Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Do You Know Me? I Am SO Famous!!!!!

Well, Andy was right, I'm in the midst of my 15 seconds of fame. What was to be 15 minutes was whittled down to a sound bite in the middle of a report on something that had nothing to do with what I was interviewed about...but that's ok! I'll take it.

It started with a text at around 6:40pm from a friend that read, "did I just see you on tv playing with your dog?". Turns out, yours truly made the 6:30pm slot on ABC Nightly News with none other than Diane Sawyer!! Who'da thunk it!? An audience of 9 million people have seen my face and it was for something good!!

All day, my phone rang, I received numerous text messages and emails from well wishers, and I actually had to leave a meeting earlier than I'd like to because I was a bit of a distraction.

It's funny, when you get a little bit of attention on a national level your mind goes to "funny" places: what if people see me on the street and think, "there's that junkie from the news the other day". What if they try to kidnap Elvis?

When I was a child, my dream was to be an actress. Then that transformed into wanting to get into obstetrics (don't ask). Then the world caught up with me and I had to "get real" so...I studied the arts of China. Why? I couldn't tell you....

I know this post is extremely fragmented and doesn't flow like my others but that's where my mind is. Right now I don't have any charming anectdotes to tell you. I just want to

I've made a name for myself in the recovery circuit in my area and that's the kind of fame I like. I'm not cut out to be Cher; I prefer to be behind the scenes with a pad and a pencil, or in this case...a finger and an iPad, and write. That's what I do. all the 8 to 9 million people who saw me on the idiot box last night..........BUY MY BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!! (when it comes out),

Monday, September 27, 2010

You Know What They Say...

I'm on a roll so I apologize for my late night ramblings and rantings, but I have a lot on my mind lately. Something in particular is really getting my goat tonight. I went to post it on Facebook, but I was cut off mid sentence so, aren't you lucky!!

Here's the deal:

Those of us from the Valley of the Sun are all too familiar with a highly revered publicly appointed gasbag named Joe Arpiao. Joe was elected, back in 1992 as the sheriff of Maricopa County. It's county seat being of course, Phoenix. Right from the start Joe was Hell bent on "kicking ass and taking names". One of his biggest claims is that he was bold enough to give Elvis Presley a speeding ticket back in 1957. His belief, and mine too until I was actually there was that jail is not a resort, so he took away coffee and porn and cut back on frivolous spending for silly things like food. Green balogna sandwiches were on the menu and pink underwear and handcuffs were all the rage. Oh, and let's not forget the world famous tent city. Yes, all of this helped Joe earn the moniker "World's Toughest Sheriff". Perhaps you've seen him on shows? I have. You know, those jail shows that they show late at night. Joe is tough on crime and anyone who looks like they weren't born here in the good ol' U S of A.

I subscribe to, the Phoenix area newspaper, the Arizona Republic online. Over the weekend, I noticed that there was a new section that posts the days' mugshots from his 4th Avenue jail. Now, I know that if you go to MCSO's website you can see the past three days mugshots and what they are for, but this is right there on the front page.
Here's my beef: if we are all presumed innocent before trial (as is the American way), why do this? It ruins lives. As someone who has had her share of photo sessions at the various precincts in the metro Phoenix area, I know that some of these people will eventually clean up and get their shit together. You know, start rebuilding their lives and put the wreckage of the past behind them. This will follow FOREVER.

I posted a comment that was not unlike this tirade here under the pictures and was told to stop whining. That if they didn't break the law, this wouldn't be an issue. Oh, sure..I thought that, too. Then I had run-ins with the law. I didn't start my wayward years until I was in my 30s. Prior to that, all I had was parking tickets. No one is exempt from tragedy or unforsee circumstances that lead them down a path of crime.. It can happen to you. Mine happened to be a foray into the world of drug addiction. I became addicted to the ritual of abuse and the short lived feeling thereafter; I couldn't get enough. I look at these people, and a large portion of them are in ther for drug offenses and I see me.

But, you what they say about go on vacation, you leave on probation.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Its the Big Things In Life.

I wouldn't consider myself someone who scares easily. Given what I've experienced in my 40 short years walking the Earth: the many deaths of loved ones, being arrested, overdoses, ghosts, Long Island....I have a pretty strong reserve. Part of being in recovery is the true introspection of oneself; finding the root of our fears and then basically rendering them inert. Fear of financial insecurity, being misunderstood, relapse, a turn for the worse in regards to my health..these are things that should frighten me, but they don't. Maybe it was all the years of "living on the edge" while I was active in my addiction and "winging it" or being raised by the royal family of "Disfunction Junction" that I have this sense of "everything will come together eventually; I can make it happen with little effort". Hell, when I was using, I couldn't come up with enough money to pay the APS (Arizona Public Service) bill, but if I needed $300.00 to cop some "smack" within the hour...DONE. I believe it was Ozzy Osbourne who said in his biography, I Am Ozzy: " addicts are a resourceful lot. Tell a junkie the only way he will be able to score his next fix is to find the cure for Cancer, it would be eradicated in minutes.". Sad yes, but true. So no, it's not the mundane "normal" fears like everyone else worries about that plague me. That would be too easy. Nope, my fears are what you'd call irrational. Nonsensical. Completely unfounded given the circumstances of my upbringing, or rather, the location of my upbringing.

For the better part of my life, I've known many a person afraid of the following (in no particular order): clowns, midgets (excuse me, little people), the dark, public speaking, flying, bugs, death, dogs, UFOs, dolls, wooden utensils, and the list goes on and on. Clowns never bothered me and that's one I don't get. Little people, I can see that, but I've met a few and well, they were okay in my book. The dark? Okay, when I was younger I was TERRORFIED of the dark. Now, I love it. Now that I know what's in it. Public speaking? LOVE it; I do it every week; I love an audience. (did you know more people would rather die than speak in public? It's the number one fear). Flying? Mom was a pilot. Judy Garland was born in a trunk? I was born in a Cessna. Bugs? Eh..spiders creep me out. Death? The dying part worries me, but death itself? HELL NO!!!! Dogs? Elvis!!?? UFOs? Never seen one. I want to because I have a hard time believing. (which leads me to believe I'm being abducted and programmed to not remember. 1981 is a blur to me). You get the gist.....

None of that stuff scares me. I've been in homes and places where I'm almost willing to bet I was in the presence of true evil, if not the devil himself. I've been in aeroplanes that dipped and shook harder than Charo. Didn't even bat an eye.
Wanna know what scares me? What shakes me to my inner core? What just sitting here writing about it causes me great anxiety?

Giant Squid.

Well, any sea creature to be honest. You know, out there in the ocean they have the ability to grow unlike their brethren in tanks. I saw on NatGeo a documentary on the octopus and there was one in the Indian Ocean who's head was the size of a house. In fact, on the SciFi channel they are running commercials for a new series on mythical beasts; there is one in particular that gives me nightmares: the one with the giant squid who's tentacles come up through the water and engulf a huge wooden ship. Carolyn's version of Hell, ladies and gentlemen. I think what may have sparked this fear was Walt Disney. See, growing up we had this thick book on the art of Disney and there was a pull out picture of the giant squid attacking the Nautalis in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. All I can see is that huge eye. Egad...
I have no desire to go whale watching (lest they capsize the boat). Don't want to swim with the dolphins (remind me too much of sharks...another fear worthy of it's own blog). No, see, I believe that we have no business traipsing around the ocean. Too many big things with teeth and tentacles. I grew up in a desert where there were no giant squid in my neck of the woods so I grasp that this fear is what you'd call irrational, and I'm sure that baring any unforeseen nautical excursions (sans the Connecticut ferry) that way go array, I'll never have to face my fear. But knowing is half the battle.

So, I suppose I'll read my book on the ins and outs of the funeral business and embalming (with pictures), then mosey on up to my haunted bedroom to get some well deserved rest after tonights speaking obligation. Either that or watch a few on demand episodes of, "Little People, Big World". You know, so I can relax...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Boy, Elvis. No, the Other Elvis.

My name is Carolyn and I'm an alcoholic and an addict.

I wanted to write something deep and dark tonight, but something isn't letting me. I wanted to share something about myself that will leave those who are reading this in awe of me; "Wow, Carolyn and yet despite everything, you just keep on going". That kind of thing. I want so much to go into great detail about the last time I was arrested, on this very same day, for prescription forgery some years back at a Walmart in North West Phoenix. Glendale actually (that was the precinct I was taken to). I'd been doing it for so long and was, I thought, getting away with it much to the chagrin of my liver. In fact, so proficient at this was I that the DEA themselves came to meet me at Wallyworld and pretended they were the pharmacy staff. It was a Thursday. Thursdays....I want to talk about this, get it off my chest but I really don't see the point.

I was arrested very early in the morning. Right around 8:30am. See, I'd been "clean" for a few weeks at a time. Here and there. Off and on. Not this week. No, I'd been binging so to speak. Mostly Percocets. 20-30 a day..give or take. The withdrawals were such that well, anyone who has experienced withdrawal from opiates can tell you there was no sleep for me that night. I was chomping at the bit for "old faithful" to open. I call it that because I'd never had a problem there in the whole time I was scamming. See, us addicts..we have a schedule. A routine. I had several pharmacies I would use in rotation. It takes smarts to be an addict. Always calculating, scheming, lying,'ve got to be on your game. Of course, I had to stop at the local Kinkos first to make the actual script.

Isnt this getting redundant? Really, who wants to know about this...I should stop. There's a ladybug on the floor!

So, I left the prescription with the woman behind the counter; building friendships with the pharmacists is key in situations like this. I was told it would be roughly 45 minutes until I could pick it up. That was odd. I was the first person there. I left the store, waited across the street to see if the police showed up, as you do..came back to the store, walked around and looked at shoes (all the while I was dope sick: sweating, nausea, muscle aches). Somewhere in the back of mind I had a feeling the jig was up and was basking in what I was sure was my few last minutes of freedom. Took the roundabout way to the pharmacy, checking for anything "queer" and hoping to God all would work out for the best (in this situation). The whole crew changed in the hour that I'd left. Okay. Every essence of my being told me to leave, but to an addict that is dope sick, the lure of even a possibility that the scam may work is potent magic. As I approached the desk, I saw them: the boys in blue. Glendale's finest. I asked if my prescription was ready and out stepped DEA officer Maria Tellez of the Phoenix Division. Yes my loved ones, the DEA was lying in wait for yours truly. Phoenix's own Toni Montana. I was told that I was under arrest, was handcuffed and did the walk of shame all the way through and out the back of Walmart. Sam Walton would have been proud.

Have you noticed that MTV never plays videos anymore? Oh, I love the fact that I'm obsessed with, "Jersey Shore"!!

It was while I was being processed at the Glendale precinct that I had my run in with Deputy Lindsay from TLC's, " Police Women (or woman if you're Danielle Staub) of Maricopa County. I had been interviewed by multiple DEA agents and officers and was locked in a little closet where they do the intake paper work. It smelled like piss and I had been in there for an hour after the interrogation was over. I asked if they forgot about me when Officer Sell-Out replied, "they probably did". Bitch. I was "put into storage" with a few other women and waited out the time, while getting sicker and sicker until we were taken over to the new and improved 4th avenue jail. If you're from Phoenix, you've passed it; the one with the HUGE door that as it opens it says, "Sherrif Joe Welcomes You!". That one. Let me tell you, for those of you who have never been in a holding cell, it sucks. They are cold, smell, there is no clock so you can't tell what time it's the first level of Hell. And if you are in the beginning stages of opiate withdrawal, there is nothing worse. Well, there is and I was soon to experience it. To make the time go by, I fell off the top bunk and hit my head (prompting them to call the FD, that was fun!) Anything for a distraction.

Is anyone even reading this? What I wouldn't do for some REAL Mexican food right about now. I mean, Moes is ok for NY, but hey..

The van came around 10pm to collect us criminals and off to the big house we went. There was me, a girl who went to my middle school (probation violation) and a few fellas. One of them made us ladies feel welcome with the salutation, "evenin' ladies" (who says chivalry doesn't exist!?). They put you in a cargo van, just like in cops, that smells of body odor and piss. Men on one side, women on the other. Right down Grand avenue, we went. I could make out the stop lights and other cars around us; life really does pass you by quickly when you are locked in a cage with shackles around your hands and feet. Oh, I felt so sick.
The big house is where the action is. All of Maricopa county's biggest and baddest end up there for processing and arraignments. Photographed ($100.00 to anyone who can get their hands on my mug shots), fingerprinted, evaluated for medical and psychological issues and then stored in a small room with 30 to 40 people and one toilet that more than likely isn't working properly. Well, the one I was in wasn't. There was only one roll of toilet paper and well, I wasn't about to ask the big black woman who was using it as a pillow for it so...
So, there I shat, I mean sat until it was time to see the judge at 5am. By then the withdrawal was in full effect; my intestines opened up with a ferocity that I've only seen on Nat Geo. Because I had soiled myself, I was given prison dress (the stripes you see on tv). I was sick: shaking, shitting, sweating...and yet even then, I didn't think I had that bad of a problem.,I didn't think I had a problem. Period.
I saw the judge at 5am and was granted ROR (release on own recog). You still have to wait a few hours to get processed out and truth be told, in Phoenix anyway they only let the men out in the middle of the night. Women have to wait until daylight. I was counting the seconds until I was freed. And I was. Physically anyway. I dressed back into the clothes I came in with (the dirty ones), hopped on a bus because I didn't have the money for a phone call and my cell phone was dead and headed home. Never to return again.

Now, we all know how this story turns out; it has a happy ending. I finally got sober for good on Thursday (Thursdays!) the 31st of January, 2008 ( it's tattooed on my left arm so I can't ever fuck it up!!) But see, the girl in the story (moi) wasn't done just yet. No, I had to take my reign of terror to the East coast.; do just a little more damage to myself and those who love me. There is an adage in the rooms of AA, "you CAN'T scare an active addict"; prison, overdose, death...nah, won't happen to me. Eventually, it does. No one continues on this path of destruction and gets off Scott free. I didn't . After two years, seven months, three weeks and two days of sobriety I still pay the price for all that I've done: my teeth are fucked, I'm all but deaf in both ears from all the opiates, my vision is going and on and on and on....not to mention the rebuilding of trust. Which is always the first to go and the last to come back. Crazy to think something the size of my pinky nail had such a hold on me, huh? But, that's the insanity of this dis-ease.

But, I don't want to talk about all that. It's in the past. It doesn't define me, it's just a part of me... like a piece of a very large puzzle. No, let's talk about something lighter like, does Snooki really think she can get off charging $20,000 to walk a red carpet for much longer? Or is it okay for me to have, "Enola Gay" by OMD stuck in my head? It's better than, "Shiny Shiny" by Hayzi Fantayzee or, "Calling Your Name" by Marilyn. OH, Or better yet......let's talk about Elvis!!!
No..... The other Elvis.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Aunt Sally's Plastic Leg!!

If P. T. Barnum and Robert Ripley had a love child, the result would be me. Like drug addiction or obesity, I believe there is a gene that predisposes us to enjoy and be fascinated with the macabre and "oddities". Let me put it this way, the average person swoons over a picture of a sleeping kitten while I get flushed looking at the picture of the kitten born with two faces in The Daily News. Or, here is a better example: you know how everyone has to slow down and look at the accident on the side of the road? I'm the one who wants to peek under the blue blanket and see how the body landed when it hit the asphalt.

Let me digress for a moment..whenever I share my experience, strength and hope at an AA meeting, I always tell folks that I wish I could remember the exact moment when my addiction took over. What was it that snapped on the addict light and made me dive head first into the Hell that would become my life? With this obsession, I DO remember and I have my Aunt Sally to thank for "turning me out" to all things, erm, "freaky".
Aunt Sally was not really my aunt. Grandpa had a meat market in Nanuet, NY called Charlie's Market that he started in 1952. My father and my uncle Bob worked there as kids and while I was a toddler, I would play around the butcher blocks and knives, hide in the freezers and eat raw meat (looking back, it's a wonder that CPS didn't take me away!) and get to eat as many Creamcicles my heart desired. So, Sally was really a friend of the family; there were many of them, aunts and uncles while I was growing up. Remember, this was back in the days when customer service was king. So, Sally was married to my "uncle" Tony and this particular evening we were all gathered at my grandfather's house for dinner when it happened. Let me set the scene for you:

I was five years old with a head of nappy little curls and a wardrobe of Geranimals. (I wish they made those for adults). Me, Sally and Tony were playing a card game at the table and I remember that I was so small I had to kneel on the chair to reach the table top, and my hands were so uncoordinated, I couldn't hold the cards the way Sally and Tony could. I was getting frustrated and it's ironic because as adult I'm quite the poker fanatic and have learned how to hold my cards close..
So, in the middle of the game Tony asks me if I want to see a trick. Of course! He did the old making his thumb look like it's coming apart trick like Steve Martin did in the movie Parenthood. You know, the trick that made the little girl scream. I almost fainted. I was quite the squeamish child and well, still don't have a stomach of steel. Tony and Sally laughed at my horror, but that was not the capper. Sally leaned in close to me and said, "hey Carolyn, wanna go into the bedroom with me and watch me take off my leg!?". Unbeknownst to me at the time, Sally was diabetic and had lost her leg below the knee. If you think Tony's thumb trick left me unnerved, the fact that Sally could take of her leg left me paralyzed with shock. I didn't take her up on her offer, but to this day I can remember feeling scared, repulsed and even a little turned on about it. No, not sexually. If memory serves I did start crying which prompted my mother to ask what happened, to which her response was, "why you gotta do that to her....she's gonna have nightmares!!!". It was soon after that I started holding mock funerals for my dolls in the garden.

The older I got, the more I appreciated the weirder things in life: bearded ladies, three legged men, pinheads and well, my personal favorite: lobster boy. While others recoiled, I got closer and wanted to know more. I devoured books on "circus freaks" . Was addicted to both "Ripley's, Believe it or Not" and "That's Incredible". I worshiped Leonard Nimoy on "In Search Of". And lastly, sat through each and every episode of "Faces of Death". And I'm all the better for it. As a teenager, while others loved Matt Dillon, I loved Robert Wadlow the tallest man who ever lived. While the girls when crazy for five boys from England (Duran Duran), I was crazy about the Dionne Quintuplets!

Now that I live in New York, I make it a point to head to Coney Island at least once a year to see the "freak show". Well, from outside....if I'm not mistaken there is video of me on Youtube reacting to "Blockhead" hammering nails into his nose. I'm also a moderator on an Internet forum that is dedicated to the darker side of Hollywood called Find a Death. I love it. Whenever I dive into a new book about Elvis or any other celebrity who died young, I go straight to the back of the book to see if there are any new death scene details.
Listen, I've had therapists tell me that this fascination of mine is my minds way of dealing with my mother's death. I was young so, if I can take death, bring it close to me, look at it and say, "you're not that scary", I can handle it better. I don't know if that's true, but it sounds nice.

You know, P.T Barnum supposedly coined the phrase " there is a sucker born every minute" while Robert Ripley left it up to us to "believe it or not". I'm going to coin a new I'm sure my "dads" would approve of: embrace your morbid curiosity. We all have it and it's healthy..and as natural as a two headed kitty!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Love That Kept Me Together. Forever!

I shared on Facebook this evening that as a child, I used to pretend that my parents were the 70's singing duo, The Captain and Tennelle. Given the time period: 1976/ 77, I had many duos to chose from: Elton and KiKi, Marilyn McCoo and BIlly Davis jr., Loggins and Messina..but for some reason I picked Daryl and Toni to be my surrogate parents. Why? Well, why not?

Believe it or not, I do remember the day mom brought me their first album from the now defunct Korvettes in Nanuet, NY. Much to my mother's chagrin, I played that "damn" thing over and over until we all had the lyrics to "Love Will Keep Us Together" memorized backwards and forwards. I would carry the album (remember those?) with me to school and actually, I was the envy of my second grade class at Bardonia Elementary school. When I made it home after a hard day of schoolin', I'd prop open the gatefold of the album and talk to "mom and dad". I even knew the names of their Bulldogs: Broderick and Elizabeth. We had good times, the five of us.....good wholesome fun. Daryl was the type of dad I always wanted: kind, loving, quiet. While Toni was everything my mother wasn't: patient, aware and well, quiet. Daryl and Toni loved each other. It was obvious on their weekly television show. They adored each other and I knew that if they knew me, they'd love me, too.
Like Linus and his security blanket, I carried the album with me wherever I went. On one particular day, my mother and I went to visit my aunt Phyllis in her cool bachlorette pad in Mt. Ivy, NY. Remember, this was the 70's so she had a really cool patio covered with potted plants and macramé hangings; very Stevie Nicks, if you will. Well, on this outing, as I was looking over the balcony, my beloved album slipped out of the cover and crashed two stories below. I was inconsolable. I cried all the way home. I cried through dinner. I cried myself to sleep. I cried when I woke up and I cried during school. That was bar none the worst day of my life up to that point. My six year old heart was broken. As broken as my LP. I thought when they cancelled the show I was going to die from the heartache, but this...this was bad.
When I got off the bus that afternoon, mom was waiting at the corner like she always was with a replacement album. She was good like that.
I was back in business!!

Sometime around 1977, I heard my mother talking to said aunt that we were going to be moving to Phoenix, Arizona after the school year. This was news to me. I was horrified. I didn't like change. (I still don't ). I cried and wailed about how everything I knew was there, in the hamlet of Nanuet. Mom being mom knew how to work my angle and asked me, "don't you want to be closer to the Capatain and Tennelle?". Yes. I did. I had my bags packed the next day.
We did move out the Valley of the Sun during the summer of 1978. That October, the state fair came to town. Guess who was playing on opening night? You guessed it!!! I was going to be in the presence of my long lost parents!! We would be reunited just like people are on "The Locator"! Then we'd live happily ever after....
The tickets mom got were so far up in the rafters we could barely see anything, but it didn't matter to me. This was my Beatlemania!!! It was more than my little eight year old heart could handle. I was beside myself with glee. Towards the end of the show, mom let me go all the way down to the stage to get as close as I could. And I did. "Mom" was stunning in a purple staples dress, not unlike the one she wore on that episode of "Love Boat" and dad, he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt with his goofy hat!!! I was so close I was almost positive she looked right at me!!!!!
I could have died that night and been happy with it. I was in seventh heaven.

Just like all things, my Captain and Tennelle era came to an end. I moved on to a single parent situation with Olivia Newton-John. Hey, the times, they were a changin. After that was, of course, Prince. But, he was more of a brother. Or a cousin.

I heard not that long ago that Toni Tennelle could no longer sing and I was truly saddened by that. I also heard that they were living just outside of Prescott, Arizona. A part of me wanted to stop in and say hi to the folks. You know, check on them and see how they've been doing now that I was out of the house and living my life and all, but thought better of it. Maybe it's best that they not know about their secret love child who had been raised by another couple in an Arizona suburb. It might shatter their image.

Friday, May 28, 2010

When Doves Go Crazy

I remember the day I heard that voice like it was yesterday. It was the summer of 1978. Or was it fall? Huh, I can't remember, really but I do remember it well. The woman on the radio was singing about wanting to be my lover and wanting to be the only one I'd coo for. Whatever that meant. The song was all over the radio and whenever I'd be driving with mom in her green Gran Torino, I'd TURN the dial in search of it. It drove her crazy, but she loved me and always supported my latest obsession. And I was obsessed. I hadn't even seen what this lady looked like, but even then I knew I was "funny" and at the ripe old age of eight, I was ready for love!!
Mom found the 45 ( you know, the small vinyl records ) at a local record shop but it didn't come with a picture sleeve, but the lady who sang my favorite song with the amazingly high voice had a weird name: Prince. Prince?
Yes, the woman I loved was a man named Prince. I decided to end our romance right then and there and move on to a real woman who was accessible and wholesome; the real girl next door: Olivia Newton-John. I'd seen Grease a million times and now the movie Xanadu was in theaters so she had my undivided attention and she was all I thought and talked about. I was ten now. More mature and definitely ready for romance. Yep, Livvy was my main squeeze there for a few years. At least until the summer of 1983.

I was hanging out with my friend Alicia Powell and her boyfriend and a bunch of other tweens with MTV on in the background. This was when MTV was cool and played videos. Stray Cats, The Fixx, Eurythmics; good music. I wasn't much interested in talk about boys and dresses and things of a girlish nature so I focused on the television. It was then that I saw a video from my old love, Prince. The video was smoky and sexy and best of all, it had two women rubbing against each other!!! It was for the song, "1999". That's it. I fell back in love and I fell hard. This time I was ready to make a longtime commitment and hopped on the back of his bike and we went ridding off into the Purple Rain!!

Down came the Olivia Newton-John posters and up went nothing but half naked Prince pictures. Much to my mother's protestations that he was too old for me. I didn't care. I was hooked. Lucky for me, the movie Purple Rain came out soon after and the whole world got to bask in the genius that is Prince. I remember when I get the album for it, there was a poster that had all the band members on it and there they were: Wendy and Lisa. Lisa had her arm around Wendy and I just about had a stroke. Way too much for my 14 year old heart to take. Not to mention the hormones!! Rumor had it that he was going to tour, but his concerts were known for being too racy and kids weren't allowed. My heart shattered. It didn't matter though because at the time I was living in Arizona and Evan Meacham was the governor. He had made many racial slurs and was publiciy opposed to making Martin Luther King Jr's birthday into a holiday so many black musicians boycotted the Phoenix area. So, that was that.

In the summer of 1986, MTV announced a "win a date with Prince" contest and the winner would have Prince fly into your town and premier his new movie, Under the Cherry Moon!! Needless to say, I didn't win but man, I tried. The movie bombed, but the music was great. Soon after that, he disbanded the Revolution and I was devastated. I've never been one for change.
It was also around this time that my mother suddenly became very sick and then passed away. Prince was there for me, as usual. I started to immerse myself in my collection of all things Prince related. I had bootlegs, posters, videos, scrapbooks, ect. It gave me something to focus on because I was lapsing into a very deep depression. No matter what, Prince was my constant. My rock.

After graduating high school, I moved to Los Angeles and my Prince fetish flourished. I was in the land of swell record stores and ephemera shops. It was heaven. I moved around a lot so, everywhere I went, my ever expanding collection followed. It started to become a burden almost. I was also finding myself defending my love of Prince with the same fervor I defended WWF wrestling: it was real. It meant something. I needed it.

In 1993, I moved back to Phoenix and yes, along came my Prince collection. I was changing and so was the man I loved. Before long, he was getting married (to another woman), having babies and creating music that just didn't seem to do much for anyone anymore. But, it did me. And in the spring of 1997, he came to Phoenix! It was announced that a local record shop would be the only one selling tickets and that they would be going on sale that very night so, I parked myself in front of the Zia Records on Thunderbird road and waited nine hours to get my prized possession: a floor level ticket!! After all these years, me and Prince were going to be face to face. And we were. I was close enough to see the lines in his eyes and smell the lavender cologne he wears. I was in heaven. It was now that I could lay down and die.

Shortly after that first concert, something changed. With me and Prince. We started drifting apart. I mean, I would see him whenever he came to town and I've seen him a few other times around the globe, but I was ready to move on. Changes needed to be made but neither one of us wanted to make the first move. He finally did when he announced that he was suing every and anybody that was using his likeness on the Internet without his permission. This hurt so many people who did nothing but support him during his career and he started making enemies of the people who's only crime was love him for so long. He also went and became baptized in the Jehovahs Witnesses cult, I mean religion and stopped making music with an edge: no cursing, no sex talk and all this talk about God.
Granted, I was making some changes in my life, too: I'd had a heart attack, was dabbling in hard drugs and was just plain miserable. I was losing my edge, too but didn't have an outlet like he did. I was stagnant. What to do, what to do?

In 2003 I made the decision to start selling off my Prince collection. For 25 years I had collected, followed, adored and loved this man and what had it gotten me? Ridicule, heartache and pain in my lower back from lugging him around everywhere I went. A total of 86 vinyl albums, hundreds of magazines, posters, buttons, clippings, videos, not to mention all of the memories sold for a whopping $700.00 to a fellow in Mesa, Arizona. Just about all of that money went to feeding my new hobby: drugs.

The time I spent with Prince was wonderful and I feel lucky to have had him to lean on all those years, but people change with time. So does music. I have him on my iPod though, and I still lift my head if I hear his name mentioned on television or if I'm out and about. Now I understand what he was singing about in the song, "I Wanna Be Your Lover" that I heard back in '78. No wonder mom was concerned. She could never figure out what he was singing, either. Mom, if you're reading was, "I wanna be the only one you come for".

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Death, golf courses and life at the laundry mat.

I apologize, mostly to Chris that I've been shirking my blogging duties. See, I haven't been feeling well the past few weeks and although the mind was active, the body couldn't drag herself to the portable iPad. My strength has been building the last few days so with, "RuPaul's Drag Race" on the television to drown out the noise of the next door neighbors latest public display of domestic discord and Elvis's head resting on the small of my back.....let's get back to business..shall we?

When I was a kid, say around six or seven years old I started to grasp that things and people eventually cease to exist. You know...die. I'd heard the word "dead" and the expression, "passed away" in regards to elderly relatives and neighborhood acquaintances but didn't fully understand the true meaning of death. Yes, I'd had goldfish that occasionally floated to the top of the bowl only to be unceremoniously flushed down the commode, but again I didn't grasp the finality of the concept of death and all that goes with it. Funerals? Coffins? Memorials? Couldn't wrap my grade school brain around it but at the same time, I was fascinated by it. So much so that while the neighborhood girls would hold mock weddings with their Barbies, I would bury them in the little garden we had by our shed. I'd say a few words and in she'd go, only to be pulled out, brushed off and ready for a ride in her new Corvette! My own little blond haired zombie.

It was around this time that my mother was helping her boyfriend (my parents were separated) with one of his side businesses, a laundry mat in Old Tappan, New Jersey. Every weekend I would drive out with her and sit on the folding tables making conversation with all the people while she collected the money, loaded the soap and swept the floor. I remember our garage being filled with those little boxes of soap and fabric softener that you get out of the machine and the smell of Tide being overpowering every time we got out of the car. I was fascinated with how small the boxes were.
One particular spring day in the year of our lord, 1977, it was announced over the radio that the legendary entertainer Bing Crosby "passed away" on a golf course in Spain. I didn't hear the Spain part, but I did happen to notice that we were, at that very moment passing a golf course on the way to our weekend jaunt to the laundry mat. My sister, Jean was home for spring break from St. Anne's School for Girls in Albany, New York and was a part of the festivities. She was 15 at the time and to this seven year old, very worldly. She and my mother were laughing at my rubbernecking in the direction of the golf course looking in vain for the fallen Bing Crosby. I didn't understand. And I certainly didn't want to miss out on the chance to see someone dead. Especially on a golf course. And famous to boot!
Mom explained that he didn't die in the hamlet of Nanuet like I had hoped for, but in a more exotic locale....Spain. Okay, I got that. Understood. But, once and for all I wanted an explanation on what "dead" was. What is this great mystery of life that will eventually happen to us all? Why do people speak in hushed tones and dress in black and all that jazz? So, I asked her. Below is verbatim the conversation that took place:
Me: "What happens to you when you die?"
Mom: "They stick you in a box and they bury you".

Just like that.

Now, I couldn't understand how one would be positioned in a huge Magnavox console television box, but I was starting to understand the concept. The neighbors across the street had a cat that died and they buried him in a Thom McCann shoe box. Like that, I guess? Alright. That took care of the disposal of the body, but what about death in relation to life and more importantly, me?
Me: "Well, what am I gonna do when you die?"
Mom: "You'll be sad for a little while, then you'll get over it".

Just like that.

Jean thought this whole dialogue was the funniest thing she had ever heard. I was frustrated because I felt as if they were keeping me out of the loop and not letting me in on something big. One more thing to add to the, "someday when you're older I'll explain" list. Ah, youth.

It's been 33 years and many many deaths of pets, friends, acquaintances, family members and loved ones since that conversation with my mother in her green Gran Torino on the way to the laundry mat that spring day. I understand now what happens when we die; to our bodies and our spirits. I understand now that death is just a fact of life and it's nothing to fear, really. I understand now that we all have a path to follow and like it or not, we chose it before coming here, and I do understand now that the universe has a plan and when it's ready, we'll be called back "home".
My mother's death in 1986 was the most significant loss I've experienced in this life time. Second only to my beloved grandfather in 1993. After almost 24 years, I miss her every day, and with the realization that I'm just four short years away from the age she was when she passed, I mourn all the life lessons she wasn't around to give me. But that's okay. I was sad for a little while and I got over it.

Just like that.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My friend, Petey.

When I was a little girl, I had a little friend named Petey. Petey was black and always wore the same denim overalls and red and green plaid shirt. We were about the same age and spent many many hours coloring, playing outside and sometimes he even spent the night. He had a penchant for pear juice and my mother aways being the good sport, bought it for him. She would pour him a glass and there it would sit, untouched for days on end. Still, she kept buying it for him so it would always be there when he would come to play. Mom was good like that.

When I started attending kindergarten in the fall of 1975, Petey just stopped coming around. Sure, I made other friends but he was special. Maybe he was jealous. Whatever the case may be, he eventually stopped coming around completely. And I never gave him another thought, until the summer of 1991.

You know, I never really gave much thought to what happens to us after we die until, of course I lost my mother in December of 1986. I was 16. Being raised in the Catholic faith I was taught to believe in heaven and hell and all that jazz, but didn't spend quality time pondering what would happen to me after I shed my mortal coil. I never believed in ghosts and witches and things that went bump in the night. I made fun of people who did. At my sister's wedding in 1984, a woman who was extremely wasted on weed told me I was so psychic that I radiated; i wanted to leave right then and there. Yes, I was easily spooked and movies like, the Exorcist scared the hell out of me, but the idea that people hung around causing havoc just didn't make sense to me. I had other things to think about. Like Prince. Now, mom taught me to always keep an open mind. So, having never had a supernatural experience I said aloud to the fates: if there is such a me.

You know that expression, be careful what you ask for?

The summer of 1991. I was living in Los Angeles but was home in Phoenix paying a visit to my sister. We got to waltzing down memory lane and somehow veered onto a discussion about the afterlife and ghosts. We reminiscesd about our old house in Nanuet, NY and this and that and how we all had vivid imaginations. Okay, I admit that maybe I DIDN'T really see Mr. Snuffleupagus behind the Beil's house when I was four, but I digress...
During the conversation, she brought up someone I hadn't thought of in years, my old friend, Petey. Her exact words to me were: "do you remember when you were little, you had an imaginary friend name Petey? You were so insistent that he was real, mom actually bought toys and juice for him. She used to hear you talking to someone in your room all the time. Then one day, you just stopped. Mom was relieved that you started playing with real kids...".

Soon after that, I had a reading with someone who did past life regressions; Petey was the son of someone I was associated with in a past life I had in the 1700s.

Now, with my third eye completely open and ears firmly in tuned to the ether world, I catch glimpses of Petey now and then. Not to mention a veritable who's who of people who have passed to the other side. No, no one famous. As I've matured, I've been able to balance the two worlds that I live in and don't knock people who do hear things that go bump in the night. I could let it consume my whole life, but I've got other things to think about. Like Elvis.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Today is THE day..

Friends, to know me is to know that I believe in fate; there are no coincidences in life. Everything is planned way ahead of time. Before we are even born, really. So, what does that have to do with the creation of this blog? Everything.

For some time now, those closest to me have heard me say that I'm going to write a book. THE book. As the benevolent deity, Oprah Winfrey says, we all have a story; We all have a tale to tell, and at the ripe young age of 40, I've lived many lives. I've been a daughter, a sister, a sexual abuse survivor, a student, an employee, a world traveler, a liar, a thief, a schemer, an alcoholic, a raving drug addict, an inmate, a spouse, a mommy to the best Pug in the whole wide world, ad infinitum. No, these things don't define me, but they make me who I am today: a work in progress.

So again, why this blog? I never really fancied myself the great raconteur. Okay, maybe a little. See, being the good addict that I am, I am what we call in the rooms of AA an egomaniac with an inferiority complex: I think everyone in the world should hear what I have to say, but at the same time don't understand why anyone would. Now, with the advent of FaceBook, I've been able to say what's "on my mind", but I need to keep it short and simple. Lest I be cut off in mid thought.
So, is it fate that after my recent post on FaceBook about my missing the Arizona desert and my mothers run-in with a saguaro cactus needle I'm told by two people in the space of two hours that I really should be "blogging" instead of posting long-winded musings on FaceBook? Yes. I've been meaning to do this for some time, but I'm lazy. There's way too much "good" tv on during the day and the hours just get away from me way too fast. But, I have a lot of things on my mind and quite frankly...I can talk up a storm.

So, here I am for the world to see. I am now, for all intent and purpose, an open book. So...............what now?