Young

I just found out I saw Neil Young once.  Imagine that?

Beck (you may remember him from such hit songs as “Loser” and “Where It’s At”) was on a TV show tonight; I remarked to my boyfriend that I saw him live back in the day and that he was good.  I paused, thinking of my fragmented memories of him.  The images of distant , spotlit Beck shimmered and danced — elongated like a funhouse mirror.   Nausea came in waves, waves elongated like a funhouse mirror.  I don’t think I puked.  I was pretty lit by the time he came on though.

It was the H.O.R.D.E. tour. (Never heard of it, whippersnappers?  Stands for “Horizons of Rock Developing Everywhere” and was akin to Lollapalooza, another music fest’ you surely must have heard your parents bragging about attending).

I remembered seeing an outstanding band called Morphine who quickly commenced playing on endless loops on the CD player in my car.  The lead singer ultimately died.  I can’t see them again.

That balmy summer night piggybacked on a sunny summer day.  I had a belly full of beer:  the dusky images of stage lights, stars on stage, stars in the sky, sunset streaks in purpled hues, 20-somethings in shorts and tanks all whizzed by in magnificent jumpy blurs.  I smiled at the night, the tingling euphoria gathering momentum in my legs, staggering from show to show to beer tent.  My beer sloshing back and forth as I staggered from beer tent to show to show.

Tonight I strained my brain to recall who else played.  Was it Primus?  I’ve seen them a couple of times, but couldn’t remember where.  Yes.  They were there, according to Google.  And ………. Neil Young.   I scoured articles about the ’97 H.O.R.D.E. tour.  Had he headlined the whole thing?  Or just some dates in California?  Maybe a guest appearance in Chicago?  Nope.  The whole shebang.  I shook my head in disbelief.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a tremendous fan. I don’t even own any of his work — but I respect it.  He’s a legend.  And he was there.  But I wasn’t.

I remember with striking clarity an obese lady with a t-shirt with an iron-on type of decal.  I remember laughing, thinking how passe .  How terribly early ’80’s.  I looked closer.  It was a naked woman , full frontal.  She had a dick in front of her face – the man slightly off camera – and jism on her upper lip.  The t-shirt read, “Got Milk?  Where’s YOUR mustache?”   an allusion to the health campaign of the time.  Positively HORRIFYING.  But it was there.  I remember that with such clarity.  Why that?  Why not the Neilster?

Blues Traveler was there.  I blinked blankly at the list of bands before me.  Did not ring a bell.  Toad the Wet Sprocket. I didn’t remember their being there either.  I would not have been interested at the time — but I scratched my head, squinting stupidly at the list of bands.    Soul Coughing.  They actually WERE my thing.  I don’t remember them.  I cocked my head, staring at the computer monitor.  How could that be?  How could I not remember?  This is not ringing a bell.

All I had was that day, that summer day in 1997.  August 6th.  I blew it.  If I got pulled over, I’m sure I would have really blown it …. probably a BAC 0.350% anyway.  (And to clarify, I wasn’t the driver that night — thank God.  But I wasn’t above drinking and driving).   Neil Young was 51 then.  I will never have a chance to see him at that age again.  He’s in his 70’s now.    There is no do-over.  Time moves forward, with or without me, and doesn’t wait for me to catch up.

While I don’t have that day, while I have no time machine, I have this day.  And I choose sobriety.  Next week I see Roger Waters. You can bet your ass I’ll be sober.  I’ll remember it, too.  By the grace of God.

 

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Pissing on Your Foot & Telling You It’s Raining

“No, I’m not drinking,” I would protest or whine or insist or yell or mutter or slur or shout or maintain or report or say or mumble or sputter or whisper or hiss……. or belch or snicker. Depended on the day and who was doing the asking.

“I only had a couple…….” I would counter or insist or demand or swear sincerely or ask or state earnestly or attest or report or mumble or sputter or whisper or hiss…… or belch. Depended on the day and who was doing the asking.

No matter how I said it, one of two things would happen:

The person would call me out on my lie — this was verrrrrry occasionally.

OR (more likely):

Their lips would flat-line, their eyes would squint, their eyebrows would furrow, and – almost invariably – they would fold their arms. Sometimes there would be an additional gesture such as an impatient foot tapping or an irate eye-roll. But usually the lips would straighten into a thin line and the eyes would squint.

People just didn’t have the patience to play the “yes you did”/”no I didn’t” game. The alcoholic or addict always can hold out longer and pull out evidence that would never be admissible in a court of law, typically beginning with the sentence-starter: “Even ask _________ [so-and-so].”

Yes. We had proof positive. And reliable alibis. And charrrrrrrrrrrrm. And puppy eyes.

When I saw the lips flat-line and the eyes squint -or ……….. no, let me derail that train of thought. I would also insist on my abstinence to sometimes two people. Did you ever do that? And BOTH their lips flat-lined and they would make eye contact with one another? Silence that said SO much. That made me feel instantly ganged up on, outnumbered, pissed off, and willing to double my efforts to persuade them to believe me.

Sometimes I would see shoulders slouch back down, eyes soften, a smile ease into the flat-lined lips and warming them. I won them over. But this was rare and I knew it. But I fought that fight every time. Trying to win them over.

I’d take the proverbial piss on their feet and tell them it’s raining. I’d tell them to ignore the temperature – ignore the sunshine and there being NO clouds in the sky – and ask them to ignore the color yellow. It’s raining. It’s supposed to be happening. You’re supposed to have wet feet. Everyone has wet feet this time of year! And they would walk away with their wet feet ska-winching in their soaked sneakers, smiling and thinking this was normal. I persuaded them. Sometimes.

The squint. The flat-lining lips. I kept insisting.

Those empty bottles under the table cloth of the end table? They are someone else’s from before. My staggering? I stood up too fast and my blood pressure is low and how DARE you pick on me about a medical condition I can’t control. The smell on my breath? You’re imagining things.

Oh, yes. I’d boomerang any evidence so they would question their own judgment and sanity, and in the end they would feel guilty for having tinkered with such a nice lady like me.

“You’re as sick as your secrets,” they are wont to say in Al-anon. And they’re right. And I had a million secrets stacked on secrets shoved in drawers between secrets shoved in closets of secrets inside attics of secret basements…… I didn’t know where I kept them all and couldn’t keep them straight.

I realize just exactly how free I am today. I am relatively secret-free. Except the occasional appropriate secret such as what I got you for your birthday (you’re going to love it) and what I did the other night ……… ’cause nice girls don’t kiss and tell. And sometimes they do nothing, but they don’t need to advertise that either.

I am free. I can look people in the eye. I don’t have to hesitate before answering questions, trying to remember what I told them last time or what I told this person’s spouse because I need the lies to be consistent…………. I am not accused of anything. I don’t need a defense today. I’m free. I’m out of the prison of my own making.

They say to “live like someone left the gate open” (and the saying is superimposed over a spritely little puppy in running joyously in midair). I hope to do that. But for now, I’m just happy that I left the gate open and I’m out and about. Free.

Today ……

Today:

  1. I woke up in the time frame known as AM
  2. My head was clear and I didn’t need to take Motrin or drink lots of water to squash the hangover and cotton mouth.
  3. My head wasn’t racing with excuses for my behavior last night
  4. I remember everything that happened last night and my conscience is clear
  5. There was no puke in my bed
  6. I know the person I woke up with — and am very glad he was there.  🙂
  7. I have not lied to anyone
  8. I have plans for later on today and am not conniving about how to get out of them so I can go to the bar — and I’m looking forward to my plans today
  9. I am responsible and will get things done (as long as my body and chronic illness allow – but today’s a “good day” in terms of the Lyme Disease)
  10. There is much love in my life today as there had been chaos some years ago
  11. I am available if someone needs me
  12. I am not cringing when the phone rings and wondering if I should answer it — I am not wondering if it is a creditor, some guy from the bar, my boss calling me in or calling to tell me I’m late, the landlord wondering where his money is, or some other person I’ll feel the need to dodge
  13. I don’t despise myself today
  14. I love myself today
  15. I am not cringing, thinking of how I endangered myself and others on the way home last night.  I am not inspecting my car for dents and dings .  I remember how I got home last night with the clarity of someone who was “present” when she was driving — not just sober, but also aware and not preoccupied
  16. I am not thinking up ways of how to get my own way.  I am thinking about other people’s needs today.  Self-seeking has disappeared
  17. I am not hostile.  I am not looking for a fight.  I am not baiting anyone, trying to get them to argue with me or otherwise engage in battle.   I am not looking for an outlet for the rage I used to feel every minute of every day
  18. My sink is not filled with dishes in murky water with a slimy film on top of them
  19. There aren’t dirty clothes strewn all over my floor that I would later pick through to see which is the least of evils; this is how I used to decide what to wear
  20. I am grateful to be alive today.  I am not wishing I was dead and loathing the fact that I was lacking the gumption to do something about it.