What He Said

Just a few posts back, I was retching about the 8th step that it seems daunting and I don’t want to do it. Mostly because the 9th step follows. I’ve no idea how that gets done. I am fairly certain though that my amends will not occur in any kind of public sphere. I could be wrong. I own that up front, however, as I don’t usually operate in a public sphere I’m feeling pretty confident. Not to mention relieved. Oh, and blessed. Why is that, you have not asked?

Every Thursday I read Duff’s blog over on the Seattle Weekly site. This week’s blog, All Apologies, is in fact a shining example of how steps 8 & 9 get done. (Just in time, too. Funny that.)  I have been feeling overwhelmed on multiple levels for the past couple of weeks and have had no small amount of anxiety about how to move forward working my steps. That Duff’s column this week speaks exactly (although indirectly) toward one of the (identified) hurdles in front of me doesn’t surprise me, per se. There is a bit of a ‘burning bush’ quality to it that made me giggle. Mostly, I am grateful, once again, for the example that he has set.

The REST of the blog did not make me giggle.

 

Welcome To The Jungle

**Note: For the rest of this to make sense it assumes you’ve read Duff’s blog. Also, the remainder of this blog is a bit of a meander through my own response to Kurt’s suicide.**

 

Guns N’ Roses was/is my favorite band.* I’m certain I’ve mentioned this. Maybe Guns became my favorite band in exactly the same fashion that everyone else in the world came to find their favorite band, I don’t pretend to know. What I do know is that Guns hit my life in exactly the moment I needed them most and they brought to the table exactly what I needed most. The ‘short version’ explication of that statement would be: they were how I found my voice. The realistic explication of that statement would take a lifetime to explain and I’m simply not willing to share. For the purposes of moving on here, it is of note that music gave me a world-view and Guns was the cornerstone of that world-view. Guns and being a ‘good’ fan is where I learned faith (blind-fucking-faith), loyalty and, though I could not have readily identified it, hope.

 Seattle

I was aware that Duff was from Seattle, however,  he was not the means by which I found Seattle Music. A very good friend of mine in highschool was from Seattle. (Actually, he was a run away. He would not have characterized himself as such and I certainly didn’t think of him in that regard at the time, but, given our ages and the fact that he was out in the world on his own…vagabond? Again, the age makes that term problematic for me.) Whether or not he was born and/or raised in Seattle, I don’t recall or I never knew. Whatever. He had spent some time in Seattle and he brought with him to California in his trusty backpack (along with all of his other worldly possessions) a series of cassette tapes which housed the likes of Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, et al. I loved Bleach.   Actually, I loved every tape he had and every band on them. That is how I got Seattle music. Not ahead of the curve, either. Nevermind was out and Seattle was on the cusp of ascending to the heights of musics cultural cache on a global scale. None of which bothered me, fyi. My favorite band was the ‘biggest band in the world,’ so what did I know from ‘underground?’

Seattle was an easy fit for me musically and Nirvana was cool. Until, the VMA’s. I sat at home watching the show because ‘they’ were there and by ‘they’ I mean Guns. It is true a whole host of other bands that I liked, if not loved, were also there but it would be a flat-out lie to suggest that I cared about anything other than Guns. By 1991, that band (and a core group of friends.**) was the only ‘thing’ left in this world that I held on to. They (Them/their music it all gets conflated.) were the tether that bound me to this life when nothing else was enough. 

When Kurt (and Courtney) started talking-blathering really at the show, I was assaulted, not to put to fine a point on it. I was unprepaired for their theatrics and not a terribly sophisticated emotional being to begin with (In my defense I was all of 15.) so to have this band whom I liked-come ‘out of nowhere’ and behave like JERKS, I was stunned. And done. That was the end of Nirvana for me and that was before the ‘fall out,’ before the news reports of Duff chasing Krist around the backstage area, etc.

In life, my wagons at the point were pretty tightly circled and you were either in or out. I’ve explained before how detachment worked in my young life, I had two points on my emotional/social spectrum-love or loathe. There were no in-between and when I was done-to my mind there was nothing left to discuss, to consider, to feel. That’s how I coped. 

Nirvana was out. Relative to that one event. No more cds, no concerts, no gear; they may well have become the ‘biggest band in the world’ thereafter and there is absolutely nothing about that that I could speak to. I didn’t follow, I didn’t care. 

sifting…

 

 I was standing in the entry way of our house between the living room and the dining room when the news came across the tv. I convulsed. My knees buckled. I’m not much of a screamer. The thing is I tend to lose my voice when I’m in pain or in fear, the result of which amounts to a kind of extended period of having the wind knocked out of me. You can’t hear me, no one can, but I am screaming. I was screaming.

I was so pissed. So very angry.

He quit.

He broke the fucking rule.

Before I got my voice back, before I could let go of any of the rage–my poor Mother was there. Making excuses for my having a reaction at all, really. I was tired. Overwrought. At the time my Great Grandmother was rapidly deteriorating from late stage Alzheimer’s and I was one of her care givers. Anyway she spun it, I could not possibly have been having a reaction like that to Kurt Cobain. I was though. Nothing in my very flimsy defenses prepared me for that event. How could it? I cut him out. I wrote them off. My having an emotional reaction was a VIOLATION of MY OWN fucking code of conduct. I detach with a cleaver. Nothing and no one should be able to come back from that.

 He broke the rule, the rules actually. I lived with some fairly quiet terrors-quiet in as much as I could not articulate what they were or often what they meant. I can sit here now and type that there were 3 fears that Kurt’s suicide brought front and center-without warning and without even a suggestion of sugar-coating. One, on more than one occasion I lived by a singular rule, typically only expressed as a punchline, Don’t jump. Whatever happens, under no circumstances-jump. Should suffice to say, don’t pull the trigger falls under the same heading. Upsetting as that sentiment may or may not be for anyone, my truth is I never imagined as a kid, as a teen or even as an early adult that I would live this long. I didn’t know how, frankly. And often enough, I couldn’t imagine wanting too. But I am a rules girl, THANK GOD. Don’t jump, sometimes that’s all it came down to.

Two, I lived with the constant gnawing fear that at any moment one of my heroes could die. Accidentally, of course. I couldn’t talk openly about their choices or their demons because I HAD TO DEFEND THEM. Guns, being as big as they were bred as much contempt as they ever did admiration. Kids at school had shit to say about them. Teachers had shit to say about them. Grown women accosted my mother, for her failure in parenting,  in the grocery store because I was wearing a Guns t-shirt.  The mailman had shit to say, to me, after St. Louis as if I WAS accountable, wtf? More over, my own Father and I went rounds alternately because ‘they’ were what was wrong with me; or because I could care about them (junkies/alcoholics/assholes) and make him miserable because he drank ‘a little.’ I think, B* might be the only person that I ever had a conversation with about how scared I was of their various addictions. It would have been disloyal to concede any of the accusations being hurled and admitting my own fears would have amounted to some kind of failure as a fan. So, they were just ‘cool.’ Just, ‘bad asses.’ Everyone else needed to either ‘man the fuck up’ or ‘mind their own business.’ In terms of any public discourse, I absolutely set them up to be infallible and in private my stomach dropped EVERYTIME one of them was reported dead. Dead. Those news reports circulated repeatedly. Kurt’s death was not a drill. 

Three, as already mentioned I was not supposed to FEEL anything at all.

It would be ideal to sit here and say after Kurt’s death, I explored and thereby validated my feelings, thus, reconciling them and growing from the experience. That didn’t happen. I did eventually catch my breath, recover my voice and start yelling. I cursed him out. Yelling as if he could hear me. Then I got hold of myself. Packed my feeling on the matter away and to the degree that I have ever engaged the subject since, it has been largely analytical in nature. Until this week’s blog.

I never grieved for Kurt. I was far to fucking scared for me to consider his loss. If people ‘like him’ who had it all-a career, money, an ‘actual’ future were throwing in the fucking towel-WHAT WOULD THAT MEAN FOR ME?

I get it. I don’t want to. But I do. Kurt didn’t see a future, either. At least not one that was tenable. That is heartbreaking.

 I am grateful to have grown enough to actually be able to grieve for Kurt. I am so very grateful to have lived this long.

 

 

*Guns for me ceased to exist circa 1994.

**While I loved and needed my friends they did not embody for me a way out and I desperately needed to believe there was a way out. Guns did embody that. 

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4 Responses

  1. I remember the day Cobain died. You were actually the one who called me up and told me about it. I remember being floored by the news, and I also remember that my being stunned by it seemed to throw you off. Despite the crap between Guns and Nirvana at the MTV Awards, I still loved both bands (and saw some humor in it) and Cobain’s death hit me hard, mainly because of my state of mind at the time. I could relate to them (both Nirvana and Guns) in that they struggled with all of the demons in their lives, but still managed to keep moving forward somehow. To hear about one of them giving up, just left me at a loss for words or explanation. Do you remember when Guns released the “Making of” video’s and how I would watch that Don’t Cry video all the time? I remember you asking me how I could watch that when it was nothing but pain. I couldn’t explain it at the time, but in a way, it was me trying to work through my demons, by seeing others in a video reliving theirs. I watched you struggle for years with your demons as well, and am glad to see that you are coming out on the other side.

    • Thanks, Sir.

      You know what is awesome? I just rewatched that VMA footage. SO lame. Really? What a bunch of drama.

  2. You know, I’d say ditto, but that is far to trite a response for such a post. But, yeah, ditto…the Guns worship, the bizarre response from those around me regarding said worship, the utter disdain for all things Nirvana after they attacked MY band…

    I was 18 when Kurt committed suicide. My son was born the day after and I was at home alone with him for the first time when I heard the news on MTV (that I even had MTV on is something of a mystery). And I was shaken. Scared and unbelievably freaking alone, and I had no idea why in the world I cared. I blamed post-pregnancy hormones, primarily.

    But, you said it right–he broke the fucking rules. And this: “If people ‘like him’ who had it all-a career, money, an ‘actual’ future were throwing in the fucking towel-WHAT WOULD THAT MEAN FOR ME?…I get it. I don’t want to. But I do. Kurt didn’t see a future, either. At least not one that was tenable. That is heartbreaking.”

    This is what was really going through my head, 18, alone, a mom, an addict who was only temporarily sober, abused, futureless, and terrified. If he couldn’t…who the fuck was I?

    Amen.

    Sometimes, I’m not certain I’ve grown much beyond that response. Inasmuch his post touched me, it frightened me too. Kudos to you for an honest–and public–response.

    • “Sometimes, I’m not certain I’ve grown much beyond that response. Inasmuch his post touched me, it frightened me too.”

      As I sat there reading his post I was hit with waves of feelings on the matter. All of it was there, vaulted, as it were, in the exact same state it was ‘put away’ more than a decade ago. That scares me.

      The ‘growth’ I found in it, I think, came with the feelings I experienced *in real time* while reading it. I was/am proud of Duff. I am terribly sad for Kurt not to mention his child, Krist, Dave, hell, even Courtney. There was at least that much going on to remind me of the present. Despite the awful feelings that were dredged (and treading in those spaces for me is still AWFUL) which FEEL just exactly as shitty as they did then, some of the emotions I felt were new. That is just about the only ‘growth’ I can find in my reaction, outside of that, still very much the same ‘kid’ I was then-good, bad or otherwise (read: right, WRONG or oblivious). *Progress not perfection, eh?*

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