Learning To Love You More




Assignment #14
Write your life story in less than a day.

Jack Sly
Tallahassee, Florida USA



So I was born on March 9th 1983 in Tallahassee Florida, which used to be a very small town with two-laned canopy roads that would run forever with rolling hills. My parents met while they were both getting their masters in Physics at Florida State University. I don't know if they were ever in love. Maybe. I know that my father's mother really wanted them to get married, and gave my mom a couple hundred dollars for it. So she did. I know that she had an abortion with my father, a few months before they actually got married and that my mother regrets it to this day. I however, do not. My sister was born June 9th 1981, and I showed up a little under two years later to wreak a whole lot of havoc and turn my docile sweet older sister into the raving wild ass I have always been. At a young age I started to destroy things, there was nothing more gleeful than taking a magazine by its cover and spinning it until the insides swirled off at random.
I'm not sure when we moved into the house on Cercy Trace, maybe I was two and my sister 4. But my mother always tells this story about when we were looking at the house and my sister turned to my mother and says "Why did that person just walk through the window and out the back door without opening them?" The previous tenants in the house I grew up in had been a man, his wife and two children, just like us. But the father had gone crazy over some job or money deal and had killed his children and wife and then himself with a gun in the living room. I grew up with ghosts. I don't remember these years. Anyway, my parent's marriage was over by the time I was three. My mother, sister and I lived in shitty apartment after shitty apartment around Tallahassee, until one day we moved to Tampa, Florida.
My earliest memories are from when I am five. I am running around Jenny drive, jumping on mattresses that got thrown out into the dumpster at the end of the street. We lived in a duplex and there were crazy packs of wild dogs that my mom would have to beat off with a 2by4 with a nail in the end of it, because they'd already attacked me. This instilled an insane fear in me that was so incredible; I hated dogs for so long. Me and my sister would build forts in the hall with the couch cushions and I remember the house being usually clean because we rented out a room to a college girl who looked after us also. My mother was a radiation safety officer or something like that. But it usually just meant, she was really smart but sold herself to a lot of low bidders because she was not so focused. My father had managed to weasel out of paying a decent child support and my mom couldn't hire a better a lawyer to show that "maybe yeah he didn't make that much salary, but his Christmas bonus was $100,000." More than my mother would ever see in a year in her lifetime. I don't think he ever paid my mother anyway, he was usually spending his money on some schemes that never worked out or went totally wrong. Like when he gave me and my sister's college fund to Dan Ouillet (his buddy from FAU) to invest in the now non-communist Russia, but he actually just got dicked over by the Russian mob.
I would walk to my kindergarten through the hole in the fence in the backyard, following a path through the woods that crumbums obviously camped out in. There were trash pits and fire pits, foams and mattresses. It rather fun to explore as a tom boy and I had a rock collection which was just random rocks I picked up mostly made of concrete. I would sit on the carpet at home and make shapes with them. Natalie Lombardo was my best friend then and boy was she fucking rich. Her parents didn't like me and only invited me over once. She had an electric toy car, like a Barbie car and a huge house and her own bedroom. We used to get Ms. Blanco to put our hair in ponytails on the top of our heads and run around. My mother says that the teachers always used me for keeping the kids in line but I don't remember that. I do remember wishing that a horse would jump over that fence and take me away from it. I hated being fenced in, always. That was also I think when we became evangelicals and my mom tells me that I gave my heart to Jesus and whatever, but all I remember is that my mother's name used to be Roberta and she jumped in a pool one day with a bunch of other people who clapped when she came out, and she said her name was Gabrielle now. I liked Berty better, it actually fits her. She is no angel but a flighty bird the means well.
During the summers I would go stay with my father in what felt like a mansion. We had a swimming pool and a living room and a dining room and porches and a whole lot of land, although there was not much to explore because the street was a dead end. The Tatums lived across the street and they were an incredibly Christian family. Rebecca Tatum was my best friend and we remained that way for many years. She always had such nice things, and she was such a girl. It was weird being in Tallahassee, because usually I roved around in packs with boys but her brothers were just too young for me and all the boys I met from Foxcroft (the subdivision behind our street) were total jackasses and proved themselves that way in middle school, but that's for later. Rebecca would not let me make a copy of her Beach Boys tape. I also couldn't say the word "butt" when referring to someones "behind" around the Tatums. They would take me and my sister to church and Sunday school, probably because my mother insisted, but my father was an atheist. I liked the Tatums a lot because their doors were always open. I felt like I was a part of their family and it was nice. I felt always always like that was what a real family felt like and mine was just wrong.
Summers at my father's were always awesome because we got to eat as much as we wanted, swam in the pool all day. There was a maid to clean up and we were babysat by really awesome people, except for when we went to La petit Academy. Which my only memories of include Mario Bros. and riding shitty little red bikes around and sitting under this wood thing singing that song from pretty woman. "do do doodad-do do dumdad dum..." And one day, it must have been one of the women who works there's boyfriend who came in to play guitar and he played "Bad to the bone" and I remember all the girls shrieking over him, is it my memory making him look like James dean? Maybe he did, I don't know, but I thought those girls were dumb and I wanted to play the guitar.
I do not remember much about first grade or second except that we continued to live in Tampa, but we moved into different apartments and we changed churches and I started taking gymnastics with a couple of contortionists that owned a pen ball machine. I thought this was the coolest thing ever and I wanted one when I got older and also a spiral staircase. I think my gay uncle had one. My mother also went through a series of boyfriends that were somewhat cool and also horrible. One of them owned a boat and we went out on it one day. That day we were in the middle of the lake and my mom kept prodding me and my sister to jump in. We were very hesitant. Then my mom just pushed me in and then the wind picked up and the boat sailed right over me and was all of the sudden very far away and I realized I was very near some swamp and probably gators and then I started to freak out. I've always been a good swimmer ever since my mother just threw me into a 90ft deep sinkhole at 3 months, but when you're really scared, swimming gets a little different. Fortunately her boyfriend at the time, JJ? Swam over and rescued me. I think my mother has always felt a little bad about this.
My mom startied to see Jeff Hansel. I hated him. He had a pool and a house and two very shitty fucked up children. Heather and Jeff junior. One day when I was sitting on the toilet at their house, I was just humming to myself and slapping my legs and I looked over to find Jeff Jr. staring at me through the hole in the door where there should have been a doorknob. I was so fucking upset and hurt but didn't know what to do, I felt violated but how does a 7 year old say that? Heather was very dumb and I would help her with her math homework even though was 2 years older than me. She would steal her dad's credit card and buy things with it. She had everything New Kids on the Block and I hated them. I remember there was some sort of scandal with them and I convinced her to rip up all of her stuff, posters and pictures and it was so much fun.
My mom was very forgetful and often if we did something fun, it was very much the only time we would ever do it. My mother had a lot of hopes and would buy year memberships places but we never made it worth it. My mother also never cooked and by the age of five I knew how to make macaroni in cheese from the box on the stove top. I made it really good too. I remember once, she made porkchops and it was amazing. Once she had invited a friend over and was making lasagna but when she pulled the tin foil back to check on it she burned her hand. She had to go to the hospital and do physical therapy so her skin would grow back right. Once I was trying to get something off the top of the piano and the piano bench fell on my foot and made my whole big toenail pop off and squirt blood everywhere and some kid at church stepped on it to make it bleed on purpose. After church on Sundays were always some of my favorite times because we would always do gymnastics or play soccer while the parents talked. Once I fractured my elbow during one of these soccer games. I was always so reckless in sports, would hurt myself and others so easily. My mother once said to me "Sarah, you must handle things like they are delicate flowers." I just never could. I know that now and am very used to losing or destroying delicate things.
The year or two my mother dated Jeff was one of the worst for me. We would stay at his house days and days in a row and I would always forget to bring changed of clothes. So I would wear the same thing over and over again. Not too many people were my friend, but that was no matter really, it would only be a short time until we moved again.
We moved to Jacksonville by the time I was in the third grade and I made friends with this kid named maxi, which I swear he must have been gay. He would just love to brush my hair because it was so straight and so long and I would let him do it during breaks and we would eat my raw ramen together. My teacher was horrible and I started realizing what all the girls had in my class that I didn't. Things like those braided belts, and lunches. My mother always forgot to pack a lunch or give me lunch money and I usually ate one of those horrible only peanut butter sandwiches they would make from the huge jar of peter pan peanut butter and white bread. Once a week I would walk to my piano lesson after school with this psycho Asian woman who I never really understood. I had to play like holding an egg and for a whole year I think I only played "twinkle twinkle little star" in about 18 million variations. She would slap my hands if I didn't hold them perfectly. After wards I would hang out and watch the batman cartoon with her son and play with the batman action figures, but it was pretty boring to me.
By Fourth I got my first F in science no less, which has always been a strong subject just because my folder was unorganized. My teacher was Ms. Harding and she was a fucking harpy. This was at the height of my space obsession but I also hated my teacher, so when we had to pick someone famous that had dies and write a speech about them and recite it at this weird fair type thing, I chose Christa McAuliffe. If you don't remember she was a teacher that was chosen to go up into space on one of the Challenger space ships for publicity, but it exploded while taking off. See, Ms. Harding always bragged that she was related to Neal Armstrong through marriage or something, and I always thought, what a ridiculous waste on this old make up caked woman.
My favorite things during this time was our ferret cocanut and when we went to Winn Dixie because there was a leather shop right next to it where this woman had the biggest snake I had ever seen. She had made the counter top in her store a giant glass aquarium for this snake and I would just go in there with the ferret on my shoulder and talk to that woman about her snake. Sometimes after school my mother would take me to her work and I would just lay around listening to my Amy Grant tape on my head phones and draw while she calculated the dosages that cancer patients would be receiving for chemo therapy. She showed the huge doors that blocked the radiation from leaking out and she had to wear a ring that measures how much she was exposed to. Once for a present she brought me back a piece of metal with my name carved into it by the lasers. This was when my sister was the happiest, because while I was ok with moving around every couple of years, she never was. In Jacksonville they have really great magnet programs, and my sister was going to the art middle school and succeeding at it. It wasn't long though until we moved to Dothan Alabama.
My best friends in Dothan Alabama were April Kimble and Amy King. I actually kept in touch with April a little but after I left, but not too much. I never went to a more Christian public school ever, where the Ten Commandments were written in the lunchroom. I remember winning second place at the science fair because I made a telegraph that ran on electromagnets and swinging on the swings singing that "Once there was a girl who..." song by the Crash Test Dummies. In Dothan I was the happiest because I finally had my own room and I could keep it clean while the rest of the house was not as horribly dirty and cramped as all our old apartments because there was actually space to put things. My dad came for my birthday that year and brought me a karaoke machine, which made me so happy. I would lay in my bed and listen to the radio on my record player from the 80s and feel like I was growing up. We made a "window seat" out of all the boxes my mother would not unpack and put a sheet and pillows over it to hide it. I remember my mother crying a lot, and one night I came in to her room with a cookie trying to cheer her up. I know that my mother had and has a lot of mental health problems and I know that around this time she was very depressed and I didn't finish my fifth grade year there, but instead was sent to live with my father and finish out the year in Tallahassee.
I decided when I moved to Tallahassee I would be really cool and make sure I looked cool and do my hair and everything. So I convinced my dad to buy me converse black high tops and a denim jacket. Everyday I would gel back my hair into a half pony tail and it worked. I was popular even though I was arriving at school 3/4th through the year. Mackey Ball even asked me to be his girlfriend, I discussed this with my father and he didn't understand why fifth graders would be copying the paradigm set out for us by society as a whole. As if being young would make us immune from the idea that validation comes from the opposite sex, but I couldn't discuss these issues at the time and instead just felt belittled. I decided to just say no to Mackey and leave it be. I remember reading so much at this time, anything and everything I could get my hands on and became obsessed with Douglas Adams. By the end of the year all of my friends were going to the Richer Middle school and I was going to be going to Raa Middle School which devastated me but I got over it because soon enough, I was moving to Orlando to live with my mother.
My mother was living in the spare bedroom at my nana's house. The spare bedroom was really just packed with junk and wasn't spare at all. I slept in the same bed with my mother and I remember lying awake in the morning and not getting out of bed until I heard the train whistle that told me I should start my day. My mother was down there because my nana had suffered a stroke and needed someone to live with her and help take care of her. None of my mother's eight other siblings wanted to do it, and instead just wanted her in a nursing home. But my mom couldn't stand to see that. I remember meeting a boy in my neighborhood who taught me how to ride a bike through Orlando traffic and we would ride to school sometimes together. Often I would just ride around in circles in my neighborhood pretending that I was on a horse. I even tied a piece of rope on the handlebars to act as reins. One day on my way to school I found a dead squirrel in the road and was incredibly awed by it, I just stared at it for a long long time. I remember coming home in the afternoons when it was really hot and just blasting the ac unit and sitting in front of it while my nana watched wheel of fortune and my mother tried desperately to cook. One day we had a tea party with cucumber sandwiches and that was one of my favorite moments.
By summer I was back in Tallahassee, this time for good. My mother tried to find a place near where she was living that would let kids live there, but down in south Florida, they don't like children. I went to Raa middle school and in 6th grade was a horse obsessed girl with incredibly long hair. All it took was a year of alienation and loneliness coupled with a father who was totally controlling and abusive. I had been taking piano lessons for years now and I wanted to continue and my father said to me "try taking lessons from Uncle Paul and if you don't want to continue you won't have to." Well after one lesson I knew my uncle Paul was an incredibly shitty fucking teacher. People who play music don't necessarily know how to teach it. So my father did not stay true to his word and then began the war of wills. It couldn't have lasted for too long because by seventh grade I had talked my father into letting me quit piano so I could take Band at school instead. Paul would grade me on my lessons and we only did the dumbest shit, nothing that kept my interest. He followed books not pupil's interests which is what I think is wrong with the school system anyway. But it's not really there to teach us, is it? Just to train us for a life of 40 hours a week. My father would beat me if I made a bad grade at piano, even though I did practice. Once I made an F and my father grounded me until I had made 4 straight A's in a row. I was grounded for 4 months. That meant no internet, no phone, only tv when he was watching and no going out with friends. I started sneaking out at night, walking around all the neighborhoods. I would walk over to friend's houses when I knew he was asleep or at work. He worked a lot and kept a very rigid schedule. Up at 8am at work by 9, home by 6 to cook dinner, watch start trek at 7 and then he would leave again at 9 to go back to work where he stayed until 3 am and then would come home to sleep. This gave me plenty of time to never be home but home when he was.
I got the biggest crush on a girl who rode my bus named Tara who had a subhumans patch on her backpack. I remember one day riding home, there was a girl I didn't know sitting with Tara and Sarah (who I would later become friends with in highschool) who put her pointer finger in front of my face and moved it up and down like a puppet saying "smile little girl." I was mortally embarrassed, but damn did Tara have style. She wore soccer cleats just so she could kick boys and she had a big old plastic multi colored chain for her wallet. By seventh grade I had shaved my head and was sneaking out most nights, because my father would never let me go out otherwise. Not that I did much, but I started becoming best friends with Delaina and hanging out with her crew of friends, which were pretty much total social rejects. It was ok though, we had fun. Sometimes after school I would walk home with Delaina and we would spend the afternoon skating or listening to really bad radio. I really loved her and she was definitely a strong point in my life. Her mother was a lesbian who helped organize benefits for the Aids foundation and was a social worker.
That summer Delaina's mom convinced my dad that I should go on a camping trip with the Junior museum up to the North Carolina mountains. It was fucking amazing, and on that trip I met two friends that I still know and love today. Lilly Stinson and Durward Ratcliffe, but at that time his name was Charles and he had green hair and Lilly was from Quincy, totally awesome and we became fast friends. Also on that trip was Elissa, who would later become an enemy, but fuckit just the same.
I started running in eighth grade to escape my father in the hours that he was home. He would get back at 6 and I would throw my jogging shoes on and run around for an hour until dinner and then I would do the dishes and go upstairs. Nothing was good enough for him, and he would continually yell and beat me for the dumbest shit. My mother gave me a tv, so I put it in my room and that was reason for a beating. One day he caught me still up at 2 in the morning talking online to someone and beat me for that. I don't know what else he got upset about, but really he was so upset all the time. I remember hiding in the attic just hoping he wouldn't find me, trying to bar my door with my book case. Seriously opening my closet door and putting my dresser in front if it while I pushed against it with all my might, while I felt my father throwing his weight against my door. I was really strong, but also would provoke him sometimes, just to get it over with. I remember sometimes I would be screaming my sister's name but she would never come down to help me. This is around the time my mother moved back to town and was paying my father $500 month to sleep on his couch to make sure that he didn't beat us too hard. One day he slammed my sister's face into the counter because she didn't clean it well enough and then attacked my mom with the silver ware holder from the dishwasher and we called the cops and they said "a man has a right to discipline his children and wife anyway he sees fit." My mother, wasn't even his wife, wasn't even his girlfriend.
This was all happening at home while I was trying to do the International Baccalaureate program. I was taking two years of French in one year, both geometry and trigonometry/ pre calc along with really hard classes in every subject. They had put the IB program at Rickards Highschool. I don't know if you've ever listened to Dead Prez but they have a song about that Highscool called these schools. The lyrics go something like "I went to a school name Rickards, I went to school with a bunch of niggers and redneck crackers... all those teachers can suck my dick." And it was really bad, people I had never fucking met would rip my hat off in the hallway, if I had to ride the bus I was the only white person and they would pick on me unmercifully. I just gritted my teeth and wished I was at SAIL where Delaina went. During lunch I would ride around with Andrea Nash and Amber Starbuck listening to Parliament and we would have water gun fights in the hallways. When it came time to sign the sheet to go back into the IB program for 10th grade, I just threw it away. When my dad realized that I had gone behind his back with my mother to sign up for school at SAIL and had also missed the deadline to be reenrolled with IB, he seriously fucked me up. Punched holes in the wall above my head and told me how worthless I was as a human being. That was the last time.
Me, my sister and my mother all moved out into a house in Indian Head and I started going to highschool at the School for Applied Individualized Learning. We were definitely really poor, my sister was starting college at FSU and my mom was starting on her PHD and I was happy I wasn't getting beat. But the shit my mother would do wasn't much better. She was really depressed and just slept on the couch and sometimes she would threaten to run the car off the road while driving and just kill us all. She would yell a lot and I was at my wits end. One day when I got home after not being there for a long time she started yelling at me about how I needed to clean and I just flipped, started beating her with the broom and knocking everything over. Pushing all the dishes off the counter, flipping the computer desk, the book shelfs over. My rage could not be contained and then the police were there putting in the back of a cop car and I went to CCYS. For some reason my mother got the bright idea that she would go down there to talk to me and bring along my fucking abusive deadbeat dad, I took one look at them and went back to my room. Fuck that, I couldn't believe I was in there and I vowed never to be anywhere I didn't want to be again. That no one could chain me down and lock me away, and that I would never speak to my father again. I have managed to hold one of them, and have not spoken to my father in 8 years.
After that my mother moved away to Valdosta, and I took turns staying on friend's couches. Sometimes when I was sick of being in people's spaces I would just sleep in my car behind my high school. It was actually really amazing to me to be able to be somewhere and not be afraid of being beat or yelled at. It was impossible for me to feel ok about things, because it had been so long that I had waged that war. I remember one day before all of this happened I was in the car with my mother and I was hitting myself because I was so fucking angry and I didn't want to hit anyone but I had to hit something so I was beating myself. I took up skateboarding so that I could just fall and fuck myself up and hurt and then be ok. If I was upset and I wasn't beat, it was wrong. Like I couldn't feel without that intensity. At this time I was going to high school and taking college classes afterwards at FSU and then babysitting about 32 hours a week, while steadily couch hopping and staying my car. That was until Lilly Stinson's mom invited me to live with her and Lilly out in Wetumpka.
I remember when I first started staying there, how I was afraid to sleep under the covers. I was afraid to make any mistakes or mess anything up. It was an incredibly peaceful house full of love. I'm serious, it was amazing. I miss it a lot, and when I think of home I often times think of that house and how I felt there. One time Lilly was working at the Quincy play house and we were going to see a play there and I had nothing nice to wear. I looked in Lilly's closet, but nothing would fit me and I just started crying. For Christmas Mama DJ made me some really nice skirts and gave me a nice sweater. It was the first really thoughtful gift I think I had ever received. I was 17 years old.
It was during this time that I started getting involved in a lot of activist causes and I met this kid Aaron Suko while at a protest and we just walked around downtown talking and telling each other our stories and I just kinda got obsessed. He had really amazing blue eyes and he lived in Gainesville and once he rode his bike 17 hours straight from Gainesville to Tallahassee just to see me. One day he was just like, do you want to go to Tucson, so we did. We got cheap tickets to Pheonix and then we hitched down to Tucson and it was this really great adventure. We slept behind some convenience store and I was just really amazed at everything. We made it to Tuscon with the help of a trucker who taught me how to change gears on that thing and we stayed with Megan and Dimitri. I fell in love with their house, they had dried flowers they dumpstered hanging from the rafters and this guy Jeff lived in a tent in the yard. And everyone I met was so sweet to me, nothing but compliments. This girl even asked if I wanted to get a house with her. I was totally baffled and amazed and there was an awesome community garden and a guy who lived off the grid in the middle of town. We had gone there to see BICAS and that place inspired me for years to come. I met an older herbalist guy who reminded me of Mike Taylor. A bunch of really nice folks were making this place where you could do any number of things for free, like pottery and photography and book binding and the herbalist was there to help you heal. It was mind blowing, when I got back to Tallahassee I was pretty ready to not be there anymore.
That summer I stayed over at Joel's house a lot because Arun was living there. We dumpstered a lot of potato chips and I would go down to the night truck at New Leaf and hope someone would give me some food. One day when I was there alone a truck full of rednecks pulled up into the drive way and I yelled out the window "who are you?" They all just yelled about getting some pussy tonight and were like "I wonder if the door is unlocked." They came inside the living room and I jumped up to lock the door and call the police. I made a really loud noise and they all left. It was wretched and fucked up. After that I didn't want to watch movies with violence towards women in them and Arun made me watch happiness (which is about child molestation) and Othello which has that woman who's hands, and tongue get cut out after she is raped. This is when I didn't want sex in any way and felt very vulnerable and Arun forced me anyway. I broke up with him and started sleeping at my mom's boyfriend's house, up until I left for New College.
New college was alienating as fuck. Nobody was that nice, everyone was intimidating and my roommate started hanging out with the Goth kids doing sˇances in our room. That's not as bad as what Kim's room mate would do, but really! I started dating this guy Danny who was a total manarchist and then by the near end of my first semester I started losing my mind. I couldn't concentrate and I ended up taking a medical withdrawal and moved back in with mama DJ for that month up in Tallahassee. Turns out I was pregnant, scheduled an abortion and was done with that the night of the festival of lights. When I returned to New College I was looking around for an open room when my life changed forever. Me, Danny, and Ben Wright were all going to the organic farm to buy food and an old woman with a head concussion did not stop at a stop sign and rammed right into us full force. I was not wearing a seatbelt. I was halfway thrown out of the car, lost all the skin on my legs and couldn't feel them. I had displaced my left leg and then after what seemed like an eternity, the feeling came back and it was the worst pain I have ever felt.
Danny forced Noam Chomsky's "Propaganda and the Public Mind" into my hands and told me to focus on it. I read and re-read the first line of that book trying to understand what the hell it was saying and then the ambulance was there. They put me on a shit ton of morphine, took me to the hospital and let me stay the night. After I got out, I was pretty useless. I couldn't really walk for a month except with crutches and the school let me use the go cart to get around. I still have the key. I remember one wild night on pain killers, me on the golf cart convincing whoever wanted to, to "Come on! I'm driving down to the lake." And a whole bunch of really amazing ladies climbed on in and we were driving over the overpass with Danny chasing after us yelling "No! Stop!" Mostly because he has always been a boring spoilsport. He did help me through a lot and I ended up moving into his tiny little room in the dorm. It was pretty crazy and cramped, but I finished the semester and things were ok.
That March I met Cristy Road and whole cast of characters I would continue to run into, at a youth liberation conference down in St. Petersburg. Cristy and I became fast friends, especially because she wouldn't leave me alone until she came and made me Cuban style black beans, which are by far some of the best black beans I have ever eaten in my life.
That summer I spent some time staying in the warehouse where Danny was staying and then taking off with Cristy to Louisville KY with Jordan and Nicole. It was my first adventure really, and I had to get to Pensacola to meet them first and then I could get a ride with them up to Kentucky. I ended up getting a ride from Kim who was going on a road trip around the country with a trunk full of books that she was selling for gas money. It was pretty ingenious, see the countryside and visit bookstores. I spent a couple of days Pensacola and wrote the zine "cry baby bridge" with a couple of crazy punks. It was so clichˇ and amazing, staying up all night at the kinkos with brand new friends that I was really excited about. Then we drove through the night to end up at the Brycc house in Louisville. It was there that I met Cheyenne, who has become a steady friend since the beginning. See, that weekend was really fun. I made a lot of friends and contacts there that I have continued relationships with over the years, and I really owe it all to the marvelous, the wonderful Cristy Road.
At the end of the weekend about 30 kids all decided to go swimming at the rock quarries. The water was beautiful and me and Cheyenne were swimming naked. Kids were jumping off rocks and playing games and just enjoying how picture perfect everything was. That was until kids started screaming and at first me and Cheyenne thought it was a joke, but the screaming continued. It turned out that a kid had gone under water and not resurfaced and then we and Cheyenne were swimming as fast as we could. Diving as deep as out bloody noses would allow. Someone eventually found him after he was underwater for so long. Too long. But me Cheyenne and a couple of other kids pulled him to shore and tried to do CPR but all that came out was spaghetti noodles. All down his throat. Someone had called the ambulance and I ran to throw on clothes and show the ambulance where his body was. The cops all sat around questioning us, making us make statements and everyone was just so fucking sad, crying. I stole one of the cop's pen, which I still have. I held onto the kid that found him at the bottom of that quarry in the picture they took of all of us. I wonder where that picture is now.
Sarah Monster was driving to the west coast and Cristy and Damon were going and there was room if I wanted to go to. But I was easily defeated by Tom's death. I got on a greyhound and went back to my mother's and wrote a zine for the rest of the summer and hung out with Kate and Sasha when they were in town. It wasn't that bad.
That summer was the end of me and Danny's relationship and he wanted to work it out, giving me things I needed to work on. But really I was just sick of him, didn't want him around. Was sick of him never saying thankyou and using me to drive him around, letting him borrow money. He made me a mix tape, the first one of our relationship and all I could say to it was, "there are no woman vocalists on this except for two. This is 90 minutes, where are the women?"
I moved into the Alameda house on a bayou with Kit and Adam and Rhea and it was awesome!! We had sailboats in the back yard and we would go sailing in the evenings to watch the sunset. Kit taught me how to fix bikes and would make me tea when I was sick and me and rhea girled it out, and Cristy was only 2 blocks away. We would write each other on IMs and then just decide to go over to each other's houses to make cookies with ice cream and amazing food. The scum house was awesome too, and Kate and Sasha, Margie and Abbie and Rebecca all lived together. It was fucking amazing. What a great time, that fall we would run around and pick fruit off the trees and make stencils and ride bikes and do radical cheerleading. That Christmas break me and Cristy made plans to go to Little Rock, but it really just fell together at the last moment. I had gone back to Tallahassee for a little bit and then one night I was talking to my friend Jenn and she said a friend of hers was moving to LA and was driving across the country and had room in his truck if I wanted a ride to Memphis. So I took it and stayed with my friend Sarah Kemme until Cristy arrived and then we all went to Little Rock for New years. It was awesome, This Bike is a Pipe Bomb and One reason and Soophie Nun Squad played in a tiny garage and met this kid Jaimie that I totally fell for immediately. Cristy convinced me to go to Cleveland Mississippi that night with One Reason and I convinced Jaimie and his crew to go too. We walked around in the rice fields together and took pictures and drew pictures. I think the octopus I drew is still on the fridge there, last I checked. But the Farmhouse is about to be no more, which is sad. Everyone was going to then go down to Pensacola to hang on the beach and I ended up in Jaimie's car. We talked feminist theory and philosophy and the importance of critique and difference and I knew I found a keeper. Cristy had to go back to Sarasota but my school didn't start for another month although I was getting incredibly sick. Jaimie and Damon and Misty all came to Tallahassee and I stayed. They went on to Gainesville, but I bucked up drank a ton of cough syrup and asked them to come back and get me, which they did. After that I took off up the coast with these kids I had just met, except for Damon who had been along on the summer before. Those nights were beautiful, the road stretching on out before us and I was sitting in the seat right next to Jaimie. We let the lucero cd just repeat and repeat because everyone else was asleep. I was going to go up to Washington DC to hang out with Abbie and Rebecca and do Code Pink stuff because everyone knew the war was coming and at that point, you felt like maybe there was something you could do to stop it. But Jaimie promised to take me back, if I would just spend a couple more days and go hang out with them in Allentown PA. The pirate's cove already felt like home the second I stepped in because of all the artwork and the fact that it was Jordan's house who had gone on the adventure the previous summer.
There were fun shows in the basement and me and Jaimie fell in love and then he took me back to DC. I promptly slept for three days in Rebecca's parent's house. The rest of that month was filled with protests and protests and more protests and the whole time I was fighting a chest infection and wearing sneakers with holes in the toes. I cant believe that I didn't get better shoes, but really I didn't know how important it was to take care of yourself, especially in the snow. I stayed there until the NCOR conference and it was so much fun! Staying at the chronic and meeting Dan and Jerry and Junkpony (walt) and Swamprat, who are all, except for Dan, still my good friends, whom I just haven't run into.
I got a ride back to Florida with Adee and Sean Good clean fun and Ichabod in the van, all Pensacola kids. And instead of getting off in Tallahasee I asked them if it was okay if I just came and hung out in Pensacola for a bit. Boat Evan was there and I met a whole bunch of awesome kids, drank a lot of whine on the peer with Adee and had a great time. For the first time I was getting to be around a lot of friendly radicals, kids who were really just getting along in life. Sure, they were working shit jobs, but if they wanted to paint something gold at 3am they fucking could. They could be wild ass wingnuts and nobody cared, it was pretty inspirational to me. Just because a lot of the time in Sarasota I felt so encumbered and unlikable, as if my little niche didn't exist there except for my time with Cristy. Going back to New College, school of 400 people all very much involved in their own projects and small dramas and whatever else, was the last thing I wanted to do. I remember talking to Kit about how I was going to freak out if I didn't leave. How I just couldn't stay there anymore! He was so encouraging, telling me that I could do it and I was encouraging him to apply at different observatories around the world. I ended up leaving for Spring Break and not coming back. I flew up to Boston and just stayed. Hindsight is 20/20. I wish I had stayed just to spend more time with Kit, who had only a little more time on this earth, but I didn't know that.
I went up to Boston in March which is Sarasota's spring, but still the end of winter up there. I would sleep late in Jaimie's bed and then when I wanted to would get up and take the train into Boston to hang out with his friends, who happened to be some of the most bad ass women I had ever met. Marianne was living up there at the time, and I had known her from Pensacola so I could easily find plenty to do and move between three different houses without seeming like a burden on anyone. That spring was the Beantown Zinetown event in which Rich Mackin was called out for being a serial assaulter and I had been hanging out with eric who was someone I knew from new college who lived with homefries who introduced me to Jed and Timofer at the time and then through them I met Tali and Laura Carrig who had written the zine, "Baby, I'm a manarchist." I had been working with Marrianne on a workshop about the history of rape and rape culture to present as part of the stuff going on at The infoshop in Boston instead of Rich Mackin reading, which had been previously scheduled. It was really empowering to me and I felt like we were all making steps to change things at least within out small seemingly inbred "radical community." We drafted a letter at that meeting that asked that Rich not be allowed to read at his previously booked engagements, but that there be discussions on what we could do to stop sexual violence within out communities. I felt like we could change the world. After that, I went back to Sarasota. Bought a plane ticket and withdrew from New College. I had a mission, that didn't involve a degree that centered around education and community accountability for sexual assaulters.
I hung out for the end of the semester and then took off with Stephanie Estes, Cristy and Mary Baca who was this 15 year old girl from Orlando who could do anything. I left Flroida with practically no money and by helping this girl pull scams up the east coast I had about 400 dollars in a week and I was in Baltimore doing a drug study. We caught a china town bus from there to New York and wondered around there just chilling, staying at a friend of hers, and then we went to Allentown Pa. This time around there were so many people in Allentown and I met Lacy Davis. Everyone was vegan and strait edge and totally excited about life but I don't know, I just couldn't handle how posi everyone was. I should have been able to look at it and realize how different it was, but I wanted something more real. Something with a darker edge to it than what everyone seemed to be singing. Then Carrie Nations came to play at the Pirate's Cove, I remember them walking in and making coffee and I just thought, "Score!" Afterwards they were going to find cheese fries, so I jumped in the van too. I ended up going with them all around the northeast part of their tour. I remember choice moments like us all taking a foot bath on Long Island and passing out next to all those lovely kids. It was during this time that the infamous "23 to life" photograph was taken. Up the punks.
I wanted to be in Boston to see Jaimie again and go to punk rock summer camp in the middle of nowhere Maine, which was just about one of the funniest and fun experiences ever. By the third day of about 12 punks sleeping wherever in this tiny cabin on a lake in the middle of nowhere, we had managed to clog the septic tank and the flushing was just not flushing. The mantra "poop on a poop" arose out of this adversity and at night I would walk out to the rocks around the lake and look up and get dizzy because of all the stars you could see. One night when we were all out canoeing and shooting off fireworks I heard someone yelling my name from the shore saying I had a phone call. I remember with each stroke saying "someone's dead, someone's dead" and just hoping it wasn't true. My mom was crying on the phone and told me that Kit had drowned in Peurto Rico while hiking through a river. He had accepted the observation post at the Arecibo Observatory there. One more thing, you know? I remember walking along the dirt road to the cabin with Jaimie and just not understanding things. That night I slept alone and read the wind and the willows for the first time in a long time. I had picked it up somewhere in my travels, maybe the free pile at new college at the end of the year. But I was really eye opening about friendship and home and it started a trend that I continue. Every summer I reread the wind in the willows.
After that I took a bus back to New York, but ended up getting there minutes after the last ferry to Staton Island where most of my friends had gone to have a bon fire and stay the night. I miserably wondered around alphabet city and sat down next to a guy with no feet who was spare changing. I almost started to cry but then realized that I had a voicemail number that Paulie had given to me about a year before, he said if you're ever in NY and ya need something, call. So I did, I left a pretty sad message about being stranded and needing a place to stay the night and within 10 minutes 3 different people had called me. A woman's bookstore in Brooklyn, A kid from KFC and another lady from Brooklyn. I decided to stay at KFC just because it was right where I was. Andy Sodapop came and found me standing outside of CBGBs and took me back around the corner, behind a fence, through a hole and through a locked gate, into what was a four story squat. Everyone lived up on the fourth floor and it was beautiful. The "living room" was this giant space lit up with Christmas lights and I helped Sodapop work on a bike for a bit, until I decided to investigate a little. That night I ran into Laura (from Boston) hanging out there and we became fast friends. We pretty much hung out everyday together just bitching about things while we drank coffee at Odessa's. I bought a plane ticket back to Tallahassee and stayed with my mom for a little while, just until I wasn't so depressed about Kit.
By July I bought a plane ticket to Oakland and ended up living there for a while. I hadn't planned it like that, but when I got out there Cristy was there and Lacy and Monica and everyone was just so sweet to me. Jaimie was out there with his band too, and we decided to end whatever we had been doing. By the time I had spent about 3 weeks there, Monica and Lacy were getting a house and asked if I wanted to as well. So I moved in to their new house and met a boy that I fell in love with all pretty much in the same week.
My room didn't have a door and I just hung sheets and painted it blue and what do you know? The week we moved in was big trash week on that street, so I had a desk and bed within a coupla days. It was downright cozy and it was really nice getting to snuggle with someone every night. I ended up staying there until October, actually I think it was the day after Greg's birthday that we flew back to the south. We missed it like no other, and I had promised I would help organize for the FTAA protest happening in Miami.
We basically just kicked around for a little bit for a coupla months. We went to Chatanooga, then Tallahassee for bit, then Miami for the protest which was totally heartbreaking and I could write a whole novel for just this small time period, but after that we went to key west and Sarasota and then up to Pensacola for thanksgiving and the New Orleans, and oh New Orleans. I fell in love instantly. Wanted to go back immediately, but we went to Savannah and Tybee Island and stayed in this empty beach house for while and then I dropped Greg off in Asheville and I said, ill be back with my stuff. We were trying to move in together, but by the time I had gotten there he was cheating on me with a girl who lived in the house we were supposed to share a room in. "Fuck that" I said, "you can have her." And then I jumped in a truck with Mollie and we drove through Chattanooga to party for a couple of days before we went to New Orleans. I ended up moving in under my friend Adee's bed and man was that a beautiful time to be alive. We would drink whiskey and smoke cigarettes and sew weird underwear and shirts. That girl had amazing style and I got to meet and become friends with all the kids who lived at Nowe Miasto. Nowe Miasto was/is a collective warehouse in Mid-City. When I lived there, there were chickens and a garden and everyone was crochety and sweet simultaneously. We would make tapioca pudding and tater tots at 2 in the morning. During that Mardi Gras, my first, potato rode me home on his handle bars after running down bourbon street with This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb yelling "hung like a hippo."
That spring I went back to Tallahassee and wrote another zine and then took off for Cleveland MS because that was where Greg was at the time because he had just joined the band One Reason and he wanted to work things out with me. So I went and then went to Bloomington and toured with Carrie Nations and One Reason and then got off in Philly to live with Cristy and Lacy who were living in the same house up there. I lived in the tiny closet in between their two rooms and it was really cozy. Unfortunately we had a psycho roommate who scared the fucking shit out of me because he was on so many drugs that after a month and half, I left Philly vowing never to return. I've kept that vow. I took a cheap train down to Jacksonville with Timofer and one other person who is totally awesome but I can't remember their name and then went on to Tallahassee. I packed up all my things and moved back to New Orleans.
That began one of my favorite times in my life. I found a place to live really quickly with two really amazing women, Sarah Danforth and Helen Gillet. Greg moved down and was staying in my room until he found a place and a job, which didn't take that long. And by Halloween I was prowling the streets singing David Bowie feeling perfectly at home on Decatur at 3am. We all used our hands for a living creatively in the house. Me, sewing, Helen playing Cello and Sarah Welding. I loved it. Helen taught me to play the cello and I started to learn how to play the banjo from tilly. I met a lot of beautiful people there, too many to name. I got hit by a car within my first few weeks, but even that was ok because Dr. Paul took care of me. But in November one night, when Greg was leaving work and biking to my house, he was held up at gun point and shot in the face. It's actually a totally amazing and heartbreaking story, but this is a life in a day typing and I cant even begin to tell you how strong he was to get back on that damn bike and ride it to my house, so that I could take him to the hospital. I mean, he lived. The bullet miraculously went through his sinus cavity and then lodged itself in the muscle right before hitting the first vertebrae. WTF? He had to have sinus reconstruction and all of it was done through Charity Hospital, but that was fucking horrible. Fuck Insurance and Fuck charity care, that shit made Greg so sad, after they postponed his surgery for the third time, he told he wished he had died. I mostly just sat in the hospital drawing him and friends would come visit and then after he got out of the hospital he stayed in my bed and I would just make huge pots of lentil soup and grilled cheese sandwiches to eat.
After he got better, he left and broke up with me. That was depressing. I couldn't be in New Orleans anymore and went back to Tallahassee. It was only a matter of time before Laura told me to come on up to Asheville and help build a shack on the land she was staying on and stay there for a little bit. I think she meant 3 weeks, but I stayed for 6 months. My sister gave me a ride up there and I brought a suitcase and a typewriter and that was it. I helped Rich finish the shack and then furbished it with stuff from the Warren Wilson Free Store. COZY.AMAZING. I was so fucking happy, had like 4 boyfriends and a girlfriend and would come home and wake Laura up to gossip about my life and it was pretty beautiful. I stayed there till September and then decided to move back to New Orleans, and I decided to make some money first in Tallahassee by painting houses. Unfortunately New Orleans sunk about a week later.
I stayed in Tallahassee totally depressed and upset. I would go over to New Orleans every once in a while to help a friend fix a roof or clean out a house, everything was so overwhelming. Again, easily another book. It was nice being at my mother's house and I got pretty settled in working on music projects with a bunch of awesome ladies I had met.
In the spring I did a little bit more traveling and went and stayed in Nola for a month and then flew out to SF after not being on the west coast for 3 years. It was fun and then I took a train up to Portland only to have a falling out with Lacy, who had been my best friend ever since we had lived in Oakland together. It was very depressing and I hitched to seattle with swamprat and stayed instead and then went back to Portland where Sarah Sass sewed weave into my head and my ride back east ditched me. For my birthday present my mom bought me a plane ticket home and back I was. By June my hip had fallen out again and I was back in the hospital and not walking for a month. By august I was enrolled in a couple classes at FSU and by January I was living in a warehouse and full time enrolled. It was cool up until the point where a friend called the cops on me and I got arrested and went to jail. On my birthday I fell in love with a hobo name Patrick after not loving anyone since Greg, nearly 2 years ago. I got a job at a Used Bookstore and I want to leave Tallahassee more than anything. This time I will never return. My plea bargain is tomorrow and this has been my condensed life story.