why is he so interested in HER? She’s one of US.” Another time a woman standing next to us in a bar angrily and repeatedly demanded to know my age, with no pretense of civility. To which I finally responded, “Old enough to know that I don’t have to tell you my fucking age.”

But both my closest male and female friends have always remained supportive and understanding, despite whatever misgivings they may have or had. And in the end, after being forced to examine my insecurities about myself and the effects of time, I arrived at a place where I don’t care so much. I would love to look 25; I have every beauty gadget available for purchase. But for the most part I’m comfortable in my skin. I feel loved and lovable, and Sam helped and helps with that. He is a conscientious and caring soul and there are deep reasons that we came together.

But we have always known that our connection would have to be fluid. He has things to learn that he can’t do with a hybrid girlfriend/mom padding every fall. He needs to make his own stupid mistakes on his own. He needs to practice on some little girls before he commits to a lifetime with a woman. I love him and I want him to have everything in the world without being held back. And while I don’t know whether I’ll ever go back to a “normal” relationship with someone closer to my own age, I do occasionally enjoy the company of an adult who can pick up the tab and do their own laundry. I want to wake up early and meditate and go to the gym. He wants to stay up til 5 am every night and close the bars. It’s natural that we would be in different places in life.

So we’ve both come to the conclusion that while we wish to remain partners in crime as much as possible, we are not going to call one another girlfriend or boyfriend anymore. We are committed to remaining close and being gentle and communicative with one another if/when other people show up in our lives.

Which of course is easier said than done and this weekend, right about the time I was twisting my arm patting myself on the back for being the most mature human being to ever walk the planet, I had an emotional meltdown that involved much weeping and irrational panic. Separation and change, no matter how small or necessary, feel like death to me. I hate it. I want everything to stay the same and everyone to belong to me and me only. But Sam was there to talk me down and assure me that he wasn’t going anywhere.

So that is another gift of this connection, the very fact that it isn’t a linear march into retirement means that it can roll with the punches. When I was young I thought the only real love was romantic, and that romantic love was all about drama and insanity and passion and great Wuthering Heights highs and lows. That was draining and terrible and bad for my health. Then I thought I would find that one person to stay with for the rest of my life. Which I did. Then I crashed that car into a tree where it exploded and burned my eyebrows off. Now I value all the love in my life equally. My friends, my family, my animals–they’re all pieces of the puzzle that make me whole. There is so much love in the world to be had if our hearts are open to it. I’m not attached to form anymore.

Thank you friends, for reading, and for your constant support.

With Sam smaller

It’s Rock and Roll

Ah…aging gracefully.

So about six months ago I went out to see some friends play a show at Arlene’s Grocery. I like Arlene’s, I know a lot of the staff, the drinks aren’t too pricey, the sound is good, the rooms are comfortable.

But, like all venues, there’s a lot of banging into one another when you’re watching the bands. There’s usually at least one dumb little girl or guy at rock shows who believes they own the room and will do their best usurp your small bit of space in as obnoxious a fashion as possible. It’s the price we all pay to see a show. I enjoyed an extended and riotous career in my youth of bar brawls, dropping lit cigarettes into purses, throwing drinks, boyfriends dragging me away screaming, and one arrest for assault. So I am careful to move to another space if I feel agitated. I am too old and too wise to fight over a few inches of turf. It’s undignified and drinks are too expensive now to be tossed at the peasants.

On that particular night I kept getting shoved from the back. I did my best to avoid and alleviate. First I moved to the side. The offender moved too and continued banging into me. I moved up a few feet, same thing. Bang, shove, poke. I kept moving until I ran out of space to shift. I felt irritated and I looked behind me. The space invader was a very attractive Hispanic girl–pretty face, long, full black hair, slim body, classy-enough minidress, brand new thigh high boots, makeup on point, bitchy expression. She was wrapped in an average-looking musician-type guy, and it was clear that she was on her version of a rock and roll date. I could guess at glance that he was playing in one of the bands and she was very proud of being a band girlfriend.

Guuurl. Enjoy. I felt that way too my first thousand times. Make sure you steal a beer from backstage.

I said, “Hey, would you mind not banging into me?”

She looked me up and down with all the haughtiness of her imagined stature as the reigning Pamela Anderson in a room containing maybe fifty people max, and said:

“It’s a rock show. It’s rock and roll.”

To which I replied, “Yes, I do understand where we are. But I would be grateful if you could stop banging into me all the same.”

She said, again, as if I still didn’t get the concept. “It’s a rock show. This is what happens at rock shows.”

One of my best friends, Lorne Behrman of The Sweet Things, was standing next to me. He knows me well, knows that I have a hot button temper, hates conflict, and I could see the fear in his eyes. I could also see the panic on her date’s face, which read, “I have never been this lucky in my life and I may not get this lucky again. Please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t ruin this for me.”

I found it irksome that some dumdum felt she could school me on what I had been steadily living for longer than she’d been alive. But I felt for both guys and I did the right thing and took Lorne by the arm and moved to another part of the room. Later on we told Sam about my irritation and Lorne said,

“She was really hot.”

I said, “She was an asshole.”

Lorne repeated, “She was REALLY hot.”

I rolled my eyes.

Sam said, “Can you please shut up, Lorne? You’re going to get ME in trouble if you keep saying that.”

That was the end of it. Yay! Look, Mom! I’m a lady!

Fast forward to this last Saturday–

My friend Cid Scantlebury was scheduled to sing a set of Aerosmith songs at F-Bomb at Arlene’s. It is not an easy vocal and she very much wanted her people to be there. The musicians of F-Bomb are always stellar and everyone had been rehearsing steadily for weeks.

I hate going out on Saturday nights. The bars are too packed with the worst people and it’s the end of my work week so I’m tired of humans and movement. Fridays are hard on my system with bartending and the usual drinks that follow. If I force myself to interact on Saturday I’m cranky. So I don’t look at facebook, I wear pajamas to take the dog out, I carbo load and play video games until my fingers hurt. Heaven. But I made a promise and I very much wanted to support her.

Happily, I had reserved a strong pill that some kind soul gave me for just such an occasion. I took it prior to walking out the door and once it hit I felt nothing but beatific toward the roiling masses I floated past on the East Village streets. Ah, the little people. They look like ants down there, don’t they?

Inside Arlene’s I greeted Trishka, a friend and their doorperson who has worked in the club industry as long as I have, and stepped into a room full of friends and familiar faces. I got a glass of whiskey, which is a rare choice for me (the pill insisted upon brown liquor), and I parked myself toward the back in a space I felt wouldn’t get too overrun.

I was with a friend, we all have that friend, who often gets aggro when she’s drinking. She’s sweet and funny and then boom, it’s down the toilet. But I always forget it will end that way until it ends that way, so it makes for good stories. She and I watched the show while people cut in and out between us, shoving to get closer to the stage. It was mildly annoying but nothing out of the ordinary, and I was too high to care much. My friend, however, was getting increasingly irritated. I should have pulled her closer to the wall, out of the fracas. But again: #toohightocare.

Finally one especially obnoxious and tall guy slammed us both out of the way to jump in front of her. She couldn’t see anything with him blocking her sightline and she was livid at the energy of the shove. She pushed him in the back. I thought, “Here we go!” He didn’t react so she shoved him again, hard.

He turned around and said, “What’s your fucking problem??”

She said, “YOU are! You fucking spilled my drink all over me, you’re rude, you’re in the way, and you need to move!”

He said, with a sneer, “It’s a rock show! That’s how it works. It’s rock and roll!”

Ah, geez. This again??

I said, “Hey, we get that it’s a rock show, but that was pretty rude.”

I should add here that he looked to be about 45 years old, with glasses and nerd jeans. But he said, “You OLD CUNTS don’t know how to rock. You shouldn’t be here.”

Old cunts? OLD cunts? OLD???

Shocked How Dare You GIF by Nightcap

Sigh…I guess it’s on now. Hold my earrings, please.

My friend threw her drink in his face. Still feeling mellow, somewhat amused at the turn of events, and willing to roll with it, I opened the back of his collar, ever-so-delicately with one finger, and dumped my bourbon down his back with the other hand.

He went completely apoplectic: sputtering, enraged, eyes rolling around in his head. “You fucking BITCHES!! You CUNTS! Okay, now you are getting kicked out of here!”

I thought, yay! I can go home and put my jammies back on! I’ll snuggle with the pets and watch Mystery Science Theater before this buzz wears off.

We stayed in our spot waiting to get thrown out of the club. A lone security guard soon arrived with Captain Rock and Roll pointing and shouting behind him. My friend, still upset, began shouting too. I told her to be quiet as I felt my newfound status as the mellowest human being to ever fight in a bar granted me the position of official spokesperson for crazy women. She stopped mid-sentence, God bless her.

I said, “Yes. He shoved us, my friend shoved him, he called us old cunts, we threw our drinks at him. Everything he’s saying is true. But he’s a dick, as you can probably tell, and we know almost everyone who works in here.”

The security said, “Unfortunately he knows someone who works here too.”

I said, “That’s fine. We can leave if you want us to.”

Then I turned to the angry King of Rock. He had a much younger girlfriend behind him, which is probably the reason that he was confused about his own age. My first thought was, “Aw, we have so much in common! My boyfriend lets me delude myself too!”

But instead I said, “Look, I understand that you’re upset and I’m sorry we threw our drinks on you. But calling us old cunts was not cool either.”

He shouted, in what had now peaked into a high pitched whine: “I’M NOT TALKING TO YOU! YOU THREW DRINKS ON ME!”

I giggled. We did. Front and back. You’re probably sticky as fuck with that whiskey, you big baby.

The security told him to walk away and said, “Look, we all know this is dumb and it doesn’t seem necessary to kick you out. Can I ask you to stay away from him?”

My friend and I nodded and said, “Absolutely. You have our word.”

We turned around as Cid launched into a Stephen Tyler yowl. Our less-than-worthy adversary stood across the room at the bar, shouting and waving his hands at the bartender about his wet shirt and how he’d been wronged by two ancient derogatory words for vaginas.

I thought to myself with a smile,

Aw. Don’t be sad. It’s a ROCK SHOW. It’s ROCK AND ROLL. 

Sometimes, if you wait by that river long enough, the bodies of your enemies really do float by…

Joan Jett And The Runaways - File Photos

Fergie and Me

I’ve been getting my ass handed to me all over the place over the last few years. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Lately things have been cheerful. I’ve accepted that my ex-partner is not the stellar friend or even human being that I once believed he was and I’ve stopped trying to bridge the gap. It’s been interesting to finally understand how skewed my thinking can be when I am viewing things through the muddy glasses of self-doubt and recrimination. I was so convinced that I was unworthy that I couldn’t see anything but my own flaws, and I overlooked way too much and accepted way too little as a result. Now I’m not asking for things that will not be given, nor am I planning on giving any more. Sometimes the rear view mirror reveals more than expected.

I’m also clear that Sam, while remaining one of my closest people, has much to experience in his life that cannot always include me, and vice versa. We’re still attached at the hip most days, and I don’t foresee that changing any time soon, but it is not a relationship in the normal sense of the word.

Anyway, this is not another relationship blog. Yawn to that. I’m just saying I’m in a pretty independent space right now and that information is coming in hard and fast from all different places. Exes and onstage alike.

So I was asked to sing at the last Sally Can’t Dance party that happened on Sunday, this one a tribute to the Stones “Some Girls”. Sam and I were supposed to sing a duet at the Cramps one a few months ago but we bailed bc he was going to be out of town and I didn’t think I’d be any good at a Lux vocal. And we love the Stones and listen to that album constantly, so it seemed appropriate. We picked “Lies”. It’s short, Sam could sing an easy back up for me and then do his own song, which was one not on the album – “Happy”.

Alas. Alack.

I would never compare myself to Fergie, but the fact that she’s having a bad week musically has not escaped my attention after my own night. I like her, she’s sexy and cool and seems down to earth and fun in interviews. And now she’s had her ass handed to her over her noodley version of the national anthem. Lots of ass-carrying in this life, whether you’re famous or not.

So here’s how mine went down. And then I’ll tell you what I learned from it.

I can carry a tune and I am comfortable with a microphone in my hand. I’ve had lots of experience onstage so I’m not shaky about it. But I am fully aware that my voice is limited and I am not a “real” musician. I have no desire to be in a band anymore and prefer working behind the scenes. I’ve never played an instrument and I do a lot of counting in my head to know when to come in on verses or choruses. I can’t harmonize for shit. BUT I have charisma and I’m fun and I’ll dress up and that makes up for the not always stellar vocals.

Because I am not someone who jams or sings regularly anymore, I try to prepare as much as possible ahead of time for these one and done guest appearances. I’ll listen to the song over and over again, counting bars and writing the lyrics down until I know exactly what and when I’m singing. “Lies” by the way, is a mumbly mess of lyrics.

I thought I had it down pretty well. It’s not a standard verse chorus verse chorus arrangement, but it’s a two minute song where you’re primarily yelling. Two verses, two sort of choruses, a lot of repeating the word “lies” over and over again and then you’re out. Easy peasy.

When I did Motorhead’s “I’ll Be Your Sister” last year I walked into rehearsal and we banged it out perfectly in two takes. The musicians were all friends of mine and everything was nice and tight and to the recorded versions.

This time I didn’t know anyone. And while they were all excellent players–professional, friendly, well-respected in the business–they were much looser with the songs, which is appropriate for the Stones, not as appropriate for me. I don’t do loose very well and after the beginning verses I couldn’t consistently tell when I was supposed to come in. We ran through it twice, sloppily, and though I felt nervous, the band leader assured me that he would cue me and I figured we’d be good as long as I kept my eye on him.

That night one performer after another got up and pretty much killed it. Everyone was on point and I still thought I’d be fine. I always am, in one way or another. And I had really good eyelashes on, a present from Zoe Stark. They were so big and lush that Sam said, referring to his transgender sister, who is gorgeous– “You look like my brother!” High praise indeed. It’s hard to go wrong when your makeup is right.

But onstage things go at a much faster pace and you can’t pause to regroup. Sam and I got up and made it through the verses okay. Then the rest of it collapsed in on itself. I had no idea where to jump in and I kept looking around for the cues that didn’t come. Sam was following me so he was equally flummoxed. I stood there gaping at the band in confusion and then, boom, the song was done. They just hammered through the second half without any cues or vocals.

Mortifying.

I did what all good singers do after a bad show. I drank ALL the tequila and cried to anyone within earshot. Sam reassured me that we could make people delete the video and then we’d just have awesome photos left behind. Dina Regine, who you should be listening to if you aren’t already, told me it was fine and to own it un-apologetically. I nearly burst into tears when she said that because she’s so talented and kind. Erik Toast, one of my favorite frontmen ever, reminded me of the creative and slightly confusing way he butchered “Ace of Spades” at the Motorhead Sally. Which, btw, I thought he did on purpose, so I guess owning it really is the way to go.

And then I had yet another drink with Mick Stitch, who is family to me. And before I continue, can I acknowledge how lucky I am that all of these amazing people are around to comfort and advise? Best rock and roll life ever, even when it’s not.

Mick and I have known each other for a very long time, since we were kids really. My sister and I have a nickname for him that resulted from seeing him passed out naked in my apartment regularly when he went out with her many years ago. I have promised not to use it in public anymore but I will tell you that it has something to do with the fact that he has a great ass.

Mick did an impeccable version of “Respectable” that night. It was snotty, sexy, and on point: one of the highlights of the show for me. Talk about owning it; he made that song his bitch. I told him that I just didn’t hear my song live the way I heard it on the album and that it threw me, hard. I told him how embarrassed I was at the performance, in that packed room and bookended by so many spectacular renditions.

Mick told me he had the same experience in the rehearsal, but he made the band repeat his song over and over again until he felt it was right. He told me that you have to claim your space of leading the band when you’re singing. That was the rubber mallet of “Oooooh” hitting me over head.

DUH! That hadn’t even occurred to me as a possibility. Once again I was so insecure and worried about taking up space, about not being good enough, that I handed over my destiny to strangers who could not possibly anticipate my needs and had very little stake in my success or failure. I knew instinctively what would work for me and I never thought to ask for it.

I always do this to myself. I do it in relationships, I do it in jobs, I do it onstage. But why? Why am I always willing to subvert imperative, yet simple things in order to appear more pleasing or to acknowledge that someone else is better or more worthy than I am? The band wouldn’t have cared if I made them repeat the song a few more times. At worst it might have been annoying. It was my own fear that put me in that difficult position. I’d rather take a chance at sucking in front of a packed room than merely annoy a few talented musicians.

I think this is something many women do, and definitely something most women my age were trained to do. We are afraid of taking up too much space. I was taught to “be nice”, to the point that it crippled me and got me date raped and caused me to confuse abuse with love. I was never taught how to say “no” gracefully or to hold my ground with ease. So I’ll accommodate and accommodate and then out of the blue explode from the pressure and cause unnecessary damage and/or scare the crap out of everyone.

Anyway, beyond the actual lesson, very much a two minute tempest in a teapot, especially now that I’ve had a couple of days to process. Sam dropped me off at home at the end of the night and I went upstairs and cried into my favorite cat until his white fur was smudgey with mascara. Cleansing for me, not so much for him. The next day I retreated into my personal comfort zone of video games, spaghetti, and early 70’s Todd Rundgren. My girlfriends all texted very kind messages. They love me and would cheer wildly if I opened a bag of potato chips onstage. Jesse Malin called because he’s the greatest ex-boyfriend in the history of ex-boyfriends, knows me well, and wanted to make sure I wasn’t spiraling into my standard overly-dramatic hole.

I assured him I wasn’t. I’m great and grateful. Sometimes you’re gonna blow your two minutes in the spotlight and that’s okay. No one died or got fired; I didn’t have the entire NBA smirking at me like a bunch of dicks.

Life goes on. But I did think it was worthy of noting for anyone who operates the same way. It doesn’t have to be about music; it applies to all interactions in life. It is okay to ask for what you need. It is okay to receive what you need without apologizing. There is enough for everyone and making yourself smaller to appease other people or because you are scared of asking deprives both you and the world of your bigness.

This is, IMHO, the reason that some women get strident and rageful later in life. They said yes one too many times and now they’re gonna kill you if you ask them to pass the salt. Subverting ourselves either crushes us into dust or turns us into monsters. And the world desperately needs all of our bigness right now. There’s no more time for false humility or petty bullshit. So next time I’m gonna rehearse the shit out of it until grown-ass musicians are crying into their beer and waving cues at me from across the room.

But check it: great photo from Jeff Smith–eyelashes on fleek. Don’t worry, I took them off and put them back in their box before smearing the cat. I am a professional, after all.

Jeff Smith

Namaste, bitches.

 

Audacity

I had some dread for the holidays, which used to be great for me but have not been the last couple of years. Happily they ended up being highly entertaining: full of champagne and pretty slippers, new age lady dates gathered around a friend’s tree, high end Chinese food, and a private New Year’s Eve party at Berlin.

But first this:

–My dog got into the cat food and his bowels exploded. Merry Christmas to me. This was not especially festive but the resulting photo is so hilarious and horrible that I felt it must be shared.

Dogpoop

An actual shitstorm. I didn’t post it on facebook at the time because it would have caused an avalanche of well-meaning but unnecessary and contradictory advice. I will say this – canned pumpkin is my new best friend.

—-Drew and I finally had a very Festivus airing of grievances. It wasn’t totally fun but it felt right. He called me Darth Vader and said that I’m far too in touch with my dark side. I told him I found his lack of faith disturbing. He said I am not the boss of the Universe. I said we all know that’s not true. Then it gets fuzzy but I think I called his girlfriend basic and threatened to set her on fire. The usual. But it was mostly positive and I understand his motivations and behaviors better than I did before. I think it was the first time we were able to fully hear each other. I am grateful as I just want peace and communication and forgiveness at this point. If we happen to be gathered around a quiet little fire while that happens, all the better!

I kid, I kid…

I had dinner on Christmas night with Sam and Lorne Behrman and his hilarious, drinky, gorgeous, generous parents at Shun Lee Palace. They embarrassed Lorne the entire time and it was as delicious as the food. He almost crawled under the table when his mother brought up his penis size. It’s so fun to observe someone else’s parental struggles instead of your own.

25660225_4066831633564_543879841371262983_n

Billie Joe Armstrong and his wife threw a huge New Year’s Eve party at Berlin, so against my better judgment and after a couple of years of really bad New Year’s Eves, I went. And it was awesome. They are very generous people. Turns out the secret to a good holiday party is guest list only. This is a truly terrible drunk video that I shot of Jesse, Billie Joe, and Tommy Stinson on stage, if you’re interested. I’m a webtard so I don’t know why it’s so huge.

Kim Montenegro gave me some fabulous Ralph Lauren jeans for Christmas that are so sexy and accurately 70’s that I am now re-obsessed with Parker Posey’s Darla from “Dazed and Confused”.

Who, let’s face it, bears more than a passing personality resemblance to yours truly–

Wipe that face off your head, bitch! These are the jeans, the photo doesn’t do them justice. Also, side-note, Sam got me some equally fabulous studded platform shoes to wear with them so they make me look really tall.

Flared-Jeans-Ralph-Lauren-multi-color-shirt-beige-cardigan-black-ankle-boots-2

So the pants sent me on a 70’s inspirational tangent, and then this video kept coming up on the visual mix while I bartended at Bowery Electric, and that was the big shove down the 70’s rabbit hole.

Everything about this video is delightful. But who was this audacious, sassy, ugly/beautiful woman in her teensy velvet dress? I fell in love and did some research and discovered the awesomeness of Ruby Starr. I don’t know how I missed her when I was a kid.

Ruby

Something about feeling better about myself lately and researching a new/old rock and roll crush set me down an enthusiastic path I haven’t been on for a while. I’m excited to to hear music again. I’m less hard on myself about what I’m eating; I’m dancing happily with my dog as I brush my teeth. I guess I’ve remembered who I am, which, while flawed and infuriating and self-destructive, is never boring, usually fearless, and dare I say it, at times as audacious as Ruby Starr.

The Universe has been throwing a lot of old photos and videos at me lately, maybe because I’m ready to be reminded. Enough time has passed that I see the person in them as a separate entity. I have so much compassion for that person now. I would treat her more kindly if I had to do it over again. I was so unforgiving and had no idea at the time how beautiful and interesting and vulnerable she was. I thought myself to be flawed beyond redemption and genuinely believed that I was fooling everyone into thinking otherwise. Music was the only thing I felt sure about.

26731163_1926336754106948_1362334930413155447_n

Now I’m ready to give the person I was, and the person I am, a pass and enjoy the moments a bit more. All of this serious adult machinating is great and necessary but I’m bored with mourning and apologizing and I’m ready to do some cheering. If I don’t achieve anything more noteworthy before I die, does it really matter?

I’ve been looking at all my funny, smart, creative friends and feeling so much gratitude for their presence, and I want to say this to you at the start of the year–

We were born to be so much more than we often allow ourselves. In our youth we flail around wildly, trying on personas to see what fits. Everything hurts and confuses but at least we’re willing to throw ourselves out there, probably because we’re too young to understand consequences, probably also because there’s not as much to lose. If we’re lucky those personas evolve and expand over time. Then we realize we’re aging and we get scared. No more time to play. We have been traumatized by our country’s politics, frustrated with our jobs, worried about money and health, hurt by our relationships, and afraid that we are unlovable, especially now that we don’t look as young anymore. We stare in the mirror in the cold morning light and wonder if our best years are behind us.

Fuck that, I say. Just fuck it. Tell that voice to go fuck itself. It’s not real. Life is life until it’s over.

I am ready to be audacious again. I don’t know what that looks like in practical terms, but in my heart it feels kind of like this. It’s not perfect, it’s a bit cracky and it could fall off its shoes at any minute. But it’s raw and real and its own thing. I’m sick of trying to be perfect because it halts the flow.

I want to take you all with me. There is inspiration to be had, creativity to be tapped into, people to love, fun to be enjoyed. Stop apologizing for yourself. Stop dwelling on the negative. Look out at the horizon and envision your perfect life. Make lists of things you can do to improve your circumstances. Be fearless enough to drop that dead weight. If someone doesn’t love you or make you feel good, let them go and make room for someone who does. If you feel uncomfortable putting yourself out there, channel your heroes, whoever they are. Pretend you’re in their skin and walk around feeling badass for a while. Then feel how badass you already are. You just forgot for a minute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring It

First, I’d like to address that someone in our circle was hit by a truck while on her bicycle, by a driver operating under a suspended license. She was severely injured, has had a number of surgeries and will be recuperating for some time. We are not close, but she is close to many of my friends and I don’t feel it would be right to write about my internal noise without acknowledging that things can always be worse, that life changes on a dime, and that we have to love one another. Patton Oswald quotes his late wife as saying, “Life is chaos; be kind.”  True dat, and my best wishes for her recovery.

Okay, back to my favorite subject–NEW AGE NAVEL GAZING. I feel like I’ve been writing about the same things over and over again for a while, but as vision gets clearer the topic refines itself for me, and it is my hope that any bit of clarity I receive will work for others as well.

I often have to rein in what I share because some of the people in my life are not as public as I am. Its not fair to tell their stories from my point of view or expose them in ways that could make them uncomfortable. I understand that I am already revealing much of my private life to people who don’t have my best interest at heart, but it’s a choice I make for myself.

I have had to be guarded about the dissolution of my 13-year relationship with Drew, sharing just the iceberg tip of the emotion and chaos in my world. But as I get further into the journey I can now speak more freely. I don’t feel that I owe as much anymore. I have paid a great toll for my weakness, confusion and imperfection, a toll so heavy that it culminated in a bottle of pills. And the many attempts that I have made to make amends or find a peaceful co-existence have been met with what I perceive as disdain and, at times, a deliberate desire to punish, to win. It could be temporary, but for now it is a hard and barren ground and does lessen any feelings of obligation. I still wish to speak with respect and love, but my story is solely my own at the moment.

The main lesson throughout all of it, and I believe now the cosmic reason for the rift, is to finally get down to the messy job of loving myself. I would have never had to face the depth of my own self-judgment and self-doubt if my soul had not forced me to step out into the eye of this terrible internal storm. A big pot of shame and secret knowledge that I was unlovable that has been on simmer inside of me since I was a child finally came to a nice roiling boil and I had no choice but to step away from the one person I thought I would be with until I died. My brain did not ask for this change but I couldn’t stop myself from spinning in that dark water until finally change could no longer be denied.

I have been judged harshly–by him at times, by his friends, by his family, by my family, by strangers. But mostly, and with the least amount of compassion or understanding, by myself. Fortunately I am great at choosing friends, and they have loved me throughout this process far more than I have loved myself, even when they didn’t fully understand what the process was.

I re-listened to a lecture by Matt Kahn on twin flames/soulmates and it shifted me from the place of burning hurt and resentment that I’ve been residing in over the last few months. I had listened to it before but somehow it hit the bull’s-eye this time. Sometimes it takes me a little while to properly ingest information. Okay, let’s say a lot of while combined with brutal and repeated ass-kickings usually does the trick.

It reminded me that it is past time to quit looking outside of myself for approval, information and peace, especially in places where it’s never going to come.

I have gotten pretty much everything I’ve wanted in this life. When I was an excruciatingly nerdy and shy teenager I wished every day to be pretty and to be able to open my mouth and talk to people. I was sneered at and called “Dog” by the jocky boys with lockers next to mine. And once I started developing, “Tits on a tube.” It hurt. And it was so dumb, even under the pain I thought, “Really, that’s the best you could come up with?

School1

I didn’t want to be on the top of the food chain so much as off the bottom. I prayed to God, “If you give me this I know I can be happy.” I got contact lens and discovered punk rock and started dressing for my imaginary rock and roll life, and one day I heard a man whistle at me. I thought, “That is so mean…” I went home and sat in front of the mirror and thought, “Hmm. Maybe this could be workable.” That was a good day; I got my wish and it definitely helped. But it didn’t silence the deepest inner dialogue:

“You’re just fooling people.”

I wanted to live an urban, exciting life, I wanted music and cool clothes, to hang out with rock stars, I wanted to be a rock star, I wanted to see the world, I wanted cool friends, I wanted certain boys to love me. Later on I wanted to not hate my job and live in a nice apartment. I wanted a real relationship. Got all that.

“You don’t deserve this. Break it apart.”

While much of what I have is due to some serious determination on my part, I fully acknowledge that life has been exceedingly kind to me. And acknowledge that the information to be gleaned from this luck and progress is that while getting what you want is awesome, it is mostly temporary. You’re gonna lose some of it and bad things are gonna happen. Which means that no matter how much you are given, sometimes you’re still gonna feel terrible.

The lesson always comes back around to this: that the inner current of confusion and sadness that runs through me at times (and I’m guessing almost all of us) only changes or is assuaged in a profound way when I stop dancing around trying to force things outside of me to stay the same or to be as distracting and appealing as possible.

Which means that in this particular case, it is time to stop fighting to be loved by someone who no longer cares about me, to stop being angry, sad and sorry about the way things went down, to stop trying to figure it out, to stop trying to rewrite it in my head, to stop trying to convince people that I’m not a bad person, to stop reaching out, to just STOP. Stop it and be still and accept the death and learn how to give that love to myself so I don’t have to race around looking for it in every dark corner of the world. ‘Cause guess what? Boom! It was here all the time, Dorothy.

Ugh. Blargh. Feh. Poop emoji.

These illnesses and losses and tragedies that we mourn and fight so hard to change, to bargain away, to rework in our heads, are meant to feel this bad. They are meant to break us down, to shatter us in ways that leave us too exhausted to fight anymore. And eventually beat up enough to be open to rebuilding from the inside out.

I especially needed this message from the lecture: when we are in anger, blame, sadness, regret, etc., we can say to ourselves, “Let the one who is judging be next in line to be loved.”

And while we are flailing to ease the pain and fill the void, there is the simple act of saying to ourselves, “I love you.”  Even if we don’t believe it or know how to love ourselves, we can say it, and it is soothing to the heart and mind, and it brings us closer to the truth of why we are here. Why we are in these bodies being forced to learn one bullshit, ridiculous, stupid, excruciating, unfair, fuck you Universe lesson after another.

“How can they do this to me?” – I love you. “I can’t take it anymore.” I love you. “This is so wrong.” I love you. “I don’t want to feel this pain.” – I love you. I’m sorry you’re feeling this. I’m sorry I haven’t loved you enough in the past to make better choices for you. I love you. 

It’s so corny and not at all badass. I’d so much rather set everything on fire and watch my enemies burn. But it works. I feel at peace right now. I feel okay with being viewed as unimportant or a liability to someone who I thought would love me always. I feel free of the fear of being disliked for the first time in my life. You have shit to say about me? Too late, I’ve already said it to myself. And with a better vocabulary and a better understanding of where the knife cuts the deepest. The outside stuff is not going to hurt me as much anymore. I have others who do love me and I know that my job at this time is to focus on being healthy and grounded enough to give them the love and attention they deserve.

I have a beautiful 25 year old boyfriend whose presence is a constant reminder to act with thought and compassion. Because he is a gentle and loving soul, but also because I see my own 25 year old self in him and I know how hard it is to make sense of anything when you’re that young. It would be too easy for me to mess with his head, so I am always cautious of my motivations and the words that I use. I will have to release him into the wild sooner than later because the difference in age and experience level is too great. In some ways that’s sad but as I get clearer I see the perfection in that imperfection. And it’s not happening today so today I feel gratitude. I believe that our partnership was a gift given to me to help make the steps to this next chapter in my life a little less bloody, a little more comfortable and warm. And regardless of the status of our relationship I want to remain the safe and sane place for him that I haven’t always allowed for myself.

My demons are crafty and I don’t want them screwing with me or anyone else anymore. So I give them love too. I love you demons for dancing around and smashing stuff, for breaking my heart, for always working so hard to distract me and keep me occupied. You can take a break for a minute while I sit here quietly and try to practice this self-love crap.

Namaste, bitches. It’s a hard knock life and it goes by too quickly; be kind to yourselves.