Back To Life, Back To Reality

I had the pleasure of planning my arts high school’s 25th reunion for my classmates. It’s difficult to explain, but our school was unlike any other that most people have attended. It’s a public school and we came from all over the state of Minnesota, we had to audition or submit portfolios as well as letters of recommendation, we lived on campus like a college, and we created life-long friendships (most of us). I’m not saying it was without flaws. But going to college was a complete let-down because we already did it all, and our skills were senior level when we went to our respective schools post-high school.

19453172_10154458922161260_4730874156490643839_o

The reunion officially lasted nine hours. We started with performances, some dancing, I handed out random door prizes (which included ramen, Pop Tarts or macaroni and cheese plus sticks of margarine but NOT milk – because we never had milk; also Nerf guns, and cassette tapes such as Crash Test Dummies, The Sundays, REM, M.C. Hammer, Bullet Boys, anything that would have been released by 1992). Then we headed over to a pub that served microbrews and sausages where whomever couldn’t make it to the portion at school hung out with us there. We were officially done at 10 pm, but some people wanted to keep partying, so they went back to one couple’s hotel room and kept it going until 4 am. I didn’t – I was toast.

(By the way, the picture with the classmates trying to pull open the doors is something I didn’t find out about until later. They were giving themselves a tour, not realizing that they locked themselves in an area and they would have to wait for someone to randomly walk by and let them out.)

Our turnout was excellent. My classmates are literally scattered around the U.S. and the globe. I haven’t lived in Minnesota for 20 years and would have been counted as an out-of-towner if I hadn’t been forced to move back because of my circumstances. I know that I have classmates in Sweden, South Africa, the UK and France for sure, but I’m also sure that I’m missing some places. So to have this many show up is considered a small victory. And everyone was helpful, mostly sober and didn’t want to leave.

When I was attending school here, my major was theater (located directly to the right of the dancing space where everyone is slapping hands and their shoes are off). I discovered there that I had a natural affinity for organization and detail. So that was the reason that I gave everyone for wanting to organize the 25th reunion.

But I had an ulterior motive.  Two years ago, and even continuing through to today, a lot of the classmates that traveled back for the reunion (either by driving or flying) have helped me. When I relocated from Phoenix to St. Paul, they contributed to a fund. Sometimes they organize and send me gifts. A lot of them have their own hardships to worry about, so I appreciate their contributions even more for that reason. So the fact that I could work out every damn detail for them and all they had to do is show up was great – and even better that they all had a really great time and didn’t want to leave. 

Unfortunately, I did have to ask for some work from a few of them, but being the wonderful people that they are, they stepped up and said of course, and blew the rest of us away. The school was under great scrutiny and was nearly closed, and I had gone to all of the state senators and representatives, asking them to come to about an hour and a half of our reunion to meet us to see what had become of one of the first graduating classes from this school. One of the representatives, Mike Freiberg, happened to be a classically trained pianist and agreed to accompany our opera singer – and wow! It was fantastic! In all, we had two writers, a violinist, an opera singer, and a dance instructor.

Pictured below is an example of many of the lockers – students are allowed to paint them however they choose. Also, the woman in the phone booth is one of the readers from the performances. The phone booth is an infamous one; it was down the road from us and is from before the advent of cell phones, and we all used to walk down the road to use it when we wanted privacy. 


So for the week after the reunion, I stayed in bed. It was totally worth it. I love these people. Some of them I’m lucky enough to see frequently, and some I suppose I’ll have to wait another 25 years to see, but we know we had a unique experience and kinda feel sorry for people who had to drag through regular schools. We had a completely amazing experience for our junior and senior years.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Today, I had a doctor’s appointment for an outpatient surgical procedure. I’m not going to go into detail for what it was. I was just dreading it. So I got the usual notification from the cab company that the driver was on his way, and then I got a notification that he was outside. So I went out. He wasn’t out there. Sometimes it happens that the notification comes about 60 seconds before the cab. I wasn’t alarmed.

However, after waiting for about 12 minutes, the cab still didn’t show. Today the temp was 91 degrees Farenheit, and Minnesota is humid this time of year. Also a problem: My high-rent building’s front door was vandalized, so I can’t actually get in with my key. If I want to enter the building, I have to walk around to the back, which is the equivalent of walking the length of a city block because the spaces between the buildings are fenced and locked off. I also had no idea when this cab was going to show. So I called the cab company.

They claimed he was five minutes away. I have a GPS tracking map and he hadn’t moved. I explained that the heat makes my condition worse. I also can’t go back inside because I can’t go in the front. They told me to just wait. This is what happens to me because the cerebrospinal fluid builds up in my cranium because my shunt hasn’t worked for two years:

20170706_152454
Many times my facial droop has been mistaken for myasthenia gravis. I can assure you that I do not have that. I can actually slosh my CSF around, and when I tilt my head parallel to the floor, the paralysis goes away within seconds. Also, my face is not swollen. The muscles on the left have relaxed because they are paralyzed.

I was actually stuck out in the heat for a total of 35 minutes. When the driver finally got there, he first tried to force me to cross the road to him. I can’t see very well like this – this is as far as my eyes will open. When he finally came to my side of the road, he parked up the street so I had to walk to him, even though there were spots open in front of me. When I got in the car, I asked him to turn on the air conditioning. He told me I had to wait until he “got going.”

20170706_152912
When he finally did turn on the a/c, it was at the lowest setting to spite me. I had to tip over in the back seat to take the pressure off of my head, which at that point was absolutely unbearable.

When I got to my appointment, they took me back to the exam room and got me on the table. However, I wasn’t doing so well. The nurse and the PA both said I looked grey and the PA reclined the table while the nurse ran to get me some sugary drink. I whipped off my wig and they slapped wet cloths on my neck and head. I could tell my pulse was all over the place, but I knew this wasn’t a blood sugar problem – those feel completely different to me. [I am getting checked for POTS next month.] When I got up from the table, I saw that I had completely soaked through the paper with my sweat, which was disgusting, but they said it was an obvious sign that I was in distress. We made sure everything had returned to normal and we got on with it.

I absolutely wrote up a complaint to the cab company, with details and times. They have a contract with my insurance company, and if this driver can’t handle medical rides, he shouldn’t get them. Period. 

Advertisements

Say It Isn’t So

Prince was actively seeking the help of opioid addiction specialists in the days leading up to his death, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The morning his body was found, on April 21, he was scheduled to meet with Andrew Kornfeld, a staff member from Recovery Without Walls, a rehabilitation facility in California, according to…

via Will Prince finally get us talking about the prescription pill epidemic in America? — Quartz

Me and Prince

This morning after I took my bath, I wrestled into my purple bra and underwear, shoved my purple long-sleeved shirt over my head and torso and slipped my phone with its purple case into my pocket before heading out the door. I briefly considered taking my purple cane but decided against it because I knew I would be gone for about 20 minutes tops, which is the high end of how long it takes for the CSF to start pressing on my brain and making me wobbly.

Then the news started to trickle in: A dead body was reported at Paisley Park, Prince’s residence here in Minnesota. Just a week ago or less, there was a report that Prince’s plane had to make an emergency landing because he was experiencing some sort of health crisis, but he was resting at home comfortably. It was not a huge leap to assume the body was Prince’s, and it’s also not a huge leap to know that many of us locals are just plain sad about it. Of course he has a large following outside of Minnesota, but he was OUR guy.

Back when my dad was working on making a name for himself as a top-rate hair stylist in the very early 1980’s, he met Prince. My dad loved to name drop. He also thought Prince was a spoiled brat and didn’t hold back on saying so. Prince always traveled with an entourage (read: there was never a time he wasn’t a star). I later bragged to my classmates that my dad talked to Prince. I wasn’t afraid to name drop either.

The movie “Purple Rain” came out and the residents of Minneapolis/St. Paul (commonly referred to as the Twin Cities) were absolutely thrilled to be featured in a movie. First Avenue – “First Ave” if you’re cool – was forever galvanized as THE stage to play on thanks to “Purple Rain,” and who cares that the script was weak? The soundtrack was to die for! I mean, “Darling Nikki”?? Prince was so dirty! He actually talked about masturbation in a song and if any stations played it, the word had to be altered. How could such a short little guy get so many women to throw their panties at him?

When I went to the arts high school for my junior and senior year, I remember a boy who was trying to get into my pants saying to me, “Just give me a dark room and a Sam Cooke album.” I had no idea he was quoting a line from “Under the Cherry Moon,” another low-budget Prince movie that also starred Kristin Scott Thomas, at that point an actress largely unknown to American audiences in a film that didn’t have the commercial or musical success that “Purple Rain” did. I laughed when I finally did see the movie (on VHS tape!) because Prince found a way to infiltrate my love life as I’m sure was his intention all along.

In my senior year at the arts high school, I had a roommate who only played three albums: Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Weird Al (I can’t remember the name) and Prince’s “Diamonds and Pearls.”

I don’t remember which album the rumors were flying around for, but supposedly Prince actually recorded a woman getting off and put her “sounds” on a track. This was well before we could actually research anything on the internet. He is well-known for pushing artistic and cultural boundaries. I mean, who else would have a top 40 song called “Cream (Get On Top)”?

In 1996, my boyfriend at the time and I road tripped back from Albuquerque to Minneapolis and after a night of drinking with a friend and my sister, decided to check out Paisley Park. My friend had worked there previously as a security guard and offered to guide us with him driving his car and me driving my car just to show us where it was. Well, my boyfriend told me to pull into the driveway where the guard was stationed; when my friend saw what we were doing, he took off. My sister was pretty drunk in the back seat and pulled a blanket over her head, saying, “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me.” The guard greeted us, saying, “Can I help you?” My boyfriend leaned over me from the passenger seat and slurred, “Is this where Prince lives??” The guard straightened up and said, “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” My boyfriend persisted, saying, “Can we take your picture??” The guard said again, “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” In the meantime, my sister Heidi is quietly saying, “Oh god, oh god” in the back seat under the blanket. I backed up and managed to find our way out of the back roads of wherever we were; this was well before GPS and it was around 1:00 a.m. in a very rural area, and my friend was long gone, so it was no cake walk. Thank goodness I have a pretty good internal compass.

The same boyfriend and I relocated to Cincinnati and worked for a box office that was also a Ticketmaster outlet and managed to score tickets to two very different Prince shows. One was in Columbus, Ohio; the entire show started two hours later than it should have and we were already an hour away from home. Start time was supposed to be 8 but it was more like 10 and it was an opening act, then Prince came on at around midnight and played “Purple Rain” and we thought well shit, that’s it – but NO, he played for two more hours!!! The next day was hell because of course we had to work after taking an hour to drive home, but we got to see it. The next show we saw was very different, which was Prince playing with no opening act and playing all of his hit songs, but it was like one 2-hour medley – he had so many hits that he couldn’t play any of them all the way through. I was sitting behind Peter Frampton for that show.

After I moved here from Phoenix last summer, I saw something I never thought I would see, and that is Prince opening Paisley Park up to the public for parties. He has always been notoriously private. I hope that holding those parties brought him some joy. I never thought they would be his final act.

I feel like those of us (and yes, I say “us” because I count myself in this bunch) who do as much as we can as soon as we can somehow have a sense that our time on this earth will end at a much younger age than those who are much more methodical about how they spend their time. The moral of this story is to get your purple on and party like it’s 1999. We will miss this magical man and all of the soundtracks that he has provided for our lives.

My Adolescent Heart Is Cured

Right at the cusp of my childhood and the beginning of the time when I became self-conscious and awkward, we moved from a large metropolitan area with a population of 1.5 million people to a town of 300. My bus ride to school was long and filled with strange faces; it took an hour to get to a town of 700, where people rarely moved to or away from and were all largely related. In fact, I had a couple of classmates who were the offspring of first cousins, sentenced to lifelong special ed classes thanks to genes that were far too similar to have been considered safe to pair up.

I was bullied terribly my first year at the farm town school. It really wasn’t until the next year, 6th grade for me, that I started making friends. I also became a little more comfortable expressing myself – including being vocal about crushes on boys. One boy in particular held my attention for ten whole years. I’ll nickname him C. C. Deville, because he played guitar and wanted to be a rock star just like the guys in Poison and Motley Crue.

I made Valentine’s Day cards for everyone in my class. However, for C. C.’s card, I did exactly what I read about in a book, which was write a little poem without signing it:
“You can’t be my Valentine, you look too much like Frankenstein!”
He was intrigued! It worked, just like in the book! Except when he thought another girl wrote it for him, and he started making eyes at her. That wasn’t supposed to happen.

Two years later a friend from Minneapolis stayed with me for a couple of days and came with me to school. C. C. Deville was doing everything he could to charm her, and she flirted right back, even though she knew I liked him. She liked him too and thought he was very cute. Later that year he got suspended for smoking pot under the bleachers in the gym, so obviously he was a little bit of a bad boy. No wonder all of the ladies were flocking to him like bees to honey.

When I was in 9th grade, I tried out for and made the cheerleading squad for boys’ JV basketball…which meant that I would be cheering for HIM. Oh, sure, there were a few other boys who were cute too. But there was one time on an away game that I was floating on cloud nine because we had to drive two hours through a snow storm on the bus and I was sitting in front of him, and he let me borrow his leather jacket to sleep on it. I could smell his cologne. I thought maybe he might eventually warm up to me since he lent me this article of clothing. Instead, he started talking to one of the other girls on my squad and eventually started dating her. I had confessed to her that I had had a long-term crush on him and I’m pretty sure she spilled the beans to him if he hadn’t already figured out that I had been throwing myself at him for years at that point.

(2 years break to attend arts high school.)
(2 years pass while I move back and forth between Michigan and Minnesota.)

When I was 20, I discovered that a former classmate was living in my apartment complex. She said, “Oh, did you know that C. C. Deville also lives here?” I just about shit my pants. It turned out that he lived above me. Shortly after that I ran into him, said hi, exchanged pleasantries, talked him into putting my new license plate on my car for me. (“Oh, C. C., you’re so manly, thank you!” Okay, no, I didn’t say that, not really.) Sadly, I didn’t see him after his dad and my aunt died and I left on my big trip around the U.S. to find a new place to live.

Facebook has directed us back into each others’ lives many years later. However, he posts maybe 6 times a year, and my average is maybe 6 times a day – mostly goofy stuff, sometimes political stuff, and occasionally medical updates. As far as I can tell he hasn’t moved much, he doesn’t have children, may or may not play in a cover band, may or may not have a girlfriend, and may or may not work in a bank. In other words, we are really only peripheral observers. All that we have in common is that we have been in the same place at the same time in the distant past.

Today, for instance, he posted something on Facebook that really weirded me out – mainly because it didn’t seem like he wrote it (though he was taking credit for it, but its rhythm and spelling and punctuation didn’t match the rest of his writing in other posts), and because it’s some sort of rambling message about “God.”

It starts out nice enough: “Most of the time, our biggest obstacle is us. Maybe we’ve stopped dreaming.” True enough. Then: “Or, maybe we’re refusing to share our dreams out loud because we fear that God’s reputation might be at stake. God’s reputation is fine. It’s our reputation as leaders that we fear taking a hit. The dreams in our hearts were planted by God who loves us!”

“God’s reputation”? That, my friends, is anthropomorphism – assigning human qualities to non-human entities.

He goes on: “The day we stop following the dreams God has put in us is the day we allow ourselves to go into cruise control. When our biggest desire starts to shift from seeing God do great things to making everyone as comfortable as possible, we know we’re losing sight of how big God is.

“Fight the urge to maintain the status quo. Instead, do everything possible to advance the cause God placed in your heart. Stay focused on what could be rather than what has been.”

This is what has cured my heart once and for all: I feel like C. C. Deville deliberately lived a small life, looking for hero worship in a small town, and is now turning to “God” to try to make his life feel expansive and limitless. A classmate said that she was surprised at his preacher-like post (hell, I was too), but he replied that he wasn’t trying to be a preacher, he was just coming to his senses. I think it’s more like he realized that he’s middle aged and he hasn’t done anything he said he said he was going to do when he first reached adulthood.

For the longest time I felt inadequate and undesirable while he chose girls around me. Now I feel as if I have run circles around him with my life experiences and we would have nothing to talk about.

 

Gaslighting

Drummer #2 was the absolute master of gaslighting. I keep a lot of emails – yes, even the really shitty exchanges I’ve had with boyfriends – and recently re-read a couple from Drummer #2. When I read his words, the shame felt nearly as intense as it did when I tried to break up with him for six months running in 2009. He worked hard on me to convince me that I was confused about what I was feeling. He was condescending and repeatedly told me that if I would just do things his way, I wouldn’t struggle so much. He told me that I wasn’t identifying my emotions correctly. It was exhausting. I was an emotional wreck. But just like this author, I finally got away, and I have never looked back and said, “Gee, maybe I should have stayed with him.”

___________________________________________________________________________

 

You know when you have a lightbulb moment, when you read something, spit out your coffee and suddenly go WHAT THE FUCK, WHAT, THIS IS EXACTLY LIKE READING ABOUT MYSELF! Well, I just spat out my cof…

Source: Gaslighting

Is It Hot In Here, Or Is It Just You?

I was getting caught up on some episodes of the Tonight Show hosted by my secret boyfriend Jimmy Fallon (because he doesn’t know about our relationship). The musical guests were Joe Perry (whom I used to be hot for in the ’90’s – anyone remember the “Rock the Vote” campaign in the 1990’s on MTV??), Robin Thicke (who seems to be the ultimate misogynist) and Pitbull (who makes questionable sunglasses choices but seems to be a fun guy).

I noticed Pitbull was packing some serious heat. I mean, I don’t know if he gets an erection every time he performs (new meaning to getting pumped up??) or if he was a little excited because he had a lot of curvy women prancing around him. I wasn’t the only one who noticed. I imagined the producer or whomever was calling the show yelling into everyone’s headset, “Pan up! Tighten the shot! Jesus H., he’s got a chub!” The camera shots were pulled way back, or they shot only from the waistband up when they realized that wasn’t a sweat sock stuffed down his pants.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Jimmy Fallon will never ask Pitbull to be in a “Tight Pants” sketch.

I don’t usually look at men’s crotches. This might be old-fashioned of me, like I am having a hard time accepting the concept of the skinny jean or fitted suit pants. Sometimes I feel sorry for men having their goods on display as a direct result of these particular clothing trends being popular. But then again, my girls are often propped up and accentuated for everyone’s perusal, and I lose some of my pity when I remember that.

Me and Ziggy

 

Today may have been the first time that I have listened to “Ziggy Stardust” in its entirety since 1993.

David Bowie and I have a pretty solid history. When I was little, I loved the song “Space Oddity.” I don’t know if it’s because I’ve always felt a little out of place in my world, as if I’m living on a different plane than the general public, or quite possibly that I’m an alien trapped in a human body. Whatever the reason, I would sing that song over and over; I have always used singing as a sort of comfort to myself, like the proverbial blankie or stuffed animal.

When I was in elementary school, MTV was born. Our dad was pirating his cable from a neighbor’s wire and we had access to this fabulous station with music and stories 24/7. I loved the really creative videos that gave me interesting visuals to go along with the musicianship. It was the first time I actually saw David Bowie in motion thanks to his new wave pop tunes “China Girl” and “Let’s Dance.” In fact, the “Let’s Dance” album is the first one our father purchased to play on his brand new contraption, the CD player. If we jumped hard enough we could make the CD skip like a record. Our father’s side of the family was blessed with innate rhythm, so we would often have dance parties in our living room, sometimes including our aunt’s five children.

In high school, I joined one of those CD clubs – you know, buy one full price and get 11 more for 1 cent? I got a best of from Bowie that included all of my favorite songs up to that point. It got heavy play. I was listening to it during my first week on Mackinac Island for my second season after I had just turned 19, when I lived above the busiest bar on the island and we had a lot of people coming and going. That is when a guy knocked on my door, started making out with me and coaxed me out of my knickers and my virginity. “Ziggy Stardust” was the song playing when it all went down – I distinctly remember the guy drunkenly saying that he loved that song. I loved that song. Unfortunately, because I had resolved to just getting my virginity out of the way and not trying to make it a movie-type romance, it was not a good experience. He was very rough. He bruised me deeply, my lips were purple and cut. I had bruises all over my ribs, ass and thighs. He was drunk and he doubted it was my first time. My first sexual partner did not care for me or about me, and I paid the price. Well, me and Ziggy. I stopped playing that song.

When I was 22, I had been living in New Mexico when I flew back to be in a friend’s wedding. It was the last time my father and I saw each other. He had cut my hair (the “Rachael”) and we were chatting about his Bowie box set that he received from a client the week before. We also talked about this new cabin Dad had purchased two months prior, and how Dad intended to fix it up and retire there, but that he didn’t think he would see retirement. I told him frankly that I didn’t think he would live to retirement either. He asked me why I said that, and I told him that I couldn’t envision him as an old man, that everything went black when I tried, like a newly washed chalkboard. Three weeks later I had to fly back to Minnesota because Dad died of a heart attack – at the cabin he wanted to retire in. He had gone up there for a weekend by himself to work on a few things and maybe do a little duck hunting. From what we could tell, he entered the cabin, set down his pack, laid down on the bed and died. He was discovered by the local sheriff when my step-mom called for a wellness check after Dad didn’t return home at his scheduled time. The Bowie box set is one of the first things my step-mom thought to give me when she was dividing up mementos between us four kids. She knew Dad and I loved our David Bowie.

I believe in a continuation of the soul when we die. Relating to that, I have a question that I suppose will never be answered, but I’ll ask it anyway. When famous people die, and are so universally mourned, does their soul visit every single person every time they are thought of? Souls must be infinite, but is their energy ever depleted by the millions of times they are tugged and pulled by our sadness? Or do they only have a connection to the people they loved in their lives?

I’ll leave you with my favorite Bowie song, which is his collaboration with Queen. I get goosebumps every time I hear it.

WWJD

Drummer #2 coulda been Jesus. He grew out his hair to his lower back, dark brown with tight natural curls, and had light grey-blue eyes. He even had a full beard and mustache. The overall effect was Jesus, at least the Anglican version of that religious figure. Funny thing is that he was raised Jewish and was basically an atheist. Drummer #2 grew up in Manhattan in a lower middle class family that was ruled by his father’s violence and his mother’s indifference.

We met when I accepted an invitation from a guy I didn’t know well to join a group of people I didn’t know at all to hang out at a dive bar and sing karaoke and talk politics. Jeff worked at GoDaddy and he had rounded up some co-workers for a night out, and Drummer #2 was there. The joint’s decor was sad vinyl chairs from the ’70s and even sadder regular drunks sitting in a circle around the bar and staring vacantly into their drinks. I have never really shied away from meeting new people and hearing their stories – I mean, how else are you supposed to make friends as an adult? So we had some great conversations going around the table, but then Jeff had too many drinks and became a little belligerent. I was explaining to him some of the volunteer work I had been doing (being a “hugger” at a children’s hospital), and I was a little baffled to find that I had to defend myself to him when he wondered why I thought my work was benefiting anyone. Drummer #2 jumped in and that as difficult as it was to see very sick children, I was doing a great thing in comforting them. That immediately endeared him to me. In the parking lot, he gave me his business card and told me that he would like to stay in touch and his website was the easiest way to contact him.

I don’t remember how or where our next outing was, but we ended up spending a lot of time together, at least a couple of times a week. I had vowed to remain celibate for a year when I met him, so I did not see it as a dating opportunity. We would look for new and unusual (and inexpensive) things to do. I took him to the Paper Heart in downtown Phoenix, which is no longer in operation, but it was a multi-purpose art space for performances and poetry jams and live painting. It turned out that he was a photographer as well as a musician and I knew that that place would be right up his alley. For a one-month stretch I had a wild hair to go play some bingo – but not at a casino – so I tried to find places where we could hang out in a church basement with a bunch of blue hairs. All of the events calendars were outdated so we would end up driving up and down these streets where bingo should have been, and eventually we’d give up and go to a restaurant instead.

We carried on as friends for an entire year. Eventually I trusted him enough to talk to him about an idea I had for photographs, which was to paint my face, bald head and neck in white, and then make swirls on one side of my face with gold paint, quite like a Klimt piece of art. I went to a costume shop and found some really great face paints and we invested in an airbrush for the base coat. The photographs turned out better than I could have ever hoped. Some were black and whites, where my torso and shoulders were wrapped in white gauze, and that combined with the white paint and black backdrop made me appear as if I were a marble statue. Another was a full body shot of me wrapped in a quilt sewn with intricately printed fabrics where the gold swirls on my face contrasted with the white base paint, and the overall effect was stunning. We laughed over the fact that at times when I tried to look serious and intense, it really came off as a resting bitch face.

My lease with the current roommate was ending, and Drummer #2 and I decided to become roommates. We wanted to look for a house we could comfortably share that would have enough room for him to do his photography, and we settled on a 3BR/2BA on a little man-made lake, complete with ducks. We even acquired a paddle boat from his best friend. I had the bedroom at the front of the house next to the garage, and he had the master suite with enough room to shove his bed into a corner and set the rest up with black backdrops for his sessions. The middle bedroom was our office where we set up dueling computers. He was often working on editing his most recent photos or moderating a heavy metal website.

Not long after we moved in, we were laying on his bed talking about our days, and he raised up over me on one elbow and leaned down and kissed me. This is one of those times where ignoring my instincts resulted in dire consequences. I loved him as a person who was a large part of my daily living, and he seemed to accept me as I was, even with my quirks and less-than-conventional appearance. But I had all kinds of warnings going off in my brain and I wasn’t sure why. I fought them. I told myself I was being stupid. So at Drummer #2’s insistence that he wanted to be close to me, intimately, I broke my self-imposed celibacy.

Drummer #2 insisted that he wanted to show his affection for me by being intimate, but he absolutely did not want to get into a romantic relationship. I couldn’t reconcile that in my head; we were friends, and we were lovers, and we were living in a house together. Why couldn’t it be a romantic relationship?

I found out the hard way that I should have trusted the warning bells. As soon as he stuck his dick in me, everything changed. I became a possession to control. He didn’t want to be in a relationship with me, but he certainly didn’t want me to find anyone else. He also became incredibly critical of me and tried to control every emotion that I felt. Drummer #2 claimed that he was really “in tune” with me and could sense my thoughts and feelings. There were so many times I would come home from work and it hadn’t been a particularly good or bad day, but he would insist that there was something bothering me and that I should tell him everything. He wanted me to have bad days. Sometimes I would just make up stupid shit to get him off my case, like, “Oh, yeah, you’re right, this thing happened at work today.” Then he would make a big show of comforting me, as if he was the only person on the earth who could help me.

I was starting to feel really smothered. Every look on my face was scrutinized, and he was constantly telling me what I should be feeling instead. The only way I can describe that feeling is like he had is arm constantly over my shoulders, and I couldn’t shrug him off.

The co-habitation started in September of 2008. In February of 2009, I went to an event that involved group meditation. I had had many bouts of bronchitis for the prior 12 months and was fighting another round at that time, but I really wanted to get out of the house and find some peace. I got home and found him waiting on the couch with the TV and computers turned off. He was furious that I was gone for two hours, even though he knew I was going and where I would be, and he started raging. I don’t normally just sit back and accept someone screaming at me; I yell right back. It was a long, drawn out fight that lasted for four days.

We had opposite schedules and would sometimes leave notes for each other by using dry erase markers on our tile counter tops. On the fourth day I awoke to find all of the counters in the kitchen covered in black dry erase marker, telling me how horrible I was and that he had wasted his time with me by doing all of the fun things we did like try to find bingo and take photos. That was about 46 sq. ft. of counter space covered with tiny black letters. He told me that if I would just allow him to guide me that I would become a better person. He told me no one would accept me or love me like he did. At that point I was emotionally exhausted and hurt, and I apologized to him for yelling. But after that first big fight, there was always tension.

In March of 2009 I went on a date with a guy from work. That triggered another drawn-out fight, and more hate messages on the counter tiles. Drummer #2 claimed that he wanted to be in a relationship with me and that I was cheating on him by going out with someone else. It was news to me, but I agreed to stay exclusive with him. Again, I apologized.

There were so many fights and so many hate messages written on the tiles. He would also send me emails whose word counts were in the thousands. To this day I have a folder dedicated to him and all of the correspondence is in that folder, but I can’t bring myself to read it, so I can’t give you any specifics, but the fights always ended with him insisting that I should feel what he told me to feel and if I would just let him guide me, everything would be okay.

In June of 2009 we had another fight. That time, though, something sent him over the edge. I can’t remember what exactly – I probably raised my voice back at him – and he threw a drinking glass across the room at me. I do remember him calling me a fucking piece of shit, a bitch, a whore, yelling that I had made him try to kill me. I had been cooking something on the stove and there were thousands of pieces of glass all around me and in the food. The glass had ended up breaking the wooden blinds at the window next to me. I didn’t say anything but went straight to my room and locked my door. I called my friend and made arrangements to move into the empty third floor of her house, and I hired shitty movers off of Craigslist who broke every piece of furniture they moved.

That wasn’t the end of it, though. It rarely is in an abusive relationship.

It took three months, but he worked on me and wore me down until I agreed to go back to him and try again. At first he cried and tried to make his eyes as big as possible (a trick he admitted later as one of his go-to moves for manipulation), and then he started back in on telling me that if I would just feel what he told me to, everything would be okay. The fighting was constant. I remember curling up into a ball and sobbing because he told me I was worthless and that he should just leave me, and it was my fault that he was falling apart again after never intending to get into another romantic relationship in the first place.

Still, I tried. I constantly walked on egg shells around him, afraid that if I showed the “wrong” emotion, he’d freak out. We even tried to celebrate the holidays. I bought Christmas gifts for him based on what he had mentioned in casual conversation as wanting, and I jokingly told him to try not to buy anything for himself for a few weeks because it might be in my stash for him. He responded by saying, “What kind of piece of shit person do you have to be to tell me what I can buy?”

We didn’t make it to Christmas, though. I can’t remember what prompted me to leave besides the obvious, so maybe I was at the end of my rope. I emailed him and told him I would be at the house on Saturday, December 12th to get the remainder of my dishes from the kitchen and other odds and ends, but I didn’t want him there and I made that very clear. He was supposed to be working the early shift that day and should not have been there when I arrived.

When I let myself into the house carrying a brand new monitor still in its box that he had given to me, the house was silent, and I didn’t see his car. I took off my shoes and walked toward the back to the office to return the monitor. The rooms were dark and I didn’t see him in the corner of the office until I set the box down and I saw movement from the corner of my eye. He had called in sick to work and had been waiting for me. I ran through the kitchen towards the front of the house and had to pause to try to slip my toes into my shoes while opening the front door. He caught up with me there. He hugged his arms around me so that I couldn’t move without dragging him and I couldn’t raise my arms – and he also knew enough to not put too much pressure on one area to leave bruises, like grabbing me with fingers. We struggled at the door and he repeated over and over, “Don’t leave!” I finally managed to get mostly free of him and then I tried to get to my car, but he was pulling on anything he could get his hands on, mostly clothing. I got my flip phone out and managed to dial 911 but then hung up immediately when we continued to struggle in the driveway. The operator called me back and I was completely panicked and shaking, and I told her that he wouldn’t let go of me. When he realized I was on the phone with 911 he let go of me and allowed me to close the door. I started the car and tore out of the driveway, the operator asking if I could get to a safe place and wait for officers.

When the officers arrived (one male, one female), they questioned me. I couldn’t show them any bruises because I knew he hadn’t left any. When they went to the house to question Drummer #2, he gave them the big eyes and worked himself up to force his eyes to water. They came back to me and said since there weren’t any witnesses (this was too early in the morning for people to be out in the neighborhood) and he didn’t leave any marks, they weren’t going to haul him in AND if I called in another report, they were going to arrest me. I was absolutely dumbfounded. This is the stuff you read about but can’t imagine happening until it actually does. I started shaking and sobbing, and they told me to call a friend if I wanted to whine to someone.

After crying in my car for a while, I drove back to my friend’s house. A few hours later I received a call from Drummer #2 wanting to know what I wanted to do. I told him to get the fuck out of the house and stay gone for two hours. He told me he could stay and help. I told him I never wanted him to be there while I got the rest of my stuff and I never wanted to have any contact with him again. That was the last conversation we had.

Drummer #2 always bragged that he was smarter than everyone else, that his IQ tested off the charts and that he could get away with anything he wanted to because all cops and lawyers were stupid – and he proved it when I called 911. In 2010 I lived in two different apartment complexes. Every night of that year, I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat because I was afraid he had somehow tracked me down and broke in and was standing over me, waiting for me to wake up.

Yes, I Have a Type

I like men. Tall ones, short ones, fit ones, cute ones, nerd ones, “dad body” ones, I can find something to appreciate in many. However, there are certain things that make me stupid – panty-droppers, if you will. They are:

  1. Firemen. I mean, c’mon, this should be a no-brainer. Granted, some are cuter than others, but family and friends alike encourage this particular addiction by sending me photos and buying me calendars. Even my realtor sent me a picture from a property she was renting to five firemen in Tempe, AZ – one of the guys was posed naked on top of a bicycle out back at the pool, helmet on his head, cigarette in his mouth, and holding a rifle. He was quite fit. His leg very coyly covered up his frank and beans. It was my dream photo minus the rifle and the cigarette. He had it blown up to poster size, which made it easy for the realtor to capture and forward to me. Nearly every day someone posts a half-naked fireman (or if it’s my lucky day, fireMEN) on my Facebook wall. My best day was just a few days after I got Dumb and Angry to move out of the house, I had to call 911 to get help because I thought I had popped my shunt out of the little hole in my cranium, and I was in heaven because I had a house full of firemen. They were all running through my house telling me how much they loved it while a couple stayed with me to work me up, so as I was being wheeled out of the house, I told all of them that I was looking for a roommate. Pass that up? Not me! Of course, I was in crazy pain and had just taken a big dose of painkillers so I was high as a kite, so who knows what else I said to them. I’m pretty sure I didn’t try to stuff dollars down their pants.
  2. Tall men. My first two live-in boyfriends were 6’2″ and 6’3″, and a former boyfriend was 6’4″. I tried twice to make a date happen with a guy who was 6’6″ (he wussed out, had just gotten divorced and was too damaged to follow through), and I think the guy who told me I looked like his dead wife was at least 6’3″. What is it about the tall guys? I’m not sure. I mean, yeah, they can see the top of the fridge, but big deal. I think because I’ve never been considered small, I don’t feel like Godzilla around the tall guys, as in, “Me smash little puny men and snap their thighs like twigs!”
  3. Musicians. I’m talking real musicians, like the ones that can play seven instruments or don’t rely on electronic alterations like auto-tune. I’ve lived with two drummers who could also play other instruments. I think I would give my left pinkie finger to go out with Glen Hansard (at least until I figured out the hard way that he’s a nutter or something). I think this stems from playing a few instruments while in high school and teaching myself a little piano, because I understand what is needed in order to be really good. Kid Rock can kiss my fat ass, he’s as talent-less as they get.

What I miss the most is being able to flirt, especially when I encounter a guy who would normally be somewhere on this list. If I attempted to flirt, any reciprocation would be along the lines of, “Oh, look, the sick lady with the cane and the droopy face is trying to get some action!” I can’t walk down the street with confidence while simultaneously looking for strong biceps or shapely buns because I can’t see further than a few feet in front of myself. You could parade a tall, naked fireman playing a guitar in front of me and all I would be able to see are his toes. All of my good years are being wasted in this bed while a whole new dating pool churns in the world outside my door. It seems criminal.