Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I remember winning a little drag race....

It was summer down in Southern Alberta, and it was hot. HOT. HOT!!! Our family was driving to Lake Newell near Brooks to spend a day at the lake. My little sister and I were sitting in the back seat of Dad's 1974 Mercury Montcalm, legs sticking to the vinyl from the heat.

As we pulled up to a stop light in Brooks, a very shiny red fancy car pulled up beside us. I don't know what kind of car it was, I was only a kid. Dad, with a twinkle in his eye, looked through Mom's open window to the young driver and revved the engine. The guy looked back at Dad, saw the family sitting in the giant boat of a car, and laughed. Dad revved the engine again.

The light turned green. The young guy put the pedal to the floor and pulled away, but Dad only let him get up to the front bumper, and then Dad hit it. We soared past that sports car and left him in the dust!! My little sister and I were bouncing up and down in the back seat from excitement! Wahoo!! The family beat the young hot shot! We looked back at him through the rear windshield and laughed and hooted.

At the next red light, the sports car pulled up beside us. "What do you have under the hood of that thing?" he asked my Dad. Dad told him some big number, 235 or 438 or something (I was just a kid, I don't remember!). The young man looked very impressed. He learned not to judge a car by its cover that day.

Too bad they weren't racing for pink slips!

Friday, August 11, 2006

I remember getting my first tattoo...

I was dating young Adam. He had a home-made tattoo gun, real punk rock: the motor was taken from a ghetto blaster, the needles were enclosed in a Bic pen casing and duct tape, and when he needed ink, he just went down to Office Depot and bought some. He was doing tattoos on anyone who would let him, and it was only a matter of time before he asked me if I wanted one. I certainly did! It was time to do something permanent in my very unstable life; plus, I could picture me as a grandmother one day, calling over the grandkids and saying, "Looky here at Granny's tattoo!"

I thought about it, and decided I wanted a Chinese-type dragon. Adam said he could do that. I decided that if I was getting a tattoo, I wanted to be straight--nothing to numb the pain (no alcohol, no drugs), and nothing to blame my choices on. Adam said that was really cool, and suggested listening to loud punk rock music to distract me some.

A home-made tattoo gun works very slowly. Adam worked on my right shoulder blade for four long hours the first day. "That's all I can do, my hand is cramping. We'll have to finish the colour work tomorrow." I came back to his little apartment the next day and he worked for four more hours on the already red and raw dragon. That may have been the longest four hours of my life! I don't care how loud you turn up the Black Flag or Subhumans...a slow tattoo still hurts.

Yup, that's me in the photo, a few weeks after the job was done. About a year later, Adam added scales to the body, but he had a real gun by that time, and it only took about an hour. When I went for my most recent tat, I told the artist about Adam's home-made gun, and I could see his level of respect for me rise about 98%. He had never seen a tattoo made with a gun like that, though he had heard about such guns.

I still can't wait to show my tattoos to my grandkids one day, IF I ever have any. I doubt they'll be as impressed as that last tattoo artist, but it'll still make my day.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I remember the first time I tried acid...

I worked with a skinny little fellow, lets call him Simon. He managed a little downtown bar off of Denman Street in Vancouver, and I was bartending there part-time. Picture a shorter, skinnier version of Tiny Tim, and you are picturing Simon.

One day at work, he asked me if I'd ever done LSD. I hadn't. He asked me if I wanted to. I thought about it, and I did want to try it. He said we'd need a whole day and a safe place where we wouldn't be disturbed. I had no roommates, so my apartment was to be the place. It seemed to take a lot of planning; marijuana took no forethought at all, other than the need for a match. I wondered how hippies had managed to take LSD so successfully if it took so much organization.

Simon buzzed my apartment on the decided morning. I was quite excited. I had read about hallucinations, and I was hoping I wouldn't be disappointed. I wanted to see things that weren't there! Simon entered the apartment and handed me a little square of paper. "What's this?"

"That's the acid. You put it on your tongue."

"I'm supposed to eat paper?"

He popped his little square onto his tongue, showboating his experience compared to my naivete. "Just let it get soggy, then swallow it. Then we wait."

"We have to wait?" Again with the planning. With weed, you smoked it, you got high, just about that quickly. I was going to have to wait? "How long do we have to wait?"

"It takes awhile. Just relax. Remember, if you start freaking out, I'm here to guide you through your trip." Simon was being very superior, I thought, but I was glad there was someone there with experience.

We sat in my apartment talking for awhile. I looked at my hand and noticed that it seemed to be breathing on its own, which I thought was really cool. I asked Simon if perhaps the acid was starting to kick in. He said that it was, and not to be scared. I wasn't scared at all! I looked around the apartment, and I could see the walls breathing, too! It made me laugh out loud. I knew it was just induced by the drug, so I didn't see what there was to be afraid of. I began exploring my apartment, enjoying all the silly and bizarre things it seemed to be doing.

I have no idea how long I was distracted by the walls and the carpet fiber, but when I looked back at Simon, he was laying flat on the floor with his eyes closed and his body rigid. "Simon?" He didn't respond to me at all. He just kept moaning about horrible things, calling out to Satan to leave his mother alone, that sort of thing. Yecch. I didn't know what to do for him. If his eyes did open, he'd look at me and start talking to me as if I was his mommy. Blech!!! He didn't appear to be in any physical danger, so I decided the best thing to do would be to leave him to his private nightmares and go sit on the deck.

The sky was beautiful. The light rays bouncing from high-rise to high-rise were electric. If Simon the Experienced was having a bad trip, I was having a good one. I just sat on the deck for hours, watching the sun move across the sky, watching a spider build a web, watching feathers form on the back of my hand...that sort of thing.

When Simon finally regained lucidity, he joined me on the deck. I tried to tell him how he was all freaked out, but he seemed to think nothing had happened, no time had passed. I let it go. The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. We went for a walk when we started to come down. That was about it.

I wish my first trip had been a bad one, actually. The experience had been so magical for me, I made LSD my drug of choice for almost a year after that, dropping acid on average twice a week. I didn't have any bad trips until the last two. The second last one was scary, and I decided that if that ever happened again, I'd quit. The next time I took acid, the last time, I was so nearly permanently disturbed that I knew the ride was over. I wonder how many memories I traded for those little pieces of paper? The whole reason I started this blog are because of the giant holes in my mental history, and I am convinced that the huge amount of LSD I took are what put them there.

Break on through, indeed...

Friday, August 04, 2006

I remember getting bit by a dog...

It was the summer of 1985, somewhere in eastern Nebraska. I was selling books with the Southwestern Book Company, based in Nashville, Tennessee. I won't even get into the psychological brainwashing you have to allow in order to be successful at door-to-door sales. I just want to tell this one story.

It was my day to ride with our sales manager, to follow her around and see how it's done. She had a car, so she was selling out in the country, driving to farmhouses to show them books. Linda was so good at the job, she sold books at almost every house we stopped at. I was in awe. We pulled into another farm house, and as I got out of the car a big farm dog loped towards me. He looked friendly compared to some we'd seen, so I was able to push away my normal fear of strange dogs (I had been terrorized by a neighbor's dog when I was a child, and I had a healthy respect for dogs I'd never met). I reached out to pet him, and he bit my wrist, quite hard. I turned away from him slightly, and as he released his grip on my wrist, his teeth snagged my back pocket, ripping through my pants and cutting my skin a bit.

My reaction was swift and immediate. "BAD DOG!! Go lie down!!!" He hunkered down in shame and ran over to the corner of the house and curled up. I couldn't believe it. If I had tried to run, that dog would have been all over me, but somewhere in my bookseller-brainwashed-I-can-solve-every-problem brain, I found the right thing to do.

It turns out nobody was home at that farm, so we put a couple of band-aids on my wrist and headed to the next one. You don't stop selling books for a little thing like a dog bite.