Tuesday, August 12, 2003

I remember roller skating back at the roller rink...what was it called? The Stardust? Aren't they all?

The other day, the song "Cars" by Gary Numan played on the radio. My husband turned it up LOUD, and I found myself transported back to the roller rink, the Stardust, and I was, oh, 15, and I was skating around the rink to loud, loud music, and I was dancing on wheels even though "Dancing is Wrong! " and I felt so free, so alive...

I had forgotten the immense importance of the roller rink to my teen-age existance. I loved to rollerskate! I loved the speed-skate when I'd pump my legs, leaving my friends and my fear far behind--almost nobody could pass me!! I remember wishing I could speed-skate with the boys. The girls were too slow.

I hated the Couple Skate. Nobody ever asked me to skate, and they played slow, stupid music. I usually went to the bathroom during the couple-skate.

Abba, Gary Numan, the B-52's, old disco, new wave. I loved it!

Sunday, May 25, 2003

I remember watching my first music videos.

It was in the early '80's, when there was a show on Canadian television called "Friday Night Videos". Mom and Dad, my sister, everybody was asleep but me, and I was staying up to watch the late movie. The video show was on first, however, and I was captivated as I sat on our brown couch in our small living room with the green carpet over the old peach linoleum.

Only one video sticks in my mind from that night. There was a guy standing on a sort of pedestal, and he was dressed all in shiny black vinyl or leather, sort of a biker outfit but shiny, and he had a policeman's hat low on his head. He had big black sideburns and a pencil-thin moustache. There was a woman by his feet in a sleazy dress, sort of writhing and trying to climb up his leg through most of the song, and he was ignoring her. The guy was singing "Shoot it up, Smack Jack, shoot it up, Smack Jack, it's a drag with a monkey on your back, Smack Jack..." in a gravelly voice, and every time he would sing a word with a short "a" (smack, jack, drag, etc.) he would open his mouth and stick his tongue out almost to his chin.

I was entranced! I was confused! I had never seen anything like this in my whole life! It wasn't until the song was over and they showed who it was that I realized the singer was a woman, Nina Hagen. My mind was blown wide open. The thought running through my head was "There is a whole world out there that I know absolutely nothing about!". And then the video sort of faded from my memory as time passed. They certainly never played it on Friday Night Videos again!

Many years later, after I'd left home, I saw "NunSexMonkRock" for sale at a used record store. I bought it, ran home, put it on my record player, and there was Nina Hagen, singing "Smack Jack" for me again. I could see myself sitting on the couch watching it, remembering the feeling: revulsion and attraction swirling together, like a lava lamp. I had thought I had forgotten the video, but the world it had introduced to me had lain in my thoughts like an undercurrent, slowly pulling me towards experiences that reproduced the same feeling. I wanted purple hair (this was way before you could buy purple hair dye in any drug store!), I wanted to look shocking, I wanted to not understand everything that was put before me.

Maybe I can blame everything on Nina Hagen!! I'll bet she would't mind. Actually, I'd rather thank her. Wanting to not understand everything has been a great freedom for me.

Nov. 15, 2006--Note: Thanks to YouTube, I have been able to rewatch this video for the first time in over 20 years. I have put a link to it, but have not changed the memory as written here. I am amazed at how close my memory is to the actual video, and interested to see which parts chose to stick in my mind.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

I'm still stuck on the wart memory (see entry below this one).

Why is that such a strong memory for me? What was it about that episode that was so important to me? I wonder if it was the aspect of being told I was a big girl? I remember often feeling disdain for grown-ups that would baby me. They'd tell me what a big girl I was, and I'd be thinking to myself, "Well, tell me something I don't know." I considered myself to be a big girl. I thought of myself as an equal player.

Now that I'm in my late 30's, I don't feel so sure about that anymore. I don't always feel like a big girl. I feel like everybody learned something in some class I must have missed in school that teaches you how to cope with life.

Maybe I'm growing backwards, like Merlin in "The Sword in the Stone." If only I felt child-like, and not childish, I could deal with that thought better. If only I gained magical innocence the older I got. If only I could regain my confidence. I don't remember where I lost it. Maybe that's why I'm doing this whole blog exercise, to find my lost confidence.

Have you seen it anywhere?

Maybe the wart memory was so important because I felt myself so distinctly separate from my mother. She wanted to see that wart, and it bugged me that she wanted to see it. I felt it was none of her business. Maybe that was the first time I ever felt that...it certainly hasn't been the last! The wart, a symbol of my waking independance. Except not a very good symbol, because Mom won, and the wart was removed.

Geez, how depressing. How easily my strength is removed, how I'm praised for turning it over. How often do I do this? How often have I done this?
I think I've nailed down my earliest memory!

I have quite a vivid memory of having a wart removed from my foot. My mom was hassling me about it, and I kept telling her it was a lump of lipstick that I had stepped on...I didn't want her looking at it. She finally won, and I had to go the doctor. It was a huge plantar's wart.

I remember laying on the doctor's table. I remember the doctor, bald, glasses, with a kind face, telling me "This is going to burn a bit, but you're a brave girl, right?" I didn't say anything, but determined that I would not make a fuss. I WAS a brave girl, and I was going to show them. It did hurt, quite a bit, but all I did was clench my fist. When the procedure was over, my mom and the doctor praised me endlessly..."What a brave girl!!" I was so proud of myself!

I was talking with my mom about this just the other day. I asked her how old I was when this took place. She tells me I was two and a half years old! Wow!! The memory is so clear, with so much detail...I find it hard to believe that I was only two.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

I remember my first job.

The local Farmer's Market needed somebody to help set up the tables, sweep up messes, and clear up. The Market was held in the arena (and what else are you going to do with an arena in the summer?). I was very unclear on who my boss actually was, and usually spent most of the day running around doing whatever anybody asked me to. I became very good at looking busy so no one would bother me, a valuable work skill that has helped me greatly over the years! At the end of the day, I'd help fold up the tables and put them away, and then I'd get to sweep the cement arena floor. Ever watched a Zamboni clean the ice at a hockey game? It takes awhile, doesn't it? Well, it takes even longer when it's just you and a dust mop.

This memory resurfaced the other night as I was closing the coffee shop where I work. I had already swept, and was running the mop over the floor, and it hit me. At 36, I'm still cleaning floors. I find this kind of humiliating thought very comforting, actually. There is no danger of me thinking more highly of myself than I ought. If somebody needs my help, hopefully I'll be humble enough to just do whatever needs doing.

It's funny. When I started writing this post, I had every intention of mocking my first job, remembering it with disdain. But this very moment I begin to realize that maybe I did learn something valuable as I dry-mopped that huge arena--and here it is: I AM NOT WHAT I DO. There is freedom in that.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

I remember a moment of clarity, when I first realized that my life was empty and meaningless. I was at a gig, can't even remember what band, but I think it was at the Town Pump in Vancouver. The place was packed, and I knew over 50 per cent of the people there. This was my scene, and I felt like the queen. I didn't have to pay to get in, I could go back-stage if I wanted, I knew ALL the "cool people". But as I was looking around, it's like a light went on. The thought entered my head: "If I were to get sick and end up in the hospital, how many of these friends would come visit me?" I knew the answer. None of them. And I had no other friends. If I died, how many of these people would care? Actually cry about it? None of them. I was pouring all my energy into relationships that were not based on love and care, but on social standing and work opportunities. I was shallow! I was ugly inside!! The funny thing is that I was shocked by that.

I walked around the rest of the evening in a daze, trying to stare into everybody, realizing that I didn't really know any of them. I was overwhelmed with a deep and stabbing loneliness that lasted for over six months.

Friday, February 07, 2003

I remember performing at the Channel One Klub, in the band (I use the term loosely) "the Jezebel Spirit". My friend, Jezebel Black, had got the gig, drawn posters and put them up all over town before informing me that I was going to be part of her show. She wanted me to play guitar, even though I informed her repeatedly that I couldn't play guitar, didn't own one. It didn't matter. I had big hair and a bad attitude, and that did matter. She wrangled our friend, Chris, into playing keyboards, so we had at least one experienced musician on board. We recorded a percussion track by banging on metal pots and plastic tubs. I was worried that we were really going to suck!

The night of the show, the club was packed! The posters had done their work. I remember that when I expressed some nervousness, Jezebel just said, "You don't HAVE to play...just stand there, hit the strings once in awhile, and look bored." We played three songs. In the first song another friend, Jim, came out dressed like a priest and pretended to try to exorcise Jezebel, but she bit his neck and pretended to kill him, fake blood spilling from her mouth. I just looked as disinterested as I could. The other two songs were more of the same, Jezebel screaming and writhing around on the stage. It became easier and easier to look bored!

When we were done, nobody clapped. They all just quietly got up and walked out. Nobody asked for their money back, but nobody came up to us and said, "Wow, amazing show!" either. They just left. It was very strange. I felt somehow humiliated and exhilerated at the same time. Quite the confusion, ashamed to show my face and yet wanting to show it to everyone....

Thursday, February 06, 2003

I remember sitting at a table in the Arts Club, discovering that I was not as in control of my life as I thought I was. The Arts Club was the cool place to go see bands. I used to watch all the confident, crusty scenesters swaggering in the door, hanging around outside smoking....I wanted to go in, but I was too scared to go in by myself. It took months, but I finally wiggled my way into the "in" crowd, and the Arts Club became one of my favourite haunts. I saw some great bands there, The Gruesomes, The Enigmas, The Scramblers, Death Sentence, S.N.F.U.......punk rock at it's finest! I felt like I had arrived.

One evening in particular, I was sitting at a table with some new acquaintances. We were making our introductions, when the one girl looked at me..."Oh, I remember you. I've met you before!" I was sure I didn't remember her, and told her so. "Oh, yeah, I've met you...you were in the alley behind the Luv Affair, on your hands and knees, howling at the moon like a dog...it was so funny!!!" I didn't know what to say. I had absolutely no memory of that embarassing event. Not even a fuzzy one. I thought I had at least a fuzzy recollection of my worst moments. I was wrong. My mind started whirling...what else had I done in plain view of the Vancouver punk scene? Was everybody laughing at me behind my back? Was that why I was invited to the cool parties now? I slunk out of the bar and walked home, before I got too drunk to do anything like that again. At least for that night.

Part of me still wonders if she made up the story to one-up me. Maybe she was feeling insecure and had to make me look bad so she would feel good. But I doubt it.