Saturday, April 8, 2017

I'M MOVING!

In an effort to get a bit more proactive and monetize this blog, now that I'm getting a decent amount of hits, I moved it all over to Wordpress. I like blogger and I'm kind of sad to leave it, especially as I hate change of any sort. I'm going to leave everything up here for a week or two til people get acclimated.

The address is WWW.RAFFAELEMARY.COM.

If you're subscribing here you'll have to resubscribe over there. I'm sorry. I did just upload a really cute kitten video over there as a form of apology.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Elyse

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


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

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

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

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In the meantime, Curt and I began our usual dance back into relationship-hood. And around that time he got hired to play bass for Raging Slab, a band that had been around for a few years and were pretty well-established at that time. 

Raging Slab was led by Greg Strzempka, who everyone called Greg Slab. His adept song-writing talent distinguished the band as leaders on the New York scene, and his aesthetic had a sort of brown, Southern flavor that none of the others did at the time. We were all still pretty gothy and glammy in the mid -80’s, with dyed hair and black eyeliner, while Greg wore a mustache and a goatee, with his hair very long and naturally brown. He was already headed into the biker-esque territory that was still on the horizon for most of us. Raging Slab were ahead of their time. 

Greg’s wife Elyse was the other fixture in the band. He taught her how to play slide guitar, which became essential to their sound. Elyse was a short, sexy, rough and tumble girl with shaggy brown hair who appeared to be ever on the prowl for new conquests, male or female. I think that in that atmosphere it was impossible for any couple to remain faithful to one another for long, so like the rest of us, they had their ups and downs and I am guessing, dalliances. 

I hated Elyse immediately upon our first meeting. She came up behind me as I sat with Curt at the bar at Wah Wah Hut, and yanked three times on my fake ponytail, hard. My hair was long but I always wanted more drama, more glamor, and often wore this ponytail that hung down to my waist with a big red bow at the top. Luckily I had spent enough time around drag queens to know how to do my hair properly, and although she pulled as hard as she could, intending to embarrass me by removing it, the ponytail stayed put. 

I turned around, my head throbbing, enraged. She wouldn’t look at me. She bleated, “IS THIS REAL??” directly to Curt with her side to me. “IS THIS YOUR GIIIRRRLLLFRIEND??” Curt mumbled an introduction, she gave me a cursory glance. I glared at her with burning hatred. I came there ready to meet the people in a band I really liked and was unprepared for this fight. I should have known better, though. Curt and I both inspired that kind of competitive edge in women. I don’t know if Elyse had a crush on Curt or just didn’t like that I was pretty, but she was a real asshole either way. I turned back to the bar and refused to acknowledge her further while their conversation finished. It was official, I wanted to punch her in the face. But I would wait until she walked away and then torture Curt about it instead.

A few weeks later a gig was scheduled, and I got dressed up to go to the show and went with Curt to meet with the band at Greg and Elyse’s 13th Street apartment before heading to the club. I was apprehensive, but Elyse was a bit better on this day. She was friendly at least, although she still got her snide comments in here and there. “OH, SO THAT’S WHAT YOUR REAL HAIR LOOKS LIKE...” She and Greg bickered nonstop that night; they were both very smart and the banter had a sharp edge to it as they collected their gear. I sat quietly drinking a beer and observing the dynamic until it was time to go. 

Curt and I trudged down the stairs behind the couple, who were still bickering. At the bottom of the landing Greg threw out a snarky retort at Elyse. I don’t know what it was, I can’t remember anything they were arguing about. It was all the kind of shit that only two people who have been together a while would be able to master: a comment that looks harmless enough from the outside but is designed to push the other person’s buttons. Elyse shrieked and threw her open beer at him, he jumped out of the way and it hit the ground and shattered into pieces, spraying beer everywhere.

It was shocking, Curt and always I waited until the end of the night to start throwing things at each other. I looked down and saw a remarkable amount of blood pooling on the floor around my high heeled shoe. My ankle was pumping sheets of it out faster than I would have thought possible.

I screamed in terror. “I’m bleeding!!” Greg looked angry and Elyse acted concerned. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” 

It was clear I was not going to the gig. Curt told them he would take me to the emergency room and meet them at the club. I stood crying on the sidewalk as he hailed a cab and Elyse pushed $40 into my hand. “Here, for the cab and whatever.” 

Curt, God bless him, carried me into the emergency room of Beth Israel like Dudley Doright. The attending nurse, a big black woman, rolled her eyes and said, “You don’t have to be as dramatic as all that! Put her down!” Curt said, “Look at her ankle, it’s gushing blood!” She gave us a pile of gauze to staunch the flow and sent us to sit down with the rest of the waiting throng. Curt kissed me goodbye and left for the gig. I felt so alone at that moment, so frustrated and abused by this woman I didn’t even know, bleeding in an emergency room at night by myself. Eventually, after an hour or so, I got to see a doctor, who put several stitches in my ankle and sent me home with a cane and the promise of a bill. It was the 80’s so you could get still get away with payment at a later date. And I, being a good girl at heart, did pay the $250  bill when it came in the mail a couple of weeks later.

After midnight in the city and if I’d had any money I would have been ripe for the plucking. I couldn’t walk at all. Hobble/hopping to the corner was excruciating and took so much time and effort that by the time I was able to hail a cab I was covered in sweat from the exertion in the hot summer night. Then I had to hop up the curb to my building on First Street and crawl up the five flight of stairs to my apartment. I sat on a step and used my arms and good leg to hoist my butt up to the next, then the next, then the next, until I finally reached my floor. I unlocked the door sitting and slid in backwards, still on my ass. 

Since stairs were out of the question I spent the next week and a half holed up in the apartment, unable to walk to the bathroom or kitchen without feeling shooting pain. I was stuck. I couldn’t work, I just laid in bed, depressed, bored with television and feeling mightily wronged. Curt and Gini brought me food and watched television with me when they could.

Fourth of July hit a couple weeks later, and I ventured outside with Curt to hang out with friends at the Hell’s Angel’s annual 4th of July block party on 3rd Street. He helped me down the stairs and walked slowly next to me as I limped painfully on my cane. We spent some time sitting on stoops, drinking beer and watching bands play while the Angels blew up fireworks. Then I hobbled home, exhausted, but so grateful to have gotten out of the house. The ankle saga seemed endless.  

Curt had an out of town gig with the band after that, and he and I were fighting again. As I slowly limped with him to their designated meeting spot in front of the Wah Wah Hut, we argued, over God knows what now. He was going through a coke shooting phase at that point so it could have been drugs or it could have been the dubious feminine company that went along with the drugs. When we got there Curt  was happy to be able to escape my nonstop rant for a moment to help load gear into the car. As he worked Elyse pulled me aside.

“Hey Raff, when do you think you can get that $40 that I loaned you back to me?”

My mouth dropped. I was stunned. I almost couldn’t wrap my brain around it. This woman had caused me so much pain with her bad behavior, not to mention a substantial emergency room bill with no income to support it, and now she wanted her measly $40 back? Could anyone really be this awful? I had no answer for her. I just looked at her for a moment, snapped my mouth shut, and turned to Curt and began arguing with him again. Eventually he hopped into the car and the band drove off while I was still yelling, cane in hand, Elyse shouting, "Drive, drive!", laughing at me. Curt told me later that she and Greg really got a kick out of how I looked holding my cane and yelling as they drove away. 

Now I wanted to set her on fire. 

[Interesting side-note bit of trivia--Jesse Malin was driving that van and confirmed the story from his point of view many years later.] 

Curt was fired from the band after that gig. He was not a great bass player and his drug habit didn't work in his favor. I pointedly ignored Elyse and Greg whenever I saw them out, which was often. 

One night I ran into them, of course when I was at my most vulnerable. As one of the few responsible people working for our rock and roll home base Lismar Lounge, I was often obligated to close out the bar at 4 am. I lived two blocks away and would wait up watching movies, then scoot through the streets as warily as possible, praying for safe passage. On this particular occasion I had put rag curlers in my hair and just didn’t feel like keeping my makeup on until going out in public. Usually there would be no one left in the bar. I pretty much looked exactly like this, except there was no smile. I probably had that same forehead zit.



This time there were at least four or five people in the bar, two of them being the dreaded Greg and Elyse. Ugh. First the cane waving, now curlers. It was too humiliating. I leaned against the ice machine, not looking at them, praying they would leave. 

Nope. Elyse walked up and stood in front of me, forcing me to acknowledge her. I turned my head to face her. She was shaking, so tiny, and said, “Hey Raff, I don’t know what happened between us, but I really am sorry about your foot and I wish we could be friends again.”

I looked down at her, mortified. I could see the rags in my peripheral vision. But at least I had a little height on her, especially since I tend to stand up stick straight when uncomfortable. I was practically bending backwards at this point.

 I said, “What happened, Elyse, is that you cut my ankle open, which caused me much pain, loss of work and a hospital bill, gave me $40 for it, and then asked for that $40 back.” I couldn’t even get into the hair pulling and constant mocking that had ensued around that.

I can’t remember what her response was, I think she had forgotten that she asked for the money back. She seemed so contrite and nervous and sincere that I had to let it go. I told her it was fine. After that, although guarded for a long time to come, I said hello when I saw them and eventually became friendly enough to appreciate the wicked sense of humor underlying much of what they did and said. I still think of her whenever my fingers happen to pass over the scar.

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That was written quite a while ago. Then Elyse sent a message through Instagram in October of last year. I cut a few things out of our exchanges because they're too personal...



I feel it now too.

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

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

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




Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sid is Innocent

I was walking through Chinatown last week, listening to my ipod on some awesome new headphones I got on sale via the Wendy Williams show (“How you doin’?”), past spitting old Chinese men and sad fish markets. It’s a nightmare, overcrowded, slow-moving and stinky, but cool that it still exists in all it’s old school New Yorkness. I was feeling melancholy. Drew and I just can’t see eye to eye at the moment and it’s painful, even though I understand his point of view and that it’s part of the process. I’m doing pretty well now, but I am still processing deep personal change/death, so while insanity and darkness seem past, residual sadness clings like a smoky film some days. Sometimes I wake up with the words “I’m sorry.” already on my lips. I apologize constantly in my sleep. I remember nearly every transgression I’ve ever made, starting with that kid in high school who made a comment about the Doobie Brothers that I shot down so hard I know I destroyed him. I’m so sorry, dude. I still wish I could take it back. But I find long walks with a musical accompaniment are good for head sorting, even if it’s also accompanied with a bit of elderly Asian snot rocket dodging. An exceptionally sad song came on and the sorrow under the surface came bubbling up and expanded within me until it felt as if my chest would crack open. So much sadness in this life, how do we manage to process it at all?  No wonder so many people become drug addicts. And I am fully aware that my first world issues are not really problems. It’s a luxury to fester the way I do. I let the feelings roll through me without judgment. A phrase popped into my head--”the exquisiteness of sadness”. Then I thought, all emotion is exquisite really. Love, sadness, joy. That’s why we love music (and art and movies) so much, it makes us feel. Our souls are here to feel. Pain sucks, doubt sucks, fear sucks, numbness sucks. Anger can be good, it’s my personal favorite. But it’s only a protection and often destructive. Sadness, when it’s allowed to rise in its pure form, isn’t so bad. It bubbles up and flows like water, sometimes rushing, sometimes rolling quietly. It passes by. I allowed it to consume me, tears behind my sunglasses, and then let it flow out of the cracks and through the top of my head. After a few minutes I felt better. And then a drunk Euro kid with a big backpack slurred, “...You’ve got a good ass for an old lady…” and I went back to pissed off with a soupcon of amusement. Fuck you, Junior. And thank you I guess. Anyway, the primary focus for me today is not sadness, but the energy shift that seems to be fluttering under my feet, preparing to carry me somewhere new soon. I have spent my life suspicious and fearful of money and of people who have it. It didn’t fit into my rock and roll mentality; punk rock and I came of age together and from the time of first memory I always felt that I was “other”. I related to very few kids in school, I purposely marked myself with clothing and hair and jewelry, later tattoos, to telegraph to the world that I was unwilling to join the club. Some of that bravado was conscious choice, some of it was rejecting “them” before they rejected me. The popular kids scared the crap out of me. They always had a handle on what to wear, they didn’t worry about chewing food in front of each other, they knew the right things to say, there was an ease of movement that I never had. Until I put on a Fiorucci snake print stretch tee and a homemade “Sid is innocent” button and raised my middle finger. Then they all thought I was darling without me having to say a word. So, into adulthood carrying that flag, wearing that flag. Rock and roll life, rock and roll boyfriends, East Village wildlife, drugs, fights, passion, obsession, music, I’m crazier than you, tougher than you, harder than you, I raise that same middle finger to the popular kids of my adulthood, which I suppose are investment bankers and models and the children of the famous and wealthy these days. In some ways exactly like it was in high school, what has always hidden behind that finger is fear and the feeling of being less than. I had a terrible, awful time when Drew was in the band Bloody Social, because most people in and around the band were models, children of the wealthy, children of celebrities, everyone rich from birth, gorgeous to look at, younger than me, more confident than me, shittier than me. They didn’t give a fuck about anything. They were the real nihilists because they could afford it. I was older than them, covered in tattoos, hailing from another era that they could neither reference nor respect. I fought with Drew constantly as bisexual 20 year old beanpole assholes spilled drinks on me as they shoved past to throw their vaginas full of gold cards at his head. Excruciating. I drank and scowled and railed against it all until even the nice ones had a hard time breaking through my angry wall. It wasn’t until the incandescent May Anderson ignored my cornered snarl and pulled a bottle of Jack Daniels out of her purse, grinned and handed it to me, that I was able to breathe and let my guard down a little and make a friend. But only her. That experience was devastating to me, but with the cushion of time, so informative. Fast forward to now. I posted a status about this on facebook and got an avalanche of response, so it must be hitting a nerve--maybe it's our age or maybe it's a movement of the tide. I was sitting in a basement watching a friend’s band, at a show I had booked, and this thought came floating up and lodged itself in the front of my brain. I could die happily never seeing another rock band in another basement for the rest of my life. In that one moment I was changed forever. What? Blasphemy! Or preaching to the choir, depending on where you sit, rocking chair or bar stool. But before you send me a dreary email saying you never go out anymore, you hate going out, people who go out are losers and you’re content to knit potato chip bag cozies by the fire, understand that I am not talking about that. I don’t want to retire necessarily, more that I feel the urge to live fresh  I’m talking about releasing an energy that has had a hold on me since I was three and dancing in front of the television to the Beatles. I still wanna go out; I just want to go out FANCY. I want to use graffiti-free bathrooms. I want to wear my good shoes without fear of stepping in mystery liquids. Or I want to sit on a beach chair looking at the ocean with no shoes on. The details aren't important. I just wanna get out of that basement that I have been sitting in for about 30 years now. I'm not afraid anymore. Again, first world pondering, but I gotta give you what I got. I am still very much in love with my world, but the ATTACHMENT to only that has dissipated. I am ready for new experiences, new environments, new people, new outfits. Somehow, after this long stretch of suffering and confusion and self-hatred, I am expanding inwardly and seeing glimmers of what could come outwardly. I can see now how my mental state of insecurity and judgment has kept me stuck at a less than perfect financial state, at less than perfect contentment levels. And along with that I can see that it’s all an energy game. I can be whoever I choose to be now. Well, except for a bisexual 20-something asshole beanpole with a vagina full of gold cards. I suppose that ship has sailed. But there is still a myriad of possibilities. I simply need to make space for myself, for the options to show themselves. That is incredibly freeing. So I’m doing the work. I’m working on my thought patterns around money, I’m taking a second to ask my body what it wants before eating. I’m actively choosing quiet time, I’m walking around Chinatown crying it out instead of picking up the phone to try to fix what isn't mine to fix. I’m allowing people to pick up the check without fighting about it. I’m accepting compliments without deflecting them. I’m cool with my age. I'm cool with some people not liking me. I’m daydreaming about all of the things I can do or see or be that I never considered before because I thought I was anchored into one state of being for this lifetime. I’m feeling love and forgiveness for myself without having to do a big flagellating apology and atonement dance first. For the first time ever. It’s weird. But cool. If you are new agey of mind, this particular video has been very helpful to me:

If you’re not, watch this instead because it's time that more people appreciate the awesomeness that is Linda Belcher.





Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Post-Apocalyptic Adventures in the Big City

So many random things to talk about! I'm kind of bored of the deep stuff, so I'll tell you a tale about the dating scene in NYC.

I will get a teensy bit serious for a moment, though, to say I've been sick for four days with a sore throat and sore tongue (?) that is now kind of drifting into a mild cough. And I am convinced that it is purely a mind/energy disturbance.

Fortunately and unfortunately, I live in a city where there is always something happening and I work in the center of those happenings. I bartend one night a week, I book rock shows, I manage a gallery with openings every month. There's always some new and usually fun social obligation. I love having dinner and brunch with friends, I receive a lot of invitations and have many people I want to see. I also, when possible, want to include new or outside people who are eager to be included. I grew up lonely and insecure and I know how hard it is to live on the edge of the party. But sometimes it becomes an entourage of insanity. And because of my mom energy and co-dependent tendencies, boundaries get blurry. I find myself counseling needy nutbags at midnight, feeling pressure to answer long emails from people who want a private response to their opinions on my blogs, or fending off advances from women who think that making out with me will make them feel wild and free. Some of these moments are harmless, some rewarding, some draining.

And since adding the very popular Sam to the mix, things can be even more intense. So without getting into detail, I'll merely say that one night last weekend was a giant clusterfuck of some serious soul-sucking in which both he and I walked away feeling violated. It was as if one person was a bird of prey: tapping, pecking, clutching, snapping, sleeve-pulling, needing the very core energy of both Sam and myself. If it wasn't so stressful it would have been fascinating. When I protested I was met with tears, so I backed off and allowed myself to be emotionally manipulated to the point of exhaustion. And now I am sick. I honestly believe that my throat and tongue ache because I did not allow myself to speak up for myself out of fear of drama, of hurting someone, of being perceived as mean, etc. In the end I felt so grossly violated that I woke up the next morning feeling angry. I burned sage and frankincense and myrrh into a great billowing smoke fog in my apartment to fumigate myself and my surroundings.

The end lesson for me is the same as usual with these things, I simply have to walk away and/or say no more often. I have to protect myself the same way I would a friend.  It's really not that complicated, just another aspect of learning self-love. I'm mentioning it not because I need any more advice on energy vampires, more to simply state to the Universe that I am no longer allowing my fear of being disliked to keep me in the muck. Enough is enough.

Now, on to the dating tale.

I have a friend who is really good at dating. She attracts wealthy men like I attract clingy maniacs. Last time we went to a show we were seated at a group table and within ten minutes some yachting mogul was sharing his French fries with her. It's really fun to watch.

She met a wealthy, attractive, fun, professional guy on Tinder, and although she wasn't intent upon being exclusive, thought that he could be a good possibility for down the road real boyfriend material. They went to dinner a couple of times, had little daytime adventures, slept together after a few dates. It seemed like a nice fit. He booked a vacation for the two of them on a tropical island. She was happily working on a mental packing list when she got this via facebook:



Lord.

Since the message came in at three am, my friend wisely waited until the next day to answer her. The girlfriend, a nurse from a sexy South American country, called her immediately and said that she had suspected him of cheating for some time, so she put a pill in his drink (!!!) and went through his phone while he lay comatose.

"Nothing that would hurt heem, Dahling, just to make heem a teensy bit drowsy, you know..."



I have done my fair share of suspicious girlfriend sleuthing throughout the decades, but I doff my fascinator to this crafty woman for taking it that extra mile. I might also mention that I have a hot-blooded friend from this particular part of the world, and I would say don't mess with these sassy beauties unless you're willing to experience some excitement. And, it seems, an occasional dosing.

The girlfriend went through everything, taking screen shots, charting out names and dates, places and times. She put it all on a calendar. She knew about the vacation, she knew where my friend and the man sat in a particular restaurant, she knew the address of the apartment he held his trysts.

Because as it turned out, this man lived with this girlfriend. And the pad that he had called his own, that he had brought my friend, was an apartment that he and a male friend rented for this particular use. Like something out of an old movie, The Apartment without noble Jack Lemmon keeping things from getting too sleazy.

My friend was flummoxed. She is no dummy or naïf. She did get a little suspicious when he first suggested renting a hotel room, but when she refused he came up with this apartment on the next date. So her spidey senses were assuaged. She really like this guy. He seemed normal, honorable, attractive, responsible. He had an ex-wife and kids that he saw regularly. He had a dog that he loved. He even placed a dog bowl in a conspicuous spot in the apartment to make things look more natural. 

The day after she spoke to the girlfriend, she received this from him:


Both the man and his girlfriend hammered her with messages for days, each claiming the other was lying. Some quick facebook sleuthing backed up the girlfriend's version. My friend wisely bowed out and told them to work it out between themselves while she sadly mourned the real loss--that romantic tropical vacation.

This was a couple of weeks ago, yesterday the girlfriend sent her a text to say hi and ask if she had heard from the man. I told her to block their numbers.

There is no moral to this story. I just think you'll find it entertaining. Men, if you're prone to cheating, don't do it with passionate women with access to drugs. Ladies, it appears it's still a jungle out there. Check the closets when he goes to the bathroom.



Thursday, February 9, 2017

Leftovers

We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

                                                                                                          ---Joseph Campbell

I am certainly finding this is true. My life has been a series of careening in and out of destinies I leaned toward and away from, but never fully planned. When I was young I knew I wanted to come to NYC to be near music, but I never imagined I'd front a band. I thought I would spend the rest of my life with Drew and that has altered. Opportunities and change get tossed at me and I catch or drop like an overwhelmed geek in gym class, with much insecure ducking and complaint, dread and fear. I know I'm lucky, but  it's a messy, crazy kind of luck.

So thank you everyone for your concern. I am doing great. Well, except, you know, the whole Deatheater takeover of the Ministry and our imminent doom thingie. That's a big fat bummer. But personally, everything is cool. A big thank you to Mr. William Higinbotham for sending me a book through Amazon. It was a very nice gesture from a stranger. Second, thank you to friends who sent lovely messages. I am so grateful for all the kindness I regularly receive.

I heard from a couple of people who weren't feeling good, and the connection and discussion felt rewarding. I very much believe that while the experiences may differ from person to person, the emotions we feel are universal. And that the more we share, the less alone we feel. So I was happy that my initial purpose for writing openly was met. And now that I finally feel clear and positive and ready for a new chapter, I want to continue to try to bridge that gap.

Last night I had dinner with a longtime friend (not Storm, oh rabid fans). She is a performer, dancer, model and actress--a legendary beauty who photographs like a movie star and moves with a mesmerizing sensuous grace. She is one of the sexiest and smartest people I know. She wrote and performed a beautiful show that brought me to tears. I love watching her dance; if she wasn't my friend I would be terribly jealous.

She's also a complicated, wounded soul with a tendency, much like myself at times, toward self-destruction. We have had moments and adventures and bad times that would scare some people. Hell, they scared me. I've been dazzled by her glamour under the spotlight; I have picked her up from crawling drunk on her hands and knees on a sidewalk.

We ate salads like good girls and drank wine like middle aged ladies and spoke of the last couple of years, since it had been that long since we got together. The running thread through much of it was how much self-loathing we carry. I just released quite a bit of my own; she is still struggling with it. And still struggling to make her way as a performing artist, the world is not a soft bed for women who have the audacity to want to continue acting past a nubile age.

Speaking of nubiles, she informed me that the millennials who have taken over the clubs and streets of our neighborhood call us, the old-timers still hanging out, playing in bands, working in bars, etc., the "Leftovers". THE LEFTOVERS. Roll that around in your brain for a moment. It's hilarious. And terrible. And hilarious. And awful.



We talked for a long time about fears, energy blocks, sadness, love, and specifically what I had just come through and how, at times, she feels that she is still stuck and destructive and frightened--about aging, about loneliness, about lack of success, about addictions, about how to earn a living when the only things you're really good at are not respected or required of a mature woman. We talked about regrets and pain we've caused and felt. She wonders if she should have had a baby. We talked about the deafening silence that comes when you go home after a night under a spotlight that causes people to drink and drug.

These are first world problems, I realize that. But it seems important to me that people know that even the people they envy and desire can be struggling.

I told her that she's second-guessing herself and the baby regret is simply about feeling lost in her current state. Her creative core is her child and she will wither and die if she is not allowed to do what she was born to do, which is entertain people on stages. I told her she remains one of the sexiest people I've ever known and will remain that way until she dies of a ripe old age. I told her she was lovable, that I loved her, that many loved her, and to understand that that voice, that godawful voice that we all have sitting in the back of our brain always ready to pounce, to tell us we're fat, we'll never get that project finished, we're terrible at what we want to do, we could never run our own company, we're past our prime, we're not smart enough, and on and on, is not the truth of who we are.

I am also finally wrapping my brain around the idea that we don't have to stop being sexy and alive and juicy, at any age. It is our thought process that deadens us--media images, cultural skewing. The opinions of dorky teenage boys about what is hot and what isn't. It's still there in full blaze, but it's holding so much less power over me as I gain my bearings. My boyfriend is decades younger than me, and it's been an insecure place for me, while he just doesn't care. We were out one night and a woman around my age wanted to talk to him, as they always do. He introduced me as his girlfriend and her demeanor changed drastically. She got visibly angry. She asked my age repeatedly, I told her old enough to know better than to tell her. She stomped away and he laughed. That energy often comes at me when I'm with him, and always from older women. It's as if I'm breaking some deep rule of ego. We reach an age and we are not allowed to take more than our share.

Fuck that. I want us all to be the girl with the most cake.

I'm not saying that youthful partners are some kind of answer. They're messy and you've gotta pick up the tab too often. I'm saying that my age is becoming less of an issue for me as I accept that the past is gone. I just don't care as much. In more practical terms, if you are female and not feeling well, go get your hormones checked and do something about it. Get a little botox here and there. Love and move your body, feed it with quality food. Listen to everything Dr. Christiane Northrup has to say on aging. She's a revolutionary. Men-- you can have babies and baby girlfriends until you die, so I think you're probably set. Bastards.


Thoughts become feelings, and most of us have bad brains with bad thoughts. I wonder how many come flying at us per day? My new thing is to let the thought come into consciousness rather than repress it, and respond, "Thanks. I got this." I don't know what the science is behind the negative thoughts about ourselves but they are there for a reason, and ignoring them seems to make them louder, the anxiety greater. Giving the thoughts space and then agreeing to disagree works better, at least for me. And as I've been doing that, I've been able to see how ludicrous it is. It's like that one Debbie Downer at a happy brunch, everyone is joking and drinking mimosas and ordering eggs benedict and they're droning on about how they're constantly being wronged and how crappy life is...again. You look at them and think, "Really, girl? This same old tune?" That's the true personality of that voice.

So that's it. I have a snow day and I want to play video games. I just wanted to let everyone know these things:

1. I'm doing great, thank you.
2. Even the people we think look perfect and lead big lives are feeling the same things as us.
3. There's no reason that the third portion of our life can't be as vital and interesting as the earlier two.
3. That pecking voice isn't the truth of who you are.

Oh, and this:



Namaste, Bitches.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Tunnel



After I got back from Kripalu, starting with New Year's Eve, which ended poorly, I fell into a deep, deep depression. All last week I felt gray. I felt that I had blown up a comfortable and loving life with Drew for no reason except that I am a destroyer incapable of real love. I felt that I am untrustworthy, unlovable, bad. I felt old, my best days behind me, having achieved very little, wasted so much time, etc. All of the things that people feel when they are depressed. People tell you that you are lovable but you don't feel it. It feels like you've fooled them somehow. I cried every day, all day, except when I had to work or be on point socially.

I have never been truly suicidal. I've written about walking the streets in my youth, drunk and hoping to be murdered, to this day still looking at buildings and wondering what it would be to fly off. But never serious about it. I'm dramatic, but too responsible.

On Thursday night I worked a gallery opening at my job and went out for a couple of drinks afterward with my girlfriends. Sam was, as usual, because he's a near-child with ADHD, unavailable for communication when I could have used it. I got home drunk and thought, "A pill would be nice..." Even though I would have fallen asleep right away if I'd laid down. I just wanted to float untethered for a while. I remembered that I had a bottle of phenobarbitol for my recently deceased dog's seizures, so I went for that. Couple of those should do it.

As I rolled the full bottle in my hand an idea formed. I thought, "Hey...this could work..." This would be so easy. Let's hit the reset button and float away for real. Die middle aged, leave an almost beautiful corpse...

I dumped it in my hand and swallowed 55 pills with a couple of chugs of water. And I went to bed.

In bed, I texted Drew that I took them. I was so high that I thought it would be good to tell people that I found this awesome new solution. I wasn't thinking about punishing him or asking for help. More like, "Hey, this is cool..."

Drew has experienced major trauma from suicide, and I think didn't see the message until morning, when he called my sister. He's so angry he's not speaking to me at all. I don't know that I'll ever be fully able to make him understand how sorry I am for all of it.

I woke up very late the next morning, got up to get to the bathroom and couldn't navigate. I banged into the kitchen table, then off into the stove, veering wildly around the apartment and hanging on to stay upright, like I was on a boat on a stormy sea. My first thought was, "What the hell? I didn't have that much to drink last night..." It took a few seconds standing there hanging on to the stove to realize what was happening.

Boom! My first thought was "Oooooooooh...." And then my second one was, "God damn it!" I'm still here! I burst into tears. The cats looked at me like, "Really, this again?"

An awareness crept in that there was heavy knocking on my door. I don't know for how long. I swerved to it and opened it to my lovely neighbor from across the hall. She's lived across me since the 90's and has seen it all. I did my best to stand upright and tell her I was fine, in a stained GnR tee and ugly cotton panties, hair and tears plastered to my face. I wiped snot off my nose with my hand and swayed a little. She looked dubious but she accepted it and said she was home all day if I needed her. Then I called my sister, who had left a ton of messages on my phone. This was difficult because the numbers on the phone kept dancing around most uncooperatively. I squinted and poked. Upon picking up she said,

"You're a pain in the ass."

I assured her I was alive, then went back to crying all morning until it was time to pull it together to bartend. I couldn't call in suicidal, I needed the money. I actually handled it without looking like a total lunatic, although I kept dropping things and my numbers were probably off. I was high as a fucking kite but I'm the queen of keeping it together when there's a job to do, and no one knew except those closest to me. Once I got out of work it kicked back in again and I had to hang onto Sam to walk home. He, God bless him, was so terrified he couldn't speak. He thought phenobarbitol was one of my new agey herbs; when he finally discovered what it was he just shut down.

Sam spent the weekend sitting next to me, not talking, ordering food for us and working on art while I watched movies and conversed on the phone to my people. I was high until late Sunday afternoon., but I got guy wisdom from Jesse, love from Storm, love from Samara, love from Grace, love from Christa, love from Wendy, love from friends, sarcasm and love from my sister, unconditional love from my mom. I got so much love. I am so blessed.

My mother is very pragmatic and not easily ruffled. She's a fucking tank. If there's a zombie apocalypse, she's the person you want on your team. She didn't see me as suicidal, which I wasn't exactly, so I'm grateful for that. It wasn't a cry for help either. It was more a clumsy attempt to shift out of pain that felt no longer bearable. I would not have done it if I hadn't been drinking, and she got that and didn't get hysterical. She did a reading for me and this is what she said (paraphrasing and condensing):

Kripalu opened up something very deep that you are ready to heal and clear. You came into this life to learn self-love, and now is the time. We are moving into a higher vibration and we cannot carry old baggage to get there. You are carrying cellular memory of another lifetime in which you made decisions that hurt many people very deeply, and you are carrying a lot of guilt and self-hatred. It's time for you to let it go. This chapter is not a failure, it is a graduation. You don't need to do anything, achieve anything. Let go and rest. 

Then Grace asked another psychic friend to call me and give me a reading. It was eye-opening and helped me to understand further how I got here.

Something lifted for me. Like really lifted. I feel brighter and clearer than I have in two years. It's like I went through a tunnel. I could have handled my relationships better, I'm so bone-deep sorry for the pain I've caused people. But there were reasons that things went down, and those reasons weren't all my fault. I can feel that now, before it was just a thought that didn't seem real. I did the best I could. I'm not a monster, I'm not insane. Wacky, yes, dramatic, definitely. But that's okay. I'm ready to sit (mostly) quietly and sort out the next chapter of my life.

I'm writing this as it appears to be my bizarre calling to put it all my crap out there for the world to see. It helps some and that helps me, and honestly I don't care anymore what strangers think of me. Some of you don't believe the same things that I do, and that's okay. Take what you can and leave the rest.

We're all messy, we're all hurting, we're all doing our best under trying circumstances. Being alive is hard. If you are feeling depressed, you are not alone. Whatever you are feeling is exactly the same as what someone else is feeling. Be kind to yourself, wear clothes you like, eat food that warms you, call people that like you, watch movies that make you feel good, clean your house so when you look around you feel good about where you're sitting. Cry more, you'll pee less. If you need some of the kind of spiritual help I'm talking about here, I've got phone numbers.  Please don't send me letters urging mental care, please don't worry. I'm not looking for sympathy or attention. I've got a big support system and well-meaning scrutiny tends to make me feel like a bug under a microscope. I'm absolutely okay and there are others out there who need you more than I do. I feel raw, but grateful, happy, and hopeful.

Namaste, bitches.




Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Dick Pics and Other New Year Nonsense

Happy New Year, friends! I hope you had a great holiday season.

My New Year's Eve was marginal at best. I worked the night before and stayed up way too late and felt like dried out, warmed over oatmeal on the 31st. I wanted to stay home and watch movies. Sam never wants to stay home and watch movies because he's 12 years old and has the attention span of a fruitfly. Happily, a friend of ours invited us to be his guests at a group dinner hosted by a minor celebrity chef, at a restaurant on the Upper West Side. 

It turned out to be Italian food cooked and served by Russians, so it was strange from the get. Now I like Russian people. They're full of life and fun at a party. They know how to drink, the men are usually boisterous and most of the women dress slutty and completely inappropriately for winter weather, but with expensive shoes and bags. I find that fascinating. I have one Russian friend who makes me laugh so hard my face hurts after seeing him. This is him running around Patricia Field, where we both used to work:




He took this video of my coworkers and I at Patricia Field a few years back, with this description:


"The ladies of Patricia Field gathered to discuss something they don't get to talk about with their gay colleagues - their vaginas."


He's the voice you hear from behind the camera.




BUT, and there's always a big but, Dottie, the enthusiasm that makes Russians wonderful is the same enthusiasm that can make them problematic, especially in large groups. You can get steamrolled.


I sat at our table, hungover as shit, clutching a martini for dear life and scrambling for a bit of whatever was being served not quite plentifully enough. A platter would hit the table and we'd all dive at it with our forks. Sadly, I never even got near the baked clams. The room was full of helium balloons with long strings that dangled in our faces, caught in our hair, dropped into our food. The owner of the restaurant sat behind me with his chair pushed way out so the waiters had no choice but to bang into my chair over and over again as they raced back and forth. One of his guests fell completely out of his seat, cursed in front of a little girl up past her bedtime, then wobbled around the room unsteadily, still drinking mind you, while the rest of his crew congregated directly behind me to rub their asses on my head, hit my head with their handbags, drip their drinks in my lap, and cheerfully, unwittingly poke at the angry bear that is me. I wanted to set them all on fire. 

I sent Sam to the bar for another martini instead. I was a guest of someone generously paying my tab so I sat quietly and drank my free booze like a goddamn lady. The girl on my left shouted endlessly about Billy Idol past me to Sam on my right, hoping to impress him with her rock and roll expertise. I think she ended up making out with him (Billy) at the end of the story but I was too glazed over to pay proper attention. Sam brought up Generation X and she looked confused, having no idea who that was despite claiming to be a huge fan. He knew she was in trouble, the yelling was causing me to sit up taller and taller, which I do when annoyed, so he tried to hustle her through the story quickly. 




I was so tired that I left my phone on the table when we exited a few hours later. We were lucky enough to get a sort of cab. It was yellow at least and had a meter, but the meter sat on the front passenger seat. For those of you outside of New York City, NYE is a transportation nightmare here, in which you stand endlessly on corners with your hand in the air and walk many painful blocks in high heels. 

A few blocks away I realized I'd left my phone. We had the cab driver turn around and in a quick 20 minutes (yay, NYE traffic) were back at the restaurant, only to discover that the phone had been "claimed". Ugh. 


The rest of the night was uneventful. We had a nightcap with friends at a bar near my place and I left Sam "the night ain't done til you're broke and bleeding" Hariss to go home to do a search for the phone on my computer. 


I'll spare the boring details, but eventually and with some diligent computer sleuthing the next morning, I learned that the phone had been taken by the semi-celebrity chef, who thought it belonged to one of his friends, and transported to way the eff out in Brooklyn. I was irritated. But I took a deep breath, harassed him for the address, got dressed and spent the entire afternoon of January 1 traveling out to him and back. 


Inauspicious beginnings, but I remain optimistic. 

Yesterday I had brunch with a couple girlfriends in one of their apartments. Their names must be shrouded in secrecy due to the nature of our conversation; so I'll call them Laverne and Shirley to keep it uncomplicated. It was lovely to sit around with our shoes off and gossip privately, and it felt like the real celebration for the new year. 

Us, being us, we bought too much champagne and spent hours "finishing" it. The topic turned to dick pics, because I had called someone out at the NYE dinner for sending said pics to a co-worker/friend. He has a unique name, and upon being introduced I got a ping on the mental rolodex and realized that although this was our first meeting, I had met parts of him months before via the magic mashup of sexting and male ego.

Me + booze = no filter, so I had called him on it. He seemed mortified and I felt a little bit bad about mentioning it. But not too terribly bad because I never wanted to see his junk in the first place. It had been imposed upon me by a confused friend most obviously in need of guidance. I don't understand the modern phenomenon of sending photos of one's penis to a woman almost immediately upon considering dating her. It's a deal-breaker for me. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but it seems either narcissistic or gay to me. Gay men can send dick pics to each other all day long and I full support it. Hetero men to women, not so much.

Here's a handy guide for any confused guys out there:


Anyway, Shirley, out of the blue, said, "I really hate it when they want you to snort blow off their dicks." Laverne and I both choked, set our champers down, and squawked something to the effect of, are you kidding me?? Neither one of us had ever done or been asked to do that.



Shirley opened her eyes wide and said, "What? Really? That's impossible. I've been asked a million times. You mean this isn't normal??"

Nope.

She shrieked. "This is terrible! It's so unfair! I thought every woman had to do this. I've been duped!!"

Yep.

Shirley was upset. I decided to take a quick text poll among all my female friends to get a broader cross-section and thought you might find some of the answers entertaining. The percentages I was throwing out are totally off, I just like to make up poll numbers when I'm drunk. 

Subject A:





Subject B:





Subject C. She's led a colorful life:



Subject D, equally colorful:




Subject E:



And lastly, Subject F, the pragmatist:



So there you have it. Feel free to weigh in. And happy New Year, bitches.