Tuesday, September 20, 2011

X Hits The Spot

Time to blog. But I have no idea about what. Do I bore "you" with medical updates about my back surgery? (walking with cane, can do about 3-4 hours normal routine then I am flat on my couch in pain). Do I continue my theme of To Love or Not To Love? (at this juncture I feel like I fell in love and no one else will come close to Mr.Heartbreak so I am no longer looking for someone to fill that missing...whatever. I am done. If God has a plan, I am just gonna let it happen and if it does it does, if not...then...whatever. I am too tired to fall in love anymore. *cynical laugh*.)

I think I would rather talk about music right now. Last Saturday I had the distinct pleasure to sit in a small, nifty men's clothing store in Orange, CA, called Moonlight Graham ( moonlightgraham.net ) to listen to some amazing live music. You might wonder that clothing stores and live gigs don't mix. It seems odd but it works. (They also sell vinyl albums, cds, DVDs etc., of mostly punk/rock...it's a small but powerful selection so worth the perusal. Not only did I replenish my cd collection with some TSOL and X discs, I also picked up a copy of Penelope Spheeris' movie "Suburbia." there. They have live concert footage DVDs as well. Oh, yes. This is SO much more than a clothing store. You owe it to yourself for a visit...and you don't even have to be a guy to do so.)

So...back to the story. I don't know the history, but somehow Exene Cervenka, co-lead singer of the Southern California punk band "X", has hooked into this retro store and has begun having regular gigs, called Exene's Hootenanny... once a month. Check out her Facebook page at Exenes-Moonlight-Hootenanny-at-Moonlight-Graham/224286210920135.

My first foray into this wonderfully intimate venue was to see Jack Grisham (TSOL frontman) do a reading from his book "An American Demon".  (http://www.facebook.com/yourfriendjack and  http://www.facebook.com/pages/An-American-Demon/177631685612892). It was there that I looked up and saw, standing not 10 feet from me, my music idol Exene, arms folded, listening intently. I sat still and composed but inside I was screaming in circles. I had know idea at first what I was participating in. I was about to find out.

From chitchat in the line waiting to meet Jack (by the way, read the book. But not at night. Not before bed. It is brilliant and unnerving and grim; an addictive, black fairytale for grown-ups that screams don't go outside and play) and sign my copy, I learned about these monthly gigs, especially glad to hear that Exene's gigs are very kid friendly. She has, in fact, announced that she does children's book readings there, and occasionally her Hootenanny is set up especially for little ones.

I bought tickets for the next month, which was a truly transformational evening of low-down bluesy acoustic rock with Zander Schloss (of Circle Jerks) and Sean Wheeler (the captain of Throw Rag). If you have ever seen Sean with Throw Rag, you'd understand my gratitude that Exene demands her gigs stay family-friendly since I had planned to take my kids to the gig which ended up NOT happening...but I digress as usual. I highly recommend their album "Walk Thee Invisible" which is raw, low-key and mind-blowing. I dare you not to fall under the spell of "Song About Songs" or want to sing in your car to "Retablo" or "So Low She Rose." Check them out on YouTube.com and iTunes and their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SeanWheelerandZanderSchloss.

Next hootenanny I attended was last week's magic: John Doe. I sat front row (there were only four rows of chairs, then standing room only amongst the shirts, jackets and other merchandise...) with opener Cindy Wasserman singing a couple duets with Exene, and occasional instrumental accompaniment with bandmate Patrick Dennis from Dead Rock West ( http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dead-Rock-West/8733817993).

Then came Mr. Doe, strummin' and pickin' his acoustic and electric gee-tars, stomping his cowboy-booted feet for emphasis. He sang songs of love, life and general societal quirks from his new album "Keeper" (from which I have gleaned a new favorite song, "Moonbeams"...that's going on my Love Touch Sex playlist...whew!) in a soulful, down-home way with his drawl that makes listening an almost sensual experience.

Exene and Cindy sang along in turns and I have to say, even as a fan of X who can't imagine John without Exene, Cindy was a natural match to Doe's lead. Where Exene blends with his voice in a higher, more ethereal way, Cindy brings her harmonizing a little closer to earth with her sultry voice.

The highlight of the evening, a few moments of utter awe in a night of being totally mesmerized, was when Exene got up and sang "See How We Are" with John. This song happens to be my favorite song from my favorite X album, by the same title. Having never seen X in their early hey-days, I was strongly moved by sitting mere feet away from these music legends - legends whose voices I have blared in my cars and headphones for 25 years. Yeah, if you were never into punk/alternative in the late 70s/early 80s you'd be asking "who??" (at which i shake my head in despair). But it's ok. Admittedly they aren't the legends that U2 or The Police or Prince became from those days but that is because they never drifted to mainstream pop. But in my smaller, more intimate world of punk rock, John and Exene are the reigning King and Queen of Southern California music. (ok, Jack....you are co-queen....)

Fortunately, X is touring now, and they are coming home to play locally at the end of the year. And with who else but Zander and Sean opening for them!! If you want to sit back and enjoy great music with a truly grass-roots all-American feel to it, book yourself a ticket at The Coach House for Wednesday, 14 December 2011. http://www.thecoachhouse.com/

Until then I will satisfy myself by attending Exene's Hootenanny next month and November. One of the things I love about these gigs is that Exene is so accessible, kind and just has fun. She - and Cindy for that matter - was so sweet to both my girls who WERE mutedly excited, but not fully understanding the magnitude of the evening...sitting at John Doe's feet while he played, or shaking Exene's hand, or telling Cindy they "like her singing," (the Cindy who was just on the stage a few days ago singing with Eddie Vedder).

No...they don't quite understand it, because John Doe and Exene are MY heroes. But, I am introducing my girls to these gigs and my music to show them a world beyond Disney Channel and Justin Bieber.

Well, this has been a review of a different kind. I'm no professional. But I do think it's time to write up on the albums I have mentioned...as well as Exene's latest solo "The Excitement of Maybe" and I'll have to get Dead Rock West (alas, MG was out of those discs when I stopped by this week).

Friday, September 9, 2011

What the Hell I'm Bored! Sept 9, 2011 Post #2

Wanted to also expound on my post from last week, "True What?". I started the day in tears and heartache and ended the day in peace and altered perspective.

I did what I have been taught to do when feeling such pain: got on my knees and prayed to God for mercy and to remove the pain and let me know what his will for me would be for the day. I posted honestly on Facebook (without details) that I was hurting...I opened up to let my friends know the situation and I was overwhelmed with instant feedback full of love and support. I spoke directly to some close friends. I journaled privately and very publicly here in my blog. I wrote a letter to myself from God. It is amazing how self-healing that small act can be. Things I wish I could believe for myself came thru as loving truth when ostensibly written by God.

And I spoke to a very wonderful woman...my spiritual mentor, my best friend...she told me, "Kris, instead of thinking of the negative aspects of this hurt, realize that you took your power back in these relationships. These two men acted selfishly and hurt you. You didn't stand for it. You told them both you never want to see or talk to them again! That's YOUR power! And God swept them clear of your heart to make room for someone better. Before today you still had hope for these two relationships. Today you chose for YOURSELF to finally end them on your terms. Good job!"

Or, something to that effect... :)

The point is all those things I did were healthy, mature ways of dealing with grief. And worry. Because I realized also that last week I had a lot on my plate. I was walking through a lot of fear and worry about my back surgery. The emotions I felt in reaction to these two men (when all is said and hurt is put aside...they are both very GOOD men...just not meant to be in my life. And maybe they didn't act with the best judgment. Or grace. They are human after all and ego can make any good person do or say not-good things).

Anyway, my friend's loving support and kind words did wonders for me. I used to believe I was hard-wired to be and think a certain way. It is a blessing today to be teachable and willing which enables a shift in my perspective to occur much much faster than before.

So, yet again, thank you God, friends, family. You are the rocks to which I cling most heartily.

I'm Walkin'. Haha! With Help

Posting from hospital bed almost 24 hrs post-op. Last I remember of my surgery was waving goodbye to my incredibly handsome anesthesiologist (it was odd feeling like I had died and gone to heaven BEFORE going under the knife). Then I woke up in recovery waving HELLO to my incredibly handsome anesthesiologist. Alas we waved goodbye again too soon. Ahhhhhhh.....Doc Bailey....are you married?!?

Was soon wheeled to the observation unit and given pain meds. I will say that if the pain I felt was WITH pain killers you would have to shoot me if I had to go through that WITHOUT them. I dozed off and on, spoke at different intervals to my dad, my best friend (who relayed my recovery status to my boss), my ex and my girls.

As the hour of discharge came upon me I knew in my heart I wasn't going home. Even trying to shift my butt a fraction was short of impossible. Thankfully today I feel closer in pain management to what apparently most patients feel within three or four hours post-op. I have come to believe that I am 1) a pain-wuss or 2) those "other" patients are not human, but aliens from planet Imnowussbutyouare.

Last night was nigh-on brutal with two Percocet promising to put me out of pain and into sleep...two hours later I was awake and in more pain than all the previous hours put together and so Dilaudid was administered. That was a blessing that eased the pain and knocked me right the heck out. For...ohhhhhhhhhh...about three whole hours followed by fitful sleep periods of about an hour at a time. For the most part it was the itching that kept waking me up. Gotta love pain-meds.

Two things that stand out other than Doc Bailey and the pain...seriously, I honestly already feel strength and mobility in my leg and foot. Yes my back hurts - whose wouldn't after it was cut open and bone shaved away and fragments and other stuff removed. Yes my foot is still partly numb. Nerve sensation damage takes the longest to recover. the other wonderful thing is that every time a baby is born in St. Joseph's Hospital, they play lullaby music on the intercom. Say what you will about the world today, every time I hear that lullaby music I smile. Big.

So, like I already said I am feeling much better this morning. IV hookup is gone - though the IV is still in my hand (ewwwwww) and I am going to order breakfast soon. I could be on my deathbed and still want a sandwich for Pete sake. Honestly if I am sick and lose my appetite something is really, really wrong. Anyway if all goes well I will be home by noon.

With a walker. Yep. I just bought myself s $100 walker. Ehh? Whasssat yeh say?? Mold? No there's no mold here! This is a durned hospital!! * dang-fool whipper-snapper..*

Addendum: I am home now at my parent's and comfy in my old room...have everything I need and can move around pretty well. Need to not overdo it though. Using that gull-durned walker tho...I have ventured forth without it and am a little shaky. Even missed the mark on leaning toward something and kinda wrenched my back ever-so-slightly. So it is walker time at least for a week they said.

Friday, September 2, 2011

True What?

I have spent my entire life knowing, ever since I was a little girl, that there was such a thing as "True Love," knowing even at a young age there was someone for me. Someone who would love me, want me, respect me, protect me, cherish me, be proud of me, enjoy my company, long for me. My Champion. My beautiful love. Someone for whom I could return all those wants, emotions and hopes in kind. Two partners walking through life side by side. Neither leading nor following. I have admitted numerous times in this blog that my "there's a lid for every pot" belief in finding a life partner – ok, ok, I will say the damned word: SOULMATE – was probably irrevocably shaped by fucking Hollywood and its fucking cinematic love-crap shown to us in larger-than-life technicolor. Disney and Hollywood damned my romantic soul forever.

Then there was the harsh reality of my parent's relationship and when Dad moved out when I was 5… my hero was gone… my daddy wasn't there to protect me. I got hurt pretty bad by some asshole during that chaotic time and no one protected me from what happened. No one could. No one knew. So I grew up needing that… that… needing that fear and vulnerability protected. I sure as hell never got it from my dad. Even after my parents reunited, there was a lot of anger in the house. Lots of fighting. My dad scared me. He rarely got physical with me, but there were times that I pushed him beyond his limit. I was never hit. Don't get me wrong. But my neck was in an arm-hold a couple times. There was some pushing and grabbing and pulling on occasion. But it was that rage in his eyes, that rage always scared the crap out of me. He didn't have to touch me to scare the shit out of me when he was angry. And he was angry a lot. But like a fool, I usually stood up to him. I don't like cowering. I'll take a beating – frightened or not – before I let you fucking put me in a corner. He still scares me when he's angry. And he still, to this day, treats me like a child, chastising and criticizing me. However,  I have reached out to him in the last few years, without expectations of his miraculously becoming a knight in shining armor. I have reached out to him, let him know I love him and need him. I share sometimes with him emotions that he is uncomfortable hearing. I think he feels helpless so doesn't say anything at all. I know he loves me and always has. 

But as a child, I guess I built up this defense for myself. I created a need to find a man who would protect me. Someone who would be all those things I mentioned above. Someone I would feel safe with and not abandon me. The problem is that I grasped at every first-guy that came along showing interest… I ruined relationship after relationship with my need to 1) have someone fill that void, even though I had no clue what was going on or why, and 2) change them INTO that person, because, inevitably, they never were the kind of guy capable of fulfilling my emotional needs in the first place.

In the many, many years I have struggled with depression and loss of important relationships and trying desperately to cope with finding out who I am, why I think and feel the way I do and what can I do to healthily fill the void, I have sought God. I have always sought God, much in the same way I sought true love. I desperately grasped out for something to believe in, to have faith in…through my parent's separation,  sexual abuse at the age of 5 by person or persons unknown, my parent's tumultuous reunion and ensuing years of fighting and arguing and raging – especially between dad and I – and the paradox of fearing that they would divorce again (I even told my pediatrician I'd kill myself if they got divorced…I think I was 12 at the time…if that's not desperate fear I don't know what is. That said, I wish I knew then what I know now. Divorce wouldn't have been the end of the world. They stuck together, but I also believe they were made for each other. They were always, and will always be, meant to be).

Through all this I desired an unshakable faith in A God. It wasn't necessarily the God I'd learned about in church, though my church years provided the foundation of my spiritual beliefs and general idea of who or what God is. But I ultimately grew up hating religion because our church friends dumped us after I was put in a kid's psych unit for a couple months and a year later my mom ended up in the same hospital in the adult ward after an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Church-goin' folks think suicide is a sin, therefore they don't like associating with sinners. I saw this hypocrisy in action but was too young to know that the same people who shunned us were probably angry behind the doors and walls of their homes, fighting their own demons but too afraid to utter them out loud or in public…me and my mom…my family...made them uncomfortable so they went away and left us alone. And that's all I knew about religious folk. But I don't blame God for religious folk. I manage to separate Him out from the masses.

You can probably guess by now I have major abandonment issues. I have worked long and hard to come to terms with the last 35+ years of my life. The ups and downs. The wrecked relationships. The turning to just about ANYTHING outside of myself to quench the conflagration that constantly threatened to destroy my sanity and my soul. I have worked and sought and prayed and loved and hated and believed and not believed and moved forward despite the intense desire to sometimes just lay down and die from soul-sick exhaustion. I often times marvel at my ability to stay perfectly still  and quiet at the very same time every fiber in my body and the very core of my soul is tearing and shredding insanely inside me urging to run fast and hard and scream loud and long. Run and scream on the inside, move slowly, calmly and stay quiet on the outside. It's a surreal experience.

But somehow I have maintained belief that there is a loving God who cares for me (I do believe that, although today, and the last two weeks, I have not been so sure), who loves me because I am His daughter. I am His spirit child who He created to be beautiful, intelligent, caring, loving, witty and kind. As for the negative aspects of my psyche, I have tried the "re-parenting myself." Tried to get in and keep in touch with my "inner child"– tried to calm her and love her and protect her from 40 years in the future…or…40 years in the past…I don't know. I just know that there is a loneliness inside me that has never dissipated. Not with "the power of positive thinking," not through trying to rewire my belief system that I am unworthy of love. Not through all the bullshit years of school, my twenties, sure as hell not through my thirties…even with my children and friends. Even in my happiest days of freedom and spiritual strength there is a void that remains empty. No amount of seeking God has filled that yet. And everyone tells me to believe in  "God's Plan," "Let God fill that void," "God has a man for you…let God bring him to you."

The problem is this morning I think I have stopped believing that. At this moment,  I have given up on the fairytale "True Love." I think the grief I feel today is the 3-year condensed end of my marriage,  then falling madly in love with someone a year later (who I have blogged about here consistently for over a year), and then the breakup of my first "real relationship" in 2 1/2 years that lasted all of 6 months. Throw in a couple pseudo-relationships and guy friends not interested in being more and it's a cacophony of off-key"not interested girl"  tunes.

I cried myself to sleep last night as one of The Big Three...Mr. Ex-boyfriend...responded to a truly innocent, heartfelt attempt to return some stuff to him. His response was so cold, so dictating…so damned CHASTISING! Unfortunately, this was directly on the heels of correspondence with Mr. Heartbreak which finally drove the coffin nail home that not only did he never knew how I felt about him, but what I thought he felt for me was not fact.  So I just cried myself to sleep. And I woke up four hours later crying.

All that loss/rejection grief has piled up and spilled over to where I just don't want to feel anymore. I don't want to be human anymore. Human emotions are too painful when loss is involved. Joy is fine, but absence of joy sucks. These men in my life, on all levels, in the space of two weeks, have driven home their lack of love and/or my perceived lack of appreciation for me in unceasing waves of rejection. It's totally random and coincidental, but grouped in so tight a formation in such a short time is merciless. I feel flayed…standing alone, stripped of anything that I can hold on to for comfort…raw and over exposed to an arid expanse of blinding, painful white nothingness. Alone and scared and lonely and…scared. I feel like I can't take any more drama from my mom or my dad or any assholes who I ever cared for or from anyone. Spare me the platitudes and rhetoric. A pity-party is where I make myself cry listening to my "Love Songs" playlist. This…this is unmitigated grief in all its humbling power. And the waves keep hitting me over and over. I will be glad when this passes.

I got on my knees and I prayed to a God I am not sure I believe in and I begged him to have mercy on me one more time. To please just take this pain away. I don't know what hurts more. The rejection from these men, or not believing in true love anymore. At least when I believed in that there was still hope. I always had stupid, romantic, childish hope. But it's gone and I don't want to become cynical and hard. So I think that hurts most of all. I guess maybe tomorrow I might feel differently, but today I don't want to feel anything at all.