Monthly Archives: December 2015

2015 was Epic – Part 1

At the end of 2014, I declared my 2015 New Year’s resolutions to be, learn to build a fire with my bare hands, (which I discuss in With a Little Help from My Friends) and be nicer to strangers (which I discuss in Merch Rant).  I think that I conquered both with flying colors, though the man who asked me during one of this year’s tours, “who in the band are you fucking?” may disagree with the being nicer to strangers part.  Anyway, I was high on those achievements so when 2015 rolled around, I decided to go big and declare my resolution to be visit another country.  I have been all over and across and backward and forward through this damn country multiple times, so it was time to cross an ocean.  I had been to Western Europe as a teen, and I have been to Canada a bunch of times due to touring but Canada doesn’t count and neither do your teen years.

This year, I surpassed my personal expectations by a long shot.  I went to Australia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.  My first expedition across an ocean, I went all out and went to Australia.  For a boy.  Of course.  We will call him Vox.  This tale may be told in its’ entirety someday, but this is not that day.  For now, I’ll just say that I had technically only known him for three days back in 2012.  Three years later and I’m visiting him in Oz because clearly, that seemed like a bright idea.  That’s what the Australians call Australia.  Oz.  Kind of cool right?

The first thing I learned about Australia, is that they are fucking chill.  All the logistical nightmares that go along with traveling outside of the country was a breeze.  When applying for a visa, I was prepared to spend at least an hour on the paperwork and digging up documents and then expected to have to wait a couple of weeks to be approved.  No.  Getting a visa for Australia was the easiest thing I have ever done in my life.  I think the whole process took about a minute and a half.  I have to provide more information when I order something off of ebay.  These types of occurrences would prove to be normal when dealing with Australia in every aspect.

Vox and I went snorkeling at this very beautiful island off of the coast.  It was with a company, so I was expecting to have to show a driver’s license, possibly leave a one million dollar deposit in case I run off with their gear, and sign and initial at least 100 pieces of paper basically saying that if I drown, I won’t sue them.  Nope.  “Can you swim?” asked the man behind the desk. “Yes!” I say with a laugh.  “Well all right then!”  And that’s that.  I swear that if America did things the way that Australia did, we would all have HOURS of extra time a week.

I also learned that going for a jog cures constipation.  I was a bit nauseous for the first few days I was there.  I thought that it may be nerves or possibly jet lag.  Then I realized that I hadn’t shit in four days.  Lovely.  And my stomach was huge.  I told Vox, who laughed at me and went on to tell the snorkeling instructor that I was pregnant who I think continued to believe that I was pregnant even after we informed her that he was joking.  Later, I decided to go on a run to try to bounce everything down and it worked.  Doing jumping jacks or something similar probably would work too.  You’re welcome.

There are no homeless people or black people in Australia.  I found this disturbing.  I need black people in my life and as far as the homeless go… I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s great that there is virtually no poverty, but coming from the States, it was almost like I didn’t trust how picture perfect it was.  Are all of the homeless people rounded up and thrown into an underground dungeon?  I couldn’t wrap my mind around a big city with no homeless people.  I was staying in Brisbane, and while it was beautiful, it was almost too clean for me.  Normal people would love the cleanliness, I understand that I am the abnormal one.  I kind of like slightly seedy cities.  The sidewalks in Brisbane blew my mind.  I must have taken at least five pictures of fucking sidewalks just to document how clean they are!  So, no homeless or black people, but there are lots of Asians.  And lots of Mom’s wearing yoga pants and jogging with strollers.

The coffee situation is different and caused me some grief.  First World problems, I know.  Vox knew before my arrival that I had a very strict morning ritual which included coffee.  So on the first morning, he was being wonderfully thoughtful when he asked me for my coffee order that he was planning on picking up while I contemplated waking up.  “Just a medium coffee,”  I said.  But he didn’t understand what that meant.  And I didn’t understand that he didn’t understand what a fucking medium coffee was.  To Australians (or Ozzies as they call themselves), a typical coffee is what is called a “flat white.”  A flat white is the same goddamn thing as a latte.  Don’t let Starbucks fool you into thinking it is different.  If you want a regular drip coffee, the closest thing you’re going to get is what I learned to be called a “long black.”  This is what we call in the States an Americano; espresso and hot water.  A normal pot of coffee in Australia does not exist.

The bats.  Holy shit.  They are not bats, they are Dracula.  Coincidentally, I was reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula, when I was in Australia.  These motherfucking bats have at least a meter wingspan.  I looked up one evening when the sun was going down, to see Dracula flying over me.  I initially thought I had witnessed a freak of nature, but Vox thought nothing of it.  Over the next few minutes we would both learn that all creatures in Australia can kill you.  This is a notion that he is used to and grew up with, but I was the wimpy American who cannot comprehend that deadly snakes are in the suburbs.  They actually have survival lessons that they are required to take in school!  Anyway, the bats are everywhere.  When the sun is setting in Australia, just look up and the bats on steroids are all flying to Dracula’s cave or wherever the fuck they go at night.

Since we are on the topic of nature, when you are in Australia, even in the city, it always sounds like you are in the damn rain forest.  It’s pretty cool.  Imagine being in New York City and instead of being awaken by horns and urban noises, you are awaken by 5,000 different kinds of bird calls.  It kind of felt like even if you were living in the city… the down under was there to remind you that nature is far more powerful.

There are a million ways to die in Australia.  Has everyone seen the movie, A Million Ways to Die in the West?  Well, someone needs to make the same movie but about Australia.  For example, before traveling there, I started reading a little bit of their news, and one of the headlines said, “Locust swarms black out the sky.”  What?!  Locust plagues still exist?  I thought that was just biblical storytelling.  Anyway, this one I read about was 100 acres long and so thick that it blacked out the sky.  Another incident, Vox was on the phone with me while he was driving, and he said, “it is raining pretty hard.”  Several minutes later I heard him say, “Oooo I don’t know if my car can make it through that.”  That’s when I got it out of him that it wasn’t raining pretty hard, there was a goddamn natural disaster underway and he was shrugging it off because they’re used to everything there trying to kill you!  After slaughtering him with questions, I found out that the water was almost up to his car window during the “I don’t know if my car can make it through that,” part of the conversation.  Miraculously, the car did make it.  Two days later I read in the paper about flash floods in Australia that killed some people.  “How many people died?” Vox asked me.  “Six.” I told him.  “Ah well, that’s not too bad, eh?” Oh my god.   Anyway, there are two for the a million ways to die in Australia movie!  I’ll give you those for free.

They call New Zealander’s “kiwi’s.”  According to Vox this is not derogatory, but I seriously doubt that.

The Aussie’s add a y to the end of a bunch of words, giving nouns a cute little nickname.  For example, sunglasses are sunnys, they call bicycles pushys and gum is chewy.  I told Vox to chill the fuck out with all that because it makes him sound like a seven year old girl.  He laughed and made an effort.

There is a underlying level of old school masculinity in Australia that does not really exist much anymore in the States.  Back in the ‘50s or somewhere around then, most men were still handy.  They could all fix the sinks and the cars or build a fence or shelves or whatever.  It is still a little bit like that in Australia.  On top of this, it seems like a lot of the men have a trade of some sort.  Something that they are good at which involves working with their hands.  Vox builds shit, and amongst his friends there was a painter, a carpenter, a barber, an electrician, etc.  These blue collar jobs that you don’t hear about much in the States anymore.  That may have been my favorite thing about Australia.  There was a REAL middle class.  Growing up as a millennial, and trying to find a job in the States during the recession was a very different experience than what the Australian’s my age have experienced.  So, I thought it was cool that there, you could simply pick a trade and then get a job and make enough money at it to be comfortable and have a family if you want.  Simple as that.  Everyone seemed content.  No ugly rat races to the top.  And I’ve always found blue collar workers to be sexy.

Along with the real middle class, I really love that there seems to be very little corruption there.  Like I said, I began reading the Australian news for a time, and their headlines were seriously laughable compared to the States.  American headlines are about mass shootings everyday and corruption on Wall Street, while their biggest news is about women protesting the tax of tampons.  I swear to god that was a real article on the front page.  I find this beautifully ironic because their nation was founded by convicts and ours by Puritans.

Just some Aussie observations I made.  A couple of months later me, my sister and Fat Face were off to Eastern Europe with backpacks.  That epic is coming soon…

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Quotes by Me -Two

I don’t think that I am eloquent at all.  I am often incredibly frustrated with myself for not being able to properly articulate a thought or feeling.  However, very seldom I do impress myself with a random phrase that is actually eloquent.  Over time, I’ve jotted some of these quotes down, thinking that I may use them in a screenplay or short story or whatever someday.  Most of them I haven’t… so I guess I’ll just use them here!  These are a few that I guess would be under the category of love.  I know, how cliché of me.

Forgive the redundancy.  I rewrote the quotes in the body for search term purposes.

Half of the photographs are mine, the others I do not take credit.

 

Meme_LostSoul

“I used to feel my soul craving all of the lives that I had not yet met.  Now I feel my life craving all of the souls that I have met, but somehow lost along the way.”

About the picture: Tommy Simms took that picture of me.  He was shitty sometimes, but I was the one being shitty on that day.  In spite of that, on this particular day he still loved me and ran a bath for me and made me feel momentarily better even though I didn’t deserve it.

 

Meme_LoveDeath

“Love never dies a natural death.  It is used, disrespected, embellished and manipulated so far beyond recognition that it needs to be put down.”

That is a painting of Ophelia.

 

Meme_RegretLeaving

“You will regret leaving me.  Yes, I made you cry.  And yes, I sometimes made you out of your mind, but darlin’, I made you feel alive.  When you’re at the park and she doesn’t kiss you right when the wind passes, declaring it a moment when all five senses are align, you will miss me.  And when you’re laying in bed and she touches your chin, you won’t feel that fire and you’ll miss me.  Our past will eat you alive, like an army of ants over a chicken with a broken leg.  You will become nothing but bones, trespassing on living ground, trying to find that fire that once made you whole.”

A photograph of me taken in 2010.

 

Meme_PaintWorld

“I would rather paint the world grey with you than in color without you.”

There is a boy from high school who inspired that quote.

 

 

Meme_LoveWholly

“If you’re going to love go all the way.  Love wholly.  It’s the only good fight there is.  Otherwise you’re just a coward.”

 

 

Meme_Sun

“I would have fought the sun if it meant that I could have laid with you, even if only for a day longer.”

Also see quotes from parts Three and Four!

 

 

 

 

 

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Charity Gifts

I know I’m a little late on this, as many of you have probably already done your Christmas shopping, but better late than never.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to bombard you with another rant of mine about how much I hate consumerism. I am simply going to encourage you to purchase gifts this season, or any time for that matter, from non-profit organizations.

It’s the holiday season, the height of consumption.  So, if you’re going to buy your friends and family a bunch of shit that they don’t need, at least purchase charity gifts.  Many good organizations sell merchandise.  Please do your research though, before just giving to any charity.  A lot of them suck.  I’ve done some research, and here is a list of some of the organizations that I purchased from this season.  The links will directly connect you to the “store.”

Charity Water: I’m big on clean water organizations, and this one has some pretty cool t-shirts and whatnot.

Three Avocados: Another organization focusing on clean water.  It is a non-profit coffee company whose proceeds go to providing clean drinking water.  Perfect gift for any coffee drinkers.

Servv: Fairtrade and handmande items.  LOTS of stuff!

NPR: I swear that I became a smarter person after I started listening to NPR.  And they’ve got a lot of pretty cool items.

Out of Print Clothing: This is not a non-profit, but for every item sold, they donate a book to a community in need.  Obviously I would love this one because I love reading and believe that knowledge is the most powerful weapon.  Also, their shirts are friggen cool.

Another great gift idea is to buy from museum gift shops.  I’m a big supporter of the arts, so that’s why this is one of my favorites as well.  I recommend going to your local museum, but here is a link to The Met shop.  I chose The Met because I dig their initiative web program, which you can read more about here.

Cheers!

 

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Things I Learned From Working With a Black Metal Band

I have toured twice now with a certain black metal band, and they are my favorite band to work for.  I think I’ll start with my favorite thing I learned while with them:

1.  Nothing can both create and destroy as much as hope.

We had a day off in Oregon back in January, and spent it going on a hike which almost killed me because my Floridian body cannot take altitude.  After being worried for a few hours that some of the guys did actually die (they ventured off trail), we made a celebratory bonfire upon their return.  Well, if I’m being honest, it was just a fire outside to keep us warm and give us something to do.  But in my mind, I was celebrating the fact that no one died. Everyone was quiet, exhausted, watching the flames consume, and I had a sudden thought which I shared out loud, “Fire is the only thing that can both create and destroy so much.”

“No, hope.”  One of the guys immediately countered with.  As dismal as that sounds, he was right.  Hope is the ultimate creator and destroyer.  It has made me begin actively trying to let go of all my hopes.  Having zero expectations of anyone or anything sounds blissfully peaceful.

2.  “Peer pressure is where all of the good stuff happens.”

Something the lead singer said.  He tends to be the wise one.  We always associate peer pressure with negative influences, but it can be equally as positive.  Peer pressure can occur when you’re getting your heartbroken and the people surrounding you convince you that it’s a better idea to climb a mountain with them rather than sit alone moping and drinking beer.  That happened to me on this last tour.  Sure, sometimes peer pressure does not lead you on a good path, but I think part of the point he was making is, even if it’s not the “right” path, maybe something interesting will happen.  Maybe you’ve learned something about yourself or someone else, and maybe you’re better for it.  As I write, I’m realizing that peer pressure is another concept that can also create and/or destroy.  Whether it’s a negative influence or a positive one, I find how powerful it is to be very fascinating.  The lesson is, don’t hang out with assholes, and then you will almost always have a positive peer pressure experience.  Real friends won’t hurt you.

3.  “Things” create an invisible barrier between us all.

I’ve understood this for a while, but I see it with even more clarity now.  These guys don’t need much and they are unconcerned with luxuries.  I think part of the reason why it is so easy to begin to feel like part of the family with them, is because there is no superficial concerns in the way.  We don’t much care how we look or smell around each other, or what we do or say around each other either because everyone is so non-judgmental.  It’s a kind of bond that you can only find with people who don’t give a fuck.  And these guys truly don’t give a fuck.

Especially as a girl, I am often way too in my head and concerned with my appearance.  When I’m out on the road, and especially with this band, some of those voices go away.  I wake up and don’t usually even wash my eye crust away until the afternoon, once load-in is complete.  I don’t normally put on make-up, I wear the same shirt three days in a row and I look in the mirror once a day.  And that’s how they know me, with no falsities filtering us.  It’s fucking beautiful when your mind is clear of all that everyday nonsense.  Your brain has more capacity to notice and experience things and each other when it’s not distracted by hair products, cell phones and how your Levi’s fit.

It also makes me think about a lesson that the boy with the white hair once told me.  He was explaining to me why he tends to wear black on black everyday.  He has enough to think about, so what he is going to wear, is one less decision he needs to make, hopefully making room for decisions that do matter.  So I guess what the black metal band and the boy with the white hair taught me is that the road to peace of mind can only be found when it has paved away superficial mental clutter.

4.  Being a vegetarian is a luxury.

If you’re really hungry, fuck vegetarianism.  I was a vegetarian for several years, then a pseudo vegetarian, and now all I can claim is that I try to avoid meat.  I don’t dispute the probable health benefits of not eating meat, and I don’t support the inhumane treatment of animals that are no better or worse than us.  As I’m sure you’ve already come to understand, these guys are very low-maintenance.  They don’t ask for much on the tour rider, so we often have minimal food available.  I like that about them, but it also means that I know what it is like to be really hungry when there are no food options other than a package of sliced ham that was left-over from one of last weeks venues.  When you’ve been on the road for a while, working your ass off, and there is no food around and you haven’t gotten a good meal in for a few days… trust me, you will welcome that processed pig.

I think of being a vegetarian as a kind of luxury because before mass production and before GMO’s, the only way one could be a vegetarian is if one happened to live in one of the few places on Earth that happen to have plentiful and varying vegetation.  You think that there are many vegetarians in Russia?  Doubtful.  But I don’t live in Russia, so I can easily avoid meat when I’m home, if I want to.  So now I proclaim myself a “non-asshole-vegetarian.”  Meaning, I try to stay away from it, but I’m not high maintenance about it.  If someone makes something for me that has meat in it, I’m not going to be an asshole and tell them that I can’t eat it.  Or if I’m in Eastern Europe (which I was recently) I’m going to enjoy and adjust to their culture, which I am here to tell you… is a lot of meat, cheese and bread.

5.  Moderation can be overrated.

I have always said that everything in moderation is healthy.  Embracing your vices in moderation is healthy.  These mother fuckers though, take their vices head on, like a bull.  And just like a raging bull, they have battle wounds and sometimes they look rough, but fuck, they make decay look beautiful.  They know themselves better than most and I think that a lot of that is because they have taken their minds and bodies to the limits.  I think we all learn a lot about ourselves when we let substances kick our ass sometimes.  They haven’t crossed the line completely, they just dance with the devil on the line between moderation and insanity.  Sure, we have lost some brain cells, but I think we gain so much more.  We gain camaraderie, travels, experiences, wisdom and hard work.  I understand that you can gain all of those qualities while practicing moderation, but the point is, it seems like you can get there by practicing extremism sometimes as well.

6.  Black metal bands have the most competent fans.

As we all know because of my Merch Girl Rants, the people who I typically deal with at metal shows are abhorrently stupid.  It’s honestly incredible.  However, with the black metal band, I only get a couple of dumb questions a night.  Usually, I only get a couple of NOT dumb questions a night.  So it’s safe to conclude that there is something about the Satanist crowd that makes them more intellectually competent.  Those five hours I spend selling t-shirts and patches is a lot less painful when I’m selling for the black metal band because I actually feel like I’m dealing with other humans, rather than a subordinate alien race.

7.  Calling someone a mongoloid is a very fun insult.

Try it soon!  “You fucking mongoloid!”  It’s wonderfully satisfying when someone is acting like an ape.

8.  All pain does is hurt.

I like this lesson because it can apply to physical and emotional pain.  Some of the guys are slightly sadistic, and I’m slightly masochistic, so we end up doing shit like shooting each other with BB guns, burning ourselves due to a bet and whipping each other when someone fucks up a guitar riff.  I used to hate anticipating pain, but I’ve seen their scars and I’ve seen them take it, and now I try to shrug it off and I think to myself, don’t be scared of pain, all it does is hurt.

I got my heartbroken on this last tour, and I applied the same lesson.  All of the pain I was/am feeling, I just breathed it out and tried to remember that this is all it does.  It just hurts, that’s it.  So there’s my final gift to you babe, you can blame it all on me because I’m not scared and I’ll take the pain.

 

 

 

 

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A Passion Vomit

The boy with the white hair pointed out not too long ago that I become heavily influenced by whatever book I am currently reading.  I argued at first, but let’s get real, he was absolutely right.  Last month I was ready to start a cult after reading A Very Minor Prophet.  The month before that I was cursing the use of plastic and paper towels after reading No Impact Man, and the month before that I had a huge crush on River Phoenix after reading his biography.  Now, more than ever, I want to spread the word of the evils of the white man.  We fucked everything up.  The world now needs to understand that just because we don’t understand a certain way of life, does not mean that it needs change.  We all just need to leave each other’s cultures and civilizations alone.

I don’t discuss books much on this blog, but I’m not sure why.  I am constantly reading and I always have to stop myself from writing an entry about whatever book I just read because I know that none of you care about my passion vomits.  But today, I don’t care that you don’t care.  I’m about to passion vomit all over you.  And for Christ’s sake,  start reading books with me!  I just read The Poisonwood Bible, and here are some quotes from it that heavily influenced me, along with my commentary that you won’t care about:

“Hunger of the body is altogether different from the shallow, daily hunger of the belly.  Those who have known this kind of hunger cannot entirely love, ever again, those who have not.”  

This passage made me think about how little the world understands each other.  This lack of understanding is really what leads to wars.  But bringing it back to the topic of hunger, if you were someone who has honestly starved, been plagued with a threat of not being able to eat day after day, you could never honestly love someone like me.  Someone who has dieted and thrown food away and shops in grocery stores that holds more food than some villages see in generations.

“Like Daniel she enters the lions’ den, but lacking Daniel’s pure and unblemished soul, Ada is spiced with the flavors of vice that make for a tasty meal.  Pure and unblemished souls must taste very bland, with an aftertaste of bitterness.”

Cody and I were talking recently about being weird.  He is definitely weird, and I am as well, though sometimes I camouflage it better than him.  I think.  Actually, I think I have gotten more weird with age because in the last couple of years I have heard people declare me as “weird” quite a bit.  I think people who have this characteristic also have a certain level of inner darkness in common.  The weird ones tend to have the most demons.  My point to him however was, I think it’s cool!  I would take a weird person over a “normal” person any day.  Weird people are much more interesting.  Hence the quote.  Pure and unblemished souls are boring and bland.  Maybe that’s why the lion didn’t eat Daniel.

“Green mamba, mistress of camouflage, agility, aggressiveness, and speed.  The experts claim in the library book of snakes: In this serpent the diabolic genius of nature has attained the highest degree of perfection.  What had passed before us was a basket of death, exploded.”

I’m now obsessed with green mamba’s and want to get a tattoo of one.

“…by the grace of hell.”

That just sounds badass.

“To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know.  In perfect stillness, frankly, I’ve only found sorrow.”

If you can find peace in stillness, you have found enlightenment and are far stronger than me.  If you’re like me however, you have to keep moving or else go insane.

The power is in the balance: we are our injuries, as much as we are our successes.”

Be equally as grateful for your failures as for your successes.  In the end, it’s all the same thing.

“The loss of a life: unwelcome.  Immoral?  I don’t know.  Depends perhaps on where you are, and what sort of death.  Hereabouts, where we sit among such piles of leftover protein we press into cakes for the pets, who usefully guard our empty chairs; here where we pay soothsayers and acrobats to help lose our weight, then yes, for a child to die from hunger is immoral.  But this is just one place.  I’m afraid I have seen a world.  In the world, the carrying capacity for humans is limited.”

Leave Africa the fuck alone.  Those people have survival figured out.  Or had at least.  We may have fucked it up beyond salvation now.  Sure, a lot of kids die there, and yes, it’s sad, but that is the way of life that they have known for millions of years.  Just because it is different from ours, doesn’t make it wrong.  They have nine kids in the hopes that one or two reach adulthood.  There, they only have one word for all things living and passed.  Villages only had one word to refer to those living and those dead.  To them, death is company, not an enemy.  This brings me to the next quote…

“If you could for a moment rise up out of your own beloved skin and praise ant, human, and virus as equally resourceful beings, you might admire the accord they have all struck in Africa.”

This is believing in all things equally.  Believing in the fundamental right for a plant or a virus to rule the earth.  Maybe it sounds that I have no heart for humans, but I think I have too much.  I see what we have done and what we deserve.  We should really stop fighting death and all walk together into the heart of darkness and let nature take its course.  But we are selfish and the unknown is scary and death is a mixture of selfishness and the unknown, so we avoid it at all costs.  I say that death is selfish because what mourning is, is mourning our own loss.

“All the noise in my brain, I clamp it to the page so it will be still.”

Why writer’s write.

“Conquest and liberation and democracy and divorce are words that mean squat, basically, when you have hungry children and clothes to get out on the line and it looks like rain.”

This goes right along with what I have been preaching for quite some time.  That us people in the First Word have the LUXURY of whining about democracy, divorce, liberation, etc. because we don’t need to worry about survival in the way that people in some other places do.  I rant about this more in …Annoying First World Problem.

“I have lost all the words to my childhood prayers, so my head rings with its own Grand Silence.”

I think that one of the first signs of losing one’s inner peace and innocence, is when silence becomes an enemy.

Passion vomit concluded.  The lesson to be learned here is, read The Poisonwood Bible.

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