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, 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.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Funeral for a Friend

 My beautiful friend Codie Leone died last week, on my birthday, October 23, 2013, of a heart attack.


This is a (somewhat blurry) photo of her the last time she was in my apartment. I made her a vegetable juice in a glass we both felt was appropriate for the occasion.

Codie had many, many friends and fans. She is considered an underground icon, a transgender pioneer and mother to all LGBT children in her vicinity. Codie left three sons behind. If you don't know who she is or was, this video reel, a reality show teaser, will give you a good idea. I can't embed the video here but the link should work:

http://vimeo.com/38810369

The day after she died my blog got more hits than ever before. People were clearly googling the hell out of her and found something I'd written a while back (Pronounity). Everyone loved her. You can't find anyone who has a bad story about her, and this is because Codie, unlike most of us, genuinely loved and enjoyed people. It didn't matter who or what you were, she accepted you and wanted to hear your thoughts. Gay, straight, yuppie or freak. And she loved to laugh above all else; she could take the worst circumstance and turn it into the most hilarious story you've ever heard, so she was always fun to be around.

Codie had been sick many years past, and we almost lost her then. But that was miles behind in the rear view mirror. She was healthy now, vibrant, and excited about numerous projects. The fear of losing her was not in anyone's consciousness; Codie was going to outlive us all.

I had a big birthday party on the day she died, which she was supposed to attend. When she didn't answer texts we all assumed she had bailed to stay home with her two dogs, although it did seem weird that she didn't answer anyone. I didn't mind, I'd see her soon enough, her apartment is only a few blocks away and she often popped her head into Dream Baby, the bar I work in on Saturdays, when she was out walking the dogs. She would leave them with someone at the door, run in, push through the crowd, shout "I love you!" and run back out again. That's the way she was, always taking an extra moment to make sure you knew you were loved, that you were still connected.

Funny thing is, for someone I consider family, I can't quite remember when I met Codie. It feels like she's always been there. I know it was the 80's, probably at Boy Bar, maybe over a line of coke at Save the Robots. I can't pin the exact moment. She was just an integral thread in the fabric of my new New York life.

Codie around the time I met her, this is a famous photo by Nan Goldin.


Codie and Gina Vetro as MTV"s Art School Girls of Doom:



As the decades passed we saw each other sometimes less, sometimes more. No matter how long, it was as if no time had passed. You have that with people you've known from lifetime to lifetime. You might not talk for years and then you see each other and it's all "Hey girl! Where'd you get that nail color?"

Drew and I joke that we are "the Last Responders" because we are both selfish and step up reluctantly in a crisis. Codie, on the other hand, was always willing to be there if you had so much as a cold. "What do you need, Doll? Do you want soup? I'll come over with supplies." 

Over the last decade we worked together at Patricia Field and it was always entertaining. We shouted insults and gave beauty advice. She, Joey Pauline and I called ourselves the Stygian witches. Who's got the eye? We walked home together a lot of nights, Codie tossing her hair and enjoying the attention of men who whispered sexual innuendo as she walked past them in her heels and low cut top, cracking wise while they gaped. Sometimes she wore flip flops, but they were always very expensive flip flops, because Codie was well-known for her love of designer shoes. Often things got so ridiculous that Joey would have to stop, doubled over from laughing so hard.

Me, Codie, Joey...


Codie was was constantly glamorous even while occasionally covered in dog hair. Codie's apartment could be messy sometimes, but her makeup remained flawless. She had a ridiculously deep trannie voice with a Queens accent. She called me 'Relph" sometimes. She shouted off-color jokes at the most inappropriate moments. She could stand in the most evil 5" stilettos for hours. Codie couldn't spell for shit, but she was smart as a whip and remembered everyone's name. Codie was vain, she drove me nuts making the same damn face over and over again for photos because she knew it worked for her. I'd shout, "Stop making that dumb 'Ooh' face!" And she'd reply, "Stop being an asshole, Asshole!"

Codie always liked to be beautiful, which she was. But she would be happy to whip out a boob in public or put a wig on backwards if it could make you laugh. She went out of her way to make sure everyone in the room felt comfortable, not just the famous or fabulous. She would work to draw the mousiest person in the corner into conversation because she didn't want anyone to feel alone or unseen. She prized her Louboutins, but if you wanted to borrow a pair, she would let you.

Codie was a downtown legend, a freak to some, a hero to others, a friend to many. She was so deliciously human. She was a gift. Gina Vetro said, "Codie thought with her heart and felt with her mind." Meaning it was all heart to her. She didn't stop to break it down. Love came before all else. Her very minor imperfections only served to make her more wonderful, and her depth of spirit and kindness, a deep, abiding kindness to any and all, are what make her sudden departure such a devastating loss to everyone in her orbit.

Codie, me, Joey, and Zoe after doing the Rew and Who show at Otto's. 


We had so much fun doing Rew's interview that Codie decided she wanted to do a downtown version of the View. We had a meeting with her son John, who is in film school, to discuss whether we could make it happen. It was a casual thing, we thought we'd have plenty of time to see it to fruition.

Recently Codie had been asked to speak on what it means to be transgender:



The reality show about her day to day life looked as if it was very close to happening.

On the Friday before she died she came to my happy hour shift for a moment with a friend she had had a major break with, and who she had since forgiven. He was so grateful to be with her and and we talked about how real friends can weather all storms if everyone is honest and loving, which Codie always was. I am so happy for him that he was able to make that happen in time.

The next day, Saturday, she did her usual run into the bar to say "I love you." It would have been just as easy for her to walk by and assume she'd see me soon.

On Sunday I was supposed to go to a brunch that she was hosting but my feet hurt so badly from working the two nights before that I sent her a text that I wouldn't make it.

She texted back, "Eeeuww." I thought, "Wow, she spelled something right for a change." I wish I'd gotten off my ass and hobbled over there. I said to our friend Douglas Hovey, "If I'd known she was gonna DIE, I would have gone to her goddamn brunch!"

When Joey broke the news to me over the phone, weeping inconsolably, I thought, "What's going on, did his cat die?" When he finally got to the words, "Codie's dead.", I thought, "Nope. That can't be right. That's a mistake."

Codie survived major illness. She survived pneumonia and a coma and weighing 90 pounds. She survived a father who wanted to crush the very essence of her, her otherness. She survived teen parenting. She survived being transgender. She survived losing her own friends. She survived working at Patricia Field, fer chrissake. What do you mean she's gone? Nope. Sorry, we all need her. There are sons who missed her during much of their childhood and are now owed more time. So nope, sorry.

Codie was out on the street when it happened. She called her boyfriend Eugene and told him she didn't feel well, and he came out to get her. She complained that her arm, neck, and chin hurt, he took her shopping bags, and she collapsed in his arms. And then she left her body shortly after that. And there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth. At the cemetary Eugene told me the story in a rush of words that he could barely contain, whispering feverishly. It was too much, it had to be expelled. Anguish. Anguish.

A friend sent me a text that said, "Codie is your angel now, she watches over you from the other side." I think, Yes, I can feel her around me. My mother, a psychic and channeler, checked in and Codie came through right away to say she's fine and to apologize to everyone for leaving so quickly. My mother says her energy is very clear and strong. None of that is really a surprise and I'm glad. I know her dear friend Ruby, who died very recently, was there when she crossed over, and that makes me glad.


 But I'd still rather have her in person. Who is going to make us laugh so hard that we can't breathe?


We all went to a wake and a funeral this weekend and saw people we hadn't seen in years and hugged each other tight and joked and cried. The wake was open casket and a girlfriend did her makeup rather than the funeral home because it was imperative to get her eyebrows right. Codie was dressed beautifully in a vintage Mugler suit and rhinestone Louboutins. It was hard to take in for extended stretches of time and we took frequent breaks. At one point I found myself n the lobby grilling Debbie Harry about her recent guest star on Project Runway, and she looked down at her phone and said, "Oh my God. Lou Reed died!"

I thought, how does life get so surreal? So wonderful and so terrible all jumbled together?

At the cemetery Joey put a big plastic eyeball on the casket. She's got the eye now.

On my way home from work, walking up my stairs tired and heart-aching, I heard the sounds of yet another frat party raging in the courtyard next door. I thought, "Shit. This is just too much right now. I don't know if I can handle it."

And then I heard Codie's voice in my head, clear as a bell.

She said, "I got you girl. You're good. I always got you; you should know that by now."



Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cursed Diamonds

Was there something planetary going on last week? I got super sick with the flu the week before and spent days holed up in the apartment feeling hot, then cold, then cranky. My guru mom says that we are all going through more clearings, past life and this life, and that I was clearing out energy/toxins from drug usage in this current lifetime. To which I whined, "Well, that's gonna take forever!"

But it didn't. If you're interested, we're supposed to be moving from carbon based bodies to crystalline. http://drsmick.com/carbon-based-to-crystalline-based-body/. I don't feel very crystalline and clearing, if that's what it is, sucks--"Cher, I don't want to do this anymore. And my buns: they don't feel nothin' like steel."--Tai in Clueless.

But hope does indeed spring eternal and all things must pass.

So after some heavy couch time I was eager to get back to stabs at productivity, especially as lately I've been feeling less procrastinaty about the book, like for the first time, ever. I sat down last Thursday and wrote some pages, and was very pleased to see I'm closer to measurable progress. Then as I sat there determinedly typing, seemingly without provocation, I burst into tears and went on nice little crying jag, the likes of which had not been experienced since viewing Les Miserables while in the full throes of PMS. That damned Anne Hathaway.

It was weird. But not. After honking into the sixth kleenex that little bulb went bright and I thought, "Ooooooohhh... So I'm not LAZY, it's that it sucks to dredge this stuff up. That's why I've been procrastinating for the last 10 years. Not lazy...SENSITIVE! Not lazy...PAINFUL! I felt quite vindicated despite the snot-producing state of affairs. Though it's not fun to carry shame and sadness over the past, it' is very nice to find a reason to justify ten years of steady video gaming.

The next day, feeling slightly vulnerable and a tad off my game, I worked my happy hour at BE. Patrick Kavanaugh, the supremely talented Mad Hatster, came in and gave me the most gorgeous bowler you've ever seen, custom made for my tiny yet remarkably hard head.


So that was awesome and I love the hat so much I haven't taken it off since.

And then various friends  from varying eras in my life, from varied parts of the country, stopped in, just by random chance all converging in NY at the same time. The evening was shaping up to be nice.

And then it wasn't. One of the friends who I hadn't seen in twenty years, and who I was very close to back then, confessed quietly that they'd been homeless for a number of years. For the purpose of privacy, let's call this person "X". That made me sad and also meant I would be putting some of my tips in the register to pay for the drinks, which also makes me sad. But I was glad to be reunited and am grateful for all I have, and am happy to pay it forward when possible.

Things went from fun and reunion-ey to overly drunk and sloppy in a very short time. But I didn't notice because the bar manager forgot to tell me there was an open bar halfway through my shift, and I was suddenly faced with a hundred eager-for-libation strangers waving free drink wristbands and shouting drink orders at the top of my head as I concentrated on pouring as fast as humanly possible.


One woman in particular got belligerent because she wanted two glasses of water immediately (no intention of tipping) and I was not getting to her fast enough. I tried to explain to her, while making ten drinks at a time with hands and toes, that water took the same time to pour as a drink and that there were many other, more well-mannered people who had been waiting much longer than her. She ignored all logic and human decency and continued to insist that she wanted her water asap. She waved her hand without stop and and shouted, "I ONLY WANT TWO WATERS. I ONLY WANT TWO WATERS!" I finally screeched, "ALL RIGHT EVERYONE! THIS WOMAN GETS HER ORDER BEFORE ANYONE ELSE BECAUSE HER NEEDS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT IN THE ROOM!"

Everyone looked nervous as I slammed two glasses down in front of her, the contents sloshing onto the bar. She made a face, not cowed in the least, and took her gd water. I felt badly immediately after, because my behavior reflects on the bar and could get me into a conversation with my bosses, and because it sent an adrenaline surge through my system that quickly alchemized to angst and weird afore-mentioned weepy shame from the day before. So when she came back feeling hydrated and insisting upon a complicated drink (again no tip), I apologized. I still think she's an asshole, but it made me feel better to do the professional thing. Sometimes I don't care about being right or wrong, I just want to be comfortable.

Once the shift was over I took a deep breathe and collected my things, anticipating some relaxing down time. Whew!

Not to be. Asshole Lady elbowed me and pointed to my long-lost friend X and said, "Someone better do something about THAT." X was at that moment trying very hard to simultaneously choke and punch another friend while sliding off the bar stool. We were in full Barfly mode. I'm surrounded by fancy white people in business attire and free-drink wristbands and MY people look like hell and are attempting to kill each other.

Sigh...



After an interminable one-way conversation about the fact that it was time to leave (heads too busy lolling on necks like the proverbial bladder on a stick to respond verbally), and some dragging/carrying out into the street with the assistance of Mr. Tim, we were able to get a cab and escort sorted out. I shoved hard-earned money into broke hands and Tim loaded them into the back of the car. I mouthed the words, "I'm sorry." to the cabdriver, and Tim and I  ran screaming into the night.

We made a beeline to Manitoba's for a nightcap with wifey Zoe Hansen and friend and jewelry designer Sara Samoiloff. I figured I deserved it at that point.

Zoe, having gotten my frustrated texts, handed me a cocktail upon arrival. Sara handed me the gift of a GORGEOUS, clearly expensive silver and pearl necklace. I was thrilled and grateful. I sat there sipping and sporting my beautiful necklace and hat, marveling at my generous friends. The angst began to melt away.

And then another person in the bar sidled up with mischief on the mind and cocaine in the bloodstream, and began shouting what would turn out to be a really boring story set on repeat, illustrated with even more boring phone photos, at a decibel level well over all sane, inside-voice conversation. It went on and on and on. And then without warning, the story veered, with no assistance or prompting from me whatsoever, to crap from my past and just by chance, exactly what I was writing about the day before that sent me into an emotional tizzy.

Ah geez.

I shouted, "I don't want to talk about it!" and as my eyes rolled into the back of my head preparing for what one could only hope would be a blissfully conscious-deadening seizure, someone else elbowed me from behind. I turned to see a man who looked somewhat familiar, but I could not place. He said, I kid you not:

"No one likes you."

I squinted and said, "Huh?"

He replied, "You know me. You remember me."

I shook my head and turned back around away from him. After that initial crack I wasn't too interested in any further trips down memory lane. He elbowed me again, I turned, and he said, "You know me."

I said, "I'm very sorry, but I don't remember. Care to enlighten me?" He paused, pulled out a giant wad of cash very ostentatiously, handed a $20 to the bartender, and said, cryptically,

"Indian Larry."

I said, "Larry's dead.You're not him. If you're not going to tell me then we don't have anything to talk about."

I turned back to Zoe, who was now glaring at me wild-eyed and desperate for rescue from the too-loud cokey story on repeat. Money-bags purposely banged a chair into my back. I ignored it.

I get this a lot. Between bartending, age and being a mini rock star for five minutes, I've simply met too many people for my limited and self-absorbed brain to hold each and every person clearly anymore. Most are nice about it. Last week a girl told me how grateful she was that I'd saved her life by slap/shaking her out of an OD in the bathroom of a bar (good times!), which I hadn't remembered it at all. Some people, like this guy, aren't nice and take it personally when you don't remember them. I do think I remember him now, but fuck it. I'll pretend like I don't if I see him again just to drive him bananas. Sometimes it's more entertaining to be right than it is to be comfortable.

I had a hard time getting to sleep that night. I felt very sad about the friend that I'd shoved into a cab, who had been such a fierce creature when we were young, almost otherworldly with that stardom and beauty that we all had in our youth. I wondered how some of us, like Zoe and me, have been able to emerge from our crazy, often drug-fueled pasts into a happy present, while so many others are dead, or still using and/or not fully there, or simply cranky about being forgotten. For every one of me, who survived with only residual sadness and regrets, there are numerous others who are either dead or trying to punch a friend in some bar well past the age when that sort of behavior can be considered dignified.

The alternative/artistic/rock and roll/whatever-you-want-to-call-it existence can be pretty cool. You get free hats and jewelry. You get attention and you go to a lot of shows. You get remembered more than others. But it destroys many and is not a life for the faint of heart. Which, I suppose, is the reason that so many dabble in it in their 20's and then move on to more normal-seeming lives, the only evidence of the past being a few photographs the kids find amusing. This is probably the sanest way to go.

But I have never been called sane, and don't know how or wish to live any other way. I woke up after my fitful night and decided that the truth I would choose for each one of the people involved in the last 24 hours would be the one that suited them best. Meaning, I choose to believe that my punch-drunk and sometimes homeless friend is merely taking a soul detour for the moment, and that the truth of who they are is that amazing creature I knew so many years prior. And that one day, maybe in this lifetime, or maybe the next, that truth will shine again and forevermore.

I would hope that people would do the same for me: remember me at my best and brightest and forgive some of those not so shining moments, as I am only now learning to do for myself. Maybe on the other side we will be able to look at each other with full memory of all of the people and events and absolutely no blame or shame, and go, "Whew! That was a fucking ride, wasn't it? Now where's that asshole woman with our water??"