It's Ok, Pull Me Under All the Way

"Muscle Cars"




Gina & Zoe

And then there was one...

It's a surreal feeling explaining to others how I lost 4 out of 5 pets within a four-month time frame.

Lewis had kidney disease, a common problem among cats. Tommy had heart disease, also common among cats. They're from the same litter, and they were only 10, which isn't that old when you consider that many cats live to be 15-18 years old, sometimes older. But there's only so much you can do about these things, and believe me, we tried.

Gina developed degenerative myelopathy, a disease common among German Shepherds that eventually renders the dog paralyzed. For a dog as proud as Gina, not being able to get around on her own is pretty bad. Zoe reached a point where she had trouble getting around, but I think she rather liked being hauled around on her bed like the little fairy princess she was.

Zoe was a cancer survivor - she lived almost four years past the point of when we discovered her first mast cell tumor. The fact that she made it as long as she did is a testament to how strong-willed she was.

I learned a lot about pets and death this year. I'd been preparing myself for a few years, and I had a lot of anxiety about having to euthanize my pets. As a kid, my parents took responsibility for this unpleasant reality, and this was the first time in my adult life I'd had to handle something like this on my own. I think the most important thing I realized is how peaceful it actually is. It wasn't awful and gory, the way I feared it would be. It was serene and comforting. With the exception of Tommy, B & I were with each pet in their last moments, stroking them and talking to them, letting them know it was ok to let go. Unfortunately, Tommy fell ill while we were on tour in October, just a couple days after we to put Zoe down. My brother, who was Tommy's original guardian before he came to live with his litter mates and us, and my mother had to take him to the pet ER and eventually have him put down. If I couldn't be there with my pet, I'm glad it was two people who I trust implicitly to do right by my critters.


But, it still hurts. It's ridiculous how much I miss them, especially my dogs. Coming home from tour to our "cat", (singular), our house felt uncannily empty. For the last ten years, it's been B & I and our litter. Now it's just us and Marty, who has become a glutton for attention and affection. I'm not stepping over dogs or corralling cats. Something is wrong with this picture.

Inconclusive Results
In May, Mom went for her annual mammogram, a little overdue as it was. It turns out she had a tumor on her breast, about an inch in diameter. Cancer. Again.

Once more, ten years later, my brother and I find ourselves repeating the same story: Trips to doctors, hospital visits, phone calls, clocking medication times, preparing meals and finding plenty of comic relief. Only this time, Mama must do chemotherapy. **shiver**

Fortunately for her, the treatment was relatively short; four treatments, each three weeks apart. Still, it's a nasty business. It's over now, and she's detoxing. Her hair is slowly growing back, dark and baby fine. She is frustrated by the "chemo brain" she's experiencing, but her doctors have reassured her that will go away in 6 months or so.

All things considered, our family is extraordinarily lucky. This is not lost me.

Now, An Interpretive Dance
I re-read a couple of my last few entries. It's been a good 10 months since I've posted on this blog, and I'd forgotten about the commentary I wrote on marriage. Since then, several more of my friends have split up, a few are getting married and some are having babies. Funny, first it's college and boyfriends, then it's jobs and fiances, now it's divorces, babies and career changes. Welcome to your 30s.

So much transformation has occurred over this last year for nearly everyone I know. For me, it's with my family. For others it's their spouses and careers. It's times like this I wonder if there really IS something to the alignment of the earth with the stars. I think, surely there will be reparations to come for all of us. Maybe we just need to sift through what's happened, extract what we can and rebuild.

One thing about strife - there's a lot of inspiration to be found in it. Next week, I'm going to San Francisco to make the record I've been writing for the last year. I don't know if I'm really ready. I haven't figured it all out yet, what it all means, what I'm supposed to do with it. I'm doing what I do best: Flying by the seat of my pants with the unreasonable assurance that everything will work out the way it's supposed to.


A Working Class Hero Is Something To Be

• Yesterday, I found that my sheer dread and subsequent avoidance of going to the unemployment office could really be the spark that lights a creative fire. I did two freelance jobs, wrote lyrics for 3 different songs and worked on melody for 2. It was a much needed release. I love how you go into auto-pilot mode when you're working on a creative project. So focused, and yet not really focusing at all, like you're taking it in through your peripheral. I feel lucky when it comes, because when it's not there for a while, sometimes I think I'll never get it back. It's like trying to harness air. 

• Money is tight, with a capital "T". Collecting unemployment is a pain in the ass. Delays, questions, delays. I'm finding one of the key differences between KY and IN is that in IN, when you apply for your weekly check, you must list 3 places you've applied for work and say what happened, like "no response" or "didn't get the job." In KY, you apply bi-weekly, answer a series of yes/no questions and you're done. For 6 weeks. Then you have to go into the unemployment office to show them your work in looking for a job. Going to the unemployment office is worse than the DMV. By far. The first time I went, I drew number 98. They were on number 86. It took 3 hours. The second time I went, I was there for 2 hours. They say to be there by 3 pm at the latest, in order to be seen. They close at 4:30, so I came a little later this time, in hopes to minimize my wait. By the time I was seen, it was dangerously close to 4:30 pm, as the woman was so kind enough to point out. She gets to go home from her job at 4:30, sharp. Clearly, she's not going to be late for that on account of my broke ass. Anyway, if the two of us could just not keep getting our pay periods interrupted, we could actually stop putting things like groceries on our credit cards.

• My friend S. said when she went to prove she'd been looking for a job a few weeks ago, the line was around the block, and both the news crews and military recruiters were there. As if being unemployed and making a trip to the Land of The Depressed & Jobless isn't bad enough. We have to create a spectacle. It is a spectacle though; look at how high the unemployment rate is. Shit, just talk to your friends. I don't have to tell you. We all know somebody who's jobless at the moment. Anyway, despite the judge-y tone of the clerk, there is nothing to be ashamed about. But you're still at their mercy, and that's a shitty place to be. I was so close to telling off the woman at the unemployment office in New Albany when I went to keep B company. She looked up his claim and said in a scathing tone, "You're just now coming in?" Well, maybe if your effing website was worth a squirt of piss, we'd have figured out what we needed to do. 

• On this same trip to the New Albany Work One office, I heard a woman complaining to the judge-y clerk that she had to cancel her cable. The clerk got all defensive and said, "I don't have cable! I don't have money either!" This is what people have been reduced to, a pissing contest about who's the brokest.

• All the inconvenience aside, winter has been a lovely time to be unemployed. There's nothing I enjoy more than holing up in my house when it's cold out. There is plenty of stuff to do here; I'm not the least bit bored. I do get restless if I don't get out of the house from time to time, and unfortunately, that is often commensurate with the state of our finances.

• I've been going to this awesome video store a lot lately. There have been several days where this is the only trip I make out of the house all day. Last night I discovered an entire section of live music dvds. I'm a goner.


I'm Your Back-Checkin' Cuz

Here is an email I once received at work from my husband.

"My Darling Wife,

I made a little discovery this morning after you left the house. That
coffee that I bought is also decaf. I don't know who's idea it was to
build a huge display of coffees, all of which are marked as decaf only
in fine print, but I'm going to be writing a letter. This is surely
going to cause some kind of accident. Anyway I thought I'd let you
know you might wanna get some caffeine in your system before the the dt's set in."

• He values caffeine.
• He knows how much I value caffeine.
• He looks out for me.

I love it.

P.S. It was totally a Starbucks that had the huge display of DECAF coffee. As if co-opting Italian culture and selling overpriced coffee wasn't bad enough. Morons!


Going to the Chapel

I'm at that age when most of my peers are getting engaged, getting married, having babies or talking about having babies. I even know a few people who've already gotten divorced. Now, I'm no Dr. Phil; divorced, but still handing out condescending advice and passing judgment like salt and pepper as if my own shit doesn't stink, but I have made a few disturbing observations.

The Race To Get Married
First on the list is The Race to Get Married. The thing about The Race to Get Married is, it isn't a race at all. There is no finish line and nobody's giving out blue ribbons. Still, there are people all around me who seem to view marriage as goal, right there next to "See the Grand Canyon" and "Get my Masters." Not that you shouldn't want to get married, but maybe you shouldn't put the cart before the horse. Like, maybe you should get a boyfriend first. Go on a few dates. Get to know each other, you know, outside of the bedroom. Maybe let the relationship develop naturally, instead of putting it on a timeline.

Then there's the folks who've been dating for years, but mysteriously aren't any closer to determining the direction they're headed than they were on their first date. It never ceases to amaze me how many people choose to just "go with it," over the discomfort of a break-up. It's totally lame, not to mention cowardly and a complete waste of your time and theirs. And worse, plenty of their partners ride it out, in hopes of some emotional breakthrough; or drop not-so-subtle hints about The Future, on the off chance that their lover has merely forgotten they've been sharing an apartment for the last 4 years. Do you really want to marry someone who can't decide whether or not they want to be with you? Puh-leeze. My dog has more self esteem.

Side Note: What's with people moving in together right after they begin dating? Am I the only person who can see far enough ahead to realize what a pain in the ass this is going to be if it doesn't work out? That you'll be stuck sharing this one bedroom apartment for 8 more months unless you can come up with the means to break the lease? Maybe I just hate moving more than some people. Or maybe it's that I've helped some friends move one too many times out of their boyfriend's/girlfriend's apartment. All I'm saying is, leave your hormones out of the decision-making process. There's always sleep overs.

You're Married. Now What?
So you just spent the last year of your life planning your dream wedding and dropping every last penny on the reception hall and that all-inclusive couples resort south of the border. But you're married now! All those doubts and conflicts you were having as an unmarried couple magically disappeared after that ring was slipped on your finger, right?

Wait, you mean you still don't agree on how to spend your finances? Or what city you want to live in? Or whether or not you want to have kids? You mean, now you have to consider this other person before you make any big decisions for the rest of your life?!

It sounds ridiculous, I know, but that's what I see happening to people around me. They're so caught up in the "getting married" part, they don't realize what it actually means to be married. And hey, maybe it's not that big of a deal. You can always get divorced, almost as easily as you can find an exit off the interstate with a McDonald's. Having had my own wedding, I'm just saying it seems like a whole lot of hooey and expense to bother with if you're not willing to put forth at least the same effort into your marriage. Yeah, I said "effort." You're not lying on your back getting a Swedish massage here. You're a participant.

I Know What You're Thinking
It kills me how two people, who are supposed to love and support one another, come to expect the worst from each other. I see this all the time, and it's really bugging me, maybe even more than the rushing into marriage part. You come to assume your partner's reactions and feelings, without batting an eye. You stop giving the benefit of the doubt. You expect the worse, and the worst is delivered. It's a vicious cycle of bickering, over the stupidest shit, simply because you're both too stubborn or lazy to consider any other alternatives to what you've come to expect from each other. Let me tell you something, peoples of the eenternet. Being stubborn is childish and unproductive. No matter how right you think you are, you're never going to move beyond where you're at if you're not receptive to your partner.

Monogamy: Leaving The Compound In Utah
Generally speaking, you're not supposed to "do it" with anyone other than your spouse when you're married. It's an idea that haunts a lot of people when they're thinking about a proposal. To those of you who fear the idea of being sexually active with only one person the rest of your life, I submit that you lack innovation and creativity. But you have my understanding just the same. It was something I worried about myself during the first year that B & I were dating, having previously enjoyed being single and sleeping around, having cheated on boyfriends, having boyfriends cheat on me, etc, etc. However, I quickly discovered the benefits of our commitment far outweighed any sexual exploits from my past.

On the one hand, it's just sex. For some people, it's just as perfunctory as eating and sleeping. So what's the big deal with a few wham-bam-thank-you-ma'ams on the side, apart from the regular STD tests? If you are able to maintain a successful open relationship, more power to you. But the fact is, most of us can't stand the thought of their partner being with someone else. Let alone how complicated it could get around Valentine's Day.

On the other hand, it's just sex. So what's the big deal with keeping the booty in the marriage?

How you choose to deal with the issue of monogamy within your relationship isn't for me to decide. But, for fuck's sake, make sure your partner is on the same page. And give each other a break, already! It isn't like once you're married, you're dead inside and all your sexual urges and inexplicable attractions to other people completely disappear. But if you're contemplating ending your marriage because you're attracted to someone else, my unsolicited advice is, douse a little cold water on those hormones and then see how you feel. Consider what you're left with, once the hot flashes subside.

See, the reason they call it a "commitment" is because you're pledging to work it out, even when it doesn't feel good. Even when things feel really bad, and you said some things and they said some things, and you're not sure if you'll ever be able to look at them the same. I'm not suggesting you stick it out with the jerk who smacks you around because his dinner is cold, or the bitch who's systematically fucking all of your friends and spending all of your money. I'm just saying, Be reasonable, people. Think about how you treat each other. Have a little compassion. Quit assigning blame and start accepting some fucking responsibility.

Otherwise, I want the 50 bucks back that I spent on your sham of a wedding gift.


"They Misunderestimated Me."

So the title isn't really a lyric, but it is the same old song from the worst President we've ever had. 

I try not to be, but sometimes I find I'm judgmental about certain things. While I like to operate on the philosophy that all possibilities are in existence (which may explain why it's so hard for me to make decisions), I tend to draw certain conclusions about people's character based on what some may consider trivial observations. On the other hand, actions can often be a reflection of one's character, so maybe I'm not that far off base. Some things that give me cause for suspicion include: 
• people who don't like animals
• people who drive Hummers or extra large Dodge pick-up trucks, which my husband and I have deemed, "The Official Truck of Assholes," while having absolutely no utilitarian need for a vehicle of that stature.
• people who don't use turn signals or generally drive like an asshole. Triple points if they have children in the car.
• people who frequent Jimmy Buffet concerts. It isn't just your musical preferences called into question here.
• people who leave refrigerator doors open for lengthy amounts of time or leave water running for too long or any other act which demonstrates a blatent disregard for its environmental consequences on account of minimal inconvenience.

Petty? Perhaps. But show me an extra large Dodge pick-up truck, and I will show you a driver who is likely white, male and an asshole. 

Maybe it's just that I haven't been surprised by people in a while. That's probably it. I think it's why I'm starved for inspiration at the moment. I want to read or witness something that moves me in such a way that I derive a crucial answer to some philosophical question that will subsequently cause my life to ricochet onto a path of enlightenment. This is what draws me to the Arts. It's probably also a good indication as to why I have such trouble relating in a corporate office environment. We have different priorities.

But that mentality isn't exactly going to net me a job making $80k a year, now is it? Lucky for me, my needs are comparatively minimal. I want more, but I can get by on less. At the moment, it's become a bit of a social experiment to me: Just how much can I do without? I miss tv, and I wish I could go snowboarding in Colorado like my friends N & T, but I'm conscious of what I do have going for me: a home, running water, food and a house full of keyboards. Could be much worse. Could be hiding out in an elementary school in the Gaza Strip, wondering where the next missile will strike.

I'm sure the economy won't always be as bad as it is now, (Thanks George & Dick, and your pals in the Greedy Banking and Oil industries! We couldn't have been fucked without you! Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out!) so I am committed to riding this out, as I'm sure you are, on a mixture of optimism and intrigue. What choice do I have?


Bailamos In La Media

I made a list called, "About 2008." I won't post it all here. It's just an exercise in perspective. But I'll share some things of note. 

Among those in our favor: 
• Played about 30 shows.
• Visited Brooklyn, New York and Humboldt Co., California for the first time.
• Someone backed into our car and we got a new paint job that covered up the place where someone keyed my car a few  years ago.
• The house next to my grandmother's, where we lived for 7 years after her passing, burned to the ground, without damaging so much as our fence. 
• Bought a house.
• Recorded 2 songs in the studio.
• Got a Rhodes piano for FREE, indefinitely
• Celebrated B's 30th.

Among those things not in our favor:
• Gained about ten pounds.
• Fell asleep at the bar once when I was really drunk.
• Lost my job. (But gained a lot of free time)
• Lost my husband's job.
• The dog got cancer again.

Mostly it seems 2008 was balanced in our favor. Given my skepticism, it makes me a little nervous for what 2009 will hold. I'd like to think there's some rhyme or reason to the way the year flows, like evens will be good and odds will be rough. But I don't believe it. I think any connection between the characteristics of the animal on a Chinese calendar and what the year is really like is usually coincidence, but I still like the idea. The alignment of stars may be related, simply for the science behind the moon controlling the tides and our feminine rhythms, but mainly because I don't believe anything is too separate from another thing. If you believe all possibilities are in existence, our experiences are limitless. It is with this mindset that I approach the New Year.

All possibilities are in existence. The future is limitless. 

Or maybe it's the psychedelics talking. Either way, I am enthusiastically both observer and participant.


I'm Over It

This is a repost of a blog I wrote for myspace a few months ago. I think it bears repeating.

• What is it with chicks and Tori Amos? I wish I could say I made it through all the way through at least one of her albums, but I just couldn't stay awake that long. She is not a goddess. Nor is she the leader of the feminist movement. As far as I'm concerned, the only movement she's leading is in my bowels.

• Why are bad haircuts trendy? You just spent $60 to look like my 5-year-old niece cut your hair with Barbie scissors in the dark. And don't tell me you're "weird" and "artsy," because any real artist wouldn't be dropping every last penny they have to get the same shitty haircut as all the rest of the suckers you wanna impress. They'd be spending it on gear and art supplies. And booze and drugs.

• Bands, you don't need a gimmick. You need good songs. If you'd just quit re-writing Green Day and Nirvana songs for five minutes and look out the god damn window, you might find some real inspiration. And put those silly costumes away. We're not doing Hairspray, we're doing rock n' roll. If you're spending more time styling your bad haircut and picking out a stage outfit than you do working out your material, you're a douche – a very unoriginal douche. But you'll still probably get a record deal with Dreamworks and appear on the Jimmy Kimmel show, while all the amazing musicians I know will continue to struggle to make enough money to buy gas to play some shitty club in Ohio.

• Drinking cheap, shitty beer is what you do when you are broke or there are no other alternatives. You're not making a social statement; you're just drinking bad beer. Take that $60 you were gonna spend on next month's trendy-shitty-mullet haircut and go to your nearest micro-brewery. You can thank me later by building some fucking character. 

• Getting naked on myspace doesn't make you a revolutionary. It means the chicks down at The Body Shop have better business sense than you do.