Saturday, July 14
The problem with sleeping in hotels is, for me, the lack of direct sunlight cuing my ass to get the fuck out of bed and start my damn day. Hotels, even like the one we stayed in in NashVegas, which boasted beautiful indoor gardens, which our balcony opened up to, are timeless to me. Sort of like hospitals – it can be 2AM or 2PM and it feels the damn same.
Dawn had, like the morning person she is, sat out on the balcony reading trashy magazines for like 8,272 hours waiting for my lazy ass to slog out of bed. When I did, she handed me a cup of coffee and then watched, befuddled as I went to the teeny coffee maker outside the bathroom and made myself a cup of coffee.
“Um,” she said. “You do know that we already have coffee, right?”
“Yeah,” I grunted. “But I’m double-fisting this motherfucker.”
She laughed before saying, “if we don’t go soon, we’re going to miss our tour.”
We’d planned exactly two things for the trip, figuring the rest would just be organic (but not like ORGANIC) and we’d do the shit we wanted to do when we wanted to do it. EXCEPT for the two things we’d planned, which had very specific start times. Like the fucking tour.
Rushing downstairs, we got the car from the valet, who had, thoughtfully, left the driver’s side window open so that Dawn was, effectively, sitting on a slushy, squishy seat. Awesome. I offered her my ass, but somehow she didn’t think it would help. Crazy ass.
She plugged in the coordinates to the Country Music Hall of Fame and off we went. Quickly, we learned that, not unlike Chicago, NashTucky had a “construction season” rather than a “summer.” Grimly we followed the chipper-sounding GPS lady (who I felt like throat-punching, truthfully), to one “closed to construction” street after another.
Finally, we made our way into the bottom of the Hilton hotel in downtown NashVegas, where we parked, all but screaming “FUCK IT” as we watched our tour time tick steadily past. Trudging out of the underground lot, I noted one thing. We were right fucking next to the Country Music Hall of Fame. After all the twists and turns we’d done, that alone was a minor miracle.
We raced to the desk, barely stopping to notice the beautiful atrium, and begged the woman behind the counter to take the next tour.
“Well,” she drawled. “We got one startin’ at one with two seats left. Want ‘em?”
“YES! Thank you, YES, thank you!” Dawn returned. “It’s her birthday and we don’t want to miss this.” I didn’t bother to correct her – my birthday was the following day, but really, we’d be heading back to Chicago by then, so for all intents and purposes? It was my birthday.
The lady behind the counter fiddled with some tickets and a printer that had probably been created well before I’d been born, as I basked in the sunlight like a cat, listening to the delicate strains of a guitar playing through the lobby of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
I only have this moment, I thought, as I was reminded of my hippie parents: the future is unwritten and the past is unchangeable. I took deep breath after deep breath, letting the light inside me. The woman behind the counter eventually handed Dawn the tickets with the instructions, “Get into that line over there and the tour guide will pick you up at one!” She beamed at us, both falling all over ourselves with thank you’s.
As I turned to walk away, she looked me in the eye and said, her voice dripping with genuine sweetness and light, “Happy Birthday, hon.”
A normal response would be to smile and thank her for the well wishes, which I did. Then, I promptly turned around, standing in one of the most beautiful atriums I’ve ever seen, listening to a guy play a lone guitar version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You,” and burst into tears. That happens a lot to me when shit gets real: instead of behaving like a normal person, I cry when people are kind to me. If she’d said, “you’re an ugly fat bitch,” I’d have responded with some fairly rude gestures, reported her to her manager and demand a discount on the already-purchased tickets.
But when people are kind like that? It gets me. Every. Fucking. Time.
I stepped outside to regroup, not entirely comfortable with an entire atrium staring at the crazy crying lady, because you know as well as I, the very moment someone near you begins to weep, you want to know why; comfort them, or (if you’re me) hug them, and then create some story in your mind as to WHY this person, standing in the middle of the lobby of a beautiful building is weeping. If’n I’d seen me, I’d have made up some wild tale about John C. Mayer stalking me, vying for my love, while I slowly turned into Lil Wayne.
What? I didn’t say it was PLAUSIBLE. Or did I?
Alas, I digress.
After I’d stopped sniffling like a whiny bitch, a perky chick with long blonde hair was ushering us into a van. Without checking her ID, I hoped we weren’t going off to have our internal organs sliced out (altho, anyone on The Twitter knows I have beautiful kidneys – organ harvesters should BE so lucky), but, I figured, “what the shit? Live a little, AB” as I hopped aboard.
The perky blonde jabbered on at us while we drove past all the places where the greats in country music gave us our roots.
You’d probably not know it, but I’m sorta a music person. Not in the LEMMIE SEE AS MANY CONCERTS AS POSSIBLE kind of way, but I was raised around music. Each Saturday night, my dad and I would stay up until midnight, listening to the Midnight Special, a show put out by our local radio station. It was there that I cut my teeth on the roots of modern rock-n-roll (if there is such a thing) bluegrass, country, folk, and the ubiquitous anti-war songs. Music may not define me, but it flows through these here *taps arm* veins.
We stepped into RCA Studio B, where so many greats had once recorded, and, in a brilliant twist, Roy Orbison’s, “Only The Lonely” cued up immediately. I’d much prefer Journey, Pantera or Styx to cue up when I enter a room, but you know – can’t have it all ways. I, once again, stood with my back to the group, facing the wall while I composed myself. Just what I’d needed – the world’s most depressing song to come on at THAT moment.
Then we saw this. I nearly got a lady-boner:
After I touched the microphone, I wandered into the actual recording studio where The Greats had once stood.
Then I decided that even though I couldn’t play the piano, what I REALLY needed was a Honky Tonk Piano. I got busted trying to move this particular piano into my purse:
I thought it would do wonders for my mood.
They didn’t seem to see it that way.
July 13, 2012
Wait, they don’t tattoo BABIES, do they?
- My mother.
I’d spent years lusting after a sleeve (read: a tattoo that goes on your upper arm)(I felt it necessary to define it because, well, um, if I told you I’d been lusting after a sleeve, that would make it sound as though I lacked shirts with sleeves, and as a resident of Chicago, where winter is affectionately called, “ass cold,” that would be ridiculous).
ANYWAY. A sleeve. I wanted one. I was also shit-scared about getting one.
If you know anything about my tattooing history, you know that I
a) go big
2) go home.
It’s not like anyone was all, “If you get a sleeve tattoo, you’re a douchebag,” except for my mother, who harkens back to the days in which tattoos were for sailors and pimps, something she PROBABLY should’ve left out of her lectures to both my brother and I – who both (independently) took that knowledge to mean, “you know what? I DO need a lot of tattoos.”
Let this be a lesson to you, parents: be careful what you tell your children. For example, do not say, “Those weird ear plug things are waaayyyy trashy,” and whatever you do, do not say (unless you will be okay with the outcome,) “if you become an interpretive dancer, I WILL disown you.”
My mom’s big thing was that “tattoos were trashy.” What I heard was: “tattoos are awesome. You should get a lot of them.”
Those ‘ens were the first of my tattoos.
Which, if anyone tells you otherwise, DO NOT BELIEVE THEM: feet tattoos hurt like a motherfucker.
But? They have special meanings to me, which I may explain in exhaustive detail at a later date, but let me leave you with this: a month before my wedding, I got the seahorse tattoo to remind me that I would ALWAYS be okay alone – I didn’t need a partner; I wanted one.
Eventually, after approximately 87 years, I “finished*” this tattoo, which you’re probably familiar with:
My phoenix tattoo.
While I’d always lusted after a sleeve tattoo, I just wasn’t brave enough to attempt it. Besides, the only idea I’d had for a sleeve tattoo seemed kinda…silly, and really, a sleeve? On me? I didn’t know if I could pull it off. I was, and I’m being honest here, afraid of the idea. I’d noted that I’d been afraid a lot, over the years, much more than the girl I’d once known – I didn’t like it, but I didn’t quite know how to fix it.
As we drove down to NashTucky, countin’ tires on the side of the road, I let my mind roam – I knew I wouldn’t be getting a present this year, beyond the dildo/highlighter and rad CD tunage (which, let’s face it, is present enough)(If you like John C. Mayer), and I didn’t want that to be the defining moment of my 32nd year on the planet. Besides, no present, BEYOND the John C. Mayer CD would fix my life.
So, I decided to get myself a present.
Something to remind myself of the important lessons I was learning: in my new life, I must be brave; I must learn to take risks and I must be ready to do whatever it takes to get by (note: Craig’s List no longer has “casual encounters” so that’s out.). I must be proud of who I am, stand upright, be strong, and remember that I? Can get through anything.
Dawn had known of my plan – I’d originally planned to get some text written on me like my girl Dana had done, but realized that without doing precisely what she’d done, I wasn’t really going to get anywhere. This meant that Dawn, being the Type-A overachiever, much like myself had already pulled up a list of names and numbers of local tattoo parlors in NashTucky; the ones, of course, with the highest ratings.
When we finally arrived in NashVegas, I began to call the places Dawn had thoughtfully picked out. The first one – the one with the highest ratings – said “come on in!” To which I replied, in my VERY Type-A style, “but do I need an appointment first?” (I loathe doing ANYTHING without an appointment. I’d probably schedule bathroom breaks if I didn’t run my own schedule). Also: the tattoo was the one thing I’d be getting for my birthday and, quite frankly, I wanted it DONE so we could do other things and never mention my birthday again.
“Naw,” the guy said. “Just come on in.”
So we did.
We drove through what was probably the worst part of NashVegas, noting the sheer amount of “Quik Cash Payday Loan” shops peppering the sides of the streets, a sinking feeling of “what the shitnuts am I doing?” gnawing my guts. Then I remembered: I was being brave. Also: stupid. But hey, who’s counting?
Finally we turned down a quiet street.
“PHEW,” I said to Dawn, who looked equally stupefied by the locale. “At least all the houses aren’t…”
“Oh wait. They are.”
Yep. For every house we passed, the following three had boarded-up windows. I wanted to scream, SOUTHSIIIIIDDDDDEEEEEEE out the window but figured that I didn’t even have a tampon to bring to a gun fight, therefore I should shut my whore mouth.
Finally we pulled up to a tiny house, lit softly by a yellowish light, the front porch nearly taken up by two white rocking chairs. The humidity and moths circling about the lone light fixture on the porch gave everything a sort of hazy look, and I wondered if this was what living in Florida during the summers was like. The two rocking chairs were occupied by two fairly scary looking guys – I wondered, briefly, if I’d been friends with them in another life.
I walked in first, Dawn tagging along behind me, both of us nervous as cats in a roomful of rocking chairs, because, well, this was a BIG fucking deal for us both.
Pretending I wasn’t shitting my pants (thank GOD for adult-diapers), I walked up to the guy behind the counter and said, “I need a tattoo – two of them, actually.” He looked at me, carefully assessing me to see if I was, perhaps, going to ask for him to write “I heart Nickelback” on my ass or something.
“Where do y’all want it?” he drawled in a very pleasant accent; the kind I’d have been happy to listen to as I went to sleep.
“Right…HERE,” I gestured to my upper arm.
“Whatcha want there?” he asked.
“A peacock.” I replied, suddenly damn certain I was doing the right thing.
It was like the entire room perked up at once, suddenly listening, as though I’d said something ACTUALLY interesting (which, let’s be honest with ourselves – wasn’t like I said, “I KILLED JFK!” or “Tattoo Hitler’s likeness on my bunghole,” or anything).
He examined my arm.
“Y’all know that’s going to be huge, right?” He asked doubtfully, as though I’d expected to have to use a magnifying glass to see it.
I pulled down my dress to show him my back. “I’m good with big,” I smiled nervously, hoping I wasn’t about to make a horrifying mistake.
We examined a few pictures of peacock tattoos online until I found one that I liked. Adrenaline pumping, I steadied myself for (apologies to Mötley Crüe ) the Theatre of Pain I was about to endure…that is, until he began to speak to the actual tattoo guy, who said, “well, let’s make her an appointment tomorrow so I can draw this out.”
Fair enough. I didn’t need someone I didn’t know to go all free form on my arm.
But…gulp, TOMORROW? We had the Country Music Hall of Fame and Studio B to tour! And! And! And!
I threw a small temper tantrum inside my mind as I reluctantly made an appointment for the following day. All that wasted adrenaline. We trudged back outside, and did the only thing we could think to do:
We went back to the lavish hotel and ordered burgers.
When the brothers Winklevii didn’t appear with our burgers, I won’t lie, Dawn and I were MORE than a bit disappointed.
Part II will air tomorrow because this shit is LONG, motherfucker.
*note usage of “air quotes.”
Let me preface this post with something I’d meant to say all along:
Divorce, nervous breakdowns, and losing best friends, those are all things that happen to (some of) us. Some of us cope publicly, some privately, each singular situation a personal nightmare for all parties involved. I’ve shared my sides of the stories, but, as any of us knows, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Because this is my personal blog, and not a group blog like Band Back Together, you’re hearing my side of the story. I’ve done my best to explain the situation without pointing fingers, tainting reputations, while still telling you the stories as I’ve experienced them. I don’t write them to hurt the people involved, and I’ve done my level best to explain the series of events as I perceived them.
Have I always succeeded? No. Will I always succeed? No. I’m not perfect and I’m no victim. Nor is Dave.
In the end, we’re both simply two people, trying to find our way in the world.
Which, when you think on it, is what we’re ALL are trying to do.
July 13, 2012
We were on our way to NashVegas, tunes jamming, as I noticed the sheer amount of blown-out tires peppering the Indiana freeway. She was attempting to have a little fun and I was simply pretending that my life was in proper working order again – just for a few days.
“Dude,” I said to Dawn. “What the shit is up with the tires? Are there those spiky roadblocks or zombies or something?”
“I haven’t seen a SINGLE dead animal carcass,” she replied. “WHERE THE SHIT IS THE ROADKILL?”
“I saw a dead something a couple of miles back,” I gestured with my hand. “It was probably a hairy tire.”
“That’d be a GREAT band name,” Dawn gushed. “We should start a band.”
“I’ll totally play a kick-ass kazoo – unless we need a cellist,” I suggested.
“I think a kazoo is more your speed,” Dawn replied, truthfully, drawing the “think” out to be approximately 10 syllables long. Fucking Southerners – they always sound like they’re speaking through a mouth of delicious candy, and I swear that if one of them tried to insult me, I’d probably hug them for being as cute as a tick in a rug (unless it was a knife fight – we ALL know that one should always bring a tampon to a knife fight – it distracts your opponent ESPECIALLY if he is, well, in possession of a dingus).
I nodded – she was right. I can’t really see myself as a “rock cellist.” Disco cellist, perhaps, but alas, I digress.
Before we hit NashTucky proper, Dawn got a gleam in her eye, and not the “I got to pee on you,” kind of gleam. More of a “I’m about to fuck with you,” look. And fuck with me, she did. I’d expect nothing less.
“So,” she announced smugly, clearly proud of herself. “I got you a birthday present. Rachel helped me.”
“Dude,” I responded. “You SO didn’t have to do this – I’m all but pretending the day of my birth is sometime in November. Or October. I always did love October.”
“Oh,” she replied. “Yes. Yes, we did.”
Involuntarily, I shuddered.
She reached into the backseat, which she’d thoughtfully filled with things that ended in “andy, “ookies,” “hips,” even though I’d warned her that I’d been unable to keep food down for weeks. She’s thoughtful like that. I don’t always eat, but when I do? Diabeetus.
From the backseat, she grabbed a small nondescript brown cloth bag and handed it to me. “Happy Birthday,” she announced. “It’s from me and Rachel.” I groaned. I work with them on Band Back Together, creating the zillions of resource pages we have, knowing both of them are fairly nefarious and tricky.
I unzipped it as Dawn cackled. First thing I saw? A double box of Lil Debbie Nutty bars, minus one pack. Because we all know that Nutty Bars taste FAR better than skinny feels. I gave Dawn a quizzical look and she shrugged, “I got hungry.”
I nodded – that made sense.
Then, I pulled THIS out:
Because a highlighter that doubles as a sex toy? FULL of the win.
At the very bottom of the bag was a CD. A CD marked, “Becky’s birthday JAMS, beyoch.” I was immediately drenched in an uncomfortably cold sweat, despite the summer crotch I had going on from sitting in the sun for six hours.
“Oh NO,” I moaned.
“Pop that motherfucker in,” Dawn demanded. “Rachel has been waiting all morning to hear what you think.”
I hung my head, terrified by what my two best friends had come up with as appropriate “birthday jams,” for someone who was still recovering from a nervous breakdown and reeling from my upcoming divorce.
She popped it into the car’s CD player with the preface that, “this song came from the ‘Kids’ section of iTunes.”
It was some version of the Beatles “Birthday,” which did not include, as I’d feared, dogs singing, but did have children singing it. I nearly vomited.
After what seemed like an eternity, the next song queued up. The opening strains familiar, I craned my neck so as to better (somehow) figure out what it was. Dawn was alternating between staring at the road and staring at me, waiting for the chords to trickle into the dark, unused recesses of my brain until the lightbulb went on over my head.
He began to sing. Something about the world changing. And I knew exactly who I was listening to, ice water coursing through my veins.
John C. Fucking Mayer.
The next song.
John C. Fucking Mayer.
The next song.
John C. Fucking Mayer.
I sat grimly through the songs, teeth gritted.
“You can change it,” Dawn said, an offer that sounded a lot more like a plea.
I stared at her, a wicked smile drawing out over my face. “Oh HELL no. We’re going to listen to this. Over. And. Over. And Over.”
She gaped at me.
“And,” I said smugly over the irritating strains of John C. Mayer’s voice, coupled with his amazaballs guitar riffs, “Now you own John C. Mayer’s music. You can finally profess your love for him to the whole world.”
She continued with her best trout impression until a wicked smile began to play at the corners of her lips. She began to flip through the CD, pausing briefly on a Rick Astley song (if you haven’t read this, you should – I promise it’s not a video and it WILL make you laugh), just so I could experience the wonder that is Mr. Astley and finally landed at the end of the CD. She turned smugly to me and said, “Eat it, bitch.”
Luckily, I was able to get to the CD in time and turn it off before I began wailing.
Dawn, as per usual, continued cracking up until tears of laughter coursed down her cheeks.
“Imma get the two of you back for this,” I said grimly.
“Just you wait.”