Monthly Archives: April 2016
The amazing Christy Anna Beguins of Running On Sober reblogged my post Goodbye Sandy last week. The post describes addiction in a clear cut manner that resonated with a lot of readers, so please share it where it can be helpful. Sandy is still dead, but her story is helping others, and I know she would love that.I sat in the Supercuts chair buzzing with hopeful anticipation after my mother finally surrendered control of my golden locks. I had the keys to the kingdom. I would longer have freakishly long Crystal Gayle hair.
Today was the day, oh yes, today was THE day.
I had hair down past my butt as long as I could remember, and as long as I could remember, I hated it. I’m talking hate. Red flaming balls of fury kind of hate tingled all over my body every single stupid time I had to lift up my hair to go pee or sit down or do anything else that even remotely involved my butt.
And my parents wouldn’t let me cut it. Oh no, they wouldn’t. And the more I begged, the longer I went without a haircut.
When I was 5, I took the power into my own hands with a big-ass pair of scissors. Wack, wack, wack. Big clumps of my straw-colored locks fell to the floor. I felt freer with each snip. That was until my mother came in and ruined my fun. I was like a caged lion just able to see the Serengeti only to be shipped back to the circus before getting to roam free.
OK, maybe I’m over-dramatizing a smidgen. And I’m talkin’ only a smidgen of a smidgen.
So here I was finally placed in the pilot’s seat. I’m pretty sure this was actually my first haircut at a salon – I use the term loosely, this was Supercuts after all. Up until now my mom gave me trims. I’d actually never even had a CUT, just trim upon miserable trim.
Trims are for hedges. Cuts are for warriors.
The cut I wanted was a bob, but I had no idea that was its name. It was cool because I had a perfect description of the style; the only problem was the hairstylist – again using the term loosely – hadn’t actually seen “Howard the Duck” starring Lea Thompson which I was unfortunately and absolutely banking on. She obviously hadn’t even seen a one-sheet. In fact, I’m willing to lay down some ducats that this silver-haired, Bedazzled sweatshirt wearing, “honk if your horny” kinda cowgirl’s last cinematic adventure was most likely “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” because she “just loved that Dolly Parton.”
Plan B. I tried to explain the haircut to her. She tried hard to follow me. I’ll give the cowgirl props – she really tried to decipher my muddy and ignorant-of-anything-remotely-hip explanation. But I still had hope. With every snip, my hopes held high that somehow magically the things she was doing to my head would turn into Lea’s duck-loving do once I added a curling iron, Aqua Net, and a little faith.
I left the salon with a dripping wet – you don’t get a blowout for eleven bucks – short, feathered mess on my head.
The second I got home I fired up the curling iron and pulled out my “Howard the Duck” poster. In a few minutes, my transformation would be complete.
Try an hour-and-a-half to look like this:
Which looked nothing like this:
And that was the reason Tina was going to kick my ass after school.
Well, kind of. Plan C soon emerged – my last hope – was it would magically turn into a bob as it grew longer, but it ended up looking like an outdated Farrah with bangs I could chew on. And that I did. My long bangs actually became a protection of sorts – I could hide behind them and it was second best to hiding under the covers protecting me from serial killers. Same rationale.
Tina was one of those unfortunately prematurely tall girls. She was about 6-feet tall and over two hundred pounds. Basically a linebacker by the 7th grade.
She was in my History class right after lunch, so I rarely was able to eat my brown bag lunch.
It was a Thursday. The bell rang. We all got up and Tina hovered over me.
“Hey freak, I’m gonna kick your ass if you don’t cut your bangs by tomorrow.”
Damn, my bullies were getting creative.
Fear racked my body. I said nothing – my usual response – as my head reeled with possibilities. Would I beg Mom to take me to Supercuts immediately? How could I explain a sudden undying need for a trim? What if she had – gasp – plans? How would I find the five hours of studying I needed tonight prepping for the two tests I had the next day?
On my walk home, that small voice inside of me said:
Trims are for hedges.
The buck stopped. I was done. Telling me to cut my hair was too far.
I woke up the next morning, long-ass bangs and all. I knew that somehow – someway – everything was going to be okay. And it was. The second I got to my locker, there was Sandy, shoving a Vodka bottle into my locker.
“I’ll get expelled if I get in trouble one more time so I need to stash this in your locker.”
This was not a question.
I’d never been suspended, but I did get detention once for excessive tardiness. I had yet to perfect my rebel streak.
“Let’s get fucked up at lunch. It’ll be fun!”
And with that, Sandy bounded down the hall to first period. It all happened so fast, I didn’t even realize that Sandy had just saved my life for the second time in my first week of knowing her.
She brought a clear Tupperware bottle halfway filled-up with orange juice to lunch and I brought the vodka. I hadn’t had a drink in over 3 years and it was long overdue. (Bio Dad let me drink every night at dinner. New Dad did not think wine with dinner was good for a child. What did he know?)
I poured myself a goddamned mothafuckin’ screwdriver right under the teacher’s noses. And then I chugged it. I poured another one and chugged another one. My frenemies changed tables.
Sandy laughed. Fuck them.
And then it hit me. The warmth that reminded me how horrible it was being cold all those years. That made my knees weak in the strongest way. That warmed me all the way to my toes.
And in that moment, I made a promise to myself. A secret promise that I would lock in my heart.
You will never let them win again.
I walked into History class ready for the consequence of my inaction. I was not to be fucked with – I was now a warrior. I sat at my desk, drunk, highly aware of how unaware I was of the world around me.
A calm numb pervaded my being.
Class ended without even a peep out of Tina. Weird. We filed into the hall and somehow ended up waking side-by-side.
“You didn’t cut your bangs.”
And with that she walked away. Never another word of it. She actually stopped threatening me. I felt as though I’d somehow beaten the system, but had no idea how I had actually achieved victory.
Alcohol worked. At last I’d found the key – it wasn’t a haircut; it was not caring. It was the numbness. It gave me strength to finally not give a shit.
Although a bob would’ve been a healthier answer to my problems, I was just fine with fixing my broken life with a lunchtime screwdriver or ten.
I met Sandy toward the end of 7th grade at the graffiti wall where all the smokers hung out. She had porcelain skin, dyed hair, tiny feet and balls of steel.
You guys get to meet her next week. You’re welcome.
We were best friends for 10 years. Our addictions brought us together and then tore us apart. I watched the sparkle in her eyes fade as her parents divorced, she gave her daughter up for adoption and her father died. Yes, she was not the only person on the planet to suffer loss, but it was simply too much for her.
Sandy struggled with drug addiction her entire life. She used meth daily until she lost all of her teeth. Then she quit meth. Unfortunately, she switched to abusing prescription medications and those eventually killed her.
She was only 43-years-old when she died.
I write this blog because I think my misadventures drinking and using are pretty hilarious. Reno is hilarious. Sparks is beyond hilarious. And all of the characters I met along the way made me who I am. It’s healing for me to find the humor in my tumultuous upbringing.
But I could write this blog a very different way. It could be dark as hell and very tragic. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to be a funny post. Because losing someone to addiction isn’t funny. It’s simply fucked up.
There are no hard or fast rules. Some drug addicts can quit their drug of choice and can drink and use recreationally. Others cannot.
Sandy could not.
I’m coming to believe addiction as a disease similar to cancer. Some cancers are so aggressive they simply cannot be overcome, some cancers are defeated completely and some return. The relapse is generally harder to defeat, just as the return of a cancer is often. Some people beat cancer five times!
Sobriety was never on her radar. She knew I was sober, but she didn’t understand why I had to quit everything. Her brain was also damaged from all the meth.
The Sandy I knew died a long time ago, so this grieving process has been very strange for me. I’m happy that she’s with her dad again and I’m sad for all of us left behind. It’s the death of the hope of a miracle. When an addict gets sober, it’s a miracle.
I’ve been working a 12-step program for a long time, yet there was no magic cure I could offer her. Christianity saved her mother and sister, yet they couldn’t save her. In my experience, the only thing that could’ve saved her was a Higher Power.
So am I saying God hated her? Absolutely not. We’re born with free will – the will to surrender to something bigger than us to solve our problem. Maybe her disease was just too terminal for her to surrender.
Or not. I don’t know.
The best way I can illustrate this is comparing addiction to Godzilla. The addict is a little, teeny, tiny ant. Godzilla is ginormous and breathes fire. And here’s the worst part – nothing, and I mean nothing, feels as good as hanging out with Godzilla.
When Godzilla and the addict hook up, it’s limos and glamour and excitement all the way. We feel like we’re in heaven, but when we want to go home, when we get tired, Godzilla says “Oh hell no, little ant, we’ve only just begun.”
I have no idea when Godzilla’s going to be done partying and the addict has no vote for when we’ll stop. Only the monster has the power of choice and he can choose to squash us at any time. That’s the risk we take to hang with the biggest and baddest of them all.
We have to stay far away from him, but it’s not easy. I have friends who hang out with him still and assure me that he’s cool. I get in my car and there are billboards with him looking fly in a tuxedo. He looks so good it’s hard to remember how bad he truly is for me. He even comes to me in my dreams.
In L.A., I can actually call Pink Dot and have him delivered to my house.
I got in his limo after 15 years sober and he almost flattened me. Every time I’ve even looked in his direction, he’s been on to me. He’s magnetic. He says things like:
“Girl, we haven’t hung out in so long you don’t even know me anymore. I’m so much more chill now.”
“I promise we’ll just have a couple and then I’ll take you home.”
“You’re so boring now. What happened to the party girl I remember?”
If he gets me, it doesn’t matter how hard I fight, only an act of Providence can save me. I cannot fight him on my own. He only laughs at my feeble attempts.
I’m an ant, remember?
All of the knowledge I have about the disease does nothing for me if I go near him. He’s too magnetic. The years I’ve been sober only make him want me more. I cannot rest on my laurels because he’ll be right there, Gucci sunglasses on ready to go.
I miss Sandy. I got to be there after her family made the impossible decision to unplug her (because her brain was dead), and I got to hug her and kiss her and stroke her hair before she left this realm. I just returned from her memorial and my heart is heavy.
But I know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that none of us could’ve saved her from Godzilla.
Sparks Middle School became my eighth school, but marked the first time I changed schools without changing houses. This was also the only time I kept vodka in my locker, spent as much time in detention as Bender in “The Breakfast Club,” and attempted suicide in public.
Ends up I stayed alive long enough to wind up in middle school. Had I known, I would’ve repeatedly poked myself in the eyeball with Mr. Loeman’s record needle or grown an affinity for napping with the class snake.
But, no. Heart still beating and lungs still breathing, I inevitably ended up in the shittiest hellhole I’d ever experience. Coming from a girl who lived outside a fishing village in Central Mexico and a one-and-a-half bedroom apartment with five people, including one murderer, that’s saying a lot.
I now had a whole new milieu for humiliation. And it started immediately.
Word to the wise: Never play Truth or Dare with your bully. It will not, I repeat will not, end up in your favor.
See, I never chose dare, because I’d without doubt have to show everyone my mosquito boobies or lick something incredibly undesirable.
In hindsight, I should’ve chosen dare.
Huddled under the concrete turtle at recess, I admitted to touching tongues with a girl when I was 5. Seemed innocent enough, I mean, I was 5. What could a bully possibly do with that information?
It was a Tuesday. Tuesdays suck. At least on Mondays you’re prepared for suckiness. But Tuesdays can just be a no-hope stupid-a-thon of lameness.
I opened the chipped pale yellow and green doors and headed down the eternally long hallway toward my locker.
Side note: Sparks Middle School was horseshoe shaped. It had two super mega long halls with one regular-sized hall between the two. My locker was, of course, at the very end of the one of the two unnaturally long halls.
A hush came over the hall. Heads turned. At first it was silent stares. Were they admiring my new five-for-a-buck earrings I’d purchased at Claire’s Boutique last weekend? Or did my incredibly Aqua-Netted-took-an-hour-and-a-half-every-morning huge hair look exceptionally fabulous today?
Let’s try D, none of the above.
Then the whispering began.
“Blah blah blah bull dyke la la la?” One vapid prepubescent whispered to the other.
“Oh yeah, well I heard blah blah la la lesbian slut fla fla fla,” another big-haired betty loudly whispered back, glaring at me all the while.
Thoughts flooded my brain. Are they talking about me? Why is everyone staring at me? Why is my locker so fucking far away?
By the time I finally made it to my locker, people I didn’t even know were screaming at me.
These trajectories rang in my ears as I tried desperately to remember my locker combination and steady my hands.
After several failed attempts, I finally got my locker open. At least now I could hide my face and try to pull it together, because by now, of course, I was crying.
After about a second of much needed ostrich solace in my locker, a cool breeze hit my nether regions.
“See, she can’t even keep her clothes on at school, what a stupid slut!” And with that, Mr. Charming left me – skirted.
Until two seconds ago, I was wearing a miniskirt with tan control top pantyhose underneath it. And Mr. Charming was good – he didn’t only get the skirt all the way down to the icy linoleum floor, he also got my pantyhose down to my knees and my underwear flipped exactly inside out so the world could experience my snail trail.
I was frozen in fear for what felt like a hundred years. How would I bend over and pull up my underwear and pantyhose and skirt right there in front of a crowd of onlooking assholes? For some reason, the act of reparation felt worse than the initial act of hatred.
And to top it off, the hallway of strangers now knew that I had no pubes. Not one. At least pubic hair would’ve covered up my crab-claw a bit, but I didn’t even have a period yet and I most certainly didn’t have pubes.
So there I stood, pubeless, alone, and hated.
Maybe if I stood there long enough, I’d just disappear. Or maybe they’d all go away. Or maybe, just maybe, the bell would ring.
None of those things happened.
I took a deep breath and somehow managed to pull my underwear and pantyhose and skirt back on amid the throngs of bloodthirsty motherfuckers. Those 15 seconds were by far the most mortifying seconds of my life, but I learned my lesson – always come prepared.
I immediately blamed my mother.
Two years ago, I wanted to be a Girl Scout, but my single mom was waiting tables at the Holiday Inn so I could have food and shelter. She said she’d only be able to make it if her boss who hated her guts would let her leave early. So she stood me up for the first Girl Scout meeting of the year. I sat there, all alone, the only little girl without a mom. I begged and pleaded with those overachiever moms to still let me join, but they absolutely wouldn’t allow me to be a girl scout because of my – ewwww – working mother.
See, those little cookie pimpin’ bitches would’ve taught me to always be prepared. They got to learn these things ahead of time instead of figuring them out only after experiencing utter humiliation and degradation. Think about it; their skirts buttoned on the side. Problem solved.
I came to the immediate conclusion that hindsight was for suckers.
So was Truth or Dare.
And so were elastic waistbands.