Category Archives: Touring

Merch Girl Rant #3: Airport Etiquette for Dummies

Everyone suddenly turns into an asshole when at the airport.  Even people who seem to be able to function as an acceptable human being normally, turn into a god damn spaz when traveling.  They seem to lose all common sense, spatial awareness and cognitive abilities.  It’s incredible.  I travel a lot, so please learn from this and don’t be one of those people.

Let’s start at the beginning.  Just pulling up to the drop-off area at airports, and it suddenly looks like a traffic jam in India.  There is no regard for lane lines, there are whistles and people walking in front of cars and the same person who kindly let you over while you were merging onto the highway to get to the airport, is suddenly blaring his horn in your face and cutting you off because he is worried that he won’t make it to the curb in time.  Chill out you motherfucker!  I am not afraid of walking twenty extra yards, so I’ll move for you.  I swear that people don’t understand that the airport is one big building.  Surprise!  You can get to any part of the airport from inside the airport!  When pulling up to the drop-off/pick-up area, people seem to forget that just because you’re flying Delta, doesn’t mean that you can only be dropped off immediately in front of the Delta sign.  Don’t worry, this isn’t platform 9 3/4, it’s not going to magically disappear.  Drop people off wherever there is an opening, and hopefully they can manage to walk a few meters to the Delta check-in, you freaks.

Before arriving to the airport, have your damn ID in your pocket.  Duh!  In your purse does not count because as we all know, women’s purses are all like Mary Poppin’s purse; endless.  If I have to wait for you to dig around in your bag because you seem to be dumbfounded when security or the airline agents asks for your ID, then you are a fool and deserve the ugly stares that you’re going to get from me.  Oh, and I will probably cut you in line.

The touch screen at the check-in counters seem to be a problem for people and this also blows my mind because it’s people who are drowning their lives in various technological touch screen devices, so how is it that you suddenly can’t figure out how to use a touch screen when it asks you for your friggen name?

Then, we move onto one of my worst pet-peeves.  Escalators/moving sidewalks.  These machines were developed to get you from point A to point B faster.  They are not there to enable all you lazy assholes who apparently find walking to be a hassle.  I cannot wrap my mind around how unaware everyone is.  Do you not realize that a lot of people are in a damn hurry at the airport?!  Essentially, everything you do at the airport needs to be done in the quickest, most efficient way as possible because people are waiting.  Paying for something?  Grab your change and move to the side so someone else can pay while you fumble around with your wallet.  Have plenty of time to get to your gate?  Then move over to the mother fucking right, and let me pass you on the left on the escalator.  Common damn sense.

Pack light and tight.  When we get to the security point, I always avoid people with kids, old people and people with headphones on.  That’s all obvious, but you also got to watch out for the people who have a bunch of shit hanging off of them.  I’m sure you can picture it.  There are those who travel and they look like a damn mobile closet.  There are pillows wrapped around their necks, lanyards hanging out of pockets, straps just everywhere, blankets protruding from overstuffed bags and they are always trying to get away with having two carry-on’s.  It’s such a shitshow.  I should never have to wait for you to pull everything from crinkled up cash to loose Tylenol tablets from your pocket when we approach the x-ray machine.  Be prepared!  Do that BEFORE the last second.  Fucking, duh!  And you never need a neck pillow.  Unless it is over a five hour flight, then I might have some sympathy, but on those flights, the airline has pillows, just ask.  You are not going to be comfortable on a plane no matter what, so just suck it up and get out of my way.

The only person who is allowed to have a neck pillow is the wrestler because he has the kind that fold into a little case that he shoves into his suitcase.  He’s a pro traveler due to the whole being a pro wrestler thing.  Him and I recently discussed the art of traveling, and decided that we hate 90% of people at airports.

I think that the older you get, the more comfortable you are with yourself and the less you’re concerned with what other people might think of you.  This notion simply disappears when people get on planes.  I watch all these middle aged people suddenly turn into those anxious adolescence with pimply faces and awkward haircuts.  People get so fucking nervous about putting their stupid carry-on bag in the overhead compartments.  Jesus Christ, chill out.  The only reason why we’re all staring at you is because you suddenly started talking to yourself, you’re blushing and you’re being frantic over a damn suitcase.

Also concerning the overhead compartments, don’t be that asshole who puts your jacket or fucking beach tote bag up there until everyone is settled.  Wait until everyone has their REAL carry-on’s stowed away, and then if there is room, you can shove your floppy shit on top.

The worst people on planes are the ones with headphones on who have no regard for how loud their music is.  I’m sorry, I know you’re enjoying your tunes, but I should not be subjected to your shitty Pandora’s top 40 playlists.  If the person is sitting next to me, I absolutely ask them to turn their music down.  If the person is sitting more than a row away, I ask the flight attendant to ask them to turn it down.  And I don’t feel bad about it even a little bit.  NOT using headphones at all while watching videos is a recent practice that I’ve noticed people participating in since wifi on planes has become a thing.  Hell no.  I won’t even waste my linguistic energy on why that is 100% unacceptable.

I recently went to Costa Rica with my sister, mom and a family friend.  I’m typing in the living room and my sister is in the dining room wearing an oversized Tupac shirt and playing with her toenails.  I just yelled to her, “what were some of the dumb things that people were doing at the airport?” and without hesitation she just yelled back, “they were just not fucking walking!”  It made me laugh out loud.  This sort of falls into the the category of being spatially aware, and even if you’re not in a hurry, act like you are.  I cannot get over the amount of people who just stop walking in the middle of the damn walkways to look at their phone.  Would you do that in the middle of the highway?  No.  There is absolutely the same traffic flow in the airport, and you are fucking it up and causing a traffic jam.  Just as you would if you were on the highway, if you need to stop, veer over to the right.

I hope this helps you.  I’m considering printing this out into pamphlet form, and distributing them at my local airport.

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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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Merch Girl Rant #2

I thought I was going to start this entry by bitching about the absolutely mind boggling stupidity of the merch customers that I deal with every night.  However, I had the unpleasant experience of being back at Warehouse Live in Houston, Texas this week.  I hate that fucking venue.  I have unfortunately been there before, which is not uncommon in the touring world.  You end up frequenting a lot of the same venues across the country.  I swear that I must go to the Agora Theatre in Cleveland every time I’m on tour.  At least it’s a good venue.  The only good thing about Cleveland, by the way.

Many of the venues that I go to are pretty divey and rough to say the least.  They do their best with what they’ve got though, and for the most part, try to make you as comfortable as possible.  And I love dives!  I live in shitty dive bars and venues and I feel right at home.  Needless to say, I am not high maintenance at all when it comes to venues.  I usually spend my time sitting on the floor counting shirts anyway.  I don’t get irritated when there is not a shower, I don’t get mad when there are stairs for a load-in and I couldn’t care less about catering or the rider.  I only care about common courtesy.  When a band is coming to play at your establishment, at least have the respect to remove old moldy hair from the shower drain, and spend the $10 to purchase a new shower curtain once it becomes ridden with enough mold to give me a fungus infection.  Today’s venue had that, plus the most disgusting couches I think I have ever seen in the greenroom.  The carpet had those black gum stains that have been there for at least twenty years, and the smell… it smelled like the holocaust inside.  What are we supposed to do with that?

The merch area had to-go containers of left-over food in it and other random pieces of garbage.  The local crew was a joke.  It was the slowest load-out we’ve ever had on this tour, and the man settling merch with me had a massive attitude, to which I of course, put into check.  Usually, the venue takes a cut of the merch sales.  It’s ridiculous, but it happens.  20% of the cloth sales (meaning they don’t take on media/CD sales) is typical.  I think that’s bullshit.  I can understand 10%, just because they’re providing you with a place to sell, but that’s all they provide.  Usually they don’t help with merch at all, and the person who is settling with you shows up at the very end saying, “you’ll be settling with me and the cut is 80/20.”  Oh, hello.  Where have you been all night?  It would have been nice to know of your existance when I needed change or when I had to pee and there was no one around to keep an eye on the table.

I told one of the house managers at the venue how I felt.  I was so irritated by the end of the night and basically told him that they need to take a little pride in their establishment and have some respect for the people who are coming to put on an event that day.  I said that it’s just plain rude to make us work in an environment like this.  I don’t think he gave a shit, because I’m just the merch girl, but at least I felt a little bit better for getting it off my chest.

Now, onto the fun part of the rant.  The customers.  How is it that you’re a grown man and you do not know your shirt size?  A regular fucking t-shirt, when I ask what size, how is it possible that you look at me dumbfounded?  Like that question has never entered your mind at any point in your life.  Then!  I tell them their size, because I can tell by looking, and they proceed to say, “No… let me see an extra large.”  I get them the XL and then they hold it up, say it’s too big, and THEN agree with my assessment that they are a large.  Thank you for wasting my time, now go away.  Always trust your merch girl.  The boy with the white hair said that I should make stickers with that slogan.

On this run, I have a lot of different shirt designs, so they are all labeled with little signs I have made.  For example, one shirt is labeled “Mosh $25” another says “Green $25.”  I swear to God that I only get maybe two customers a night who actually read the fucking signs and call the shirt by the appropriate name.  Everyone else says, “can I have that shirt?”  And they barely point, it’s mostly an ambiguous hand motion.

“Which one?”  I ask.  Then they point a little bit better, but they are still quite a distance from the display, and there are ten shirts all lined up side by side, so it’s hard to tell which one they are pointing at, which is why I take the god damn time to label them!  “The one that says mosh on it?” I ask.

“Yeah, yeah.”

“What size?”  Blank stare.  Jesus Christ.

Right before doors open, the merch boy who works for the other band on the tour looks at me, takes a deep breath and says, “ready for four hours of stupid questions?”  He is so right.  It is truly unbelievable the stuff we hear.  If I could set up a camera in the merch booth, that shit would go viral.  We sometimes  get the fanboys who treat the shirts like they are the actual band members.

“Oh man!  Look at that one!  That is so sick dude!”  And they high five each other and then notice the hats  I have on the table, “Oh shit!  Look at the hats!  You got to get one man, that is so cool.”  Then they fucking high five again.  Once I am able to snap them out of being star struck over t-shirts, and am able to actually get them to make some decisions so I can get through this line that has been steadily increasing during the ten minutes that they have diddle daddled around like little girls at a prom dress shop, then they continue to stare at the shirts, even though they have already made their purchase and even though they have already spent ten minutes staring at ten of the same shirts.  You would think that the shirts have LED screens in them with a sports game playing.  It’s unbelievable.  Then I tell them to get the fuck out of the way so I can do my job.  I don’t say that, but I wish I could.  I’m only pretend nice for the sake of the bands I work for and I try to be professional.  So the assholes move over five feet, and then AGAIN hold up their shirts that they just bought, and giggle.  They look at the tour dates on the back, find the date for that particular night, point at it and say to one another, “there it is, man!”  Then they high five again, and if I’m lucky, then they’re out of my life forever.  Usually not though, usually these types find their way up to the merch booth a couple of more times a night.  It’s absurd.

Then I get the guys who continually ask me the same fucking question multiple times a night.  “Can I get that shirt in a large?”

“Sorry, we are out of that one in large.  I have medium or XL, or I’ve got large in the other designs.”

“You don’t have that shirt in large?” they say again.

“No, sorry, man.”

“Are you sure?”  They’ll ask as they look over the table, where all of the shirts are stocked.  Why the fuck would I lie to you about that?  It is not in my best interest in any way to not give you a shirt you damn moron.  “You got any in the back?”  Um… this isn’t Macy’s.

“No, there’s none in the trailer.”  Then they come back ten minutes later asking if I got any more shirts.  Yeah man, I got a fucking UPS delivery between now and when you asked me ten minutes ago.  Then, they will come back at the end of the night, thinking that I won’t remember them, and casually say, “Can I get that shirt in large?”  They think I’m purposely witholding from them or something.  What I want to say is, “I still don’t have that mother fucking t-shirt in a god damn large you annoying asshole!  Trust me, if I did, I would have happily given it to you with haste, so that I never have to talk to you ever again.”

Another absolutely amazing question I get all of the time is, “Which shirt has the tour dates on them?”  I never really know how to respond to that question because my display displays all of the backs of the shirts, and I currently have about six shirts with tour dates on the back.  So over half of my display is a sea of tour dates.  First, I honestly look into their eyes to make sure that they’re not blind and that I’m not about to be semi condescending to a disabled person.  When I deduce that they are not in fact blind, which they never are, I just kind of wave my arm across the entire display and say, “all of the ones that you see with tour dates on them, have the tour dates on them.”  I mean honestly, how in the hell else am I suppose to answer that question?!

Now let’s move on to the girl shirts.  The girly shirt is labeled “Girly” and it is clearly tapered in a girly form fitting way and it’s purple.  When a man is asking for a girly shirt, I want to believe that he is being nice and buying one for his girlfriend or daughter or something, but I know better than to assume that these people are not being stupid, so I always like to clarify.  Nine times out of ten, they didn’t fucking realize that the small purple shirt labeled “girly” is in fact for girls.

You’re probably thinking that these types of occurrences only happen a few times a night.  No.  I promise you, that only a few times a night, does it NOT happen.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that maybe two to four people  a night do not ask me something stupid.  I love these people.  And if he’s cute, I’ll go as far as giving him a $5 discount, just so that I can award good behavior.  They usually end up giving it back to me as a tip, so it works out.  The stupidity levels vary from scene to scene.  The metal heads seem to be the dumbest.  Surprisingly, the black metal scene has the most competent fan base.  This is one of the reasons why working for the black metal band that I tour with is my favorite band to work for.  They’re great people, and also the people who come to their shows I can relate to on a human level, instead of being onslaught by stupidity all night long.  Black metal fans are usually Satanist, so maybe that has something to do with it.  You have to be at least mildly competent to be a Satanist because it usually requires some analyzing and research.

If you are reading this and go to shows often, please be one of the people who walks up and simply says, “The mosh shirt in medium, please.”  And have your money ready.  Us merch people love people like you.  And use cash.  Yes, we do normally accept credit cards, but they’re a pain in the ass and slows everything down and credit cards are just not very rock and roll.  You’re going to a metal show, have some damn cash on you for christ’s sake.

Rant complete.  For now.

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Post Tour Blues – Report 2 of 2

…continued from Report 1.

Finally being able to have some privacy keeps you isolated as well.  Even if you live with someone else, compared to road life, the amount of privacy you are suddenly allowed is a shock.  We tend to try to take advantage of this, which also keeps us isolated and susceptible to PTB.

One of the things that you really need to adapt to on the road is the lack of privacy, which I have discussed in the past.  Everyone knows when you poop, everyone knows what you look like in the morning, everyone knows how many times in a row you’ve worn the same shirt without washing it.  Everyone knows when you’re upset, everyone knows what your underwear looks like because you often consolidate, and do each other’s laundry.  Basically, everyone knows everything.  It’s like having 11 live-in boyfriends/girlfriends.  Yes, this can sometimes be a nightmare, but it can also sometimes be the most at home you’ll ever feel.  You and your bus-mates become a little fucked up family.  To add to this, it is a constant friggen peanut gallery.

On the road, I cannot do something as mundane as eat a saltine cracker without someone making a comment about it.  I cannot stand how everyone feels the need to ask what you’re eating every fucking time you put something in your mouth.  This isn’t a tour thing, but it’s just enhanced on tour because someone is always around.  I can be eating out of a chip bag that is the size of my torso and at least one person will say, “what you got there?”

I usually don’t respond.  I will just sit there, six inches from someone, and blatantly not respond to their inane question.  People must think I’m either nuts or just an extreme bitch, both of which I will not dispute.  If I opened my mouth I would end up saying, “Unless you went blind between now and the last time I saw you five minutes ago, I think it’s obvious that I am eating some chili lime flavored Lay’s.  Is there something so fascinating about this that propels you to ask such an annoying rhetorical question?”  Instead of saying all that, I just ignore the person.

I know that I have referred to Wal-mart run’s before, but I’m not sure that I have ever fully explained what they entail.  I think it’s obvious that it means that the bus stops at Wal-mart, but this almost always happens at 2:00 in the morning, after a show and approximately every 5-7 days.  Mostly we get groceries, but it is also your one opportunity to get everything that you need.  So, if I need to buy tampons or underwear (in the case that I haven’t been able to do laundry in years) this is my time to do all of that, so sometimes you just need some damn privacy while running this errand.

Often though, 0069 ends up sharing a cart with me and we end up rolling down the aisles on the grocery carts like they are sports equipment, and then playing bumper carts with at least one of the other crew/band members instead of being productive during this errand.  I think Jackhammer and I played a brief game of hockey using a can of pigs feet as a puck in the canned meats aisle.

2:00am Wal-mart run!  This is us NOT being productive.

2:00am Wal-mart run! This is us NOT being productive.

We really did need groceries and thermal shirts, but somehow this is what we left with.

We really did need groceries and thermal shirts, but somehow this is what we left with.

During one particular Wal-mart run, I explored the $5 CD bin.  I collect CD’s so of course I’m going to check out the selection just in case I come across a gem.  And I did!  A Chevelle album I didn’t have.  Score.  So I was walking through Wal-mart, and the only thing in my hand was a CD, while everyone else from the bus had shopping carts full of cereal and canned pineapple.  Every single one of them that I happened to walk past, made a comment about the CD and how it was strange that I was buying one.  Neat.  Thanks for your input, the last five guys said the same exact thing.

Then I go to order a Diet Coke at the McDonalds that is inside of the Walmart, because I love supporting our capitalistic society run by big corporations and corn byproducts.  If I am not already annoyed because of this, and the pure fact of being inside of a Walmart which goes against my entire lifestyle of trying to live low impact, I hear “oh god.  What did you do to yourself?”

Me: What?

Bus-mate: You got McDonald’s?!

What I’d really like to do here is simply ignore this question and not say anything at all.  Like I said, I do this often, so they are all relatively used to it.  Well, as used to being blatantly ignored as you can get, but in this case, there was nothing else around to distract him, so I had to answer or else be further antagonized.

Me: I just got a Diet Coke.

And even if I had ordered some french fries or whatever, I don’t need to hear your opinion on the subject.  It seems to be a surprise to you, but I have managed to get through my entire life so far, without your incessant commentary.

Then, I get back on the bus and have to hear from the English Hooligan about how bad Diet Coke is bad for me.  I already have grown to accept the fact that I am going to get Lupus due to aspartame poisoning, so let me just grow disease ridden in peace!  He feels the need to comment on my Diet Coke intake every single time I have one, even though he has a milkshake or two every single day, and chicken wings and a cheeseburger every other day, but somehow, “that’s different.”  He’s rolling his eyes and shaking his head right now.

Girls get it worse I think.  The attention that I get as a female on the road is one of the best and one of the worst parts about being a chick roadie.  The down side is that like I’ve already said, everything I do is commented on, but with an added cascade of sexist undertones.  “So, you’re hanging out with {insert name of musician or crew member of another band here}.”

Uh, yeah… and you were just smoking a joint and shooting the shit with him two hours ago, so please spare me of your passive sexist remarks.

Every time I use a hand-truck, which is everyday, SOMEONE makes a comment about it.  It’s usually one of the locals and it’s usually something like, “Don’t they have one of the guys to help you with that?”

Do I help the sound engineer with patching?  Do I hang lights for the LD?  No.  So why would any of them help me cart around t-shirts?  It’s what I’m paid for.  This may come as a surprise to people, but I do get paid for my work.  I cannot tell you how often I have been asked if I get paid and every time it is hugely insulting.  Many people assume that I’m essentially a glorified groupie.  So let’s set the record straight, this is how i make most of my living, yes I get paid fairly well, no I am not someone’s girlfriend and yes I travel on the bus; they don’t strap me onto the roof like cargo.

At the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, the first thing that the PM said to me was, “Whose girlfriend are you?”  I looked him in the eye, and just turned and walked away.  He went on to get what he deserved, which was a lot of ridicule from a drunken, Norwegian guitar player who laughed in his face and asked him upon meeting him, “Why do you keep grabbing at your crotch?” among other hilarious observations about this guy’s existence.  Beware of the drunken musicians my darling venue staff, because they don’t give a fuck.

Now I am home, and as nice as the privacy and lack of a constant peanut gallery is, I do miss my roadie families.  Every time I’m home, it takes a while to adjust and I don’t know what to do with all of the privacy.  When I walk into an empty house, I think that I should do something “forbidden” just to take advantage of being alone.  Like eat a bowl of ice cream for breakfast while naked with Ace of Base on full volume and dance on the couches and tabletops.  Or at least call a hot boy to make-out with.  Then I remember that I’m crazy, so I just make a salad instead and read the newspaper and yell at it when Dick Cheney is quoted or when Rick Scott tries to pretend like he is not a subhuman who has profited billions off of sick people.

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Post Tour Blues – Report 1 of 2

I have been home for a while now, and I feel that I am FINALLY getting over my Post Tour Blues.  I am starting to make more friends, enjoy my little routines and flirting with the idea of trying to start a garden.  Don’t get me wrong, I cannot friggen wait to get back on the road, but I am enjoying NOT going stir crazy at the moment.  I leave again soon though, and will be traveling for three months, and I am very stoked about that, but I am already dreading the Post Tour Blues that I will be sure to experience upon my return in late November.

There are many reasons why us roadies get the Post Tour Blues as I call it (or PTB).  A lot of the symptoms are due to the sudden change in lifestyle.  The easiest, most concise way to describe it, is that we go from 60 to zero in only a few minutes.  The amount of time that it takes to walk off of the bus and into the airport terminal that will be delivering you home.

I go from being in a new city every day and being at a live, loud, adrenaline pumping rock show every night,  to sitting on my mom’s couch watching her make carrot juice and hearing about the family of rabbits that are hopping around the neighborhood.  Touring can be a lot of fucking fun, and everything I deal with on a daily basis is so over the top that it can sometimes make normal life feel mundane.  Another factor in the cause of Post Tour Blues.

Also, you go from having a very specific, functional purpose, to no purpose at all.  Each person on the tour is essential and provides a specific job that makes the entire tour function.  You know exactly what is required of you and there is a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.  Then you go home and you have no role and no sense of purpose, and those questions like, “what am I doing with my life?” start haunting you.  I just happened to have the month off during the 2014 World Cup.  I am not kidding when I tell you that I spent the entire month alone in a bar, drinking beer and watching soccer.  I had a great time, but honestly, in that month, there was just no purpose to my existence.

This brings me to my next point, which is often, I tend to isolate myself post tour.  I know that I probably shouldn’t, because it only enhances the blues, but I know that a lot of other touring folk do this as well.  I’ve speculated on some of the reasons why this is.  One I believe, is that it does become harder to relate to people who live a more stable lifestyle.  Your cares, concerns and experiences, the things that you talk about, are radically different.  It’s not that one way of life is superior to the other, it’s just different, and I get self-conscious sometimes about the topics of conversation that I would probably bring up.  I’m sitting there discussing how I can’t remember if I accidentally drunkenly kissed the guitar tech, how a goth with metal spikes coming from his head stalked me all night, trying to get access on to the bus, and how I’m thinking about dreadlocking my hair just so that I don’t have to deal with hair maintenance on the road.  The stable friend is discussing how their kid likes playing with a broken piece of a picture frame rather than their toys, how the contractor put in the wrong tile in their kitchen and how they may get an office promotion.  Neither is right or wrong, just different and I know that I am the more abnormal one; the minority, so it sometimes makes me self-conscious and I just avoid that type of interaction.  There are of course certain close friends that you don’t have to worry about this type of thing with, thank goodness for them.

Being alone often after tour is mostly self-induced, but not always.  Your friends and family have their own lives without you because they have become accustom to you not being around.  So when they don’t call you to invite you out for their traditional Saturday afternoon Bloody Mary’s at the nearby beach bar, it’s not because they don’t want you there, it’s just that they have grown into the habit of not calling because you’re often not in town.  I sometimes feel very alone after a tour, which leads to PTB.

Romantic relationships are fucked.  To the point where I don’t even have the emotional stamina to get into that right now.  I think it’s obvious how touring puts a major strain on any type of relationship, but especially romantic ones, so hopefully you can use your imagination and forgive me for skipping over the dirty details right now.  Maybe down the road… probably when I am suffering through another episode of PTB, I may be in the mood to drink a bottle of whiskey and dredge through painful memories.

When you’re on the road, it’s easy to distract yourself from the thoughts of your personal life back home being annihilate because there is constant new stimulus.  Once you are back home though, you’re forced to confront all of the things that you have been putting off during your tour and it hits you in the stomach, knocking the wind out of you.

Finally being able to have some damn privacy once you get home is very nice and so you feel the compulsion to take advantage of that and get as much privacy as you can soak up.  This ultimately leads to the loneliness as well.   I will get to bus privacy in the 2nd report.

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The Rules of Touring

1. Use common sense.

2. Be considerate.

3. Don’t complain.

That’s it. Those are the only true rules of touring. I started writing a book, and though I have never thought about listing tour rules, it began to organically happen while drafting one of the chapters. I had fun with it, and made a whole list of specific rules such as, keep the damn doors shut to bunk alley until everyone is awake, you inconsiderate bastard! But after going over my list, and after something Monterey said, I realized that it was redundant and everything came down to use common sense, be considerate and don’t complain. Simple as that.

A person who sucks at being a busmate will always suck at being a busmate no matter how many tours they go on because these “rules” aren’t learned, they’re just called, not being an asshole. I’m sorry, I know there are a lot of sweet people out there who are lacking in common sense, but you’re still an asshole, even if you have the best intentions. I absolutely have my daft moments, the English hooligan can attest to that after sitting with me in a freezing room for two hours trying to fix a string of paperwork the time when I forgot that 175 is not the same as 150. But! I have enough common sense to know that if I’m living on a bus with ten other people and one mini fridge, than I shouldn’t buy a gallon of milk.

Complaining is toxic. Just don’t do it. Next time you want to bitch about the venue’s catering or how there are no cups on the bus, remind yourself that you get to travel around the world for a living, so shut the fuck up and do your job.

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The Adventures of Touring – Special Edition: Noisey Made Me Sound like a Groupie, but I Feel Cool Anyway

This is how much I love VICE… I have the app. I barely understand what phone applications are, so if I have an app, it’s because I really use it. Along with VICE, I have BBC News, the dictionary, USPS, google translate, atVenu and fucking Solitaire. Dorky apps. On the bus during long drives while a lot of the guys are on some game application that gives me a headache just by looking at it over their shoulder, I am the annoying one announcing things like, “the word of the day is solipsistic,” or “VICE found a guy who claims that he only has 100 boners left.”

For those of you who need some VICE in your life, Noisey is basically the music section of the magazine, and I got mentioned in one of the articles. Well…. kind of. Indirectly. Very indirectly. I was misquoted, and made to sound like someone’s one night stand, but you know what, I’ll take it. He was nice enough to keep me nameless, but I am here to take full credit because like we all know, I am perfectly comfortable with exploiting myself.

This particular tour holds a very special place in my heart, so I didn’t think that I’d be able to write about it for a while. I fell in love with this band and crew, and the band and crew of the entire three band tour package. When that happens, it’s sometimes difficult to take a step back and explain it all in a way that the non-touring world will understand. However, due to being mentioned in a Noisey article… I will tell this single tale for now. I’m sure there will be more later.

On the last day of the tour, a Noisey columnist came onto the bus to interview the lead singer of the band that I was working for. They discovered a note that I had taped to the television so that everyone would see it which read, “Hi boys- I lost my jeans somewhere on this bus. Please let me know if you find them amongst all of your stuff. Thanks! -Caitlin”

I suppose to someone who has never lived on a tour bus, that may sound strange. However, when there are twelve people living on one bus, shit gets misplaced. If you’re a good busmate and understand bus etiquette, you only bring the necessities onto the bus and leave your fucking carry-on in the bay (the storage space underneath the bus). Regardless, with twelve people, that still means at least 36 pairs of socks and underwear, 24 shoes, five million chargers and approximately three trailer keys. When you add the consumption of three bottles of liquor, two cases of beer and copious amounts of drugs every night, shit disappears. T-dog, my favorite bus driver, would regularly find my underwear in the bus vents and I have found men’s pj pants in my bunk who belong to boy’s who had definitely never been in my bunk.

My note was interpreted by Noisey in the article as saying something more like, “I left my jeans on the bus last night. Let me know if you find them.” I appreciate the artistic license he took because that makes it sound a lot more rock n’ roll, like a hot little metal chick with last night’s make-up smeared around her eyes wearing sexy fish-nets and I-just-got-laid-hair put the friendly letter up, instead of the boring merch girl.

Before you start thinking that this is going to be a fun mystery thriller which ends full circle with the jeans providing some profound moral to the story… it’s not. It’s just a story that is characterized with a shit load of bums and the jeans really have nothing to do with what went down. Lost pants is just a hilarious representation of the drunken debauchery that took place.

The night before, one of the guys, who I will call the Trojan, and I stayed up until sunrise drinking gallons of vodka while he educated me on Metallica. We sat there and listened to a whole album from beginning to end, which is something I appreciated because so few people do that anymore, and his enthusiasm was kind of a turn on.

The following day was a day off. When we all woke looking like a crew of utter death, the Trojan turned to me, still in his boxers and said, “Caitlin! Are we drinking?” You can’t say no to a Trojan…

Jack Daniels for breakfast in my Niagra Falls mug. It’s going to be a fucked up day.

The guys went to a bar early afternoon, but I had to break from the pack and do something normal to kind of recenter my life for a moment. After multiple days of staying up all night and drinking, you start to lose your sense of time and space. So, I went to a museum, looked at fossils and learned some shit.

Later, we all went to a steakhouse that had at least 500 taxidermy animals on the wall (not exaggerating) and we ate some of their insides. It was delicious. We were rolling 12 people deep, so we needed two van taxi cabs everywhere we went, which was a pain in the ass. I enjoy minimal responsibility, which is why I will never TM, but somehow I became in charge of calling the cabs, so when they didn’t arrive for a while, for some asinine reason, I got held responsible. To fend off the harassment, I started doing a tap dance on the sidewalk to lighten my mood, and when that didn’t work, I resorted to throwing a can of soda into the street. Rebel.

While waiting outside of the restaurant for my whole life, a happy bum approached us and OF COURSE, the Trojan started chatting him up while most of us attempted to not make eye contact. In the Trojan’s defense, I think he was the only one who was drunk. The exchange between a black metal Trojan and a skinny homeless man who looked like he could have been Sammy Davis Jr. became such a spectacle, that it was like watching a theatrical improv show on crack. At one point, the Trojan and the bum started dancing together on the sidewalk. At another point, the bum said something to me, to which I responded in perfect English, “I don’t speak English.”

Later, the bum said something about Jesus, to which the Trojan said, “I deep throat Jesus everyday, that little bitch.” At least we know how to keep things controversial.

We were in Denver, and if you have never been to Denver, it’s essentially where people go to do nothing. In other words, weed is legal there, so that’s where all of the hardcore stoners migrate. I can only tolerate so much Grateful Dead. Speaking of the Grateful Dead, I saw this on the wall of the bar that we ended up going to, and I couldn’t believe the perfection.

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That is possibly the most god awful published photograph that has ever existed. The guys in the back… holy fuck.

The boys were playing pool, and I was drinking my weight in whiskey while people watching and deciding that the girl who was dancing with the teal fringed mid-drift had escaped from a Mormon family and was currently experimenting in lesbianism. I often play that game where you look at a stranger and make up a full back-story for them. It can be a fun bar game.

After losing numerous pool matches to a guy wearing cargo shorts and a fishing cap, the Trojan was over it and we decided to head back to the bus and just… see what happened. And oh, shit happened.

We crossed paths with a girl at a bus stop. She asked us for money, providing some story about how she needed to get to the next town over because of her dying mother. I could be completely off, but it was something absurd like that. She was good, so if you have never lived in a city, you might have believed her, but because I know that anyone panhandling is fucking lying, I knew better. Still, we spoke with her for a moment, encouraged her and I gave her my knife that I keep in my shoe (because she was whining about not feeling safe) and we went on our way. Regardless of our awareness that this girl was completely full of shit, after denying her and walking five meters, the Trojan and I turned and looked at each other and both said simultaneously, “I like her.” Damnit.

It felt like the idiotic thing to do, so naturally, we went back. We’re so vain; we liked her because she was pretty and articulate and just not your average beggar. At all. She did not look like she was on the streets. Put her in some heels and a skin-tight dress, and she could have gotten by as a high class escort. Come to think of it, I should have suggested that to her. Anyway, we went back and told her that we can’t help her with her child who has been kidnapped (or whatever the story was that kept changing), but we can buy her a drink. So the three of us went into the place that was immediately next to us, which of course ended up being a gay bar. Long story short, she’s out of her god damn mind, and kept trying to hit on flamboyant gay men and complaining that the bar didn’t have olives in the cocktail tray that she was using like a buffet counter. The Trojan and I thrive on this type of awkwardness, so we were eating this girl up. This got us all kicked out however.

At the time, it seemed ridiculous that we were being expelled from the place, because I have seen much much much more obnoxious behavior at a bar, but I got the feeling that she is probably a regular there and she is probably not welcomed at the establishment anymore for past reasons. We said our goodbyes, she cried because she’s mental, and the Trojan and I went on our way.

About 100 paces later, we run into Michael Mud. Another bum panhandling, and despite the Trojan claiming to hate people, he is incredibly friendly. I like people (…in the grand scheme of things… unless you chew with your mouth open), and the Trojan and I were kind of partners in crime during this tour, but had he not been there, none of the events of the night would have taken place. So due to his nature, we of course start chatting it up with the three toothed beggar who we would later learn to be, Michael Mud.

The Trojan and Michael got deep. They were having a serious moment and I know my place, so I kind of stepped back and just observed this take place. They were bonding on a musicians’ level. Michael had an acoustic guitar on his back, so we asked him to play something. He kept declining because the guitar only had three strings, and I think he felt embarrassed playing in front of the Trojan, who is a guitarist. The Trojan almost literally kicked Michael Mud in the ass, demanding him to play and like I said… you can’t say no to a Trojan.

So Michael started playing, and it was really something. I wish I could remember details. Damn alcohol. But I can remember the feeling, and it just had so much heart. I could have sat there at that dirty bench all night listening to him play. He kind of started playing the blues. True blues. When you strum some minor chords and fill in measures with improved, lyricals of misery. We learned a lot about his outlook on life in about thirty seconds because of a song sang on the side of the street at 1:30am with a $30 acoustic guitar that was missing half of its’ strings.

Some more words were exchanged, and later Michael Mud started giving us his sob story. Something I really like about the Trojan is that he doesn’t give a fuck. He does and says what he wants and he doesn’t have sympathy for people because he can see that we are all the same. When Michael Mud responded to something that he said with, “well that’s easy to say when you’re in a successful band….”

This sparked a fire in the Trojan. To which, I don’t blame him. He has worked fucking hard to get to where he is and he still has to work bullshit jobs that he doesn’t like in order to maintain his status. So what I remember the Trojan saying back was basically, “Fuck that. Life is shit for all of us. The world is a cunt, but you have this guitar, so just keep doing what you want to do with it.” Michael Mud started to tear up a little bit, and that’s when I knew we had made a slight difference. Even if it was just in that night. And he made a slight mark in our path too. I’ll never forget that man, or watching him and the Trojan smash each others hearts with cold iron stakes.

We told him to come to the show the next day and we’d put him on the list. He didn’t have a phone or anything to take down information with, so I wrote the address of the venue in sharpie on his guitar, and also my phone number in case he had any trouble. We both walked away knowing that there was a slim chance that this man on the streets would actually arrive. Despite this, the next day I arranged to have Michael Mud on the list. To my surprise, he called me the following morning. He basically wanted to make sure that we weren’t just being drunk retards last night, and that we still wanted him to come. Of course! I was so happy!

He never showed though. I still wonder what happened.

Somewhere in Denver there is a really special bum named Michael Mud, with the address to Summit Music Hall written in sharpie on his now, six string guitar. The Trojan gave him some of his guitar strings before we parted ways so that he would have a complete instrument. I gave up my sick knife to the first beggar, and the Trojan gave up his guitar strings to the second. In a weird way, that’s everything we had to offer.

The Trojan and I made our way back to the bus, and who the hell knows what happened after that. But somewhere between the walk back and the truck stop the next morning, I lost my jeans. I have no idea how because I was wearing them! That’s it. That’s the story of how I came to be indirectly mentioned in a Noisey article. I never found those damn jeans. I’m sure that they just ended up on the floor of the bus, tossed out of my bunk, and then haphazardly shoved into another bunk but… whatever. I’ll trade a pair of Levi’s for a night like that any time.

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The Adventures of Touring – A Christmas Story

Often when I tell people that I’ll be spending Christmas on the road, they give me the sad face. In a half of a second expression, I read their thoughts which are clearly saying, Aw, you poor little gypsy girl with no stability, no presents and no family to bake christmas tree shaped sugar cookies with. Fuck that. I began enjoying Christmas the year that I stopped giving a shit. I’m no Grinch, I love Christmas, I just believe that people put way too much pressure on holidays with their empty traditions and obsession with consumerism.

I would roughly guess that it was 2006 when my Dad hit me with one of his very many wise thoughts. He essentially said that he doesn’t stress over buying presents because he would never want anyone to stress over buying him presents. While that doesn’t sound particularly profound, it definitely changed my outlook. I hated that panicky feeling that consumed the days leading up to Christmas when you still had presents to buy but you don’t know what to buy and time is running out. When my Dad said that, I realized that I truly would rather NOT receive a present than have anyone stress over what to buy me for a holiday. I think for the past 8 birthdays, my dad has simply given me a card and a six-pack of beer. Like father like daughter.  I’m now the same way.  Unless I know exactly what gift I want to get someone, I just don’t worry about it.  Or I’ll make a donation in their name.  I’m a pretty big nay-sayer of gaudy consumerism, so I like giving charity gifts.

Excuse my rant that is only slightly related to my original topic, which is to tell you how my 2014 Christmas went, and to set the record straight about holidays on the road. Sure, they can be lonely if you let it, but here is why it doesn’t have to be.

Christmas Eve started like any other show day. We loaded into the venue at 6:00am, I did a baby wipe shower in the lobby bathroom and applied some make-up and attempted to not let my hair look like a bee hive, but I stopped with that attempt when I remembered that I hadn’t washed my hair in five days so there was no helping that mess. I broke down a couple pallets and went back and forth between the stage and lobby with two hand-trucks and gave a guarded to smile and a coy comeback to the stage hands who insist on making some of type of chivalric comment about a female doing any type of manual labor. Then I took a nap on the lobby floor.

Me and lobby floors have a special relationship.

Me and lobby floors have a special relationship.

I woke up to the children in the lobby and decided to document the mild absurdity of the fact that our photographer/videographer who I will call Monterey; his job is to take pictures of little girls in tu-tu’s everyday. He appreciates the humor in this as well.

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We had two early shows that day, so load out happened earlier than usual, meaning that we had time to go drink. We started on the bus, as Monterey took one for the team and walked to a liquor store and brought back some christmas cheer. He got us all bottles and then also got some mini bottles that I’d like to think of as stocking stuffers. We didn’t have stockings, so a dirty tupperware would have to do.

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Then we all went to The Griffon, the best bar in Charleston and coincidentally, where we went last year at Christmas. A new, unconventional tradition. Last year, we were just about the only people in that place, so we hit it off real well with the bartender, whose name is Ben, and chatted it up with him while we drank our Christmas spirit into existence. This year, we went back to the same spot, and Ben was still there and he miraculously remembered us.

The Griffon

The Griffon

So It felt good to be back at the same place with the same individuals on Christmas Eve. Sitting next to Sue, as she told me about her ex husband, and sitting next to Monterey as we bullshitted about the geography of the middle east in relation to psychology, sitting with Laura as she shares her love for Gone with the Wind and sitting amongst all seven of us as we discussed what kind of drink each person would be (we decided Lucy is peppermint moonshine, Monterey is a mint julep, A-dog is an IPA and no one could come up with what I would be) and sitting across from Ben as he filled us with christmas cheer (a.k.a. liquor), it felt good to be in that dive bar with a makeshift family celebrating Christmas Eve like a band of misfits.

Somehow we all made it back to the bus alive and I woke up to nothing other than a truck stop on Christmas morning. I think that is wildly appropriate and semi ironic considering my life this past year. I was not complaining because I love shitty gas station coffee and I even treated myself to a splash of the machine made peppermint mocha in my luke warm holiday coffee. Merry Christmas to me.

I am almost always the first one awake, so I try to be quiet in the mornings while I get my start. I was absolutely still drunk, as it was 7:00am, and I was thinking oh fuck… here comes the part where you need to spend 15 minutes trying to get your life back in order from the night before. Nope. Everything was exactly in its right place. I love when that happens. More often than not when I’m wasted, the next morning I am consistently impressed with myself that I did not lose anything, and even managed to get my coat, boots and phone in the same exact place that they always are. I felt I deserved a high-five for that one. No one was awake yet though, so I settled for an inner congratulatory on being a professional drinker. A-dog and Monterey both woke up in a panic that morning, thinking that they left their phones at The Griffon. Anyway, I got my coffee and beef jerky and sat in the jump seat while we cruised down I-95 in the rain and finished the novel, “Half Broke Horses” until Monterey and Sue woke up at around 8:30.

Merry Christmas! Shots? Yes please! We dug into the stocking stuffer basket and the three of us did a shot of whiskey for breakfast while flipping through the television channels to find the station that plays A Christmas Story for 24 hours.

Then the waiting game. It was a day off, so that means we get a hotel room. We arrived at the hotel around 10:00am, and rooms were not ready, so we sat on the bus and waited while taking a consistent flow of shots from mini dixie cups while still in our pajamas and listening to terrible christmas carol covers.

Keepin' it classy.

Keepin’ it classy.

We were all too disgusting and hung over to try to do anything more serious than going to 7-11 before getting a shower. Monterey and I managed to get a load of laundry done, which was the one appropriately domestic thing we did that day considering that it was christmas and the general public is participating in mostly domestic behaviors while we fight over junk bunk space and brush our teeth using water bottles. So Monterey and I sifting through laundry together, getting excited about detergent pods and bantering in bunk alley about whose shoes smell worse was a true domesticated christmas event.

Once showers were accomplished, we went to go see a movie, because what the hell else are you going to do on Christmas? Then we got back to the bus and drank a bottle of champagne from the bottle (we’re too gangster for glassware) as he taught me about the “Rossi Toss” and we listened to Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Him and I have discussed so much over the tours that I can’t believe we still find new subjects to talk about. He’s a true rarity. Without a doubt, one of the most intelligent people I know and can absorb information in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. I think he may have a photographic memory… or something close to it. He knows a lot about a lot, so the conversational possibilities are endless. I know a little about a lot of things, which is one quality that I think gives me the ability to be able to talk to just about anyone, but Monterey knows A LOT about a lot. So a quick stop at the bus before continuing on with our night, turned into an hour and a half conversation over a bottle of champagne that came in a fitted champagne koozie.  Brilliant.

The crew had originally planned to all be together on Christmas night, but on this particular tour, the girls always end up doing their own thing, and then I end up with the boys and we just end up going to a bar.

Somehow on this night, Monterey and I got separated from the pack, so him and I went to the beach for dinner. It was great. If anything, it was a really nice christmas present to not be in the freezing cold for a change. We were in South Florida because the show the following day was in Miami. We’ve been on tour mostly up in the northern states, and it’s been friggen cold, so the beach and shorts for christmas was very welcoming to us all. Sand is not Monterey’s thing, but he sucked it up while I frolicked on the shore and splashed around in the water underneath the moonlight. I needed to get that out of my system and he was a good sport about it. More drinks. More laughs. More conversations. Bus. Pass out. And that was Christmas. It was a good one.

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I missed my family and I do feel guilty sometimes about never being home, mostly because of my sister, but I think that the Christmas season should just be about enjoying people rather than things and that’s exactly what I did. While it felt like a normal day off while on the road, it was a particularly good day off. I didn’t have a christmas tree, gifts were not exchanged and there were no homemade dinners and pies, but I did have a great friend by my side, a bottle of champagne, the beach and some good laughs… and who needs more than that?

“He who has not christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”

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My Sister Says that I’m Mean to Strangers: A Merch Girl Rant

My sister informed me that she thinks I’m mean to strangers. She’s probably right. I wasn’t always this way. I think the change occurred when I was managing a bar in Hollywood. Everyone in Hollywood is an asshole and it’s contagious. On top of that, this bar was located in the sketchiest part of Hollywood. So it was assholes mixed with the seediest crowd I’ve ever consistently seen in one place. By far. Every patron that was in their during the day, you couldn’t tell if they were homeless, or a successful millionaire director who has gone off his rocker and now wears ARMY surplus clothes, spends his time doodling pornographic storyboards on cocktail napkins while drinking pints of Smithwicks. Everyone in there at night was either looking to get laid or using the establishment as a mafia meeting point. And everyone, no matter what time of day, got wasted. You did not go to this bar without the intentions of getting hammered. Half of the staff was drunk most of the time. Needless to say, it was a goddamn mess everyday.

Everyday I had stories ranging from needing to call 911 because a strange man looked at me blankly and threatened to come back with a gun and kill all of us basically because the bartender didn’t suck his dick, to little mob men making me go into the safe to give them cash that I was instructed to write off as “credit card reimbursement.” The point is, I dealt with a lot of bullshit at this job and it turned me mean because everyone just pissed me off. The only person who had any sense at all was Nick. He was one of the other manager’s and him and I were our own little two man team because everyone else seemed to be fucking stupid. Nick is a delight and a whole other story that I will tell one day.

Now, I’m a merch girl. My 2014 New Year’s resolution, almost a year ago now, was to learn how to build a fire with my bare hands, and to be nicer to strangers. I really do think that I’m making progress on the latter, but this is why it’s so damn hard…

A woman asks to see a medium shirt.
I hold it up for her as she examines.
Woman: “Is the large going to be bigger than the medium?”

It’s times like these that make my resolution very difficult. What I really want to tell her is that that is the most embarrassing question I have ever heard. However, I refrain. Not so much because I’m trying to be nice, or because of my resolution, but because I am working, and I try to be a professional, so I hold my tongue. I know that if I open my mouth bitter sarcasm will involuntarily come vomitting out, so I usually don’t say anything at all when I hear a question that is so profoundly stupid. I just look at the person in silence for a moment, and generally they will catch their mistake. In this woman’s case, after suffering through my blank stare for a few excrutiating moments, she said, “Yeah, I guess it would be.”

Here’s a very common one…
Person: “How much is that shirt?”
Me: “All of the shirts are $25.”
Person: “What about that one?”
Me: “All of the shirts are $25.”
Person: “And that one at the end?”
Me: “All of the shirts are $25.”

I hate to be sexist against my own gender, but women at the merch table are a catastrophe. First of all, they toss their purse onto the table, and due to most female bags being the size of a small panther, it covers half of my display. They then proceed to study every single size t-shirt, holding them up to one another for comparison, checking the tag then asking me what it’s made out of even though they just looked at the tag. Then they ask their boyfriend what he thinks. Then they tell me that they like my hair. Then they tell me about their hair. Then they tell me about their friend’s hair. Once we’ve finally come to the part where a currency exchange is about to take place, they start shoveling through their obnoxiously large purse and pull out everything from glittery lip gloss that has gross strands of shed hair wound up in the goop, to fucking thongs before finally finding their cash. Here’s what happens when most men appraoch the merch table.
Man: “Do you have that shirt in a medium?”
Me: “Yes.”
Man: “I’ll take it.
He hands me the cash. Done.

I have worked on tour for a ballet company two years in a row. We sell a DVD of the performance, and we also record the performance every night because there are different local children in it at every city, so the parents like to have a copy of that specific performance. With that in mind, I cannot believe how often I get this…
It will be BEFORE a performance. Doors have just opened and someone will point to my DVD that is on the table and ask, “Is this of tonight’s performance?” Holy fuck. Again, I just don’t say a word, and let them come to the realization that they just sounded like a friggen idiot. Almost always, after a moment they say, “Oh duh, I guess that’s not possible,” to which I’m thinking, Jesus Christ, thank everything that I never have to deal with you in my life ever again. But I smile instead. My sister would be proud. Actually, my sister would probably not be able to hold her tongue, and she would just unapologetically laugh in their face.

This one always makes me chuckle and I swear that short pale boys are the biggest culprits.
Boy: “Can I get that Chevelle shirt?”
Me: “Dude, they’re all Chevelle shirts.”
Boy: (Obviously semi-embarrassed) “Oh yeah, the black one.”
Me: “Dude, they’re all black.”

And here’s my all time favorite and I swear to God that I have got this more than once…
“Is this stuff for sale?”
I have never felt superior to others, except for the three times someone has asked me that question. I will say with little regret, that I felt superior to them as a functioning human in that moment.

I think because my annoyance cannot be present while I’m working, it infiltrates my non-working life. So my sister may be right… I’m kind of a bitch to strangers, but only because they made me this way! Not that it’s relevant, but it’s always fun to blame the accuser… my sister, who is 19, is mean to people she actually knows. Friends. I think it’s badass and it cracks me up.

For example, a male friend of hers was over the house and I guess he was kind of drunk and Raven was not at all. The next day he texted her asking, “On a scale from 1-10, how annoying was I being last night?” Raven’s response was, “Definitely 10.”
I would have sugar coated it and been like, oh you weren’t too bad…. blah blah blah. Not Raven. She also told her very good friend that he should be gay because he never gets girls.

She is the opposite of how I was at her age. Back then, I was so concerned with making everyone happy that I would spout out lies. Raven doesn’t give a fuck. It’s beautiful. She has said to me on more than one occasion, “Cait, you are not lookin’ good today.” So funny.

We all have our flaws, and I for sure have a lot of them. One thing that gives me slight solace in my sea of shortcomings, is that I can own up to mine. So I’m sorry to the Target cashier whom I was short with, and the mechanic who tried to make small talk with me but I sort of rolled my eyes, but the stupid people at the merch table made me this way!

Raven at work, not giving a fuck.

Raven at work, not giving a fuck.

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The Adventures of Touring: A Temporary Home

When one makes a living by traveling, most things in your life feel temporary. I use the word temporary with neither positive nor negative implications. I feel that it is an objective way to describe the lifestyle. The pros and cons of this temporary lifestyle is where the matter of opinions lie. One man’s pro is another man’s con.

When I wake up in the morning, I wake up in a bed/bunk that is temporarily my own, in a town that I will mostly likely be at for less than 24 hours. I then eat breakfast, using plastic silverware and paper plates. We then load-in to a venue that will be my temporary refuge. Everyone is different with how they utilize the venues. I tend to mostly stay off of the bus once we have loaded in, but I would say that I am the minority. Most of the crew I’ve worked with tends to hang out on the bus during down time, and the artists’ almost always do. That’s how it has worked out in my experience, however this could just be a coincidence. I generally leave the green-room for the others, (unless we’re playing at a Knitting Factory, because they tend to have sweet green-rooms) and I will find some corner on the dank, moldy floor to read or pay my bills or call back home or do whatever I need to do during my down time.

I then set up a temporary store (I sell merch, for those of you who don’t know) and then I eat one of my single serving meals. The narrator from Fight Club had it exactly right. When you travel, you lead a single-serving life. It’s close to impossible to cook on the bus, so all of my meals come from single serving packages. Whether it’s a bag of beef jerky, or a packet of instant oatmeal, it’s almost always a pre-portioned meal, which for some reason, feels temporary. In movies, when a scene is trying to convey that a character is in a temporary living situation, they always put them in an apartment with a TV (pre-portioned) dinner.

We meet the “locals,” which is what we call the venue staff/stage-hands, and you make a temporary, working relationship with them. Often enough you meet someone who is really cool, someone who you know you would be tight with if proximity were not an issue, but at the end of the day, after load-out, all you can do is give this person a fist pound and hope that AT BEST, you may see him/her again if you find yourself back at that same venue with a different tour.

When everything changes on a day-to-day basis, the constants are very important. I like to have a mug, that is mine and only mine, on the bus. It’s the only kitchen utensil that I have that is not a throw-away. I’ve noticed that everyone seems to have their one item. For some people it’s a glass bowl, others a knife… for me, it’s a mug. Right now, I’m using a “Union Square Montgomery, Alabama” mug, and it’s my constant. I need that mug.

Me and my mug.

Me and my mug.

Places can act as a constant.  Every time I go to the El Corazon in Seattle, I know that it’s going to get hot as hell in there, I know exactly where they keep their hand-truck, I know the security guy with the braided pig-tails will be there to tell me not to go walking around by myself at night, I know the bearded dude will be there to flirt with and to try to help me carry stuff even though I repeatedly tell him that I’m good… and I know that the coffee shop nearby will have plenty of scattered magazines and other reading material about if I forget to bring my book.

The most important constant on tour is the people who you temporarily grow to depend on.  When I’m on the road with the English hooligan, he acts as one of my constants. I know that I can sit near him, and not have to fucking talk.  I get in funks on occasion (more frequently than I care to admit), and during these times, I instinctively want to be alone.  However, if I am able to talk myself into being near another human, it does usually help.  I seem to be able to keep hold of my mind a little bit better if there is someone else in the room.  The thing is, I don’t want to talk or feel any type of conversational pressure during these momentary crazy spells.  The hooligan is great because he doesn’t ask questions. I can literally crawl underneath his desk (the spot that acts as his temporary working space for the day) and simply say, “I just need to lay here for a minute,” and he’ll let me be.  Well, he’ll shake his head at my eccentricity, and say, “Riiiight,” but he won’t ask me what’s wrong, and he won’t treat me differently and I feel 100% comfortable in silence with him.  That’s an important constant. When my day-to-day can be such an unpredictable mess, it’s good to know that I can sit by my English hooligan and not have to say anything while I silently work on emotional suppression.  I’d like to think that I can provide the same type of sanctuary for him.  There have been a couple of times while out on the road with the hooligan, when I knew that something was upsetting him, but I didn’t ask questions.  I figured if he wanted to say something he would.  I just tried to not be as big of a pain in the ass on those days, and even went as far as to offer to tape up the day sheets for him backstage.  I think I may have even brought ice onto the bus one of those days so that he didn’t have to… damn I’m sweet.

The huge amount of people who you meet on tour is without dispute, a major pro to the lifestyle. However, it is not without its’ con counterpart. I am constantly meeting the best people, and you become very close, very quickly to these people. So after a couple of months (however long the tour is), of cultivating amazing relationships, when it is all said and done, it’s just temporary. You inevitably have to hug the people goodbye and hope that paths will cross again.

Home starts to feel temporary too, but more in the way that a recycled bag feels temporary.  It’s a perpetual state of repetition, rather than single-serving.  You probably see the same friends and hang out with the same people you did before you left, but it’s not like picking up where you left off because that insinuates forward motion; progression in the relationships.  No, you begin where you began the last time.  Maybe during your time at home, you become closer with someone whether it’s romantically or platonically, but then inevitably, you leave.  Things continue in this forward motion for the other person, but “home time” stops for you when you’re away.  You come back and things and people have changed; your environment has changed, but you haven’t changed with it.  Home feels like a temporary hideout that recycles the same month of your life over and over again.

You visit the coffee shop you go to every morning when you’re home, and the barista recognizes you, and he asks how your “trip” was (a question that I hate because I wasn’t on a trip I was fucking working you twat… but that’s just me being a touchy snob), and you have the same conversation you had the last time you came back.  You tell him it was great, and you tell him some little anecdote about some night in some place and he tells you about how grad school is going.  You may see him a few times a week for the next few weeks that you’re home, and every visit, you feel a tiny bit closer to that barista who has the freckled arms and easily blushes, but then you leave again.  When you come back, you start again at one; that same superficial conversation about how your trip was and how school is for him.

Romantic relationships, fucking forget it.  They work in the same way as your relationship with the barista.  Maybe you start something really good, and you become close, make progress… but then you leave and when you come back the cycle starts over again at one.  Your “room,” at home, if you’re lucky enough to have a room back home to call your bedroom, begins to look and feel like a temporary living space.  My stuff is always half packed because if I’m only home for a short amount of time, so unpacking seems pointless.

I get home, and I see my hundreds of CD’s that I just leave packed up in boxes, and I think, I should buy a really nice stereo system, but a stereo is permanent.  So instead, I just put my temporary headphones on (I don’t get really nice headphones because they either break or get lost on the road) and I listen to some music that will temporarily enhance my mood, often times recommended to me by some boy who temporarily made me happy and I temporarily think about how I’m going to utilize my recycled day.

I’d like to conclude this by stating that temporarily, I enjoy my temporary life.  I do not mean to imply that this is a negative way to exist. The boy with the white hair recently pointed out that If I stopped touring, I would go stir-crazy after a couple of months.  He’s right.  I’m so fortunate to be doing what I do, but like everything in life, there are things that I love about it and things that really get to me, and sometimes, underneath the adventures and the stacked boxes of t-shirts in the trailer, this temporary life gets lonely.

 

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