Monday, September 27, 2010

Soapy Punk

Once upon a time, there was a girl who, at a young age, discovered that being herself really mattered.  It mattered to her.  And if it didn't matter to anyone else, then fuck them.  There are no rules that say because I am into punk rock that I can't watch a soap opera.  There are no rules that say because I'm 44 years old I can't have purple hair.  I do my thing.  My thing is just that, MY thing.  I don't give a rat's ass who doesn't like it. 

So what came first, the soap or the punk?   It was the soap, but not by much.  I started watching All My Children in 1979.  My roots in punk go back to 1980.  The funny thing is, the way I started each of them is so very different.  I started watching AMC because "all my friends were doing it."  I got into punk all on my own.  I discovered it myself, I learned about it myself, I made new friends because of it.  Those friends who were all watching AMC and turned me on to it, gone.

AMC took a back burner many many times in my life.  This goes back to the days before every household had DVR's or even VCR's.  So when I was in school, I missed it.  I never missed a new album I wanted though.  Yes album, vinyl.  I'm old, deal with it.  I do.  Badly sometimes, but I do.  So AMC became a show I watched on vacation or on a holiday.  Nothing more.  And when I was 21 and moved out of my parents house, it was years before I saw more than one show here or there if I was home sick from work or something.  But I always went back.  I can't really explain it other than it's probably part of my addictive personality. 

Punk rock never went away.  It was never put on the back burner.  It was never disregarded or forgotten.  It was always within reach.  It was there for me in my darkest hours.  It was there for me in my happiest of times.  It was there always.  And it still is.  It will always be a huge part of me.

Back in 1991, when I first got on the Internet, I looked up All My Children to see if I could catch up on what was happening in Pine Valley, like I would look up a old friend.  It was then that I struck up a conversation with the owner of an AMC site and before long he had asked me to be a contributor.  He encouraged me to write what I thought about the show when I watched it, no matter if it was good or bad.  It became a weekly review/column from a very snarky (who me?) perspective and I'm kind of proud to say, it was really quite popular.  But then the man tried to change who I was and that did not then nor does it now, fly with me.  I left and went on to start my own AMC site.  By now I had a following.  I have achieved some creepy and bizarre level of fame.  And I kind of get off on it.  I went to some AMC events through the years, and people always knew who I was.  I was the punk soap chick.  I had blue hair.  I had pink hair.   I had red hair.  I had purple hair.  I had a different color hair for every event.  Was it calculated?  Not really.  It was just me being me and doing my thing. 

Because of the AMC site, I've been stalked.  I've been hounded.  I've been hated.  I've been loved.  I've been proposed to several times.  I've had people ask for my autograph.  I've been recognized in places I never thought I'd ever be recognized.  I've been cruelly and miserably hurt by people.  I've met many many of the stars of the show.  I've been sent incredible gifts by grateful fans.  I've had some insanely good and insanely bad experiences.   And I've made some amazingly good friends who, in any other circumstance I never would have met. 

I've already written about how punk rock saved me.  And it did.  Because of punk rock I've been loved and hated.  I've been harassed.  I've had my car vandalized.  I've gone to 100's of concerts.  I've heard the best music in the world, up close.  I've heard some really bad music up close too.  I've made the most incredible friends that remain my friends 30 years later.  Because of punk rock, I've lived.

If I had to chose between these two crazy lives I lead, which would I chose?  It's no contest.  Music is infinitely more important to me. And if I gave up the AMC site today, the friends I made through it would still be my friends.  No matter who you are, your friends are the people who are there for you and care about you through thick and through thin.  They wouldn't care if I can no longer give them a scoop about who Erica Kane's next husband was going to be. 

In the end though, I'm always me.  I can't be anyone else.  If someone doesn't like it, that's their problem, not mine.  I'm just a woman who loves her punk rock and makes an escape to Pine Valley for about 42 minutes a day. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

That Big Ass LTD

It was the spring of 1987.  Things were good.  I was happily dating R who I was crazy about.  I was regularly hanging out with friends, going to shows, getting hammered and basically creating chaos and mayhem whenever possible.  One night me, R and our friend M, owner of that big ass LTD, decided to head over to Kent to catch a band.  JB's Down was a regular haunt of ours.  JB's Down, the place of legend and warm Rolling Rock or Stroh's.  I regularly smuggled in my own alcohol because the choices left much to be desired.  They either never caught on or didn't care.  It had maybe 10 tables that were all off kilter and assorted chairs and then what looked like church pews in the back.  The bathrooms were the most disgusting ever.  But they had a big stage and it was in Kent, a college town, so bands played there regularly.  

On this particular night, we got to JB's and met up with Butthole (the aforementioned Butthole that used to regularly stay at my apartment) and J.  J, M and Butthole were having a hell of time pounding beers that night and R and I... well, we were feeling frisky so we headed outside to M's car.  The beauty of a big ass car is that big ass back seat.  After we got in and were fooling around a little, I suddenly felt something uncomfortable on my back.  Reaching under myself, I pulled a billy club out from under me.  Things are about to get interesting!   At the time M was working part time as a security officer.  We couldn't help but wonder what else was lurking around this giant car.  So we started looking and what did we find under the seat?  Handcuffs.  Game on!  R wasted no time and handcuffed me to the door handle before I knew what was going on.  To say that being handcuffed and at his mercy was fucking fantastic would be an understatement.  But alas, neither of us had come prepared for some down and dirty fleshy fun time so while fun was being had by all, we did have to hold back some.  That is until R had the brilliant idea to look in M's glove compartment.  I have to hand it to M, that boy was prepared!  Inside that glove compartment was a whole box of condoms.  Oh yes.  Did I say we had to hold back?   Well not for long!   That was probably one of the best times I ever had in a car in my life.  And luckily, we also found the keys to the cuffs.

After awhile, with two big shit eating grins on our faces, we wobbled back towards JB's to see how M was doing.   What we were met with was Butthole and J carrying M out of the bar.  M was thoroughly hammered and couldn't even walk.   He very recently filled me in on a little exchange that happened between him and J at this point.   J:  "So sorry M.  So sorry I drank you under the table."  M:  "Fuck you J, just get me to my car."  

R and I took M from there and got him back to the car where he immediately passed out in the back seat, the same back seat that was so recently used for a much more interesting purpose.  Turns out M didn't know about that until very recently.  Thanks M, thanks for letting me fuck in your car and play with your toys.  That car will forever hold a special place in the cockles of my heart.

So, R took the wheel and I kept an eye on M to make sure he was OK.  That is until he hurled all over the back seat of his car.  Not good.  And he hurled all over his rent a cop uniform!  Making a 45 minute drive with hurl in the car and a moaning and groaning friend is not fun.  Not fun at all.  But what choice did we have?  We got M home and in his parents house and because we were such great friends, we left the car as is so he could clean up the hurl the next day.  It's a lesson everyone needs to learn at least once, right M?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Everybody Must Get Stoned

It all happened quite innocently.  Really.  I was lamenting the fact that I don't like to drink anymore to my friend D.  I have had so much on my mind these days and really wanted the release of being drunk and not worrying about everything for just a short time.  It's not so much to ask is it?  So as D and I were talking I said how great it would be to get stoned again, just once, for that release I have been craving.  It's been about 23 years since the last time I got stoned, at least, if not more.

So, how does one even go about getting weed these days?  How much does it cost?  Who do you ask?  Neither of us knew.  But since I live in the 'hood, it was a pretty likely bet that, if actually looking, I'd be able to find it pretty easily.  But was I willing to do that?  This is something, one of the very few things, like the only thing, I planned on keeping from Husband.  He's just not down with the doob.  My getting high many many years ago was the reason for one of the biggest fights we ever had.  So not wanting to relive that, I just decided to keep mum about it.  It's only going to be once.  And after consulting with people who know us both well, my decision proved to be the correct one because everyone else agreed it was a good idea not to tell him.  Granted, I probably will, eventually, but sometime in the future. 

D decided to bring our friend C in on our plan.  Little did we know C would be our answer to doobage bliss.  It was less than a week after I initially mentioned this crazy idea to D when, while at a party together, D and C found a contact who provided them with two free doobs.  You know what they always say, the first are free and then after they reel you in, they suck you dry!  Well that wasn't going to happen.  We just all were having a hard time with things and all needed to unwind, laugh and just be stupid.

Now, where to have our little ganja party was the next hurdle.  I suggested my place since the scent is almost always in the air around here and no one would notice.  But they worried about Husband finding out so C suggested her place.  She lives in the country, the houses are further apart and we could just sit in her back yard and smoke to our hearts content without another soul knowing.  It's on!  And we weren't wasting any time, we made our doobie date for the very next Monday.  Knowing what we know about the effects, we decided snacks were in order.   D made a pepperoni and cheesey appetizery yummy thing and I, of course, made brownies.  What else do you bring to a doob party?

D Day has arrived and these three 44 year old women, high school friends... all married and none of us telling our husbands, met up at C's and went outside to spark that baby up.  We laughed about how we all used to have a feather roach clip in our youth, but wore them in our hair and didn't use them for what they were really for!   Let the smoking commence.  C lit up the first one and took the first drag and then we passed it around the table until it was just a wee little tip.

I got so dizzy I remember sitting in my chair, my hands on the sides of my head and thinking, "don't move your head, don't move your head" but I'm pretty sure I never said it out loud.   I felt dizzy, hungry, really tired and more horny then usual.  But did I feel good?  Not really.  Did we laugh and forget our troubles?  Nope.  We plotted the death of a cricket that seems to be constantly making noise in C's yard.  And I suggested we all take turns on C's riding mower and ride around the backyards.  But alas, we didn't kill the cricket or ride the mower.  And we were all so done after the first joint.  Why did I think this was a good idea?   Damn, I just wanted to forget about it all, even if it was just for an hour.  I remember the old days and whenever I got stoned back then I laughed and laughed so hard I couldn't breathe.  This time?  Meh, not really.

Are we too old?  Too jaded? Too many troubles to forget?  Do we need to try again and make sure?  Hell C has another doob just sitting in her silverware drawer waiting to be toked.  I wonder if I stopped by and asked to borrow a fork if she'd catch my meaning? 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Seven and Seven

I used to drink.   A lot.  A whole lot.  I don't anymore.  I often wonder why I drank so much.  Living with an alcoholic father, seeing what it did to my mother and the rest of us, why?  Why would I do it?   Why do all my siblings do it?  Is it genetic or are we so stupid that we have to repeat the same mistakes over and over?  I don't have the answer for that.  I just know that I've made some really bad choices and I own them.  I can't blame anyone else.

In my heyday of drunken debauchery, I drove far too many times, had insane hangovers, went to work still drunk from the night before, had some of the best of times and the worst of times.  In particular, this was probably around 1986 maybe early 1987.  I guess it says something that I don't remember exactly when it was.  It was a typical Wednesday night at the Nine of Clubs in Cleveland.  Wednesday was the night to party at the Nine.  My best friend since we were 6 years old brought along her on again/off again douchebag boyfriend R and he brought his friend K who I'd never met before.  But douchebags of a feather, flock together.  R treated my BFF like crap quite often and I hated him.  He is one of the 2 people in my life that I have closed fist punched in the face.  He deserved it, trust me.  As soon as we got to the Nine I took off looking for other people to hang with.  I would have happily stayed with BFF, but R and K? Not so much.

My drink of choice back then was Seven and Seven and before long I found a bunch of people I knew and was drinking and dancing the night away.  The Nine played great music ("Go!" by Tones on Tail still gives me Nine of Clubs flashbacks) and poured a stiff drink.  By my count, I had 7 Seven and Seven's that night.  It could have been less, could have been more.  But 7 Seven and Sevens is how I always remember it.  I hung out with friends, I danced, flirted and got a date (this was BH... before husband).  And yeah, I was really lit up.  Some time later, BFF came looking for me and said that R and K wanted to leave.  So we left.  I basically passed out in the back seat.  My awareness was little, but I was aware enough to know that they dropped BFF off first. 

R and K took me to The Town Pump, a local dive bar, after dropping BFF off.  I was already so fucking toasted, but I continued to drink.  I'm fuzzy on how long we were there, how many more drinks I had or something as trivial as time.  But I do remember drinking more, and I do remember standing on a bar stool (very likely with the guys help) and declaring to everyone in the bar that I had the best tits in Cleveland.   Yeah, drinking made me really stupid.  And right about now, my choices ended.

If I look back on it, which I rarely do, I would probably say that R and K were satisfied with my state of intoxication and felt it was a good time to make our exit, which is what we did.  They helped me walk to the car and got me in the back seat.  R drove and K got in the back with me.   I am now in and out of consciousness.  I am aware of little bits and pieces of things.. my jeans being taken off, K on top of me, my arms trying to push him off me, blank... stopping the car, blank, R on top of me, blank, crying, alone in the car with the two guys outside discussing something, blank, being dragged to my door and thrown inside, blank, crawling upstairs to my room (I still lived with my parents at the time), phoning BFF, crying, blank, blank and more blank. 

I woke up many hours later, with the phone in my hand, with the queen mother of all hangovers and the tell tale signs of what had happened.  There was no denying it, no talking myself out of it... no fucking way... did this really happen?  It did.  I called BFF and asked her what I said on the phone the night before and she refused to tell me.  I am pretty sure I told her everything that had happened that I could recall and she was not going to tell me what I said.  It just wasn't going to happen. I'm not really sure of her reasoning, but that was her choice and I have to think she was protecting me in some way.  All these years later, she's still my best friend and I still don't know what I said to her that night.

But I do know that on again/off again relationship BFF had with R became off permanently and that I never ever drank another Seven and Seven.  Sadly, I did not stop drinking because of this.  I probably drank more because of this.  How and why did I stop?   Interestingly enough, it was another night at the Nine, several years later.  We got there and bellied up to the bar and I just turned and walked away without ordering and that was that.  1990 maybe, is what I'm thinking.  It just ended.  No big fanfare, no AA, no discussion about it of any kind.  I just walked away from the bar that night and rarely ever drank again.  I just felt done.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My First Poem

I inadvertently set my alarm this morning for 5:00 am.  I think I moved the alarm to on while dusting yesterday.  Anyway, as I lay there, annoyed at being woken up by such a horrendous sound and trying to fall back asleep, I started to recite this in my head.  I don't know why because I have never written a poem in my life. 

In My Secret Life....

In my secret life I'm thin, beautiful and the men all stop and stare
And for once it's not because my breasts are so big or because I have purple hair

In my secret life I'm very successful and own my own shop
I'm making Grandma's pizza and selling it for $18 a pop

In my secret life no one I love is sick or in pain
If I could take that from you all I would do it again and again

In my secret life the demons that haunt me would be buried deep
And I wouldn't be awake every night with them depriving me of sleep

In my secret life I'd be forever thirty nine
My 40's blow, but then again do I really want to go back in time?

In my secret life I would get through at least one day without tears
And that would be because I'd have conquered all of my fears

In my secret life I have sex every day, once or even more
What can I say, in my secret life I'm a bit of a whore

In my secret life I wouldn't be hurt by people who don't care
They would disappear from my orbit, vanish in thin air

My secret life sounds close to ideal
I guess in the end, it's not what I want because maybe then I wouldn't feel.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cleveland Hopkins Continental Hell

Back in 2007, when my dad was in Florida and sick, I had to fly back and forth several times.  During those times, I had my worst airport experience and my best.  This blog is about the worst.  I had been in Florida for about a week or so already.  When I went, I didn't know how sick he was, how long he'd have to stay in the hospital, how long I'd be there, nothing.   Here in Ohio, my parents next door neighbor works for Continental so I was able to get a cheap fair via a buddy pass.  In case you don't know what that is, employees of the airline can get friends/family great deals on flights, but you have to fly stand by.  Most of the time, it's not a problem.  You also have to dress a certain way if you have a buddy pass.  Why this is I have no clue since no one on the flight knows you're on a buddy pass unless you tell them.  And seriously, are you going to chat up the person next to you by saying, "how much did you say you paid for this flight?  $500?  Wow dude, sucks to be you, I only paid $80."  But yeah, they have a dress code and Neighbor told me all I had to do was not wear shorts.  Everything else was fine.  So after my dad had the surgery that amputated his leg from just below the knee down and then went to rehab, I decided to go home and take care of some things like getting myself and my mom more clothes.  I had not brought much and even though she had, she didn't expect to be there as long as she was either. 

At about 1:30 am the morning of my flight back to Florida, my brother who lives there called me to tell me my dad had a stroke.  I was relieved I was already scheduled to go back, but scared out of my mind that things had taken such a turn.  Dressed in jeans, a plain black t-shirt and my Italia hoodie, I'm all set to go back.  Bags checked, carry on in hand, now I just have to wait.  Since I'm flying stand by, I have to wait while they make sure the plane isn't overbooked.  Eventually I'll get a boarding pass if all goes well.   I check in with Continental employee Daisy, who is anything but.  She gave me the up and down look and then asked me who gave me the buddy pass.  I told her and she asked me if Neighbor told me about the dress code.  I told her that he told me not to wear shorts.  Daisy prints something off and then asks me to come with her to the corridor where she proceeds to tell me that hoodies and t-shirts are not allowed and that she's going to have to consider if I can fly that day, dressed how I am.

Now I'm just staring at her dumbfounded while she continues to give me the disapproving glare.  You'd think I was a smelly hobo who just came in from the alley and is taking a shower in the public restroom!  Finally I said, "look... my father had a stroke last night, I have to get on that plane."   She sees that I have carry on in my hand and asks me if I have any clothes in it.  I said I did, but they were my mother's and about 2 sizes smaller than me.  Daisy tells me that I will need to find something in there more suitable than what I'm wearing and that she's going to report Neighbor for not telling me what I should wear.  I simultaneously want to hack her to bits with a daisy chainsaw and start to cry hysterically.  Up until this point, I was pretty calm about my father's stroke and all that was going on.  But now, this cold unfeeling bitch who is apparently offended that I'm wearing a fucking t-shirt is going to hinder me from getting back to Florida.  I call Neighbor and tell him what's happening and he can hardly understand me because I'm so hysterical.  I'm starting to draw attention but the floodgate has been opened and I cannot stop.  Neighbor tells me to do the best I can, and then *gasp* apologize to Daisy for the way I'm dressed.  He can't be serious?  But his job is on the line and I have to suck it up for him.

Some extremely wonderful and kind strangers came over to me to see if they could help.  Somehow through my hysteria, they got the gist of what was going on and were pretty appalled by it.  They took me to the bathroom, helped me look through the carry on and find something to change into.  It was tight, and small but I got it on, and they assured me I looked fine.  I wish I knew the names of those angels.  Still crying but less hysterical, I made my way back over to the counter and asked Stinkweed if what I was wearing was OK.  She smiled and said it was much better and handed me my boarding pass.  I took a deep breath and apologized to the bitch.  That was tough.

Tears still flowing, because like I said, the floodgate had opened and there was no stopping it, my row was called and as I made my way to the gate, who do I see collecting boarding passes but that bitch!  Can you even believe that she had the audacity to hug me after taking my boarding pass and telling me she hoped everything would be OK?  Can you even stand it!?   I should have kicked her in the tits right then and there.

So, I'm on the plane.  Still blubbering but trying desperately to stop.   I'm on an aisle seat, wing row so lots of leg room.  That means everyone around me, to my right and to my left, were men.  And not one of them would look at the crazy crying woman on the aisle, let alone offer me a word of comfort.  Then a very very tall man was seated at the window seat in the aisle in front of me and was immediately uncomfortable.  His knees were practically at his ears!   He called a flight attendant over and asked if he could be moved.  She told him she was very sorry but the plane was full.  I seized the moment to tell the flight attendant that he could have my seat and the very grateful man switched with me.  Ahhh now I'm at a window seat and I can just hide my head in the window, not talk to anyone and just cry my way to Florida without really bothering anyone.  And that's exactly what I did.

Luckily Neighbor did not get fired, nor did he even receive any kind of reprimand.  I do however hope that Daisy was fired for her disgusting treatment of someone who was clearly in distress.