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?

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phone Call From a Friend

So, as my cleverly original title suggests, I got a call from an old friend about a week ago and I keep thinking about it.

This particular friend has led a troubled life. I know her childhood was difficult; I don’t know all the details. She was neglected, abandoned at a young age, and I’m pretty sure there was some sexual abuse sprinkled in there as well. She is also French, so that makes her an automatic bummer. Sorry Frenchies, I love you dearly and could retire in the South of your country happily, but you know it’s true.

She spent much of her adult life shooting heroin, occasional forays into coke-shooting binges as well, often prostituting herself to pay for the habits. She was beautiful in an offbeat kind of way. She had a great sense of style and a petite, lithe, catlike body and face. When I met her she was a newly sober stripper. She loved to dance and wanted to be a professional dancer but she had no training. She was too messed up to change that or to really do anything other than get on and off drugs while concocting never fulfilled get-rich-quick schemes and obsessing over various men that came and went. They were all transient in her life, much like the stretches of sobriety.

We met after she screwed my faithless boyfriend behind my back. I had liked her prior to that, I would see her on the street and give her change when she was down and out. When I saw she was cleaned up I was happy for her–until she started lurking around his rehearsal space. I felt betrayed and made my feelings loud and clear whenever we were in the same club or passing each other on the street. Eventually she turned it around after a scene on the sidewalk in front of my apartment in which I spit at her while carrying a full bag of laundry. Good times. She reacted with a bemused expression and called after me in her thick accent, I av paid. You av paid. Ee never pays. Ee should pay.”

I really liked that. I stopped dead in my tracks and the rage melted off of me like hot wax. I invited her up for tea. True story. She came home with me and I made tea and we became fast friends, much to the chagrin of said faithless boyfriend.

I had a much different childhood than her. I come from a nice dysfunctional but loving middle class family in which my parents were always there for me and did everything in their power to help their children succeed as adults. I had never witnessed drug use or addiction, but I had my own demons and was fascinated by dark, complicated people. I loved winning over brooding types, always ready to step up and do whatever it took to make them love me. I could sit quietly for months waiting for that turnaround when they would look up and realize they loved me. So the two of us created a cozy, codependent, mirror relationship. We went to shows and watched movies and smoked cigarettes and ate a lot of lunches at outdoor cafes. She counseled and comforted me as I continued to wage a war to the death with aforementioned faithless boyfriend, whose singer in his band became her boyfriend. At another point we both had flings with members of the Black Crowes–another sisterly bond.

The fall from that initial clean period was not a dramatic cliff drop. It was more like an inch by inch slide into the muck. She was always depressed and got more so over time. She wasn’t as fun anymore and was constantly saying it felt pointless to stay sober. She met Christopher Walken at a party, he expressed interest and she became fixated. She would lay in bed and watch King of New York over and over again. Somehow that movie seemed like the beginning of the end. She fell into a triangle relationship with an addict ex-boyfriend and a young boy who worked for him. It scared me with my Midwest straight girl sensibility. She obsessed over all of them as she stayed prone for hours, chain-smoking and coming up with her money plans. Sometimes I’d lay on the bed with her and listen and try to advise her, sometimes I’d just stop in and drop off coffee (extra light, extra sweet) and a muffin. Sometimes I wouldn’t show up at all.

My band opened for Motorhead at the Ritz. It was a big show and I wore an outfit that was a direct rip off of her style. She was pissed at me and complained vociferously. I didn’t get it. We all stole from each other. I understand now that it seemed that I had everything while she had a very small corner that she could call her own. It was insensitive to take from her.

When things got really bad she lost her place and lived here and there, for a while with a trick who paid the rent. She hooked on 12th Street. She would call me in the middle of the night to tell me her adventures. Terrible things like the way the cops rounded up all the prostitutes at the end of the month to fill their quotas, holes in the arm so large that the end of the syringe carelessly fell in, people boarding up apartment doors because they were hallucinating and paranoid from endless days of shooting coke. For a while the bodega underneath my building sold drugs, so once in a while I’d come downstairs and give her $10 and a hug when she stopped by to make a purchase.

When I managed Coney Island High in the 90’s the window in front of my desk looked out onto St. Mark’s Place. I would see her going in and out of a building across the street. She looked pretty rough by then, she had missing teeth and the skin on her face and arms was mottled and patchy. I never stopped loving her but I tuned it out. I had spent too much time dealing with addicts by then and they no longer held as much fascination. Too messy, too needy, too expensive, not glamorous.

Eventually she got a needle stuck in her knee, and it festered and she could have lost her leg or died. Caring friends made sure she made it into the hospital. Then once the initial crisis was over she was nabbed by other caring friends and hustled to a rehab in Florida to clean up. Which she did. She hated it with a passion. Florida is no place for a sullen, chain-smoking, resentfully sober Frenchwoman, but it saved her life. She got a job patrolling some sort of school or institution grounds and she entertained me with funny stories over the phone of how she, truly one of the laziest people I have ever known, used a golf cart to get everywhere. I laughed as I imagined her putting at a ridiculously slow speed in her security jacket, cigarette dangling out of her mouth.

She began painting; finally tapping into that well of creativity, and she created haunting, almost primitive images of her inner world of intense feeling and sadness. She painted furniture and jeans with minute dots and curliques, her patience for sitting still coming in handy. It was nice to see the photos of the results.

One time she visited New York, and that was when I knew our paths had diverged for good. She had gained weight and insisted upon wearing very high heels to give the illusion of length. She wanted to shop but had no money and couldn’t walk anywhere in the awful shoes. She complained that her feet hurt. I paid for cabs around town to inexpensive chain stores, where she complained that nothing fit. I cabbed her back to Café Orlin where I knew they’d make her coffee the way she liked it, and she ordered mashed potatoes and rice pudding on my tab, then complained about being fat.

It was an expensive bummer of a day and I ignored a few of her messages after that. Eventually she wore me down and I wrote that I found her frustrating. I gave her my list of grievances and she told me she wasn’t going to take my inventory and that she still loved me if I wanted to take hers. Diabolical. Or should I say, diabolique?

That was a good ten or fifteen years ago; she’s back in France now. Which she hates as much as she hated Florida, but there was little choice with no money or job skills. She told me two or three years ago, through facebook. that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer. I wasn’t sure how to react. As usual, I felt frustrated, irritated. I wanted to yell at her–what did you think was going to happen? You eat shitty food, you smoke like a chimney, you don’t exercise, you’re never, ever happy. And I felt guilty. Whether I’m happy or not during any given moment, I always recognize how blessed I am. I am surrounded by loving friends and family and I have the tools to support myself and stay healthy. Why did I go down one road while she had to take another?

She had been calling me for a while and I resisted picking up. She was never much of a listener and I hate talking on the phone. She’s so self-absorbed that she’s never read this blog and will only read it now if someone tells her she’s in it. But I did relent eventually and we talked. It was intense, but not bad. She is homebound now, the cancer has metastasized and she has maybe a year or so left. She has one ally, an ex-boyfriend. He takes care of her and keeps her company. He keeps her out of the hospital or hospice.

Her father called the caretaking ex and said that he didn’t want to pay for funeral costs and they should look into charitable institutions to handle it. Wrap your brain around that for a minute. What a shitty hand to be dealt. My dad would have cut off a limb before thinking, let alone saying something like that.

For once she didn’t sound brooding. She was actually somewhat upbeat. She said it’s boring; she finally has all the drugs she could ask for but they don’t do much for her entertainment-wise. And she said repeatedly, “I wasted my life. I wish I hadn’t wasted my life.” I always thought she was wasting her life too, but now I don’t know. I told her I thought maybe there was something her soul needs from this lifetime’s experience exactly the way it is/was, and coulda woulda shoulda is the human experience. She said, “I’m afraid to die. I’m afraid I’ll go to hell.” I told her she’s never done anything to warrant damnation and that it is my firm belief that she is going to go home, that this life of deep sadness will finally be over for her, and that she has much to look forward to on the other side.

I think about wasted time all the time as I move into the latter half of my life. I often feel that I should be doing more, that I could have done more, that the clock is ticking on doing more.  Most of my friends are chronic overachievers, they’ve got one woman shows and tour constantly and work out constantly and sing in front of orchestras and write books and own bars. I feel like the slacker in the bunch, upping my xbox gaming score when I could be creating. But I’ve finally stopped allowing that pressure to penetrate my psyche. It doesn’t move me forward, it only makes me feel crappy about myself and I’ve got enough real stuff to beat myself up over already.

Anyhoo, I don’t have a moral to this story. I love my friend. I’ve been frustrated and irritated by her choices. I stopped paying attention and if it weren’t for her persistence I might not even know that she’s in the process of dying. I’m grateful for the gift of her friendship, unconditional love, and late hour insight. I wonder how I would have fared as an adult with her childhood circumstances. I see through middle aged eyes, as friends pass more often through the veil, that life is fleeting and the best thing we can do is try to remember to treat those in our vicinity with kindness and understanding, to pick up the phone once in a while even if we do annoy the fuck out of each other.

London!

I have been doing so many heavy blogs and I want to lighten it up a little, so this one is gonna be mostly a what-I-did-this-September report. I hope it won’t be too boring!

I took a trip with Wendigo/Art on A founder Wendy Scripps and artist Jozie Lovestar to London last month to organize a show of Jozie’s photographs in the Sanctum Soho Hotel. Honestly, I was a bit resistant because I have been traveling a lot this year; I have been lucky to have traveled a decent amount in my life and have visited London many times, either visiting friends, playing shows or staying with boyfriends during the Anglophile period of my dating life. Although the one I ended up with there for a time, Slam Thunderhide of Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction, was actually Canadian. Side-story–he’s an awesome guy but his ex-wife hated me so much she told everyone years later that I died of AIDS in full dementia. Which I think is pretty hilarious; I appreciate a creative diss.

Anyhoo, now it’s many years later and I found myself back there, this time under much more lavish circumstances and in a more adult (ish) state of mind. Honestly, I think the first class flight would have been enough for me. I was way more excited than was appropriate. My top favorite things in life are free stuff, laying around, eating, and drinking, and that’s exactly what you’re given. I sat happily in the airport VIP lounge waiting for someone to get wise and throw me out, then laid in my little compartment on the plane under a comfy blanket with a pillow behind my head watching free movies while women in cute red skirts came around every five seconds to fling free champagne and food in my direction. If someone could have thrown a cat into the mix they would have had to drag me off.

The Sanctum Soho is a gorgeous hotel and the staff is lovely in the way that only an international staff can be. Did you know that cool people in England don’t use washcloths? They call them flannels and our gorgeous, hip, gay, fabulous concierge actually giggled when I asked him for one. Who doesn’t love a giggling gay concierge?

I should have taken photos in the room but our stuff was everywhere so I didn’t bother. Here’s a dresser that I wanted to remember though:

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Here are a couple of real photos of the place so you can a better idea. It’s a very rock and roll hotel…

The show, which was really a party, went well. We had some large pieces and this project entaile having a giant wooden crate custom built, like the kind you see in movies about museums, then packing the art with a mountain of bubble wrap, then hiring a freight company to fly it overseas. And then everything got stuck in customs and I had to fill out endless amounts of confusing paperwork and then the actual day of the opening we were told the artwork would be coming the NEXT day. I considered having a meltdown and then decided, eh fuck it, it’s art, we’re not doing hurricane rescue or heart operations. In the end did it matter? But I did talk the powers that be into speeding it up and the art arrived that afternoon and went up on the walls in the nick of time. Here’s an extremely unflattering photo of me unwrapping art before I sat down to order more scones with clotted cream.

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My dear and generous friend Jyrki 69 flew over from Finland to DJ for us, and my other dear friend Storm Large happened to be able to get into town too, so we all stayed in the same hotel and room hopped. Or at least I did, consuming their booze and digging through their toiletries for perfume samples. Other friends showed up for the party, people I haven’t seen in decades, and that was really special: Finnish guitarist extradinaire Timo Kaltio, bass playing legend Dave Tregunna, legendary tattoo artists Sean Vasquez and his beautiful wife Leticia Molera Vasquez plus assorted hot fetish model chicks and awesome people I never get to see because we live on other continents.

So whew! That was a lot, but fun, and the rest of the trip we could relax. We were right near Carnaby Street…

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…so I picked up some overpriced but properly fitting mod shirts for Sam to stem the flow of his constant purchasing of overlarge old lady smocks on Poshmark…

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Jozie is a fitness trainer and she looks like this:

Jozie gym

So annoying, right? She also has a book out right now:

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I know a good thing when I see it, so I was as ready as my lazy ass could be to get in some training time with her.  We found an uber gay gym nearby where the house music is always pumping, all the men are Italian and and appear to work out constantly. It was ridiculous and so much fun. She flirted with the boys in tight shorts while simultaneously beating the crap out of me. Jozie always makes working out entertaining.

I had dinner at the uber British Wosely with my friend Paul Wassif  (yet another super talented and great-looking musician) who I hadn’t seen in person since the 80’s. My phone was nonworking overseas and I have a terrible sense of direction, so no matter how simple the trip I would photograph a map when wifi was available and then walk staring intently at the photo in a neurotic I’m-gonna-get-lost panic.

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It was one of the high points of the trip for me, humming and walking leisurely through the streets of London by myself, looking in windows and up at buildings. It’s such a beautiful city and so different from NYC. Naturally, I forgot to get an actual photo with Paul, just a shot of my martini while waiting for him to arrive…

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It was lovely to be able to catch up as adults as we were both pretty messy in our younger years and didn’t part on the easiest of terms. I love being able to revisit and feel you get a bit of a do-over with someone, which seems to be a major theme in my life, always hoping to do things better the next time around. So thank you, Paul.

Then it was time for Jyrki to head back to the land of Finns. He said we were having brunch but it turned out to be primarily a ruse to drag me by the elbow at breakneck speed through the streets and pubs of Soho before he got on his plane.

This is me, unamused at the prospect of a) drinking so early in the day and b) being photographed while half asleep:

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Jyrki and his very patient cab driver:

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And then it was back on the plane for me. I ordered the dessert this time in order to be sure to completely wipe out all of Jozie’s hard work.

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It is a lovely life and I’m grateful.

Namaste, bitches!

Freedom

I’m still a little unsure of my footing on what to write here so the entries have continued to be sporadic. But I’m closer to being on track.

First reason for hesitation is that it feels petty to write about my middle-class white girl rock and roll spiritual journey when there is so much heaviness happening everywhere. The other reason is that the last couple of years were so difficult and complicated that I wasn’t sure how much I could state publicly without invading other people’s privacy.

Now I am moving forward and leaving the past behind and it feels amazing. And I know in my gut is that spirit is a area where we can foster deep, if less immediately obvious change. So as I learn more about my own personal growth, I feel an urge to tell my friends in the hope that in some small way it can help them. And then maybe our happiness and wisdom will osmosis into the world. So that’s what I will continue to write about until other inspirations hit me. I don’t care about having a huge blog following, this has always been primarily about entertaining and connecting to friends and like-minded souls.

But first, let’s have a photo of my cat, because I find him amusing and I think you should too. He is currently suffering due to the overly warm temperature in my apartment. I’m sitting in front of the computer in my underwear, too lazy to get up and shut all the windows and turn on the AC. He knows that if he looks as tragic as possible I’ll relent and get off my ass to arrange his ultimate comfort.

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Note the glazed eyes of suffering. He’s his mother’s son. #highdramaatalltimes

I’ve been traveling a lot lately. This summer I had a golden opportunity to be a guest at Canyon Ranch, which is a high end resort spa in Massachusetts. I ran amuck while there, in the best way possible: massages and facials and squirreling free tampons and razors and meditating under trees and ordering more food than anyone should. Most importantly I got some therapeutic energy work, which was recommended by a clairvoyant I saw there who stated most emphatically that I could use a tune-up. Her assessment was that while I am personally grounded, the city creates a static around all of us that needs to be cleared.

I’ve had reiki but this was a bit different, so I didn’t know what to expect. I met with a lovely woman who permeated calm and warmth. She had me lay on a massage table and proceeded, for the next hour and a half, to put her hands my legs or arms, meditate for a while, then make some stunningly on point statement about my life and headspace.

Some highlights:

Her: “Do you do a lot of vocalizing? Or do you have a lot of loud sounds coming into your ears?”
Me: “Um…do decades of screeching into microphones and standing too close to speakers count?”
Her: “Yep. That would explain the tear in your throat chakra. Let’s fix it.”

Then she would sit quietly for another 10 minutes or so, repairing or sorting, whatever one does when clearing another person’s energy field.

She looked up at one point and gave me a rundown of my relationship with my mother that was so accurate it nearly knocked me off the table. Yikes! Then she sat for a while and took a deep breath and said, “I keep hearing the words, ‘I’m sorry.”

I burst into the dreaded burning tears that were always hovering near the surface. You have no idea, lady. Or I guess you do. How do you explain without blubbering all over a stranger that you’ve been walking around for two years with that mantra chugging like a train in your head? I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, over and over and over again, waking, sleeping, a constant, desperate prayer for forgiveness? I tried to suck it up. She handed me a tissue and said kindly, “Let’s clear that out too.”

I walked out from her office feeling emotionally drained and 100 lbs lighter. And that relief has grown. It’s as if the quality of light in the air is different now: brighter, sharper. While some of that probably has to do with the simple passage of time, whatever the reason, I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I finally pulled Drew off of his pedestal and picked myself off my bloody knees.

This is the lesson that I’m getting: sometimes our souls push us to do things that we might not understand intellectually, that others might not understand, but that are necessary to hurtle us forward. Sometimes we get blasted out of our comfort and find ourselves in a mess that takes a long time to clean up. It doesn’t make us bad people. We all experience so much shame and sadness over our perceived failures and losses. Change is grubby, painful, unwelcome, but sometimes mistakes and destruction are  necessary to shift.

I have been forced to face myself and forgive myself. I feel a gentleness toward myself now that I never did before. I’m so far from perfect but that’s true of all of us.

Onward and upward. Here’s the rundown.

I am ready to have more nature in my life and I love going to see my family in Michigan every summer. I took Sam with me this time, or rather he and Storm flew out for the last 4-5 days of the trip. It was heavy because I always considered my family and home Drew’s as well. I never expected that to change. But Drew doesn’t want anything to do with it anymore, which is his prerogative. Sam was brave to step into that space and he did great. We babysat foster kittens and swam and ate too much and got close in ways that we hadn’t before. It was nice to get out of the rock and roll context and just be people for a little while.


Our relationship is a strange one. The age difference is so vast that our priorities are naturally different. We both know that eventually things will have to change. He has a lot to experience yet, mistakes to make on his own and out from under my protection, and I expect I’ll be ready for a more equal partner at some point. It’s sad but it’s not. He entered into my life to help me shift, to cushion some blows, and there is nothing but love on either side. We’ll always be close in whatever form it takes. For now it’s day by day with a consciousness toward being gentle with one another.

As I relax into myself, I am feeling the vibrations around me more clearly, and am more conscious of how my thoughts help create the nature of that vibrational energy. Which means that if I want to feel good, I have to choose thoughts that keep me in a higher frequency. This is tough to do sometimes because I love being shitty and my go-to defense is anger. I enjoy talking shit and being pissed off; it keeps me from feeling vulnerable. But I’m working to catch myself when I start down that spiral. It doesn’t mean I have to go all Pollyanna or lie to myself about my happiness levels. But it helps to ask, “Is this a thought process that is going to raise my energy or bring me down?” If it’s the latter, I try to let it go for the day.

Upcoming:

I’m headed to London in September to help Wendigo host a gallery show at the Sanctum Soho hotel. This is going to be extra fun because my good friend Jyrki 69 is flying in to join.

Flyer

I’m also working to organize the second leg of the Dirty Sweet Sounds Tour, in October, on the East Coast.

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I’m not traveling with the bands this time. Last time in LA was enough. Especially after I woke up and found this in my bed.

Magic Castle

I am ready to adopt a new dog, so I’m looking around for a tiny jerk in need that I can take to work with me. I desperately want a Papillon, which isn’t easy to find via rescue, so if anyone sees a stray Pap wandering the mean streets, drop me a line.

You might notice there are ads around the blog now. It’s a little unsightly but if I can make a buck or two on here I am not opposed. If it doesn’t make a difference I’ll remove them.

So that’s the story for now. Not super entertaining but I’m counting this blog as a clear marker between the past and the future. It’s only gonna get better from here and I’ll have lots of fun stories for you coming up.

Much love to all of you who have extended so much kindness and support.

Namaste, bitches.

 

 

Shooting Star

I try to avoid eulogizing NYC too much any more. We all know that the flavor has been priced and railroaded out of town by developers and that our version of the city disappeared as we changed and grew older. But change is the only constant, nothing stays the same and even if there was some kind of underground scene now, we would hate it because it’s not ours. There probably is, all those young guys with waxed old-timey mustaches must be hanging out with those droopy, skinny young girls with weird mullet cuts and no makeup somewhere, listening to something, I guess drinking craft beer and talking about getting DJ gigs “just for fun”. We see them and we think, “Yech.” They see us and they think, “Dinosaurs.”

It’s fine. I don’t hate all of them. My boyfriend Sam is a millennial too, albeit a strange one who loves my heyday more than his own. My friend overheard two girls his age talking, one said, “Yeah, he’s cute but don’t bother. He likes old ladies.” That made us chuckle. But it’s somewhat true, and he reminds me of what it is to be that young and to still be sorting out exactly who you are and who you want to be. It’s not easy and I too have liked and worn some stupid things along the way. Circle of life and all that crap.

So after years of emotional struggle, I accept where we’re at, at least culturally. I know I probably have a few more years in the city and then I’ll retire on a farm with Storm somewhere, where we will collect too many animals, sleep alone in our bedrooms, get drunk on the porch while reminiscing, and casually ogle the younger neighbors when we go into town for groceries.

But I digress…

Rock shows are sparsely attended for the most part, bands go on much earlier because the fans are older, people have day jobs and/or kids to attend. Many of my peers, often the ones who complain the most, won’t go to a show even if they do have the time. They wear it like a badge of geriatric honor, “Oh, I don’t go out anymore…” I do, though in a different, less frenetic manner. I still like the hand I have in it; my jobs allow me to work on the back end of the music world and I still get to see some of my old friends and hear live music. That’s enough every couple of weeks or so, and I’m usually home by 1 am no matter who is playing. I need my rest.

On Friday I was honored to be able to host the Elyse Steinman memorial gig at Wham Bam Raff and Sam, our weekly happy hour party. Greg Stryzempka flew in from Washington, he and Alec Morton put a ton of work and love into making it happen, and we got a bona fide Raging Slab gig, with Alec at his bass post, Greg playing guitar and Elyse’s slide guitar, Mark Middleton on guitar, Bob Pantanella and Paul Sheehan switching off on drums, with special guests on songs Daniel Rey, Tom Five (who flew in from LA for it), Liza Colby, and Pamela Grande.

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I remember the first time I saw Raging Slab at Danceteria in the mid-80’s. I was setting up the bar before opening and Greg was soundchecking onstage with his super long hair and tan/brown clothes. This wasn’t fully the norm yet, we were all still looking pretty goth at that point. He laughed and joked into the mic and then Elyse got up with him and they played with an ease and talent that caused me to pause what I was doing. Again, different than what we were listening to at the time, a portent of what was to come.

And then things blew up in the best way possible and our army of leather took over the East Village and there were amazing shows every night and we all got record deals and rock and roll was king and/or queen. Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end.

Joey Ramone Tour Bus

All these years later I walked into another soundcheck and saw Greg and Alec onstage and immediately burst into tears. I wasn’t expecting such a visceral reaction; I had to leave the room to pull myself together. I thought I’d become immune. But it felt so good to see Greg up there, and so poignant that Elyse wasn’t next to him that I felt overwhelmed with both joy and sadness. My heart swelled with the ache of it.

I had to rush around to set up the bar and was busy with customers and friends as soon as I opened for business. I am taking a break from alcohol for a few weeks and I felt anxious and crabby because there wasn’t time or space to fully process the emotions running through me or alternatively anesthetize with a shot or two. I am glad I weathered it sober though, because it allowed me to be present and to take it all in.

Once Slab hit the stage I couldn’t stay behind the bar. I tried, but it was too hard to focus on anything but the music. I pushed my way through the small crowd in the small room to the front of the small stage, and my old CSFH bandmate Vas Kallas (Venus P. Crusher), along with all of our friends, headbanged and danced and shouted the choruses. I had tears in my eyes the entire time and we hugged each other and screamed as if we were in an arena instead of a bar.

The songs sounded so good, SO good. Not just because they are the songs of our youth, but because our youth was full of really, really great songs and performers. I haven’t forgotten my past, I spend a lot of time answering Sam’s questions and telling him inside stories about what happened “back then”. But I’ve also had to put it in the back of my mind. It was like seeing someone years later that you were madly in love with who broke your heart. You put them behind you because you have to, but your cells never forget.

What a force we were: an army of talented idiots in hair dye and rock and roll gear, even with our inner skirmishes and ego-battles, infidelities and competitions, always united in our otherness and our music. We were all gonna be rock stars. And we were, even if most of the world doesn’t know or remember. We were all beautiful, that time was magical, and although we look like ordinary middle aged people to the rest of the world, we still have that magic within us. So I cried for the loss of a comrade, for the loss of my youth, and for the sheer joy of being able to step back into it for a moment with some of the people who experienced it too.

The last song of the set was a cover of Bad Company’s “Shooting Star”. Everyone sang along and it filled up the room with its beauty and we all felt Elyse dancing with us, her photos taped to the walls smiling and encouraging, the song so perfectly for her. At the end of it we all put our hands in the air and looked to the ceiling, to the sky, to her and shouted, “We love you, Elyse!”

Thank you for bringing us together one more time, Darling. You are very much loved and missed.

Elyse

Slab

Comb-over, Do-over

I work out a lot of stuff while I’m sleeping. I’m not one of those people that can sleep for ten-twelve hours, but I cherish the eight hours I do get, time willing. Sleep is underrated as a therapeutic tool. Real sleep, not pass-out after a night of drinking or a quick six hours before the alarm rings for work.

My father died when I was young and there were a lot of things left unsaid and unhealed. There wasn’t time and I was too immature to understand the issues left dangling. Over the years he visited me in dreams many times. We talked and he listened and after a while I understood him and myself much better. I no longer felt quite so hurt or haunted by his passing. I felt grateful and connected to him. This could just be my subconscious helping me out, or it could have really been him stopping by when I was in a state to be able to receive. I believe it was the latter, but I don’t care either way. Healing is healing and I’ll take whatever I can get to move forward.

Because we are not speaking and there is a lot of grief to process, I have dreamed about Drew every night for months. Sometimes in the dreams we’re experiencing day to day activities, most of the time we are arguing about our split. Sometimes I’m talking and he can’t hear me. Sometimes I can see him but he can’t see me. Sometimes I’m so mad or sad I wake up with a start, shaking, or with tears in my eyes. It’s not fun, but I understand myself well enough to know that sleep is helping me process in ways that I can’t always do when waking. I let it go as best I can, get out of bed and get on with my day, which is generally full of enough love and laughter that I forget to be disturbed for too long. 

This week I dreamed that I was explaining to some faceless stranger, for the hundredth time, what happened. I was saying, “I just wasn’t doing well. I was crazy, I was bad, I didn’t mean to cause so much damage, it’s all my fault…” And my own voice interrupted this terrible litany that has worn a groove in my brain and said, “This is not your story. Why are you telling it?”

I woke up immediately, stunned.

It’s so simple. We decide something about ourselves and we tell it over and over again as if it is the only truth, as if it is the reality and breadth and depth of who we are. It isn’t. It’s just the story we choose to tell ourselves and others.

Our stories are formed by things we believe about ourselves that were once true but might no longer be, or were perpetrated on us by others, or are things we want other people to believe.

One of mine is that I’m crazy and as such am unlovable. So I spend all my time trying to prove that I’m normal, whatever that even is, and as soon as a crack appears, which, lets face it, is often, I suffer major anxiety while scrambling for damage control. My other favorite story is that I only deserve love if I give everything and expect nothing, which eventually leads me back to the first story. I give too much of myself with diminishing returns, eventually becoming so drained and hurt that I over react explosively to something small, thus appearing crazy. And then of course I get to tell myself that I’m too angry/volatile/demanding to deserve the love in the first place. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It’s a tad circular.

These stories we tell ourselves are one reason that people get sick:  “I am old now; it is time for me to deteriorate.”

Alone: “There is no one out there for me to date.” “All men are terrible.” “I will never get over my divorce.”

Miserable: “I am doomed to stay in a job I loathe because I am not smart or creative enough to learn or do anything else.”

On and on. These stories are lies. Or at the very least they are half-truths. They are not the summation and depth of who we are. These stories are the reason that people continue to dress or do their makeup the way they did thirty years ago. These stories are responsible for bald comb-overs. We carry these shitty stories from home to home, job to job, relationship to relationship like lead weights in suitcases with broken wheels.

 

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As mentioned constantly, I am a huge fan of Dr. Christiane Northrup and she talks quite a bit about the aging process and how the mind-body connection affects our health and well-being, often more profoundly than genetic predisposition.

Paraphrasing here, but the gist is that Dr. Northrup says that she no longer tells anyone her age, because that number writes a story for the person telling it–how they are supposed to look, behave, and feel. Then when that number is expressed to others, those same others help enforce the truth of that story. When she has to write her birth year on documents she tells herself that number has nothing to do with her. In her head she is 33 years old.

I love this, partially because I’m vain, but primarily because I like the idea of having more power of choice over our own life story than we are accustomed to wielding. It’s half Baby Jane, half creating a new destiny for body and soul. If that seems like too much magical thinking, maybe it could be simply creating a new mindset so the day seems a little brighter and the nightmares come less often?

Baby-jane-hudson

I haven’t had any heavy sadness dreams since those words came to me in my sleep. I still have regrets and coulda woulda shoulda moments, about all kinds of things, but I feel like I discovered a shiny new piece to the puzzle. I am ready to let go of the dialogues that no longer serve me.

I hope this helps some of you as well.

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Just a Little Bite

I just posted this photo on Facebook but it’s still making me chuckle so it’s going here too:

This is my current mood trying on bikinis to wear in LA:

snowsuit

I love being my age; I hate the bit of extra weight that comes with it.

I am convinced that what I eat and how I process food is as much connected to my spiritual/energy state as it is to my emotional state and general love of all things pasta. So I’ve been noodling (get it!) around on the internet looking for alternative solutions to living solely on salads, which I do enjoy, but I am equally fond of wine and a life full of friends and family gathered around kitchen stoves and tables full of food to be able to buckle down enough to easily float back to my 25 year old waif weight.

Sigh…I sincerely miss those bird arms and bitchy thighs that would never deign to touch one another. But I didn’t appreciate them when I had them so I gotta just keep moving forward.

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Abraham-Hicks talks about the vortex all the time, and that if we are in the vortex we automatically process in a healthy way. I still haven’t quite sorted out the vortex for myself. And honestly, I already know I’m healthy. I merely wish to be a little less Midwestern healthy and more neurotic fancy city lady skinny.

I happened upon this video that feels worth sharing. I am not Jewish and some of what this lovely woman espouses does not speak to my mentality or lifestyle. I don’t agree that an animal’s highest destiny is to be consumed and thereby become one with humans at the top of the food chain. And it has never occurred to me to consider dressing modestly. But she is smart, she has a warm, gentle energy and this is good advice. I love what she has to say about savoring bites, about eating to energize, and about being more conscious as we are eating. This makes more sense to me than deprivation, which I will never be able to master.

So maybe some of this will speak to some of you as well. Perhaps when I get back from Cali we can discuss the finer points over a mountain of lasagna and a few bottles of chianti. Until then, l’chaim! Or something like that.

 

California Dreamin’

Hey hey!

Things have been great lately, which feels new. And means I haven’t felt driven to bleed out all over the keyboard. But I have this new web address so I’ve gotta get something down.

I was told by someone recently that if it wasn’t for my sense of humor this blog would be self-indulgent baloney. That made me chuckle, because it’s true. The upside to all the pain/change I experienced in 2015 and 2016 is that I am much less worried about poor to middling reviews. It’s my blog so you get what you get. Write what you know–I know the shape and size of my navel.

But today I’m being practical and simply want to let anyone who doesn’t already have me hogging their facebook feed that I’ve been toiling with my pals/co-workers at Wendigo Productions to put together a ten day West Coast tour for the Liza Colby Sound and The Sweet Things. We’re very proud to be working with these two awesome bands and it’s been fun to coordinate everything and everyone–vans, gear, tour manager, flights, hotels, etc. I’ve always enjoyed being on the side of the stage as much as standing up front, maybe more. It’s much easier to show up at door time, wield a clipboard with unwarranted authority, then critique a show from the bar than to be stuck in a van for hours then try to look and sound cute onstage after putting on your makeup and doing a vocal warm-up in a filthy bathroom with broken stall doors and no toilet paper. And beyond that, it’s awfully nice to finally have a paying job that I enjoy.

This is the press release if you’re not familiar with the bands.  I will be in LA from May 18 through May 23. I’m pretending they need me but it’s mostly an excuse to hang out in a city I love. Hit me up!

NEW YORK CITY BANDS THE SWEET THINGS
AND THE LIZA COLBY SOUND LAUNCH WEST COAST TOUR
PROMOTING THEIR WILD STYLE OF ROCK’N’ROLL AND SOUL
The Dirty Sweet Sound Tour Is Presented by Wendigo Productions NY
Ilegal Mezcal Is Sponsoring the May 22nd show in L.A. at Harvard & Stone

April 19, 2017 (New York, NY) – Wendigo Productions NY presents The Dirty Sweet Sound Tour featuring two New York City bands supporting new music releases. The Sweet Things have a two-sided single dropping on May 15th called “Love To Leave/Cocaine Asslicker Blues.” And The Liza Colby Sound have the new track called “My World” also coming out on May 15th. Ilegal Mezcal is sponsoring a special night at Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles on May 22nd.

“The Sweet Things felt a connection with The Liza Colby Sound immediately,” explains guitarist Lorne Behrman. “It was like a pheromone instinct—we sensed we were from the same rock n’ soul DNA – this morphed into a mutual admiration society with both bands inspiring and influencing each other.” Liza records with the band in studio and performs with them onstage.

The Sweet Things call their new single “a slice of ragged Stonesy punk rock.” And Liza Colby testifies “When I sing, I want it to be badass, feminine, empowering, and ooze sexuality. I want to kick mother#$&ers in the face with rock n’ roll.”

The Sweet Things hail from the streets of the East Village and formed the band in 2015. What drew them together was a passion for the Rolling Stones, Johnny Thunders, Izzy Stradlin, old country and blues, and a love of arena rock. Since then the band has shared the bill with artists like the Toilet Boys (sold-out show), Faster Pussycat, The Dead Daisies, been featured on local news channel NY1, had videoed jams with Jyrki 69 that racked-up 13,000 views in four days, and performed at the L.A.M.F. tribute (along side members of Blondie, The Heartbreakers, The Replacements, and The MC5).

The Sweet Things are Dave Tierney (The Sharp Lads), Lorne Behrman (The Dimestore Haloes, L.E.S. Stitches, The Dead Tricks), Sam Hariss (Stiletto), and Darren Fried (Mazard, Tongue). Frequently the band is joined onstage by Liza Colby.

The Liza Colby Sound includes a trio of musicians who have two decades of rock’n’roll experience. These formidable players boast impressive resumes that include working with Ozzy Osbourne, Rick Derringer, Edgar Winter, Raging Slab, Suzanne Vega, Garland Jeffreys, Lenny Kaye, Jim Carroll Band, the Del Fuegos (featuring Dan Zanes), The Paley Brothers, Denis Leary, and Joey Ramone, among other well-known names. These all-stars are also known for scoring music for film and television, most recently contributing to the Denis Leary show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll.

Beyond her central role in The Liza Colby Sound, Liza has lent her silk and sandpaper vocal stylings to Enrique Iglesias, Denis Leary John Legend, The Gold Setting, Johnny Burgos, The Sweet Things, Chris Rock’s movie Top 5 (which featured her song “It Ain’t Easy”), Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (she’s the singing voice of Elaine Hendrix). In addition, Liza’s voice has aired on ESPN, VH1, NASCAR, and Sesame Street.

The Liza Colby Sound’s current live line-up features Liza Colby on vocals, Alec Morton on bass, Charlie Roth on drums, Adam Roth on guitar (on the album) and Tom McCaffrey as touring guitar player. In addition to the new single the band has two other releases including, Live (2013), and High Yellow (2011). A new release titled, Let It Happen, is slated for later this year. Influences the band cites include Iggy Pop, Humble Pie, Small Faces, Ike & Tina and Tame Impala.

The Dirty Sweet Sound Tour featuring The Sweet Things & The Liza Colby Sound:

Friday, May 19th at Redwood Bar, Los Angeles, CA w/ Motochrist
Saturday, May 20th at The Pour House in Oceanside, CA
Sunday, May 21st at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, CA
Monday, May 22nd at Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles, CA sponsored by Ilegal Mezcal
Tuesday, May 23rd at Riley’s Tavern in Bakersfield, CA
Wednesday, May 24th at The Ritz in San Jose, CA
Thursday, May 25th at the Night Light in Oakland, CA
Friday, May 26th at Oberon’s in Ashland, OR
Saturday, May 27th at The Twilight Cafe in Portland, OR
Sunday, May 28th at Victory Lounge in Seattle, WA
Friday, June 2nd at Bowery Electric in New York, NY

Visit The Sweet Things online:
facebook.com/thesweetthingsnyc

Visit The Liza Colby Sound online:
thelizacolbysound.com
facebook.com/thelizacolbysound
Twitter / Instagram @lizacolbysound

For press materials, or to set-up interviews with bands on The Dirty Sweet Sound Tour please contact Fly PR: T. 323-667-1344 E. flypr@flypr.net (Ilka) or E. buzz@flypr.net (Toni) or E. info@flypr.net (Libby).

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PS. Shout out to my guy Sam Hariss, bass player for The Sweet Things, who when asked how he felt about having his girlfriend on the road with his band, said something to the effect of “Totally psyched she’s coming. I’m the same guy on tour that I am at home, so why wouldn’t I be?”

I will try to remember to live stream some bits of the shows on facebook and take non-blurry photos for those of you at home. Don’t be mad if it’s all shots of my feet next to a glass of wine at the hotel pool.

Oh, and PPS. I’ll be working with Alec Morton and Greg Slab on a memorial evening for Elyse Steinman on June 30. Save the date and I’ll post more info as it comes in.

I’ve moved!

Well, virtually anyway. www.raffaelemary.com is the new blog address. I am taking stock of all ways that I have held myself back financially/personally, and one of them is that I’ve never properly monetized the blog as its stats have risen. So here it is.

I apologize to those of you who subscribed to the Blogger site, you’ll have to do it again here.

I also have to go through all the old blogs because the layout got screwed up on some of them in the exporting/importing process.

In the meantime, here’s a cute kitten video so this visit won’t feel completely pointless.

 

Elyse

As most in our circle know, Elyse Steinman, bottle slide guitar player for Raging Slab, sexy, earthy, sassy, high octane shiny mama, died a few days ago, from lung cancer.

Truthfully, I didn’t like Elyse during the first few years we knew each other. She picked a fight with me from the get and I’m sure I didn’t handle it as well as I could have. I hated her for a while. But the beauty of being “our age” is that most of the childhood petty disagreements, usually due to insecurity and ego, smooth out with time. I understand now that she both liked me and was jealous of me, and didn’t know how to handle it. I understand that I was equally insecure and couldn’t handle anything I perceived as an attack without going hard on the defensive.

Luckily, Elyse and I reconnected on Instagram last year, and it was a beautiful exchange. We became real friends finally, veterans of the rock and roll war, ego stripped away, just two old broads catching up. She was so open and funny and smart, I wished that we could have been closer a long time ago, so much wasted time. But things are what they are and you take what you can get.

I had to go back and look at what I’d written about her for “the book”, and I found this chapter. I will post it here and then after post our instagram exchanges so you can understand how great the shift. I am ever fascinated by the way feelings can change in a heartbeat. I do not purport to have known Elyse as well as her closest friends, her husband Greg, but I do feel a lot of love for her. I am so sorry that she suffered for even a minute, and am so grateful she took the time to share a portion of the journey.

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In the meantime, Curt and I began our usual dance back into relationship-hood. And around that time he got hired to play bass for Raging Slab, a band that had been around for a few years and were pretty well-established at that time. 
 
Raging Slab was led by Greg Strzempka, who everyone called Greg Slab. His adept song-writing talent distinguished the band as leaders on the New York scene, and his aesthetic had a sort of brown, Southern flavor that none of the others did at the time. We were all still pretty gothy and glammy in the mid -80’s, with dyed hair and black eyeliner, while Greg wore a mustache and a goatee, with his hair very long and naturally brown. He was already headed into the biker-esque territory that was still on the horizon for most of us. Raging Slab were ahead of their time. 
 
Greg’s wife Elyse was the other fixture in the band. He taught her how to play slide guitar, which became essential to their sound. Elyse was a short, sexy, rough and tumble girl with shaggy brown hair who appeared to be ever on the prowl for new conquests, male or female. I think that in that atmosphere it was impossible for any couple to remain faithful to one another for long, so like the rest of us, they had their ups and downs and dalliances. 
 
I hated Elyse immediately upon our first meeting. She came up behind me as I sat with Curt at the bar at Wah Wah Hut and yanked three times on my fake ponytail, hard. My hair was long but I always wanted more drama, more glamour, and often wore a ponytail that hung down to my waist with a big red bow at the top. Luckily I had spent enough time around drag queens to know how to do my hair properly, and although she pulled as hard as she could, intending to embarrass me by removing it, the ponytail stayed put. 
 
I turned around, my head throbbing, enraged. She wouldn’t look at me. She bleated, “IS THIS REAL??” directly to Curt with her side to me. “IS THIS YOUR GIIIRRRLLLFRIEND??” Curt mumbled an introduction, she gave me a cursory glance. I glared at her with burning hatred. I came there ready to meet the people in a band I really liked and was unprepared for this fight. I should have known better, though. Curt and I both inspired that kind of competitive edge in women. I don’t know if Elyse had a crush on him or just didn’t like that I was pretty, but she was a real asshole either way. I turned back to the bar and refused to acknowledge her further while their conversation finished. It was official; I wanted to punch her in the face. But I would wait until she walked away and then torture Curt about it instead.
 
A few weeks later a gig was scheduled, and I got dressed up to go to the show and went with Curt to meet with the band at Greg and Elyse’s 13th Street apartment before heading to the club. I was apprehensive, but Elyse was a bit better on this day. She was friendly at least, although she still got her snide comments in here and there. “OH, SO THAT’S WHAT YOUR REAL HAIR LOOKS LIKE…” She and Greg bickered nonstop that night; exchanging brittle quips like George and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, the banter had a sharp edge to it as they collected their gear. I sat quietly drinking a beer and observing the dynamic until it was time to go. 
 
Curt and I trudged down the stairs behind the couple, still bickering. At the bottom of the landing Greg threw out a snarky retort at Elyse. I don’t know what it was, I can’t remember anything they were arguing about. It was all the kind of shit that only two people who have been together a while would be able to master: a comment that looks harmless enough from the outside but is designed to push the other person’s buttons. Elyse shrieked and threw her open beer bottle at him, he jumped out of the way and it hit the ground and shattered into pieces, spraying beer everywhere.
 
It was shocking, Curt and always I waited until the end of the night to start throwing things at each other. I looked down and saw a remarkable amount of blood pooling on the floor around my high heeled shoe. My ankle was pumping sheets of it out faster than I would have thought possible.
 
I screamed in terror. “I’m bleeding!!” Greg looked angry and Elyse acted concerned. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” 
 
It was clear I was not going to the gig. Curt told them he would take me to the emergency room and meet them at the club. I stood crying on the sidewalk as he hailed a cab and Elyse pushed $40 into my hand. “Here, for the cab and whatever.” 
 
Curt, God bless him, carried me into the emergency room of Beth Israel like Dudley Doright. The attending nurse, a big black woman, rolled her eyes and said, “You don’t have to be as dramatic as all that! Put her down!” Curt said, “Look at her ankle, it’s gushing blood!” She gave us a pile of gauze to staunch the flow and sent us to sit down with the rest of the waiting throng. Curt kissed me goodbye and left for the gig. I felt so alone at that moment, so frustrated and abused by this woman I didn’t even know, bleeding in an emergency room at night by myself. Eventually, after an hour or so, I got to see a doctor, who put several stitches in my ankle and sent me home with a cane and the promise of a bill. It was the 80’s so you could get still get away with payment at a later date. And I, being a good girl at heart, did pay the $250  bill when it came in the mail a couple of weeks later.
 
After midnight in the city and if I’d had any money I would have been ripe for the plucking. I couldn’t walk at all. Hobble/hopping to the corner was excruciating and took so much time and effort that by the time I was able to hail a cab I was covered in sweat from the exertion in the hot summer night. Then I had to hop up the curb to my building on First Street and crawl up the five flight of stairs to my apartment. I sat on a step and used my arms and good leg to hoist my butt up to the next, then the next, then the next, until I finally reached my floor. I unlocked the door sitting and slid in backwards, still on my ass. 
 
Since stairs were out of the question I spent the next week and a half holed up in the apartment, unable to walk to the bathroom or kitchen without feeling shooting pain. I was stuck. I couldn’t work, I just laid in bed, depressed, bored with television and feeling mightily wronged. Curt and Gini brought me food and watched television with me when they could.
 
Fourth of July hit a couple weeks later, and I ventured outside with Curt to hang out with friends at the Hell’s Angel’s annual 4th of July block party on 3rd Street. He helped me down the stairs and walked slowly next to me as I limped painfully on my cane. We spent some time sitting on stoops, drinking beer and watching bands play while the Angels blew up fireworks. Then I hobbled home, exhausted, but so grateful to have gotten out of the house. The ankle saga seemed endless.  
 
Curt had an out of town gig with the band after that, and he and I were fighting again. As I slowly limped with him to their designated meeting spot in front of the Wah Wah Hut, we argued, over God knows what now. He was going through a coke shooting phase at that point so it could have been drugs or it could have been the dubious feminine company that went along with the drugs. When we got there Curt  was happy to be able to escape my nonstop rant for a moment to help load gear into the car. As he worked Elyse pulled me aside.
 
“Hey Raff, when do you think you can get that $40 that I loaned you back to me?”
 
My mouth dropped. I was stunned. I almost couldn’t wrap my brain around it. This woman had caused me so much pain with her bad behavior, not to mention a substantial emergency room bill with no income to support it, and now she wanted her measly $40 back? Could anyone really be this awful? I had no answer for her. I just looked at her for a moment, snapped my mouth shut, and turned to Curt and began arguing with him again. Eventually he hopped into the car and the band drove off while I was still yelling, cane in hand, Elyse shouting, “Drive, drive!”, laughing at me. Curt told me later that she and Greg really got a kick out of how I looked holding my cane and yelling as they drove away. 

Now I wanted to set her on fire. 
 
[Interesting side-note bit of trivia–Jesse Malin was driving that van and confirmed the story from his point of view many years later.] 
 
Curt was fired from the band after that gig. He was not a great bass player and his drug habit didn’t work in his favor. I pointedly ignored Elyse and Greg whenever I saw them out, which was often. 
 
One night I ran into them, of course when I was at my most vulnerable. As one of the few responsible people working for our rock and roll home base Lismar Lounge, I was often obligated to close out the bar at 4 am. I lived two blocks away and would wait up watching movies, then scoot through the streets as warily as possible, praying for safe passage. On this particular occasion I had put rag curlers in my hair and just didn’t feel like keeping my makeup on until going out in public. Usually there would be no one left in the bar. I pretty much looked exactly like this, except there was no smile. I probably had that same forehead zit.
 
 
 
This time there were at least four or five people in the bar, two of them being the dreaded Greg and Elyse. Ugh. First the cane waving, now curlers. It was too humiliating. I leaned against the ice machine, not looking at them, praying they would leave. 
 
Nope. Elyse walked up and stood in front of me, forcing me to acknowledge her. I turned my head to face her. She was shaking, so tiny, and said, “Hey Raff, I don’t know what happened between us, but I really am sorry about your foot and I wish we could be friends again.”
 
I looked down at her, mortified. I could see the rags in my peripheral vision. But at least I had a little height on her, especially since I tend to stand up stick straight when uncomfortable. I was practically bending backwards at this point.
 
 I said, “What happened, Elyse, is that you cut my ankle open, which caused me much pain, loss of work and a hospital bill, gave me $40 for it, and then asked for that $40 back.” I couldn’t even get into the hair pulling and constant mocking that had ensued around that.
 
I can’t remember what her response was, I think she had forgotten that she asked for the money back. She seemed so contrite and nervous and sincere that I had to let it go. I told her it was fine. After that, although guarded for a long time to come, I said hello when I saw them and eventually became friendly enough to appreciate the wicked sense of humor underlying much of what they did and said. I still think of her whenever my fingers happen to pass over the scar.
 
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That was written quite a while ago. Then Elyse sent a message through Instagram in October of last year. I cut a few things out of our exchanges because they’re too personal…

I feel it now too.

One of the last things she wrote on Instagram was this:

“I’m sorry people but I fear the count down for Scotty to beam me up may begin soon. I still have more treatment but I’m wee, but am wicked, we’ll see. What ever happens remember Raging Slab and I love you. Always reach for your dreams and that’s an order!”

What a champion firecracker she became. Ballsy from start to finish. Rock on, Sister Shining Star. I’m grateful for every last second near you, good and bad.