Christmas 2010

Christmas is one of my favorite days of the year, especially now that I have a husband who is even more into it than me. We get a tree that takes up our entire tiny living room, we buy way too many presents even though we swear we won’t, we shop at Whole Foods for supplies to last us days (because we refuse to go anywhere), and then we eat like pigs and watch Christmas movies while the cats chew on the tree or sit in opened boxes. This year my mother sent, along with way too many gifts for Drew and me, some homemade catnip pillows, so they’re all completely stoned and rolling around on the floor with their respective pillows as I write this.

Overlarge tree jammed into tiny apartment:

Stoned and happy cats:

Note that Chocula’s pillow is in festive Christmas fabric. My mother is incredibly indulgent. When I was a kid she baked a cake on my hero Todd Rundgren’s birthday, now she wraps and sends presents for my cats.

I wanted to post a video of Drew doing his Christmas dance in his new Motor jeans and cashmere scarf, but he put the kaibosh on that bit of festivity and retired for a nap.

I am happy today, but I always remember when things were not as cheery, and it keeps me mindful of all of the people in the world who are not equally blessed. My happiness is also comprised of gratitude, because my holidays were not always perfect, so I know as well as some how lonely it can be.

This week I thought about a particularly crappy Christmas past. I know I have posted similar blogs, but I share it because I really want those who are out there and feeling bad (who might read this) to know that things do change, and that the feelings of loneliness or sadness on holidays where you are supposed to be happy, but aren’t, are universal.

I always had great holidays growing up. My parents were very generous and we got a ton of presents on Christmas. My siblings and I got along well enough that the day was a melee of toys and food and leaping on relatives. I wasn’t a happy kid for a few different reasons, but the holidays were happy for me.

When I got to New York, it was a different world. I was broke and dove into the most difficult of situations, the darkest energies sometimes. I fell in love with drug addicts who had nothing to give and usually spent Christmas bartending in dive bars, fighting off alcoholics and the energy suckers that also had nowhere else to go. I had friends, but they were equally young, lost, and alone. When I picture those times in my mind, they are always gray-colored: not the comforting black and white of an old movie, but the dirty gray of one of those winter days that you feel disconnected and adrift in depression.

I bartended one Christmas Eve right after breaking up with my cheating boyfriend, who wouldn’t have gotten me a present anyway. I was heartbroken, and along with pouring for the few people who ventured out, tried to get out of my head by doing a lot of coke with a friend, who conveniently happened to be a coke-dealer. He hung out at my bar all night and we tweaked and drank and talked and tweaked and drank and talked until 6 am. At some point during the frenzied conversation he invited me to go to Christmas dinner with his family the next day, and I agreed, as I had nothing else planned.

I went home and didn’t fall asleep until the sun was well into the sky. Once asleep I dreamed that my apartment was covered in insects, giant beetles the size of your hand, crawling out of the floorboards and cracks in the walls, hiding in the pockets of my clothing, clicking and tapping on every surface in sight, eventually crawling on me, as I panicked and brushed them off. There were so many I couldn’t get them all off of me and I shrieked as they took over the room. I awoke with a start; it was such a vivid and creepy dream, but not too hard to decipher. Bugs = drugs.

My friend, current occupation notwithstanding, was a truly nice person from a nice family, and I knew his parents would be proper and classy. I threw clothing around trying to find something appropriate for a dinner out with them, as they were taking us to a nice restaurant. I finally chose what I thought was a simple black dress.

When I arrived at the restaurant and took my coat off and looked around, I realized how out of touch with reality I had become. The dress was skintight, low-cut, and short. It was a dress made for hanging out in clubs, not for an afternoon Christmas dinner with someone’s family. I desperately wanted to throw my coat back on, but that would have been weird, so I sat down with too much of my chest and bare leg visible to two lovely older people and a restaurant full of strangers, who glanced disapprovingly. Excruciating.

His parents didn’t blink an eye and asked the usual polite questions about my background and history. They were warm and gracious and recommended certain items on the menu and as I looked at it I saw that they would be paying a great deal for this dinner. I ordered the standard turkey holiday dinner, and once it arrived I knew I would be too sick with the coke hangover to eat it.

I took as many bites as I could and felt it coming up almost immediately. I excused myself, feeling even more embarrassed at having to walk across the crowded room in that dress, and moved as quickly as I could to the bathroom. I threw up as soon as I got to the toilet. I could hear the woman in the stall next to me hustling to get out of the room. I wanted to kneel down and sob over the toilet, I felt so cold and ill, and like the lowest piece of trash in the world. I was lost and alone. I wanted to be home with my mommy, in pajamas, feeling warm and safe, not stuck in this big city wearing a cheap dress and trying desperately to appear normal and happy for people whose generosity of spirit only made it more clear to me that I was neither of those things and was indeed completely unworthy of their company.

I cleaned myself up as quickly as possible and went back to the table, praying the absence wasn’t overly long. I apologized profusely for not being able to eat the expensive dinner, and they expressed their concern for my well-being. I white-knuckled it through the rest of the evening and thanked them quietly. When I got home I threw the dress in the hamper, to be left there for months. I cried a little bit and fell into a heavy sleep.

Tonight I will drink wine with my love and cook morels and asparagus in pasta. We dvr-ed “Remember the Night” and we might watch some “Freaks and Geeks” as well. I will not be putting on any kind of dress and will remain in pajamas for the day. In a little while I’ll call my mom and a few friends. I already spoke to my sister, who is thrilled that Drew got her husband a t-shirt featuring Johnny Cash giving the finger. She said, “Great. My son is 6, he hadn’t learned about the finger yet. He can take that back to school after vacation.” You’re welcome, sis.  

I have a new video game to play, a pound of my favorite toffee, gorgeous gloves that Drew spent far too much on, an exquisite hand-knitted sweater from mom, Patti Smith’s new book, a bunch of other smaller items, and high-tech running shoes which will surely come in handy after the over-consumption that’s been going on this week. I don’t need these gifts, they’re just stuff, but the thought and love that went into their choice is something that feeds my soul. Life is amazing and I am more grateful than words can say.

That other, foggier Christmas was a lifetime ago, but I bless that experience and many others like it. I wouldn’t enjoy what I have now in the same way if I hadn’t seen the other side. I wouldn’t have gotten here if I hadn’t walked through there. So once again I say to those of you out there in the cold, don’t despair. You can change it for yourself. There is a world of happiness that belongs to us all, if we can only get out of our own way and find a path.

Merry Christmas friends and fam!

Holiday Reportage

I had the best night last night!

My good friend and co-worker Joey invited Zoe and I to go dinner with him and some friends at Lips, a restaurant that features a drag show and servers in drag. I had never been there, but Joey is an absolute riot and I’ll go anywhere he asks me. Plus he used to work there as “Paulina” so you know we were gonna get hooked up with some free booze and a good table. 
The lovely Paulina:

Lips is uptown on 56th Street and the cab ride was lovely, because New York City, especially in that area, looks beautiful in December. Everything is covered in lights, the trees and windows, there are giant Christmas trees everywhere and you feel as if you are in a movie. I tried to find a picture for you and just wasted another half an hour noodling around on the internets, although I did find this brilliant blog: Welsh Alien in New York. Once I am done procrastinating on book writing by posting this blog, I’ll procrastinate by reading some of her older posts.
Anyway, back to us: Paulina joined us for dinner in a very sexy little black number and we had an absolute blast. First, the place is GORGEOUS. Pink leopard walls, giant crystal shoe chandeliers. Totally something out of La Cage aux Folles. New York is so funny like that. I do the same things and see the same places over and over when there are a million different interesting places and people available at any time. I love my comfort zone but I also love discovering new comfort zones, especially if they involve drag queens and food.

We pigged out and watched a series of lip synch performance, including one that featured a killer headdress for a Half Breed Cher! I just kept thinking, how do you get that thing in a cab at night?

And me being the rock and roll equivalent of Lucille Ball, I was quickly dragged onstage by a very talented Joan Rivers impersonator for a sort of humiliating and random runway contest designed to entertain and involve all the bachelorettes and birthday girls in the room. Thank God I had a couple in me prior. I have no problem shouting into a microphone, but walking back and forth trying to look cute is not really my forte.

Alas, I did not win. It was a three way tie between a crazy lesbian in rhinestone cowgirl gear, a woman celebrating her 50th birthday, and a very attractive older black gentleman who wanted to do runway with me, but was unceremoniously shoved back in line by Joan. 

It really was fun. And afterward Joan told me that I was gorgeous and looked like a cross between Cher and Dita Von Teese, so you know THAT made my night. Then a group of wasted college kids piled up on our table, because it was closer to the stage, and Paulina almost got in a fistfight with one of them because they wouldn’t leave. She stood up and did some head-weaving and earring removal while I clapped and shouted, “VIOLENCE! VIOLENCE!” like we were all in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (as seen below around the 5:00 mark). Dignified to the end.

Luckily the fabulous staff came running and dragged said teenagers back to their rightful place and we retired to the bar where the delightful Frankie Cocktail compared tattoos with Zoe, including one she got during a stint in the Navy.

Zoe, me, Paulina:

After dinner Zoe and I raced to the Best Buy Theater to meet up with Michael Alago at the Life of Agony show. We were extremely late and missed the entire show; Michael had to run out from backstage to get us in the door. As we stood there fussing with the door personnel one mook (of which there are many at a Life of Agony concert) said, “Look at the old whores.” So there went my lovely Dita/Cher compliment! But then two seconds later another meathead grabbed my ass. Ah, one minute you’re on top of the world, the next at the bottom of the heap, only to be flung back up again by a hammy, grubby paw.

Michael ushered us backstage and I met the absolutely lovely Keith Caputo. He was so warm and gracious, and I’m psyched because we’ll both be reading at Zoe’s Ho Ho Ho Holiday Party on Sunday. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say. 

Michael yelled at our handsome friend Alex Dementia for never putting out: “Whaddya think we bring you out for, conversation?” Then as we were leaving he very generously took a portrait of me with his phone. I look a bit older than I’d like in the photo but I love it nonetheless.
Zoe and I retired to Manitoba’s, the bar owned by her and her husband Handsome Dick Manitoba, where we finished off the night with a couple shots of tequila. We tottered to a cab and home, and though my head aches today, I can honestly say the night was well worth the hangover.

Not on Christmas!

Many people are mean. Unnecessarily so, in my opinion, and I have been called a bitch many, many, maaaaaannny times in my life. I accept it, I yam what I yam. I am too frank sometimes, too controlling, too quick to react, too touchy. I hate meeting new people so I protect shyness and a need for personal space with a bitchy exterior. 
I was accused last weekend, by what I deem a crazy person, of being a total bitch. She gained entrance into my apartment through another friend, and then bounced off of the walls like a toddler on crack until I tried to shut her down with mommy firmness. She couldn’t handle it, or I didn’t handle it correctly. I don’t know. I do know that it was my house and she didn’t leave for five hours so it must not have been that painful. But the situation threw me for a loop and made me question myself. I thought about it seriously and had numerous conversations with friends about my behavior, her behavior, and the outcome. I truly don’t want to be a mean person, and I think about it often these days. How to draw the line without gouging it into someone’s head.

The media is covering cyber-bullying in a major way right now, and we hear all these stories of children killing themselves due to being abused online. There was the teenage girl who killed herself after another girl’s mother posed as a boy on myspace and lured the girl in and then taunted her mercilessly. Reprehensible. That college kid who jumped off a bridge because his roommate posted a live video stream of him getting sexual with another boy. Painful. This week I watched a girl on Dr. Phil (my TV dad, even though I know he would yell at me for swearing) who was the victim of a fake facebook page, where someone posted nude photos that looked like her, put her name, number, address, etc. all over the page, and let it loose on the world. She was stalked at her home by perverts, followed home from school, called incessantly, etc. She was terrified and depressed. Can you imagine having that happen when you’re a teenager? I could barely handle it if someone made fun of my sweater.

I don’t read comments under youtube videos any more, because no matter how harmless or joyful the video, there are always stupid, fucked up things thrown in the comment list. It’s a dumping ground for the truly ignorant, and it depresses me to read that kind of keyboard pollution.
In most places on the net, you can post your comments anonymously. The few times I’ve received hate mail here on my tiny blog, it’s always posted anonymously. I will approve comments that disagree with my opinion, but anonymous slams get thrown in the dumper. If you want to get evil, put your fucking name on the thing. Because in my opinion, all of this internet anonymity has created a sea of opportunity to harm each other with no consequences, and I want no part of it.

But that’s also the beauty of the internet. I love that it’s impossible to keep Wikileaks down. Did anyone read this? WikiLeaks avoids shutdown as supporters worldwide go on the offensive. Fabulous. Some anarchy on the internet may save us from the greed in our government.

So what do we do? I realize I am preaching to the choir here, but the simple answer (to quote my old friend Agatha) is to be nice and fucking polite. Which is not to say you can’t have a controversial opinion, just state it in an adult manner.

My friend Rob Schwager, who is a killer comic artist, among other things, posted this on Twitter and got slammed: I find it amusing that the people who talk the most crap about Christians all year long, still have the gall to give presents at CHRISTmas.” I happen to love Christmas AND think organized religion is bullshit, and that all this Jesus worship is ridiculous because there have been many teachers over time, he is only one of them, and it wasn’t what he spoke of anyway. I just like the sentiment of the holiday, the present giving, It’s a Wonderful Life, the tree dropping needles in my tiny living room. I love it all, as does Drew. Regardless, this post doesn’t bother me in the least, but apparently it set off a little shitstorm in his feed. 
Which is fine in some ways. On one hand, we all have differing opinions and part of being connected through our computers is sharing them. But Rob ended up feeling abused by the onslaught of commentary, and that I don’t get, and I don’t think it would occur in the same way if he’d stated it in person to that same group of people. People think it’s fine to shout things with their keyboard that they would never say face to face. And that is what I think is sort of icky about the internet. 
So I propose, at least during this somewhat pointless, overly commercialized and vaguely Christian Christmas season, that we all try to be nice and fucking polite. At least until someone is bouncing off the walls of your home. I am not always, but I will continue to put in the effort.  And I will leave you with this, a beloved holiday moment that I think sums up the holiday spirit quite nicely:

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