5 Years Ago (Sucked)

photo-copy
Me, 5 years ago, trying to find a reason to live.

I had crippling postpartum depression for four years and for two of those years I blogged about what I thought was my journey to wellness. I went off my meds for Bipolar Disorder, did Crossfit, ate nothing but meat and vegetables (Paleo Autoimmune Protocol because I decided my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis was the cause of my deteriorating mental health and don’t you know, food is medicine!), did tons of yoga, meditated like a motherfucker and took 800 million supplements a day,

Surprisingly, that journey ended up being a highway to hell. I ended up in and out of mental hospitals and almost killing myself in 2014. Everyday was torture.

I just turned 44 and I’m stoked. I feel great. I finally get to enjoy being a mom. I can get out of bed. I’m a stand-up comic. I laugh all the time. I have amazing friends and family. Life is better than I ever, ever could’ve imagined.

So I decided to take a look at my old blog to see if I made any birthday posts. I present to you where I was mentally and physically 5 years ago.

. . .

My 39th Birthday

My 39th birthday is tomorrow and I’m in day 3 of a very heavy bipolar depression. I love my birthday. It’s my favorite day of the year. My own personal holiday.

And I’ve never, ever been depressed on my birthday before, which makes me even more depressed.

Poop.

And I’m getting a sore throat. Not shocking.

Trying to get out of this one feels like trying to pull a huge wet comforter out of the washing machine – no matter how hard I tug, twist and pull, it’s too heavy and twisted to rescue tonight. Maybe in the morning, when I have the strength.

Mornings are better. Waking up is never lovely for me, but I have enough energy to get to about noon before the tingles come – then I know the morning was a lie.

I hate the tingles. They feel like the shivers feel on the outside of the skin, only just under the surface. Tingles are from the inside out. I haven’t met many other people who get tingly depressions, but individuals with different brain chemistry have their own separate internal experiences. Perhaps depressions are like snowflakes, only a hell of a lot less pretty.

And my brain chemistry makes me tingly for some reason.

My severe depressions are just as physical as they are mental. That’s why even if I can force myself to exercise – which is very difficult in a depression – I have to take it easy because I have injured myself badly in the past. Mental injury is bad enough, adding physical to it truly blows.

I really don’t want to share what I’m about to share, but I feel compelled to do so. Super ugh. I’m not a big fan of being vulnerable. Although my life seems to be an open book, I’m well aware that I choose what I want the world to see.

Here goes:

I feel defeated.
I’ve worked so hard and here I am again.
I’m doing everything right and here I am again.
It’s been almost 2 years since I was well.
Maybe I’ll never be balanced again.
How much longer can my husband handle having a sick wife?
Everyone has their breaking point.
Why bother?

Because I have hope and faith and a big, fat carrot. If I believe the 3 week remission I had in September wasn’t an accident and the 3 year remission I had a few years ago wasn’t an accident, then this depression, as much as it sucks, isn’t an accident as well.

Now, my everything hurts so goodnight.

. . .

Afterthought:

I no longer believe in remission from bipolar disorder. Being stable for the past 2+ years doesn’t mean that I’ve been in remission. I’ve still had mania and depression, but I’m out of the bog I was in for four years. Living with bipolar disorder is a day at a time and takes an incredible amount of self-love and acceptance. And work.

Also, I’ve learned that “tingly depression” is actually an Epstein-Barr flare-up, but I wasn’t diagnosed with CAEBV until early 2019, so I mistook it for depression. And it does coinside with depression as well so there’s that. Let’s just say, it’s a balancing act. A delicate, complex balancing act.

Back when I wrote this post, I was in the middle of postpartum depression which is an entirely separate beast, in my opinion. I wasn’t just fighting bipolar disorder. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time.

Major Lee High, Mission 1

This is part 1 of a 2 part series about the first time I smoked pot. I highly suggest listening to Pink Floyd while you read it for maximum pleasure.

astro 1
I was an astronaut. Once. Kind of.

Sandy and I were kickin’ it watching Days and chain-smoking when an amazing idea popped into her head.

“Let’s go over to Tommy’s and get stoned tonight!”

She did this a lot. Sandy was the kind of girl who would have to share her inner thoughts the moment an idea popped into her head or I think she may have actually exploded. Like Scanners, but not just her head. And I’m not kidding, spontaneous combustion is a very real phenomena, so it was a bad idea to silence people like Sandy… or it could’ve gotten messy real fast.

“Sure,” was my normal reply to Sandy’s ideas. There was rarely a reason to say no to one of her sudden ideas. They generally ended in hi-jinx, hilarity and sometimes handcuffs.

OK, only that one time…

“Have you done it before?” I was only drinking and smoking thus far. I was nervous at the prospect of adding drugs to my milieu.

“Yeah, Tommy got me high once, but it didn’t really do anything. He says I need to try again.”

Oh, just think of the accomplishments we would’ve made if we put our determination into, say, school.

Tommy’s eyes were always red and half-closed. It seemed like he was stoned all the time. And I’d only ever experienced one-word conversations with him.

Until this night.

Sandy and I waited until dark and sneaked into Tommy’s room. Of course, I was wearing a skirt – with a closure – so getting in the window without showing Tommy my underwear was a bit of a challenge… and then… a failure.

And I was wearing my Thursday undies on Friday.

Mortifying.

But Tommy didn’t seem to mind – he actually smiled. It was the first time I ever saw him smile full-on, besides his permanent stoner half-smile.

black-light
Hi. I’m glowing.

Once I awkwardly gathered myself, I noticed that I was glowing. And that I had a shit-ton of lint on my navy shirt.

And Tommy’s smile was, well, green.

Sandy ate shit getting through the window, as she was about as clumsy as a puppy who hadn’t grown into her feet yet. She grinned a big yellow grin and I could count the cat hair on her leggings.

I dared not ask what was wrong with the lighting in his room, as I was quite sure it was intentional, but I now was even more scared to do drugs because I already felt like I was in an altered state.

I wish Sandy would’ve warned me that Tommy’s room was possibly the raddest place on the planet. I would’ve definitely chilled over there a helluva lot more had I known. Maybe she was scared she’d lose me to his room.

But I doubt he would’ve watched Days with me and his parents didn’t let him smoke in the house so that was a fat chance anyway.

And he never talked, but Sandy talked all the time, so those two cancelled each other out.

b0628b885049bf49c63d33d3ed2406552715b99292d54d1ec6560bafb8722846fe924373cad094c73d186220522c28b9577abc874678fd1bc7a2efba49ab5d45

The walls were covered with Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden and Metallica posters. But the coolest part was that I felt like I was in Hawkeye and Trapper John’s “swamp” on  a glow-in-the-dark M.A.S.H. set. He had that army green netty stuff everywhere.

580c84c8ccc7b8badee066f7dea8163e
Point if you think army green netty stuff is badass. 

I was immediately bummed I never even thought of doing that to my room.

He just had a twin mattress on the floor, but his room was so cool that it didn’t even need a waterbed with a mirrored headboard. The funny light was at the head of the bed emanating a bluish-purple beam. The bed had netting all around it and I wondered if he was scared his room was going to be suddenly invaded by big ass bumble bees or may flies.

It was now Out of Africa meets M.A.S.H.

I must admit I did feel protected from any impending infestations of overly large insects.

He put on Dark Side of the Moon. The three of us sat on his bed as he packed his large glass bong with weed. Thankfully he knew it was my first time so I didn’t have to pretend to know how to smoke out of that thing. I’m sure I would’ve found a way to burn my face off and, even worse, embarrass myself.

“This is a bong. It’s the only way to smoke. Gets you super high and it’s a really clean high.”

Shwew. I definitely wanted a clean high, whatever the hell that meant.

“I’ll take a hit to show you how it’s done.”

This was the most I’d heard Tommy speak. Ever. By like a zillion. He was really in his element. Then he ripped that bong like a true pro. I was impressed.

maxresdefault
Rip it. Rip it good.

But it got weird real fast. He held the smoke in his lungs with fierce determination. His eyes started to water. His face got red and started to contort. And I wasn’t even high yet. This was a bad sign. What the hell had I signed up for? It was too late to back out.

Then a noise came out of his face. A noise that frightened me. A noise I would never allow to come out of my face the next, oh, 8,000 times I got high.

It sounded like he was about to sneeze and fought it, but sneezed anyway without opening his mouth ever. Or kind of like the sound Felix Unger made when he was cleaning out his sinuses.

He started to tremble. My fear intensified. I was scared he might have a seizure or something. How would I explain this sordid situation to my mom? Jesus man, exhale already!

After about the run time of all nine parts of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Tommy finally exhaled enough smoke to fill the room, coughing all the way.

pot-leaf-cannabis

Tune in next week to find out if I inhaled! Hint: I did… I just realized that was a rhetorical question. I also am very happy that rhetorical was on my 10th grade vocabulary test because I use it quite a bit. Vermilion? Not as much.

Not So Super

 

Pablo
Check out my hair. And Pablo.

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:

8th grade pic
Which looked nothing like this:

howard-the-duck-2
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.”

“Nope.”

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.

 

Suicide & Sandy

I tried to kill myself in Woodshop class.

1262737730dontlike

 

I couldn’t take one more day of the pain of having plural bullies and a singular friend. I was at the drill press working on my badass coat rack when it occurred to me that I could murder myself.

Quicker than Michael Jackson could Shamone Hee Hee, I pushed the drill bit into my wrist and turned it on. There was only one problem I hadn’t anticipated – it fucking hurt.

BAD.

Faster than Cyndi Lauper could waffle iron the side of her head, I turned the drill off. There was some blood and I actually managed to drill a small hole in my wrist, but it was nothing a Band-Aid from the school nurse and a Woodshop Incident Report couldn’t remedy.

My scar ended up being shaped like a lightning bolt. Yes, I was the pre-Harry Potter of suicidal kids.

Attempting suicide ended up being one of the best things that ever happened to me because I finally didn’t give a shit.

I was ready to smoke at Stoner Wall.

IMG_2221.JPG
Stoner Wall today. Normally covered in graffiti.

Band-Aid on wrist, this determined badass found her spot on the wall. Months of observational study paid off:

  1. Lean on wall, do not free stand.
  2. If conversation ensues, simply turn head to side or stare off into space without looking at friend. (Friend understands protocol and will not take personally.)
  3. Pull smokes out of pocket, not purse. Especially if you’re a dude. Hard pack is preferred. If new pack, flip pack upside down and beat into palm of hand. This is called “packing.” Then flip one smoke upside down. This is called a “Lucky.” If using a soft pack, be sure to flick out cigarette and put in teeth without cigarette touching fingers. This takes practice.
  4. Light up with lighter on high. Flame must be a minimum of three inches high. Do not light heavily Aqua Netted bangs on fire. Exception to rule is Zippo[1].
  5. Pretend to inhale.
  6. Extra points for smoke rings.
  7. Look very relaxed from hit, as if life is so hard that you need to smoke.
  8. Put free hand in pocket, but not same pocket as smokes.
  9. Flick cherry off with finger instead of stomping out.

I looked just like everyone else, except I was still wearing ruffled plaid shirts and cords and everyone else wore mullets and jean jackets with Iron Maiden Iron-ons.

IMG_2271

Sandy was one of the only other girls at Stoner Wall. She hung out with a mullet-head named Tommy whose eyes were always bright red.

She bounced up to me, far too perky for the stoner crowd.

“Can I bum a smoke?”

I pulled out my stolen soft-pack of ugly-ass brown Mores, aka, the grossest cigarettes ever invented, but when at the mercy of New Dad’s choice of smoke and being cool, they were my only option. And my only connect for Kools, Eve, had moved to Fresno.

“Tommy has Camels. Come on.”

I followed Sandy to Tommy’s spot on the wall, grateful that the lameness of my smokes was unspoken. Could this girl actually be nice? It was doubtful.

She bummed two of the shortest cigarettes I’d ever seen from Tommy. I was used to Mores, which were approximately a foot-long, but these were even shorter than my Kools. And there was no filter.

Pretending to inhale was challenge enough, but now I had the added challenge of tobacco collecting in my mouth. I took Tommy’s lead and picked the tobacco out of my teeth and flicked it.

Flicking was a big thing with the smoking-crowd.

Sandy was super animated and talked really fast. She told me that she and Tommy had been neighbors since they were four, they lived two blocks from school and she could get cigarettes from The Sev with a note from her mom, but she didn’t have any money so she was out.

I immediately offered her my leftover allowance.

She counted it and calculated that we could buy one pack of brand-name smokes, or two packs of generics. Then we’d get one each. And they made generic menthols! This was a good day indeed.

We took off for The Sev. Tommy had detention, so he stayed behind. Of course, he didn’t tell me that. Actually he didn’t speak at all. Good thing he had a friend in Sandy. She talked enough for all of us.

Forged note in hand, the two of us moseyed up to The Sev counter. I hid my trembling hands in my corduroy pockets. The thought of getting arrested was mortifying, but my fear of never having a friend was just a touch larger than my fear of the consequences I may have to endure.

There were 8th graders everywhere, in line, at the Slurpee machine, hanging out in the parking lot – I’d somehow stumbled upon the Mecca of after school cool.

IMG_2275
They still exist.

Now I wanted to get arrested. I fantasized about how many ranks of the badass scale I would go up with everyone watching as I was handcuffed and put into the back of a cop car. A sense of calm came over me. I pulled my hands out of my pockets.

The clerk looked over the note, looked up at Sandy, and handed over the cigarettes without question.

I knew this was when Sandy would bolt, but once we got out of eyeshot of the 7-11 clerk, she handed me my change and a pack of smokes.

“I owe you a pack when I get my allowance.”

I knew she’d never repay. I knew this was the end of our friendship. I knew she’d probably start bullying me tomorrow.

“You wanna come over and watch Days?”

I fought the urge to look behind me for the real friend she was talking to and to ask her what the hell “watching Days” meant.

Five minutes later, I sat in Sandy’s den on my very own Lazy Boy watching Days of Our Lives and chain-smoking generic cigarettes. There was a huge overflowing crystal ashtray on the small table between us. I occasionally gasped or pretended to tear up so she’d believe that I’d been following Days for years.

Through the smoke-haze, the figure of a tall, middle-aged, redheaded woman approached. Oh my God, it was Sandy’s mom! I mashed out my cigarette immediately. We were so busted.

“God dammit Sandy open a fucking door for Christ’s sake!”

Then she pulled a smoke out of Sandy’s new pack.

“I thought you had a carton, why are you bumming mine?”

This was unlike any home I’d ever been in. I wanted to live here. Yesterday.

Sandy looked at my wrist. “What happened?”

“Oh, nothing. It’s stupid.”

And that was the beginning of my 10-year friendship with Sandy, my addiction to Days of Our Lives and my love of smoking indoors.

stoner wall2

[1] Zippo’s were so cool that flame length didn’t even come into play. Unfortunately, I was never rad enough to even figure out where to purchase one until I was about thirty. Zippo protocol was also very complicated. It included, but was not limited to, flipping open AND shut without using one’s fingers. One either had to open the lighter on one’s jeans, or simply with the power of a forceful flick. The opportunities for dorking-out were far too many for this new smoker, and Bic disposable lighters came in three-packs. With savings like that, Bic won out.

 

Goodbye Sandy

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.

breathing-nuclear-fire-godzilla-176982_550_381

 

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.

Pubic Indecency

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.

IMG_0988
I was not happy

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.

sms
Still, this was as close as I was willing to get to Sparks Middle to take this picture.

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.

“Slut!”

“Whore!”

“Lesbian!”

“Disgusting!”

“Ugly!”

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.

Scooby-Don’t: The Second Paw

Last week, I was so excited to wear make-up to school on my 11th birthday I could barely sleep. Will I wear the purple eyeshadow to school the next day? Or will I chicken out? And why the hell is this blog called Scooby-Don’t? As promised, all of your questions are answered here!

476afc5fd17085323c3b12ee298b71fc

(Part 2 of 2)

When I don’t sleep, I get really gnarly bags under my eyes. It was no different when I was eleven.

far-surme-teknik-ve-yontemleri
This was my goal.

I piled the shadow onto the little foam applicator to make sure I had enough and spread it thickly across my eyelid. The awesome thing about eyeshadow, especially 99 cent eyeshadow, is that if you go overboard, tons of powder falls down under the eyes. Even better, when you go to wipe it off, it simply smears all over right where your massive eye bags live.

Let me remind you that the color was “plum.”

An hour later and brimming with denial, I entered the classroom with my new amazing eleven-year-old make-up face. I knew I was going to get attention. I just didn’t foresee what kind of attention I’d be getting.

diy-black-eye-makeup
This was my reality. Make that a double.

The laughter started immediately. Shit. Marie asked me in all earnestness if I’d fallen on my face.

I literally looked like I had 2 black eyes. I thought I looked hot. In all reality, I looked injured.

I quickly realized that ditching the high heels was a damned good idea. At least I could walk. Although wearing heels would’ve at least explained my deep eye bruises.

The teasing was unrelentless. This day couldn’t get worse.

At least it was kickball day.

Kickball was the only sport I was actually good at. It always came down to me and Marie and the fat kids to get picked, but at least I knew I was contributing to whichever team I ended up on. I was an asset to a team. But only at kickball.

At least I’d get a chance at retribution and to rule with my 2 black eyes. It was on. After all, it was my birthday. My luck had to turn around.

Waiting to kick, I noticed the random, huge, straggly, sheep-looking dog that lived across the street strolling around the school grounds. I knew that dog, he always barked furiously at me when I walked by his house. Obviously he’d gotten out somehow.

Time for me to kick. I had a mean kick, I’m not gonna lie about it. The ball rolled toward my feet perfectly. I mustered all my right leg strength and KICKED THE SHIT out of that dark red rubber ball. It was the farthest and raddest I’d ever kicked that ball. Victory was bliss.

I ran toward first base, knowing I’d make a homerun for sure. I was hauling balls. High-tailin’ it. Jammin’.

That is, until that damned dog ran after me and tackled me to the ground before I could even make it to first base. I went down hard, leaving far too many layers of my skin behind. I hit the crunchy dirt with the side of my face, scraping off some plum eyeshadow for sure.

I was traumatized. Mr. Lohman came to my rescue and sent me off to the nurse’s office to get bandaged up. I was sobbing. It really hurt. That dog was really fucking big.

After getting all cleaned up and anti-bacterialized, I returned to my classroom. At least I’d get some sympathy votes. I mean, I was literally attacked by a monster in front of my whole class. And I had the wounds to prove it. I was the victim here.

I opened the door.

The peals of laughter confused me greatly. Then I overheard words like “dog-fucker” and “Scooby’s new girlfriend.” Somehow the dog attack turned into a live sex act to rival the donkey show. Ends up what I considered an attack was actually a romantic encounter. As I lay on the ground bleeding, that fucker was humping me. He threw me down to the ground to HUMP ME.

I never wore plum eyeshadow again.

donkey-bar

 

Scooby-Don’t: The First Paw

 

285875676_31520856ea_m
I’m beautiful. I know it!

(Part 1 of a 2 part series)

I was totally ready to kill myself, but then there was a glimmer of hope. Halloween was coming up and Marie and I had a plan to turn our losing streak around. We’d been planning for weeks, (months, years) – we were going to go to school dressed up as Madonna. Marie and I were nerds, yes, but we had rockin’ bods and were both quite striking. The world just hadn’t had a chance to notice yet.

Dana was ugly and fat and would always be ugly and fat. She would only get uglier and fatter with time. She would torment me for two more years and then I would transfer to the farthest away high school and never, ever have to see her again.

I, on the other hand, would always be beautiful.

I knew I would grow into a total hottie someday. I just wanted everyone else to know so they would start treating me appropriately.

Marie and I wore a black mini-skirts, lace halter tops and a grazillion rubber bracelets. I added a huge crucifix back from when we lived in Mexico. I was determined to wear only a black bra under my lace top, but my mom didn’t have the same vision.

Jerk.

fa1670
The 2 Madonna’s on the left = badass. The blonde idiot on the right = doomed to eternal lameness.

I had to wear a tank top under it. If I had it my way I would’ve dressed like a whore everyday.

But Mom did do my make-up like Madonna and I totally looked like someone else. I was someone else. I felt only the invincibility the beautiful know.

I rocked it. None of my bullies messed with me as Madonna. My confidence grew exponentially. I figured out the key to survival; dress like a total hooker. I just had to break down my mother and the world would be my bitch.

maytan-old2
Where it all began.

The subject came up at Maytan Music Center. I bought some new rosin and sheet music after my weekly violin lesson. The girl working the register was wearing high heels and glittery blue and purple eye shadow all the way up to her eyebrows. I was in awe. I wanted to look just like her.

And I told Mom all about it outside Maytan Music Center that very day. She thought the girl looked like a “slut and was wearing too much make-up.” I vehemently disagreed.

I was on a mission now. Break. Down. Mom.

And the fight was on. Through my masterful use of guilt and manipulation, I beat her down to my upcoming eleventh birthday (November 9) as the-day-I-could-wear-make-up-and-heels-to-school day.

6602c8574f4e076492e085b803fea34d
Watch out Christy Brinkley, Courtney was coming to town.

It was time to shop. I walked the six blocks to Shop-Ko with my birthday money I asked for in advance crumpled up in my pocket.

Heels were first, but they were all really high and hard to walk in. I realized that no other girls wore heels to school and I felt like a total lameass trying to walk in them. Badass was the goal, no lameass heels were going to foil my ruse.

I wouldn’t wuss out on make-up though. I knew all that my big, round face needed was some Wet n’ Wild to instantly turn me from nerd to supermodel. Everyone would see how awesome and gorgeous I really was. Make-up was the magical thing that would bring out my inner beauty.

There were so many colors, but my choice was easy. Purple. Just like the Maytan Music Center girl. The name of the color I chose was “plum.” I only bought eyeshadow. Why? I’ll never know. No lip gloss, no mascara. Just eyeshadow.

 

The next morning was my eleventh birthday. I was so excited to wear my new make-up, I could barely sleep the night before.

whore

Did Courtney wear the purple eyeshadow to school the next day? Or did she chicken out? And why the hell is this blog called Scooby-Don’t?

These answers AND MORE will be revealed in the final part of Scooby-Don’t next week!

Thug Life – My Second Teardrop Tattoo

 

This is Part 2 of a 2 Part series. For Part 1, go here: Thug Life – My First Teardrop Tattoo. 

enhanced-buzz-20433-1382638339-2
The Hoff was a member.

The obvious choice was right in front of me – a knife. I wouldn’t need monster truck strength and I could easily walk down the street with one hidden up my fake Members Only jacket sleeve without the fuzz getting suspicious.

 

Yes, you did just read, “fake Members Only jacket.” Soak that reality in. You’re welcome.

 

I just had to select a knife and be done with it.

I loved and feared our meat cleaver. It was serious. I always thought I would just accidentally kill my parents with it in the middle of the night. Kind of like an uncontrollable reflex that would be inspired by the sheer awesomeness of the knife. I couldn’t take that risk.

Just your plain old run-of-the-mill kitchen knife was the winner. Now that I had that out of the way, I just had to figure out how to do it without getting my ass kicked or looking stupid or getting caught. Damn this murder business was advanced. Criminals on TV always seemed so dumb. I had a newfound respect for my fellow thugs. Maybe I would make up my own gang sign?

I lay in bed strategizing. It had to be at night. All bad things must happen at night. Less birds chirping I suppose. More sinister. Dark. Yeah. It couldn’t be at my house, so I’d have to kill her in her house. But I couldn’t be sleeping over because then, duh, her parents would totally know it was me. That is, unless I framed CHB.

33af0f6ac5c62e61bed252b9252730a8

Brilliant. I painted the scenario. I’m already at her house. I wait until she starts snoring – come on, of course she snores, she’s a disgusting beast of a girl – and then I stab her repeatedly in the chest, then put the knife in CHB’s bed and put her blood all over his hands. Genius!

 

Just one problem with this plan – tweekers don’t sleep. I totally forgot. CHB stayed up all night playing video games in an orange beanbag in the living room. Foiled.

Okay, so that was out. The only option left was that I needed to sneak in, kill her, and get out, without any noise. Easy. Dana’s bedroom window didn’t have a screen, as the entire house had a whopping total of three, so I just had to go over to her house after school and crack her window just enough for her not to notice right before I left. Then I would go home and wait the wait that only we hardened criminals know.

5a9d77681eb0cb30106ac6acfd6701800e3be791_hq
Just like this, only blonde.

At midnight, I’d sneak out of the house with the knife, walk the eight blocks to her house, quietly open her still unlocked window, enter said window, stab her repeatedly, exit said window, walk the eight blocks back home, wash knife, return knife, and then have sweet, sweet dreams knowing that the most evil person in my life was finally dead.

It was the perfect plan.

Well, it was… until I started thinking of all the things that could go wrong.

She could wake up from me opening the window. Then what would I say? “Oh hey Dana, what’s up?” all casual like. Yeah right. Or what if the first stab didn’t go through, like it hit her ribcage, and now that I was thinking of it, how do you stab someone through the heart with all that bone in the way? I’d probably have to stab her in her fat stomach and hope she bleeds to death. But then what if she cried out for help?

And then there was CHB. So true to life, he would end up ruining everything. They were like the Corsican Brothers. He would feel her pain and run into her room. And there I would be, crazy killing eyes, hovering over her blood soaked bed – busted.

“Mom! Dad! Dana’s stupid friend stabbed her in her stomach!”

I’d run, but the cops would come to my house and wake up my parents. It would be so embarrassing. Then I’d have to go to prison forever and stupid Dana and CHB would probably visit me and torment me as much as possible for the rest of my life.

I just couldn’t win. My confidence was shattered. I was a sucky killer. Unless it could be perfect, I couldn’t do it.

And then I realized that I couldn’t stab someone, not even her. I was no badass. I was no thug.

I was a failure.

Since I couldn’t kill Dana, I’d have to kill myself.

Did Courtney kill herself? What weapon did she use? How is she possibly writing this sentence right now since she’s most likely totally dead? Tune in Thursday for more rad answers. 

Thug Life – My First Teardrop Tattoo

This is Part 1 of a 2 Part series.

bloody peach

By sixth grade, Tammy called herself my “best friend.” Befriending my lead bully seemed like a good idea at the time. In hindsight, it ended up being the pre-Facebook way to guarantee that I’d be bullied not only at school, but in my own home. Who needs technology when you have stupidity?

Tammy’s after school visits were horrifying on many fronts, but the most painful part was when she brought her little brother over – who I will refer to as Crack Head Bob, (CHB).

CHB had what doctors referred to as Hyperactive Disorder, but as far as I could tell he was just an asshole. Dana was in charge of him basically all of the time, since her parents worked swing and he couldn’t be left alone due to the constant flood of Ritalin in his bloodstream. He was essentially my first experience with a tweeker.

tweaker-heh-meme-generator-meth-it-s-kinda-like-that-46b1a6

Even when I was a tweeker, I couldn’t stand tweekers.

Dana adored her brother. Why? I will never know. I’m no doctor, but I think Quaaludes would’ve faired much better with young Bob than Ritalin. He would do precious things like chew on my parent’s furniture so we had to play outside whenever they came over, lest CHB eat my parent’s entire house.

Relegated to the front porch, I endured gladiator-esque battles of Whack-a-Courtney. Dana vacillated between terrorizing me, hitting me, and being scary sweet to me, while out of nowhere, CHB would just straight-up sucker punch me. While Dana kicking my ass was embarrassing, having a 10-year-old beat me up brought a whole new level of humiliation to my plight. It didn’t help that Dana laughed her fat ass off whenever he slugged me.

This went on and on. I felt like I was trapped in one of Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell – the bully Circle. If I told her she couldn’t come over after school, she would force me to go to her house, where there wasn’t even the safety of any parents nearby. I felt stuck in an eternal hell of bullying. I had to take action. Drastic action.

Yes, someone had to die.

thug life

That someone was either going to be Dana or me. I quickly decided the death would be hers.

So I did what any amateur murderer does, I hatched a plan.

First, I needed a murder weapon. I waited until the witching hour of 8:15pm, at which point both of my parents were fast asleep, then scoured the house for instruments of bully destruction.

Mom’s art studio was the first stop. Paintbrushes? Maybe the really skinny ones could work as a knife, but then why not just use an actual knife? Now I had two weapon ideas! There was a stack of firewood by her wood-burning stove. I could bash her head in with a log. Now I was up to three and hadn’t even cleared one room – I was turning out to be a fine murderer indeed.

In the back room, there stood Mom’s band saw. I knew how to turn it on and everything, but it would require me to:

  1. Get Dana in the back room.
  2. Find a reason to turn it on.
  3. Murder her with it.

Number three was the issue. The blade only allowed about a foot of murdering possibility, and then what would I do? Cut off her hand? That would only make her stronger and angrier. In my mind, she had horror movie monster powers. I couldn’t just stab the shark; I had to blow it up.

The only other viable option in the studio was a matte knife, which is basically a razor with a handle. Now a razor could fuck a bitch up, but it felt like too much work. I wanted to get in and get out and be done with it.

I knew the answer was in the kitchen, after all, Mom would notice right away if her matte knife or paintbrush went missing, but a frying pan? She wouldn’t notice for weeks.

I needed a weapon that would lead to immediate death. While I was enjoying the notion of beating her head in with a frying pan, I had teeny tiny beetle arms. Did I have enough power to kill in one stroke with toothpick arms? Not a risk I was willing to take.

This also ruled out our 800,000 pound marble rolling pin. If circumstances warranted, I could kill the hell outta someone with that thing. That is, if I could actually pick it up and get it over my head and then not fall all the way over backwards.

Another grim reality sunk in – clean-up duty would be all mine. It’s not like I could ask Mom to grab a mop. If I murdered Dana in my house, I’d have to clean it up and get rid of her ugly fat body, which would prove very difficult.

Damn, this killing business wasn’t easy.

 

 

White Lines – The Eight Ball

This is part four of a four part totally awesome blog. Fell behind? No problem. Just go here:White Lines, The First Line and The Second Line and then The Teener.

213456222_783acb9123_m

Then the door opened. It was Debbie. And the candy! I was so relieved to see them – I mean, her.

“Is he out there?” I asked, hoping she knew.

“Are you gonna order?” the guy behind the register asked Debbie now, already knowing my answer. I already knew her answer. We had to explain or get out.

The interesting thing was not that we actually told him that some scary child rapist was chasing us, but his complete lack of reaction. Like this was an everyday occurrence at Taco Hut or something.

“We’re closing in thirty minutes,” was all he said as he started to mop.

We hid in a hard cold booth of the take-out restaurant variety, not the comfy rad variety like that of Denny’s, probably because they want you to actually TAKE-OUT not stay for five hours chain smoking for the price of one cup of coffee and making art towers out of empty creamer containers.

worst-halloween-candies-ever

After a five-minute play-by-play recap, the realization hit us. It was Friday night and we hadn’t TOUCHED a piece of candy yet. This realization was not spoken; it was addict-mind-trick spoken through brain waves. Where any two or more people deep in addiction are together jonesing, this is the norm. We can speak the unspeakable with our minds.

Side note: Ritual is an integral part of drug usage. For most addicts, the ritual of using is multi-faceted: scoring, holding, preparing, and using. If any of these components are compromised, the high can suffer. I like to call this “super-addict-stition.”

Whoever establishes the ritual is as follows:

  1. Whoever’s holding.
  2. The Elder who brings the newbie under his or her wing.
  3. People who party together may merge rituals or form new variations of each ritual, as long it’s copacetic.

There was no hierarchy in our underground network of transplants, but there was a strict class structure when it came to getting high. The bottom line was devout respect for the other user’s ritual because the ultimate party foul was fucking up another person’s high.

Yet again, I did some math:

  1. Debbie was holding = Debbie’s in charge of score.
  2. She was the Elder = Debbie’s in charge of score.
  3. We merged rituals somewhat with the subtraction of banana and the doubling of funds, but the location of scoring, the act of piling, and horror movie watching were all ritual B.C. = Debbie’s in charge of score.
alligator-poster
One of our Friday night faves.

We sat across the table from each other mind melding. My mouth started to water. Candy filled my senses. I ached for sugar. I knew she did too.

“Let’s go,” she said as she rose, without even checking outside for eagle decaled cars.

I knew better. We should wait longer. He could just be out there lurking in the old bushes waiting for our young bushes to come bounding out of Taco Hut’s door all innocent and candy-eyed. I considered bartering with her to stay another 15 minutes and eat some candy there, but I knew it would fuck up both of our highs and perhaps our friendship.

My thirst for sugar became stronger than my thirst for survival. We booked it the half block more to her house and made it back safe. Who knew what happened to GP and who cared. We were onto the next thing.

Immediately, and with not one word, we devoured ten bucks worth of sugar to the sound of naked chicks getting slaughtered. Candy fixed everything. We went into sugar comas and woke up with unrelenting hangovers. We did this every Friday night for the next two years.

The Grody Pedophile incident was only the third time I used with Debbie and it didn’t stop me one bit. The Slippery Slope Theory is just a speculation, but from less than a year after moving to Sparks I’d already gone from smoking to porn to sugar. And this was only the beginning.

. . .

Thanks for reading, gorgeous! Stay tuned – next Monday will be another new vlog. If you missed my last vlog, click here. 

White Lines – The Teener

This is part three of a four part totally awesome blog. Fell behind? No problem. Just go here: White Lines, The First Line and The Second Line

113113000_7fee6a55fd_m

The next Friday night something was off. Neither of us would admit it, but there was just something in the air, something foreboding. But when you’re an addict, the carrot is too bright and shiny to pay attention to portent. After all, we wanted what we wanted when we wanted it. We had a vision.

All went fine at the Sev. Mathematics worked out. No banana. All was well. It was time to race home.

1208-800635521714737589669-shopper-s-square

We normally walked on the Park Lane Mall side of the street, but on this night we were on the Shopper’s Square side. I noticed a black Trans Am replete with a large eagle decal on the hood up ahead. These cars, along with El Camino’s, were pretty common in Reno, (and still are in Sparks), but the passenger side door was open. And there was a man inside.

010623_decal_bla79ta_10

Walk fast. Look down. Stay focused on candy.

The eagle decal grew larger and larger and we got closer and closer. Then, there it was. Up close full-on eagle.

“Hi girls,” a calm male voice said, who I will now refer to as GP, (Grody Pedophile).

Thank God I was now a porn-cinefile, so I immediately recognized male masturbation.

Debbie immediately jaywalked across all six lanes of the street to the other side. She didn’t even look.

I did.

“You want to help me out?” GP actually said. Grody.

I booked it. Fast. Unfortunately, so did GP. He hopped in his bitchin’ not-a-Camero-but-so-very-close-to-one, revved up all eight of his horses, and proceeded to CHASE US.

Debbie decided to run down a dark backstreet, for what reason I will never know. Places with people are safe. Places with light are safe. Dark backstreets where no one would hear our prepubescent screams were most definitely not safe.

But Debbie had the candy. And she was going down that dark street. 1 + 1 = I was not going to let my candy go that easily.

We were about halfway down the block, still a block-and-a-half from Debbie’s house, when the street was illuminated by the lights of GP’s grody car. He was heading straight for us.

I had to think fast. It came to me. Tacos. So obvious.

There was a Taco Hut one block away. I was so scared I’d never run so fast in my life. Debbie wasn’t as fast, but her leg-span was about three of mine, so we were running at about the same child-running-from-grody-pedophile clip.

“Taco! Hut!” I yelled, interspersed with panting.

“No! Home is closer!” She argued.

“There are people at Taco Hut! HE CAN’T RAPE US WITH PEOPLE WATCHING!” I screamed with all my might.

“You’re wrong!” She lamely disagreed.

I made the executive decision right then and there. It was better to let Debbie get raped and the candy get stolen than for both of us to succumb to the same horrible fate.

“I’M GOING TO THE TACO HUT!” I hollered as I ran toward the neon taco shining like freedom.

I ran into the Taco Hut full of patrons, panting and generally freaking the fuck out, and now looking like a complete weirdo. Which I am, but I don’t like other people thinking so without my approval. I pictured Jolly Ranchers, naked Debbie, Tootsie Rolls, and GP bodily fluid all over some dark scary lawn. I had no idea where she was and what was happening to her, or our candy.

I had not a cent to my name as it had all been spent on sugar crack, so my awkward moment became even more awkward when the guy at the counter asked me for my order. How long could I hide out here until they kicked me out? Where was GP? Was he lurking somewhere in the enchilada sauce?

Come on by on Thursday to get answers to all these questions and more when the conclusion to White Lines is unveiled. 

White Lines, The Second Line

250876080_90f5555728_m

The first time I went over to Debbie’s house, it was obvious why she ate. Her mom and dad were both really big and her house was really small. It was rented, not owned, and on a street that was one lane away from having “interstate” in front of it. The sound of cars whizzing by at German engineering speeds competed with the deafening cry of airplanes landing and taking off at the airport that was mere blocks away.

She wasn’t even zoned for Agnes Risley, but her parents let her switch because she was having huge problems with the bullies in the school for which she was originally zoned. I changed my mind about her parents right away. They cared about Debbie; they were just so poor that they had to move wherever job opportunities presented themselves.

Her dad was a janitor at the school she left. I guess the only thing worse than being a mid-school-year transplant and six-feet-tall was having your dad be the custodian. My empathy grew for Debbie almost as quickly as my pant sizes were about to.

Her parents made me dinner every time I came over. I had liver and onions for the first time there. I actually didn’t know it was liver because I always thought it would be all jello-y wiggly like in the store. I didn’t realize that when it’s cooked it, well, cooks. It was alright, just not good enough to freak out over so much that I’d go so far as do something dramatic like actually eat it again. And I had a layer of grease stuck on the roof of my mouth for about a week.

My first sleep over was on a Friday night that, luckily for me, was allowance night for Debbie. Her dad handed her a crisp five-dollar bill and we were off and running.

“I’m going to show you what I do on Friday night,” Debbie said, mischief beaming out of her dark brown eyes.

I followed her out the front door and onto the practically-a-freeway street. My belly welled up with butterflies. Where was this strange Michegonian taking me? Would guns be involved? Should I have worn two pairs of underwear?

“Where are we goooooooooooiiiiiing?” was muffled by the cars whizzing by coupled with the foot-shorter-I-was-than Debbie. Instead of grabbing a bullhorn and attempting a repeat performance, I hurried my little legs up because that girl hoofed it good. Especially when she was on a mission.

7eleven_logo_300

The alarming chirp-chirp accompanied by the heavy glass doors heaving open, Debbie introduced me to my soon-to-be-favorite-place in the world, the Sev. At least that’s what we tweens-trying-way-too-hard-to-be-cool called it long before the word tween was even a glimmer in the American vernacular’s eye.

 

My love of the Sev was so serious that every single dream I had for an entire year featured a 7-11. Besides simply being a sweet-ass convenience store, the Sev contained a world of consumeristic possibilities from cigarettes to tampons to No-Doz to Slurpees.

She sprinted to the candy aisle and practically lay down on the shiny fluorescent-lit floor.

“Pick out five dollars worth of anything on this bottom shelf. I like everything so I’ll let you pick.”

white lines

Everything I learned in math class came into play. On the bottom shelf were all of the penny candies, which really cost anywhere from a nickel to a dime, but nickel candy sounds about as lame as a dime bag, and are all about as extinct as beepers. Jolly Ranchers were three for five cents. Tootsie Rolls were five cents apiece. Ring pops, Laffy Taffy, Sweet Tarts, Jawbreakers, and these weird skeleton candies in an actual little coffin were all a dime apiece. Anything with banana was out because I hated banana-flavored things. Banana is about as subtle as rape. It takes over any other fantastic taste with its “hi-I’m-banana-I-suck-because-I-taste-like-ass” taste.

Little beads of sweat formed on my brow. I could tell this could be a pivotal moment in our friendship and I didn’t want to lose a friend. I did the math and tossed candies onto Debbie’s stretched out sweatshirt which she, once full, folded in half to transform into a remarkably crafty go-go-gadget candy pouch. When finished, she strongly resembled a crack kangaroo. She hopped up to the counter and dumped our booty out. We waited in frothing anticipation for the clerk to count out every-single-candy that, of course, equaled exactly five dollars. Yay, awesome math student extraordinaire!

This was the Friday night ritual:

  1. Race back home, giddy with anticipation. No candy eaten in transit, even though we both really wanted to.
  2. Arrive and dump out all the candy onto coffee table.
  3. Put ultra gory horror movie in VCR (yup, they too had a VCR – how was it that only my poor friends had VCR’s?)
  4. Devour all the candy during the movie. One at a time.
  5. Go into full sugar coma.
  6. Rinse. Repeat.

The next morning ill from a gnarly sugar hangover, I devised a way to double our sugar intake for next week. Mom picked me up that afternoon.

“Mom, Debbie gets an allowance of five dollars a week,” I said, batting my eyelashes.

And with that, we doubled our prize money.

The next Friday double sugar coma was so intense I was unsure we would ever recover. Our stomach’s ached. Our head’s ached. We felt death approaching.

We couldn’t wait until next Friday so we could do it again.

Not for a moment did either of us ever consider doing anything different with our 10 dollars. We could’ve gone to the movies, which I’d only been to about two at this time. We could’ve gone to Park Lane Mall and bought fifty pairs of earrings at Claire’s. Each. Or we could’ve bought twenty-five pairs and gone to Sparro for pizza and Cokes.

But no, we were addicts. We saw only candy.

 

 

White Lines – The First Line

The Slippery Slope Theory postulates that an unassuming action or event inevitably leads to a chain of related events culminating into some significant impact, particularly one of the shitty kind. It’s a lot like this Laurel & Hardy movie I saw where this little pebble got loose at the top of a mountain and turned into a monster rock avalanche almost destroying everything in its path on its way to the bottom.

This is the story of how I tripped and fell right into a huge pile of white powder.

“Debbie is… big,” Mom replied after I enthusiastically asked her what she thought of my new friend.

That’s not exactly what I meant by thought when I asked. I was hoping for “smart,” or “sweet,” or perhaps “nifty,” but most definitely not “big.” “Big” is how one describes a sofa or perhaps a T-Rex, but not a human. At least, that is, if you’re me.

I liked Debbie. We met in Mr. Loman’s sixth grade class. She had pimples and boobs and was approximately six-feet-tall. Yes, she probably could’ve been a linebacker, but I saw in her less football player and more puppy who hadn’t grown into her feet yet. She was like a Chihuahua trapped in a St. Bernard’s body. Puberty was not kind to poor Debbie.

So, of course, I liked her immediately.

I added her to my awkward friend collection the second her huge frame appeared in the sixth grade doorframe, shadowing most of the classroom like Godzilla. Mr. Loman lifted the needle off the class record player, (which is how we hit pause in the 80’s), as we’d been listening to his favorite Beatles song, “Revolution 9.”

“This must be Debbie, our new student who just moved here from Michigan. The painted turtle is Michigan’s state reptile,” and with that, he went right back into “Revolution 9,” as he believed it to have all of the answers to all of the questions of all of the worlds. Every time the number nine came up in conversation, he would repeat, “number nine, number nine, number nine,” about 25 times. Some would consider this annoying; I, on the other hand, believed him to be possibly the coolest human ever. Let’s just say I had an affinity for eclectic types.

Mr. Loman also wouldn’t put up with bullying the classroom so even though most of my bullies were in class with me this year, I was safe during classroom hours. It was actually hilarious to see Tammy get so busted bullying me that she never even looked at me during class for the rest of the year.

Debbie arranged herself into the empty desk kitty-corner from me. She unpacked the contents of her tattered gray backpack into her new desk. She seemed nervous. It was right in the middle of the school year, so I assumed her parents were probably given the same parenting handbook mine were. I think these handbooks were most likely given out wherever alcoholic beverages were being served.

Marie and I shared a secret eyeball moment to confirm Debbie’s acceptance for membership to our underground network of transplants. Our underground was so underground that we didn’t even know we had an underground.

Here’s the new kid chronology since the fourth grade:

  1. Marie = new kid. Weirdo. All alone. Boo.
  2. Marie + Courtney = two. Better. Two is better than one.
  3. Courtney + Marie + Debbie = three. The triumvirate of cool, so cool there must be laser beams and stuff.

It was entirely apropos that The Beatles were playing as she entered, because this, my friends, was destiny.

Note: There was no hierarchy in our movement. Actually, the new kid was the most important because the new kid brought power. Power in numbers. The more of us, the less we’d get bullied. At least in theory. I would later name this the “Bullshit Theory” or “Courtney’s a Delusional Freak Theory,” although the latter is much more fact than theory, but please don’t pull me aside and tell me so because I will vehemently oppose said fact as merely speculation and words may be exchanged. Consider yourself warned.

Nothing spells awkward more than getting stuck in a group of humans who’ve shared history that was B.C. (before Courtney). How many times can one retort, “oh yeah, I’m sure that was really funny, especially if I was actually there?” This later led to my obsession with never missing any event ever, lest something totally awesome happened that I missed that would be recalled at a later time.

My fellow members of the network had also experienced the Waldo-Von-Duchenheimer feeling of getting stuck in a circle jerk of kids sharing memories from when Billy farted in first grade or the memorable second grade field trip to the planetarium. We knew what it was to be uprooted. To have no history. To these kids, we were nothing more than evaporated vapor from Billy’s long lost fart before we appeared on their rearview.

We all ran to something to quell the pain of being outcasts. We sought solace together masked as “hanging out.” Marie and I had Duran Duran. Eve and I had porn and Kools.

And Debbie and I had sugar.

Schoolhouse Porn! Vlog

I was so inspired by Channel 3 and my memories of MTV in the early-80’s, that I made a mix tape. You should follow it and listen to it while rereading all parts of Schoolhouse Porn! But who am I to tell you what to do? I’m from Reno.

I listened to the mix tape 398 times, but it wasn’t enough. So I spent $4.99 on the iMovie app, put on a ton of make-up and made a music video all on my iPhone. Voila!

PS. I’m really sorry about the singing part…

Schoolhouse Porn! The Last Channel.

If you’re behind,  click here for Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 1click here for Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 2 and click here for Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 3.  Or not. This is the part with actual porn.

IMG_1991

There was a bed with an ugly flowered comforter, the kind sewn with fishing line instead of thread, facing a dresser with a huge mirror on it. We sat on the bed and I noticed that we were staring at ourselves, which led immediately to bouncing. We bounced for about ten minutes, making funny faces in the mirror all the while. What a cool idea to have a mirror in front of your bed! Why hadn’t I ever thought of that before?

tumblr_mkomb4bism1rqd9g8o1_1280

Panting, we collapsed onto the bed. Perfect time to smoke! Eve pulled a Kool out of what looked like a wallet made especially just for cigarettes with a special pocket just for the lighter and then handed it to me. I decided if I ever take up smoking full-time I was going to get me one of those. We lit up. She put a big gold ashtray with a heavily patterned beanbag on the bottom of it for stability between us. We smoked and panted for a bit.

Then, as if a treasure trove, Eve showed me an entire wall of VHS tapes.

“Do you want to pick or me?” She was grinning like a mysterious motherfucker.

“You pick,” I said, not realizing that it didn’t really matter which of these fine films we watched, because they were all ended exactly the same.

She slid the black tape into the black VCR, turned the TV to Channel three, and then bounced back on the bed, spraying ashes and butts everywhere. She was really excited to share.

behind-the-green-door-movie-poster-1972-1020170549

The movie opened in a diner, where some truck drivers started telling the owner a mysterious story about a door. Uh, okay. Lame. How can a movie about a door be exciting? Then it flashed back to this pretty woman with brown hair being put on a stage and then being kissed and touched by a whole bunch of other women. Ummmm girls didn’t do that to each other on The Love Boat! I was intrigued and embarrassed, but Eve seemed like this was totally normal, so I pretended like it was something I watched all the time.

The girls had huge hair pies. Even far-too-young-to-be-watching-porn-me was fully aware that a razor or ten would be in order. Then the music got all crazy, kind of like the Schoolhouse Rock! music, only funkier, when this black guy came in. He took off his clothes and OH MY GOD! Conjunction junction, so that’s your function!

the-devil-in-miss-jones-vhs-un-film-de-gerard-damiano-1973-904738606_ml

So there it was, in-and-out, upside down and all around – we were watching porn. And not just porn, the best porn ever made. Eve and I smoked Kools and watched Deep Throat, Debbie Does Dallas, and The Devil in Miss Jones, to name a few. They were fascinating. I loved the stories and the sex scenes. I was fully aware I was doing something wrong, which made me want to do it even more.

When Eve’s mom and mom’s boyfriend worked swing shift, I went home after school with her. On the non-Eve days, I went to Marie’s house with similar intention. I saw little difference between watching Duran Duran and porn, after all they made me feel the same downstairs.

The only difference was I didn’t get to smoke at Marie’s house.

. . .

I made a Spotify playlist for Schoolhouse Porn! I can’t stop listening to it! Come over and have a listen.

Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 3.

Not that porn needs to be chronological, but click here for Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 1 and click here for Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 2. Or not. I have no say over how others take their porn. You could be scrolling with your toes right now for all I care. I get it. We all have our – eccentricities.

IMG_1970

Adam Curry appeared on the screen next, his hair more feathered than necessary even for 1983. He introduced what he referred to as a “music video” by Duran Duran.

durancannes

The images that appeared on the TV screen were in a completely different league than The Love Boat and Three’s Company. My entire body tingled. I probably blushed. The five guys on the bough of a sailboat singing about some girl named Rio were by far more tantalizing than Mr. Furley. I needed more, immediately. I needed to come over every day after school until the end of time and maybe, just maybe, my desire for men wearing more make-up than most women would be satiated.

madonna-madonna-650-430
Back when she was chubby.

 

Five hours of Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Duran Duran later, Marie’s mom drove me home.

I don’t know how I even slept that night as my world had been changed forever.

michael-jackson-thriller-album-cover
And he was black.

I went over to Marie’s house every single day from that day on well into 1984. Marie and I were official Duranies. My guy was Nick Rhodes, the keyboardist, and Marie was a Simon Le Bon fan. We would sit two inches from the screen when our boys came on the screen. We spent our allowances on Tiger Beat Magazines and pinned up pictures of our guys all over our rooms. We lived, ate, and breathed Nick and Simon.

That is, until Eve invited me over.

In 1984, only rich people had VCR’s. They were, like, a thousand dollars. Ironically, that’s how Eve seduced me to her apartment after school. She was the poorest kid I knew, so go figure that she was the only person I knew who had a VCR. I’d never even seen one before.

The school bell rang and we ran across the street to her Section 8 apartments. She pulled a shoestring that at one time in its life was white, although hard to believe, with two keys dangling from it from out of her sweatshirt mono-pocket.

“I’m supposed to wear it around my neck, but I don’t,” Eve claimed, with rebel chic. She was a true latchkey kid.

She unlocked the top and bottom locks and we entered her mostly-gray apartment. The smell of Kool cigarettes intermingled with sex filled my senses. Of course, at that time in my life, I only actually recognized the smell of Kools.

“My parent’s work swing-shift so they won’t be home ‘til two-thirty,” Eve said as she jimmied the lock on their bedroom door.

Her mom and mom’s boyfriend were dealers, and by dealer I mean card dealer, not drug dealer, although it wouldn’t have been much of a surprise if they were the latter as well. After all, how the hell did they afford a VCR? The kids with casino worker parents were usually left unsupervised due to the largely nighttime schedules, and therefore made really good friends to have.

The gold Master lock popped open. I wondered why anyone’s parents would lock their bedroom door, but that question was quickly answered. The gray door slid across the carpet-is-too-high-or-the-door-is-too-low tracks from obvious well-thought out craftsmanship that goes into section 8 housing. It made a thick swooshing sound.

1243049317skankville

Tune in on Monday to see what’s behind the poorly manufactured door! What could it be? Why on earth did Eve’s parents lock their bedroom door? All of these questions AND MORE will be answered! Will you dare to read on?

 

 

Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 2.

Not that you’ll be lost or anything, but click here for Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 1 if you feel yourself wanting more. 

IMG_1964

Our courtship took a few weeks, but it was only a matter of time that we’d take it to the next level – an afterschool play-date.

It started out as a recess break like any other. Marie and I were huddling under a random schoolyard painted concrete turtle that was probably designed by some albino Swiss genius with a PhD in educational architecture to stimulate young minds never intending it to be an ideal hiding spot from bullies. This was when it happened.

“The kittens opened their eyes last night,” Marie said, seductively.

“Really?” I asked without an ounce of desperation letting loose.

“They’re so cute…” She said, now taunting me.

“I love kittens…” I hinted, without actually showing all my vulnerable cards, lest she perceive my desperation and flee from the concrete turtle like her hair was on fire.

“My mom said you can come over and meet them after school if you want.”

Bam! There it was. The next level. My television agenda was suddenly thrown out the window. Move over He-Man, fuck you Benson. I had a friend. I had plans.

Marie lived on the nicer side of a horseshoe-shaped street. Her mom and dad were married. To each other. Marie’s parents took care of their small kempt home. The grass was always cut, the paint was never peeling, the driveway free of stains.

Tammy, my lead bully, lived on the shitty side of the horseshoe. Her front yard was only missing a fridge to give it full white trash status. The front yard was dirt and weeds and if a window still had a screen on it, it was tattered and ripped.

I started to understand why Tammy was so angry. Understand, not necessarily care and most definitely not empathize. That bitch made my life hell.

Walking into Marie’s house that afternoon was like entering an alternate universe of the good kind. The entire house smelled sweet. Marie’s mom was in the kitchen baking. My mom never baked. Never. Ever. She hated baking and felt it endangered her feminist ideologies. She also worked very hard to maintain her ultra thin body, so the notion of baking was not only misogynistic to her, but also evil.

At the edge of the dining room was a tinted mirror wall with gold veins all over it, on purpose. Need I remind you it was the eighties? At the bottom of the awesome mirror wall was the area designated for Momma Cat and her five babies. They were squirming and writhing around, all cute-like.

Marie and I picked them up, one-by-one, and put them at the other end of the mirror wall to watch them walk around like little fuzzy four-legged drunks. As if it couldn’t have gotten any better, Marie’s mom put a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies on the dining room table. For us. I could have wept.

I sunk my teeth into the moistest warmest meltiest (yeah, it’s a word, look it up) cookie and went to heaven. I could go on about the cookie for five hundred pages or so, but the next blog will be entirely devoted to sugar, my next drug of choice, so we’ll leave it at a simple IT WAS REALLY FUCKING GOOD.

Just when the moment couldn’t get any more Norman Rockwell, one of the tiniest kittens noticed it’s reflection in the huge wall mirror for the very first time and was immediately convinced its reflection was actually another kitten. He took off with lightening speed full force toward the mirror until he CRASHED into the mirror and fell back, completely dazed. The kitten had his first lesson in gravity and we laughed so hard we nearly spewed chocolate chips all over the dining room floor.

After we recovered, Marie took me into the living room and turned on the TV. And here was the very best thing about her house – they had CABLE. The only thing better than watching TV was watching TV with cable! And the only thing better than watching TV with cable was watching TV with cable with a friend!

The image of an astronaut staking his claim on the moon filled the screen. The pokey-thing he was piercing the moon with had a sign on it that was changing colors. It said MTV. I pretended like I’d seen it before.

 

 

Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 1.

Moving to Sparks + no friends = TV.

TV + making friends in Sparks = porn.

FullSizeRender

My afterschool television addiction began in a Sonoma, California duplex with Super Grover and Mr. Rogers. I mentally escaped to my life on Sesame Street and in Mr. Rogers’s rad house every day after school. I defended Mr. Rogers when Mom and Bio Dad teased me that he was a pedophile because I believed in him. Unconditional love was emitted through a little box in the living room when Mr. Rogers talked just to me and no one else. It was like we were all alone in his awesome house just doing cool shit, such cool shit that it required both a shoe and sweater change to do.

I wasn’t into cartoons as much, but would watch them on Saturday mornings with the same intention I watch the Super Bowl game, for the commercials. Only these weren’t exactly commercials, they were Schoolhouse Rock! educational music-video-way-before-MTV cartoons. And I loved them. They taught me everything from the function of a conjunction to the process of a bill becoming a law, interspersed with groovy characters like Interplanet Janet singing to bass-heavy seventies tunes.

Lastly, my favorite and most anticipated show to mainline was The Muppet Show. It was only on once a week and every second from the critic’s initial insults to Zoot’s final saxophone toot was watched in silence and awe. I actually still love this show so much that I have to stop writing about it lest I totally freak the fuck out and lock myself in the house snorting VHS tapes for five days until the cops have to break the door down to pry me away from those damn furry Muppets. That, my friends, is true addiction.

Our next stints living in sleazy motels from Tucson to El Paso and other nefarious places in between brought on a craving for more mature content. Suddenly, I was interested in boys, or should I say, men. I became obsessed with The Love Boat, and my favorite parts were the kissing parts. I loved the way they made out by sucking on each other’s top and bottom lips, respectively. How I longed to have my lip sucked on the Lido Deck by some has-been actor hoping for a comeback. The other show that made me tingle was Three’s Company. And I never had common crushes. I didn’t fantasize about Jack Tripper or even Larry Dallas; no, my crush was on Mr. Furley. Yes, Don Knotts – all 93 pounds of him. I fantasized about that wrinkly old dude hitting on me at The Regal Beagle in a patchwork leisure suit.

My fake love affairs were abruptly and tragically ended when my parents moved us to the middle of Mexico. The nearest town was a tiny fishing village with cobblestone streets. Needless to say, TV was not an option. I quit cold turkey. That is, until we moved to Sparks.

Sparks was the place I relapsed on television.

Now I raced home not only from bullies, but to turn on, tune in and drop out. That’s what Mr. Leary meant, wasn’t it? TV was an obvious escape from the brutality and confusion of my life. Now I saw the world through the eyes of Ricky Schroeder, Benson, Alex P. Keaton, and a talking car named KITT. I even relapsed on cartoons. I’d be frequently caught yelling “I have the power!” along with He-Man and I literally asked my mom to “smurf” me the butter one night at dinner.

My aim was to clock about five hours on school nights. That meant running home the second the school bell rang via my super awesome shortcut which required a lot of trespassing, probably my first illegal activity. The illicit route included an empty field behind a spooky stone house that some weird politician lived in, about four backyards (one of them had sheep), and hopping several fences. If I avoided all distraction (i.e. stopping to pet said sheep) I could plant myself in front of the TV, remote in hand, by three-twenty. Bedtime was at nine, snacks, refills and homework were handled during commercial breaks, and dinner took up no more than thirty minutes and usually fell at seven-thirty, which was totally cool because the only thing on was Jeopardy which was boooooooring.

That was my life. That is, until Marie and I became friends.

Stay tuned for Channel 2, out next Monday!

Seeing Sparks, Fin

fontcandy

Want to binge read the whole series? No problem. For Part 1, click here. For Part Deux, click here. For Part Trois, click here.

“Where are you going?” Eve yelled as I ran. She was brave. She was also left alone by bullies, probably due to the fact that they’d have to get within smelling range to appropriately intimidate her.

“I, uh, I forgot I told my mom I’d be home right after school today!” I lied as I sprinted toward the crosswalk.

Once I reached the street corner, I pressed the crosswalk button about 400 times in a matter of five seconds. Unfortunately, my fixed attention on said crosswalk button distracted me so I completely failed to notice who was on the other side of the street and about to head my way. Yep. Not one, not two, but all three of my new bullies. And they had not only already spotted me in their territory, but they were already laughing at me.

“Hey Egghead! Did you get lost? Are you running home to Mommy?” They intermittently barked at me between peals of laughter.

Then in perfect fashion, the glowing white walking man suddenly and almost mockingly appeared in the crosswalk box. This was markedly the first of many times that the man I’d longed for so desperately finally showed up – at the entirely wrong time. I didn’t know what to do. I was frozen. Just then, Eve caught up with me and grabbed my arm.

“Just walk. Don’t look at them.” She coached me under her breath.

“Oh look at the lesbian lovers! Eve and Courtney sitting in a tree, K I S S I N G…” They continued taunting us as we met in the middle of the crosswalk. At least I knew we couldn’t be there forever. Eventually the light would turn green, right? Or maybe a semi would magically run the red light and tragically (and hopefully quickly) squash me like a bug? Should I be so lucky.

Because of all of the excitement of the day, my guard was down, so much so that the fancy dodging-bullies footwork I’d honed over the past few hellish months was thrown out the window. Tammy pulled her signature move and stuck one hefty freckled leg out in my direct line of travel, sending me crashing to the ground. One knee, then both, met with the black asphalt, tearing my corduroys and leaving small black granules in my bloodied skin. Next to hit was my chin, which caused a domino reaction, slamming my jaw shut which in turn clamped right down onto my tongue.

I don’t know why and I wish it wasn’t so, but these moments are always in slow motion. It’s like the moments that suck so bad you wish they’d go by super fast tend to go at the pace of molasses. A minute becomes like 800 years. That’s just an estimate, but I think I’m pretty close.

At a slug’s speed, not one, but both packs of cigarettes flew out of my little purse onto the street. This was the defining moment. It would all be worthwhile – the blood, the bruises, the years of therapy to come – if these smokes would’ve incited a fear in my bullies like no other. A trembling. An understanding of how truly psycho the little girl they tormented every day was and the lengths she would go to prove as much.

Tammy, Lisa, and Gina, who were already laughing hysterically, started howling at a decibel which only rivaled Def Leppard.

“Oh my name’s Egghead, I’m a smoker now. I’m so retarded!” The choir of doom sang through their laughter.

“You think you’re tough now? We’ll show you tough tomorrow when we kick your ass!” They bellowed. Perfect, now I had something to look forward to at least.

The light turned green as we piled the intestines of my purse back in its little body. When it couldn’t get any more humiliating, the honking began. Sparks was a cruel city. No pausing for downed weirdos. I prayed they would just put me out of my misery and run me over. Just make it fast. Knowing my luck that would be in slow fucking motion too.

Eve picked up the pieces and got me safely across the street. My knees, chin, and tongue were bleeding, snot was dripping out of my nose and I was sobbing. A car of teenage boys slowed down to stare as they drove by. Through my tears a blurry bumper sticker came into focus which read, “Reno is so close to hell you can see Sparks.”

Seeing Sparks, Part Trois

Not caught up? No problem. For Part 1, click here. For Part Deux, click here. To understand why I switched from French to English in between part 1 and deux, click here to ask my psychiatrist.

fontcandy

New Dad smoked More brand cigarettes. They were long and brown, which I immediately knew was not cool, but it’s hard to score smokes when you’re nine so you work with what you’ve got. By the time I hit middle school, I had the 7-11 note-from-Mom-trick down, but for now, I had to improvise. Starting a new drug certainly has its challenges. On tippy-toes, I lifted a pack from the carton New Dad kept on top of the fridge and headed outside.

One of the best things about this house was the river in the backyard. Well, I called it a river. It was actually an irrigation ditch, but it was chock-full of hiding spots and was alarmingly calming. I positioned myself in a small bank, struck a match, and lit that long, brown cigarette. I held the smoke in my cheeks and blew it out. I did it again. And again. I had no clue what inhaling was or how the whole thing worked, so it seemed like no big deal. Game on.

I put the pack in my little checkered tan and brown purse; due to poverty and youth, it was actually my first purse. I had not only a purse, but smokes in said purse. I walked to school like a badass. Just having them on my person gave me the confidence of Madonna. I wished the stogies were white, but they would do.

The first person I saw was greasy Eve. I pulled her over to the monkey bars and showed her the contents of my purse. She was not surprised.

“Those are gross. Let me get you some Kools after school. They’re minty.” She said, rolling her crusty eyes.

Who knew Eve was so cool? Ends up her parents and sister all smoked Kools. I realized right then and there that Kool cigarette smoke was a large portion of her unique mélange of stink. I now felt like even more of a badass. After all, I hadn’t even smoked an entire cigarette yet and I was already changing brands.

And did Eve ever deliver. She snuck a pack from her mom’s boyfriend’s carton and we found an excellent hiding spot behind a dumpster in her Section 8 apartment complex. I’m sure most kids smoked by nine who lived there so I’m not really sure why we hid at all.

After one hit off that sweet ass Kool I knew I’d found my brand. It was approximately 80,000 times better tasting than New Dad’s nasty ass More. There was just one big hitch in my giddy up, I couldn’t smoke at school! I was an exceptional student. I wasn’t about to get in trouble.

Therein lies the rub. It was time for plan C. Yeah C, as in cancer.

I devised a master plan. Eve and I would go to Sierra Stix after school for fries. I couldn’t take Marie because she’d never understand the smoking and would try to talk me out of it. She was very pragmatic for a 9-year-old.

Sierra Stix was the afterschool hangout for the cool kids, AKA, kids with parents who could give two shits of the whereabouts of their children. Or the luckiest of the lucky, kids with parents that worked swing shift.

They would eat dripping-of-grease brown paper bags of French fries and play video games while rocking out to exceptionally loud music on the juke box. This was a dangerous proposition. I was not only putting myself in the firing line, but was doing so an entire two blocks from school and from the false sense of protection I felt with teachers being within screaming-bloody-murder distance.

Eve and I stood in front of the heavy wooden doors of Sierra Stix. I unzipped my purse and made sure my Kools were showing. My little hand shook as I heaved open the humungous door. The sound of Def Leppard’s “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” poured out into the parking lot and ricocheted off my bones it was so loud. I immediately felt this was a place my cool big sisters would hang out in their tight-ass camel-toe jeans with roach clips holding back their feathered manes, not where plaid cowgirl shirt and blue cords lameass me would be. My Kool induced cool was sucked into a vortex somewhere very far away from me.

I bolted.

Seeing Sparks, Part Deux

One month later, we moved to Sparks. The subtitle of this blog should be “Sparks Is a Gateway Drug” but no one would even know what the fuck Sparks was so it wouldn’t be funny. Sparks sucks so much that it would fuck up my entire blog subtitle. Yeah, that’s how much Sparks sucks.

IMG_0978
I really needed a cigarette.

The only thing that didn’t totally suck was the house. I actually liked it. New Dad ripped out the Astroturf immediately and built us a beautiful wooden deck. It felt like a rich person’s house to me because it was so big. I’d only lived in rentals and motels my whole life, so a house was kind of a foreign concept. And Mom had her own studio for her artwork so there were no longer paint cans on the dining room table. Now that I lived in a real house that we owned, I thought I was rich.

The true suckiness began when I was tossed into Agnes Risley right in the middle of the school year. Oh, and I was now the rich kid after I’d always been the poor kid. Talk about confusing. Ends up that hill we lived on was the only middle class area for which the Risley Bears were zoned and the poor asshole kids were none too pleased with the few kids who lived on the hill. Especially new kids who lived on that hill.

No sooner than Mrs. Barnes introduced me to the class did I have the pleasure of meeting three of my future bullies. Tammy was an ugly fat red head with a skin problem. The skin on her nose would slough off in chunks. Probably didn’t help that in between bullying me and babysitting her Ritalin infused younger brother, she obsessively picked at her ugly fat face.

Lisa and Gina were the same age as me, but somehow managed to develop full-on boobs and had BOTH started their periods already. Oh, and they wore make-up. I was still playing with Smurfs and collecting animal figurines. Boobs, periods, and make-up were only things I’d seen on TV.

It’s shocking that I even managed to make two friends. Marie was an equally awkward girl who shared with me her passion for Duran Duran and TV, and Eve was a girl who lived in the Section 8 apartments across the street from the school who had a strong aversion to bathing.

Most days were hell. Due to the overall lack of appropriate supervision, recesses were spent dodging Tammy, Lisa, and Gina. It was exhausting. I still have a negative Pavlovian reaction to recess bells. But this is when I noticed THEM. At the furthest most point from the elementary and middle schools were two sun cracked tennis courts with a large graffiti-covered back wall. This is where the smokers hung out.

They wore denim jackets with Iron Maiden or Pantera album covers painted on the back. They sported mullets back when they were cool. Some of them had dyed hair or tails. For those of you sad enough not to be alive during the 1980’s, a tail was one thin piece of hair that was much longer than the rest of your hair that was frequently braided or dyed.

One plus one was start smoking NOW. I envisioned Tammy approaching me from behind. I would turn around, in slow motion of course, cigarette blazing between my awesome lips.

“Oh hey Courtney,” she’d say as she picked at her ugly face.

“Hey,” I’d say, all gruff and rad.

“I didn’t know you smoked,” she’d say, kind of cowering.

“Been smokin’ my whole life,” I’d say, like Johnny Cash, only cooler.

“Can I try one?” she’d beg.

“Nah. You don’t want to start this nasty habit. It’ll kill you.”

She’d walk away, totally in awe of my coolness. Then, she’d warn Lisa and Gina never to mess with me again lest I go crazy on them with my sheer unpredictable badassedness.

The only thing left to do was actually figure out how to smoke and then be seen doing it. That, and remember my dialogue.

 

Seeing Sparks

The only thing more stupid than living in Reno is living in Reno’s sister city, Sparks. This is the story of how I ended up in Sparks, which, as you might expect, led me straight to smoking.

stoner wall2

I was always suspicious of parental surprises, especially when it involved getting in a car. With my biological father, who I’ll refer to as Bio Dad, a surprise car ride meant we were either going to the liquor store or moving to a third world country. So when my mother and stepfather, AKA New Dad, sardined me into the back of New Dad’s Datsun Z for a “surprise,” I had a feeling it was going to be a craptastic day.

Quicker than I could scrawl out a help-me-I’m-trapped-in-the-back-of-a-midlife-crisis-mobile sign, we whizzed past the WELCOME TO SPARKS landmark on the side of the freeway. Not bad enough we’re going on a surprise voyage, but a surprise voyage to Sparks. I dared not ask.

The tiny sports car pulled up in front of a very long house with a FOR SALE sign in the front yard. I unfolded myself from the back of the minuscule car and made my way toward the Astroturf covered porch. The sound of my plastic jelly shoes crushing plastic grass was disconcerting at best. I was only nine, but was definitely hip enough to know that plastic grass does not belong on a front porch. The entire house looked like a mobile home, only it didn’t move, so I guess that made it an immobile home.

The house was more like two houses glued together due to a completely forced and awkward add-on. My favorite part was the Western style barroom complete with wooden swinging doors and a vinyl covered bar with barstools. I bet more than doors swung in that room, if you get my drift. Especially since Joe Conforte, the infamous owner of The Mustang Ranch was a neighbor just up the hill. Brings a whole new meaning to “hey neighbor, can I borrow some sugar?”

Before I could even finish origami-ing myself back into the miniature car, Mom craned her neck around the back of the passenger seat to face me, her face reeking of agenda.

“Did you like the house?”

“It’s fine,” I answered. I mean, I was nine and it was a house. I had much more important things on my mind, like how much Fun Dip I had left in my backpack, if I finally would discover a geode in the backyard, and the punch list items for the completion of my new fort.

“Good, because we bought it!” she exclaimed.

There it was. Surprise. I knew this would be a shit day, but the black and red floor mat had just been completely pulled from underneath my jellies. I entered this excursion with hopes (denial) that we were simply taking a Sunday drive and walking around some other person’s weird porno house for shits and gigs.

Unfortunately denial can’t orchestrate a change of fate and contracts had been signed, hands had been shaken, not stirred. I was officially fucked. I’d finally rooted myself at Anderson Elementary, so much so that I actually had made friends. Which was a rarity since I typically didn’t even make it a full school year before the suitcases came out again. By the end of our tenure with Bio Dad, Mom and I stopped unpacking the boxes because why bother? They’d only get packed up again.

“Can I still go to Anderson?” I asked, hoping, praying for a miracle.

The car-big-enough-only-for-midgets reached the bottom of the hill and passed perhaps the ugliest two schools I’d ever seen in my life. Agnes Risley Elementary and Sparks Middle shared one large city block. They were kitty corner from each other, separated by a long stretch of brown splotchy grass and a baseball diamond. They looked like prisons. Probably because they were.

“This will be your new school,” Mom said as she pointed to the smaller of the two schools. On the side of one of the cracked white walls was a pathetic mural of what looked like a large rat next to the handwritten school slogan, “Home of the Risley Bears.” Got it, the rat was supposed to be a bear. A “Risley” bear. Shoot me.

I was immediately gripped with an intense craving for nicotine. This was odd, because I’d never smoked.

Not yet, that is.

I started to cry. And not just cry, wail, for what was to come and what had already transpired. Agnes Risley was to become the tenth elementary school I’d attend.

You’re From Where?

renoI didn’t smoke a cigarette at 9-years-old hoping that by 14 I’d be screwing a drug dealer for cocaine on his waterbed with my best friend watching. This was not a place I went to with rationale or intention. Just like moving to Reno.

Reno started out as a quick fix and ended up in permanent residency. It was like a pile of dog crap I accidentally stepped in that got stuck in all the intricate treads of my new hiking boots. Scrub with a toothbrush as I may, the specs of brown were never coming out.

This was not my master plan.

I know I should’ve listened to Nancy Reagan and “just said no,” but this series of essays should prove that after your parents move you to Reno, you’re left with very slender options.

Reno is a gateway drug.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: