January thirteenth

I awoke to find an “Add New Post” window open on my computer screen. Only the title field was filled in. It said, “How alcohol saved my life”.

The night before I watched the movie, “Drinking Buddies“. Accept for the part where a drunk bicycle rider gets freaked out at the sight of blood, I found it to be one of the most accurate portrayals of drinking life that I’ve ever scene in a movie. I felt inspired me to write an honest account of the role alcohol has played in my life. I felt like I could finally do it without coming off like I was just trying to justify bad behavior.

But first I had something more important to attend to… my laundry. I’d kept my washing machine hobbling along for the past year or so but the time had come for it to retire. As a result I’d accumulated five loads of laundry so I loaded up my van and headed to Rainbow Laundromat in Uptown. They have free Wi-fi so I figured I could get some writing done at the same time. That never happened.  Washing five loads all at once doesn’t leave a lot of down time but an hour and a half later I had clean sheets, comforter and a fresh new wardrobe. I still felt like I had accomplished something.

I stopped by the liquor store determined to spend the evening writing but by the time I got home my brain had developed other plans. I didn’t want to spend another night at home drinking; I wanted to get out in the world and be with my people. I hadn’t been on my bike since November and this was going to be the night I stopped making excuses. The weather report said that snow was expected but I didn’t care. I was determined.

[It’s been almost a week since that night but sometimes a little time and reflection is helpful to sift out the fluff. Here are the highlights as I remember them now.]

I managed to find my winter biking gear including my ski goggles. It was cold and the roads suck but I was off and riding again. My first top after picking up tobacco at Sarna’s was the 331 Club. I found myself at the bar next to a man who was sitting alone drinking a Miller High Life; the two-for-one special of the evening. He explained that it’s been hard to find work and money has been tight since he got released from prison but he was really hoping to avoid going back. He explained that he would never do anything to hurt another person, except out of honor and loyalty. These were his guiding principles. He was surprised that I had never been to prison; I guess because he’s not used to talking to people who haven’t. I explained that fear has kept me out of prison and in a sense, fear was my prison. He told me that if you want to survive in prison, all you have to do is tell the truth.

He said, “I just tell them that I believe in God. They think that I’m crazy and leave me alone.”

I said, “You want to hear something really crazy? I think that I am God.”

“I don’t think that you are crazy. Not many people are willing to talk to me but you are.”

“That’s because I think that you are God.”

He didn’t believe me that he was God and maybe he was right. Still, he did look like God to me.

Next, I stopped at Club Jager to see if they had anything going on. To my surprise they were setting up for their monthly metal night. I vowed to return and headed off to Grumpy’s Downtown where a friend of mine holds a movie night on Monday’s. He was showing Robocop and Total Recall (the good one). I was more eager to see my friend than I was the movies. We had found ourselves in a three AM online spate recently and I wanted to make sure we were still “cool”. Our argument was over the placebo effect. I took the position that the brain has the power to heal and he was arguing for science and medicine. This is a pretty life or death issue but it’s not like either of us are wrong.

Then it was back to “Metal Night” at Club Jager. I love metal music but mostly I love the metalheads. Seriously, some of the nicest most loving people you will ever meet.

One of the guys I met described himself as a Satanist. He said, “This music is very spiritual to me.”

“A Satanist, huh?” I had to ask, “What do Satanists believe in?”

He told me, “Love.”

“Hmmm, that’s what I believe in as well. Maybe I’m a Satanist.”

The bike ride home was hell. Snow had covered the streets and it was still falling pretty hard. I just kept telling myself, “I can do this, I’ve been through worse.” It was slow going but I finally made it home. I had survived another day!

I woke up the next morning invigorated and feeling alive. I posted the following to facebook:

OMG Last night was amazing. I highly recommend doing stupid things. The world is just one big playground. A playground that could kill you but oh my god, not dying is sooooo much fun!!!

It was at that point that I realized that the day before was just any other day. It was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the day I nearly died; the day of my car accident, the day I lost my right eye. I call it my re-birthday. Every year I celebrate January Thirteenth as the beginning of my new life but this year I totally missed it… or did I?

Fags at a metal show

I honestly can’t remember the last time I was at a metal show. You know, a big metal show, the kind where every metal head in town comes out. I’m sure it was within the last year but as I learned Saturday, as I learn every time I go to one of these shows, it’s been too long. I fucking love metal! I love the constant pounding of the double bass drum. I love the screaming guitars. I can’t understand most of the words but I love the passion with which they are sung. This particular show featured classic thrash metal bands Testament and Flotsam & Jetsam along with an amazing band out of Australia, 4ARM

But what I love most are the people, the metal heads! I love the outcasts who have found their home. Decked in leather, long hair and tattoos, slamming into each other and pumping their fists in air; these are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. I was surrounded by smiling happy people listening to loud angry music. It’s almost surreal. It’s hard to wrap your head around but I get it because I get the music. It makes me happy too. When you listen to something that you enjoy, even if it’s angry, it makes you feel good.

It reminded me of a conversation I had earlier in the day. We were talking about Fox News and the people who watch it. I said that some people just enjoy being angry but my friend corrected me. She explained that the people who watch Fox News do not watch it to feel angry. They watch it because they agree with the point of view being espoused and so they like what they hear… and it makes them feel good. Okay, I hadn’t though of it that way but it totally makes sense.

What makes me happy though, is learning something that expands my world view, that tests my preconceived notions, that challenges my assumptions. I like being wrong because in being wrong I am given an opportunity to become a better person.

Politically, the folks at a metal show probably have more in common with the people who watch Fox News than they do with me. It’s a pretty homogeneous group, 90% male and almost exclusively white. I don’t know how many gay people were there. That’s harder to figure out. I don’t even know if anyone would have pegged me as gay in my Iced Earth T-shirt and leather jacket but I was wearing a bracelet with pictures of Marilyn Monroe on it . That should have been a dead giveaway. Not that any of that matters. We were all that for the same reason and that is the only thing that matters. There is no judgement at a metal show.

So to balance things out after three hours in intense rocking out it was time to dance. My group headed down to Hell’s Kitchen a few blocks away for the one year anniversary of Berlin, the indie queer dance night hosted by former All The Pretty Horses dancer turned DJ, Shannon Blowtorch. There shit got a little crazy but no one got hurt and no major life lessons were learned or lost so I don’t feel like I need to write anymore about it. I’ll leave that up to your imagination.


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