Death By a Thousand Cuts

I talked to a friend yesterday who told me that he ran into what I guess could be called a frenemy. Said frenemy is a woman that I worked with years ago– beautiful, intelligent, similar East Village history. It was not a great combo; I found her abrasive, unnecessarily defensive and territorial, overall a very difficult coworker. At the time I hated every second in her presence and I’m sure she didn’t adore me either. But I could see that she had some good qualities in dealing with other people, and I got over it with time. I thought she did too.

I liken this later time in my life to senior year in high school, when everyone has managed to get close to the finish line and the cliques don’t matter so much. There is a camaraderie of making it through together. It feels the same, for the most part, with all of those rivalries and beefs we had in our youth. The grudges have faded and we’ve matured enough to get past some of the issues that created them in the first place.

The last time I saw this woman was a couple of years ago at a memorial for another mutual friend. We had a nice conversation about what had been going on with us since that job, and I felt good about our interaction and was grateful and pleased that things were friendly. I thought we were great.

So friend who ran into said frenemy said that she told him that the last time she’d seen me I was crying in a dive bar. Now–the part about me crying in the bar is undoubtedly true. As mentioned many times here, I went through a very difficult period a few years ago, and I was drinking and crying all over the damn place. BUT, that was most definitely NOT the last time she saw me and she knows it. The last time she saw me I was not crying or intoxicated and, side note, was wearing really good shoes and an excellent dress.

I was at first confused, then irritated. I thought about sending her a message asking essentially, “Bitch, why??” Why must you perpetuate this ancient, dried brown bad blood by purposely talking shit? Why, whyyyyyyyyyy??? Then my second thought was that if I were to send a message then I too would be perpetuating and it would turn it into a “thing”. And I’m practicing not turning a thing into a thing or being a “right fighter” (thanks, Dr. Phil!), meaning that I understand that I don’t always have to have the last word, and that it’s not my job to harass people for not thinking I’m as awesome as I think they should.

So I let it be. But I like to fester on things for as long as humanly possible in order to maximize internal suffering. And as I was gloomily ruminating (gluminating!) over it, I happened to catch a woman on TV discussing a seemingly unrelated topic, specifically about how movies have often negatively shaped female comparisons and opinions about ourselves, that somehow felt related. Because I am guessing the answer to the why question is a lingering feeling of competition and a need to cut a competitor into more bite sized pieces. So it feels like I’m being nudged to work on this a bit.

The BLM movement has caused me to examine my own personal role in perpetuating racism and white privilege, and it’s been both eye-opening and saddening. I am sad that it’s taken 2/3 of my life to ingest this information, and to understand fully that I have to be proactive in all of my conversations, thoughts and encounters if I want to be a part of the solution.

So along with this I am now also realizing that I must do the same with women. It is imperative to change some ingrained, learned behavior if we are ever to disassemble another prejudicial system–the patriarchy.

This is more complicated for me. First, just typing the word feels yucky. Not because I don’t feel that it exists and needs to be dismantled, but because I don’t like winging it on subjects that feel too large for me. I like to stick to my own little dust-ups and the information I can glean from them.

But this is indeed a personal dust up, if only inside my head. It’s clear that for her there is some residual dislike. In my mind it’s unwarranted, but not unexpected, because women are always suspicious of one another, and often shitty as a result. We slice each other to ribbons with sharp little criticisms, bits of whispered disapproval. gossip that sometimes lies, often exaggerates or gets it at least partially wrong. We undermine our own personal integrity with publicly sanctioned, often whispered, sometimes funny abuse of each other, which rewards us with a temporary feeling of control or superiority.

I have always been a girl’s girl, but I can also act as insecure and mean as anyone else when feeling attacked or defensive. I love words, humor and getting into people’s heads, so I can easily tear someone up either to their face or behind their back with those three things. I want to do better, do the right thing, and I’m definitely closer to it. But I’m realizing that maybe just trying to be nice isn’t the point, isn’t as far as I need to take it.

So what does taking it further entail? I don’t want fake niceness with people I don’t like. It seems kinder to be honest with someone than string them along passive-aggressively. I believe that if I am speaking my truth that gives the other party the control and freedom to live their own truth. So even if it’s not enjoyable in the moment, it’s a cleaner way of living.

So maybe it’s the way we deliver that honesty? I don’t want to give up my dark sense of humor, it keeps me afloat. But what about all the tiny, unnecessary ways that we injure each other without self-awareness, often without the other person’s awareness, under the guise of humor, or even worse, faux concern? The way we judge someone we don’t know or don’t like by weight or appearance, the way we make some snide comment or joke that we quietly know is unfair or bending the truth. And even if it is the truth, couldn’t it be possible to convey that information with compassion and empathy instead of with a sting?

I’m still sorting it out. I feel much more of a kinship with Cersei Lannister than Gandhi. I would very much enjoy blowing up my enemies with green fire while sipping wine. I come up with terrible nicknames for people in my head that no one needs to hear. I tend to snicker when someone who has tormented me falls, probably because it puts scary things/people in a more manageable, less threatening box, which feels empowering in the moment. Winning a war is comforting.

But in the end it’s only a seductive illusion. At the end of the day it denigrates both parties energetically/vibrationally. So that means that in order to move forward I have to start viewing a person as a full entity rather than that quick, disdainful assessment and boxing up that keeps me feeling safe.

This is almost scary; it feels too vulnerable. I’m finding that the first step for me personally is just to keep my big mouth shut. Utilizing a filter is pretty new to me, but I’m guessing that if I get more adept at carefully choosing words, the thoughts might follow. So forgiveness in this case, I think, doesn’t mean pretending it didn’t happen, but it means I can let it die on the vine without retaliation or comment. And I’m grateful for the awareness that came with this little dig. I’m thinking about it, writing about it, and hopefully gaining knowledge from it.

I’m thinking that it could be possible to approach dislike with integrity. It isn’t about reaching for sainthood or trying to be liked by everyone, which can be a form of self-judgment anyway, like “I will try to be better, and then maybe I will deserve love, but I can never be perfect, therefore I can never be loved.” The snake eats its tail.

Any time someone decides that I am behaving in a way they dislike or disapprove, the first criticism leveled at me is always “For someone who spends so much time pretending to be spiritual, you sure are… [insert insult here].” Possibly. It seems strange to criticize someone for working to improve, but it’s an easy dig in my case. For me, any spiritual leanings are primarily about finding ways to live and think that remove pain and create joy, because I hate feeling bad and much prefer to feel happy. So the goal, whether you call it spiritual work or not, becomes simply about protecting one’s peace of mind: I don’t want to waste one more minute of my life dealing with competitive schism because it makes me feel bad.

And then if that feels palatable, we can move to the admittedly more global/spiritual level, and consider that if we shift our own personal consciousness to be happier, that in turn nudges the collective conscious closer to a world in which we don’t have to make a decision on whether to deal with bitchiness or not, because it no longer exists as a standard or readily acceptable means of relating to one another.

Women can do better, people can do better, and I think many of us are ready for it. I do believe that we are in the age of Aquarius and that a new world is slowly coming to fruition. But it’s at a glacial pace and I get disheartened sometimes when I look at things on the large scale. These little changes feel more doable. I can’t control the world but I can control my small piece of it, and maybe influence someone whose small piece is adjacent to mine, and then boom! Patriarchy dismantled, all animals and children are treated with respect and kindness, people notice my awesome shoes and forget they saw me crying in a bar in 2016.

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Wot, fisticuffs?!

I have been debating posting this story (below) that I read recently at a livestream benefit for The Wild Project. I have all these tales from the past that people love, but that are most definitely not coming from a 2021 kinda woke place. Which is part of the reason that my friends love them, but sometimes I’m afraid to stir up certain old energies publicly, especially after a devastating break-up promptly followed by an unwarranted series off attacks I received in 2019 and 2020, starting with the laptop dummies, an ex’s impossible-to-placate girlfriend, a pissed off junkie I barely know, and a misogynist fool who is inexplicably angry at me because Sam doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. It was a parade of meanness, to the point that I have had so much vicious and erroneous shit said about me and to me via the internet that the attention is almost flattering.

Happily all of that misdirected hatred being flung like monkey poo seems to be in the rearview mirror. I’m sure they still hate me, but if I am not put in a position where I have to respond, they can feel however they want. The upside to all of that is a shiny new, much thicker skin and the lightness of emotional freedom.

in the good old summertime i dont care GIF

I was trained from an early age to mistrust my intuition and instinct, to say yes when I wanted to say no, to feel constant shame about my very being, my body, my thoughts, and to hide away my true self and true feelings or risk being punished or mocked. I have spent much of my adult life trying to understand what happened, how it unconsciously directed so many bad choices, and to clear out that baggage. I am only now becoming able to forgive myself for all of my shortcomings, and to at least contemplate the idea that I am not a bad person. Maybe even a good one? The mind boggles at the possibility.

I know that I have been given certain gifts this lifetime in order to speak for and to like-minded people who have similar experiences and feelings, and to allow a window into a life that some people would like to experience. I feel that connection and obligation when I write and I always try to be as true and honest as I can be within the confines of not outing or harming the people in my orbit. The attacks left me fearful and somewhat voiceless, but I’m ready to get back to what the Universe keeps nudging me to do, which is simply write it down when it circles my brain.

Okay, so with all of that in mind, here’s the story I read. I thought the theater would have the livestream up for viewing after the event, but it’s just as well that they didn’t because it was so effing cold in there that my nose ran and I shook so hard that it appeared I might have some substance issues of my own. If they ever do post it I’ll add the link. This is edited for a live situation, meaning some details are cut out for brevity’s sake.

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Betsy was going to get it.

I was Queen Vixen of the Cycle Sluts from Hell goddamnit. You did not fuck my man and walk away unscathed. I did not operate that way. I was a powder keg of emotion on a good day, and this was definitely not a good day. Or week. Or month.

I lost countless hours of sleep festering over the details: imagining her and my faithless boyfriend in bed together, smiling at each other over their clever deception. Then in order to keep my heart from exploding in agony I would imagine all the ways that I would make them suffer. I pictured tearing her throat out with my teeth or pushing my long fingernails into her eyes, blood spraying everywhere as she screamed in pain and terror.

This did bring some brief comfort.

She knew she was in trouble and laid low for months. I went everywhere with an army of loyal mean girls and we had a strict code about right and wrong, meaning mostly that we got to do whatever we wanted while less locked-in females did not. We brooked no disrespect in our scene.

I kept an eye out constantly but by the time she finally showed up at a Manowar concert at the Ritz, I had almost forgotten to scan the crowd for her basic brown bob. So it was a surprise when she passed me in the fray of people, distracted and smiling with friends.

The audacity. I felt myself go hot; red flashed behind my eyes and flooded through my body and my vibrating arm shot out of its own accord before anyone could register what was happening. Cycle Slut sisters Dolly Dagger and Nyquil Nancy slammed into my back as I stopped short and lunged.

I snatched Betsy by the front of her shirt and yanked her face close to mine. I held my lit cigarette an inch from her cheek while tall, scary Nancy and always-up-for-a-scuffle Dolly glared backup behind me. We were dressed in our uniform of short leather jackets, cut off denim shorts and thigh high leather boots, looking (intentionally) like something out of a 70’s B-grade biker film.

Time slowed and stretched. Betsy stood very still, her two friends frozen wide-eyed behind her. Her eyes flicked down to the cigarette and back to me.

I said, “You fucking bitch. You whore. You think you can just show up and hang out now? You think you still have that right? I’m going to fucking kill you, you know that? I’m going to kick your fucking ass.”

Still glancing at the cigarette millimeters from her cheek, she replied in a shaky voice, “There’s nothing to fight over. I don’t want to fight with you. I don’t want Curt. You can have him.”

I smiled grimly and hissed, “Oh, but I don’t want him. I want YOU.”

I shoved her away from me and she stumbled backward into her friends. A long-haired dude watching nearby said, “Hey, that last line was pretty good! Did you make that up on the spot?” I ignored him and stomped away to try to get my pals working security to throw her out of the club.

After that, it was only a matter of time. She continued to avoid venues and parties that I might venture into, which was pretty much anything rock and roll based on any night. She would show up here and there, never staying if she spotted me. And I always made sure that she spotted me. I reached out through the crowd and slapped her hard on the back of the head as she walked through the Scrap Bar. I shoved her at the Cat Club. She had a friend with her, a seat-filler who looked a bit like me and considered herself my competition. She got in my face and shouted, “Leave her alone, Raff!”

I said, “You’re gonna get it too, you fucking cunt.” I snatched her bondage cap off her head and threw it into the crowd. It sailed over the dance floor like a Frisbee.

“Go get your hat, twat. You look like shit without it.”

Eventually though, Betsy tired of life underground. There was a lot of fun to be had back then and she was too young to stay home.

Raging Slab headlined a gig at a club called Downtown, and it was one of those nights where everyone and their bass player showed up. My band, my unfaithful boyfriend’s band Blitzspeer, Joey Ramone, Circus of Power, White Zombie, the Hells Angels… Everyone attended this show, including her.

I was primed for it, and when she walked a little too closely to me as I took a swig of beer, I chose the opportunity to spit a mouthful of liquid directly into her face. It was harsh; I shocked even myself with the crassness of it. She looked stunned for a moment as beer and spit dripped down her face, and then her expression shifted awake and she jumped on me, grabbing for my hair. Her sister pounced on Nancy. Other girls jumped in and within seconds there was a full on girl brawl on the dance floor: hair pulling, screaming, bystanders getting knocked out of the way. I’ve never seen anything like it, before or since.

I had been counting down to this moment. Betsy was not a person to me anymore, she was simply the Enemy, capital E. She embodied all the pain and betrayal, real or imagined, that I’d experienced up until then: the self-esteem obliteration that comes with being raised Catholic, daddy issues and abandonment of death, the diabolical behavior of high school girls, date rape, Curt’s incessant lies and verbal cuts, myriad major and minor heartbreaks, real or imagined. I was drowning in sadness and anger was the only thing that kept me afloat. I had managed to climb out of the Midwest and recreate myself as a big fish in the rock and roll pond of New York City, and I should have enjoyed it, but sadly I never did. Instead I lived like there was a war on. All I ever thought about was defense. Better to burn than to feel burning tears.

I exploded outwardly, tight fists swinging at her face. Betsy continued to pull my hair trying to hold my head down. I flung my purse off my arm and grabbed at her hands with one hand and punched upward with the other, where I knew my fist could connect. She was no match for me but she held onto my hair with a deathgrip. I kicked her off her feet and shoved us both to the ground.

I wore a Zack ring, which was very popular at the time, solid pewter with heavy jagged edges pointing straight upward. It was a small but evil weapon. I slammed my fist into her as she crouched on her knees, now just trying to protect her face with her hands and the ground. I could only make contact with her forehead, but I hit it with full force. It felt good to hit her, hit something firm and real for a change. I couldn’t feel the ring cutting into my hand.

The fight was broken up quickly enough; the boys grabbed their flailing girlfriends and dragged them apart. Betsy and friends left or were ejected and our side retired victorious to the bathroom for clean-up. My bag had been stolen. I had a bleeding scratch over my lip and my hand ached from so much pounding, the ring finger cut and bruised. We fixed our faces; I wiped away the blood on mine. Nancy and I hugged and I said, “I fucking love you man!”

I could not have been happier. We went back to the bar where Butch, the president of the Hell’s Angels, had a celebratory kamikaze shot waiting for me. But as he handed me the glass his eyes widened and he said, “Cops are here, you gotta hide.”

Someone shoved us into a back room, but it was too late. Seconds later the door flew open to reveal two cops with Betsy behind them with a swollen, bloody forehead. It looked like raw meat. Nancy and I were handcuffed in front of all of our friends and led wild-eyed out of the club.

I was stunned. This possibility had never occurred to me. No one ever called the cops in New York in the 80’s. You just duked it out and then went back on about your business. Sometimes you’d buy each other a drink afterward and become best friends.

I was held in the 9th precinct, then chained hands and feet to a group of other female arrestees, then hauled in a van to the Tombs, where I spent the better part of a weekend laying on cold concrete, learning the intricacies of crack use and street prostitution. It was the longest 30 hours of my life. Curt called my mom to tell on me and she laughed and said, “Well, she’s your problem now!”

I was lucky. Nancy went to jail too, so I had a friend along for the dry bologna sandwiches and wailing junkies writhing around us on the floor. Our arresting officers liked us and gave us candy bars and helped me pass off the ring surreptitiously to Curt before going in. Otherwise it would have been considered a weapon and brought with it a felony assault charge. Rock writer Lisa Robinson wrote about the arrest in the Post, and Bob Gruen photographed me leaning on the cop car, so the band got some press out of it. Eventually Betsy dropped the charges in exchange for my promise to stop tormenting her, which set me on the road to some of the deeper lessons in my life: humility, compassion, forgiveness… impulse control. She went on to get a black belt in karate, I’m assuming, just in case. We are friendlier now and I promised that I wouldn’t make her look too bad. She’s a mom now and I changed her name here.

Decades later Betsy told me that after the fight she went to a friend’s house to get a knife, to wait in front of my apartment and kill me when I came home. The wannabe in the bondage cap talked her into calling the police. I should have beat her up instead, I discovered later that she was calling Curt late at night behind both our backs; Betsy just managed to get there first. In any case, I think I probably would have preferred the early morning knife fight back then. I thought I was going to die young and that kind of end could have made me a legend. Curt would be sorry, she’d go to prison, my friends would hold a big memorial, it would have been glorious. But life sometimes has other, more mundane plans in mind. Still, I get a good giggle out of thinking about it. So much passion! Like West Side Story but with sluttier outfits.

A few years ago, a much better boyfriend than Curt, upon hearing this story, rolled his eyes and said, “You can’t just beat everyone up, Mary.” To which I replied, “Well, I know that…NOW.”

It is certainly easier to be 50 than it is to be 20. It’s taken me a long time to understand that when we operate defensively we are often at our most offensive. But that which does not kill us, makes us friends on facebook, and that’s kind of okay.

Golden Girls Thank You GIF by TV Land

Survival Mode

I have always been of the opinion that most people are decent and do their best, but 2020 is doing it’s own best to test that opinion.

This year has separated us out in extreme ways. The obvious – Red vs. Blue, rich vs. poor, those are easy to see. But there’s a deeper rift. Fear and inability to adapt to change make some people behave in terrible ways. We are seeing so much rage in the streets, in social media, in the news. It’s daunting, to say the least, especially when people are already worried about money and their health. Having to look over your shoulder to go to the grocery store when you already can’t breathe in a mask feels like too much. Not knowing when you can go back to work and stopping by Facebook to get hit in the face with conspiracies and rage, that’s too much. It’s all too much right now.

I started this blog on myspace, for my close friends. I had always kept a diary as a kid so writing stories and thoughts came easily. It was both an outlet and a means of connecting with people I liked. I had maybe 10 readers on a good day and I was fine with that. Over time it expanded and if I’m writing regularly I get 2000-3000 hits a month. During that shift an awakening happened for me in which I realized that everything I felt: sadness, joy, pain, confusion, etc., were exactly the same things that everyone else felt in their lives and psyches. It was a light bulb switching on. Then added to that gift, I discovered that my expression of my own feelings helped other people feel less alone and make sense of their own feelings. I get emails, Facebook messages, texts, and the connection and healing brings me joy. And through that connection I was able to understand the lofty spiritual concept of “all one” that I had been struggling with up until then.

I have never been private about what is happening with me, unless to protect someone else. My attitude has always been that I’d rather people get the story from the horse’s mouth than through a game of telephone. And because I have been in a bubble of positive messages and connections, I never imagined that there would be a contingent of watchers who do not wish to connect, who view the world with suspicious and jealous eyes, and to them my stories meant to entertain or inform look like bragging. These people do not rejoice in others success or wish others well. So this blog, and my social media can also a place to mine for ammunition.

It’s disturbing.

Over the last two or three years I’ve both found a lot of happiness and success, and at the same time have had the absolute shit beaten out of me. The one person I thought would always love me and be in my life cut me out altogether. Then came the two dummies with their never-ending, very public laptop theft smear campaign that went on for months and months. Then I got attacked and called an embarrassment for posting old photos of me from the 90’s with someone else’s boyfriend. Got over that, then fake pages designed to humiliate me and my friends were created on Facebook. And during all of this there was a smattering of people that I had blocked on Instagram and Facebook who still managed to get to my page, using spouses and friend’s social media, and then commenting on their pages about anything I posted or did. Grown people waiting like spiders for real or imagined transgressions to pounce upon and publicly suck dry.

Again, disturbing.

I am always determined to understand the reasons for bad moments because I don’t want to have to repeat any lesson that comes my way. I’ve had enough of learning things the hard way. I don’t have the anger I used to carry; it’s been replaced by curiosity and a desire to heal. So each time one of these things has happened I’ve asked myself, “What have I done to create this for myself?” Or maybe more accurately, “What is the energy that I am vibrating that is aligning with hurtful energy?”

Sometimes it seems that some people are shitty and jealous regardless of how nice you try to be to them. Sometimes I get the reason for the experience. After laptopgate I finally stopped caring what people were thinking or saying about me and that was an important step in my evolution. It was a painful way to burn off baggage, but it worked.

I thought I was past any more of that nonsense, lesson learned. Then last week I received an overlong, threatening, vicious, unhinged diatribe from an acquaintance who doesn’t like that I don’t like Trump. Up until that time this person had been sending me nice messages here and there so I never imagined that there was an issue. In this lengthy missive I was called grandma, a joke, a braggart, a scammer, ugly, embarrassing, pretty much any insult you can hurl at a woman of a certain age, along with a final threat to troll my neighborhood (having paid attention to where I live) for some kind of old lady throw down. And the most frightening, unwritten message was in between the lines: I am being watched very closely by eyes with malevolent intent behind them.

It was disconcerting to say the least. Then while processing that, mere hours later I got another message from a blocked person, a grown man with children and a business, reiterating that everyone laughs at me for my age and braggadocio, that I scam for a living and have no real friends. I answered as compassionately as I could and told him not to contact me again. And then because I didn’t respond in kind, later that night he set up a fake instagram profile to try to humiliate me. So boom, another person lurking in the shadows, watching and waiting for the chance to attack.

I have been given a lot in this life and I know these people think I’ve taken too much. I write stories about my rock and roll adventures because my friends find it entertaining, these people assume it’s because I’m trying to put myself up on some kind of pedestal which they must then knock down. My relationship with Sam infuriates many because he is so much younger. It’s as if I’ve taken all the steak at the buffet table. My work life is chugging along and the rewards are visible, so I must be kissing ass and scamming to make that happen. And I have been called beautiful for too long, it’s high time to let me know that I am no longer young enough to be told that again.

Anyway, my intention for this blog is not to drum up a conversation about my haters. We have much bigger fish to fry and I get that this is an elegant problem when most people are in survival mode. I tell you all this because it is making me think about what kind of mindset is necessary for survival right now. So what I really want to talk about is how we remain in the light during a year when there is very little of it to be had. And I want to understand how we take care of ourselves in this current world of lurking haters, self-serving leaders, and divided opinions.

I think this is a dialogue we need to be having with each other on the reg. We cannot survive this time period intact without constantly supporting and loving each other through it. I would not be able to take the high road with my current haters if I didn’t have a support system of loving people around me who remind me every day, through their actions and words, to not step into the muck that is being placed before me. I want to be able to pay that forward somehow.

I watched and posted a short video recently in which a woman stated that we are going to be seeing more and more rage over the next few months, and that it is our job as light workers not to allow it to become part of us. But what does that mean? How can people not feel afraid, angry, hurt, frustrated, overtaxed, and desperate under the current circumstances? And how do you keep from reacting or operating from those feelings?

I believe that our souls are in the matrix experimenting with different ways of being: different bodies, different experiences, many lives. But even if you think the same way, those lofty ideas don’t help much in the physical world when rent is due and there is no income or our loved ones are ill. It’s annoying to hear this shit when reality feels so real right now. But my mother and her new agey sources continue to tell me that we chose to be here during this pivotal time because we were ready to act as light workers or we were up for the challenge in some other way.

This is my mindset today, and I hope it can help any of you who are struggling: I understand that it’s okay to feel and acknowledge the overwhelming anger and frustration, but at the same time I can still make a conscious choice on how I react, on whether I perpetuate and pass on the negativity or let it stop with me. Maybe it’s just a drop in the bucket of collective consciousness, but it appears that every drop is needed right now. And at the end of the day I’m simply happier if I don’t engage in the bullshit. I want to be happy. I want you to be happy, even you haters, not because I’m a saint but because I’m selfish and your shitty vibrations impact mine.

Lastly, it’s my birthday tomorrow. I’m turning 58. I’ve never written my exact age because I don’t like being tethered to any number when there are so many other factors. But because so many of the insults hurled at me lately have to do with my age, sadly from people who are in the same age range, it feels appropriate to say it this year. I have no shame about my time on this planet, and my value doesn’t begin and end with whether I’m deemed fuckable or not. You can’t injure me by calling me old or grandma. That’s the beauty of reaching crone status: we don’t have the time and energy for your petty shit when there’s a world that needs fixing.

Namaste, bitches. Thank you for all that you do every day to make this world a better place.

It’s Not Me It’s You

I’m currently reading an autobiography by someone in a famous band. It’s a great read but I’m not going to type out the name here because I prefer to fly under the search engine radar so that it’s primarily friends reading this.

A million years ago, in the 90’s, I had a moment with the singer of the band in said book (not the writer). Essentially he saw me at a show, liked what he saw and pursued me fairly intensely. He won me over (not too difficult to do back then if you were skinny, attractive and in a band), we hung out a few times in New York when he was here, spent a weekend in Philly together, and then he dropped me like the proverbial hot potato. In mid-phone call. Like one minute I was getting postcards from the road and we were chatting about something fairly benign on the phone, the next he said he had to go and hung up abruptly and I never heard from him again.

Well, never heard from him again in any real way. About six months later he showed up at my job looking sheepish, primarily because his bass player was dating my friend and she dragged them in. He apologized and said he’d take me out to dinner the next day and to make a reservation wherever I wanted. His band was filming for VH1 unplugged in the morning and he asked if I wanted to go to that as well. I said no because I was in the middle of bartending until 4 am and I didn’t want to have to try to look cute that early in the morning, but that I’d see him at dinner. Which I did not, because he ghosted me again after I spent a day excited about it and planning out what to wear. So essentially he blew me off hard, twice. I cried into takeout with clean hair and a red dress laid out on the bed.

It was a bummer. And he got so stupid famous so quickly right after we met that his photo and voice were everywhere. It stung to know I was on the outside of that. But happily it hadn’t lasted long enough for me to get seriously hurt and I would never have been able to handle it anyway. I was in no mental or emotional shape to take on a rock star at that level. So it was all for the best.

But at the time I didn’t see that, I just thought that I screwed up majorly, as usual. That I was too open about liking him and about who I was and it caused him to lose interest. In the beginning when I didn’t care he was all over me, once I opened up about who I really was, not as cool or sexy as I put on and in actuality pretty midwest normal, he was gone in a flash of roadrunner smoke. I got over him but I didn’t get over the idea that I was the sole fly in the ointment.

I had one photo with him from that brief time that a friend sent through myspace that I didn’t keep, because it was terrible. He and I were walking down the street together but looked completely separate energetically. I had my usual big, stupid, no idea I’m about to get stomped on grin on my face, while he appeared decidedly unhappy. We’d might as well have been on different planets. It was a visual representation of what I couldn’t see.

And then every time I ran into him over the years, which happily wasn’t often, it was some less than ideal situation in which I was still suspect. Like I was having a crap week and ended up sitting by myself in a dive bar one evening after work, visiting a bartending friend and sulking into a glass of whiskey, trying to be deep and jaded like a character in a noir film, but looking less than stellar in slightly tearstained, day-worn makeup and some crappy basic work outfit. In he walks with a much more put-together girlfriend with much cleaner hair and no runny mascara. Oh yay, hey, it’s me, the weird lonely woman you screwed a few times, drinking in a bar by herself. Nothing depressing to see here! Or another time when I passed him on the street looking cheap as hell in an accidentally too lowcut dress for the time of day, covered in dog hair and saliva as I wrangled my brain-damaged Pekingese who happened to be in mid-seizure at that moment. Bet you’re sorry now that you let go of all this magic, you bastard!

I am the Lucille Ball of rock chicks.

I recently told my business partner that the thing to remember when fighting with me is that I secretly believe that all conflict is due to me being fatally flawed, so if we ever have a bad argument he just has to wait it out to win. I will get angry and argue stridently, but then I’ll go home and dissect all the ways I should or shouldn’t have done or said this or that. And then I’ll feel so bad about myself I’ll eventually capitulate to whatever is placed on the table.

I also had a conversation with my supersmart friend Grace, one of those ones where you sit in your apartment after a night out and just break it all down with tears and oversharing. She listened to me spill about the pain and confusion I still feel at times about the losses over the last few years, how hard it has been for me to heal and and how deeply it hurt me that some key people I loved simply stopped caring about me. This was coupled with the added insult to injury that at the same time that these deeper abandonments were happening, strangers were going out of their way to hurt me over imaginary laptop theft and old photo posting*. It was all too overwhelming to be coincidence, but why?

*See past blogs if you’re interested.

I mean, I know the spiritual reasons why – change, expansion, growth, clearing old energy to make way for the new. Blah, blah, barf. I get it. But that mental knowledge doesn’t change how the heart feels. And because of the aforementioned secret thought that every action and reaction around me is bearing upon my behavior and “badness” or “goodness”, not being able to fix these connections means that I failed. My failure. Not good enough. Never good enough. If only. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. The brain contorts in excruciating fashion.

Happily, Grace said something pretty basic that I needed to hear, which was “You can’t control people. People have their own trajectories and demons and feelings separate from anything to do with you, and you can’t always create the outcome you want no matter what you do or say.”

I hadn’t considered that. What is this lack of control that you speak of?

So now I’m reading this book and guess what! It turns out that this particular guy who I assumed was amazing and who rejected me for not being amazing, is in fact BATSHIT CRAZY. Like more than usual singer crazy. Like bipolar and narcisisstic crazy. Like impossible to get along with crazy. Like someone I don’t know that I’d want to be friends with crazy. Like exactly like a psycho, sociopathic ex-bandmate that I will never speak to again crazy.

Oh.

OH!

OOOOOHHHH!

lightbulb GIF

So could it be possible that this particular rejection, and maybe others in my life, may have had less to do with my awesomeness or lack thereof than I assumed? Maybe that one photo just captured me being my optimistic self and his darkness in that moment was his own? And in following that train of thought, does that mean that the decisions of others are not necessarily directly influenced by the things that I do or say? And does this mean that the world, in fact, does not revolve around me??

Impossible! No! This cannot be. And yet….

free freedom GIF

The amount of thought and energy wasted on that one situation that could have been dismissed almost immediately, then add that to the myriad situations one has in a lifetime–the mind boggles. Suffice to say that I’m pretty glad I picked the book up.

So when will we be able to relax and allow ourselves to be who we are and shine clearly without all that fog? I dunno. I’m not sure it’s possible to move forward without truthful self-examination, but where does dissection end and flagellation begin? We screw up, we get up, we do better next time. Some people get us and like us, some people never will, and some people seem like they do but then let us down. That’s life. I’m tired of thinking about it in any other way than to focus on the people and opportunities that lie in front of me. The rest, at the end of the day, is all noise.

At least until #45 and the coronavirus take us all down.

I kid! I kid!! Namaste, bitches. Wash your hands.

Armageddon

Ugh. I have resisted writing on this topic for so long.

As much as I like to be as open and honest as I can be, there are many limitations to writing what is essentially a public diary – I can’t spill other people’s secrets, I don’t want to stir the pot with that small cadre of foul people who seem to live to watch and comment upon what the rest of us do in the trolliest of fashion, I want to focus on the good stuff, etc. And of course I would prefer not to put myself out there as uncool or unsexy, which this most definitely is.

The “this” I’m talking about is “the big change”. That phenomena that happens to all women when they reach a certain age. That thing that renders us the butt of jokes, unfuckable, no longer valuable or interesting, hardens us into crones to be relegated to one small corner to either never be heard from again or heard from too much as we complain about the price of wine while collecting cats and pretending not to notice the eye-rolls of strangers. Young women make sure to mention that you’re old if young men act too interested, young men look through you instead of at you. All the cliches of the disappeal of aging are upped to the final level once you admit to no longer bleeding.

The Best Jewish Jokes in 'Big Mouth' Season 3 - Alma

I too made the old comments regularly. This is me at the 5 minute mark on Morton Downey a few decades ago telling someone they’re too old to rock. So cocky. So fertile. So dumb.

So here I am many moons later, a bit less arrogant and now feeling conflicted but compelled to talk about this dirty secret that’s not so secret. I can’t stay on the downlow anymore because every time I have a conversation about it with a friend we end up telling each other something we didn’t know and then marveling at how confusing it all is. The majority of us are in the dark regardless of how much information is out there because it doesn’t fully make sense unless you’re living it. And most everything you read is so fucking positive and glossy that it only serves to frustrate and isolate if you’re not having that kind of experience. Which so far, no one that I know is.

Men, you need to know this too if you have any women in your life over 40. If you’re gay, kudos to you for side-stepping the whole mess. But even then it can’t hurt to understand why some of your female friends are suddenly acting so weird.

So allow me to be the one to sing the dirge. Periomenopause is armageddon. Full on devastation ARMAGEDDON. It is the zombie apocalypse of the female soul. It is hot, ashen death on a flaming horse, galloping into your life and wiping out everything safe and known in its path with a black scythe forged of confusion and sadness. It is the red wedding, albeit with less blood.

Many years ago I asked my mom what to expect and she said, “Eh, it’s not much. A few hot flashes here and there.” So I danced into my forties thinking, “I got this.” Completely forgetting that my mother is hard as nails and not one for fussy bedside stuff, despite being a registered nurse. When I was a kid we pretty much had to have a limb hanging off before she’d get concerned. Example: Myv sister cut her head open and needed a stitch or two. Mom took two chunks of hair on either side of the cut and tied them together. There, you’re fine, don’t touch it for a while, walk it off.

Which is not to say that she isn’t/wasn’t a loving and nurturing mother. She just had too many kids and didn’t get overly excited very often. This works in my favor in some ways; I’m not easily flustered by illness and don’t need a lot of attention when I’m sick. I’m calm in a crisis. One time, when I was very young, in the epicenter of the HIV crisis, a shitty doctor at a free clinic took a look at my baby starter tattoo and leather gear and told me I probably had AIDS. Instead of panicking like most people would, I told him he was an asshole and walked out. My friends were astounded at my lack of concern. It wasn’t that. I just knew from a young age that my destiny was going to be of the walking it off variety.

So I had a certain pride about my hardiness and entered the thunderdome unconcerned and unprepared. After that conversation (lies!) with my mother, I did read up on it casually, pre-symptom, but only because people kept handing me books about the topic. I guess they assumed it was time to get me thinking about it, maybe they knew something I didn’t. I would flip through the pages and quickly get bored with the science. The gist, it seemed, was that there would be some minor discomfort here and there, but that it would also be this wonderful, special time of change and growth.

Turns out not so much wonderful or special. But the discomfort was present and accounted for. One day I woke up and hot flashes had arrived. I thought, why am I suddenly on fire? Am I dying?

The term hot flash only brushes the surface of the experience. It’s like calling Godzilla a gecko. It’s in the vicinity, but a few miles away. One minute you are a normal, functional, rational human being and the next you are out of your mind with the raging desire to tear off your clothes and run screaming into the street begging someone to throw cold water on you. Why don’t the books describe that?

One time at the start the ex and I were having sex and I had a flash in the middle of it. He said it was like fucking the sun. And then in a “flash” (see how I did that there?) they were happening every hour. At night I would fall asleep only to wake up an hour later burning up, to then throw off all the covers and open the windows in the dead of winter, fall back asleep, then wake up freezing a short time later. Rinse and repeat.

I became chronically exhausted from lack of REM sleep. I couldn’t think straight and was often prickly and weepy. Finally after months of trying every useless, often expensive, black cohosh bullshit product on the shelves, I went to my gyno, an adorable little Chinese lady who thankfully finds me entertaining, and took her by the lapels of her white lab coat, looked into her sweet, warm, brown eyes and snarled, “Fix this!!!!!!!”

Okay, I didn’t actually touch her. I think I probably cried and complained until she got the level of desperation. She put me on hormone replacement therapy, which did help. I still had hot flashes but less frequently so I only woke up once or twice during the night. I read up on it in earnest this time and found numerous reasons to throw books across the room. One woman talked about how she loved how it felt like she was burning off her old self, and she cherished the flashes for ushering her into her new, energetically fresh world. I made a mental note to to find her and smother her to death with a leftover maxipad, once I got a full night’s sleep.

I have read that many women suddenly decide to get divorced when they hit this stage in life. One minute things are fine and the next he’s gotta go. I’m guessing it’s because the nesting urge fades. When you have all those breeding/coupling hormones flowing in your body you will gladly do what it takes to be in a relationship. You will feather that nest with sandwiches and blowjobs to make sure your partner is happy and thinks you’re wonderful. Once that need to breed shifts, you think, “Make your own goddamn sandwich. And bring me a fan and some ice cubes on your way back.”

I’m not saying that the desire to be in a relationship disappears, but it shifts for many. In my case the vase cracked open in all the weak spots and the room was flooded. And because I didn’t fully understand what was happening to me, I couldn’t find my way back in time to repair it and keep from drowning. I needed to take some time off to run wild in the streets and sort out my head and he couldn’t deal with the madness. I hurt him too much. So he grabbed the first non perio-woman he could find and moved her into his apartment immediately, where things could again be safe and warm, never to look back again. It was devastating.

Meanwhile, my brain was so hot it was on constant overload. I picked up a then 24-year old boyfriend who is somehow oddly fearless in the face of lady issues. I drank and partied like I was 24 myself. I wept and wept and wept. I think I cried every night for a solid year. I’ve talked about this a lot already, but in the context of perio-menopause–at its peak I felt I was too damaged and crazy to continue and swallowed a bottle of pills while drunk and weeping. Which of course scared the crap out of my family and friends and didn’t do much to make me seem less crazy. Up until the change I’d always been able to keep a bit of a lid on the madness. Now it was really out there for the world to see. And the ex didn’t even send a text to see if I was okay. That was a big pill to swallow in itself but indicative of how far I had been swept out to the deep, black bottomless part of the sea, by my hormones, by this shift in life.

It was not a healthy or happy time. But is a zombie apocalypse of the body and soul ever healthy and happy? Unless maybe you’re some kind of super evolved uberwoman who has the good nature, healthy upbringing and foresight to view it all as a holy flame burning off the dead branches of our wise tree selves. Which alas, I am not.

But it does turn out that it kind of is exactly that. I did exorcise much stuff that needed to go–pain and shame that had been buried in my cells my whole life. I am infinitely clearer and stronger because of it. I can honestly say I’m happy now. But I would have preferred to get here via the cool breeze of wisdom feathering across my face instead of the hot balls of hormonal chaos teabagging me til I gasped for air.

So here’s what I have for you through my own trial and error. If you’re at a certain age and feel like you’re going crazy, it’s most likely because you are. If it feels like it sucks that’s probably because it does. Talk to other women your age. Try not to destroy your relationships until you can get a hold on what is real and what is hormonally charged. But don’t beat yourself up too much if you do, and if your psyche is screaming at you to take a step backward or forward, be brave and do it. Just know that some people may not want to wait for the dust to settle and losing them is a chance you might have to take. Life has a way of forcing change whether we’re ready for it or not.

Practically – read anything Dr. Christiane Northrup has to say. She’s not annoying and she knows everything about everything. Try all the herbal remedies that people recommend and then when that doesn’t work don’t be afraid to go to your doctor and ask about hormone replacement therapy. Don’t let anyone shame you into thinking you have to do it “naturally” if that option isn’t helping.

And lastly, and most importantly, know that this too shall pass and if you do the inner work you will come out better on the other side. I finally shed 15 lbs that I’ve been trying to lose for a decade. It melted off with very little effort and I know it’s because my hormones are evening out and my body is ready for a new, very much alive chapter. I still feel sexy and vibrant. The idea that it’s a death of all things feminine is a lie, just like these happy women saying it isn’t a death is a lie. It is most definitely a passing of who we were. But like all deaths, it’s also a portal into a new season.

Probably the season of the witch, but I’ll take it, and gladly.

Okay, let’s not talk about this again. If you see me in person, you keep your filthy whore mouth shut unless you’re waving a fan and asking me for ice cubes.

Nadege

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I stopped and turned around. She continued,

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

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

She smiled and said “Yes.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PHOTO BY ROBERT BUTCHER

Gypsy Shag

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

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

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

So I have this childhood friend…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or so I thought. Because politics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So the lessons for now are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

And you’re welcome for that humiliating photo.

 

 

 

 

 

My August of Discontent

Followed by a pretty good September…

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

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

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

Woman #3:  She got caught in DICKSAND!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See how I brought that all around again. WRITING!

Onto bigger and better things–

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Gates of the West

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

 

 

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

 

 

Zoo!

 

 

Tea Party

 

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

InkedBoyfriend 1_LI

InkedBoyfriend 2_LI

InkedBoyfriend 3_LI

InkedBoyfriend 4_LI

 

InkedInkedBoyfriend 5_LI

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

InkedBoyfriend 6_LI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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As always, Namaste, Bitches.

 

 

 

 

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.

Ugh. Blargh. Feh. Poop emoji.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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