“I heard today that you were gone
I had to stop and sing along
The song they played to say goodbye” — Staind, Layne
“Another death to mourn
Another child is born
Another chapter in the play” — Savatage, Gutter Ballet
One of our own died today. I didn’t know him as well as many others did, but I knew him enough. I knew him enough to know he was a good man. To know he had an amazing heart. To be sad. To feel the loss. His mother suggested that people post on his Facebook wall. But he and I have been “unfriended” one way or the other on Facebook. So I considered posting on my Facebook wall, or in a group we both belonged to. But I don’t think I will. I often avoid Facebook, and if I post there, it’ll get lost in the shuffle sooner or later, and this shouldn’t get lost. I wouldn’t even have known he died if a friend of mine who does do Facebook let me know. And while I don’t post to this blog as often as I do to my main one, this post belongs here.
I’m sorry. You were a good man. I knew you to be kind, thoughtful, and fun. You had such a sweet heart. I found out things today that I didn’t know — or didn’t know the extent of. Now it’s neither here nor there, but I wish I’d known. I wish I could have helped. I also wish I’d known you better than I did. But I’m honored to have known you at all. We were going to get together and hang out. I’m so sorry we didn’t. I’m sick, the chronic variety of sick. And I don’t often have the energy or health to even chill with people anymore — these days I definitely don’t have the energy to raise the kind of hell we all used to. 😉 For a long while, I was too sick to get together at all, but later, I should have tried to make sure we did. I should have reached out. I apologize for not doing any of that.
Your friends care about you, S. Your Facebook wall, other people’s Facebook walls, the closed group — they’re all blowing up with people wishing you peace, saying you’ll be missed, telling stories about your…adventures…, and mentioning how much you’ll be missed.
You were so young to die. When I heard that someone was dead, I expected it to be someone else. I didn’t want them to die, but that I was expecting. This I wasn’t. I’m so sorry that you’re gone, but I’m glad it was peaceful, at least.
Yo may have started a revolution. People who haven’t talked for years or who have only talked on Facebook for years are now haring their phone numbers with each other, and getting in touch it seems. Maybe nothing will come of it. But it’s more than what happened before. And if it does happen, that seems like something that would really please you.
You also got the last laugh. Some people are talking about going to where we used to hang out on the weekend as a kind of memorial for you. And you went and died the week before Memorial Day Weekend, so that’s the day people will go there if they do. So maybe you’ll be bringing people together again in another way — and if you do, it’ll be over the weekend that kicked off the season. The weekend that meant that the party was just getting started. The weekend that gave us all a home and a place to be ever year. That’s pretty cool, Dude. I hope people show, but it also will be okay if they can’t. I don’t even know if I can. But regardless, people will remember you.
Mostly we were known for causing mayhem back in the day, and not so much for intellect (though there was that, too). But you made us all think, S. You touched so many lives. There is so much more that I want to say, but some of it isn’t relevant, and some just doesn’t need to be said here. I said the other things I want to say to people who knew you, and if I think of more, I’ll tell them that too.
I often dislike people, but you, and people like you restore my faith in humanity every time.This world will miss you. You brought so much light into it. I wish we could have gotten together to hang out in the last few years. Rest In Peace, S. You’ve earned both the rest and the peace.
“A soul in tension that’s learning to fly
Condition grounded but determined to try”
— Learning to Fly, Pink Floyd
“Go down into the earth
To discover my worth” — aVerse Reaction
I often say I look before I leap. But that isn’t really true. For one thing, the more I adapt to chronic illness, the less I do that. I’m pleased with my new caution and it’s served me well. I don’t wish to lose it.
Sometimes, when there isn’t time, or a decision needs to be made, I really do look before I leap. But more often, I look, and then I leap — regardless of how far down it is. I usually even land on my feet.
And that’s exactly what I’ve done the last few days. I mentioned this on another one of my blogs, but since I don’t have links on all of my blogs to the others, and because a lot of people only read one, I’m mentioning it here.
I finally took the plunge and am applying to Berklee Online, which is the distance learning arm of Berklee College of Music.
I’ve wanted to attend Berklee for years, and I think I’m stable enough, health-wise, and in other ways to do it now. I also still can’t work, so I can focus completely on the school work.
To that end, I’m taking two free courses from Berklee through Coursera and starting to learn keyboard.
Phire, SJ, my mother, and a friend of ours have been invaluable in offering their assistance with the process and I deeply appreciate it.
Phire is applying too. I’m uber-excited and I really hope he and I are accepted.
If we aren’t, I plan to apply to another distance learning school with a similar curriculum that has rolling admissions. But as Berklee has been my first choice for many years, I hope it doesn’t come to that.
Writing is still my passion, and I’m not giving up my aspirations with it. But music is a passion of mine too, and I want to devote more time and energy with it.
Regardless of whether I’m getting more grounded, or learning to fly, I’m definitely setting off on a new path — one I hope I am able to walk to the end of.
*My sincere thanks to Robert Frost for supplying the title
“Yes, there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
And it makes me wonder. ”
— Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven
“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future”
— Steve Miller Band, Fly Like an Eagle
“I can feel those low notes in my soul
Climb the strings — a quest to roam
And the vibrations make me whole
Each concerto brings me home”
— The Wrong Mary, E-scape
I plan on writing about the reunion I wrote about before, in fact I have a draft from forever ago partially written. But it was almost a year ago, and frankly, the reunion was kind of a bust, but I want to write about it anyway. I just haven’t felt up to it.
But in the meantime, this is one of my favorites of my current blogs, and I’ve wanted to write posts here many times, but skipped it because I hadn’t finished writing about the reunion. I’m glad I went, and I do hope to write a post about it eventually, but for now, enough of that. It’s time to move on.
I’ve been practicing, remembering, and re-learning on bass and guitar. I’ve also been working on vocals, though progress is slow because my vocal chords are pretty screwed up (not something I feel like going into), but it’s still progress.
Long ago, I first slowed down, and then eventually I stopped. I did this twice. First out of…trauma, almost, I guess. Later out of fear of not being good enough.
Chronic illness didn’t help. Brain fog affects my concentration, focus, memory, and sometimes, it seems, even my intelligence. It also gives me less energy and sometimes causes pain.
But I’m back at it again. Thanks in large part to Phire, SJ, Druidry, and my own sheer determination. And now that I’ve gotten back into it again, I can’t see a reason why I would stop.
It’s long, slow, hard work. But it’s so, so worth it.
I guess it’s also in part to chronic illness. Being sick changed me. It changed me a lot. And obviously, many of those changes are bad. But a few of them are good.
I don’t have energy to go tearing off to try and save the whole world anymore. Admittedly, I still try occasionally. It’s a hard habit to break, and I hate seeing people, or plants, or animals, in pain. I especially fall back into it when I see someone really hurting, or when someone I care about is in trouble. But a lot of people don’t want help. Others do want help, and take, and take, and take, without ever giving back.
That’s not everyone. I know and love — and am loved by — some amazingly wonderful people and pets.
It’s also slowed me down. I stopped being as social as I once was. While I miss it sometimes, it’s a good thing. I’m an introvert, and being social was an act, a mask I put on to hide my true self. Friends dropped away, and while I regret it with some of them, mostly I don’t. There were a lot of people I was “friends” with, who weren’t healthy for me to be around.
I’m sexual with less people than I used to be, and again, I’m happy with that. At first I was angry, but I just didn’t have the time or energy. Now, it’s a massive relief. I love Phire and SJ. I have no quarrel with open relationships or polyamory. They work great for lots of people. But I’m not one of those people, though at one time I thought I was.
I also have more time for reading, writing, and playing instruments than I used to because often I don’t have energy for much else. I don’t always have energy for those things, either, but it’s something.
I’m more choosey about the people in my life. I don’t respond well to stress anymore since my body doesn’t produce the proper hormones. I think more often before I agree to something, since I can rarely make plans in advance anymore.
All of these things are a work in progress. But they are, in fact, in progress. Which is far better than the miserable holding pattern I was in before. I’m still in mourning for aspects of my old life. But as time goes by, I mourn less, and appreciate more of what I have now.
I changed for many reasons, in truth. Chronic illness, getting fed up with how I used to live, and getting involved with SJ, as well as other, smaller things.
In some ways I changed completely into a different person than I’ve ever been before. But in some ways, I’m changing more into how I used to be.
I’m growing my hair long. It’s disconcerting, because in a way, I’ve been trying to look more like how I used to years ago. There’s a story there, involving SJ, but it’s a story, or stories, rather, for another time.
I tried to grow it a couple times. But I got fed up and cut it off. By the time I finally stuck with it, I’d already started looking different. The medication I’m on changed my body shape and coloration and causes weight gain.
I’m writing more than I did a few years ago, but less than I did long in the past.
I’m more introverted than I was. Less of a party animal. Less spontaneous. More fearful. And other changes.
I now think often about who I want to be. How I want to be. And some things look the same. But some of my desires are very, very different. And I’m getting more and more comfortable with that, especially with people like SJ and Phire to support me.
And I also feel like there is a clock ticking in some ways. I can probably live a normal life span with the chronic health issues I have. And mercifully, fear of death isn’t really an issue for me — growing up goth can do that to a person. But I’m not getting any younger. The reality is that I have a life-threatening illness. And anyone can die at any moment, for any reason. I’m just far more aware of it than most people are.
In case that sounds all mopey, I assure you it’s not. I plan to live a long time if I can. I love life, this planet, and my family. I also love living, and I fight harder to stay that way than many people ever have to.
But I also feel that there are things that I’m here to do. There are definitely things that I want to do. Writing is one. Music is another.
And as I deal with the normal emotions life brings on, and the stronger ones I’ve been dealing with the past few years, I want to sit down and let the music pour out of me. I want to let the emotions run free, unchained. I want the healing and catharsis, the freedom and peace, and the beauty and resolution it brings.
I’m not at that point yet. But I want it. I miss it. I crave it. I love it. I need it. And I will get there again.
I have lost so many things, so many aspects of myself over the years. But I have also gained great new things. I’ve learned, evolved, and grown. For all my personal and bodily failings, I’ve become better than I used to be.
And in some ways, wonderful, incredible ways, I’m gaining back pieces of who I used to be. Before I became tired, stressed, and jaded. Before I wore a mask and lived and act every day of me life. I, and others who love me, are helping to heal the broken bits, to gather the lost parts and put them back together. To mold me into a combination of who I was and who I want to become.
I could live without making music. I could even be content, probably even happy. And maybe even as healthy as someone with chronic health issues can be.
But I wouldn’t be as happy as I could be without it. I wouldn’t be as satisfied, nor as complete. I wouldn’t even be completely true to myself.
And I want to be happy. I want to be healthy. But I also want to be who and how I want to be. I want to be my best possible self. I want to be whole.
I want to look back at my life one day and be as perfectly pleased as I can be, while being aware that everyone makes mistakes and does the wrong thing sometimes.
So now, I don’t just play for fun, out of habit, or hobby, nor because it’s something I have energy for, or because it’s something Phire, SJ, and I can do together — though those are all good and valid reasons.
Instead, I also play for who I was, the lost and broken child I used to be. I play for who I am, the confused and ill, but contented, and loved person that I am today. I play for who I will be in the future, happy, secure, hopefully as healthy as possible, and successful by my standards.
Just like all those long, lonely years ago, now, in a much better place and frame of mind, I’m playing for my life.
“All you create
All you destroy” — Pink Floyd, Eclipse
“I’m waiting for the night to fall
I know that it will save us all
When everything’s dark
Keeps us from the stark reality
I’m waiting for the night to fall
When everything is bearable” — Depeche Mode, Waiting for the Night
Most people have high school reunions. My uncle, due to a combination of time constraints and other factors, must choose between attending his general high school reun ion and his high school band reunion. Wise man that he is, he chooses the latter. But not me. But not me. One of my high schools isn’t the type to have reunions. The other one has an entire weekend most Autumns for an all class reunion. And doesn’t that sound fun? Since there are exactly six people I care in the least about who graduated from that school, and I see most of them in real life, I couldn’t care less.
My reunions are so much better…and so much worse. One I never go to anyway, though I’d love to. A group home I spent some time in as a teenager holds an annual Halloween shindig, where the current and former clients (read patients) get together and…celebrate? Unfortunately, I’ve been politely banned from that reunion. My husband and I were in the group home at the same time. We wound up in a relationship, which is understandably frowned upon. Despite the fact that we wouldn’t reccomend what we did to anyone else — and would even fudge the truth if nessecary (though I generally frown upon lying) we are consistently told that the Halloween party doesn’t exist anymore. Meanwhile, our friends from there, who are invited, assure us it still occurs.
But that isn’t the reunion I want to write about today. I meant to write this post much earlier. But it’s been a busy three weeks and I’ve had low energy levels for most of it.
So the reunion I want to write about starts tomorrow and will also be held the following day. And it’s the only reunion that matters.
This isn’t a regular occurance. At least, it didn’t used to be. People had tried to set up reunions sporadically for years, without much success. But last year, my other partner set up a reunion to kick the summer off. It was four days long and held over Memorial Day weekend. He set up rules to protect attendees and random strangers (trust me, for this kind of party rules are needed). Not many people came. Two of the four days we froze our asses off. It wore me out thoroughly. And yet it was a huge success. We posted videos, pictures, and status updates to Facebook to keep everyone who wasn’t able to come in the loop. Everyone who came seemed to have a great time. I know I did. In fact, until recently, if only to myself and close family, I’ve consistently referred to that reunion as “the last good weekend of my life”. It’s not just because of what it was. I’ve been adapting and mourning many things, such as my health and freedom. But it gave me something to celebrate, even when I felt like screaming and crying.
Friendships were renewed, and in some instances, formed. We ate greasy pizza and laughed our asses off. We talked about the past and the present, but most of us have learned enough by now to avoid conversations about the future. People who could come, and people who couldn’t changed their social media profile pictures to images of themselves clad in black hats and coats and boots that probably haven’t seen the light of night for years (though there were exceptions. For example, my husband’s current coat is my old one. I had it since I was twelve or so, he inhereted it when I was eighteen, and he’s worn it since).
We’re an artsy set. We always have been. Goths, punks, ravers, hippies, metalheads, just about every counter-culture group you could think of. Musicians, artists, writers.Musicians played songs. We all sang along. I danced and bounced when I wasn’t too cold or tired. We posed for pictures. I wrote a little in the lulls. People drummed on the boards, on the benches, on the wooden pillars and metal railings. We told jokes. And though there were far less people than there used to be, and consequently far less instruments, we raised the roof. We sang classic rock, modern rock, metal, country, rap, musicals, cult hits, everything. We talked philosophy, politics, religion, sex — all the things you can’t discuss in polite society. But no one ever claimed we were polite society.
I realize, as I write this that’ll it’ll sound like so much gibberish to most of the world. That’s partially because it is. Nothing made sense back then. I don’t mean last year, I mean many years ago. It’s also because it’s a cultural thing. Not many people will understand simply because not many people can. The same way not many people understand what it’s like to be in a religious cult or a specific fraternity. There is a whole other language, location, sensation that cannot be described because there is no common experience. But also not many people can understand because it was such an insular group, bent on mocking and ostracizing those who did not fit in — with those who did not fit in. I’m not proud of that, despite the fact that I was far less critical than some. And in the last several years my little poly family and I have been deeply invested in cracking the doors of elitism wide open.
I find myself compelled to write about it anyway. I’m a musican and a dancer (even though I’m out of practice and out of shape), but I’m a writer first. It’s how I process, how I think, how I tell my story. I also want people to understand. If it helps them, that is. Or if it helps us realize our similarities instead of our differences. Or if it is in the least bit useful to anyone. I want to write about it, because this blog is not your typical “goth blog”. I applaud people who are posting pictures of great outfits that put together, or reviewing amazing music, or giving excellent advice to people who need it. Mainly, I’m just writing about life. Specifically, my life. And this culture, locally and broadly has influenced so much of who I became that I can’t seperate out all the threads that have woven their way into the cloth of my life. But mostly, I want to write about it because some things should never be forgotten.
I’m so excited. I’m happy. I’m a little overwhelmed. And I’m terrified. This year, there are no rules in place. The only things that will stop anyone are their desire to live differently than they used to and the desire to not get caught doing anything illegal. And let me tell you, we are masters of not getting caught. For the rest of my life, I’ll be able to pass any package smaller than a playing card to someone else without anyone being the wiser. I can drink straight whiskey out of a coffee mug, or vodka out of a water bottle without ever changing my expression. And I can look bored and distant while I mess around with someone in public.
That said, I don’t do those things anymore. Well, most of them. A couple years ago I took frequent walks with beverages that weren’t what they appeared to be. And most of the people who are coming don’t do those things anymore. But some of them probably do. Some of them probably do worse.
I’m concerned because at least one of the people who may be coming is in NA, and I don’t want habits that are destructive to him to be rubbed in his face. There are several other people who aren’t in NA or AA, but have neverthless stopped doing drugs and/or drinking on their own.
I’m worried, because the police officers and politicians constantly harrass the handful of us who started going there again. That’s not so different from what they did twelve years ago, but now they do it without reason.
I’m alarmed, because I’m not as young as I used to be. Because when we did this last year, it completely wore me out. Because I have a strict regimen of pills, vitamins, naturopathic supplements, and measurements of specific types of food to take every day at certain times — and due to a combination of circumstances, I’m not even taking all of them right now (except for the medicine). Because I also have a strict diet I’m in the middle of incorporating. Because between all my food and medicines and medicine log and my whimsical temperature regulation, it usually takes me hours to prepare to go anywhere for more than a few minutes.Because despite all that, I’ve been having low energy lately, and just yesterday my doctor told me that my bloodpressure was so low he would have declared me dead if I hadn’t been sitting up and talking to him.
So, I’m wondering if this weekend will result in me overdoing myself. That’s something I did for most of my life. It’s a habit I’ve worked very hard to break since I became chronically ill and finally got it through my head that I couldn’t continue on as I had been.
I’m worried for so many more reasons than I even mentioned. And I’m excited and happy for so many reasons too. But I have neither time nor energy to get into it right now. I started writing this post three days ago, wrote the bulk of it yesterday, and am finishing it today — when I wanted to have it written weeks ago. And now, I have to go. I have a reunion to get ready for.
“It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea, ” — Edgar Allan Poe
“It’s a gutter ballet
Just a menagerie
Still the orchestra plays
In the darkness of the night
To a distant fading light” — Savatage, Gutter Ballet
It was a crazy world. Music reverberated from the wooden ceiling and laughter, tears, and screams spilled from the sides into the open air. And the air was visble from clouds of marijuana and cigarette smoke, thick and cloying, it’s undertones carried smells greasy food and decay. We ate like kings when we weren’t starving, and sometimes when we were. We laughed like we”d never been hurt, while our bodies were covered in open wounds. And we lived like there was no tomorrow, because, as young as we were, we knew that sometimes, there isn’t.
Not just a community unto itself, but also a law unto itself. And all the obvious parts were just the tip of the iceberg. To this day I still can’t figure out if it was a cancerous tumor, the bulge showing above the skin a mere fraction of the festering mass below in an otherwise healthy body — or if it was a shining nugget of gold, it’s edge whispering a flash of promise while the rest of the wealth lies buried in the filth and trash littering the ground. Maybe it was both.
Regardless, I love it. But I love it the way a Stockholm Syndrome victim loves their captor, the way a junkie loves their next fix, and the way I love my next cigarette, even though I’m trying to quit and cover myself in the ooze of self-hatred for having one more.
There was real love there, and real friendship. Real personality and creativity. Real hope and determination. But there was also real hatred, pettiness, addiction, despair, hopelessness and death.
The people were real. The families that were closer than our biological relatives, whom we had abandoned, or who had abandoned us. The music was real. The art and writing that poured forth with the transcendent vigor of the damned. The place was real. The primal, visceral, raw nature right next to a seashore man-made carnival wonderland. Wood and concrete. Sand and sea. Metal railings, telephone pols, and payphones. The wind howling through them in the night would have frightened even the restless dead. In all my years alive on this planet I have never heard anything else make a sound like that again, and I doubt I ever will. And the sacred that prang up because a thought became a place became a sanctuary became a home became a temple, that, too, was real.
But so were the drugs. The burned bottoms of spoons and mirrors with neat rows of white powder. Clear little bags stuffed with green buds and stashed between fishnets and skin.The hallucinations, the screaming, the tears. The blood was real too. Gushing from adolescent wrists, scratching lines over shoulders and arms. Dripping from a cut above a blackened eye. The begging, the shaking, the anger, the fear.
Cold steel handcuffs latching around sweaty wrists were real. Real, too, were the bodies that have paid the price. The chronically ill. The recovering addicts. The incarcerated. The insane. The miraculously healthy and well adjusted. And buried, decaying, physical forms, of those whose hearts stopped beating, of those who are finally, hopefully at peace.
It was all there. Hugs and handshakes. Slaps and punches. Kisses and sex. Bites and rape. Love and loyalty. Hatred and disintegration.
Like water from a flood, the gathering places would empty out temporarily, abandoned, but returned to. And as surely as you can follow the footprints of wharf rats, there would be trace signs of what always was, even when the denizens returned to their hiding places. And, now, except for when we, or those like us return for an hour or a night — now older and (usually) wiser — it lies empty. It is left to the pillars of memory. Even when others occupy it, it is not the same. I think that’s a good thing. Some days I mourn what was. Other days I celebrate it. In my misguided moments I dream about it returning to it’s former glory, minus all of the traumatizing aspects. Most days, I breathe a sigh of relief that is is gone.
But I am torn, sometimes. There are days I can’t make up my mind. It is something I always try to break loose from, run away from, avoid. It is a life I love and hate. And some days, against my better judgement, even knowing how different it is, even knowing how unhealthy it was, my feet move almost of their own volition, and I find myself returning home.