The Egg In My Closet

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Night after night, I would fall asleep obsessing over an easter egg I’d left in my bedroom closet.

I bring this up because it’s ridiculous, yes, but it’s also emblematic of my…condition, I guess you’d say.

I’m not sure why I left an easter egg in my closet.  I don’t remember if I hid it there (unlikely, because easter egg hunts weren’t a thing in my family).  I probably intentionally stashed it there with my basket, because I wasn’t a fan of hard boiled eggs as a general rule.  I liked coloring them, but when it came down to enjoying the bounty within the actual basket, I focused strictly on the chocolate (although the bunnies, with their panic-stricken candy eyes fixated on me, also caused problems, to the point where my mother actually started getting me ornate hollow chocolate eggs, which didn’t freak me out nearly as much).

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Anyway, there was an easter egg in my closet.  I was aware of it, aware that it was eventually going to turn into a biological weapon of some sort if I didn’t get it out of my closet.  In the waking hours, it was easier to forget about it as I went about my 9-year-old’s day, making up mock episodes of The Donahue Show on my tape recorder with my sister and the kid across the street.  But at night, I’d lay in bed and think of all the terrible things that would happen because of that easter egg.  My mother would find it and yell at me.  It would explode, rendering my cheery yellow bedroom a hazardous waste site.

But did it ever occur to me that I could simply throw it out?  Well, yes, but somehow I’d convinced myself that I wouldn’t be able to stealthily transport it from my bedroom closet into the trash without being caught in the act (“Is that….AN EASTER EGG?  In JUNE?”).  Because this is the way my mind worked.

And this is the way my mind STILL works.

Nearly everyone I meet in recovery has similar issues.  I mean – I don’t think I know anyone else with the exact same easter egg story.  But there’s always an easter egg in there, somewhere.  A metaphorical easter egg, if you will.  Something you’re deeply ashamed of.  You know that there will be incredible relief in disposing of it, and yet you let it sit there.  And that’s where procrastination comes in.  That’s another thing that nearly all of my sober friends wrestle with.  We all know by now that doing something is pretty much never as bad as NOT doing it.  But that’s a lesson that never entirely sinks in for me, or else my closet would be 100% OLD ASS EASTER EGG FREE.

I’m dealing with this right now.  The anxiety and depression have me so simultaneously bummed and amped up that I can’t get up and get this fucking easter egg out of my closet, because I honestly don’t think I’d know what to do with myself if it wasn’t there, rotting away underneath its perky PAAS-tinted shell.  Because at a certain point, anxiety becomes almost comforting.  If it’s the only consistent thing going for you, of course it’s comforting, even as it keeps you from doing actually enjoyable things because OH MY GOD THERE’S AN EASTER EGG IN MY CLOSET AND IT’S THE ONLY THING I CAN THINK ABOUT.

I don’t even remember what I did with the original, actual easter egg.  I mean, this was over 35 years ago.  By the time we moved from that house, there was no easter egg, unless there WAS, and my mother found it, and in the rush to get everything packed didn’t think to ask her progeny “WHAT THE FUCK WITH THE EASTER EGG IN THE CLOSET YOU EVIL SPAWN?”  Or I was determined to be the culprit, and I was punished so hard I entered another dimension not of sight or sound but of mind.  I just don’t know.

But I clearly remember the panic.  I remember grasping, even at nine years of age, that this was completely insane, and that there was probably something really wrong with me, and I wasn’t sure how much longer I’d be able to pretend that I was normal before the kids in my class caught on (about two more years, as it turned out).  There would be many more closeted easter eggs in my future.

“Everywhere I turn, there you are…”

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I’m on Day Three of the “Facebook Cleanse” and I definitely think the problem now is not so much what I think I’m missing, but that people aren’t missing ME.

It’s kind of interesting.  I’m having kind of an existential crisis because I’m not on Facebook.  If a cat picture falls in an empty forest, does it meow?

Forget it.  I’m delirious.  The panic attacks have abated, I seem to be figuring out what’s working for me, pharmaceutically and otherwise, but I’m still tired.  It’s like I’ve suppressed this “fight or flight” instinct that has been raging under the surface for so long that it just started boiling over.  I’m not entirely sure if the contents completely boiled off, or if I’m just sedated to the point where I’m physically unable to panic.  If ravenous lions tore through the office just now, I’d probably just sit here and be like, “Whoa. Lions.” before being torn to bits.

The “vacation” from Facebook is forcing me to do other things in the evening, like read.  Write.  Remember what I used to do before my mind got wiped out by caregiver stress.  I used to do Mortified shows.  I’d read from my high school diaries in front of total strangers.  One of my favorite “threads” that came about from working with Karen Corday and Sara Faith Alterman (the producers of the Boston show) was a series of passages in which I go full-blown Norma Desmond over my high school drama club happenings.

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The entries I read from span from around 1985 to 1988, and include my very mature and measured musings on not only the high school endeavors, but those of the musicals I did every summer with a teen theatre troupe.

When I initially showed Karen and Sara this stuff, one name jumped out at them.  “Sue Tedeschi?  You mean Susan Tedeschi?”

Indeed.  Susan was the bright star of my Summer of ’86.  That was the summer we did Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  Even then, that girl could BELT.  I was at turns awed by and insanely jealous of her.

We got older, aged out of that particular group; I went on to get some rather silly degrees and spent my twenties running around in my underwear in booze-soaked experimental theatre productions in the basements of bars.  And, well, Susan won a Grammy award.  But listen – if there was an awards show for being insanely drunk and wrapped in chains while doing a cover of a David J. song, I would have won ALL OF THE THINGS BY GOD.

Listen – this all ties together, I swear.

My mother-in-law died in February, after fighting that goddamned fucking Alzheimer’s for so long. My husband and I left the hospital to begin the process of making calls and arrangements.  And as we drove down Route 1 in Saugus, this song came on:

I don’t know if there could have been anything more oddly comforting to me in that moment.  I haven’t talked to Susan in decades.  But I know that voice in my bones.  And I sat in the car and just let it wash over me.  It didn’t stop the grief, of course not.  But it let me be in the moment for a few minutes.  I remember the grey clouds hanging over Route 1, I remember thinking that I was eventually going to need to eat something, and I remember Susan Tedeschi singing.

I’d like to thank her for that.

 

Pulling Plugs.

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I’m not quite sure what it says about the culture, or just about me, that I’m sitting here writing a “thinkpiece” about why I pulled the plug on Facebook this morning.  A Google search will yield all kinds of posts like this.  Why I Left Tumblr.  Why I Left Twitter.  And I’m not even 100% certain I’m going to permanently scrap my Facebook page.  What I do know is that it’s not helping matters right now.

I have clinical depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, and a host of other things simmering away in the janky old crockpot that is my head.  The medication that was recommended I take backfired, horribly. So I’m back to the drawing board.  And I am trying to think of what needless stressors I can jettison while I am trying to get well.

And I had to come to the conclusion that a big one was Facebook.

It’s not just because we’re in an election year, although that has something to do with it.  There’s an epic fuckton of negativity going around there, from all sides.

And issues.  So many issues.  So many people all of a sudden terrified that the “transgendereds” (sic) are demanding too much special treatment, treatment that is evidently going to throw wide the bathroom doors and usher in a terrible new epoch where molesters in dresses will lurk in stalls and under sinks.  And no amount of common fucking sense will quell the hysteria.

But then there’s just me.  Me being the obsessive, perpetually panic-stricken weirdo that I am.  Second-guessing every last goddamn thing I post, because I know that SOMEONE is going to take it the wrong way and launch some passive-aggressive ickiness my way.  I don’t like to make people mad.  But I also don’t like being pelted with “Well, actually…” when I’m trying to just work something out in my own space.  That happened fairly recently.  I also have had to deal with former friends creating fake accounts specifically to harass me after I terminated the original connection.  There’s something about the place that encourages disrespect, and brings out some nasty things in people, myself included.

And as I’m trying to deal with this latest, near-crippling, depressive episode, I’m finding that I just don’t want to be anyone’s court jester right now.  That’s pretty much always been my role, ever since I was a kid.  But jesters need a break, too.  But when I try to get serious, I’m apparently not serious enough. Or I’m exclusionary. I’m deliberately trying to make people feel bad. Can’t win.  Tired of trying.

The thing is – I love Facebook.  God help me.  I do.  I reconnected with a lot of old friends there.  Very few platforms are easier to share one’s writing on, and for that reason, I’m wary of completely walking away from it.

What I need to figure out is just how important it is for me, really.  How much I am really going to be missing by not being able to click in every 20 minutes?  And then that brings up the more uncomfortable question:  how much are people really going to miss ME?  I have to admit that, as I sit here writing this, Facebook is rolling along perfectly fine without my wiseassery and Peter Murphy videos.

I won’t lie – today it’s been embarrassingly difficult to not log back on, reactivate shit, and pretend like I never announced I was leaving.  I’ve seen that plenty of times, and I get it.  It’s like being in junior high again and knowing in my heart of hearts that everyone is having a slumber party, complete with a rousing game of “Light As A Feather Stiff As A Board,” without me.  And I desperately want to make sure that’s not true.  But for my own sanity, I can’t.  I’ve committed to being off this particular grid for at least seven days.  I suspect I am going to be happier for it, but right now, I am jonesing hard.

Pass The Trazodone

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So, after a really gnarly anxiety attack yesterday, we’re on a new regimen.  We’ve added a med, readjusted another med, and – hopefully – in tandem with the regular exercise and recovery meetings, I’m going to get this shit under control again.

The last few years dumped a whole lot of awful on me.  I thought that I could handle it just doing what I was doing.  I was horribly, laughably wrong.  I’ve been in a depressive, paranoiac swirl (sounds like a good ice cream flavor, if you’re totally losing your shit) since October, when I got badly triggered by a series of events (and anyone who thinks that “triggers” are bullshit can have all of these seats, and should remain in them until further notice).  A lot of the time I was able to manage, but I shouldn’t just be “managing.”  It’s a joyless way to go about your days, boy fucking howdy.

So I’m on this new medication now.  I can’t say for certain what it’s doing.  I feel a little less like running down the street screaming, but that’s probably psychosomatic.  There’s a lot of behavioral stuff that I need to incorporate over the next weeks and months as well.

I’m in this place where the worst case scenarios in my head are intruding into my actual reality.  RUDE.  I can stave that off at work, because cold, hard data is something I understand and take comfort in extracting and manipulating.  The SQL Management Studio and Excel are my boon companions.  But being at home invites aaallllll the neurochemical uglies.  And it’s become increasingly hard to keep them down in the root cellar where they belong.

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I know how a lot of people feel about medication.  I’ll just say that I’m not here for anyone who wants to scream BIG PHARMA at me right now.  I’ve been worn down to an emotional nub since moving into my mother-in-law’s house in 2010, and if you don’t believe that caregiving can actually mess with someone’s brain, well, Google is your friend, but here’s a good start.

Even with my mother-in-law gone, I’m struggling to put myself back together.  I’m still afraid to make plans.  And I can’t keep the panic at bay anymore, not without help.  Take an imaginary stroll in my stacked heels before you judge me or how I’m choosing to get my life back.

Sorry.  I’m tired.  I’m angry.  I’m angry at my brain for, you know, not being able to DEAL.

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We’re heading into summer soon.  I want to have a nice summer.  I want to go to Maine like we do every July and not be a panicky mess.  I want to take day trips to Salem and New Bedford.  I want to go to my annual Database Nerd conference and be a poised, knowledgeable nerd.  I want to be someone that Coombsie doesn’t have to walk on eggshells around. And damn it, I got Walker Stalker Con to go to.  The Governor is going to be there.  No, not Charlie Baker, because fuck that guy.  THE GOVERNOR.

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So, here’s hoping I’m going to stomp this down for a while.  Pass the Trazodone.

As if.

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My aunt recently posted a picture of a letter written by my (patenal) grandmother 36 years ago. In it, she says she’s been “like a big fat frog sitting on a lilypad letting everything swirl around me.”

That’s me, right now. I have been feeling very stuck, very “less than,” watching things happen and not making much of anything happen for myself.

I’ve committed to writing something here once a week, no matter how vapid and/or disorganized it is.  I go to the gym three times a week.  I go hang out with other drunks and talk about not being drunk.  I make a concerted effort to put on makeup and look “professional” every day.  But it’s all by rote, almost.  I’m going through the motions, but there is very little joy in Mudville.

I realize that this is depression.  And what I am doing is staving it off somewhat.  These things at least distract me to the degree where I’m not spending ALL of my time weeping on the couch and believing the terrible stories my brain is telling me:

My husband is going to leave me for his cute perky coworker.

My new boss is going to see right through me for the fraud that I am and fire me.

I’m not going to lose the 15 pounds my doctor told me I needed to lose last summer.

I’m going to wind up living in a refrigerator box, or at least in a terrible apartment with three other roommates who are at least 20 years younger than me.

I’m going to be a bitter, lonely old woman and my nieces and nephews are going to resent having to buy me Jean Nate gift sets at Christmas.

And on and on.  And the thing that people who don’t have chronic depression and anxiety don’t understand is that I absolutely, 100% BELIEVE that all these things are going to happen.  I’m going to be jettisoned for the perky coworker, and be unemployed, 15 pounds overweight, and living in a refrigerator box with 18 Jean Nate gift sets.  This is going to happen, and I am helpless to stop it.

When I write it all out, it of course sounds fucking ridiculous.  I need healthy distractions, but since I spent the last 6 years distracting myself from the reality of being a caregiver by engaging in UN-healthy things (the one thing I can say for myself here is that I never once thought of drinking in the midst of that horror show), it has proven incredibly difficult to break away from the “comfort” of bad food and bad television.

A thing I was taught in early sobriety is to act “as if.”  This is actually hard for me, even with a B.A. in Theatre.  I want to act as if I’m a confident Woman Of A Certain Age who is absolutely not threatened by my husband’s cute coworker, the new dynamic in my office, or the stubborn blubbery ring around my middle.  I want to act as if I have faith in something bigger than myself and that this something has my best interests at heart.  But that’s really difficult sometimes.  Actually, that’s difficult MOST of the time.  But yet I get up three mornings a week at Stupid Fucking O’Clock and I work out.  I put on makeup and try to look like an adult.  And here I am writing something and posting it, knowing it’s whiny and gross.

But oh well.  Guess I should start making room in this box for this Christmas’s Jean Nate gift sets.

The Stinky Entry

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Once upon a time, I wore really cheap perfume.

I’m not proud of this, except sometimes I am.

As a little girl, I wore the Avon stuff my mom would get for me and my sister.  If I concentrate, I can bring up olfactory memories of barely-floral talcum powder, greasy “solid” perfume that came in novelty pins and smelled like birthday candles, and an eu de toilette that gave off a cheap shampoo scent and came in a hippo-shaped bottle.  Certainly nothing particularly sophisticated.


I’d visit my grandparents’ house in Helena, MT many summers.  My grandparents had separate bathrooms, which was absolutely astounding to me (until we became “two-toilet Irish” in 1980 or so, the five of us shared one bathroom).  My grandfather’s bathroom was austere, spare, and done up in shades of tan and brown.  There was a shower stall, and soap-on-a-rope that I seem to remember smelled like saddle leather.  It was a cowboy bathroom.  You went in, did what you had to do, and left.

But my grandmother’s bathroom was like visiting an English garden.  Everything was roses, right down to the crystal bowl of miniature rose-shaped “guest soaps” on the toilet tank.  It was more or less understood that you were not to actually use those.  She had a pink padded toilet seat, which sank softly and gratifyingly as you lowered yourself onto it.  And on the sink vanity was a Jean Naté gift set.

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My grandmother’s bathroom represented what it was to be a lady.  In fact, “Lady” was my grandfather’s nickname for her.  And the idea of taking a bath, splashing Jean Naté all over myself, THEN dusting my bod with the powder puff seemed like the height of ladylike sophistication.

When I was 13 I went out and bought a Jean Nate gift set of my very own, which I placed on my dresser, after shoving aside my Star Wars action figures and dirty dishes that I’d neglected to bring to the kitchen.  If I ignored the mess and focused on the cheery yellow powder puff container, I could almost believe I was on my way to elegance.

I figured out the hard way that I wasn’t supposed to smell like Jean Naté.  A girl in my 8th Grade English class wrinkled her nose and informed me that I smelled “like old lady.”  Apparently I was supposed to smell like “innocence,” in the form of Love’s Baby Soft, which gave off a bouquet of baby oil and deodorant tampons.  But every girl in my class had a little bottle in her Jordache purse.  I didn’t get it.  I wanted to bypass “innocence” and go straight into smelling like the type of person who had a padded toilet seat and guest soaps for decorative purposes only.

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In high school, as has been said here before, my scent of choice was Giorgio.  Only I couldn’t afford Giorgio, so I went with Primo!, and walked around in a dizzying, metallic cloud of this shit until I was a senior, when I discovered the little roller ball vials of essential oils in the same stores where you could buy Indian print skirts 3 for $20.  In tandem with the clove cigarettes I learned I was supposed to be smoking, I then spent several years smelling like a spice rack.  With a base note of weed.

As a young adult entering the work force, I had two flimsy “suits” I probably bought at Express, and thought I was being extra fancy by “scent layering” with products purchased at Bath & Body Works (shower gel, lotion, and body spray).  So I basically walked around smelling like the syrup from a can of fruit salad.

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Then there was the sad, sorry period towards the end of my drinking where I just smelled like despair.

In my thirties, I got serious about my scent.  It’s been that way ever since.  I have a tray of perfumes sitting on my bona fide dresser, where I also keep my cosmetics and accessories.  I switch them in and out by season.  When I shift them over to dust the top of the dresser, they make a deeply satisfying tinkling sound, like I am a possessor of delicate things.  Delicate, ladylike things.

You shouldn’t gauge where you are in this life based on THINGS, I know.  But I feel like I struggled long and hard to smell as good as I do.

Thank you for a funky time…

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So, yeah. Prince died.

I was getting a pedicure when I started seeing the initial news on Twitter.  I tweeted something to the effect of “This better not be true.”  I mean – Bowie, then Patty Duke, and now Prince?  Are all the awesome people just going to vacate the premises this year?

So while the nail technician was scrubbing away at my cloven hooves (mind – this was the first pedi I’d gotten since last September) with the cheese grater thing, and I’m trying to control the impulse to kick as she’s doing so, I’m following along.

Someone died at Paisley Park.

It’s probably Prince, but it might not be.

Didn’t they have to land his plane somewhere in Illinois a few days ago?

We still don’t know if it’s Prince.

Well, yeah, it’s Prince.

I’ll tell you – this one hurt.  They all hurt in some way.  But some of them will hit you in a deep place you’ve buried under time and experience and responsibilities.  I was 13 when I became aware of Prince.  And 13 is a wide open wound, it is.

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Me at 13. Dig if you will the collar.

I was fortunate in that as terrible as that age was for me in myriad ways, the artists I was exposed to were kind of strange angels for me, promising – in their appearance and output – a future where I might be able to express myself without fear of being bullied into silence, which had been my experience up to that point.  They represented a riot of color and sound and brazenness that I wanted so desperately for myself.  David Bowie.  Annie Lennox.  Boy George.  Cyndi Lauper.  And Prince.

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Oh, boy.  Prince.  My prior musical crushes inspired innocuous daydreams of holding hands and shy glances, of someone seeing in me what I couldn’t see in myself.  But Prince inspired…well…stirrings.  He was campy, yes, but utterly filthy.  This was pure sex wrapped in a purple doily.  My God.

More importantly, though, Prince had women on the stage with him.  And they weren’t idly writhing around like oiled up, glistening props.  Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman were full participants in the sound, and I understood implicitly that there was respectful collaboration going on there.  I soon wound up having more of a crush on Wendy than on Prince himself.  And THAT was something that I didn’t quite know how to unpack at that age.

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Wendy Melvoin.  Have mercy.

I listened to “1999” and “Purple Rain” forwards and backwards (and in the case of the latter, I listened to it quite literally backwards, manually spinning the record counter-clockwise to decipher the message at the end of “Darling Nikki.” It’s: “Hello, how are you?  I’m fine, because I know that the Lord is coming soon.  Coming, coming soon.”  In case anyone was wondering.).

The whole thing was mindblowing.  It made me think differently about music, musicianship, performance, and appearance.  And how can I get into how it made me think about gender and sexuality?  In hindsight, here was pure theatre.  Every song a story, set to music more complicated and dense than anything I’d heard before.  It made me appreciate production.  That drum sound!  The hollow popping peppered throughout his stuff in the 80s. That’s the Linn LM-1.  I became more interested in what instruments could do, and how an artist can create sounds that are unmistakably their own.  That’s only a fraction of his legacy.

I wrote about meeting Peter Murphy just days before finding out that Prince was gone.  In the previous entry, I mentioned how Bowie’s passing influenced my decision to spend the extra for the personal contact with an artist I admired.  I don’t know that I was more than a tweedy blip on Murphy’s radar, but I can say I met him.  I can say I looked him in the eye, hugged him, and THANKED him.  I wrote that I should not ignore opportunities like that if I have the means to make them happen.  I don’t know that I ever would have met Prince, but now that’s simply not a possibility anymore.  All I can do is lay down my gratitude here, in words that are barely adequate.

Thank you for a funky time.

In which I manage to NOT make an ass of myself in front of Peter Murphy

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I have spent decades now listening to Peter Murphy.  Bauhaus, and his solo material, was the absolute PERFECT soundtrack for a theatre major with gloomy tendencies.  I would listen to “The Three Shadows” (from The Sky’s Gone Out) and giggle with the glee that only comes from someone who’s been raised on a steady diet of old horror movies (thanks, Ma).  I immediately related to the inherent humor of the Bauhaus catalog, as well as to the aesthetic.  And in Peter Murphy I saw nearly every Shakespeare protagonist AND antagonist.  He was Richard III, prowling menacingly.  He was Puck, mischievous and mincing.  I was completely and totally enamored of the whole thing.

I bought a huge Bauhaus poster which was kind of a centerpiece for my dorm room.  I still own it; it’s a bit battered but holds a similar place of honor in my band’s practice space.  It has amused my bandmates for a while now.

 

I’ve seen him countless times since 1990.  He brings that command every single time.  And that voice.  My God.  Sonorous and deep and unbelievable.  I never get tired of it, ever.  And so when I learned of his Stripped tour, and the Boston date, I immediately bought tickets.  Like, no question.  BUT.  I also learned that for an extra bit of cash, one could arrange to meet Mr. Murphy, talk to him, have his undivided attention for a bit of time.

I felt a little squicky about paying extra for the “VIP” thing.  Part of me thinks it’s sort of pretentious, and part of me just wishes that I could talk to someone like Peter Murphy based on my own achievements.  You know, if I’d done something more with music or my writing so I could be a celebrity in my own right or something.  Which is also pretentious.

Ultimately I had to ask myself: “If you have both the means and the opportunity, why WOULDN’T you do it?”  And I also thought about David Bowie, and how he was now unavailable in human form, and – again – if you are presented with an opportunity to THANK someone for helping you navigate through all manner of problems AND causes for celebration, wouldn’t you do it?  I decided I would.

Now, the big problem that faced me once I made that decision was how I was going to hold it together when meeting him.  We ALL know about the Howard Jones Fiasco Of 2015 by now (and if you don’t, you can read all about it here).  If I erupted into uncontrollable sobbing while meeting Howard Jones, what would possibly transpire while meeting Peter Murphy, a much larger influence?  I consulted friends, particularly those who knew me when I was at Peak Freakishness (’88-’92).  A sampling of responses:

John W.:  You will need valium.
Katie D.:   Dude. If you don’t cough up the $$ to look God Himself in the face and touch His splendor, Acid Puppet* will be very disappointed.

I was bound and determined to NOT explode into alternating paroxysms of sobbing and giggling.  I was going to try and be my Usual Charming Self™ and hope for the best.

Unless he was mean to me.  Would he be mean to me?  I’m not as committed a goth as I used to be.  I’m 45.  I work as a database administrator.  I dress in what would probably be described as a fruit salad of vintage, business, and art teacher attire.  My complexion is just as pale as ever, though, so there’s that.  But would he just eye me up and down and decide I was some sort of old-ass poseur?  I fretted and obsessed to the point where Coombsie said, “Peter Murphy poops like everyone else.  Also – you’re paying money to meet him.  HE’S GOING TO BE NICE TO YOU.”

The show itself was, of course, fantastic.  In fact, I think this was the best I’ve seen him.  But as it got closer and closer to the end of the show, I started kind of squirming.  It didn’t help that there were a couple of Committed Goths™ behind me snarking about how so many people in the audience looked like “they were social workers and shit.”  Well, database administrator actually, but I suppose that’s just as dull.  And I was going to Peter Murphy shows before you were even born, so…eat my (not black velvet) shorts.  I guess.  I’m feeling bad enough, ladies.

But in the end, I got to go upstairs with the tour manager, and two other women who paid for VIP passes (Anne and Gwen).  Anne very much looked the part of Committed Goth™, and Gwen looked like someone I would work with.  The manager instructed us to have a seat in this little…balcony alcove thing, and that Peter would “be with you shortly.”

Peter will be with you.  Amen.

I pulled out my vinyl copy of Peter’s first solo album.  Gwen’s eyes widened.  “Oh my God, where did you get THAT?”

“I, um, bought it.  When I was a teenager.”

Anne turned to us.  “So let me ask you – how did you know about this?  The VIP thing, I mean.”

“Oh, um, well…I saw it on his Facebook page.  I actually agonized over whether or not to do it.”

Anne said, “I only found out about it TODAY.  And I was like…okay…this is going to sound crazy, but the David Bowie dying thing made me realize – and not that I’m saying Peter’s gonna die soon – that I should do this.”

“Oh, my God, yes….I thought the SAME THING.”

And then there he was.  Peter Murphy.  “HELLOOOOO.  Let me kiss you all!”

What.  WHAT.  I…

He embraced Anne, kissing both cheeks.  Then it was my turn.  OH GOD.  Then he kissed and hugged Gwen.

Anne gave him some artwork she’d made for him.  He seemed pleased.  I put my album on the table for him to sign.

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He assessed me, my outfit.  “LOOK at you, darling!  Look at this TWEED!  Fantastic!”

From there it was babbling.  But good babbling, and a lot of it from him.  “How did it sound out there?  Oh, this place is wonderful.  It sounded wonderful onstage.  They’re great here.  You’re Irish, aren’t you?  My father was Irish. You have an Irish face.”  He then began speaking in a fake brogue to me.  “Are ye married?  Have ye any babbies?”

“Um, no.”

“AH, well, you’re young still, ye are.”

“I’m in my forties, though.”

“WELL NOW, you could STILL have ‘em.  I mean, it would be HARD, but…” he trailed off.  It was exactly the sort of weird improvised conversation I would have had with my theatre major friends.  It was amazing.

“Your hair, though.  I’ve been admiring it.  The color.  Take off the hat, would you?”  I obliged, even though I knew I would have hat hair, because PETER FUCKING MURPHY.  “Oh, that’s lovely.  I wanted to do just that, you know.  The two-tone.  But it washed me out, you know?  I would have to wear twice as much base because I was so pale.”  He patted my head.  “Beautiful.  Love it.  Love your whole look.  Now then – pictures!  I want a picture with all of you beautiful ladies.  I’m married.  I live like a monk, you know.”

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And then it was nearly over.  I gave him a big hug, and said, “Thank you…for everything.”

I DIDN’T CRY.  I DIDN’T PEE.  I’m terribly proud of myself.  It more than made up for the Howard Jones thing.

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* – “Acid Puppet” was this weird art puppet thing that my roommate Katie and I bought at the Rattlesnake Festival one year. It was so freaky that we named it, well, Acid Puppet, and whenever I’d go to Katie’s parents’ house in Orlando, I’d bring it along just to torment her little sister:  “SUUUUUUUUSSSSANNNN.  It’s AAAAACID PUPPET.”  I was 20 years old, btdubs.

“Gymtimidation”

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In an effort to mitigate the depressive episode I’ve been in for a while (and to try and take off a few pounds if I can), I’ve committed myself to going to the gym every other day.  Nothing excessive; I’m hardly a gym rat, and I have to start with small, realistic goals here.

I go with Coombsie.  In the morning.  Pre-dawn.  It’s really the only time that fits for us and our schedules.  This is dreadful for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I am an angry beastie in the morning.  When I wake up and get out of bed, I usually have to go sit on the couch for at least 10 minutes, contemplating the horror of being awake.  Then it takes me two cups of coffee before I can even handle putting on my makeup and getting dressed.  It is a process for me, “waking up.”  It is not that way for Coombsie.  He is relentlessly, unpleasantly cheerful.

To manage this “every other day” thing, I absolutely have to have my sneakers and my gym clothes at the foot of the bed.  If they are in the dryer, that is too much effort.  If they are in a drawer 10 feet away from the bed, that is also too much effort.

Once I am dressed, I sit on the couch with my iPhone, my Kindle, and my headphones, because I also will not go to the gym if I don’t have these totems with me.  I need music to blunt the savagery of being up this early.  I need words to keep me from obsessing over how many calories I’m burning.

In the car, Coombsie makes small talk.  To himself.  Because he knows I’m not listening.

We arrive at our local Planet Fitness, where allegedly one can work out sans Judgement and with no fear of being “Gymtimidated.”  Indeed, at Planet Fitness, “you belong!”  I mutter terrible things about where I’d like Planet Fitness to “belong” while Coombsie bounds across the dark parking lot like a Labrador puppy, yelping “DUDEBROGUY!” while giving the thumbs-up to imaginary dudebroguys.  The only thing that would make me happy, besides being back in bed, would be a sinkhole developing out of nowhere and taking the Planet Fitness down into its gravelly depths.  “You Belong,” indeed.

Once I’m there, though, and fully resigned to my fate, it’s….just as fucking terrible.  IT’S STILL DARK OUTSIDE.  I heave myself onto an elliptical machine facing the bank of television sets.  I can watch old-ass episodes of “Charmed,” the local news, ESPN…pretty much everything except what I’d LIKE to watch, which would be my cats slumbering peacefully at my feet WHILE I’M STILL IN BED.

Fuckthisshitfuckthisshitfuckthisshit.

I glance over at Coombsie, who’s already several minutes into his workout, and happily watching an old-ass episode of “Charmed.”  There is no way I can convince him to take me back home.  So I put on my headphones and prepare to grunt and lurch while simultaneously listening to my Pandora station and attempting to retain what I’m reading.

When I’m not reading utter trash (and Kindles are FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC for that sort of thing, because then nobody can see that I’m reading true crime), I’m currently shoring up my theological expertise, which I abandoned – oh – probably  shortly after I graduated college and stopped studying religion for fun, because drinking my weight in skunky Rolling Rocks and engaging in “experimental theatre” became more interesting.  And that was all rather liturgical in a boozy, rancid sort of way, if I really try and remember it.  Anyway, I’ve plowed through all three of Nadia Bolz-Weber’s books, which were really good, and now I’m on to a couple of books that she recommended:  The Year Of Living Biblically, and Meeting Jesus Again For The First Time.  The latter has been promising so far; I’m hoping it won’t fall flat the way Rabbi Jesus did, because I really had to force myself to finish reading that mess of fantastical speculative…um…mess.  “Historical Jesus” and the synoptic gospels were subjects I got really into as an undergrad.  Historical Jesus & The Synoptic Gospels would be a good band name.  Christ, I’m delirious.

So I’m reading about Historical Jesus, and listening to Alien Sex Fiend, and I’m still so pissed about being here at stupid o’clock that I don’t even think to be amused by this.

I watch the sun rise over the new police station they’re building right across the street.  I wonder if, when construction is completed, there will be a coterie of hunky cops among our sweaty ranks here.  Probably.  As it stands, the Dawn Patrol here at Planet Fitness is mostly people like me and Coombsie, getting that cardio in before going to work.  There’s a woman who is always here well before we arrive, and puts in at least 90 minutes.  She works out with a ferocity that I think I might have had, at some point, between the Skunky Rolling Rock Theatre years and when I moved to this town to help take care of Coombsie’s mother.  There were a couple of years where I was pretty fit.  How did I do that?  Can I do it again?  I don’t know.  I’m in my forties, I’m fighting this depression like it’s my job, and at this point I really kind of have to settle for “pretty good.”  On all fronts.

I finish up, and go sit in the giant yellow hand chair, and contemplate the horror of not only being awake, but having been awake since before dawn, AND having worked out.  Who am I?

I’m still working that out.

Drugstore (Makeup) Cowboy

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Long time no write, wot.

I’ve been struggling with how to “re-enter” the world of blogging.  When I originally started this in ‘99 (on Diaryland – remember THAT, oldsters?), I wrote about pop culture, and my drunken escapades.  When I got sober, I wrote about pop culture, and my Adventures In Recovery.

Then I became a caregiver, and I feel like everything got swallowed up in that.  I felt like I had a responsibility to tell this story, not only to preserve my dwindling sanity, but to let people know what a fucking godawful shitsucking disease Alzheimer’s is.  Because until you’re actually living that reality, you really have no idea.  You have a vague understanding that it involves losing your memory (hence the “jokes” I invariably hear from people when they misplace their keys or something stupid like that), but you really can’t grasp the day-to-day horror of what it actually does to someone.

And so I wrote about caregiving and Alzheimer’s, and not a lot much else.  Now my mother-in-law is gone, and I feel stripped of my identity.  I feel like I’ve lost my voice.  I’m exhausted, even now.  Marcia passed away before my very eyes a little less than two months ago.  I hadn’t been an active, daily caregiver for her for a year-and-a-half before that.  But I’m still so tired.  I’m trying to undo the physical damage that the depression and anxiety wrought, and that’s been tough.  The TMJ symptoms have abated somewhat.  But I’m 45 now, and the weight I gained during those years just isn’t going to come off so easily.   A lot of mornings I look at myself in the mirror and the mental beatings immediately take place.  Things I wouldn’t say to my dearest friends and loved ones are perfectly okay to say to myself.

I’m trying.  I’m getting up at Stupid O’Clock some mornings and dragging my ass to the gym.  I’m wearing clothes that I enjoy.  And I’m buying crap tons of makeup.

This is my new thing.  Makeup.  I’ve always worn it before, but now I’m going out and buying brushes and palettes and primer like my face is a blank canvas, or a weather-worn beach house.  I’m mainly hitting places like Sephora, but sometimes I feel the siren call of the CVS.

I “came of age” in the Eighties.  I began trying to make informed beauty purchases (beyond the tinny/fruity fragrances that my mom would get me from Avon) in ’83 or so, when I was junior high.

Lipgloss was the gateway drug.  I was learning the very complicated rules for budding womanhood via studying the more popular girls in my class.  We all had to carry an itty-bitty Jordache purse.  I had this one:

jordache

These flimsy-ass things could accommodate a comb, a pen that wrote in at least three different colors, a pack of Now & Laters, and not much else.  But we crammed them full of crap anyway, to the point where the strap would fray and break.  And then you had to be the loser with a safety pin keeping the strap on.  I digress.  You of course also had to have lipgloss in this bag.  Maybe several.  Kissing Potion, which gobbed up in a shiny, sticky mess and made you look like you were fellating a jar of rubber cement.  Lip Smackers, which went on much smoother and tasted pretty good.  And if you were really fancy, you got that shit in the olde-tyme-looking tin.  I had them all, although I wouldn’t actually be kissed by a boy until after I graduated high school.  But HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL, OKAY.

I’d peruse the cosmetic aisle of the local drugstore, and purchase things that would make me a little more “adult,” when really what I looked like was a gobby-lipped clown with orange streaked hair (from all the Sun-In I’d pour on my head and then fry into infinity with the blowdryer).

Sun-In

And then, to top it all off, you had to drown yourself in perfume.  The obvious choice, for me, would have been Love’s Baby Soft (“because innocence is sexier than you think”) but I sought a more sophisticated signature scent.  Giorgio seemed fancy, but who could afford Giorgio on an infrequent babysitter’s salary?  PROBLEM SOLVED.

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THEY STILL MAKE THIS SHIT.  My perfume tastes are considerably more refined these days (although I will admit a fondness for J.Lo’s Glow), but every time I go to CVS now, I feel like I should revisit my young-teen-self and blast this all over my naked person, and go around smelling like an aluminum-tinged fruit salad.  SAVOR ME.

So what’s to be had at the drugstore these days?  The usual brands (Revlon still makes “Cherries In The Snow” and “Toast Of New York”), the usual cheap stuff.  But I must now sing the praises of the ELIXIR OF LIFE that is micellar water.

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I want to have a bottle of this in every room in my house.  I want to always have it within arm’s reach.  It is that miraculous.  My makeup just SLIDES OFF MY FACE every night when I use this GIFT FROM THE GODS.  Bow to the micellar water.  ALL HAIL.

I’ve also become fascinated with the NYX brand, which is not quite Maybelline, but not quite Wet-n-Wild.  Their “Butter” lipstick is really good.

I’ve been getting an odd sense of comfort just wandering that cosmetic aisle these days.  It’s taking me back to a more innocent version of myself.  Am I “filling a hole” with stuff?  Possibly.  I won’t lie and say that buying a little tube of something doesn’t give me a little stab of pleasure.  Having something small and shiny that promises to make me prettier.  But it’s helping me somehow.  Having a morning ritual in which I’m highlighting and primping makes me feel a little more part of the world again.  I won’t apologize for that.