The Pause

This one is primarily for the ladies, advance apologies to my male friends…

I had allotted this time for yoga and sitting in front of my new LED anti-aging light that I spent 275 bucks on, but the urge to write is stronger. It’s time I come clean about what is going on with me in 2014, an act which I have resisted out of fear. But I pride myself on my honesty and believe that one of my purposes in this lifetime is to share the things that I have learned, so let’s just get on with it.

Side-note: this is the light. I had to sell the Nuface I told you about before, because my skin is very sensitive and the electric current was causing me to break out in hives. Zoe and I have a fabulous dermatologist friend (Dr. William Gael–he rocks!) who we torture constantly for beauty assistance, and he has a light and says it works. So I bought this one:

Drew rolls his eyes when I put on my pink goggles and go in. I will keep you posted on whether it works or not. I can feel a tingling sometimes when I use it, but the jury is out right now.

Some months ago I started having hot flashes. I refused to believe it was happening, but things got increasingly worse until I could no longer deny the reality. I couldn’t sleep well because I was waking up over and over in a burning state, having to throw the covers off and the windows open. And then I got all emotional, distant and bitchy with Drew for no reason. I still tried to pretend that everything was normal, until he finally had had enough, and God bless him, sat me down and asked me what was going on even though he knew exactly what was going on. I burst into tears and said it out loud, the dreaded, hateful words:

 “I think I’m in the middle of menopause.” He replied with a slightly longer version of “Well, duh.”

Since then things have been better, at least between us. He is a stellar, kind, patient person and now jokes that he is a victim of “The Pause”. I am working to be more conscious of how I treat him as my hormones rage in and out of control. I have never been a gentle person, except to animals, and it seems that one of Drew’s jobs in this lifetime is to teach me how to be less harsh with the people around me.

But it felt like more than that. All of the normal herbs and bullshit that you are advised to take for this bizarre time in life, which is not unlike puberty in many ways, were not helping me. Hot, cold, hot, cold, hot, cold, weepy, angry, terrified. The Pause is not sexy. I have spent a lifetime cultivating an identity that revolves around sexy. If I am old, which is not a valuable state for women in our culture, who am I? If I am not physically desirable, how can I be loveable? From where will I derive power if my primary power is gone? And on a basic, material level, I am working in service again, how long can I keep that up if I look old behind the bar? And how will I keep my man, who, is younger than me and because it’s a goddamn man’s world, still gets hit on by nubile, much-more-willing-to-be-accommodating 20-somethings?

Gah!!! The mind reels! More voddy, Darling?

Excruciating. But pretending that you are who you are not is not a good look for anyone. People who desperately try to pretend they are younger than they are become undignified and laughable.

I am aware that this is a process that nearly every woman experiences if she is lucky enough to live to an old age, and that it has its own rewards. Deep down I also know that regardless, I am vital and beautiful and will remain so in various forms until I die. But I am resistant, so resistant to change that my body has had to ratchet up the uncomfortability level in order to force me to pay attention.

I finally asked my mother for a reading. I don’t publish much of her information here because she prefers that those who are ready come to it on their own, and there is a real fear that those who aren’t ready will not receive it well. But I think that in this case it is valuable information for more than just me. This is what she got:

Her energy is shifting and much of what she is experiencing has to do with this rather than with menopause. She is somewhat in resistance to change as she identifies and honors herself with an image, much of it from the past. The new energy is trying to move in and she is hold tightly to the old causing her to be out of sync. She needs to rest more, center more, and actually live the truth that she knows…quiet the mind. (They are talking about rest as laying down quietly or meditating, not considering rest to be playing video games or watching TV). [Ed. note: But I just renewed my XBox gold subscription!]

She needs to clear her energy field when working and after coming home.  She  brings a lot of heavy energy home with her.  This can be avoided by keeping her energy field clear and filled with light while working through conscious intention and visualization.

There are many changes coming for her soon on all levels. The energy is changing and resistance to the new is causing a physical response. She must try and be open to any new ideas that may come that don’t fit into her concept of who and what she is. She needs to begin to love herself for who she really is (Divine Being having a human experience) and let go of the belief that she is only loveable if she fits a certain image she is holding of herself.  

Her heart center is opening to new levels and she will begin to experience love for others on a new level…more on a global level.

Herbal teas and products like this can help the symptoms she is experiencing but it is mostly due to resistance to change and a letting go of the past. 
  
Be open to change dear one, do what you do but from a new level of awareness. Take the day to day experiences and begin to see them from a higher standpoint for there is in reality, nothing that is not in and of the Divine…it is only how it is interpreted that makes it what it is. You are loved greatly dear one and have much to offer. Allow this to flow easily and gently out to others while not allowing yourself to be validated by anything, anyone, or anything from the present or past.

She does not need to become a new personality, just an awake one. She has earned skills that make her a powerful light worker, and knowing and living truth does not mean a person becomes a wuss or doormat.  It is being who you are, doing what needs to be done, but with awareness.

So poop. Is the work never done? Every time I get over one bullshit scenario, a new one roars into view. I’m so sick of it. Life is so hard!

Apparently the education continues, whether welcome or not. At times I feel as if I am in the middle of mourning some nebulous something, which I guess I am. But I know that you can’t get new stuff until you Spring clean out the old stuff. And I like getting stuff. I am resistant to talking about it with anyone out of mortification, yet it feels imperative to shed something, to get free. So against all panic to the contrary, I’ve just outed myself online.

I will try to inform on progress if I don’t freak out and take this post down in an hour. In the meantime, send Drew your prayers.

Call of the Wild

I like to watch the show “Snapped” when I’m getting ready to go to work. It profiles women who murder, which I find interesting, and it isn’t especially visual, they’ll show the same photos and people repeatedly, so I can concentrate on drawing on my eyebrows without having to look at the television too much. Drew doesn’t really get it, he thinks it’s morbid, which is probably true, but even he will occasionally get sucked in and add commentary: “My, that’s a handsome woman…” or “You’d think he would have noticed all that anti-freeze in his spaghetti…”

I saw one recently about two high school girls who fought over the same guy: a skinny little kid with a baby mustache who considered himself a player and enjoyed pitting the girls against one another. One girl was from a blue collar background, very pretty, a dropout who worked as a waitress, the other one was from a more middle class background, still going to school with straight A’s, not as pretty but with other advantages. The competition for the boy’s attention quickly escalated to threats via phone and text, harassment at the waitress job, aand generally picking at each other whenever possible until combusting into a physical fight in which the pretty waitress stabbed the good student, who died. So over some selfish jerk that neither one of them would probably love forever, one girl dies without fulfilling a blossoming potential, another one goes to prison for 27 years. Two families devastated while dumbass “playa” remained unpunished and claimed remorselessly on the stand that neither girl was his girlfriend.

Hmm…there but for the grace of God. In my youth I suffered mightily over many mistakes and got into all kinds of verbal and physical altercations struggling to keep my own prizes. Thank you, Jesus, thank you Lord that I had the presence of mind to leave the knives at home. But I feel great sympathy for the girl who didn’t. You do stupid things when you’re young and haven’t got the full capacity to appreciate the likely consequences. One weekend in jail was enough to cure me of the need to be right, what would 27 years do?

I was at work on Saturday night a couple of weeks ago when a trio parked themselves at the end of my bar: an American brunette woman, American blonde woman and a European, possibly French guy. The women were in their late 20’s, early 30’s and each beautiful in a different kind of way. The guy was average looking, attractive, with a short beard and nondescript clothing. He had an accent and kept ordering whiskey sours for the three of them without knowing what they were called and without tipping. The brunette woman would notice and put a tip down for me, and one or two times handed money over his shoulder to me for the drinks while he fumbled with singles for what seemed an interminable amount of time, leading me to suspect that he didn’t have a lot of cash and wasn’t super pumped about paying for all of the drinks.

The brunette seemed most in control of the situation: she leaned against the wall looking cool and talking while they drank, whereas the blonde got bombed almost immediately and would sort of veer around wildly to stare at me with her mouth open. If I approached and asked what she needed, she gaped without response until slowly veering back toward the other two.

It was an annoying and somewhat bovine behavior. My apologies to the cows of this world for that reference, as they are generally more endearing when they stare, but that was the word that came to mind as I tried to ignore the constant eyeball.

The blonde didn’t seem to like me much and didn’t seem to know when to stop drinking. Euro-dude kept trying to order her another whiskey sour, to which I would reply “Hell, no!” and told him that if she couldn’t form a sentence she couldn’t have any more booze. She continued to stare with her mouth open while these exchanges went on, ignoring the consolation glass of water I plunked down in front of her. My impression was that Euro guy was with the blonde, as he seemed most interested in her, and the brunette was sort of hanging in there to keep an eye on her drunk friend.

The brunette thanked me for the blonde’s water, and as it was late and slowing down, I asked her if she wanted to do a shot with me. She did, and we did. After the shot I waved my finger in a circle at the three of them,

“So tell me what’s going on here.”

She said, “This is my best friend, and she and I are in competition for this guy right now.”

I was tempted to recite one of my favorite quotes, made by Rosie Perez in a pretty crappy movie called Untamed Heart:

“Look at him! He looks like a tumor sittin’ over there. Ugh, and his hair! It just bothers me so much!”

I wish I could find the movie clip but it appears that no one on youtube thinks it’s as funny as I do. And I can’t do Rosie’s accent justice so I stuck to the truth and said, “Really? But he’s so ordinary. He doesn’t seem to have much money, he’s average-looking…” She turned around to look at him as he was in the middle of doing a happy little I’m-with-two-babes dance.

I rolled my eyes and continued. “There’s a pot belly under that sweater. That’s only going to get worse you know. And you’re hot, and smart, and can have any single guy in this room right now. And your friend…Well, she’s hot anyway…”

She laughed and said, “We just both really like him and I think neither of us wants to let the other win.”

I went back to bartending and the stand-off continued for another half hour. Brunette got Euro-guy to dance with her while Blonde glare-gaped at me and spilled the water. I was a little nervous that left unattended she might vomit on my bar, so I refilled it and stuck it in front of her again.

Eventually Blonde pulled herself together, registered that the other two were dancing too closely for her liking, did a little foot-stomp, and ran out of the room. Brunette took the opportunity to grab Euro-guy and make out with him for a second before they both left the room to get their friend. I thought that was the end of the show but they brought her back for a convo. Blonde yelled at Brunette, Euro-guy tried not to grin too obviously with glee before chasing after Blonde as she ran back out of the room for the second and last time. Brunette turned and said,

“Thank you for everything.” I replied,

“Dude, seriously. You have all the power. Don’t hand it over to this doofus.” She waved and left.

It wasn’t exactly a bummer; the unfolding of a good drama is entertaining when you’re bored behind a bar. But I did feel badly for Brunette, she was so much better than her current choice. It would have been nice to save her a little pain and suffering, as I already know exactly how it will play out. Euro-guy will happily sleep with whomever will have him, but will always lean toward the blonde. Someone will feel hurt and betrayed, harsh words will be exchanged, and the two girls will experience a rift in their friendship which might never be repaired, even though both of them will look back one day and wonder why they thought he was so duel-worthy. He will most likely go back to France and tell all of his friends how much fun American girls are…

There is no moral to this blog or way to wrap it up, just wanted to tell the story. I hope that at least a little of what I said to the brunette sinks in. People have made very wise statements to me that I didn’t quite get at the time, now I understand them fully. Most of the time the words don’t make sense until the experience connects. Knowing something in your brain won’t affect behavior until you know it in your stomach and heart as well, so most of us are compelled to heed the call of the wild until it doesn’t appeal so much any more. It could be worse, at least I got the lessons after a few smacks on the head, I know people who are still repeating their same mistakes at very advanced ages.

It’s all a journey, I suppose. I’m sure I’ve written this before, but it bears repeating: I had a conversation with a friend in which I said,

“I can’t believe I wasted so much time suffering and fighting over so little.” She shrugged and said,

“Eh. You had to learn the lesson from someone. At least he looked good…”

Maybe that’s all we can hope for as we repeat the mistakes of those that came before us: to be able to forgive the idiots we were, try to pass on the knowledge gained, and accumulate a few good stories and photos in the process.

N is for Neville Who Died of Ennui

Mother of God, how I hate the winter!

I have blogged about this so many times that it is pointless to do so again, but it’s all I’ve got.

This time of year creeps up on me like a quiet plague. It infiltrates every part of my being: my sight, my hearing, my perception, the way I feel inside my body and brain. I never notice it’s coming until it’s in my bones and I’m crunching around the grey streets, feeling grey and alternating emotionally between a lazy rage and a sad apathy.

I feel for chronically depressed people in February. In June, I forget about them. It’s all tight dresses and two hour brunches and “Girl, your hair looks FABULOUS!”. But for now, the perpetually sad have my attention and empathy. I know their pain. I was a depressed teenager, not realizing that the 6 months of winter in Northern Michigan were partly to blame for a perpetually bummed out mood which manifested in embarrassing diaries full of flowery and intense longing for I knew not what, and a lifelong attachment to black clothing.

Sigh…the more things change, the more they stay the same, except that with age and experience comes the ability to recognize the symptoms of seasonal ennui. 

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been drinking too much at work when it gets very late into the night. It cheers me up, if only momentarily. And I have to cool it. I haven’t gotten so drunk that people notice, but I am mature enough to desire sobriety when gainfully employed. But instead of reminding myself that I am vulnerable right now and simply have to choose to take a break for the time being, I take it to the emotional and mental extreme. I text apologies to people who have no idea what I’m talking about. I wonder if I’m an alcoholic. I wallow in self-loathing, vague and undefinable guilt and shame lapping at my ankles. I wonder if I should go back to therapy. I wonder if my boyfriend has stopped loving me. Yaaaaayyy…it’s February!

Today I had intended to go to a yoga class, but then it seemed well out of the range of possibility energy-wise. I did get out to run some errands, and that was just as expected. I stood in an empty aisle reading a label in the drug store, and Patty NYU comes and stands directly behind me as close as possible, wanting to look at the same item. The internal monologue starts up immediately. Why can’t she get her other stuff first? Does she have to hover around me like an ill wind? I turn around and give her the look. She ignores me. She just wants what she wants, and I am in her way. I want to kill her. Now we are mortal enemies. There can be only one! In the cash register line I assess her hair. It looks dull and lifeless. Her hair is stupid. I hate her jacket. How dare she stand so close to me in an empty store. She must die. She doesn’t have a Duane Reade club card. She probably doesn’t need one because Daddy pays the credit card bill. I create a whole backstory to justify my rage. Then I realize I actually like her hair, and remember, oh yeah. It’s FEBRUARY.

In the grocery store I get stuck behind an old lady traffic jam. The grocery stores in Manhattan are excruciating: a too-small labyrinth of boxes and bodies. Human movement is impossible without constant struggle, and the elderly love to gum the already gummy works with the largest carts possible. They don’t care, they’re retired, it’s time to hang. So we all stop and wait. I am too depressed to try to get around them, so I just stare at the onions with resentment. I am hot, so hot. Because in February you dress for the outdoors and then as soon as you get inside to shop you boil in your coat and scarf and hat. 

Eventually the tiny, stooped woman at the front of the fray takes a shuffle step. We’re moving now! I sigh audibly and yank at my itchy scarf. They all must die.

At the register line, I choose self-service so I can bag in my eco-friendly cloth bag at my leisure. The machine immediately freaks out at the presence of a non-plastic bag and shouts repeatedly at me: “PLEASE REMOVE THE UNSCANNED ITEM FROM THE BAG.” The girl manning the self-service is wearing the most amazing wig I have ever seen, it sits high on her head with black and white streaks pouring out of the back like a fountain. This cheers me some when she clears my machine, until PLEASE REMOVE THE UNSCANNED ITEM FROM THE BAG starts up again. Fuck you, stupid machine. I will kill you too. The only good thing on this entire planet right now is that goddamn wig.

One of the little old ladies freaks out. She starts shouting at her cashier: “I ONLY ASKED YOU WHERE TO PUT THE BASKET!! WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM? YOU ROLL YOUR EYES AT ME? YOU’RE JUST A CASHIER YOU KNOW! IT ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE. YOU’RE NOT A DOCTOR.”

She is maaaaad. M.A.D. She continues to shout and the cashier walks away to avoid an argument. I finish up my annoying self-service and now I have to get around the shouting lady to exit the store. She moves forward to let me out, and I look down at her. She has lipstick on and I see she’s put some effort into her appearance. The scarf on her head is silk. She’s cute. She looks up at me and says, “I ONLY ASKED HER WHERE TO PUT THE BASKET AND SHE ROLLS HER EYES. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? SO RUDE. SO UNBELIEVABLY RUDE. THIS STORE IS GOING DOWN, IT IS TERRIBLE HERE!”

I have been there. I have. Something sets you off and you can’t stop and everyone else stares at you like you have three heads, which then makes you madder and more vocal about defending your position until you’re causing a major scene in public, which then ends, in my case, in tears at home and the occasional scathing Yelp review. So whenever it’s not me causing the scene, I feel a sense of relief.  

See, I am not crazy.

I put my hand on her arm and said, “Don’t let it ruin your day; she just doesn’t like her job.” 

Her tension lessened visibly and she reciprocated the arm touch. She replied, ‘SHE DOES HATE HER JOB! SHE’S MISERABLE!” The tone of the shout was calmer and it made me happy to be able to help her feel a little better. I felt badly for the cashier. It’s a tedious job and I imagine sometimes you have to roll your eyes at the old ladies or go insane, and no one wants to be screamed at for such a minor offense. But I liked that I was able to assuage the upset a small bit for this cute little woman, who had put on lipstick to go to the grocery store and merely wanted to be treated nicely when she put away her basket. It was a small moment of human connection that eased my own suffering. 

So yeah. Wintertime sucks. But I’m hanging in there. Hope you are too.

Warning Rattles

I saw a man on television (okay, yes, it was Oprah, stop judging me) named Gavin Becker who wrote this book: The Gift of Fear
It was a fascinating interview. His focus as he spoke was not on foot stomping and ball busting, but on how humans are the only animal that will sense danger and ignore it, and this is what gets us into trouble. Women, he said, are very prone to this, because we are accustomed to wanting to be nice. While our spidey sense may start tingling as soon as we hear a dangerous man’s voice behind us, our politeness brain kicks in and takes control. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. And they look harmless enough most of the time, most serial rapists and murderers look like normal people, so it’s easy to override that small bell dinging in the distance.

When I was in grade school I walked a half mile to and from school every day with my classmate neighbors/friends. This was in the 70’s, in a small town, and we rode our bikes and walked everywhere. We wore Catholic schoolgirl uniforms and stopped at the store for candy if we had cash, and joked and bickered the whole way about things like what we would do if we were witches like Samantha on Bewitched. So it was generally a fun journey if the weather was decent. On one of these walks home, on a beautiful Spring day, a man came up from behind us and said hi in an overly friendly tone and started asking random questions: what were our names, where we went to school, etc. 
My friends reacted immediately with poker-face non-response, and then when he continued to push and went so far as to try to carry one of the girl’s bags, they ran away. I kept walking with him alongside, but staring straight ahead, and answered a couple of his questions as tersely as possible. I didn’t want to, I was extremely shy on a good day and his presence scared me. I knew I was in the vicinity of wrongness, I had already been molested earlier in life and recognized the icky temperature of the air. But I was frozen to the spot by the need to not hurt his feelings in case, just in case, he was really just a nice man who needed friends. My friend Shelly Hesslau finally ran back and grabbed me and pulled me into a run. I felt a great wash of relief as we ran together, knee socks sliding down skinny calves, even as she yelled at me for not moving immediately. She probably saved my life that day, and she told her mother who told my mother and then I got a big talk about the danger of strangers.

Now I am much older and have impolitely hurt feelings many times in my life. I have already written enough about a compensation for shyness that is sometimes too blunt and too bitchy. When I react in this manner I feel shitty about upsetting people so then I over-correct by being too accommodating and it becomes a neurotic see-saw of weird behavior. Like a teenager fresh behind the wheel of a car, I’m veering all over the road.

We flew back from vacation yesterday and the flight was jam-packed with babies and toddlers. I swear there must have been a ticket deal for people with kids under 5, the din was overwhelming. Seated directly behind me was a little girl with a great fascination for the tray table. Up, down, up, down. Bang, bang, bang! I dirty-looked the mom and she apologized and then I felt bad. Not that it really changed anything. Bang, bang, bang! Kick, bang, kick, bang, squeal! Finally I turned around and said, “I know she’s really little and it’s hard, but if you could keep her from banging on the back of my seat I’d be grateful.” I tried to be polite but I still felt weirdly shitty about the exchange, like I was a bad person who couldn’t control herself.

Next up was the woman in front of me with a shrieky infant and a chipper and admittedly adorable toddler who she referred to as “Nina-Bear”, her husband blissfully on his own in the seat in front of her. Sometime during the second half hour of the flight she created a rattle from hell out of a water bottle with change in it. So mommy ingenious! The baby screamed joyfully and shook the bottle and it made an overloud thunk, thunk, THUNK and then the baby would scream again and throw it on the ground, directly near the head of my poor dog who was horrifically abused throughout his puppyhood and is desperately afraid of loud noises, and who was at that time trapped in a carrier directly under the baby’s seat. 
Sensitive dog who just wants to sleep in peace on planes:
Sigh…I tried, I really tried to be cool, as I already felt guilty about ragging on the woman behind me and I knew the woman in front of me didn’t know about the dog and was just trying to keep the baby occupied. 
But then the noisy, ugly, change-filled plastic bottle flew in the air for the 9 gazillionth time and landed in my lap. The mother turned around smiling, expecting an indulgent ooh-don’t-you-just-love-babies smile as I handed the bottle back. Alas, it was not to be. I held the offending item in front of me and cocked my head and made a grimacey face that said, “Really?”. 
She said, still smiling, “Well, it’s either that or a screaming baby, it’s your choice!” 

I looked her in the eye a moment longer and said sadly, “Both choices suck.” And then handed the bottle back to her as her smile dropped and Drew’s eyes crossed as he tried to contain his glee. 

I felt really crappy almost immediately afterward. I was right, in a way, but I didn’t like how the exchange made me feel. Why couldn’t I have just nicely told her there was a dog under the seat? Why do I always have to take it there? I don’t want to be mean, I really don’t. It makes me feel better when people smile rather than frown in my direction. I love my rebellious nature but I’m a grown up lady now and let’s face it: the middle finger is more appropriate and attractive when paired with a mohawk instead of a manicure. 


My nails look awesome right now, by the way.
But I digress…So this is a big lead up to the real topic, which is following intuition. After living in the heart of NY for 25+ years, I believe that I am fairly in tune when it comes to dangerous men. I know when someone is acting weird on the street and I know how to charm a potential psycho in a bar in order to avoid a brawl. But I am still learning how to navigate the less obvious pitfalls of ignoring my inner voice, which come these days in the form of unhealthy relationships, less soul-destroying than a rapist to be sure, but still damaging if left unchecked.

I recently learned that someone I trusted really doesn’t think too highly of me or wish me well. This happens, I am somewhat loose about this kind of thing because lord knows I’ve talked my share of shit, even about people I adore. Sometimes you’re just momentarily venting about a friend and it gets back to them and it becomes a high school drama. I don’t want to know what everyone thinks of me all the time, it’s none of my business and my ego can’t take the blow. But this turned out to be much deeper than momentary bitching, with an element of insidious using and secret hatred that shocked those closest to me. It’s a sickness that really has nothing to do with me, but I allowed it into my personal life.
The interesting thing about this situation is that my initial feelings at the beginning of the friendship were a tattoo needle buzz of quiet discomfort. No great warning bells, just a small something felt off. True to form, I initially overreacted and then over-corrected. On the surface there was so much overt, demonstrative kindness and intelligence and what I thought was deeply honest conversation, that I overrode the vibration of my own nervousness. I didn’t want to be a snob to someone outside of my usual circle, I wanted to be thought of as nice, I want to think of myself as nice. I wanted to make someone happy, I wanted to be loved. It’s nice to be nice to the nice. So I ignored warning signs, the advice of my clear-seeing boyfriend, and my own intuition for quite some time, and it bit me in the ass a bit this summer.

Happily, I am in tune enough that I feel the pebble hitting me on the head and don’t have to wait for the wall to fall to get the message. I have people who love me dearly and are there to guide and protect me when I am unsure. So everything is good, just a few hurt feelings on my part and a lesson learned.

I know that many people out there struggle with this too. We want to be polite, we don’t want to be snobs, we want to make new friends. We want to co-exist with our fellow humans in a way that fills our hearts and ensures that we’ll always have entertaining dinner partners. These are all good things. Most of us are, at heart, good people. I simply want to remind you, as I have been reminded, that if there is something tapping at the back of your consciousness, it is there for a reason, and it is important to pay attention to the small messages before they snowball into more unwieldy and painful ones. 
It is my amateur advice to meditate or practice yoga or whatever it is that you love (painting, running, etc.) that will connect you with your inner, higher self, so that you have an easier time differentiating between mind chatter or social conditioning, and your true voice. It’s hard to tell when we have been trained our whole lives to follow societal protocol, which is necessary for peaceful co-existence, but sometimes cripples our ability to protect ourselves.
If you are not in immediate, dramatic danger, but are unsure of someone’s intentions toward you, envision yourself surrounded by white light whenever they are in your vicinity. Lower energies or intentions cannot get through a field energy of love and protection. Don’t hate them or engage in the struggle, this will bring you down into a lower, and therefore more vulnerable vibration. My mother told me that she imagines a diamond of light in everyone’s heart center as she walks through the world. This is a means of recognizing that regardless of form or personality or evolutionary progress (or lack thereof), there is a higher self in each person. I love that. People may or may not respond, it’s not so much about them but about keeping in tune with your own higher self.
Come to think of it, it’s probably a good idea to surround yourself with white light whenever it pops into your mind. Right now energies are moving very quickly, and we are being asked to step up to the plate and shed old, destructive habits in order to make way for a more crystalline form of being. If we don’t cut the shit and do it now, we will probably get left in the dust with the worst of us. Which, in my case, is probably why this is happening, just a little reminder to stay the course of true soul as we move into the new age. I am releasing this person with love and moving forward peacefully.

Oh, and I found this: If you’re on a plane with a parent using a super loud gross plastic bottle and dirty coin rattle that’s totally freaking out your dog and ruining your flight, you can suggest this much more peaceful alternative. And then, because you’ve been so helpful and accommodating, you can ask for one of whatever is in the bottle.




Jane Street

I did a reading for one of Ms. Puma Perl’s writer’s nights last night. She is a killer poet and author, a true East Village rebel artist, and an all around lovely person, so if she asks I am there. I feel like she is one of the keepers of the creative flame in a neighborhood that has lost much of that fire, and I am grateful that she includes me in her circle.

So I wrote a piece a while back that I read last night, and I hadn’t intended to post it anywhere. But since I haven’t had any time to blog lately, and a friend asked me if she could find it online, I decided I might as well house it here:

JANE STREET

One of my best friends is semi-famous. She’s not like, Motley Crue or Tom Cruise famous, but she’s got a lot of action in her life as a performer. Let’s say she’s past 5000 facebook friends famous.

We’ve been friends for 25 years and it’s a relationship in which there is a lot of trust because we went through some difficult times together. I was the semi-famous one when we first met, so it’s been entertaining to watch the roles reverse, and it has created a safety wall around us because we both know what it’s like to be either visible in a way that isn’t fully the truth, or invisible, which is an untruth in another way.

Recently my friend flew into town to meet someone new that she had hired, and she asked me to come with her to a party this person was throwing so I could offer my assessment. I do love to give an opinion and gladly accepted the invitation.

The party was at the Jane West Hotel, where I lived for a brief time in the mid-80’s when it was a trannie hooker flophouse extraordinaire. It was hardcore, complete with the guy in the weird cage desk in the lobby and a vibrating air that smelled of crack sweat and desperation. The guest rooms were bum hotel tiny but two friends and I managed to rent a large, sparsely furnished room in the basement. These two friends were Michael Schmidt, who has since become a well known designer and who created the legendary party Squeezebox, and a supremely talented painter named Martine. We were all kids fresh out of the Midwest, so we had a lot in common, primarily obscurity and a lack of income.

Our room must have been a ballroom at one time. It maintained that sad brokedown aura of elegant days gone by, with ceramic tile on the floor and a balcony running along one side of the room. It was probably beautiful once, but by the time we arrived, it was filthy and depressing. There was another large room on the other side of one wall that housed parties, most notably the Rock Hotel, which was the first party in New York to feature hardcore and heavier bands like Motorhead on a regular basis. And sometimes they’d rent out that room for low rent disco parties. The bass would thump, thump, thump all night long against the wall near my head, until I would sit up in bed and scream, FUCK YOU, MICHAEL JACKSON! FUCK YOU!!

We were beyond broke. Michael (Schmidt, not Jackson) weighed little more than a hundred and some odd pounds and lived on mini-marshmallows for what seemed like one entire week. He sat crunched up in his jacket like a bony mantis picking them one at a time out of the bag with long fingers, shivering in front of our television, which featured a screen cracked with what looked remarkably like a bullet hole.

We shared a bathroom with a Chinese family who we never saw, but every single day, without fail, would jam the toilet beyond use with leftover food. The floor and tiles were gritty with grime, and waterbugs were our constant companions as we stood in flip flops day after day, shaking angry fists at the unusable toilet and the unseen Asians who crept in at night to fill it with rice and mystery meat.

And just to round out the picture of this magical time in my life, I was date raped in our room by a Frenchman who was my boss at my very first job in New York, working as a salesgirl at Betsey Johnson. I didn’t know that it was date rape at the time, it was quietly traumatic in a way that didn’t become clear to me until years later, but this is a another story. I just want to give you a memory snapshot of my time at the Jane West Hotel.

So now it’s been renovated to the nines and it’s very fancy and Jane Street is THE street in the West Village. And this is where my friend’s very expensive new person was throwing the party.

When we approached the building I recognized the entrance staircase, but everything else was quite different. The smoky desk cage was gone. The lounge we entered was sumptuous, with a sort of murder mystery mansion come Moroccan feel, featuring that taxidermy of exotic animals that is both horrible and beautiful and very fashionable right now. Suffice to say not a waterbug in sight.

At the entrance to the party room was a single file line-up of very bored looking models hired to stand in a row as eye-candy. They were very pretty, of course, but looked miserable and bored. It seemed a pointless waste of thin nubile flesh to my experienced party eye. I would have given them drink tickets and sent them into the fray. Let ‘em get too drunk, pick a fight at the bar, blow someone in the bathroom! This gives the guys something to focus on and old cranks like me the opportunity to feel superior with our more mature behavior. Everyone is happy. Instead they just stood there, like giant statues, reminding me of all my physical flaws as I slouched past them, avoiding eye contact.

The new hire was cute: one of those typical industry girls–short, animated, not much makeup, trying very hard to exude that super-hip, “just one of the guys” energy that many women working behind the scenes in entertainment adopt in order to survive. She seemed cool enough. She introduced us to people who seemed cool enough.

My friend and I got a drink and sat on a plushy couch and things immediately went awry in that quietly horrendous way that these kinds of parties always do for me. The models looked even more hostile from our new vantage point. We were seated across from a couple on the couch who were as cute as could be and more boring than should be humanly possible. I think the guy was gay. He had side-swept bangs that he kept tossing out of his eyes and the kind of wardrobe that my boyfriend and I play a game with on the street: “Gay or Hipster”. His adorable and clueless girlfriend was dressed perfectly in overpriced Soho boho gear. Someone took a polaroid of the two of them and handed it to her. She set it down immediately and stared off into space with her hand in her chin. He stared out into the crowd, probably wishing he could tell his girlfriend he’s gay.

I said, “You should keep that photo, you both look very cute in it.” They turned for a moment, looked at me as if I had three heads and then went back to staring into space.

My friend sat next to me, talking  to new hire, who, in the space of five minutes had morphed curiously from professional businesswoman to teenage drinky gal. She had curled herself up into a ball with her knees scrunched against my friend and was alternately whispering into her ear and taking gulping swigs from a Heineken bottle.

My friend, who is the soul of patience, responded to each utterance briefly, and with eye contact and body language tried to direct Drinky Gal to the fact that there was another person on the couch, namely ME. But she could not be less bothered with my unimportant ass and rambled about her bad relationships and how she couldn’t be friends with ex-boyfriends and the usual completely inappropriate stuff that you shouldn’t talk about with employers but we all do when we drink too much.

I caught a small portion of it and said something that I thought was incredibly deep about the fact that until the lesson is grasped your energy will remain stuck. She glanced at me with that same three head glaze, and went back to ignoring me and whispering. I rolled my eyes and stared into space. Then I went back to staring at the young couple, fascinated by how truly not-fun they were at such an early age. The polaroid sat there, unclaimed, and its presence tortured me.

My second glass of wine kicked in and I started to get really mad, and I decided to play a game with Drinky Gal. I figured, I’ll give her the stare of death until she either gets uncomfortable and is forced to include me in the conversation, or until I finally master the power to explode people’s heads by deftly harnessing and focusing my rage. I thought, surely before her head blows up into a million pieces and covers my friend’s face with drippy viscera and bits of brain, she will notice that she’s being an asshole and include me in her dumb, stupid, ridiculous conversation.

She did not notice. And try as I might, I could not make her head explode. My wine glass quickly drained to empty and along with the wine, my passion dissipated, the residue a sort of limp resentment. If I had a third glass things were sure to head south, but my friend knows me well and we took our leave, abandoning Tiny Toad and her Heineken bottle.

In the cab I asked, “Why do people think that they can be rude to the wives and best friends? Don’t they realize we are the ones who will be sitting in the car with you on the way home, complaining about their shitty behavior?”

My friend slouched into the seat and sighed. “I don’t know. I guess she just got too drunk. I’ll give her three months and see how it goes.”

Then she asked, “Was it weird being in that hotel again?”

I said. “It was fine. Except for the stupid fuckface models reminding me that I’m a billion years old.”

She snorted. And I felt loved and that made me less angry about being ignored. And it occurred to me how much easier and safer things are for us than they used to be.

Twenty years ago this same friend was a nobody to the outside world, but still everything to me. She helped me put back the rubble of my shitty East Village apartment when my crazy, high-on-pills boyfriend trashed it nearly beyond repair. He smashed my antique jewelry box through a closed window, where it flew along with shards of glass down five flights and onto the courtyard below. The box contained all my tiny trinkets, a necklace from my dead father and a check for a few thousand dollars from Sony records, the only real money I would see during my big rock career. This friend climbed a concrete wall to try to salvage some of the items and almost got shot by a cracked out neighbor for the effort.

She had a broken mom and I had a gone daddy and it fucked us up nice, so then we fucked ourselves up. We fucked inappropriate people. We made disastrous choices. We talked complete shit. We spent endless hours working a coke grinder at our dealer/friend’s house, until the sun was well up in the sky, until we felt nothing but a longing for death, and still we didn’t stop. We both know what it is like to lie down on a dirty floor and cry, desperate and alone, for help that won’t come.

At the time, much like those models probably, we had no idea how impossibly beautiful we were. We were so very young and lost, how could we understand that we sparkled? Our hearts were broken. Our badass middle finger in the air hid the fact that we thought we were garbage. And we were of no real use to each other’s healing process, except that it was always a safe place to crash, a guffaw in the dark, a warmth in the eyes that did not falter. A true love, if you will, and a soft landing among the jagged rocks we’d chosen to reside upon.

I thought about the new hire and her less than stellar party behavior and the gorgeous decor of the hotel and my past there when it looked so much different, and the bored couple and the photographers and how all of it, everything around us in those public situations is like a tiny tapping on our window. We can hear it, it exists, we can even play with it and have fun. But because we are now closer to whole, it lives outside of us, and cannot penetrate or harm in any deep way.

So ramble on, Drinky Gal, and rock on, fancy new hotel, and enjoy your own trajectories, beautiful models. I hope they give you an ocean of free drinks and let you roam free at the end of the night. I do not begrudge you your youth and beauty, I can live without being included in your conversations, although I’ll probably still keep trying to blow up your heads telepathically, if only for personal, petty amusement.

I See You

Me: I saw one of my former generals on the street today.
Drew: What are you talking about?
Me: From that other lifetime when I was a queen.
Drew: Really. So who was this person?
Me: Somebody’s mom on the street. I didn’t know her, but I recognized her. We had a moment. (Pointing two fingers to eyes and back out again).
Drew: Really?

Me: Yes. It was nice to see her again.
Drew: You do realize that you are 100% batshit crazy, right?
Me: I don’t know what you’re talking about, Andrew.

Drew:  It’s terrifying. Your lips move and I feel actual fear. (waves hands in the air) Gaaahhh!

Bebe Buell, Babes, and Bathroom Brawls

So, my longtime and dear friend Bebe Buell asked me to do a spoken word opener for her record release party last night. She said, “You’re so funny, Raffer. I am envisioning you with a new spoken word career!” Which is very kind, and I gladly accepted and wrote something specially for her night.

My mom is in town for a visit, and staying with me, so I’ve been on the go nonstop all week, and I worked all day. I ran home, curled my hair, threw some eyelashes on, printed the piece out quickly, then ran to the venue without checking. the pages.


True to Raff minor chaos form, I got onstage, read the first three pages happily, and then realized as I stood in a spotlight, with 350 people listening, that I had left the last page at home. Le sigh. Le panic. Le FREAKOUT. I had to wing it. I am SO not into winging it. But I had a great time, and I think the crowd did too, and I’m so grateful to Bebe for her incredibly generous spirit and her awesome audience. Please pick up her new album “Hard Love”. You won’t be disappointed, I think it might be her best yet.

All my best girls showed up for support, and in another typical Raff situation, two of them almost got in a major brawl in the ladies room when a zaftig goth girl complained loudly to the bathroom attendant that I had stolen her material. I have killer friends, and I do mean killer in both senses of the word. They do me proud.

And happily, more than a couple of people I met asked if they could find the piece online, so I am posting it here. And then I’m going back to bed, because my vodka-soaked head is killing me. 


As per usual, namaste, my bitches.



BEEB


When Bebe asked me to get up here and say something, I thought about a number of stories that I’ve written, but decided that since it’s her record release, it makes sense to begin by speaking about Bebe, and how we met.

When I was a teenager I was a nerd. I wore thick glasses and lived in a small town in Michigan. And I was insane about Todd Rundgren. Like devoted, rabid fan. His nerdiness spoke to my nerdiness in a way that I felt no one else could understand. I knew we were meant to be together. One day we would be madly in love. I would stand at his side wearing the coolest clothes and we would use big words like “onomatopoeia” and “ubiquitous” in our everyday conversation.

Because it was the 70’s I had pictures of him up in my locker at school, cut out from Creem and Rolling Stone Magazines, where I got all of my most important news. There was no internet. You couldn’t google your idols, you just had to wait for these magazines to come out each month, and listen to flat, vinyl records over and over again while you looked at the jacket cover and fantasized about another life. A life that involved fitting in and rock stars and skyscrapers and fancy backstage parties. A life that did not include shoveling snow in moon boots and waiting for your birthday so you could get contact lens and stop being abused for being a four-eyed nerd at your Todd-festooned locker.

One day I opened a magazine, most likely the aforementioned Creem, and there was that famous photo of Todd and Bebe sitting at a small table looking up at the camera. I stopped breathing for a minute. Bebe looked so beautiful, and not much older than me. Her big blue eyes were wide and sweet, she wore a flower in her long, light, full hair and her mouth was parted slightly open, as if she were waiting to be kissed. She was so beautiful.

I thought to myself…“That fucking bitch.”

I was pissed. My hair never looked like that! I had assumed, wrongfully I could see now, that Todd was waiting patiently for me to pull myself together and move to New York so we could start our life together. Bebe was an interloper. She had stolen my man, my future life! I began listening for signs of her in his songs. I practically had a meltdown when she put out a record of her own. That was really taking it too far. I was gonna beat her up one day. As soon as I got the hell out of Dodge and into New York City, she was gonna get it.

Well…I did get the hell out of Dodge, and I stopped wearing glasses and started my own band. Screw you, Todd. I don’t wanna be your goddamn girlfriend anymore. I’m going to get famous and then you and all the hometown haters will be sorry that you didn’t appreciate me when you had a chance! I was officially a Cycle Slut from Hell with an attitude to match the name.

Sometime in the late 80’s Dee Dee Ramone hosted a show that featured a number of bands, including my band, the Cycle Sluts, and Bebe was scheduled to play. I was finally going to get to see my teenage nemesis in person and I was very curious. I assumed that I would hate her. She was blonde, after all. Surely just a spoiled model with nothing to say.

I dressed in my heavy metal gear for sound check and put my guard up. Too cool for school, just hanging here near the stage, smoking a cigarette in my thigh high boots. You know how it is.

Bebe spotted me immediately and got up from her seat and marched directly over to me and introduced herself with a big smile. Liv, who was just a little girl then, smiled and waved from her seat. Bebe’s blue eyes were even more clear in real life. Her hair looked great (of course). She was so friendly and natural. They both shone like the sun and their presence was so warm and friendly that I couldn’t help but warm up a little bit in the light.

I thought…“That fucking bitch.” Now I had to be nice. This did not fit into my master plan.

My brain sort of exploded. And my brain has been exploding ever since. Bebe has taken me to Todd’s house for the weekend, we took a road trip to Wisconsin with Skid Row and Guns and Roses, and another time we went to a strip bar with Gene Simmons, with whom, by the way, I had a very deep and thoughtful conversation about silicone breasts. My teenage nemesis helped make some amazing rock and roll moments possible for me. This is all the proof I need that life is magic.

So today I thought I would hail all the women who have entered my life much as Bebe has: as someone to eye with suspicion as we are raised to do. Who are you? What do you have that people will love you for more than they love me? Are you prettier than me? Skinnier than me? What are you going to take from me?

If you can get past the the butt-sniffing phase, you can occasionally find someone to call sister. Sometimes you gain an archenemy instead. But this can be fun as well, full of catty conversations with friends, dirty looks across the room, and the occasional bar brawl that leads you to review your current life choices. Or maybe that’s just me? Regardless, I get a little smarter with every connection.

So here’s to you, my girls. You bitches, you gossipers, you haters, you nurturers, you lovers. I am so grateful, more grateful than words can say, for the tender hand you extend when I fall. I forgive you for sometimes pushing me off the cliff in the first place.

Here’s to you, girls who weren’t born pretty and made themselves so. I salute you for the effort. You look fabulous. Here’s to the girls who put themselves through college. The ones who get the job done. The ones who can carry half their weight, the ones who can stitch a wound. The ladies who know what it’s like to lug their own suitcase up six flights of tenement stairs. The women who will stop their car on the highway to rescue a stray dog. The ladies of pro-wrestling. You’ve all got great asses.

Here’s to anyone who’s ever sent a cringe-worthy drunk email or left a wasted late night message on the phone. Here’s to the cheaters who just couldn’t help themselves. Here’s to the girls who have figured out all his passwords. You know you’re crazy, but you’re fucking smart. Here’s to anyone who’s ever made an ass out of themselves over love. Here’s to you, who loved so much the bones of your heart had no choice but to crack in a million pieces under the weight. They fused back in new patterns and you were never the same. Harder perhaps, but less of a sap and more compassionate where it counts. You chose the pain; now you don’t need to choose it again.

So here’s to damaged goods. You couldn’t stay away from that bad boy, and now you’re flawed with the occasional std and the constant bad attitude. Here’s to your junkie past that scarred your skin and burned your brain. Who gives a shit. That was yesterday, this is today. Don’t do it again and you’ll be fine. You are fine. You are a stone cold fox.

I laud you, single mothers. I don’t know how you do it, it looks like the hardest job in the world, and I’ve worked some shit jobs in my day. I have a friend who lost her four year old to cancer. She told me some days it was all she could do not to go to the cemetery and dig that baby up just to hold her one more time. Imagine the courage it takes to get through just one of those days. The good mother is superhuman. What it does to your boobs is criminal and it is my God-given right to glare at your stroller that blocks my entrance into the liquor store, but I hail the you just the same.

And I bow to you, wives who make their marriages work, and wives who could not. Either way you are golden and grand and you have done the best you could with what you know. Give yourselves a gold star, a pat on the back, a big glass of wine in a fancy goblet, unless you’re one of my girls in recovery. In that case you can have an ice tea with no sugar. I want you healthy and happy because there’s a lot of work to do out there.

I have so much love for you, you’ve carried me through the best and the worst of times, which are sometimes interchangeable. You loaned me clothes, bought me lunch, called to gently break the news about my cheating man, did coke with me until the sun came up and then called the next day to tell me we had to stop. You shouted and clapped at every show I performed, no matter how off-key it sounded. You forgave me. I’m so grateful that you forgave me.

Here’s to the witches, psychos, crazy bitches, shrews, harpies, cunts, fishwives, hellcats, she-devils, whores, harridans, skanks, nymphos, prudes, dogs. The festerers, the obsessives, the maniacs, the freaks, the drunk dialers, the wallflowers, the fatties. The ones wearing too much makeup. Too thick, too skinny, not pretty enough, too pretty, not the right one. The rock and roll bitches, because you are my favorite bitches of all. You are perfect, my dear. Stop shouting into the wind and and do your best to learn to sit peacefully in your imperfection. It will get better, I promise.

I raise a toast to my girls: Take a look at yourself next time you’re in front of a mirror. This might be the most beautiful you’ll ever be in your life, so enjoy it while you can. Maybe not. Fuck it. Fuck it. You are a champion, you are more lovable than you think you are, you are a muse, you deserve to have songs written about you. You are holy, you are whole. You just have to shut the fuck up and step out of your own way.  

So here’s a salute to you my sisters. I hail you my frenemies. I thank you my enemies. Without you, I am nothing.

Now let’s get on with this show because time is ticking and Bebe and I aren’t getting any younger.