Huntress of the Lens


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Kicking Foot

While I was still drinking, if I needed to express huge anger (which I rarely did, angry kids get sent to their rooms to be alone) I would kick things. I've never been a wall-hitter, even as a young drunk I knew that my left hand was where the art lives and my right hand is just stupid and inaccurate. So I kicked. I'm left-handed, but apparently right footed, because that one has been my kicking foot for as long as I can remember.

Kicking things like cardboard boxes or other things that lack substantial weight is not only unsatisfying, but if I'm drunk enough to be kicking in the first place it increases exponentially the odds that I will fall down. I can fall off a stationary chair when drunk, it's one of the more embarassing things that happens to me, so I usually tried to avoid activities that might induce gravity to suck me right to the ground. Sitting, walking or going to the bathroom were all quite dangerous in this respect.

When I kicked, it was always to make a point; always huge in importance or really needing to be underscored by some dramatic punctuation. "What do you mean you think I should leave now?", "Why does he get to do it too?", "You're such an asshole!" are all things that when said drunk, just lack a certain emphasis if you just slur them loudly. Something must be kicked!

In much younger years I tried breaking for a while, as in breaking every dish in the cupboard or throwing glass things at a wall. This wasn't such a good strategy when I realized that I was breaking my own things and that it was stupid. I ate off paper plates for months once, having broken every plate and bowl I owned, even the little saucers that come with the tiny little coffee cups in the set. I tried breaking the offender's things for a minute, but then after sobering up I felt such regret, and usually didn't need to add to the list of things I would regret tomorrow. 

In my kicking career I have taken on brick buildings, truck windshields, regular walls, a refrigerator and a coffee table (which I missed and you guessed it, did that cartoon half-flip that landed me not only on my ass but pretty much flat on my back.) The object of kicking when drunk is to A. Make a super dramatic point, and B. Kick till you hear the crunch. Unfortunately the crunch is the kicking foot breaking it's teeny tiny little bones or tearing ligaments, but that never occured to me in the moment. That sound of a raw chicken being torn in half is SO satisfying when it says "See how mad I am?!!" to all bystanders. 

Since I did all my big drinking during the decade where I had no health insurance I never had any Xrays or casts, never had any of the little bones set or the ligaments repaired. I would just sheepishly crutch around for a couple of weeks or months and mumble "I fell down." if asked how I hurt myself. After a certain amount of time, my ankle would fold in half if I just stepped wrong, or into a hole, or like I did 20 days ago off two steps in the dark instead of one. (That one I blame on the darkness and the bifocals, I wasn't drinking.)

So the kicking foot hurts really bad right now, and has for twenty days or more. We went to the local clinic this morning (6:45? really? who needs medical care that early?) and they said I'd have to go get Xrays at the ER before a doctor could see me. We are "underinsured" which means that our current medical insurance is more like a 10% off coupon at Hancock Fabric. I just wasn't down to rack up more medical expense, so we came home. I think I'm old, and a previously injured body part is just bound to take longer to heal: I'll be fine.

Now, lest you think I was an angry drunk prior to my last drink (and that was on November 30 2003 thank you very much) I really wasn't. That leg would have been cut off by now if anger was my usual drunk state. I can sum up what happens every time I drink in four easy steps, and it goes this way without fail every single time, unless something makes me REALLY mad:

Step 1. I'm attractive, I'm funny, I'm really smart and a fascinating conversational partner. You want me, there has never been another woman like me, I am wit personified.

Step 2. Oh my GOD! I love you! You are really the best friend I've ever had, we must have been best friends in a former lifetime! I can't believe I just told you that, I never tell anyone that! We are going to be friends forever!

Step 3. I am sex on wheels. It's totally relevant to show my boobs in public to whoever will look at them. I make extravagant sexual promises and predictions, and since we've been so close since step two you're the lucky recipient of all my porn-star attentions. Let's get out of this place, better yet, let's just do it right here; they've known since step one that I am the most amazing woman in the room.

Step 4. I cry about my mother, and then I pass out.

Unfortunately, there is only about a 45 second gap between step three and step four. I have rarely (if ever) come through on any of the promised activities, whether or not I've already started taking off my clothes. Even though you might think so, this is not sexy. Somewhere between step two and step three I usually fall off something, like the chair, or my feet, or the floor, but it's still funny at that point. I'm thinking you can see the wisdom in my decision to just drink at home, alone, where I knew I couldn't embarass myself.

Oh, but the phone. When drinking alone there is always the phone and that one or twelve people that need to be called and told some very important things. Things I will have no memory of saying the next day. "OMG Laura, I can't believe you said that last night!" is received with puzzlement and a quick calculation of your tone of voice. Did I piss you off? Tell you I love you? Say I was plotting a crime or planting a garden? At the very end I kept a list by the phone so I could take notes about who I called and what we talked about. Those lists were both sad and funny, and often undecipherable.

The night of my last drink(s) we had most of an 18 pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (breakfast of champions) before going to the bar. All beer consumed before reaching the bar does not count. I only had two pints when we got there, because I was practicing moderation. Then I saw these women drinking lemon drop martinis out of those really adult and sophisticated glasses. Being so classy and sophisticated myself (I was still at stage one) I decided to try one. Basically, it's three shots of straight vodka, a sugared rim and a lemon slice. It has never been determined for certain whether I had four or five of these before the end of the evening, but one is too many and a thousand is never enough.

We had gone to the bar, my boyfriend at the time, myself and the wife of a friend of ours. I looked over and she was licking something off of his face. There are only three possible responses to something of this magnitude: Walk out, how dare she? Slap that bitch right in the face and kick something, or go make out with both of them. I opted for number three, and have no memory of arriving home that night. 

The next day I had a case of alcohol poisoning so bad that I couldn't even drink water, much less finish the rest of the 18 pack from the night before. I was poisoned, and wanted more poison. It dawned on me that I am absolutely INSANE, and the following day I went to my first AA meeting. I'm not sure why I have been so fortunate, but I still haven't had another drink since that day. 

I still have that weak ankle though, and right now it hurts like a bitch.

Monday, March 29, 2010

God Hates Shrimp

The repeal of our military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy seems finally to be upon us. At the time it was enacted, it seemed like progress to me, instead of a blanket prohibition of Gay people serving our country their preferences in love would no longer be an issue; no more than their preference for chocolate over vanilla. I was young then, living in Orange County California, and only knew over-privileged white kids and people who would sell me pot.
As the years have gone by and I've heard story after story of dedicated members of our four branches of service suffering discharge at the worst, fear and ridicule at the least, I have changed my opinion. Who you love has no bearing on your ability to serve in the military, period. This is now my opinion, because I grew up and found talk-radio.
I've become addicted to talk-radio in the car, if I'm not listening to a book. I also listen to audio-books while I drive, because if you think it's unsafe to text while you drive, try reading a whole book. I listen to all sorts of radio shows, most of them on satellite radio. I listen to the uber-right-wing Patriot station, I listen to CNN, I listen to MSNBC, I listen to Michaelangelo Signorile on Out Q. I think I have a fairly wide sampling of the opinions being shared on the abolition of our "Don't ask, don't tell." policy.
The Patriot station is the funniest, because those listeners are absolutely terrified about what might happen to our country if we just live and let live and stop trying to stamp out homosexuality all together. Beyond the idea that Gay people may serve with as much dedication and skill as straight people, they are prone to assert that disasters such as 911, hurricane Katrina and the recent economic disaster we've all lived through in the last couple of years all stem from our country's burgeoning acceptance of homosexuality. God is royally pissed, and keeps doing all these things because we're not doing enough to "Get rid of the homos and back to the bible that this here country was founded on." Take a minute to laugh here if you need to.
I have heard the words "God hates Fags!" enough times to feel frightened and sickened by the bald hatred I hear in those zealous voices. I have no data to support the assertion that these people may very well all have double digit IQ scores, but that's my personal belief. They love to reference Leviticus, being bible scholars after all, so I decided to poke around and see what I could find regarding homosexuality. I didn't research that long, I'll admit, the bible is not a comfortable environment for me. Here's what I found:

Leviticus 18:22
"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."

Assuming that "Thou" is directed at a male readership, the word on this kind of activity  is that this is an abomination.

abomination |əˌbäməˈnā sh ən|nounfucking ridiculousa thing that causes disgust or hatred the Pharisees regarded Gentiles as an abomination to God informal concrete abominations masquerading as hotels.• feeling of hatred  

I am not a person who ascribes petty human emotion to "God", but I can tell you, there are people here in the good old USA who certainly feel this way. 

Further poking around in Leviticus produced yet more abominations. I don't claim to have discovered this myself, but I do my research whenever possible when I want to comment on things that need to be quoted. Apparently, God also hates shrimp; all shellfish for that matter, even the happy clam and the potentially pearl-bearing oyster. Oh, and my beloved lobster as well, although I'm not sure if it's exoskeleton counts as "scales."

Leviticus 11:9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. 
10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: 

But here we have it, that word "Abomination" again. Apparently "God" gets just as pissed about eating the wrong seafood as he does about two people of the same sex who love each other and want to share a household, marry and have families. I mean, abomination is abomination after all, isn't it? The only conclusion I can draw from this is that 
God hates shrimp.  Really.

The final funny idea that I had, yet just don't have the enthusiasm to verify on this giant internet is the idea that some of these sign-waving homophobes may very well have had crab-feeds to raise money to get proposition 8 passed here in California, or to lobby against the abolition of all Gays in the military. Would anyone else see the irony in this?

If I created a list of all the things that are "abomination" I'm guessing that, like a facebook survey where you check off the things you are or have done, I am one myself.

I guess their "God" hates me too. 

Me? I support the shrimp.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

One by one...

One by one the whole back-east side of Michael's family are finding us on facebook. I should say finding me, because he's deactivated his. He's working over 40 hours a week and carrying 12 units at school, he recognizes facebook as the time bandit it is, and I live there.

Maybe it's this way for all large families, or large families from the south, but I can not for the life of me keep straight who is who. It doesn't help that people change their names in the middle of their lives (Dickie became Richard and Hemon became Johnnie just two examples) or that each marriage comes with new kids and step-kids and then they grow up and have kids... Let's just say that from here it seems like there are a million of them. And they want to know about Michael and how his life turned out since none of them have seen him since he was a teenager. I'm the ambassador of that.

It started with his sister Kim, who I really like. She's funny and talkative, and she's only one person, so I can remember her. Aunt Rose writes to me, once again, one person. I can even remember that she's married to Richard (who used to be Dickie.) There's an Aunt Clemmie, who could forget that name? She's 78 or 79 and I haven't talked to her. My mother in law is known as Bootsie, not Wanda as I know her. I find myself trying to answer three part questions full of names and relationships that I just can't keep straight.

I'm not sure who it was, but Kim said that someone looked at my pictures and found one of them "scary." I would imagine that if a person who was a conservative Christian from Kentucky looked at my albums they would find most of my pictures scary. For the first time in forever I'm starting to care, at least a little, what strangers might think of me from reading my facebook. I'm not willing to edit myself or my life, but it's a new thought I simply haven't had up until now.

I'm not only not Christian, I'm not anything at all that you can identify and put in the "religious views" box. "Non Theist" isn't one of the choices that automatically pops up. I'm not a Pagan, not a Wiccan, but I have a giant Pentacle tattooed on my arm. Some would see that as a symbol that I am Satanic, but I don't believe in Satan any more than I believe in Jesus... Oh goodness.

Then there's my avid and dedicated fight for equality in marriage, and the huge number of dearly beloved Gay, Trans and Drag Queen friends on my friends list. I'm not sure, but I don't think there's a whole lot of that going on in Kentucky or South Carolina. What I mean is that I know there are Gay people everywhere (even in Iraq, although their president says there are "No Homosexuals here.") but I live an hour from San Francisco, where everyone can just be who they are, and if you did a poll most of my friends wouldn't have a clue what "Can you tone it down a bit?" means. Thank the Universe for that, I wouldn't be happy in a place where people were forced to try to fit into a mold to please their immediate community. 

I'm not hesitant to celebrate even one of my friends, but I am a little scared about how I would feel reading questions about them. Not feel about me, or my friends but about the person asking the question; this is a family I married into and we're talking about a family I've collected through love and admiration for some years now.

And can we just talk about me for a minute? I am a middle-aged, heavily tattooed woman with blue and purple hair and a face full of metal. I know that's not the current look in Kentucky... What if we really do go visit there? I'm an amazing, strong, compassionate, dedicated, loyal, imaginative, creative and successful woman. I'm still wondering if they'd take one look at me and leave me at the airport. Not that Michael would have one minute of that, where he goes I go, but still.

It's just a new concept for me: Looking at who I am and appear to be and imagining how that might seem to people from an entirely different culture. I've never cared before, and now (because it matters so much to me what Michael's family thinks) all of a sudden I wonder how I look to the outside world.

For now I'm grateful to be living in my colorful and diverse part of the world, I'll worry about what other people think of me later. That's what Scarlet O'Hara did after all.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's been a while

I haven't had a word to say since October... I fell into the black for a while there. Having my first seperation from my daughter (in her whole life) on top of health issues (do I have it? Don't I have it? What's wrong with me? How did a disease disappear when my medi-cal funding did?) just slammed me. 

I've always been warned that girls go through this thing as teenagers, and I guess I thought we were immune since we've been best friends since I first met her. Then again, all kids need to break away and start to be adults at a certain point, and maybe it's just more severe when you've been bonded at the hip for 16 years. She's out of high school and into college, and I think she should still have me for a best friend? I think when I accepted that she's just growing up I started to recover myself.

As far as my health goes... Michael figured out (via the Mayo Clinic website and hours of searching) what was causing the headache I have devoted so many paragraphs to describing. The medication for it is non-narcotic! A Neurologist wouldn't take the time to figure it out, it baffled my regular doctor... it's a rare condition and my doctor hadn't ever heard of it. (Hemicrania Continua) and the only way to absolutely diagnose it is to try one specific medication; if it resolves then that's what it was. I had been living with constant agonizing pain, a head full of recovery and a body full of opiates. I finally caved, after asking for non-narcotic drugs for over a year, and accepted opiate pain-killers. They didn't make it go away, but they did help... but the mental gymnastics of taking narcotics (even prescribed, in the doses that were ordered and all the while admitting and being accountable to other addicts about what I was doing) was almost as bad as the headache. I've been opiate-free for months now and I could care less... I don't miss them because the new drug actually makes the headache go away! (I still have killer headaches that might stop other people in their tracks, but not the ice-pick in the eye headache I had for almost two years.) When talking about the narcotics I say "I went dancing with the Devil and came home with my panties still on." 

Another thing I did for myself was to take over the attic when Andrew moved out. It's an art studio now, and I have so many mediums going on up there, I can do whatever I want. It's my own space after living in a house that was so crowded that the only room that didn't have someone in it was the bathroom. (There was always someone waiting for their turn, we had 6 people here)

Michael bought me a sewing machine for our anniversary last October, so I design and make handbags, which is very interesting since I've never sewn in my life. Some are really cool, some are part of the "pretty pile" of fabric that will never find a function other than a learning tool. I, for some reason, can't seem to want patterns, I design as I go. For hours. 

I have an area for making jewelry, and have about 100,000,000,000 beads and other items as my pallette when I'm working there. I have a table that is all paint/ink/paper/ and sometimes I do boxes or other things. My laptop is up there, my Tivo is up there... I can disappear for a couple of days at a time when I'm in  Craft Central (or CC studio as I like to call it when I want it to sound official) and I think in the long run this has been the most effective therapy for what was ailing me. I have been artistically creative for a living for so long, and for years neglected the part of me that creates just for fun. So now I do art all day, and to relax after work I go upstairs and do some more art. 

Physically I'm still not 100%, and yet that doesn't even matter to me any more, because I feel GOOD! I mean really good. For the first time since the Graves'-that-is-not-Graves' Disease that started coming on four years ago I am comfortable in my own (psychic) skin. My body is just this old thing I drag around, my mind is soaring weightlessly.

I've left the professional plateau I was content to accept for so long, and my work is transforming before my eyes, as is the actual business result of that. All of a sudden, after 17 years, Flying Colors Tattoo is exciting again and this is the year I'll get to watch it grow, not just maintain.

The one thing I miss is writing, and I'm reacquainting myself with it now. It's hard to write from the deep black, it's hard to even be. New phase, new outlook, new results. 

Let's just see what happens.