Archive for May, 2009

The Happy & The Crappy: V
May 28, 2009

Puget Sound
Puget Sound

On the Road Again

 

I bitch about my job a lot. Turns out though there are some very cool aspects of  it. As an example, I HAVE a job and there are a lot of people who don’t. Beyond the very remedial ‘cool’ parts is the fact that I get to see a lot of places and any number of them are fantastic. In particular one stretch of my job allows me to travel between Southern California and Seattle, Washington. There is a lot of gorgeous scenery in between these two locals and I managed to snap a couple of photos of a couple of my favorite spots.

 

 

If you have not travelled up to Washington, do. Though I have only seen the Sound from Tacoma up through Washington (so far!), it is gorgeous. Another area that I love travelling through is in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Specifically, coming out of the Cascades just above Lookout Point Reservoir is stunning.

LookOut Point
LookOut Point Reservoir

http://www.gonorthwest.com/Washington/puget/Puget_Sound.htm

 

 http://www.traveloregon.com/Explore-Oregon/Willamette-Valley.aspx

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Happy & The Crappy: IV
May 15, 2009

Banner movie week! Of this planet, Disney’s Earth is amazing! The score is fantastic. James Earl Jones doing the voice over is what James Earl Jones does best! The Planet that’s pretty incredible too! This joint, it turns out, is spectacularly beautiful. I’m going to Africa. South America. The Arctic. And all points in between.

Out of this world? Star Trek was fantastic!!!!! So great. I grew up with a Trekie Mom so naturally I’m a Generations Gal but THIS movie is so well done! I laughed my ass off. My nephew was giddy too and IDK if that kid has ever seen an episode of Star Trek. So much fun. If you haven’t, do. Spock is a pimp, I’m just saying.

It Coulda Been Me: Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star
May 14, 2009

 “I grew up trusting no one, but I know if I keep doing what I’ve always done,
 I’ll get what I have always gotten. I want to change.”

 

I was a drug abuser  user NOT a drinker. My drugs of choice were narrowed down relative to my refusal to be anything like the addicts in my life. They weren’t sick or afflicted, they were weak. My Dad is a drunk-nothing so refined as an alcoholic. The older ‘kids’ in my life preferred crank (or amphetamines in general). In the spirit of full disclosure, I never slammed dope of any kind either. My aversion to intravenous drug use was not based on a fear of needles or an acute sense of the  ‘wrong’ of it, rather, a couple of my heroes were junkies.* It’s that simple. I made my choices relative to the injustices abuses I witnessed in the lives of those around me and as a direct result, a direct result, I got fucking lucky. Not a drunk, not a crank whore, not a junkie–not an addict. I was just a abuser User.  Not clear on the distinction? The breakdown listed at the following site works well enough: http://www.michaelshouse.com/substance-abuse/substance-abuse-addiction.html

“Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star”

My drug of choice was Acid, easy. Loved it. Dropped regularly, how else could I have possibly gotten through my life? Think of it as a form of therapy. Ha! (See, http://www.fda.gov/FDAC/features/795_psyche.html ) Of course, LSD wasn’t the only drug I used, but, that is hardly the point. Or is it? I used what ever was at hand BUT I had limits. The POINT is, I made very conscious choices about what I would and would not do and to what extent I would use anything at all. Getting high was acceptable and getting drunk wasn’t. Getting so spun you literally picked yourself apart? Unacceptable. As an adult, I can certainly look at the distinctions being drawn here and shudder, to say the least, but, as a kid it made perfect sense. If I was not ‘one of them,’ I was fine. Following that logic it stands to reason that for much of my life I believed every drug user (especially including drinkers) had the ability to make the same choices. You can chose what you do. When you do it. And when enough is enough, when it doesn’t work anymore, you stop. It’s that simple. 

LSD, by all accounts is not habit forming. Which is to say that there is no physical compulsion/craving to continue use.  There is little to no physical recourse for the casual or extended use of hallucinogenic drugs. Baring of course, killing yourself incidentally. Or intentionally.  A friend of mine, B., is still dead, the gun he put to his head while shrooming was NOT incidental. See, MENTAL  recourse,  that’s another story.  Brain damage is entirely possible with the use of hallucinogens, when you ‘fry’ you FRY your brain. That should probably fall under a physical  repercussion?  Another  friend of mine, from high school, who as it happens is now my cousin, serves as an example of what could have been.  When we were in high school (at least while I managed to stay in that particular high school), he and I dropped together weekly if not more frequently. He always had a hit, hell, he always had a sheet or a vial. Today, he’s schizophrenic. Might have happened anyway. Might not have.  He tripped (or was otherwise high) everyday; I tripped (or was otherwise high) a lot of days. In either scenario, addictive or not, you can only live in the bubble for so long and then you can’t come back. That’s what tripping was for me– a bubble.  A bubble between me and you; a bubble between me and the rest of the world. It was a way out of the room, the school, the party, the house–my life. That’s what getting high was. It was a way out of a place that I couldn’t find the fucking exit for–stone cold sober. There was no exit. 

In my familial breakdown, we could be split between the haves and the have nots, but, it would be more accurate to split between the functional and the non-functional.  On both sides of my family that is true. We were not WT. Not entirely without education. Not universally poor. There is and always has been, in some cases, on both sides, deep faith. Then there is addiction and abuse, on both sides. On my Father’s, I know that it spans at least three generations. On my Mother’s certainly two, well, no…now that’s three, too. It never occurred to me that people didn’t drink. That they didn’t use. All kids try it, right? And their parents, too? The odds on anyone in my family getting through this life, with our lineage, without dealing with substance issues or their effects are slim to none. It is after all GENETIC.

Actually, the genetic “link” has not yet been proven. The GENERATIONAL “link” most certainly has. Whether one subscribes to a genetic link or not, the nature of growing up or otherwise living with an addict of any kind predisposes those around said addict to certain behaviors. As an example, I could and did rationalize regular drug use as normative behavior because it met my ‘ethical’ standards, as garnered from my cultural/familial background. Even if you didn’t use in my family, you for damn certain didn’t do anything about anyone who did. That would have necessitated talking about it and we don’t didn’t. While it may be true that some kids ‘experiment’ that does not mean that they walked into their house high, said as much and then didn’t get a talking to about it, at the very least. But that is the deal, if you are high and one of my parents always was, you don’t have the option of calling your high children out. You have forfeited that right or at least you did if I was your child.

So, there it is. I navigated my years of illicit drug use, avoiding the lure of some incredibly addictive substances,  by virtue of adherence to a fucked up code of conduct. I dealt in the drugs of choice of those around me to the slightest extent possible (excluding abstinence of course!) and  in so doing I managed to avoid or only marginally engage with drugs that might have otherwise killed me. Or not. It would be a disservice (if you can believe that!) to those in my life that well and truly suffer addictions if I were to suggest that I am an addict. With two exceptions and I will get to those in a minute, I have never had trouble quitting the use of any substance. For addicts (as opposed to abusers) there is a physical compulsion, a switch that once flipped does not reverse itself–and those people, if they are lucky, must find a way to live with those compulsions without acting on them or they will die. I am not built that way, it would seem.

The only thing I have ever had trouble quitting (physically) is smoking and I blame Philip Morris, just so we’re clear. Lol. Nah, I don’t know what the difference is but I haven’t smoked in two plus months and I want one right now and ten minutes ago and ten minutes from now. I don’t know why!!! I have never not been able to put something down and just walk away. Maybe it’s because I’m older? Because I still really like smoking? The substance itself? Not a fucking clue but I do know the want of it is physical and makes me crazy at times. Maybe it’s me, that’s my switch, the one that’s flipped. Fuck if I know.  The only other “substance” that has kicked my ass (psychologically) is medication. I have been un-medicated for a year and a half, for most of my adult life I have been treated for Panic Disorder. All I have to say on that subject is my “Panic Disorder” was symptomatic and not causal, my Dr. just didn’t know it. Never the less, going off medications, apart from the physical with drawls which sucked but ended, was overwhelming because it meant FOR ME, that I was taking my mind back. Diseased or not, I’ll take my chances.

I am not being facetious in  the choice of titling for this section, clutching onto a naïve belief that I could will myself to be  ‘other’ than those around me… Apparently, missing the crap shoot that has bread addicts in my family. Getting high and all the STUPID STUPID choices that were made attendant to it! Living to tell about it. I got lucky. It’s that simple.  

 

* It would be a lie to say that I saw my heroes as weak. They were aflicted, misunderstood, etc. They got a by for their behaviors. The only thing I ever allowed myself to feel relative to their addictions was fear.  The rampant use of heroin in particular scared the shit out of me. Hypocritical? My Father certainly thought so!!! See, Blog: The Tie That Binds: AFD.

 

This Blog was Soundtracked to:

Social Distorion, “It Coulda Been Me,” Social Distortion. 1990.

Merle Haggard, “Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star,” Chill Factor. 1987.

The Benefits of Loaded.
May 6, 2009

This Blog is currently under maintenance. Thanks.

The Happy & The Crappy:III
May 5, 2009

On my last work trip I saw Dolphins playing in the water. A 17 year old girl was ‘struck’ and killed. And, I saw my first whale. I couldn’t tell you what kind of whale it was…but I saw it crest and blow, it was awesome. One of the more exhausting trips I’ve ever had.

Signs O’ Life
May 5, 2009

Mike McCready is a spectacular human being. The ‘singular’ proof of McCready’s humanity is not in his ability to play guitar (though, he certainly can), it’s not because one(?) of his bands has reshaped the (musical) world, not because he owns and acknowledges the disease he himself is living with (Crohn’s), not even because he apparently thinks as highly of Duff as I do (!!!), but, because ‘love is an action’ and Mike McCready is a man of action. The universe aligned itself in such a way this past weekend that I was able to get up to Seattle to see Loaded at the Showbox at the Market playing at the 7th Annual Flight to Mars CCFA (Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America) benefit show. I went to see Loaded. I left in awe of Mike McCready. Be clear, there was no doubt about McCready’s ability to play, nor, of his musical legacy when I walked in to the Showbox! I will not be getting into the legacy that is PJ as I assume most people ‘get it’ and anyone who doesn’t…I can’t help. The point is, I’ve only ever engaged with McCready by way of PJ and the Showbox show was a rawked out variation of Mike McCready-This is Your Life!

The show began with McCready taking the stage to play a couple of original acoustic songs. He was accompanied on vocals by a woman who’s name I did not catch. (Anybody?) In any case they performed beautifully. After, the acoustic performance, Shadow ’86 took the stage. Shadow consists of Mike on vocals and guitar accompanied by Rick and Chris Friel, respectively, on bass and drums. The threesome combine to offer up their very own tribute to Jimi Hendrix! Track highlights included (in no particular order) Purple Haze, All Along the Watchtower, Red House, the Star spangled Banner, and Little Wing (with Kim Virant on vocals and Ty Bailie on keyboards). Not to mention a special appearance by Stone Gossard who sang a geeked out version of David Lee Roth’s, Just Like Living in Paradise. Outstanding. While the Shadow set was chocked full of fun material delivered technically fine, what mattered most was how much fun they/he very clearly had while playing. It’s one thing as a musician to take on Hendrix’ material, by show of hands–how many of you have heard a mediocre, though technically correct Hendrix cover? Exactly. Now picture McCready playing his ass off while channeling his inner 15 year old!!! On his knees, doubled over backward, atop the barricade–guitar behind his head acting very much the part of a fool, a fool in love! Loving where he was at, what he was doing and who he was with. From their ‘rock star’ performance antics to their giggling re-start (oops) it was a joy to watch the men in Shadow engage with one another and the material. Taking nothing away from the actions of Rick and Chris, who were a riot in their own right! Mike McCready on guitar is a hell of an act!!

Crohn’s & Colitis was not on my radar before this event. While I learned a good bit of information at the show, that the benefit itself, not only supported CCFA, but, also, Camp Oasis a summer retreat for children and teens who live with Crohn’s & Colitis and Advocacy for Patients. I also learned that Crohn’s & Colitis is a kind of IBD. Yeah, you read me. Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Specifically, it was Duff’s discussion of Mike McCready as a ‘brave Man’ for stepping forward and acknowledging publicly that he suffered from Crohn’s that prompted my subsequent (largely post-show) research of the disease. What I have learned is that, specifically:

“Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines. It primarily causes ulcerations (breaks in the lining) of the small and large intestines, but can effect the digestive system anywhere from the mouth to the anus. Crohn’s disease is related closely to another chronic inflammatory condition that involves only the colon called ulcerative colitis. Together, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are frequently referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have no medical cure…The disease affects approximately 500,000 to two million people in the United States. “

(Per http://www.webmd.com/ibd-crohns-disease/crohns-disease/what-is-crohns-disease)

The physical effects of which, include, “abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, night sweats, rectal pain and rectal bleeding.” Awkward, no? We all participate in a culture that to one extent or another, celebrates or at least considers “par for the course” the disease of addiction. That being said, there is NOTHING- Rock N’ Roll about saying, I have IBD. Unless of course, you’re Mike McCready. His onus of having a debilitating disease that he did not choose and can not cure is no less staggering than the onus of now countless others that have owned their own diseases. McCready’s going public, not to mention the 7 years of support that he has offered (speaking specifically to benefit shows here) is an act of self-love no less than it is an act of loving kindness for the hundreds of thousands who suffer with this disease . His decision to give voice, both spoken and musically, to those who are suffering and waiting and fighting for a cure to Crohn’s and Colitis is humbling and inspiring.

The ‘numbers’ for the event are not out now but we were informed during the course of the evening that the “pre-show packages” alone brought in more than $12,000.00. Over and above the pre-show the proceeds from show tickets, merchandise (Including Sick!), an on site auction and an additional auction of two guitars ( I think being hosted at http://wishlistfoundation.org/ ) in the coming weeks will constitute the nights total take.

http://www.ccfa.org/

http://www.ccfa.org/kidsteens/about_camp

http://www.advocacyforpatients.org/

OH! And, Loaded played. Details to follow…