Alcohol is a solution

Alcohol is a solution

My last post was a little cryptic. It was one of my more poetic posts. I was playing with language because I was trying to make sense of things which don’t make sense. When I started I was trying to make sense of big issues like war, poverty, racism and sexual assault. By the time I finished it several days later I was thinking about my own life. Specifically I was thinking about the role alcohol plays in my life.

I’m what is commonly referred to as an alcoholic. I tend to reject labels but as they say, “if the shoe fits…”. The label alcoholic is one that I identify with strongly, I accept it, I embrace and I will even take pride in it. Society tends to look down on alcoholics and attempts to instill shame. Shame is a destructive force and so I reject it. Alcoholics are not defective people, they are just people. Sure they do some fucked up things sometimes but everybody who does anything will fuck up from time to time. Bigger things can mean bigger fuck ups. Combine that with social stigma and ostracization and you’ve got a mess. I happen to find most alcoholics to be pretty freaking amazing people.

For me, alcohol is not a problem. Alcohol is a solution. It may be an imperfect solution but there are no perfect solutions. On the whole, alcohol has served me pretty well. Alcohol has been there for me when all else has failed. Alcohol is like a best friend… only more consistent, and more predictable. Alcohol has been my mentor, teaching me countless life lessons. Alcohol has held my hand as I’ve attempted things I never thought I could. Alcohol has taught me courage. Alcohol has taught me to speak my mind. Alcohol has taught me vulnerability. Alcohol has taught me how to ask for help. Alcohol has taught taught me the power of forgiveness. No matter what I am feeling, regardless of my state of mind, alcohol can put me in touch with my true self or give me an attitude adjustment when needed. Alcohol has been with me for virtually every major life event. Alcohol has introduced me to the vast majority of my lovers, partners and friends. Alcohol has got me through every brake-up and has even helped me end unhealthy relationships when nothing else could. Alcohol has been my medication for chronic illness. Alcohol has been my motivation to keep going. Alcohol has been my reward for a job well done. Alcohol has fueled most of this blog. Alcohol has literally saved my life.

Yeah, alcohol is pretty amazing stuff!

As I look at my life and all I’ve accomplished I realize that I owe alcohol a deep debt of gratitude. Alcohol has worked for me and it has got me to this point. I just have this aching feeling like there has to be more to life. Maybe I’m wrong but I know that I’ll never find out as long as alcohol is in the picture; keeping life exciting and making everything okay when life gets too much.  In order to see what is around that bend, I’m going to have to break up with alcohol. I’m going to have to become a sober alcoholic.

Yeah, right! Like that ever happens. Sounds like a flightless bird to me. 

Well, as it turns out there are a lot of sober alcoholics. They even gather in groups multiple times a day, every day of the week. I’ve been going to these gatherings and what I’ve discovered is that like the ostridge, these people are pretty freaking amazing. Them do seem to be rather down on my beloved alcohol however; blaming it for the problems in their life rather than celebrating it for their accomplishments. Still, despite our differences we seem to have a lot in common. As I listen to their stories it sounds like my life. We may not share the same perspective but the experiences are pretty similar. When sitting with these sober alcoholics I feel like I’m where I’m meant to be. I can’t help but thank alcohol for helping me find this place. I think my new friends feel the same way because when I said, “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for alcohol”, they all nodded in agreement.

I heard a speaker the other night say that the Alcoholics Anonymous steps and program are not something to believe in, it’s not something you learn from, it’s something you do. I think what he was saying was that the beliefs and knowledge come from the doing, not from the steps themselves. I’m not going to AA because I believe in it, I’m not going to learn how to be a better alcoholic, I’m going because I need something to do. Alcohol has been my thing to do and it has works to this point. The one thing I want now is the one thing it can’t get me. I want sobriety and alcohol will no longer get me there. I’m sure that there are other ways but Alcoholics Anonymous has a proven track record of helping alcoholics find sobriety. As they say, “It works if you work it.”

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Love is a verb

It’s been one hell of week since my birthday. A friend asked me recently if I had recovered from my birthday yet. I assumed he was referring to the hang-over I instilled on that night so I answered, “yes”.   I’ve always been able to recover from the harm caused by alcohol. Now if he had asked me if I had recovered from my birth, that would have been a different story. I may not recover from my birth until the day I die. Until then, it may just be one long arduous process of recovery. What get’s me through is love.

Love has made this past week one of the best I’ve had in a long time. I finally saw my daughter on Monday for the first time in six months. I met with her and her therapist. This was my daughter’s condition and we had been trying for three months to bring it to fruition. For all that time, I had no idea what she was thinking or feeling. I had no idea why she wasn’t talking to me. I didn’t know whether she wanted me in her life of not.  I still have a lot of questions but I have the only answer I need. I know that she loves me and wants me in her life. She asked me to legally adopt her and I told her that I would.

I guess the biggest issue she faced in reaching out was that she didn’t want to burden me. She didn’t want to be an inconvenience. As ridiculous as that sounds to me, I’m finding that it’s a fairly common sentiment among the people I love. I find life to be a burden and rather inconvenient. I was doing just fine before I was born. Love is the one thing that gives my life meaning. The only reason I do anything is out of love. I don’t know what to do to help people understand this.

My daughter’s therapist tried to explain it to her. She said, “Love is a feeling but remember how we talked about love is also being a verb?”

At this point I was thinking, “Oh god! Not this shit!”

It’s not that I’m averse to pop psychology or meme philosophy or even song lyrics. They all have their place and they can all have value.

My problem with this “love is a verb” expression is specific to how it has played out in my life. For me it has been, “If you really loved me you would do _____”, or “How could you do _____ if you really loved me?”

For me, it has been more like the Janet Jackson’s song, “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”

I get it. I understand that they way people experience love is through acts of love. We experience love not by how the lover feels but by what they do and what they do affects how we feel. It’s like how people experience God through religion. Most people don’t actually know God but they know that through religion they can feel God’s presence. Religion might be a verb but God is not a verb. To me, Love is God. I prefer this song by Ziggy Marley.

As with any religion, our faith is not measured merely by our belief but by our actions. As with many religious people I sometimes fuck up. As with many religious people, even when I am holding true to my faith I will sometimes piss people off.

All I know is that when my son was conceived it was an act of Love. All I know is that when I stuck by my pregnant friend and married her, it was an act of Love.

I know that when my friend called me in the middle of the night last Friday, I answer… because of Love.

I know that I spent three nights last week creating improvisational soundscapes for my band leader’s performance art piece… because of Love.

I know that I was sad that none of my close friends showed up… because of Love.

I know that when my band leader and h/ir wife made the cover of CityPages this week I was thrilled… because of Love.

I know that I biked across town in the middle of winter to see a friend who had a bad day at work… because of Love.

I know that I survived a fifteen hour day yesterday… because of Love… and enjoyed every minute of it… because of Love.

I know that I got out of bed today… because of Love.

—–

I also wrote this song today. It’s a Valentine to my daughter but it is inspired by everyone I love… which means everyone. Here are the lyrics.  Sorry there is no fancy video.

I love you today
As I do everyday

Whether together or apart
You are always in my heart

Everything that I do
Everything to you I say
Comes from the love that’s deep inside
It won’t ever go away

Sometimes love is painful
It don’t feel like you think it should
No one said love would be easy
But with love I know it could

We all have our doubts
What is love all about?

It’s hard to know what to feel
When we don’t know what is real

Love is not a box of chocolates
Or a Valentine’s Day card
But look inside and you will see
The reason why I work so hard

I can’t prove it to you
It’s really nothing I can show
But I’ll try with all my actions
In the hope that you will know

I love you today
As I do everyday

Whether together or apart
You are always in my heart

Mixed bag

I was awakened this morning by a phone call from one of my dearest friends. She was feeling lonely and depressed and wanting to drink. She knew that I had a show last night so she didn’t want to call and wake me but after going through every name in her phone she had no choice. I’m glad that she did even though I wasn’t quite awake and didn’t have much to offer except a sympathetic ear.

I’m still waking up but I’ve decided to try and write something. I still may decide to say, “fuck it” and just drive over and see her. In any case, I do need another cup of coffee so here we go…

As I’m making this transition from summer pedicab driver to winter hermit I’ve found myself living in my brain.

[And that’s as far as I got before the phone rang again]

This time the call was from my best friend who is now living out in California. She is the number one reason why I am on the verge of exceeding my monthly allotment of cell phone minutes, but given that this is the weekend there is no harm in answering. It was quite literally the least I could do. Given that she is now two thousand miles away, it’s kind of the only thing I can do.

While talking to California for an hour I got dressed and drove to my friends house in south Minneapolis. Since I wasn’t going to be getting any writing done, I might as well be helping my friends who really need nothing more than a friend. I didn’t actually know whether my friend in Minneapolis still wanted or needed me to come over but I figured it was worth the risk.

It turned out to be a good call. She was still disappointed that she didn’t get a better response to all of her efforts at reaching out. I said, “it only takes one and I’m here.”

As it turned out she actually had two.  Shortly after I arrived another friend came over to help. They talked for a while and I did some dishes. After that, the second friend left with my friend’s son so the we could have some time without the boy. We wound up heading to the studio so I could pick up my bike and then to the tanning salon. Go ahead and give me all the shit you want about how evil tanning beds are, but when you’re suffering with seasonal depression, ten minutes in a tanning bed can do wonders. We also got Chinese food – basically the best day every!

But this is how my winters go. Everyday I just try to do the best I can and usually the best I can has nothing to do with moving my life forward. I’m just trying to maintain. If I’m lucky, I will be able to help someone else. If I’m really lucky I’ll be able to make someone else’s life better.

That day was last Monday.

Last Sunday I went to a friend’s house to hang out and watch a movie. When I arrived I took off my coat and put it on the coat hook by her back door. Immediately, the entire fixture pulled out of the wall and fell to the floor. My mission for Monday was to make sure that never happened again.

I’m not the greatest handy man in the world but I can drill a hole and put up a shelf. I just have no passion for doing any of this when it comes to my own house. I was excited to do it for someone else. I not only secured the coat hooks, which I felt somewhat responsible for breaking, I also put a coat rod in her closet.

Knowing that I’ve been struggling to get my life moving, my friend wanted to do something to help me out. I’m not the best at asking for what I need but I’m working on it. I still haven’t filed my paperwork to receive the property tax refund I have coming to me. It’s not that hard and I can totally do it but for some reason I keep putting it off. I asked her if she would come over and help me get it filled out. This is something that is right up her alley.

So it worked out. My life moved forward. I couldn’t do it for myself but I was able to help someone who could help me. I think that is how things work most of the time. We can’t do it alone but when we come together we can do more that the sum of our parts.

But if that was enough, my life, your life, everyone’s life, would be working perfectly and it’s not. When I really need help it’s at a time when I feel like I have nothing left to give. That’s why I give regardless of whether anyone can give back to me. I just know that giving is the key to getting what we need.

Of course I could be wrong. Maybe taking is the key to getting what you need. I know that it is a successful way to get what you want. I just really doubt it can help you get what you need.

[At this point I’m tempted to retitle the post “wants vs. needs”. I would but it’s already so disjointed with no clear point that I don’t think any title could capture its essence.]

The only point I think I can make is that my life is still not working perfectly. I mean, it’s working. I’m not dead yet but it’s still not anywhere like I’d like it to be.

Let’s take Tuesday, for example. I did my best. I gave what I had to give. I wrote a blog post that I thought would appeal to both rock-n-roll and sci-fi geeks. That’s not an easy thing to do.  I should have been sitting on top of the world.

Instead I felt more alone than I have ever felt before. Actually, I don’t even know if that is what it was. Really, it was loneliness but a kind of loneliness that I’d never felt before. I was physically in pain over my longing for human contact. Now, I’ve had my heart broken. I’ve had my stomach in knots because I missed someone so much. But this was different. This was just generalized loneliness manifesting as physical pain.

I waited in agony until 8:59pm when my free nighttime minutes kicked in so that I could call someone… anyone! Actually, I called T-Moble earlier, in part to find out exactly when my free minutes started, but mostly just to have someone to talk to. Yup, I was that desperate.

I stayed up until four in the morning talking to anyone who would answer their phone. When you give as much as I give it’s remarkable how many people will answer the phone when you call. Still, life would be a lot easier if I didn’t need people so much.

When I finally woke up on Wednesday and I felt like shit again. I went to my refrigerator and learned that I had drank an entire three-liter box of white wine – that’s four bottles worth, all by myself. It was a beautiful, sunny day but I wasn’t going to be able to enjoy it at all. I was fucking hung-over!

Granted, I didn’t feel as bad, nor did I cause the embarrassment, as the last time I drank an entire bottle of whisky in one night. I love whiskey, but wine is still a better friend.

[At this point I feel the need to post this video. Go ahead and watch it. It’s pretty fucking awesome!!!]

I’ve known for a long time that I have a drinking problem. I struggle with it. I try to control it. I try to reduce the harm it causes. It’s never going away. Many of my friends have found sobriety. None have found it a perfect solution. Hell, I’ve found sobriety and look how it’s worked for me. The point is to keep going. I’m still on my path. There is no telling where it will lead but suicide is no solution.

If I didn’t have rehearsal Wednesday night I wouldn’t have accomplished anything that day.

Thursday I had a date with one of my oldest and dearest friends. We met when I was seventeen years old, back when I was in AA. She has now been sober for 25 years. I’m 46 now  – do your own math! She knows what a drunk I am and loves me anyway. Still, I respect her sobriety and wasn’t going to drink before seeing her. Drinking still crossed my mind but I was lucky and managed to find ways to keep myself busy. Once I was with her it didn’t matter. Even though we went to a restaurant that served alcohol, I had no desire to drink.

Friday was a different story. Friday I had nothing to do except go to a birthday party where I knew that drinking would be the theme of the evening. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go. It was a good ten mile bike ride from my house and I’m suppose to be a hermit and not going out this winter. Still, I really like this friend and my California friend’s lover/business partner was going to be DJing at the party and I’d never met him. I was determined to try my best to make it.

I finally had enough drinks in me to feel like I could accomplish anything so I hopped on my bike and headed to south Minneapolis. I realized that I hadn’t really eaten much that day so I stopped in at Cause Spirits and Soundbar for a beer and a slice of pizza.

I had no idea what was going on that night. I just needed some food. It turned out that it was the “hipster” spot for the evening. I knew half the people there. I was instantly thrown back into my old life. Back to the days when I considered it my job description to be at all the happening events. I made my way through the crowd of people wanting to say “hi” to me; being as polite as I could.

I really just wanted to get to the bar and get some food. I wound up talking to some Joe who was on his own little pub crawl. He had stopped in at this place because some girl he likes had said that she was going to be here. Fuck, that’s as good a reason as any…

I also talked to Scott Seekins. He is a local artist with a very iconic look. We have had conversations in the past about the power of an iconic look and since I had changed mine, I thought it would be a good idea to check in with him. He still thought I could make it work which made me feel good.

Here’s a picture of my friend, Scott Seekins.

Scott Seekins

I also talked to some other people at Cause. Just because it was a hipster douchebag event doesn’t mean that there weren’t good people there. I know right?!?  Now who sounds like the hipster douchebag? This guy here!

Anyway… on to the party where I was a total fucking hit! All these people where half my age and thought of me as a god! No seriously, I don’t know what I said or what I did but I was told flat out that I changed their life. I had people begging for my number saying, “We have to hang out!”

Again, I should have been sitting on top of the world. But really, all I wanted was to get laid. I was still just that lonely guy. At that point, all the admiration in the world didn’t mean shit if nobody wanted to bang me.

And oh my god where there people there that I wanted to fuck. Granted, when you are in your forties pretty much anyone in their twenties looks pretty damn good but this was a party of some of the hottest looking people in the city.

And I was not getting any more sober and they were not getting any less good looking.

I may not remember any of the conversations that changed lives but I do remember this one: Towards the end of the night, after a shot of whiskey, I was talking with an extremely attractive woman and I said, “I really want to bite your face!” I wan’t feeling violent; it was pure labido and she knew that.

Her response was, ” That’s pretty creepy.”

I said, “I know, and I’m not a creepy guy. That’s just the thought in my head and apparently I have no filter.”

Suffice it to say, I realized at that point that I was probably too drunk and was not going to get laid that night so I had better go home. I still had a couple more conversations before I left. They had to do with helping other people come to terms with their own sexual proclivities but I was done trying to meet my own. I was just hoping that I could find a cab that could take me and my bike back to north Minneapolis.

That didn’t happen either. I wound up biking the whole ten miles or so back home. I did make it; much to my surprise. It was 5:43 in the morning  and I had a show that night. I think I was still awake enough to make some food and make some drunken post on Facebook.

But would I make it to the show that night???

Here is the proof that I did.

LeFreak - Sound Unseen

Thanks for reading the longest post I have ever made. You are a real trooper. I think you are amazing!!! Please let me know who you are by liking this post if you do or by leaving a comment telling me how much you think it sucks! You can leave me a comment even if you like it – I won’t mind.

Blame it on the rain

I’ve had my share of challenges in life. I have managed to overcome most of them. I have made changes where possible and adapted where necessary but sometimes the only thing I can do is surrender. That’s how I felt yesterday. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t change it and I couldn’t overcome it. My obstacle was the weather. With five days of cloudy, rainy weather I just couldn’t do it again.

I didn’t give up easily although I hadn’t made the challenge any easier on myself. The night before I managed to use every available hour of my trip home getting completely shit-faced to the point where I needed assistance for the final leg of my journey.

Still, I did manage to get home. I did manage to get up. I did manage to get ready for work and was all poised to head to St. Paul when the call came in saying that I needn’t bother. They had enough drivers in St. Paul and considering the weather, it simply wasn’t worth me making the trip. To be honest, I was relieved. To be honest, I had already come to the same conclusion. As I was sitting in my van, the engine running, the windshield-wipers removing the raindrops from my view, the only thought in my head was, “I can’t do this.”

In fact, I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t go to work, I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t even write about how I couldn’t do anything. I had thrown in the towel. I had given up on the day so I retired to bed with a glass of red wine. I spent most of the day sleeping or watching documentaries about the recent economic crash.

But can I really blame it all on the rain? What about my drinking, isn’t that a choice? Isn’t that something I have control over?

Drinking has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember but there have been periods where alcohol hasn’t been such a significant player. There have been times where drinking just didn’t present itself as an option. But I am a drinker. What I know about myself is that given the option, I am going to choose to drink. But I’m more than just a drinker, I’m a drunk. I actually really enjoy the way alcohol makes me feel. Once those chemicals start going to work on my brain, all of my troubles seems to disappear. I’m no longer depressed, I’m not anxious and I don’t feel any pain. As my chemist friends like to remind me, “alcohol is a solution”.

But it’s also a problem. It’s hard to deny the correlation between alcohol and aspects of my life that don’t work as I would like. The question I keep pondering is whether my connection with alcohol is a character defect or simply a character trait.  My instinct is to judge and shame myself for being a flawed human being but my intellect knows the futility of this response. I can change my behavior, I can adapt to most situations, I can mitigate the negative consequences but I can’t change who I am any more than I can change the weather.

I didn’t see that cliff on the map

This whole year I have been running. I have been running to keep from falling down. I have been running because I am afraid to stop. Like a shark, if I stop moving I will die.

While not literally true, this is what it feels like to be me. For the most part, this approach has worked well for me but I have survived enough pitfalls to see it’s limitations. I am convinced that the reason I got sick back in 1999 was because it was the only way for my body to get me to slow down.

I have been on a path on constantly thinking, feeling and doing. I have accomplished a lot. It has been a full life. I honestly believe that if I seize every moment as it comes and make the most of it, when my final moment comes, I will know that I lived the best life I could.

But I also know that I need to take time to just be. But how do I do that? What can I cut out of my life to make room for nothing?

I’m not going to cut out time with my kids. I’m not going to cut out friends. I’m not going to cut out writing. I’m not going to cut out music. I’m not going to cut out working. As it stands, I don’t even come close to doing everything others want from me. I don’t even come close to everything I want from me. I barely, barely have time to do what I absolutely need to do for survival.

Perhaps I could just keep going like this indefinitely but the pragmatist in me says that it is not sustainable. I could just bury my head and keep forging forward but the cautious person in me fears that I may be about to run into a brick wall or off a cliff.

It’s time to get some perspective. It’s time to step back and look at the big picture. I know that I do that from time to time but I don’t know how I do it. What I do know it that one factor that allows me to keep going, even against my better judgement, is alcohol.

I’m going to spend the next two weeks not drinking, just to see what happens. I know that two weeks is pretty much the minimum time needed to assess the effects of a behavioural change. So far it’s been two days and it’s been a mess. I’m sleeping more but when I’m awake I’m running more, thinking more and feeling more. I’ve been doing more but accomplishing less. I have no focus. Basically, my life is in chaos. So the experiment continues…

Keep buggering on

It had to end sometime. I knew I couldn’t keep going like that forever, although I certainly tried. One day I was going to wind up dropping. One day I would have to accept that I live with chronic illness. One day is was all going to come to a screeching halt.

That day was yesterday. After sleeping twelve hours I was awakened by a phone call from my bff. Even though I had gotten twice as much sleep as I usually requires, I still couldn’t move. Every inch of my body was in pain. My brain felt scrambled and I couldn’t focus on anything. Even my vision was blurry. I struggled to muster the strength to make it downstairs to the bathroom only to find that I had exhausted all my energy and crawled back to bed. I spend the entire day in bed only moving to use the bathroom or get food. Chewing seemed like an arduous task.

It’s been awhile since I have had a day like that but there was a time when it was my reality more often than not. It has been a long road to get here from the time I first got sick with chronic fatigue syndrome but it never really goes away. It is still common for me to have a day or two a week that are like that. The biggest change is in what I can do when I am able to move.

Last Wednesday should have done me in. I’m pretty sure that if I had gone home after delivering CityPages, it would have.  Instead, I went to the Bad Waitress for dinner and then to the bar. My bff met me there and I crashed on her couch. We had brought a friend back to her place with us because he was concerned about going home to his boyfriend. It sounded like he was in a pretty abusive relationship and his boyfriend had a gun – not a good combination. He had threatened him with the gun in the past. The three of us stayed up talking into the wee hours of the morning. The plan was for the boy to spend the night but I don’t even remember falling asleep. All I know is that when I woke up he was gone. We did get a txt from him later to let us know he was okay.

My bff had the day off on Thursday but she still got up with me so we could have coffee together. After a leisurely cup of coffee with my best friend I was off and running… and running late. I had to stop by another best friend’s place to drop off some newspapers to help in her packing. She was moving this month.

I really hope that I can do more to help but that may not happen. The important thing is not what we have to give, but that we give what we have. If we all pull together and do that, things will be okay.

Then next stop was picking up my daughter from school. I was twenty minutes late picking her up. Half of that was me running late, the other half was the weather. I was not alone in being late picking up my kid. There were lots of kids waiting to be picked up. We were under blizzard conditions and the roads were treacherous. I was really excited to take my daughter to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for their Third Thursday event. Unfortunately, I didn’t think that would be wise considering the weather. It was hard enough driving during daylight. I didn’t trust myself to be able to get her home after dark. I hate driving at night even under perfect conditions.

Instead, I just dropped her off at her mother’s and headed home. By the time I got home, I had just enough time to shovel my sidewalk (it was already covered with snow by the time I left again), take a piss, rub one out quick, take a shower and get dressed before hopping on the bus. There was no way I was driving anymore and biking seems totally out of the question but I still needed to get to the MIA. I was running on pure adrenaline.

The reason why getting to the MIA was so important to me was because Lisa Germano was playing. She is the woman who borrowed my synth for South by Southwest and I was really looking forward to meeting her. As it turned out, she cancelled the gig. I guess she canceled the whole tour. I don’t know why. Her website has no explanation but these things happen. Kaiser Cartel also canceled and there is no info on their website either.

Oh well. My friend, Savannah Smith filled in at the last minute, so it was good to see her. My bff went with me and another friend who I hadn’t seen in a while joined us as well. Back when we were all single we used to be kind of three peas in a pod. It was good to have that gang back together.

Still, I was struggling. The weather was really wearing me down. As it turned out, it was probably better that my daughter was not there as I was exhausted by the barriers that were being placed before me.

Don’t I have it hard enough?

I keep going because I am afraid to stop. I know when I stop it is really hard to get going again. I feel like I am running while leaning forward. The only thing that keeps me from falling on my face is that I keep moving. I am constantly falling yet constantly moving. Just like the earth is falling into the sun but keeps missing it. It’s physics.

I keep hoping that it will get easier. I keep hoping that Spring will come. I see signs of hope. I see the snow melt. I feel relief is in sight but it never comes. I just have to keep buggering on.

While at the MIA I was asked how I keep my spirits up. I just raised the beer in my hand and shrugged my shoulders.

The truth is that alcohol is a major part of what keeps me going – that and friends, but in my life, the two are pretty intertwined. Music, writing and biking also keep me going but they don’t mean shit without people.

So I decided I would kidnap my two friends and drag them to my work party. It’s not really what you think of when you think, “work party”. I work for CityPages and they throw some of the best parties in town. This one was a roaring 20’s / bootlegger / flapper themed party. Check out some of these pictures from my friend Erik Hess. None of us were appropriately dressed but that didn’t matter. When I walked in I was told that I was dressed in the wrong decade. I responded that I am every decade. Okay, I was dressed in leopard print pants and probably looked straight out of the ’80 glam metal era but so fucking what.

Since I kidnapped them I figured I should pay for the cab. Apparently all of us had money that night because we were all fighting to pay for each other. I’m telling you, if you want to stimulate the economy; give money to poor people. We will spend it! I was fully prepared to spend the $100 I left the house with. Mostly, I just knew that it would be a challenging night and I didn’t want money to stand in the way of me getting home safe. I have no problem spending money on cabs.

As it turned out we didn’t need to take a cab back. Our friend’s girlfriend came and joined us later in the evening. It was great to have a sober ride home. Well, not home, but to the 19 bar. We were too sober to head home but plenty drunk enough to get into a snowball fight – in the car! You kind of had to be there but feel free to use your imagination. I’m not a good enough writer to do it justice.

After the 19 my bff and I headed back to her place with one of her co-workers. On the walk, we had to stop and make snow angels. It’s kind of a winter tradition for us but our first attempt this year didn’t work out so well. I never thought that we would be fulfilling this mission in April.

Snow Angel in April

I love the imprint of my studded belt.

 

The co-worker only stuck around for a little while waiting for her bus. My bff and I stayed up until at least four in the morning. It was a pretty intense night after a pretty intense day. We talked about the death of her best friend and about the significance of our friendship.

I say it all the time but I don’t know if I have ever written it down: this is the best friendship I have ever had – and I have some of the most amazing friendships a person could ever dream of. This woman is just so special to me that I never feel like I have adequate words to describe our relationship. It’s like no other relationship I have ever had. It’s like no other relationship I have ever heard of. It’s like the best parts of family combined with the best parts of friendship combined with the best parts of romance – except without the sex. That is not to say that we don’t have our problems. Our relationship may include some of the worst parts as well. All I can say is that it is amazing, unbelievable and completely unique.

We shared tears that night. We felt incredibly close and vulnerable. I asked if I could sleep in her bed with her. I like to snuggle. She doesn’t usually like this. She likes her freedom to move around. Also, I sometimes grab her boobs in my sleep. I can see how that might make her uncomfortable. On this night however, she was happy to have someone to sleep with.

It was hard enough for my friend to get up Friday morning. I wasn’t as much help as I could have been but I’m sure me being in her bed helped. As it was she was running late for work. I was figuring I wouldn’t be working at all. It still looked like fucking winter outside. In Minnesota, people drive pedicab all year round but even I think that is stupid. I called the pedicab company in hopes that they would tell me that there was no point in coming in. That is not what happened.

They said, “It’s Friday night, there is a big Styx, REO Speedwagon & Ted Nugent show in town and the streets have been cleared.”

Okay, I thought. I’m new at this and they know better than I. If they want me, I’m going to be there. Plus, I know that if I want to keep going I need to stay consistent.  Even if I have a bad night I need to keep buggering on.

I got up, did a load of dishes, went to the store to get cat litter and Drano, came back and changed the cat box, cleared the drain in the bathroom sink and did another load of dishes. Then I hopped on the bus to go home. I still needed to take a shower, shave and wash my blanket for the pedicab. I don’t remember but I’m pretty sure I took time to jack-off as well. As crazy as my life was feeling, I knew that what I was going through was nothing compared to the folks on lockdown in Boston.

Friday was a pretty shitty night; at least it started out that way. I didn’t get a single ride off the big concert at the Target Center. I started working at 8pm but I didn’t start getting rides until after midnight. It still turned out alright. Gay men and drunks are my bread and butter and they totally saved my ass. I know my people.

Saturday was a nicer day so I figured I would go in even earlier. I also wanted to make sure my pedicab was in top working form. It seemed to be but I still was having problems, I presume do to the weather. It was still too fucking cold. Anyway, Saturday was a fun night. Technically, the best night I have had to date. It was also the most exhausting. By the time I was done at 3am, I was beat, and it was snowing. I sent my bff a message to see if I could crash at her place. She lives much closer to the garage than I do and I didn’t think I could make it home. Even if I could, the bike ride in the snow would have been hell.

Sunday morning I woke up on my bff’s couch once again. She wouldn’t have to get up for another few hours but I needed coffee. I also needed a smoke and nobody likes smelling cigarette smoke while they are sleeping. I gathered my things and headed out the door. I still had no real plan.

In the entryway to her apartment building, sitting on top of the mailboxes were a pair of Roland MA-8’s. “Holy shit!”, I thought. These would be perfect for making music on my laptop. I couldn’t believe that someone would just be giving them away. I figured someone in the process of carrying things in and had just set them down. I went outside and had a smoke on the steps while I contemplated what to do. After 10 minutes, no one had come back for the speakers so I figured they were mine. Wow, sometimes the universe is so awesome!

I had been tempted to just head home but after that I figured I should just keep buggering on and see where this day takes me. I love Sundays and I love drinking with people who drink on Sundays. I’m not saying that it was the brightest decision in the world but you are free to judge for yourself.

Here is what happened:

  • CC Club for breakfast – coffee, 2 screwdrivers and a veggie omelet.
  • Conversation on the patio with a conservative about the smoking  ban. We actually agreed on somethings.
  • Two beer.
  • Played darts with a friend and his buddy. They were celebrating my friend getting fired. I won at darts.
  • Started my bike ride home stopping off at the Saloon, a gay bar downtown.
  • $3 gin and tonics. Gay bar strong. Must have had 3. I was pretty drunk.
  • Sat down with a pretty 22 year old college student who didn’t look like she should be drinking alone. This was true. Even her friend who was txting her hoped that she wasn’t drinking alone. She took a liking to me. Started making out with me at the bar. I’m not one to complain about a hot college co-ed wanting to makeout with me but this was a gay bar and I do have a reputation to maintain.
  • I literally poured her into a cab. The cab driver insisted that I come with – not really his job to take care of her. I agreed. There was no telling where this would lead. She was all over me – biting me – I like biting. My judgement was a bit off but I would never have sex with someone that drunk. Still, there is a lot of fun that can be had that falls short of sex.
  • I get her to her destination and the cab takes off. The woman also makes it clear that she is done for the night. Luckily, I took that cab drivers number. He comes back and returns me to the Saloon where my bike is locked up.
  • From there I head to my friend Doug Anderson’s new bar for a drink. It’s called the Belmore/New Skyway Lounge. I hadn’t been there yet and I wanted to check it out. Call it reconnaissance, not just for the band but as a pedicab driver as well. It’s a great space and the bartender was awesome. Unfortunately, we were the only two people there the entire time. I sincerely hope that he does better on the weekends. I’m sure he does.
  • It’s still early so I thought I would hit Bunker’s and catch one of my favorite bands, Dr. Mambo’s Combo. I pulled up to the door on my bike and the bouncer told me to keep moving. Okay, I thought. I’m pretty drunk, maybe I should just go home. I got about a block away and realized that he did not have enough interaction with me to make that assessment. He had no idea who I was, so I headed back to talk to him. This was not cool. His mind was made up. He didn’t care who I was. He was being a prick and he was sticking to it. Fair enough.
  • Next attempt was BJ’s, a strip club. They had me pegged as someone to not let in off of their surveillance cameras. Seriously, they judged me solely on the fact that I was riding a bike and had an overstuffed backpack.  I even had a nice conversation with the bouncer but there was nothing he could do.
  • At this point I was determined to get another drink. I stopped in at Halak’s. No bouncer, no security camera, no problem. I had a beer there and then headed out for a smoke. I decided that it was time to move on but headed back in to hand the bartender another $5 for not judging me. He said I was no problem and was welcome there anytime. This is why I love dive bars!
  • The queen of all dive bars is the T-shop in my neighborhood. I don’t go there very often because they are usually closed by the time I get home. They are a beer-only bar and usually close by midnight. This night I was getting home well before midnight. I really do love this bar. I love Debbie the bartender. Also sitting at the bar was another famous musician in town. He’s the lead singer in a Tom Petty cover band.  We are both talented musicians and songwriters who make our way in the world playing other people’s music. We had a great conversation about that.

Judge me however you want but there was a movie in that night. Maybe I should have just gone home and had my day of doing nothing on Sunday but I wouldn’t have missed that day for anything. Sure, maybe I would have been able to move on Monday if I had, but Monday would never have been as exciting as that.

There is a saying, “Don’t judge me until you have walked a mile in my shoes.” Fuck, I don’t give a shit if anyone walks in my shoes. Judge me all you want. I just hope that you will take the time to walk a mile in your own shoes. Most people don’t even do that!

Fetish Revolution – Part 2

Saturday, February 9th, 2013 was the day I had spent the previous three days in anticipating, the day of our full band performance at Fetish Revolution. I woke up feeling relaxed and confident that everything would go well. I also woke up a little drunk from the night before. That didn’t concern me. That I knew I could handle that. I also knew that it would be temporary. I made myself some coffee and got to work on my blog. This was actually the first opportunity on the tour where I had an extended period of time to sit down and really write. Venus and Jazz took off to get food and hit the music store. I stayed back to write.

After the coffee was gone I dipped back into the beer. I think Jazz was a little concerned when he got back to the hotel room and saw me with a beer in my hand. I’m sure I would be concerned if the tables were turned. But I was fine, just a little self-medication to stave off the nerves and keep me focused. I finished my blog, took a shower, shaved, painted my nails, did my make-up, got in costume and packed up my gear. This is all the stuff I do for every show; no big deal.

We arrived to the venue, 910 Live in Tempe, at 5 pm to pickup to the drum set which was being delivered. Big thanks to Patti for helping us out here. We wouldn’t be performing until 10 that night and even sound check wouldn’t happen for a couple more hours. None of this is a complaint. This is just the way it goes. If you really want to know what the rock-n-roll lifestyle is all about; it’s a whole lot of hurry up and wait! So, with the alcohol finally dissipated from by bloodstream and nothing to do the nerves kicked it.

There is always something to be nervous about before a show. Will we have a crowd? Will all the equipment work? Will the sound be good? Will I be able to hear myself and my band-mates? And the biggest one of all, will I choke and forget what I’m playing? All of these thoughts went through my head but the one thing I never thought I would have to worry about in Phoenix was the weather. The main stage was outside and it was getting mighty cold out. Obviously, not as cold as Minneapolis but it was colder than what I had planned for. I probably would have brought a different outfit had I known I was going to be playing outdoors in February.

We spent most of our time standing by the fire.

We spent most of our time standing by the fire

Sound check went great and the promoter wanted to buy me a drink. As we were standing at the bar chatting and enjoying our cocktails a gorgeous woman stopped by to say “hi” to James.  After she left he turns to me and says, “Yeah, she’s beautiful but she’s a bit much for me.” I was perplexed  What in damnation could someone who produces fetish events consider “too much”. Apparently she is into yoga, has placenta in her freezer and is into holistic love. I guess we all have our limits! I found this pretty funny though. I went on to tell him about how into yoga I am and how at one time I too had placenta in my freezer. Upon reflection I do think the later is kind of weird but whatever. I don’t know what holistic love is but it sounded like something I might be into.

After performing, these two kids came up to me to tell me how much they enjoyed the show. They were both really drunk but they were having fun. I thanked them and gave each a big hug. Then they started asking me why I was dressed they way I was. Clearly they were out of their element and probably had no idea what they had got themselves into. One guy said to me “You’re not gay are you?  I know you’re not gay”. I’m always a little unsure how to answer those questions. There is not really a simple answer. I could tell that he was hoping I would say “no”. I’m sure that would have made him more comfortable but it wasn’t going to happen. It’s pretty obvious that I am gay. Still, unless you want to fuck me it’s really none of your business what my sexual orientation is. Even then, the only question should be, do I want to fuck you? In the end I just said, “I could be, some people are gay you know.” Perhaps not the answer they wanted but it took the focus off something that was of no consequence to them and put it back where it belonged, on what a fucking amazing rock band we are. But don’t take my word for it, here’s a video from the show

Speaking of great bands, the headliner of the night was Assemblage 23. These guys are legends in the Industrial scene; super nice guys too. We had to stick around to see them play.

Assemblage 23 at Fetish Revolution 2013

Assemblage 23 at Fetish Revolution 2013

Oh, and I totally have a new crush. DJ Con is such an absolute sweetie. I feel like he is my long lost twin separated at birth, well… um… 16 years apart. His birthday is actually the day after mine. Aquarians unite!

Battle of the bulges. Photo by: Angel Collins

Battle of the bulges. Photo by Angel Collins

Back at the hotel I was finally able to remove the boots I had been wearing for the past 9 hours. Fuck, what a relief that was! My feet had been killing me.   What I hadn’t been aware of because my feet were hurting so much was how much pain the rest of my body was in. Upon releasing my feet from their silver patent leather bondage, sensation returned to every other part of my body and it was not a pleasant sensation. Luckily, there was still beer in the fridge and half a bottle of whiskey. Jazz and I stayed up for a few more hours talking but he offered no help in drinking the booze. I was on my own for that.

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