New Age Cats

I’m back! Whee! So things are still going so stupidly well that I haven’t felt compelled to write–it feels like I need a dramatic topic or I got nothing. But if I’m honest it’s primarily that I prefer the Xbox to writing and only write when the urge forces me.

Today I left the house in a good, if harried mood, and stopped in a nearby card shop. The woman who owns it is lovely and I’ve been in social situations with her before. She is an acquaintance of the ex, but she’s never indicated that she’s remembered me. This time I walked in and knew immediately that she was going to ask about him. My intuition has been on fire lately, which is the primary focus of the blog today.

She asked me how he was, and I told her we have been split for some time. Then instead of leaving it at that, I did that female thing where I vomited up way too much information and then burst into tears like a total lunatic. And it was as much of a shock to me as it was to her. Where did that come from? Happily she wasn’t too put off, and I don’t have much more to say about it than that, except even at the best of times it’s a work in progress, and even when you think you’ve cleared a hurdle you discover that it’s more like one hurdle in an infinite series of the same hurdle until they get shorter and shorter and you finally get to move on to the next bullshit issue or confusion.

I just watched this Matt Kahn video, in which, among other smart things, he states that, for all of us, if things could have happened differently, they would have. I find that infinitely comforting, because I’m always second-guessing and always internally taking all the blame for not being somehow better, stronger, faster, smarter, kinder, more quiet, more patient, more faithful, prettier, skinnier, etc. If I had been better things would have been better. And the demise of that relationship is not fully cleared for me yet because I was never comfortable with my role in its death.

So this talk spoke to me quite profoundly. But I have a friend who found it upsetting. She was physically abused as a child and is not ready to accept that it was necessary or helpful in any way. And I have to respect that because it’s her experience. We all have our unique triggers and viewpoints. In any case, I would recommend giving it a listen if you are in a space where something like this can resonate for you.

Holy hell, did I just write that obscenely new agey sentence? Yuck.

Another one of the things in my life that I coulda woulda shoulda’d to death was my perfect little Pekingese dog Panda getting hit by a car ten or so years ago, because I chose to have him off leash. For a long time after the accident I replayed it obsessively over and over again in my mind: this time with him leashed, another time with him in my arms, not leaving the house at that exact time, not leaving the house at all. Just trying to change the outcome somehow. It was excruciating and impossible, no matter how my brain contorted. I can’t imagine what people who accidently murder or let a child die go through. That one haunted me for years.

The one good outcome is that recently I was able to talk a random guy on the street into leashing his chihuahua. It’s difficult to approach people about what they’re doing with their pets. I hate unsolicited advice from random strangers who don’t know my dog, but it was one of those perfect moments where we connected over our furbabies and I was able to express concern without judgment. I told him my story and he took heed. So maybe at the end of the day that’s the redemption. You can’t fix the past but you can create a better future for yourself or someone else or both.

So recently my cat Roquefort died, very peacefully at the vet’s office. I got a mountain of condolences via facebook and texts and I thank everyone for their kindness. I am actually fine with it. Because I dealt with the death of my dog in such a violent and abrupt manner, I handle putting them down voluntarily easily. It’s not a happy occasion, but it’s not a dark one either. I consider it holy work. And as with all peaceful animal deaths in my life this one brought valuable information and opened up some channels which feel worthy of sharing.

Roquefort was the smartest and most annoying cat I have ever known. I adopted him from a woman who had a house full of Persian and Himalayan fosters. Roq was the most beautiful cat I’ve seen, 4″ long silver fur which was white at the root and black at the tip, gorgeous big green eyes and a full, elegant tail. He looked like a Fancy Feast cat. But he was getting his ass kicked by all of the other cats in the house and once I had him for a while I understood their reasons.

He never shut up. Never. Just an incessant litany of high-pitched complaints and trills, and he was always one meow away from mastering human speech. Sam says that Roquefort is the only animal he knew that could communicate on Facetime, because unlike my other pets he recognized when someone was speaking directly to him through the phone, and he responded.

But he also fluttered about in a constant tizzy, like a feline Aunt Pittypat. He didn’t like it if I rearranged anything in the apartment and would explain in detail about how this thing didn’t go in that place. He had to eat in a separate room with the door closed because distractions took him off his appetite. He disliked strangers and would tell them so with a verbal refusal if they tried to touch him. Yet he loved me with unbounding passion. He would have been happy if I carried him around like a baby all day long, and insisted on sleeping as close to my face as possible at night. Which was unbelievably annoying because he could never get settled properly and squawked at any movement. I called him the murderer of sleep.

My other cat, Albert, or as I call him The Beep, found Roquefort equally irritating. But The Beep is gentle and mellow and treated him kindly, as we all did. Instead of smacking Roquefort when he was being too much, Beep would cheerfully slow-motion mush one of his big feet into Roq’s face until he complained and went away. And occasionally Beep, who has a great sense of humor, would wait behind a door to pounce on Roquefort because it was hilarious to watch him get the vapors.

But all this aside, Roquey was sweet as the day is long and I did love him. And I had him for many years. I estimate he was 15 or older by the time he went.

He started winding down a few months ago. He was eating less and less and getting too skinny. I brought him to the vet, who said it was the usual thing with old cats, their kidneys decline and I was supposed to give him an IV of fluid every three days. Which means you have to jam a needle in their back and then hold them in place for ten minutes while the fluid moves into their body. Suffice to say we had mixed results at best. I could never keep him still for the full time and there was a lot of emotional argument going on for the short time that he would tolerate it.

I bought twenty different types of food trying to get him to eat more. Beep was thrilled and ate it all. Roq just complained, and Samara could hear him when we talked on the phone, so we would yell in unison in fake exasperation, “Go into the light, Roquefort!”

Pretty quickly his poor appetite went down to nothing. I could get him to eat a few bites but that was it. I still didn’t think it was time, but after about a week of that I woke up at 3 am with him staring down at me, quiet for once in his fucking life, and I knew immediately that the time had arrived. I can’t explain how I heard it, but it was loud and clear. He said, “Today is the day.” And I said, “Okay, buddy.”

When I got up a few hours later I didn’t try to get him to eat. He slept in his favorite spot waiting while I called my vet and made an appointment for that afternoon. It was so easy and gentle when we got there; I’ve never experienced a cat so in control of the choice. He was quiet and calm and only protested a bit when the first needle went in. After it was done I stayed with him for a little while and rubbed his giant, fuzzy feet between my fingers. He always hated that and I had told him many times that when he was dead I would touch his feet as much as I wanted and there was nothing he could do about it. But eventually you have to leave their little bodies laying there alone on that metal table. My vet had been treating Roquefort for so long that he gave me a hug before I left.

This is an ordinary tale that people go through every day. But what isn’t ordinary, for me at least, is how clearly the communication came through. And now some channel seems to have opened for me with animals. I was thinking about what I should do for the Beep; I don’t want to get any more cats for a while but I was worried about him being lonely or bored. And then I heard it loud and clear from him as I pet him, pondering the question. “The dog is enough, I want to be the only cat for a while.” The words were just there all of a sudden. And now this new, happy Beep has blossomed. I’ve never seen him more content and it appears that he’s come out of a shell that was forced upon him by Roquefort’s more aggressive neediness.

My neighbor across the hall is out of town and I’m taking care of her cat. We trade off petsitting and it’s quite convenient. But I don’t really love this cat. She’s not that pretty to look at, she’s obese, not friendly and hisses most times when you touch her. She’s kind of a dick, really. But I’ve been taking care of her for years and we have a decent truce going. She comes out and talks to me and wants to me to sit with her while she eats. Once she did start coming out from under the bed and talking to me I understood her very clearly. She most definitely didn’t like being left on her own by her person. But that might not be communication as much as observation.

My neighbor always asks me what she’s saying though, and I tell her what I think. The cat, like Roquefort, always has very clear opinions.

Now the cat is dying. Just like Roquefort, she hasn’t been eating. The first day I was there she came out and I told her how many times the sun would go up and come down until her person was back and she got so mad that she turned around and went back under the bed. The next day I tried to pet her under there and she hissed. So I was like, all right, fuck you, made sure she had food and left, and that’s how it was for a couple of days.

Then I thought, I know this cat, I know she doesn’t feel good right now and she’s gotta be lonely, let me put my ego aside and meet her on her terms. Which means no touching unless she asks for it. So I sat at the end of the bed and said, “I know you don’t feel great and you want your mom to come home. But it’s going to be you and me for a few days and I’d like it if you could let me know if you need anything or if there’s anything you want me to do.” She meowed quietly and I got the message that she was just trying to maintain as best she could while waiting for her human.

I thought that was a pretty okay communication and I went to the kitchen to check the food. To my surprise, she came running out after me. She looks terrible right now. She’s still fat but also bony at the same time. And she’s weak and wobbly. But she came out. So I sat on the floor with her and opened various baggies of cat food to see if anything appealed. She sniffed them politely and declined, then drank quite a bit of water. We sat together for ten minutes or so before she went back under the bed.

My mother, an energy channeler/healer, as most of you know, keeps telling me that we’re moving from a 3rd dimension reality into 5th dimension and as we clear out our old baggage from this lifetime and others we become more receptive to the higher frequencies.

She also says that anyone “awake” who has chosen to incarnate at this time has come in with more than one issue to work on, since this is such an intense time of movement and change. It’s a crash course for many of us, so try to have compassion for yourself when you feel overwhelmed or stuck. Or if you act crazy in a card shop. It’s time to be gentle with ourselves, especially with all the terrible things going on in the world around us.

I believe most of what she tells me but I’m also petulant as fuck about it ever since we were promised that big shift in 2012 and nothing happened. I’m a skeptical believer now. It was just business as usual in 2012 after a buttload of internet promises and then by 2015 I headed into some of the saddest days of my life. So fuck you empty new age predictions! It is what it is what it is and we all have to go to work and pay bills and do dishes and wait in the grocery line behind people who take their sweet goddamn time putting their money away while you’re clearly straining under the weight of a giant bottle of olive oil and 19 lbs of laundry detergent in that crappy plastic basket with the metal handle that cuts into your hand. I watch my friends go through all kinds of crap that they don’t deserve. But I can’t deny that my life and psyche have shifted quite a bit in the last few years and I believe it’s largely because of the work that I’ve put in to understand the deeper truths around my stuff.

I would have never put in that work if I wasn’t forced to do so by discomfort. My mother also has a great saying that once you learn a lesson for real there’s no need to repeat it, and that it’s a tool you can access in your toolbox forever. Courtney can keep the cake, I want to be the girl with the most tools so I don’t have to do this shit all over again.

So now life is good and all of a sudden I’m hearing my animals. I’m not sure if it’s a global shift or if it’s because I’ve done the work or simply because I’m a crazy animal lady and I no longer feel the urge to tamp that bit of crazy down. Either way it’s something I’m interested in exploring, and I’ll keep you posted. And I’d love it if you did the same and reported back to me. Just sit quietly with them and listen. If you don’t hear anything, that’s okay. We all have different means of intuition and ways in which we are supposed to serve and be served. And not all animals are as determined to be heard as Roquefort was.

Namaste, Beauties.

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Addendum!

I got so many emails and comments on that last blog that it seems it needed a follow up, keeping in mind that I am not an expert on anything except my own experience.

Some people expressed a great sadness that they have never heard from their loved ones who have passed. Which is a pretty valid reason to be bummed out. I don’t know why we can’t have more knowledge of how it works on the other side. Maybe we wouldn’t focus on whatever we’re supposed to be doing/learning here if we already knew. I will say that Codie told me through a reading that she is focused on helping the LGBT community from her side of the veil and as a result has more freedom to be around the living. I also get the impression that she’s acting as a guide to some of her friends now.

My father died suddenly and unexpectedly when I was young, the first year I came to NYC to go to college. I was unable to process it properly at the time, it was just too heavy and life-altering for my maturity level. So I would get hysterical during fights with boyfriends and then find myself talking at my dead dad while laying on a floor crying over the dude du jour. Eventually I realized that I wasn’t nearly as upset about the boyfriends as I was about his loss.

Around that same time I was getting into listening to guided meditations. I knew I was fucked up and that seemed one way to quell anxiety and possibly move forward out of an emotional morass. Which it is, but it’s not a quick fix, that is for damn sure. But a couple of times while listening my dad sort of “entered” into the meditation and I was able to work out some things with him. He also visited me in dreams a few times. It was never a clear voice or a straightforward conversation, which I hungered for. It was more vague than that. I still missed him terribly and suffered the usual daddy issues, but it did help me heal. Dreams are an easy way for our deeper consciousness to roam freely and communicate openly, so don’t always assume that a dream is just a dream. Often it’s more.

My recommendation would be to keep an awareness that people we love can enter our psyche and energy in all kinds of ways and it’s important to stay grounded and clear in order to receive any messages or wisdom or whatever.

And in that direction, my mother is constantly telling me I need to clear my energy field. When most of us interact with people in the world, with electronics, when we enter crowded spaces, we react to and “ingest” the energy in the field. This can clog up our ability to receive intuition or messages. It can also make us cranky, cause us to ingest more alcohol and drugs than is good for us, put us in a state of anxiety, all those good things that happen when we aren’t centered and clear.

This is a great basic list of ways to clear yourself: https://www.restoreemotionalbalance.com/energy-clearing-techniques.html. If you google energy clearing a ton of suggestions will come up.

I have gotten in the habit of simply tapping my solar plexus and saying, “Clear!” to myself when I am out in public and don’t have the time or quiet space to do some big meditation or ritual. I think we have reached a point in our spiritual evolution where we can work pretty quickly if we know how. And if you do any kind of service or emotionally expensive job you need to be able to release on the spot here and there. I don’t always remember but when I do I’m less drained and more pleasant at the end of a bar shift or a loud show. I also find that I am less susceptible to energy vampires when I am clear and grounded.

Anyway, I am happy to share what I know, so feel free to ask. But I have to reiterate that I am no expert. I’m just muddling through like everyone else.

I want to leave you with this. Pride was this weekend and my beloved Michael Schmidt conceived and created a costume for Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters) that took my breath away. He put all of the hateful slogans from the Westboro Baptist group on a caftan, which was then torn away to reveal the gayest, happiest rainbow outfit possible. It was such a beautiful way to render those words null and take back the power.

Namaste, bitches!

More Dead Friends

My dead friends speak to me sometimes. I used to think I was imagining it or creating it in my head when thinking about them. But I don’t think that’s it anymore.

All kids fantasize about having superpowers–reading minds or bending spoons or making people bleed out of every orifice on command. Or is that last one just me? My fantasies about being psychic also included talking to angels or dramatically saving lives, somehow being extra and other, like the X Men. Then we grow up and life turns out to be far more complicated and mundane and no one appears to us in a halo of light to guide the way. We ruin relationships and work jobs we hate and argue with customer service reps and in the process discover that while we can include people we love in our orbits, we are on our own when it comes to feelings, creating destinies, learning lessons, repairing mistakes.

It sucks.

Only recently, after a lifetime of trying to come to terms with my ordinariness, I’ve come to realize that I actually do have a small thread of connection. I rarely see anything, there’s no glowing light or beautiful visions. Instead I hear my friends’ voices in my head.

I used to talk to Joey Ramone sometimes. I don’t know why, we were friends but not in a super close kind of way. But he would visit on occasion and he was a warm presence for years after he died. He hasn’t been around for a while though, maybe he is in a different body and life now. I also have a harmless female ghost in my apartment that I have made peace with after living together for 20 years. I did see her once, when I was half asleep so it could have been a dream, but I don’t think so. She is a tiny black lady in 30’s dress and she was happily digging in my jewelry box. Pieces of jewelry will disappear and reappear once in a while; she likes pretty things but she always returns what she borrows. And lastly, when I had a boyfriend whose mother died in a difficult way, I could feel her hanging around me. I think because he didn’t believe in things like that and it was a way for her to communicate her presence. She never spoke to me but I felt her love for him.

When my friend Codie died she was all over me. She wouldn’t shut up. It was wonderful, because she was/is hilarious and her death was a great loss to me. So I still had her in some capacity, and she had new wisdom from being on the other side. It was great to feel she was near and had my back, as much as someone on the other side can have your back. Because again, see paragraph two, life sucks and we’re still terribly, cruelly on our own most of the time.

I am surrounded by psychics and spiritual healers, partially because I’m interested and primarily because my mother is one. It’s strange. My siblings and I call it “Momaganda” because while the information we get from her is often invaluable, at times it’s also colored with very Mom-esque opinions about what her children should or should not be doing. But I ask for her help when I am struggling and she helps me get clear on the true causes and issues underneath whatever is happening on the surface.

One person in my mother’s circle is especially adept at talking to dead people. He can’t go into some ghosty places where many people have died because he gets overwhelmed by the chatter. He hears and sees it all clearly. He’s generous with his gifts and usually does readings for me when I’m home for a visit in the summer, in which ever since Codie died, she dominates with her advice and jokes.

A couple of years ago, when I was in a very sad place, confused and mourning the devastating loss of the relationship that I thought would be there for me forever, full of self-loathing, pretty much hanging on by the thinnest of emotional threads, I got one of those Codie readings. And this time she hammered the fuck out of me. She said, through our friend, all of the things I secretly and not so secretly feared about myself and my trajectory. It was a good hour and a half of being yelled at and arguing back, with hot tears in my eyes. Which is weird when the fight is with your dead friend through your other friend.

I was so hurt and angry by the end of it. It felt like a violation somehow, like a hit and run. After that I stopped speaking to Codie in my head completely. If I heard her voice I shut it down. I told her I didn’t want to hear anything from her. I couldn’t forgive her somehow, even though I knew maybe it wasn’t really her, and that it was filtered through the eyes and words of a mutual friend who, although a stellar clairvoyant, has his own opinions and is maybe too close to me to be objective. And it was split in my head. I wasn’t mad at human, live and in person Codie, I was mad at nebulous, maybe made up, dead Codie.

Fast forward to now and my life is awesome, the best it’s ever been. I love my job, I’m traveling, I’m moving into a nicer place later in the year, I have amazing, fun, loving, loyal friends, my pets are healthy. My romantic life is strange at times and certainly unconventional, but it’s still a safe place for me, which is new. I’ve come to love and accept myself, which is very new.

I was in London again recently because two of the bands my company supports played Camden Rocks (The Tip and The Sweet Things). They ddn’t fully need me but it was a good excuse to hang out for a few days with friends, cool people and cute boys while listening to great music and networking with like-minded industry types. I made sure the musicians didn’t starve, handled hotel issues, organized cabs to and from places and tried not to yell at the constantly incompetent/uninterested British servers.

It was all fabulous, except that traveling triggers my bad brain. I am super routine oriented as a means of staving off anxiety. I usually unpack as soon as I get into my hotel room and organize my things in a way that makes me feel comfortable and in control. While most people want to spend every minute in a new city socializing and checking out the sights, I need a lot of downtime in between exciting moments to recuperate and ground. It’s tenuous, and even with precautions anxiety and self-doubt can creep in if I’m too tired or hungover or there is discord with anyone. Which there is bound to be when you’re traveling with a large pack of rock and roll egos and artistic temperaments.

“No matter where you go, there you are” has been a constant life lesson. Yet, despite that, and despite a lot of pain and loss, I live a magical existence. There is a movie-like quality to the things that happen to me, the scrapes and adventures I get into, the gifts I receive. I have been given much, including the ability to manifest most of what I fantasize. But no matter what is happening or where I’m at, no matter how grand or special, there’s still that dark spot in my brain that I can drop into at any time, that makes me feel that it’s all pointless.

So I was sitting in a nice big tub that someone else would have to scrub for me in the morning as long as I didn’t put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door, and I sighed happily and put my head back and shut my eyes. All was well in that moment. And then I heard Codie’s frigging Queens Italian voice bray out: “Okay, bitch, can we get over this now?”

“God damnit!” I opened my eyes and said petulantly (in my head). “You never fucking apologized.”

She said, “I did repeatedly! You have refused to hear it.”

I said, “Okay. Fine. Yes. I know I’m being a big baby about it.”

And she said, “Remember when I told you a few years ago that there were some good surprises headed your way?”

I said, “Yeah, it’s been pretty great lately.”

She said, “More is coming.”

So of course I burst into tears in a tub in a foreign country, miles from home, talking to my dead friend in my head like a total lunatic. But since I let her back in it feels that I’ve given myself permission to trust that clairaudience that’s always tried to get through. I always looked for a big cosmic fanfare, and it’s not that. It’s just a voice in my head. Sometimes it’s the voice of a dead friend, sometimes it’s a bit of kindness or inner wisdom during an ordinary day, “Don’t eat that, eat this”. Random, helpful nudges that come from a deeper place, a deeper wisdom, that looking back always came through and were mostly ignored.

I’m paying close attention to all of it now. Even if its just new age tomfoolery, the advice is good and it’s nice to be on a healthy autopilot. My day to day runs more smoothly when not overthinking it.

So I started writing this post about a week ago and sadly before I finished another beautiful friend, Georgie Seville, died unexpectedly. I haven’t heard from him like I did from Codie right after she died, and I’m not expecting to, but it is a coincidence of note.

I asked Codie to check in on him and she told me he is recuperating. What that means exactly, I don’t know. I do know that he is heavily mourned on this side–he was a lovely, special human and it’s a great loss. So I’m sending him and the people who mourn him much loving energy. And maybe the assurance that if you are sad that you will never see him again, you might be surprised to hear from him in a quiet moment. There is more magic to be had than we realize, it’s just softer and more delicate than what we had once imagined.

To shut up and listen is easier said than done. But it is possible. And sometimes regardless of your resistance, the message finds its way through anyway. So thanks as always Codie for your patience, your attention, and your steadfast love and friendship that will not be silenced even in death. Please take care of our Georgie.

Nadege

I’ve been debating on whether to write this because it’s a mixed emotional bag and I don’t want it to get misconstrued. But Nadege deserves to be remembered and I can feel that she wants me to put this out there.

When I first saw Nadege, in the late 80’s, she was a drug addict bumming change on Avenue A. She looked like an exotic cat fallen on hard times, slightly ratty around the edges but compelling. Her eyes were remarkable, green and slanted, wide-set in a face with wide cheekbones and a quirky slash of a mouth. She wasn’t classically pretty, but she was beautiful. She was sullen, so of course I liked her. I gave her all the change in my purse.

I had a nightmare of a boyfriend throughout that time period who then became my husband for a short time in 1990. He was beautiful, also with green cat eyes wide-set in a face with wide cheekbones, also a drug addict, although on again off again due to my constant codependent hammering. He was the most faithless human being I have known then or since. He was also always broke and had no problem letting me cover all the bills while he smoked weed and cheated on me nonstop with whatever stripper or grade C groupie that was available on any given night. I was so in love with him that I couldn’t see straight.

Usually he turned his forays into new vaginal territory into sordid little affairs that always ended badly. We had a pattern: I would find out, freak out, attack him and the female either physically or verbally, break up with him in a huge screaming match, he would continue to fuck the new person and some extraneous others until he got bored and sad, then come crawling back. I would usually find a really nice boyfriend and then ruin it to take him back. It was all awful, and whenever I think about it I feel deeply grateful that I will never have to take that cosmic class again.

So one day I showed up at boyfriend’s band rehearsal to pick him up for the night, and Nadege was there. I didn’t know her name at that point and it seemed suspect, so I asked pointedly, “Why is that junkie here?” He told me that she was newly sober and hanging out with his sober singer. Hmm… She wouldn’t look at me and since we were the only two non-band members in the room, it felt rude and uncomfortable. I decided I did not like her so much after all.

You can guess where this is going. Shortly after that boyfriend started exhibiting all the signs of having started a new affair, which was essentially not coming home when he was supposed to and acting smug when I grilled him about it. After a couple of days of my haranguing he admitted it and I broke up with him…again.

I quickly sleuthed out who the latest one was–that fucking French doper. No wonder she was such a bitch at the rehearsal. I hit the ceiling. I want my change back!

I would see her out at clubs and it made me crazy. I wanted to set her on fire. I was at the top of the NYC band hierarchy at that point and had a pretty extensive gang of rabid girlfriends who would back whatever I decreed, so I advised everyone that if they spoke to her they were dead to me. So they glared at her dutifully and one time at the Cat Club I spit a big wad of gum into her hair. She told me later on that someone pointed it out to her and she said, “Oh yeah, that’s Raff…”

Boyfriend quickly tired of this conquest and I missed him, so when he snuck into my building and left a giant, elaborately carved pumpkin in front of my apartment door on Halloween, I took him back.

A couple of months later found me in sweatpants carrying a bag of laundry heading to my apartment on First Street. I saw Nadege walking in my direction and became hot with rage. As we passed each other I spit in her face, a ridiculous gesture considering the giant bag in my arms that I could barely see over.

Nadege called after me in her thick accent, “Raffaele! I want to talk to you!”

I said, “Go fuck yourself, you fucking bitch. I will fucking kick your ass right here in the street!”

She was unfazed and shouted at the back of my head,

“Wait a meenute! Listen to me. What I deed was wrong. But I ‘ave paid for eet. I paid. Hee made me pay.”

I stopped and turned around. She continued,

“I ‘ave paid. You ‘ave paid. Eee never pays. Eee should pay!!”

All rage drained out of me. I set the laundry down on the sidewalk and eyeballed her up and down. I sighed and said, “Do you want to come up for some tea?”

She smiled and said “Yes.”

Much to boyfriend’s chagrin, we became immediate best friends. She began dating the sober singer of his band. When I left boyfriend/then husband for good, she helped me pack all of his shit into garbage bags and lug it down five flights from my place, into a cab, and then up three flights into his singer’s apartment before they got back from a trip to LA. We both dated guys in The Black Crowes for half a second and she comforted me when it became clear that Chris Robinson was just not that into me while Johnny Colt was way more into her.

Then our paths diverged. I had my band and my constant search for enlightenment. Nadege had meetings and her sober friends but she could never get comfortable. She hated stripping but it’s all she knew how to do to make money. She had countless, often brilliant, get rich quick schemes but she didn’t know how to follow through with any of them. She could have been a professional dancer but never had the training. I would stop by her apartment to hang out and she would lay in bed with the blinds drawn, chain-smoking and complaining in her thick accent. It felt claustrophobic.

We all knew she wasn’t going to be able to stay clean. She stopped going to meetings and started this weird polyamorous affair with an ex-boyfriend and an angelic looking Irish kid that Madonna put in her sex book. Nadege fell in love with the kid and obsessed about the two men all day long. Then she met Christopher Walken at a party and felt that a friend she was with had cockblocked her. It was as if she felt a window to new possibilities had been opened for a second and then slammed shut onto her fingers. She couldn’t get over it. She watched “King of New York” over and over again. She’d say, “Wait. Wait! Watch this part!” Rewinding and studying his face in close-ups. She figured out where he lived and sat across the street for hours. Once she had a pizza delivered to his place to see if he would answer the door.

I tried to talk to her. I tried to talk her out of things like that, to motivate her to fix her life, but she couldn’t. I thought we were alike but we weren’t. I grew up in a dysfunctional but loving Midwestern family and had been taught that when things sucked, you suck it up and get on with making it suck less. Nadege had been abandoned and abused and was never given the same tools or support. She was, inside, an eternally sweet, broken little girl.

I played a show opening for Motorhead at the Ritz wearing an outfit that was a direct copy of her style, which was always on point and ahead of anyone else. I had also had a couple of outfits custom made copied from things she had created. She was upset, and told me so. I didn’t understand her reaction; in my mind we were the same person, why would she care? Looking back, it’s easy to understand: I had everything and was still callously usurping the little bit of turf that she had to herself.

Shortly after that she dove headfirst into full junkie mode and we stopped hanging out. She would call me at weird hours of the night to check in, always with shocking stories of coke-paranoia barricaded apartments and holes in arms so big that the plastic part of the syringe went in. I listened patiently and clucked at the bad stuff and told her to stop it and that I loved her. The bodega underneath my apartment started selling coke, so when she went there to buy she would hit my buzzer and I would come down and give her a hug. It was like she was an occasional visitor from another, much darker planet.

She started hooking on 12th Street. She lost her front teeth and her skin looked scary bad when I would run into her on St. Marks Place. I managed Coney Island High and watched her from the window in front of my desk, going in and out, in and out of a building full of cheap rooming houses that she lived in directly across the street. She told me a john paid for her to live there. We existed mere feet from each other and couldn’t have been further apart.

Then one day she called me to tell me she was clean. It was a miracle. She’d gotten a deadly infection in her knee from a bit of dislodged needle, and once in the hospital friends had grabbed the opportunity to hustle her off to rehab in Florida. I was so happy for her. She was happy, she told me she didn’t think it was possible and she had been waiting to die that whole time.

She hated Florida. She got a job as some sort of security at an apartment complex and rode a golf cart around at night, which I thought was hilarious. She called me regularly to report in on how bored she was. And eventually, because she couldn’t support herself in the States, she decided to go back to France. She began painting, and she was great at it. She painted furniture and clothing and eventually gorgeous, colorful, spooky paintings that came straight out of the deepest recesses of her soul. I was so happy for her; finally her creative nature was manifesting itself.

But that excitement was short lived when I realized the dynamic had not changed. The phone calls were still a stream of consciousness revolving around all things Nadege. She never wondered or asked what I was up to; I just listened and gave advice which was ignored. Her mood was still depressed.

I was over it; the novelty of having a somber French junkie BFF had worn off years ago. She came to visit New York and was a huge pain in the ass the entire time. She had gained weight and refused to wear anything but five inch heels because she thought it made her look thinner. She was broke and couldn’t walk in the shoes but wanted to shop. So I paid for cabs to take her to the cheaper stores in our neighborhood. She couldn’t find anything that fit her and complained incessantly. She broke her heel so I paid for a cab to take her to the shoe store. Then while she was waiting for it to be fixed I took her out for food. She ordered pasta and mashed potatoes and dessert and complained about being fat. I sighed and paid the bill.

It was exhausting in a manner that went beyond physical or emotional. It snapped something in me. I couldn’t bear to continue the same circular conversations we’d been having since we met. I desperately wanted to be happy; she seemed determined to remain as unhappy as possible. She sent me messages through myspace that I mostly ignored, until I finally broke down and told her how bad that visit was for me and how rough it was to be her straight man for decades. She said that she “wasn’t going to take my inventory” (an NA/AA phrase) and didn’t want me to take hers. And that she loved me.

Agh. I felt bad. I loved her too. I never wanted to hurt her. I just didn’t have much more to give.

More time passed. She continued to call me faithfully every couple of months. I picked up one out of every three or four phone calls, when I had the time and patience to listen to her talk about herself. I hate chatting on the phone, it makes me anxious. She loved it. She sent me pictures of the intense paintings she did and insisted upon compliments. I told her I wrote, numerous times, she never looked or asked me about it. She said she wanted to write a book about herself. I rolled my eyes. It was infuriating, although truthfully it would make a great story.

One day she told me, very matter of factly through facebook, that she had lung cancer. My first thought was “Of course she does.” She’d been smoking and wanting to die since I met her. It pissed me off. Her life had been such a colossal waste of beauty, grace, intelligence and creativity. Just a giant wallow in never-ending French junkie existential bullshit. And now she was going to die. Great. Just great. She would finally have a real excuse to lay in bed all day long. My second thought was, “Shit. This is really happening.”

We continued the same way we had. She called me regularly; I ignored most of the calls. Finally I called her back and she told me she was now bedridden for the most part, that she had found her connection to God, and that it comforted her. She had people taking care of her. She didn’t sound happy exactly, but she sounded positive. It was nice to hear her funny little voice. We covered as much as we could in that call. I told her that I loved her and I wanted her to feel okay, and that this hard life was almost done for her. I knew it was the last time I would speak to her, although she would call again.

Our mutual friend Robert Butcher was the one to tell me that she was in the hospital and had only hours to live. He gave me the number to call, which I didn’t use. I thought about it. I looked at it for a while. But I felt that I’d said everything and I was still so mad at her. It felt as if another call would be continuing to entertain the nonsense. I didn’t want to concede. I know this doesn’t make sense; I’m sure some people are going to think it heartless, but it wasn’t that. I love her. I loved her. And underneath the defensive irritation, I was relieved for her more than anything, happy that she was so close to freedom. I wanted to meditate on it while she lay mostly unconscious, and send her the loving energy that I could. Which I did.

When we are very young, we have no idea that time will pass so quickly. We think opportunities and beauty will flutter around us forever like butterflies in an eternal summer. I will keep Nadege in my heart and mind’s eye in that youth and beauty and promise. I know that she is near me and she is free. I’m grateful for the lessons, for the unconditional love she had for me, and for her patience with my impatience. There will never be another like her.

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PHOTO BY ROBERT BUTCHER

Gypsy Shag

I don’t write about politics because I’m not qualified. Politics have always bored me and I am only now paying attention because it’s necessary.

Our country is so polarized right now that most people have drawn a line in the sand and will not tolerate crossover from the other side. I’m there. I want to live my liberal life talking liberal things with my liberal friends and in my mind all things Trump and red/orange are the racist, misogynist, greedy, nature-razing devil we repel as best we can via protests, voting, petitions, and facebook posts. Doesn’t seem like much of an arsenal, unfortunately.

I usually delete anyone uber-right leaning out of my social media friend lists. It’s not the most open-minded thing to do, but it’s less extreme than many of my friends. I have a few Republican friends and I am able to hear them out and we joke back and forth. But we are careful to be gentle with one another because we’re shaking hands over a minefield. They let me post what I want without comment, I do the same for them. It’s a small group, because most of us are too strident with rage and frustration at this point to entertain that kind of courteous finesse.

So I have this childhood friend…

I grew up in a traditional upper middle class Midwestern home. Mom, dad, me, four siblings younger than me (Catholic). My parents worked their way through college and my dad ended up making a decent amount of money while my mother stayed home and did mostly traditional mom stuff. We lived comfortably and without want, at least until he died unexpectedly during my first year of college in NYC.

My best friend in early childhood (grade school) was the second to the youngest of five sisters, parents divorced. It was a classic 70’s divorce–their father lived a happy bachelor life with his new girlfriend in a house on a lake. They had a pontoon boat and booze in the fridge. They were fun and loose and we loved going to their place in the summer. Their mother had full custody of the girls, worked a full time job and wasn’t nearly as fun. She was overweight and angry. She was weary. She was a caring woman and did her best, but even at 9 or 10 years old I could see that she was pissed off. And why wouldn’t she be?

The three older sisters were the most beautiful creatures I’d ever seen–cheerleaders with athletic, lithe frames and long, wavy blonde hair. They would lay out in bikinis for hours in their backyard in the summer; their tan, concave stomachs glinting with baby oil in the sun, the radio playing top 40, which was great back then. They were funny and sharp and had no problem getting boyfriends as they marched fearlessly through the world, always in the right clothes. In my mind they were the real life incarnation of Charlie’s Angels and I worshiped them as goddesses.

Things were great with my friend, who was the second to youngest. We talked about how much we hated both of our younger sisters and taped songs off of the radio holding the mike to the speaker and drew pictures of horses and fantasized about owning horses and had sleepovers that involved many snacks and marking the softcore sex passages in romance novels. There was an ease and ability to be ourselves that you only find with a handful of people throughout your life.

Until we put away childish things. Around the 5th or 6th grade everyone began noticing that my friend was blossoming to be even more gorgeous than her stunning sisters. I on the other hand, was not faring as well. I lumbered awkwardly under the weight of coke-bottle glasses, crippling shyness, and a terrible haircut that resulted from a miscommunication with my mom. I was too uncoordinated and introverted for cheerleading. The neighborhood boys were not amused or interested.

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I avoided my friend and socializing in general, retreating into a heavy shell of dark classic literature, where I could stay in my room reading and fantasizing about being the plain, yet noble and brilliant heroine. It was easy enough to separate because we went to different schools, me private Catholic, her public, although we rode the same bus. I began sitting with the chubby, acne-prone red-headed girl who sat closer to the front of the bus, while my friend sat in the back with the cool kids. She would have included me; it was my choice to move. The chasm between myself and those kids was too wide for me. But it made me even sadder. I liked the chubby girl, but I didn’t love her like my friend. And I felt angry that the world so capriciously divided people into worthy or unworthy categories.

Shortly after that period my family moved to a new town, so the issue became moot. I think we might have written letters back and forth for a while, and much later, I think the year after our senior year of high school, I traveled back to visit her. I was doing better then; I wore contact lens and listened to punk rock and had a cool boyfriend who adored me, all which gave me confidence enough for the trip.

But shortly after arrival I dropped back into the old insecurities. She was even more gorgeous and athletic and everything she wore looked amazing on her. I was beautiful too; everyone looks great when they’re 18, but I didn’t know it or feel it.

Always the writer, I penned copious pages of notes to my boyfriend describing everything around me. I don’t remember what I said but it was shitty enough that she stopped speaking to me when I unwittingly forgot them behind for her to read. I wasn’t mature enough to understand what I was feeling and I must have said some very mean things.

Decades passed before we reconnected. I am fuzzy on the details. She says that she reached out first when my father died. I do know at some point she sent back some sunglasses I’d also left behind with a letter outlining her reasons for not responding. I felt ill when I read it–so guilty and sad. It nagged at me for years, until I finally sent a letter to her mother’s house apologizing. My friend responded right away. We exchanged photos and became friends on facebook. She was divorced with children, a runner, a businesswoman, still beautiful. I was me–pets, tattoos, rock and roll, organized chaos. Very different, but it was such a relief to feel that we had healed and connected.

Or so I thought. Because politics.

There we are–me and my liberal kinsfolk, my mom, my friends, my siblings, all posting away feverishly about baby goats, global warming, corporate greed, #45, and Kavanaugh. All 100% in agreement that he should not be on the Supreme Court.

My friend started quietly with small disagreeing sentences on my mother’s posts. Dr. Ford was coached to frame this innocent man. She’s lying. She’s evil.

I though, is it possible? Can it be? Is my friend one of them??

deatheaters

Then I posted a statement about rich old white men and the shit really hit the fan. You could feel the angry keystrokes as she hammered me in comments about unfairly labeling wealthy old white guys. She was PISSED.

My reaction was, “Huh??” It seemed an unnecessary cause to get behind. But I kept it polite because I don’t want to fight with friends, especially ones that I already screwed up on. Plus my current crew is rabid and brilliant, much better informed than I, and I knew would handle it toute suite. Which they did:

And which of course made things all the more intense. But my friend stayed focused on me and called me out on what she viewed as a privileged upbringing and our problems of the past. The energy was weirdly emotional and confusing.

My guru mom opined privately that maybe something beyond politics, something deeper and more personal, could be coming up from within her to be examined and healed. Beyond superficial details, I don’t really know what my friend’s inner life has been since we were children. Maybe some crazy shit happened that now fosters a protective urge toward wealthy conservative dudes. Or maybe my life with my (outwardly) intact family unit looked better from the outside than hers felt?

And sadly, maybe it’s simply that some relationships aren’t meant to last forever and you can’t fix everything. Maybe in some cases it’s like trying to glue a broken vase together. You can make it look decent but it’s always on the verge of coming apart, with glue lines and chips missing.

I feel bad about that. I’m sorry that I hurt her. I’m always sorry for any hurt I cause. Except maybe my ex because I apologized so many times that it became a mantra that almost killed me, while he never owned up to anything. He can eat a bag of unwashed dicks and then apologize as many times while picking pubes out of his teeth.

After that initial sadness, I realized I am no longer so deeply invested in making sure that she has forgiven me or sees me as a good person. There’s this new, quiet release of not having to internalize all these outside opinions and I don’t feel the fear of being “less than” anymore. I’m doing the best I can at whatever level I’m at, at the time. Most of the time most of us are doing the best we can. She genuinely believes in her politics, I believe she’s wrong, nothing more to discuss. Life moves forward and people come in and go out of our lives according to the randomness of the Universe.

The upside to getting the shit beat out of me–by my ex’s lack of empathy, loyalty or accountability, my other ex’s girlfriend going for the jugular because I posted a couple of 20 year old photos, Spiker and Sponge’s pathetic but pervasive laptop-based smear campaign, and finally my childhood best friend freaking out on me for labeling rich old white guys as rich old white guys–is that I finally, blissfully, magically, miraculously DON’T GIVE TOO MUCH OF A FUCK ABOUT WHAT OUTSIDE PEOPLE ARE THINKING OF ME.

This is an entirely new feeling, and it’s AWESOME.

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So the lessons for now are:

–People can be obnoxious for no easily apparent reasons that probably have nothing to do with you.

–Sometimes shit is too broken to fix but it’s okay because other new shit comes in to take its place. Sometimes you were supposed to break it in order to make space. So forgive yourself once you’ve done what you can to make it right.

–Republicans are crazy! Okay, maybe this one isn’t fully true but it makes me chuckle to type it.

–Not everyone is going to like you or forgive you and the more you can let go of the insecurity that drives the desire to achieve this, the happier you will be.

That’s probably it for today. Nothing too mind-blowing.Although I will say that knowing these things in your head is much different than carrying them around happily in your gut. So much easier said than done.

Thank you life for all of your crappy, unhappy, excruciating lessons that inch me toward enlightenment at an unbelievably glacial pace. And thank you friends, as always, for your kind indulgence.

And you’re welcome for that humiliating photo.

 

 

 

 

 

My August of Discontent

Followed by a pretty good September…

Woman #1:  That was the worst! And then you gave all of our drugs to that LADYMAN!

Woman #2:  I know! I’m sorry! I don’t know what came over me. I would have bought him a car if he asked. 

Woman #1:  It’s okay; it’s not your fault. You were DICKMATIZED. It’s a terrible thing that happens to all of us. 

Woman #3:  She got caught in DICKSAND!

This conversation is leading nowhere. I just think it’s funny.

So I know many of you are waiting to hear my take on LAPTOPGATE 2018, in which I was wrongfully accused of stealing a laptop from a DJ booth in which a friend was DJing, in a club owned by friends.

Unfortunately I can’t get too far into it for a number of reasons. First being that the club owners asked me not to, as they don’t want their business publicly dragged into nonsense. Second, I don’t want to perpetuate or dignify peewee-league drama. So I’ll keep it as brief and as non-snarky as possible. Which will probably still be snarky because it’s me and I am furious.

So yes, the day after visiting another bar after getting off my happy hour shift at Bowery Electric, I was accused of sneaking a fledgling DJ’s computer out of this bar via my purse. This is because the world’s two most dubiously capable detectives (seemingly parentally over-indulged and hysterical millennial laptop owner and her intellectually challenged BFF, who both shall, for convenience and amusement’s sake, be referred to as Spiker and Sponge for the duration of this blog) gained access to the club’s security video footage of that night and became fixated on an image of me putting my large-because-I-came-from-bartending purse in the DJ booth, where my friend was spinning, and then taking it out of the booth an hour later. Then, like all clever thieves, I spent ten minutes carrying said bag around the room hugging members of the staff goodbye before exiting for the night with my plunder.

I received a call the next night from the bar owner, who told me things were dire and asked me to call Spiker to try to reason with her so that she would not go to the police to try to get me arrested. I was stunned; it was so surreal. Of course I didn’t take anyone’s stuff. But I did as requested and called and attempted to explain calmly all the myriad reasons that I don’t need or want her computer. She responded, like all rational adults, by shrieking as if she’d been burned, until I was finally compelled to abandon the damage to my ear and hang up the phone. I then texted Sam and learned that Spiker’s reason for living had been found in his bag.

Sigh… all roads of chaos inevitably lead back to Sam. The computer had landed in his constantly open backpack, also residing in the DJ booth for a time on the night of said surveillance video. Spiker probably dropped it on the pile of bags while she was preoccupied texting her Adderall dealer or calling daddy to up her allowance. And because Sam is Sam he didn’t notice the extra weight until the next morning.

One would assume that this would have been the end of it. But Spiker insisted upon remaining in nonsensical victim-mode and accused Sam of covering for my kleptomania. He told her to go fuck herself. Then ensued a ridiculous and seemingly endless campaign of whining Instagram and Facebook prose about what a terrible person I am, followed by huzzahs back and forth between the two of them for being so “classy” while suffering so mightily under such tyranny. There were also countless complainey texts and direct messages via various social platforms from them to people I’ve known and worked with for 25 plus years. Who all assured these two geniuses that they had not cracked the DaVinci code, but instead were harassing an innocent person.

The night of the phone call I was so furious I put up a nameless rant on Facebook. I stated that I wished it could be 1989 for a day so I could mete out my frustration old school style. My friends responded in kind, which then prompted Spiker, (who must have been monitoring my page for possible song recommendations to borrow for her “DJ career”) to get hysterical all over again, flapping her birdlike limbs and squawking that she would now need an order of protection to prevent my army of ancient supervillains from attending one of her crap parties in order to beat her up or throw tampons at her while shouting “Plug it up”. Or maybe simply ask her politely what it feels like to be a complete and utter asshole.

So I then had to assure aforementioned bar owners that no one in my over-30 age peer group has the ambition or energy for fisticuffs at this late stage in our lives. And I took the rant down, as requested. After that some random troll or trolls spent quality time screenshotting and sending out any jokes that were made in the direction of laptop theft in what I can only assume were attempts to injure me further and/or inflame the situation. Then a few days later Sam brought a large group of people to another local bar after a nearby gig, not knowing that Sponge was bartending. She had a tantrum and refused to serve anyone until they left, claiming later that she was afraid, which was ludicrous. And to which Sam “Stay Jewish, Ponyboy” Hariss responded, “What am I gonna do, complain about the weather to her to death?”

Hmm…Admittedly this rundown is in no way brief, went way far into it and is quite snarky indeed. I’m sure I’ll get a call about it. But honestly I don’t give a fuck at this point. I’m tired of always working so hard to be the guy on the high road. August 2018 was the month in which I got hammered incessantly by young women for no good or logical reason, and I deserve to vent some sarcasm on my own damn blog.

The first attack (the blog prior to this entry, if you’re not up on all things Raff and are interested) I did my best to sort out how to be a good person and decipher what role I played in inspiring the aggression. And I did get an apology a few days later, which was gladly accepted. I have no desire to fight with people. But this laptop insanity was a whole new level of stupid. For this one I had to let go of the idea that there was some cosmic lesson at play and chalk it up to two things: one, some people are dicks, plain and simple, and two, chaos and confusion are the fees one occasionally has to pay to have Sam in the orbit.

While in eye of this latest storm I happened to get tattooed. My phone kept going off while I was sitting in the chair so my tattoo artist was forced to overhear all the conversations. He (Jonah Ellis) is awesome, and gave me his thoughts on why bad things happen while you’re innocently standing there minding your own business. His theory is that life is constantly stabbing you in the back of the head, then once in a while it stops long enough for you let your guard down and start thinking life is not so bad. Then as soon as you do, it starts stabbing again to remind you that life does indeed, and always will, suck.

This is hilarious but a bit bleak. I do have hope that there is more cosmic rhyme and reason to be had. Yet it did feel that way. I felt genuinely beat up. I was afraid to look at social media or leave the house for a week. I felt betrayed by my club owning friends for allowing a couple of petulant nobodies to have power to injure me in a scene that I had been participating in and contributing to since well before they were born.

Thankfully, it’s done. At least until they read this and start bleeding their teenage periods all over Instagram again. Plug it up! Plug it up!!

See how I brought that all around again. WRITING!

Onto bigger and better things–

Wendy Scripps, Liza Colby, Robby Bote (The Tip manager and bass player) and I went to London to get some biz done. Wendy loves the UK and all of us believe that breaking a band in the UK and Europe is more productive than doing it here in the States. So we’re looking toward more touring across the pond for all of the Wendigo bands, and we checked out the scene and took business meetings like grown-ups and had high tea for fun and Liza and I spent a day walking around the London Zoo eating ice cream and grinning like idiots. It was pretty great.

Here are some highlights. Check the Wendigo Instagram for more. And follow it for Chrissake. We have awesome content and we need more followers.

Right after landing, on 24+ hours of no sleep, I did a reading, along with one of my favorite poets and friend Puma Perl, for our friend Jane Ormerod‘s Great Weather for Media. It went great. Sometimes readings can be deadly dull or horribly uncomfortable as people read odes to their vaginas. But this one was full of interesting and talented writers and people liked what I read, thank you, Baby Jesus. And coincidentally, Puma read a poem called “It’s Not Depression, It’s August”, which contains the line, “Nothing good happens in August.” FULL CIRCLE! WRITING!

I was delirious but it was a blast hanging with NY friends in London.

 

 

Wendigo sponsored Jesse Malin’s sold out Gates of the West UK concert at Dingwalls. It was packed to the gills, the performances were great, and it raised money for two very worthy charities: Joe Strummer Foundation and Music for Memory.

Gates of the West

Liza and Robby got up and did a few covers at our friend Arno Von Detritus’ club Lounge 666/Nightclub Kolis. That’s the UK Sub’s Jamie Oliver on drums.

 

 

Liza and I met and saw the 5, 6, 7, 8’s in a tiny club and lost our minds. They were so goddamn cute and the music was great. Here’s the drummer:

 

 

Zoo!

 

 

Tea Party

 

 


So that’s the rundown. I hope all these details aren’t too boring but I want to keep you all in the loop and so much is happening it’s hard to know where to begin or end with updates. Wendigo has a lot of exciting stuff in store for end of 2018 into 2019 and I’m stoked to be at the helm. The Liza Colby Sound is going to Japan, The Sweet Things are working on a new album, The Tip is headed to Europe in the Spring, we’ve got a few other band projects in the works and we’ll be doing more projects in the UK.

My dream is to foster a business model in which the artist and the people behind the scenes work as a unit, making decisions together, so that the artist can flourish with the help they need and everyone makes money at the end of the day. We’re getting closer to that every day.

All credit to Wendy Scripps for keeping so much rock rolling and for offering to bail me out of jail next time I get caught with my hand in the computer jar.

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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.