Category Archives: Beautiful Disease

Zacky V and the Christmas Tree

Dear gods does that ever sound like the beginning of some misbegotten piece of real person fanfiction that I probably would have gleefully written at age 14. Probably did. [Insertnameofprobablyabassistordrummerhere and the Christmas Tree].

However, that is not what this is.  “This” is all the way at the bottom of the post if you want to be that reader who has to know the end first. This is also a story of an improbable day that begin with a 20-mile run at 5:30 in the morning that would be the end of several very, very dark mental days.

The run, for the record, kind of sucked, though it was in one of my favorite places, and I could see the ocean. For those who may read this who also follow me on FB, you know I spend about a quarter of my time working south of home. You know when I am there because I torture you with pictures of sunrises taken while I watch surfers and drink coffee. My spirit animal/place/thing (yes, I am being deliberately vague. Why should become clear).

After my 20-miler (that, though it sucked, I finished at a 9:51 pace for the final mile–suck it, brain), I walked back to my (other) apartment (don’t I sound fancy? It’s a room. With a Murphy Bed and not even a hotplate or coffee maker, don’t get all excited), which is about a mile and half from the shore (which makes up for the small and non-hot-plateness) if I head to my favorite coffee shop (which makes up for the no coffee maker). Which, of course, I did.

Wandering to my favorite  post-run resting place for coffee-guzzling, I look up and see Zacky V on a ladder, Christmas lights in hand. I know good and damn well that my big ass deathbat tattoo is visible (running shorts!), and I have this intense and possibly ridiculous concern about making him uncomfortable (you know, no one who likes the band lives in the same area. Of course), so I sidestep to keep my leg hidden, but catch his eye nonetheless.

He’s fucking beaming. Hanging lights and looking utterly beside himself. I congratulate him on the fine job he’s doing, and he says “Thank you, man!” He’s gleeful. I’m a bit gobsmacked.

I should explain something here, because I wasn’t just sucking up. I love Christmas lights. Most readers (since most of you do, indeed, know me) will realize that this is merely an offshoot of my love of all things gaudy. Sparkle is my friend and close companion. Sequins are next to godliness. My aunt sent a picture of a pink Christmas tree to me this year, not because I love pink so much, but because it was tacky as hell and would look FABULOUS with a couple carefully arranged flamingos.

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Peacocks and feathers? You should have seen my mantle a few years ago, to say nothing of the AMAZING wreath I had at the time.

Oh, wait! You can!

Because I am such a klutz and so bad with heights, I’ve never done much with exterior lighting, so I deeply appreciate those who do.

Where I presently reside (3/4 of the time), there aren’t many kids and, I suppose as consequence, not much in the way of holiday exterior decor. But, in my spirit animal/place, there is much, much, much to be found. Like dozens and dozens of Clark Griswolds (there is one corner about two blocks from the shore that I could just stand on and stare at the exterior lighting battles going on for hours. I didn’t, but I could. I wasn’t there for more than like 20 minutes. Really.) all over the place doing battle for the most holiday spirit via lights, garland, really big balls, and reindeer. When I walk around (which I do quite a bit of when there), I talk to more people than I ever do in my daily life. And during the holidays, I chat up the decorators, because I am so very pleased and grateful.

To wit: there is a house, and I now know the true meaning of picture window, by the way, with two giant stuffed reindeer artfully (because how else) arranged in the picture window. They are so freaking big and realistic (and wearing bells and whatnot!) that I had to get uncomfortably close to the house to assure myself these were stuffed animals and not taxidermy. I am still not sure, and I confess to having been a bit concerned about approaching the artists involved.

So, back to the story.

Because of the brain crap, I hadn’t even been arsed to put up a tree. In fact, as I came to find out, I had thrown my fake tree away last year. I think because I had donated just one too many quarts of blood to the damn thing. I grew up with fake trees. I have nothing against a fine fake tree. In fact, the faker, less tree-like the tree, the better. Hence the flamingo pink tree my aunt found. I never quite got used to having real trees, so I abandoned the notion when I moved out here (well, after the cats broke the last real one, but that’s another tale).

In my real life, I haven’t been able to even get my tree up (or discover that I didn’t even have a tree anymore), and here I am watching a man just absolutely delighted in Christmas lights. Utterly, visibly delighted. I was kind of expecting him to start skipping.

I sat in my favorite coffee-guzzle space, which is still in sight of the decorating festivities, and marveled at the whole affair. As was pointed out by one of the other local decorators, a curmudgeonly soul near the coffee shop, my offering of cheers about the decorating meant I had to come back when the lights were all on to really see the awesomeness.

So, after dinner, I wandered around looking at all of the places I had seen getting set up. Candy canes, santas, icicle lights, and that starshower thingy they’ve been advertising of late (there were a shit ton of those around). It was fabulous. And, because I had to see the end result (and because it was on my way unless I wanted to add a whole lot of walking, which, having started the day with 20–remember that?–I wasn’t especially inclined to do), I walked back to Zack’s.

It was dark (as you do if you want to see lights) and a weird hybrid and warm/chilly that had me taking off my hoodie and putting it back on over and over again. As I come around the corner, who should I spy but Zacky himself, admiring his work. I asked if that was what he was doing, and he affirmed that it was.

We talked for a bit, and the jist of it was how happy he was. He was clearly proud of the work–it was, he said, the first time he’d done this by himself–and, in spite of the dark, I could see the sparkle in his eyes (aided, no doubt, by all the Christmas lights). I don’t know jack about anything else in his life, save what he chooses to post, but I do know that he had one of the happiest lilts in his voice that I’ve heard in a very long time.

And, weirdly, it broke through something.

I’m now back to my 3/4 home. And I have a tree up. A gaudy, unmistakably me tree. And while I can credit the glee in his voice for kicking something over in my head Saturday night, let me assure you that the gaudy is all me. His lighting scheme is not, granted, the pent-up WASPy candle and wreath in each  window and white lights only thing, but, it is also not as delightfully tacky as my 6.5 ft silver tree with multi-colored lights and a Star Wars blanket as a tree skirt. That sucker is all me.

It also lacks stuffed reindeer, for which I think I am grateful, where it equals both his exterior decor (and if he has giant stuffed reindeer indoors, that is both his business and my delight to NOT know) and my townhouse.15391087_10155695169399968_7229143992720904047_n

Anyway, that’s the story of how Zacky V saved Christmas shared his joy with someone who, clearly unbeknownst to him, really, really needed it. Consequently, he bears some responsibility for the big-ass silver tree, covered in sparkly (and, um, not-quite sparkly) ornaments, now in my living room.

Thank you, man.

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Lies

**I am publishing this as is. All errors result from a choice to write freely.

A friend bemoaned the coming blog postposts that will forthcoming in the wake of Robin Williams’ apparent suicide*. Posts that will question why someone would choose suicide, the state of mental illness treatment and support in the States, whether addiction (or, for that matter, depression) is a disease, character defect, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum.

The last phrase is particularly apt at the moment for me, though it has nothing to do with Williams’ death.

I process the world–usually–through writing. When I don’t write, it probably means I am in denial or otherwise just not working my way through something. Which means, I suppose, that today is a good one.

And perhaps it is also a good one because so many of us are still standing and will remember the Robin-shaped hole–and, I hope, the holes left by the scores of other suicides today, tomorrow…

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. And we can pretend that addiction and mental illness are aberrations and character flaws. And we can decry the “choice.” And we can mourn the losses. And we can love those who remain here. Not always present, but here.

And running alongside the shock on my Twitter feed is the abhorrently less shocking news: kids who can’t get home because of a blockade, residents in fear of a heavily armed force shouting at them, attempts to fight back that are often swept aside in the reports for the sexier acts of destruction.

In Ferguson, MO. Racial tension explodes.

That which is forced into silence–externally or internally–will rise. The emotions that are drowned, denied, or belittled will take over. Eventually. And we can never really predict how, where, or who. We are all subject.

That Williams’ apparent suicide should come after a long stretch of working and time in rehab should come as little surprise. The masking of the highs–through whatever means–can result in pummeling, fatal lows. Worse still are those liminal spaces known as mixed episodes, when you are deeply depressed with the energy and –sometimes–delusion that make it possible to do something about the (lack of) feelings. That something is not necessarily going to look rational to those on the outside. But it might carry its own internal logic. And the end result is the same.

A hole.

That Ferguson’s apparent violence should come after a long stretch of increasing racial tensions and the warfeargasm (thanks, L7) fed by the media should come as little surprise. The masking of the threats and hostilities–through whatever means–can result in pummeling, fatal actions. Worse still are those liminal spaces between delusion and fear, when you are so terrified of your neighbor, the police, the kid on the street that bullets seem like the only way to do something about those feelings. The internal logic will be there. But the end result is the same.

A hole.

A death. A loss. More fear. More pain. More evasion of truth.

Evading the difficult conversations about race that are bound up in a political vision that triumphs noise over evidence. Evading the conversations that put on the table the simple truth that a black man in the Oval Office sent part of this country into a profound state of delusion. Evading the difficult conversation that some of those same delusions bind up the possibilities for treating mental illness and addiction because, like the black man in the Oval Office, too much of the discourse assumes black men, addiction, and mental illness to be something other. Too much of the discourse assumes whatever it is that white and normal are supposed to be.

Fuck that.

Depression kills. Fear kills. Delusion kills, be it the one mediated on TV or mediated in my head by the bipolar cycles that I work to balance every single day.

Cycles that killed a man this morning. Delusions that make us have to question ourselves when the energy is too high (did I see him? Is he real?). Delusions that there is no other way out.

Other kinds of cycles, just as subject to swings, killed a young man this weekend. Delusions, mediated by violent rhetoric and pervasive, inflamed fears that go unquestioned and too quickly smothered by the next great event–this delusion killed a young man this weekend. And the days before that. And before that. And before that.

How long do we let delusions destroy us? How many holes have to be left?

Depression lies.

Fear lies.

Both kill.

 


 

*the first line caught my eye on FB. That was too hideous to leave.

Two and Still Counting

Well, I sort of don’t believe that I made it to two, having hit one so many times before. But, here it is. When I started drafting this yesterday, I was of a far different mood than I am presently. But, I want to be true to what was real yesterday (absolute gratitude) because it still is true today, if rather masked by depression. Which sucks, but no one ever said that life got easy in sobriety, either. I’m weaving the two days together–I hope somewhat seamlessly.

So, if I may quote Volbeat in passing:

Counting all the assholes in the room
Well I´m definitely not alone, well I´m not alone

And that is perhaps the best thing about 2–the realization and recognition that I am not alone. Kind of beautiful.

The year has not been an easy one, certainly. It was filled with a great many troubles that I NEVER imagined, and more than a few that I suspected, but was a little dismayed and surprised to have them show up now. These revelations included major depression (not mine, but someone I dearly love), a radical and still-coming transition at work (including a campus move for me–ah, change. I handle that so well), more therapy and therapists than you can shake a stick at, and twin diagnoses (mine) of chronic fatigue (no surprise) and bipolar II (not a surprise, either, exactly, but I’m still working on that whole acceptance thing). And, on the upside, I am grateful beyond measure to all the people who reached out to me or who were there when I reached out through all of the above.

I am not alone, even when I feel like I am.

I was, for the most part, a solitary drinker. Social drinking ended for me at approximately my first drink, which, if my mother is to be believed, happened when I was about 6 months old. Thereafter I demanded–by her telling–demanded wine every time she had any. Mine! I was solitary in most adventures, and that remains true in many cases now, but not as much as before. Even when I venture off alone.

I am not alone anymore, even when I set off that way.

I traveled this year, rather more than I imagined I would (and all the more surprisingly, given the events of the year). Flew to such far flung places as a casino in Connecticut, an old airfield in New Jersey, to home in Virginia Beach, to a teen dream-come-true in Cleveland, and to a beach in Ireland. Several of these adventures saw me flying by myself. But, in Atlantic City, I met an elderly Irish man who was convinced I used to come to that restaurant all the time, a young woman who gave me an A7X bracelet because she saw my Matt-bat tattoo, and scores of folks who asked about the shiner I’d acquired at that casino during an Avenged show. In Cleveland, I celebrated Guns N’ Roses with some of my favorite people, and managed to thwart the (other) GNR fans lined up outside the hotel by leaving the van running and piling in the signed posters with as much dignity as Janean and I are capable of possessing (which is a fair amount, it turns out). In Virginia Beach, I ran what may turn out to be the worst and last half-marathon of my life, but I enjoyed every second of it. In Ireland, I got to visit a site I’d long intended to see–and, what’s more–unknowingly selected a hotel that was in sight of it.

Not the day I put my feet in the North Atlantic.

Not the day I put my feet in the North Atlantic.

I also got to put my bare feet in the North Atlantic, which amuses me more that I probably should admit.

Not alone, even in the struggles.

Work constituted a major part of my year–as we prepared for the consolidation of the institution with another. It came as a shock to most of us that we even had to do it, and I think the work-level in preparation for it came as a shock continually throughout the year. But, we were together in it, and we will forge the new togethers. One day at a time. The impending changes did force me to kickstart productive research again (that’s a positive), and I find myself composing a paper on punk, nostalgia, and anxiety. Sort of oddly fun. Academics are weird.

So, that’s it. A year in brief. Here’s to another day and another series of days that may bring us to another year. My thanks to you all for traveling these roads with me.

The Halcyon Days of Candy Canes

The adventures in limited foods continue apace, including a rather pitiful realization that candy canes are now verboten.  CANDY CANES.  Somehow both dramatic and terribly funny.  As a result, this unrepentant lover o’candy canes is on the hunt to find the how-can-I-have-December-without-them treats in a non-corn syrup variety.

And hope like heck the taste is worth it (I  have faith).

Last week turned into an adventure in “what, this too??” With respect to both food and “food” (such as non-stick spray) items.  Everywhere I turned in my diet, one of the blacklisted entities would show up–most commonly corn and soy.  Our typical Thanksgiving dinner was…necessarily modified (I still served wheat rolls, but I clearly didn’t eat them or the butter they demand).  I called a friend for help in determining what in the world to eat for breakfast, and after lamenting the egg-less existence, she brilliantly pointed out that it was easier to just think morning dinner, rather than remaining stuck in my apparently limited vision of what constitutes breakfast.  Or, as another friend put it: “did you eat cold pizza for breakfast in college?  Then what’s the problem here?” My friends, they got my back.  So, yesterday was Acorn Squash & Homemade Sausage (store-bought that we typically get has corn syrup–I’ve not yet evaluated others).  Other options will be Brussels Sprouts & Bacon (the concept of which delights me to no end).  Another morning adventure was the every-other-day-smoothie with blackberries and bananas (and spinach.  Awesome).

More amusingly, I realized this week that it was easier to cook after a long day than it was to figure out where in the world I an eat out (waaay too much brainpower needed.  Brainpower, which notably, is really lacking after 6:50 pm, which is why we kept defaulting to going out in the first place).

So, all three meals are lovingly prepared each day. A process which is not unlike the hell I put myself through when I was avoiding writing my dissertation, only I’m not eyeing the baseboards for deep cleaning and it feels rather more productive.  I was June Cleaver with a full-time job and a minivan, dammit.  Thank the powers that be that the minivan is gone (I never could live up to that ideal) and that the job has survived me.

In non-candy cane related news, I can report that I slept–like really slept–the other night.  I feel asleep quickly and stayed that way in what must be that thing you non-insomniacs call deep sleep.  Astounding.  Utterly astounding.  I assume, since I did nothing physical to warrant such things, that the Magnesium that has been ordered (by the same doc who cut me off from candy canes) is doing it’s thing and helping.

If you happen to have  a lead on candy-canes that I can eat (not that I’m obsessing or anything), please let me know.

Of Faust, Anniversaries, and Another Sober Night

Today is 366.

That marks the third time I can write that.  In fact, I’ve written it here before.  I haven’t read that post in some years now–I appreciate the hopefulness and the blush of reality.  And the McKagan quote, but that is practically a given.

My last drink, this time, I scarcely remember.  I mean, I remember the night (which is saying something for last year), and I know it was finishing off a bottle of Jameson, but that’s partially because I planned it that way, and it doesn’t have the sway and quality of the wine I mentioned in 2007 in my memory.  It was just another drink.   I couldn’t get drunk to save my life–despite polishing off several bottles of various types (it is a wonder I could move on the 28th, given the variety of the night before) before finishing the Jameson (and that was nearly half a bottle).

I went into the night knowing exactly what I intended to do. I felt nothing physically.  Emotionally, I was devastated.  I was once again at the same crossroad, only this time the threats (oh you Faustian bargains) were far more palpable.  I wasn’t going to live through this.  It wasn’t just a matter of sanity (though that was well in question too).  I was dying. If I may borrow from my favorite literary trope, I could hear Mephistopheles–and he was not wearing the poodle suit (what follows is from Historia):

And it came to pass between twelve and one 0′ clock in the night that a great blast of wind stormed against the house, blustering on all sides as if the inn and indeed the entire neighborhood would be torn down. The students fell into a great fear, got out of their beds and came together to comfort one another, but they did not stir out of their chamber. The innkeeper went running out of the house, however, and he found that there was no disturbance at all in any other place than his own. The students were lodged in a chamber close by the rooms of Doctor Faustus, and over the raging of the wind they heard a hideous music, as if snakes, adders and other serpents were in the house. Doctor Faustus’ door creaked open. There then arose a crying out of Murther! and Help! but the voice was weak and hollow, soon dying out entirely.

When it was day the students, who had not slept this entire night, went into the chamber where Doctor Faustus had lain, but they found no Faustus there. The parlor was full of blood. Brain clave unto the walls where the Fiend had dashed him from one to the other. Here lay his eyes, here a few teeth. O it was a hideous spectaculum. Then began the students to bewail and beweep him, seeking him in many places. When they came out to the dung heap, here they found his corpse. It was monstrous to behold, for head and limbs were still twitching.

Ah, to bewail and beweep.

For as much as I loved the taste of whiskey, I hated that night.  I hated it that night.  I hated that I couldn’t feel anything anymore.  I should have been in a blackout, but I wasn’t so blessed.  I packed off to bed and awoke with another ferocious hangover (that I felt) and went to work.  I hated myself. And wondered if anyone noticed.

Day 1 was just like normal, tinged though it was with a death’s anniversary (and, no, it didn’t escape my attention that December 28, 2010 was the one year anniversary of the Rev’s death.  It felt, actually, weirdly appropriate).  Except that I wouldn’t go home and drink that night.  Or the next. And one day (hour, minute) at a time, I put together 366 again.

I blogged on Day 2, sounding remarkably rational, quoting Knapp (whose book sits in my office now):

I sometimes think of alcoholics as people who’ve elevated [the search for a fix] to an art form or a religion, filling the emptiness with drink, chasing drink after drink, sometimes killing themselves in the effort.  They may give up liquor, but the chase is harder to stop. That’s why you hear people in AA meetings talk about thinking or acting alcoholically long after they’ve put down their last drink. The search for an external solution goes on: I want something.  I need something. “My husband is acting like an idiot,” a woman said at a meeting not long ago.  “I have to remember that the solution is not ‘Get a new husband’.” (61)

Did I mention the whole Faust parallel yet? Seeking.  Always seeking.

Day 366 was pretty normal too–at least this version of normal.  Awakened with no hangover (yeah!) and joint pain (not so yeah), went to work.  Annoyed colleagues and cleaned my office (hey, the network was down).  Came home and annoyed the dog.

Yep, this is certainly what passes for normal around here.

Save for this:  got honest with my boss.  I make no particular secret about me, my addictions, and my sobriety–my students link to this blog, and I talk openly, when appropriate, with some colleagues and students.  But not with my boss (well, one of them), though her assistant knows.  I owned up when showing off my new tattoo (in celebration of 365), and she asked if it was a Christmas present.  It seemed the right moment to be honest with her.  She’s perhaps the first person I’ve told who would really have been surprised (I guess–it felt that way), so that was…weird.

But, good.  One more step.  One more night the demons are kept at bay.

Mo and Me

I’d like to introduce y’all to someone.  The fabulous fellow at left right left(who needs to know left from right?) is one of my rescue boys, Mo.  He came to us

Why, yes, I am the cutest cat in the world. Thanks for noticing.

after a rather unfortunate encounter with a car; he was taken by the local police to the vet we take the big guy to and, well, Mo just happened to come home with me one afternoon about 5 years ago (the vet just may have suggested that my penchant for wacko cats would be helpful).  Mo is a Bengal cat–his nickname is short for Mowgli.  He’s of the brown spotted tabby variety, and he does possess the beautiful golden glitter in his fur that the breed is known for.  Has a terribly charming pumpkin-orange belly, too.  And he’s lovely, lovely, lovely.

Being a Bengal, Mo “should” conform to the following description:

Whether they are fishing in the aquarium or playing in their water-bowls, fetching balls for their families, taking walks on a leash or climbing to the top of the highest cupboards, Bengals are constantly on the move and are perfect for anyone who wants to interact and play with their cat daily.

This is not Mo.  Mo, in fact, is none of these, save for “cat.” Mo is, as the saying goes, just FINE: fucked up, insecure, neurotic, emotional.  Also wildly high-strung.  Of all four of my current animals (and the three that preceded these), I probably identify most readily with Mo.  One gets the feeling that Mo would be who Mo is, regardless of his experiences.

Yes, there are two competing theories to what drove Mo to take a leap in front of a moving car.  Mo may be one of the fleet of feral cats in this community–he has a notched ear, which is typical of the ferals who were caught and released after neutering (which would certainly explain some of his…resistance to humans).  It is entirely possible (likely, even) that Mo was abused during the first two years of his life, before he came to us via our awesome vet.  Mo cares not one whit for men nor small kids.  He’s not keen on women, either.  In fact, he seems to be altogether misanthropic.  He is, however, very fond of other cats, and he does allow me the opportunity to pet him at dinner time. He even seems to appreciate it.  He also allows me to hold him in order to trim his nails, so he probably doesn’t totally hate me; he might even trust me a tad.

But, again, one gets the feeling that Mo would be high-strung irrespective of his history.  High-strung and Mo appear, indeed, to be synonymous.  And boy do I understand that on a deeply personal level.  All the therapy in the world isn’t going to change that for either of us.

He does have the marvelous benefit of being far cuter in his high-strungness than I.

Induced Euphoria: Yet More Fangirling

(Warning for the faint of heart: what you are about to see may forever warp your vision of/for me.  Continue at your own peril.  And certainly mine.)

This is a sobriety post, though it may take a while to look like one.  It’s also a bit all over the place.  Apologies for the scatteredness.

A few months ago, I wandered into tumblr.  I don’t recall now how it happened.  Probably it was some sort of livejournal bourne accident…though, having said that, I’m not so certain that is a rational assumption.  Livejournal is far more engaged in navel-gazing than tumblr, so the link going that direction seems somewhat unlikely.  Tumblr posts can manage to mention livejournal, insanejournal, greatestjournal, journalfen (okay, so probably not this one), mibba, and facebook in a single rant. LJ does well to post about other LJ communities [and this from someone whose own LJ points specifically to a number of fanwank communities (best non-LJ example)] .

However it happened, I stumbled in and upon in.  Around that time, I began posting my horror via Twitter*–horror mostly at the fansites I was tripping across and the…um…how do I put this?…internal logic that drives them.  Internal logic like:  Why do people mourn band member X; he wasn’t Kurt Cobain.

Actually, the internal logic is rather more closely akin to the internal logic of, say, Twilight.  For those of you blessedly unfamiliar with Twilight (how??), here’s an example of Meyer’s, er, logic, courtesy of one of my favorite, terribly amusing tumblrs, Reasoning with Vampires:

 

Meyer is scary, no?

 

 

Tumblr–perhaps because, in part, of the particular nature of the microblogging there–tends to have this kind of logic floating about (Meyer’s book, not Reasoning’s).  Not exclusively, mind; I’ve seen a number of awesome feminist debates and some excellent addiction support.  I’ve also seen a professed desire to be “raped” by (fillintheblank celebrity).  And a whole kettle of “OMG, I hate this fandom!” wanks.

One other thing I’ve noticed is my own tendency to retract from laying claims–including to my own desires and opinions.  Increasingly, I’ve noticed myself doing it in my real life (that is, I’ve noticed it more, I don’t think the overall rate has increased).  I’ll make a claim and then hedge to make the other person comfortable.   And I do it all the damn time, even on subjects about which I am both knowledgeable and confident.

Part of this is an honest desire to refrain from steamrolling conversations.  Much of it stems from fear and shame.  And those habits of mind, I have to remind myself, are the same ones that drove me to drink.

The feelings of fear and shame associated with elements of my life I adore have been around for a long while–at least since 8th grade (I distinctly recall being rather more bullheaded in earlier years, and I’ve nothing specific to point to–like getting my ass kicked (though I did get a fairly solid punch to the head on about 8th grade)–as the cause of this switch, not even boy-craziness, because I was pretty far gone in that regard well before age 13.  Many of the early exchanges were about music.  While my experience in that matter is hardly unique, it was memorable–getting yelled at (why did we rely so heavily on raised voices?) classmates for my music obsessions (GNR included).  Sadly, I came to be at once strident and ashamed about my musical habits (I could get into knock downs, but eventually learned to hide names and favorites unless I meant to be deliberately provocative).  Well, when in public, music was a guilty pleasure.  My bedroom walls told a different story (both in what covered them and what they “heard”–I imagine that those walls still retain the memory of Appetite for Destruction, for as often as they heard them).

Those habits of mind, I have to remind myself, are the same ones that drove me to drink.

The door-length Skid Row poster on my closet door that was, as it turns out, completely visible to those on the street below, is another story.  I’m sure you can imagine what else, as it turns out, was completely exposed.

Rather than own up, I turned bandom into innuendo,  like the time three of us stayed overnight in Trixter’s hotel rooms (they guys had moved on to the next city, but took pity on our not-even-18-nevermind-the-21-needed-to-rent-a-room-there selves and left us with the keys).   I vividly recall how I told that story after T and I waltzed in during 3rd period, and I assure you the parenthetical remark was not included.  I elided my shame about the band I was then obsessing over by turning to allusions to sex–because it was more comfortable to be imagined whore (for there was little in the way of sex-positivity among the seniors of my high school class)–than fan.

Better whore than fan.

You should hear the Danger Danger story sometime.

Better whore than fan.

Jeez.

Those habits of mind, I have to remind myself, are the same ones that drove me to drink.

So, when I read the groupie-blogs (of which there are many) or the naming-themselves-as-wanting-to-be-groupies blogs (of which there are more), I get it.  I get the drama and the cat fights.  I get the odd pieces that look a bit daft to the outside world.  Trust me.  Been there.  Moreover, I understand why it happens in a semi-anonymous environment.  When I read the fangirl chatter, I get it.  I even sort of get the absolutely-hysterical-now-that-I’m-here-but-probably-was-just-as-bad reactions to band marriage and (as happened this summer) the dreaded thirtieth birthdays.

As a result of whatever drives my habits of mind, even in my adult life, I tend to separate my desires from my reality.  The difference is that I now correct people who call me a groupie (seriously.  At least two colleagues, in perfect innocence, replied to my remark that I was going to follow Avenged Sevenfold for a couple of nights by remarking with glee “oh, you’re a groupie??” In high school, I might have said yes.).  I maintain separate blogs that, in theory, won’t meet, so that I can fangirl away in one and remain relatively academic (if occasionally fangirling.  and academic is likely the wrong word for this joint) on the other.  Tumblr is a neat, strange world (as is Twitter, if you dig too deeply), full of imagination (and role-playing–fascinating.  Also, terrifying) and play.  But it is also a place of fear and shame–hiding and pretending and hoping never to be discovered.

Those habits of mind, I have to remind myself, are the same ones that drove me to drink.

Music is essential for me in sobriety, both the aural and physical sensations.  I mentioned this here before–and to my class this week–that music is very much a physical experience for me.  I need to feel it.  And in my descent into alcoholism went alongside a separation from music–particularly live music.  When I am in the moments of my music, I don’t feel fear and shame.  I feel…whole.  Together.  And not because my brain turns off (though that is clearly true at times).  I was very much engaged in music and–yes–fandom before I went off the rails.  In some ways, it answered the nagging lack–performed what AA calls the spiritual awakening–in my life for years.   I need music in the way I need meditation and community.

Another colleague mentioned last night that she’d heard an Avenged Sevenfold song on the radio for the first time in the days before–she’d simply never heard them before (and how, after knowing me, I’ve no idea).  She asked her husband, before hearing who it was, if this was a Dream Theater or Rush (?).  She then looked at me levelly and said “I can see why they appeal to you.  The drums.  The dramatic guitars.  It’s so you.”

As a matter of being honest, I do have a tumbleblog (or however the fuck you spell that), and it can be found here.  Should you be brave enough to look, you will note a decided, though not exclusive, influence.  I apologize for nothing, including (especially?), the rather untoward fangirling over a non-curl.  And over a vocalist, a fact I simply don’t know what to do with.

That said, the blog is, like A7X for my colleague, so me.


*Clearly I am playing the “how many social networking sites can I mention in a single blog post” game.