Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Special Purpose

As mentioned in my last blog entry, I was granted a Catalyst Session from my generous friend Jessica Beckwith: https://www.facebook.com/Thecatalystsessions. It was pretty eye-opening.

Jess asked a ton of compelling questions, which led to insights that I hadn't expected. It got very deep and I found myself getting emotional over childhood stuff that made clear the reasons behind sometimes questionable adult decisions that have led me to where I am now. It wasn't therapy, which I've experienced enough for this lifetime, but more a stroll down the trail of one's career trajectory.

Jess has given me some easy assignments for the summer, which are all pretty fun and involve scrapbooking and other creative means of discovering what kind of life I want to lead and how to allow creativity to flow in order to get me to that life. I remain hopeful and am enjoying much of it. I am very grateful to her for the insight and highly recommend you check out her services if you are in a similar place in life.

Writing featured prominently in our session and seems to be the direction I am most leaning toward taking. But the practicalities are nebulous. I know I can write, but what do I do with that? I have been stymied for years by what I assumed was laziness and procrastination. I can see now that the big block is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of sucking (which is kind of what procrastination is anyway, isn't it?), and a new one I hadn't thought about, fear of being TOO BIG.

Perio-menopause, which should be called HELL ON EARTH, has lately driven me into a corner of foggy and depressed confusion in which all of my past notions about who I am and what I want have been blown into smithereens. Happily, especially for Drew, I am now on good old fashioned Western medicinal hormone replacement therapy, which has helped considerably, much more than all the herbs and hippie-dippie mother goddess crap that I had been dutifully ingesting prior to the gift of some lovely and sanity-bringing prescription medication. I am finally able to sleep through the night without waking up every two hours to nuclear flashes that bathe one in sweat and despair, and my mood swings are not quite so lethal. But there is still an underlying existential sadness that has yet to be deciphered and/or conquered.

On a side-note, it still pains my ego considerably to speak of this publicly, so here are a couple of sexy, estrogen-rich photos to help me regain some sense of dignity.

1992...


2014...Thank God for Robert Butcher...


 Okay, that makes me feel better. Thank you for your kind indulgence.

Whenever I go through something painful or expansive I feel the need to go inward to find means of coping. Plus hormonally-induced depression offers the opportunity for lots of laying in bed or on the couch staring at the ceiling. Consequently, I have been doing a lot of meditating, praying, and listening to endless lectures from people who seem to be wiser than myself--anything to help feel a little more grounded and less anxious while in the middle of the maelstrom.

One of the meditations I did was created by my new favorite lightworker, Kyle Gray, to discover what your spirit animal is and what it has to tell you. Before I continue, I want to say that I understand that many of you are not as new agey inclined as myself, so I will not be offended if you think this is all a load of hooey and pass on this entry for a more entertaining one down the road. But these kind of exercises help me, so I offer them up for the like-minded.

Side note: I'm hoping that the new Borderlands game that comes out in October lives up to the other two and will make my brain less squishy and back into blowing stuff up mode. And on that tip, I've been asked to write a gaming column for a friend's fanzine, so that should balance out the quotient as well. I'll keep you posted.



I would prefer to expand my consciousness with a glass of wine or a new pair of shoes, but sometimes that doesn't do the trick and you have to work a bit harder. And I have always been pretty lucky with meditation when giving it the proper (and sober) time and energy. So far I have worked stuff out with my dead dad, met aliens and prevented myself from obsessing into criminal behavior, so I don't know why I'm so resistant to it.

This is a conversation I had with Michael Schmidt last week:

ME: I really, really, reaaaaaaallly want to go to a Cher show with you.

MICHAEL: You've never seen her?

ME: Never! Isn't that sad? I mean she's everything. She's practically...

MICHAEL: Your spirit animal?? I know!!

So I did this Kyle Gray spirit animal meditation and to my surprise and momentary disappointment, Cher did not show up on top of a mountain, full of sage advice and looking fierce in her half-breed outfit.


Instead, after following a little mental walk, I found myself standing on a beach with a panther. I have always been attracted to panthers, starting with a childhood crush on Bagheera in the Jungle Books and flowering wildly on a day that I was really irritated with a high school boyfriend who took me to see the 80's version of Cat People right after I caught him on the phone with another girlfriend. I was royally pissed off but once the movie started I forgot about him and became mesmerized by the idea that the spirit of a more powerful than us animal could live inside a person. I was quiet for the rest of the day as I imagined myself ripping his heart out with my teeth. It gave me a sense of power, I guess, that maybe I didn't feel I had on my own.

So it made sense that my first tattoo would be a panther. I very much wanted to be a badass instead of a nice Catholic girl from Michigan, and to make a statement to the world with something that was old school tough guy in an era when women didn't have tattoos.


At the same time, I've always felt like my love of the cats was a bit corny and obvious, and maybe a bit presumptuous on my part, if that makes sense? Like who the hell do I think I am to claim this fancy animal as my own? Maybe my spirit animal should be a badger or a meerkat. But I went with it and listened.

The message that I got was to accept my power and to stop diminishing myself into these corners of survival jobs, fear of aging, fear of being too little, fear of being too much, fear of not being loveable. Which is pretty much what the catalyst session with Jess told me as well: that I am an artist who has continually tamped my creativity down with choices borne out of fear. Conscious fear of not making a living and unconscious fear of the chasm that could suddenly open up if I allowed myself to be more successful, and thereby more public than I am right now. Which might seem very public to the naked eye, but this blog hits mostly friends and family who aren't going to hurt me or judge me in the same way that a larger space might.

When I was in the Cycle Sluts and things were happening in a big way, I felt uncomfortable with questions and interviews. I liked the stage part, but I didn't like the scrutiny part. I can see now that I shut the fame thing down on my own. I wasn't ready for it, it scared me. I'm comfortable being a big fish in a little pond, where there are no sharks. So I wonder, maybe most of us do this to ourselves unconsciously? What if the parameters we are confined by are primarily of our own making?

I have been lucky enough to know many outrageously talented individuals from all walks of life and in many career fields. The question often begs itself: why aren't they more famous, more successful? Why are some people who seem less talented more fortunate? The answer might be destiny and that the lessons in one particular lifetime aren't about learning through great outward success. But what if it's also that our varied fears keep us from shining as brightly as we could? And another question: is success the joy that we expect it to be? I have a friend who is a very popular performer and it has created tangible problems that don't garner much understanding or empathy from most, because people can't get past the "enviable" fame and finances. I have observed that it is difficult to feel safe or loved when everyone wants something from you.

I don't have any answers for anyone, just questions right now. I do know this: my soul will wither into a dried, cranky, mean ball if I have to bartend or office manage or bookkeep for the rest of my life. I am not knocking any of those things, I am good at them and enjoy them sometimes. But it is not my purpose. I love, LOVE this information about the path to purpose from TD Jakes--





Still, I haven't a fucking clue as to what my true purpose is. And how does one get to discovering or fulfilling that purpose in a world in which rent and dental bills must be paid? The thought seems so daunting, impossible even, the chasm so wide. As much as I've enjoyed bits of my random trajectory, I envy people who know what they want to do and got on doing it as soon as they got past childhood. So many of us live and die doing jobs that merely pay the bills. That voice in my head sometimes says, "Who am I to expect more out of life? Why should I be any bigger or happier than anyone else? There are people without homes or friends who would kill to have half of what I have been given. "

But another, newer, more loving voice says, "There is enough for everyone." I need to believe this is true.

So I'll  leave you with that today, along with Navin Johnson's discovery of purpose...






Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Slogging Through

This is such a weird time, isn't it? People I know are dropping right and left of heart attacks and overdoses. Everyone is in a funk. Two friends were in major accidents this week, one is still in the hospital and the other one will be recovering for quite a while. There's a full moon this Friday the 13th and I've been told that solar flares are messing with everyone's psyche this week as well.

I found out about one of those accidents yesterday, right before I left the apartment to go to Chinatown to see a new gyno about my hormone...ahem...issues. Her office is located right next to a fish market. Kind of ironic, isn't it?


My beautiful friend Kim Montenegro broke her arm in two places and had to have surgery to put steel plates in, and I walked down Ludlow Street in a sort of daze and panic as I tried to digest this new information after reading it on facebook as I put on my shoes to leave. She doesn't live in New York so I couldn't just run to her hospital, and instead kept with my plans for the day. But it felt weird and wrong. Was Kim okay? Was she in pain? What if she died? I stopped cold when I noticed yet another luxury high rise going up in the middle of a block, surrounded by Soho style overpriced clothing stores and gourmet coffee shops. Another one, really?? How is this possible? I stood looking up in frozen anxiety attack. My city in ruin, my friends in danger and pain. It's all too much to bear. I am a ghost in this town full of people I don't understand, who don't understand me. I am lost. Who am I anymore? I was once so sure of everything: where I wanted to live, what I was going to do, who I was going to do it with. Now I know nothing except that lately my heart aches quite a bit in the most nebulous and drifting way.

I've been a little bitter after the whole promised cosmic shift of 2012 didn't happen. I feel like I was lied to by a bunch of new-agey busybodies talking out of their asses. Fuck you, where's my giant space head full of psychic clarity and cheerful good will? I feel like I did when I was little and someone asked me if I wanted to go to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream. I thought I would get an actual basket of robins along with my ice cream and was devastated to learn there would be no free pets that day. Which sort of shows what a spoiled brat I must have been, because ice cream is pretty great. But that's how this non-shift shift feels to me. Like an epic, I-was-told there'd-be-pretty-birds style rip-off.

Reaction GIF: disappointed, despair, Lucille Ball

My mother maintains that things are moving consciousness-wise and that we are being asked to release all old energy in order to clear the way for higher vibrations and better days. I covered this in a bit more detail in the last blog, and yes, I do feel it in some ways, but it isn't happening fast enough for me. I'm tired of clearing, of dealing with issues, of feeling sadness and confusion. I'm angry that I found my place in the world and it's disappeared underneath my feet. And I feel like I've been working on this mental/emotional/spiritual crap my whole life. I was promised ascension, goddamnit, something magical and wonderful. I was picturing Hogwarts without the Malfoys (sorry, nerd-reference), instead I find myself trapped in the worst possible version of the 1950's: all jock-culture and corporate white men in suits, with the modernizing additions of Jersey turnpiking and Miley Cyrus tongue-wagging. And every day some new monster shoots up a school and himself and the argument against guns begins anew. Mental care! Gun reform! My cold dead hands. 'Merica!! Mankind is still so unevolved; we're practically digging in the dirt for grubs. How is this even close to anything resembling ascension?

And the arguments for solutions to societal problems look increasingly pointless. The gun thing now appears to me to be a spiritual malaise more than a political or legal one. I pray for the families of the people who are hurt or killed because that's all that I can think of to do. I'm over arguing it on facebook. I'm not going to change Joe the plumber or Ted Nugent's mind. Why waste my breath or typing skills on it? The only thing that makes sense to me any more is simple compassion for those who are hurting. Everything else seems like tilting at windmills.

Oi! This is depressing and whiny. Sorry! It's momentary and could just be the hormones talking. I do have a lot of fun and have an amazing life and a lot of gratitude for it. I know I'm luckier than many. I'm not discounting any of that.

I did have a moment standing in front of that awful skeleton of a high rise where, after the wave of sadness and fear went through me, a realization stepped into its place: that much of this intense heaviness has to do with forgiveness of self. The connection doesn't seem logical, but I was sort of free-falling emotionally and that's where the thoughts landed. That we walk around carrying the weight of our own self-loathing, that we are all so much more ready to forgive others than we are ourselves. We can't forgive ourselves for decades-old mistakes, for aging, for bad decisions, for being selfish, for being fat, skinny, messy, impatient, stupid, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. We can't forgive our many imperfections and transgressions, real or imagined. But if we could, if we could be as kind to ourselves as we are to new boyfriends or our dogs or celebrities that we think are cool, we would feel so much lighter and more free.

It wasn't so much a light bulb moment as it was a wash of that same compassion and sadness I feel for those bereft families, except it was for all of us, including myself, which felt new. So in the spirit of trying to get to that lighter place, I am writing today primarily to share some resources that are helping me stay sane (relatively so) for the time being, while whatever is supposed to be sorting itself out gets sorted.

First, apps: I'm obsessed with self-help apps lately. First two are "Hay House Radio" and "Hay House Now". If you are not familiar with Louise Hay, get familiar. She was ahead of her time when people first started getting into metaphysics, and she has created a large and lovely world of spiritual resource, much of it free. Everything coming from her direction has a very gentle energy, and we need gentle now more than ever.

If you are already familiar with much of this self-help stuff, some of the radio will get a bit annoying in that precious NPR kind of way...

https://screen.yahoo.com/npr-delicious-dish-dusty-muffin-000000345.html

I prefer "Hay House Now" to the radio because you can pull up free lectures on subjects you find interesting rather than randomly tuning in, but you can also occasionally hit on some very interesting teachers and conversations on the radio that you might have overlooked otherwise. Currently I'm fascinated by Doreen Virtue and Kyle Grey, who both work with angels, but dig around for what resonates with you personally. I've found that books or images connected to something that will resonate strongly with me almost shine visually brighter than others on the shelf or screen, but it's all varied paths to the same end, I think? I hope?

Another app that I'm loving is Mindifi hypnosis. They've got a variety and each app variant gives you one main hypnosis and urges you to buy the related versions. You don't have to do that unless you want, I haven't bought any yet and am currently addicted to the one that helps you sleep. You're supposed to listen to it sitting up and then go to bed, but I plug in the earphones, turn out the lights and am drooling into the pillow within minutes, which has not happened in forever. I frigging love being hypnotised, it's like having someone else do the work for you.  My only complaint so far is the lose weight hypnosis; the soothing voice keeps going on about "healthy weight". Screw that. I want to be hypnotized into super-skinny-get-mistaken-from-behind-for-a-16-year-old-cheerleader weight. Still looking for that one, I feel quite sure that I'll be able to forgive myself completely if I lose 20 lbs. But at least I'm getting a little more sleep now.

Web-wise, my friend Jessica Beckwith turned me on to Mystic Mamma: http://www.mysticmamma.com/. It's female slanted, but that doesn't mean men can't check it out, and I like the blogger's mix of the spiritual and astrological. Women are so governed by the changes of the moon, any man who wants to understand why his girlfriend is nuts half the time could look there for some answers. Jess also just informed me that women change every three days with the moon, which explains a lot: http://www.3ho.org/3ho-lifestyle/women/moon-centers

Jessica has recently started a business doing what she calls "Catalyst Sessions" using her 20+ years as a business enterpreneur, yoga instructor, spiritual student, artist and all around energy intuitive to help people hone in on what they really want to be doing and how to take steps to do it. She is giving me a free session, because a) she's a generous soul and b) it's painfully clear that I need some guidance. So I will be sure to let you know how it goes, and the meantime, if you are interested in something like that let me know and I will pass on more info. She is not advertising at the moment because it's deep work and not something to toss into the ether in a random way.

Okay, that's all I have for now. I have been asked to write a gaming column for a friend's new zine, and as you can imagine, I am very excited that someone is willing to make my bullshit look legitimate, so I will post that as soon as it's out.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Pause

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

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

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


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

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

 "I think I'm in the middle of menopause." He replied with a slightly longer version of "Well, duh."

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

Call of the Wild

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

"So tell me what's going on here."

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

"Thank you for everything." I replied,

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

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



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



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

"I can't believe I wasted so much time suffering and fighting over so little." She shrugged and said,

"Eh. You had to learn the lesson from someone. At least he looked good..."

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


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Piglets and Brickbats

Hello, my people!

Zoe and I started a new company called Fear City Custom, and as a result I haven't had any time to blog. Truth be told, I didn't really start it so much as Zoe came up with an idea and shoved me squawking through the door. I am extraordinarily fearful of anything new, but really good at details, while she is always instantly gung ho about any ideas that pop into her head but can't be bothered with the details. So between the two of us we are a good balance.

She was updating all of her old jeans and tees with zippers and patches and people began asking her to work on their items, so there you go, instant business. We like the idea of making existing stuff look cooler, it's a good way to recycle and save money, and there seem to be a lot of people in our sphere who agree. It's been nice to have someone push me out of my comfort zone, and I did quit my day job to find alternate means of income, so hopefully once we get rolling we'll be able to make a little profit. We've almost got too many orders to keep up with already, so fingers crossed. This is the facebook page, I will work on a website soon and once we have enough items ready made we'll set up an Etsy store: www.facebook.com/fearcitycustom.

Aside from that, I have been thinking about who I am and what motivates people, the same as always. Here's a small incident that has had me thinking over the last couple of weeks:

I have a very good looking male friend who was visiting from LA (transplanted New Yorker) and hanging out at my bar on a Saturday night. It was late enough into the evening that things had slowed down enough that he could stand at the bar and observe while I was able to chat with him in between orders.

An attractive girl in her 20's came up next to him, and without really looking in my direction, as she was focused on him, ordered an inexpensive drink and handed me her credit card. Ordinarily I have to explain to people that there is a $20 minimum for cards, but it was 2:30 am and I am tuned in enough to energy to know that there would be an argument. So I chose to take the $8 and move on. I rang her card and she tipped a dollar on the slip and continued talking to my friend.

They spoke for a couple of minutes and as she walked away he laughed and said, "She just gave me her number. She lives in LA, her father is a gazillionaire, she's never worked a day in her life." I said, "Agh, whatever, she's pretty, but you'd be bored in a day or two." He agreed.

Another woman, not quite as tall or standard model-ey, but very pretty, walked up to the bar and also started talking to my friend. He looked at me over her shoulder and I rolled my eyes at his obvious glee at being so popular with the ladies. She finished her conversation, ordered an $11 drink from me, left $9 on the bar and walked away. I thought she forgot it and slid the bills near my friend in case she returned.

The first girl, let's just call her Asshole for simplicity's sake, had been dancing pretty heavily and asked for a glass of water. She again talked to my friend for a minute, chugged the water and asked for another, which I gave her.

The second girl, we'll call her Guinevere because that's a pretty name and I like her, came up after a half an hour and ordered a second $11 drink. I mentioned that she'd left $9, and she said it was mine, and she put down a $20, took the drink and walked away leaving another $9 on the bar for me.

Meanwhile, Asshole ordered another water at the top of my head while I was busy pouring someone else's drink, got it from me, went back to dancing, then came back in ten minutes and ordered a fourth water. So now I've poured her five libations for a net personal profit of $1. But I always try to keep in mind that there's a balance and I knew she wasn't purposely torturing me and is just a spoiled idiot who has never worked a service job.

Ten minutes later, on the FIFTH water order, she said, "I know you're going to hate me, but can I have another water?"

I said, with a smile and not a hint of animosity or annoyance, "Of course you can. But I want you to know how things work for bartenders: we make very little, if any, shift pay, and are completely dependent upon tips for our livelihood. SO-- our bar and water relationship would be greatly improved if you could throw a dollar out here and there with your orders."

She took a step back and made a scared face as if I'd slapped her, and seeing me reaching for a glass, waved her hand and said, "I don't need it." And she ran out of the room. My friend rolled his eyes and I said, "What the hell was that?"

Asshole runs back into the room 30 seconds later, with...

Wait for it...

Here it comes...

A GLASS OF WATER FROM THE OTHER BAR.

That's right people, rather than dig into her deep pockets for a fucking dollar bill, she chose to act wounded and use someone else's time for free.

The world went red. I wanted to step out from the bar and slap the water out of her hand. I wanted to pick up a stool and smash it over her head. I turned to my friend and grabbed his arm with a talon grip and growled through gritted teeth, "You, my friend, are going to booty call that piece of sh*t when you get back to LA and you are going to anger f**k her in the most humiliating ways possible. I want you to bang her head so hard against the headboard that daddy can feel it. I want you to tear her up and then never call her again."

He laughed and I gripped a little harder and said, "I am dead fucking serious."

And I was. My rage was boundless, I scared myself a little with the blackness of it.

It wasn't the money. Two or three dollars is not going to change my life one way or another. It was two things: First, this behavior that I see in many spoiled children lately, who act as if they have been mortally wounded when you are frank with them in any way, regardless of how gently the truth is delivered. I am guessing this is what comes of being told you're awesome 24 hours a day without ever being required to prove it to yourself or the world around you. I am also guessing that these are the adult versions of those kids that are allowed to run screaming around your table in a restaurant unhindered by parental control.

Second, it was the fact that someone would act so blatantly selfish toward another human being who has been waiting on their needs for the last hour and a half, without a look back. It was as if I only existed to serve her and if that was impeded in any way, she would simply step over my corpse to the next need-filler.

I festered on this the next day. I was so pissed that I briefly considered finding her on facebook and sending a scathing email. But I would never do that to my employers, and really, what would be the point? As the sayings go, you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear, and/or it's futile to throw pearls before swine.

By the way, why do pigs get such a raw deal in the saying department? They're so cute and smart. And I imagine they're grateful when you give them water.



But as I festered, I remembered Guinevere and how pleasant and generous she was without expecting a giant thank you or special treatment from me. There are usually more of her on my Saturday nights than there are of Asshole. So why am I so focused on the negative? Why can't I bask in the glow of the many positive people I encounter and let the shitty few roll of off me?

I do often feel waves of gratitude on a good night, when everyone is dancing and happy and generous and we're all in sync. I might not feel a deep connection to "new" New Yorkers, but in fairness, many of them are nice people. And I once had a dad who paid for me to get here, so who am I to begrudge them their existence if they aren't hurting me and are in fact supporting me with their business? And I am eternally grateful that I work in a place where I am trusted by the owners to comment occasionally to a customer about their lack of tips, as this is not the case for most service workers. It's not even so much that I want to take advantage of that freedom, it's more about knowing that I am respected and cared about enough to be granted it in the first place.

I did a quick google search and discovered that I am not alone, and found this article which sums it up very well: Praise is Fleeting, but Brickbats We Recall.

Maybe it's that the deeper soul lessons come from things that make us uncomfortable? When I was suffering mightily in my youth and all lessons were learned with a maximum of drama and poor decision-making, I began saying an affirmation to myself: "I learn my lessons through joy." I said it over and over again in my head as I walked through the city, scrubbed the toilet, combed my hair, etc. I still say it to myself occasionally. For the most part that affirmation morphed into reality. I am free from the crapfest of the past and I see that there was no way I could have gotten here without being hurt there. But there's still always more to be learned and my stories about the shitty days are, I assume, more interesting than the happy ones. Everyone loves a sad song, right?

Or quite possibly I'm overthinking Saturday night and could have gotten straight to the point with a bit of Jenna Marbles wisdom?

)

I'm not sure though. Just to be safe, I think I'm going to email my friend and make sure he gives Asshole a call, as I'd surely feel honored to be the catalyst for some of her own soul education.



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Quick Update for 2014

First, a big thank you to everyone who checked in via facebook or email about my ceiling! I am deeply grateful to have such thoughtful people in my corner. The holidays, working extra hours, the apartment repair, and a deadline to write a foreword for the re-release of a friend's book (more on that when it's out) added up to no quiet time to blog. I have other stuff on my mind to write about, but thought I should update this first:

My building manager was so shocked when she saw the photos of the hole that she made my repairs a priority and is now more amenable to listening when I complain or warn that something dire is approaching. It helps that she is female and was there when I told the contractor the ceiling was going to cave while he quietly blew me off as the usual hysterical female. I sure showed him! Too bad my last laugh had to include weeks of cleaning, severe emotional stress, the risk of my cat's life, breathing in a quantity of black dirt and damage to an irreplaceable antique photographer's chair that my mother refinished by hand. 

I did go to a friend-recommended lawyer who told me that my rent is so low that by the time we went through the trouble of legalities and the court system I would owe him more than I would make back in a one or two month rent abatement. When I asked if my landlord would ever offer anything out of sheer decency, he laughed. Apparently no landlord offers anything except a low ballpark buy-out these days. I told him I'd come back when I'm ready to leave so they can pay me for the favor 

But my kitchen and living room ceilings are now repaired. It was a big chore and mess, and meant 75% of my apartment was off-limits for days at a time while they worked. I had to herd my four animals into the bedroom and was nervous about leaving them alone for major stretches of time. Which, truth be told was not the worst thing as it was nice to have an excuse to lounge in bed for hours, reading and surrounded by animals.

The ceiling looks pretty good; they drilled drywall into the existing beams and plastered and painted over the whole thing, which, according to friends in the know, is how it's done nowadays when an apartment is still occupied. Our little family is no longer living under a rain of plaster or in fear for our lives. I also got a promise of a new paint job, new cupboards and possibly a new sink unit if I harass them enough. 



I went upstairs and looked at the mini-palace being built in a space the same size as mine, which is a one bedroom with the bedroom being extremely small. The renovated apartment is quite fancy, with nice looking tile and floorwork and even including a tiny washer/dryer in the bathroom, which will probably steal all my hot water. I am guessing they'll call it a two-bedroom as a section of the kitchen has been maneuvered into acting as a tiny living room while the actual living room is walled off into what could pass for as the bigger bedroom. I'm guessing this apartment will go for $2500-$3000. Wrap your brain around that: it's a six flight walk-up in a no-doorman tenement building on Avenue B.

My poor little apartment is still in desperate need of renovation, which can only happen properly if I exit with all my stuff, never to be seen again, leaving the landlord free to gut it and start afresh. This is not going to happen right away. I have no desire to live out my dotage in a crumbling five flight walk-up; I have a life here, with friends I love and really don't want to leave.

Still the nudges that it's coming get more frequent with each passing month. Every Saturday night there are always two or three incredibly bad and spoiled eggs present during my bartending shift that remind me that this city, at least in its current state, will not be my final destination. Last week I waited on a guy who claimed to once have been a bartender, then announced that all bartenders are shady, then didn't tip because he thought $10 was too expensive for his premium bourbon, the implication being that I was already scamming him out of money. So he essentially called me a thief and didn't pay me for my work, the energetic equivalent of spitting poison at someone and then walking away. The tip stiff is less hurtful than being insulted and demeaned for just doing my job. That kind of thing gets under your skin after a time, and is the reason there are so many surly bartenders and waiters in the world.

Then there was a this guy, who will remain legend among my co-workers for years to come:

1. Upon entrance dropped his coat down on a banquette and walked away for the night's festivities, never looking back.
2. Had a few Jamos and Bud Lights (it's their favorite) and eventually got so drunk that he felt the need to show me how limber he was while bro-dancing to Daft Punk ripping off Earth, Wind & Fire by throwing his foot up on the bar as if it were a barre.
3. Discovered at 3:00 am that he couldn't find his favorite $2700 pea coat. Not finding his favorite $2700 pea coat where he was sure he left it made him feel cranky and convinced that someone had stolen it. Because he left it RIGHT THERE.
4. When security found his favorite fucking $2700 pea coat on a different banquette, probably the first one he passed on his way in to show us how awesome and bendy he is, instead of being grateful and relieved and perhaps embarrassed that he made such a stink, he only got more angry and belligerent and accused security of trying to steal it.
5. Got so aggressive regarding the imagined grand theft of his bullshit $2700 pea coat that he got in people's faces until he had to be forcibly shoved out the door.
6. Once shoved out the door he announced to very visibly tattooed and non-golfy members of the staff that they were going to be really sorry because they were now banned from the fabulous golf courses that his dad, and he by default, own. 



You can't make this stuff up, people. Well, you can, but there's no need when it's happening nightly right outside your door. And I do mean right outside: I have to step over vomit nearly every weekend on my way into my building.

So how long can you live next door to it, or above it, or underneath it, unless your name has a III after it and you enjoy golfing and drinking until you vomit in the street? My guess is not forever. But I grateful that I am living in a building that while undergoing the standard painful upgrades and ensuing market-value price gouges, remains relatively safe for its rent-stabilized tenants for the time-being.

I am also really gratified that the people in our little community of aging freaks are still willing to reach out to one another in time of crisis. That connection is invaluable and I hope that I am able to pay it forward when the opportunity arises. I am sick of talking about how New York sucks these days and want to focus on what we do have, and that is primarily each other. There is still a bit of time left and it would be nice to enjoy what we can while we can.

And lastly, on the topic of the shortness of life-- the very talented Philip Seymour Hoffman. I didn't know him, but by all reports from people who did, he was a very nice guy. Many in our scene are no stranger to drugs or drug addicts, and I've read some strong opinions on his weakness, on the weakness of junkies, etc. I have witnessed that weakness firsthand and yes, it's frustrating and many times you just have to walk away or lose your mind. But I loved what Puma Perl had to say about it, and thought it was worthy of sharing as a final thought:

"Addiction is sneaky and insidious. It's not a rational being where you can explain that you have kids, fame, talent, a wife, and it agrees to go away. I've read a few 'how could he' statements. Because he suffered from this disease, the same one as the guy on the corner, that's how. Please don't judge. RIP PSH."

Monday, December 2, 2013

Let's Lynch the Landlord!




New York, New York. It's a helluva town.

My friends and I spend an extraordinary amount of time talking about how it's changed since we grew up or got here in the 70's, 80's, and early 90's. It's nearly impossible to move to New York now if you aren't wealthy; and development of luxury housing is raging, as I type, on nearly every block in the city. Glass terrariums for the rich (a quote I'm stealing from the genius Judy McGuire) rise daily and at an alarming rate. The rest of us, the artists who choose to stay because we are rent stabilized and can still afford to live here and/or cannot afford to leave, keep our heads down as 7-11's replace bodegas, as we weave in and out on sidewalks full of bros in a uniform combo of basketball shorts, flip-flops and winter jackets, shouting into their phones as they make beer or laundry runs on down time from parentally funded college-studies and raging bar crawls and house parties. Sometimes we go into denial for a few hours and pretend that it's all going to be okay. But I don't know that it is anymore.

There is a website dedicated to chronicling our plight. It's called E.V. Grieve: http://evgrieve.com/

I try not to be bitter. I even like some of the new New Yorkers that I wait on at Dream Baby on Saturday nights. Some of them see my tattoos and want to connect with me. They want to know who I am and what my opinion might be. Some of them just see me as a part of the landscape that they now own, but for the most part we still get along. I do my best to be friendly and nice. It's entertaining to me at times that they are often so clueless and probably couldn't fathom all I have seen and experienced in this city, but I remind myself that I have not walked in their shoes either. And someone probably looked at me and thought the same thing upon my newbie arrival from the Midwest.

Sometimes I marvel that the people I moved so far to escape have now taken over. It used to be that they stood outside velvet ropes while the freaks paraded past them to congregate in our happy and very large misfit groups. We had an extensive subcultural community and it was grand. Now we are all old, and while there are still more youthful attempts at holding the flame in small pockets around the city at parties advertised on shiny square flyers, it will never be the same, at least not while I live. But that is how life works; change the only constant, and like sharks, if we are to survive, we must keep moving forward.

The apartment above mine has been a constant source of pain since I first moved in directly under my soon-to-be-ex-husband in 1991. That's a very long story going in the book. Short version is that it sucked living under him, but eventually he moved out and now I wish he was still there. The landlord renovated the first time, causing me all kinds of drama and ceiling collapse, since then there have been a series of more minor renovations with the afore-mentioned parentally funded NYU students coming and going at school year opening and closing, the most famous of which was the girl who didn't know how to use a toilet: http://darkladymissanthrope.blogspot.com/2005/06/meeting-my-new-neighbor.html.

I have had to deal with many other floods and leaks, including another girl who opened her window as wide as possible, then disappeared during a major thunderstorm, leaving me and her dog to howl in agony as water poured through the ceiling over my bed. The hammering of loft-creation at 2 am, moving in and out at equally difficult hours. I have had keggers going on over my head when I should have been sleeping for my day job, beer bottles smashing on my fire escape or deposited in front of my door. Ah, dorm life!

But hope doth spring eternal, and with every August comes a new tenant, all fresh and shiny and ready for the upcoming school year, cringing as they pass Drew and I in the hallway as if we are criminals, or at the very least, of that lower caste that mommy and daddy told them to avoid. Working-class poverty might be contagious.

Unfortunately for me, this year the building was sold by the somewhat dysfunctional, but always accessible family who owned it for generations to a mystery landlord who remains shrouded behind a management corporation. When I have issues my only recourse is to call an office and speak to a very pretty young woman named Emily, who while intelligent, responsive and clearly capable of making better life/career-choices than I was at her age, only gives as many fucks for my quality of domicile and spiritual well-being as is required by law.

And so, without so much as a warning phone call, Drew and I awoke one recent morning to the sound of massive destruction overhead, accompanied by the feel of a rain of plaster crumbs lightly dusting our faces, our pillows, our sheets, our coffee maker, our pets, etc.

It sounded as if someone, or rather, a few someones, were working with sledgehammers as hard as humanly possible to break through the floor above and down into our home. I freaked out, called Emily, and told her that the ceiling was weak and would come down way sooner than later. She said, "Fie on your petty concerns and a pox upon you and your filthy livestock, you vile and insignificant serf!"

Okay, I dramatize slightly. She was polite and said that the worst would happen over the next couple of days while they gutted, and then it would calm down. She gave me a timeline of two months.

A couple of days later and under thunderous duress, the decades-old ceiling began cracking and dipping before our very eyes. Drew and I stood staring up, mesmerized as damage unfolded like a much uglier version of a stop-time video of a flower growing. I called Emily once again, this time with a hysterical, weepy tone to my voice and the announcement that the ceiling was most definitely coming down, and soon. She arrived an hour later with the contractor and looked up for a few moments, then told me that they would make the necessary repairs. Repairs, mind you, not a new ceiling, because, hey, let's not get too crazy here, we are just biding time until we can find a way to get you and all the other geezers out of this building and turn it into the goldmine we so rightfully deserve. I was assured that the demolition portion of the festivities had concluded and it was all gentle tapping and safe passage from here on out.

Well, okay, if you say so...Gee, I guess you wouldn't put a household in physical danger for a buck, now would you? I went upstairs and asked the workmen for the fourth time to please be careful when slamming things onto the ground. They looked at me as if I had three heads and continued slamming things on the ground, without missing a beat.

OOPSIE!! Noon the next workday, which was the day after a blissful and sledge-hammer free Thanksgiving, the ceiling came down while they pounded and slammed. Quel surprise! Quel dommage!


Now I could actually see and curse out the workmen without having to trudge upstairs! Everything in the vicinity, including an antique photographer's chair that my mother painstakingly refinished by hand, was damaged and covered in chunks of ceiling and dirt. And the entire apartment, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, rest of living room, was coated in ancient plaster dust.



Thirty seconds before this happened I had moved the Booper (Albert) away from his usual spot on the air conditioner next to my desk, which lies directly under the scene of the crime.


Unlike this photo he was sitting up and staring intently at the ceiling, which was what initially gave me pause, then the intense and sudden urge to move him. If I hadn't, would he be dead or injured now? I can't say for sure but I am very grateful for intuition and beyond angry that he is in danger in his own home, where I have often made the pledge that I will keep him safe and happy until his dying day.

Anyhoo, so I did what any normal person would do, which is stand still while covered in thick black dust and stare in shock at the now visible feet moving around above me (still hammering away, cause mime is money!).

Then I took a deep breath of the afore-mentioned dust and let out a blood-curdling scream, followed by a list of screeched expletives which may or may not have included derogatory comments toward the mothers of everyone involved.

Clean-up ensued once I stomped upstairs, still shrieking, and dragged the head ceiling-pounder down by the arm to see the world from my point of view. Note that they are wearing masks while I stood feet away, maskless and shivering in my jammies with the windows open for air, taking photos and crying. The pets were shoved into the bedroom for protection, the fair Emily could not be contacted because it was still technically a holiday and there is no emergency contact phone number listed on evil super-villain lair answering machines.


Drew rushed home, hugged me hard, and we cleaned up as best we could until we both had to go to work. After my shift ended at 10pm I had a few decompressing drinks with Zoe and Tim. I had a couple more than necessary, so Tim very graciously walked me home and up the stairs into the apartment. I said, "Tim, I'm not okay with this." And he said, "I know, Honey." and gave me a hug.

After he left I sat for a moment and then decided to carry on a full-blown hysterical, exacerbated-by-booze sobbing meltdown, which culminated in a call to Richard Manitoba for a sober and sane, calming male talk-down-off-the-ledge. He got me grounded enough to go to bed and sleep it off, and I awoke with a booze and crying too much headache to spent the next two days scrubbing off the filth. My hands are burning and cracked from being in cleaning water for so long.

Which leads to today. Emily did apologize via email yesterday and this morning sent one of her minions in with the contractor for assessment. They deemed that yes indeed, the kitchen ceiling (and therefore we) could very well be a danger, and while again, there are most likely no fucks to be given concerning the health of Drew, myself, or our pets, an actual physical injury or death due to construction could cost cash money. Emily sent an email stating they would like to begin the messy, short-term life-ruining job of replacing/repairing tomorrow. I said yes if they bring an air purifier.

I also said that while I will try to be as accommodating as possible, I have contacted a lawyer and it would be great if the mystery landlord could start thinking about what kind of abatement/recompense he/she/it is willing to offer, as this shit is, in my admittedly not-completely-professional opinion, not at all cool. I am waiting to hear back as things continue to slam and pound dangerously on the ceiling above my head. Drew and I are taking turns on who leaves the apartment during work hours so someone can be here to watch and keep the animals safe. It's been a few hours since Emily got my email, but they're probably very busy trying on tiaras and eating canapes made of endangered species at the office right now. I'm sure someone will get back to me eventually.

This blog is primarily for my friends and family, who have been very worried and very helpful with advice and shoulders to lean on. It seems easier to write it out here one time rather than to keep explaining it via facebook or via phone. I want you to know how truly grateful I am that you are so evidently there when the shit hits the fan. All of the facebook comments and notes, the calls and texts, all appreciated and heartening. This morning I got a phone call from Clayton Patterson, who I highly admire and who I know but have never known that well, checking to see if there was anything I needed from him. It was a lovely reminder that we still have some community left, and that united, even though our numbers are much smaller, we can stand upright in front of the bulldozer for at least short while longer.