Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Alex Chilton, the Letter

I am reading the new Alex Chilton bio, A Man Called Destruction, and I needed to tell this one…

When I was a kid we had this one babysitter called Barney. Her name was really Bonnie, but my parent’s heavy New York accent turned it into Barney, so I always felt bad for her for having a boy’s name. She was interesting looking. At the time I found her very unattractive, but thinking back she was kind of brilliant- long and thin and dressed in all black, straight leg trousers and a turtleneck, thick black framed eye glasses, and a red afro-ish head of hair. I thought of her as homely, but she might have been a stylin’ cool beatnik. There were no beatniks in my world at the time, so I had little to compare her to.

Anyway, I cannot remember but either we had a 45 of The Box Tops song The Letter or she would bring over 45s when she babysat. Alex Chilton was the singer of the Box Tops, and he was a mere16 years old when he cut the vocals and the song sky-rocketed to number 1. The deep soul vocals sounded like they came from someone more mature and, as it said in the book, people were often shocked to find out The Box Tops were a white band.

I was so young, 4 maybe 3, that I could not understand what the song was about. I felt the urgency, the sex, the soul, i knew it was about something dark and adult but could not comprehend the story. I recall not understanding how a “baby” could write a letter.  I remember later my cousin explaining to me dead pan that “the guy wanted to get back with his girl.”

Barney and her long slim black-clothed body would lock my sister and I out of our bedroom and play The Letter over and over on our stereo and dance back and forth in a trace while we peered through the key hole, curious, shocked.

The Chilton book is pretty amazing, I am loving the period I am reading about where Alex stopped doing drugs and alcohol and was humbly taking day jobs and playing shows and had a great attitude. It is rare in a riches to rags story that someone shows so much character and is so victorious inside, in the mind. I don't know how the story ends and I shouldn’t write this until I finish the last 40 pages, but I am. Human beings are amazing, no matter how the story ends. The journey is the same, fucking hard, and we do our best. (oh god, I hope he dies happy and doesn’t descend back into the messed up Alex before the end…)

What song to end with? The Letter, where they are lip syncing and goofing around? The Replacements song? Or The Way I Walk, by the Cramps which he produced…. maybe all three

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

True love

Thirteen years ago today (or tomorrow, I am bad with dates) I met my lovely husband. I bumped into him, unplanned, at the Gen Art after party for the Margarita Happy Hour screening.

A mere 12 hours prior, I was in Los Angeles about to go to the airport. I was there for the film screening in the Los Angeles Film Festival. At the screening I had met a guy who had gone to school with the film’s director and who hooked up with my girlfriend. He seemed like a really good guy. As I was walking out the door to catch a ride to the airport he said to me “you should meet my best friend, we’ve been friends since kindergarten.” I wanted to roll my eyes, but made a mental note of it, because I liked the idea of someone being a friend since kindergarten, it spoke of strong character.

So there I was 12 hours later at the after party and I overheard someone say that they went to school with the film’s director and I just knew that it was “the best friend”. At the time, I had no idea he would be my future husband. Still, I walked up and said his name.

My husband remembers it differently. He recalls coming up to me. Alas, memory is a funny thing and we will never know what really happened, but we met and the rest is history.

I had been walking the wrong path up till that point, dating really unavailable men. You can read all about it here: http://hollyramoswrites.blogspot.com/2013/03/heartbreak.html
Anyway, things changed because I worked really hard to change them. I have become available to the life I really wanted.

Then last week I had an incident happen that shook me to my core. It was a great disappointment around my core wounds. It was no one’s fault really, just a chemical reaction of personalities bumping into each other and churning up ancient cellular pain. The feelings that were brought up were colossal. I was so sad and I wanted to curl up and disappear. I felt so depressed and did not feel able to fight my way up for air, did not feel able to shake the heavy gluey hellish muggy cloud of despair that had engulfed me. Old poison can still be quite powerful. Urg.

I was reminded of something I had read during 9/11- that when a big crisis/emergency happens often people get lethargic. They mill around and do not fight or take initiative. I do not know if it is because they are in shock or in the freeze part of fight, flight or freeze, but it happens, it is a known phenomenon. The antidote for it is to think of your family. People who think of their families are the ones who rally, who fight, who escape, and who may even lead others to safety. Even Elie Wiesel talks about how thoughts of his wife were what helped him go on when he could no longer go on in the concentration camp.

I often use this tool, use thoughts of my husband and my kids, to get me through difficulties. It may not be a big emergency that I am confronting, but when you come from a traumatic upbringing, even a small incident can feel overwhelming. So instead of curling up and giving up, I think of my family and it works. I fight, I survive and I thrive. 

Fight for what you want and who you want to be. It is within your reach. If I can do it, you can do it too. I write this to remind myself.

And I am grateful.  I say this to my husband again and again,  and I will say it now: Thank you for making my life. 
what is a great love song to end with ? hard to pick. i think this one feels perfect...

Friday, May 2, 2014

ring of fire

The first six weeks of life with a newborn are called the “ring of fire” because you are going through the hardest part, the Mount Everest of parenting, as I like to say because I like to compare most big challenges to Everest.

So you have this brand new helpless creature in your home that you need to keep alive. My two babies have been of the variety who want to be held round the clock and cry when you put them down. I am not sure if there are babies that don’t mind being put down, but basically you have your hands full 24/7 and it hard to cook, much less eat or shower. Then the cherry on top is that you have to wake the baby every three to four hours to feed them in those crucial first 6 weeks, so you are super sleep deprived, catching a few winks here and there. The common suggestion is “sleep when they sleep”, but when they sleep is when you are trying to get a few things done, which is impossible, thus the ring of fire. Live through this, my friends. We did it.

Alas, we made it through our ring of fire this week, but things did not get particularly better because our son is an eating machine and wakes every 3-4 hours to be fed without our prompting. I am not complaining. I am thrilled to be doing it.

The more interesting part for me is how the whole universe gets involved, messing with my entire life, the way your life might flash before you at the time of death. Birth is no different. My mommy issues are up, my daddy issues, my birth story, my fears of intimacy and commitment, my maternal instincts, all of my core wounds have burst open, every cell is in a revolution to fix the past and improve the future, heal and reveal. Crazy how it works, how when you are in your greatest challenges, more challenges get heaped on you. And on top of that my hormones are insane just from being next to this little guy. Everything is upside down, wild, unpredictable, alive!!!!!!!!! Ring of fire indeed. I say bring it on. I dare you.

Having a newborn is brilliant: magical, hilarious, miraculous, exhausting, fascinating, boring, inspiring, challenging, fun, love-filled, almost undoable, fantastic really, just like a good life, but with higher stakes. Amp it up!

Much gratitude, y’all

love is a burning thing...