Category Archives: me

Farewell To My Imaginary Big Brother

When I was little, I was obsessed with The Partridge Family. As an only child, I especially wanted to have lots of brothers and sisters and to be in a band. I would have given just about anything to have had Keith Partridge be my big brother.

Vicster on her first day of school
Me on my first day of school, some time in the early 70’s, with my frizzy hair and my Partridge Family lunch box.

As I outgrew my Partridge Family obsession, it made me sad that teen idol stardom took such a heavy toll on David Cassidy. I’m not sure anything could have prepared him for that kind of hysteria, and it no doubt made for a very lonely life.

I am grateful that he managed to make some peace with Keith Partridge, for a while, and that his failing body cannot hurt him anymore. I wish his family peace as they deal with their loss.

(I still remember every word to this song.)

My Broken, Portland Punk-Loving, Heart

It’s been a rough year for my Portland Punk-loving heart. Over the weekend I learned that Fred Cole, the lead singer/guitarist for one of my all-time favorite bands, passed away from complications related to cancer. Fred, Toody, and Andrew were the fucking BEST. They loved their fans as much as we loved them. Fred always had time and a smile for you. Dead Moon disbanded several years ago, and Fred and Toody went on to form other bands, including Pierced Arrows. Andrew Loomis died last year, also from cancer (seriously, FUCK CANCER!), and with Fred’s growing list of health issues, he and Toody retired from touring and playing live shows.

I send love and light to Toody in these difficult days.

In celebration of Dead Moon, and Fred, I’ve dug up my old blog post from 2004, from when I finally got to see Dead Moon live again, after several missed attempts (I was really beginning to wonder if somehow a portal had closed and I’d never get to see them again!)

Sunday, October 24, 2004

It’s a Dead Moon Miracle!

After more than a decade away from Portland, Oregon, I must say that there isn’t a lot left up there that I miss. Aside from friends and family, I can count those things that I miss on one hand.

First and foremost on that list is the music scene. For all of the press that Seattle got in the 90’s, I think Portland had the better scene (even though it did spawn Nu Shooz and the band we knew as Seafood Mama but became known as Quarterflash when the record labels came-a-callin’). Alas, nearly all of my favorite bands like the Dharma Bums, and the Obituaries (who broke up and later morphed into M-99) have gone, but Dead Moon is still rockin’ after all these years.

Dead Moon tours constantly (their motto–or one of their mottos–is “keeping one gig ahead of a day job”); they criss-cross the United States, they’ve toured Europe and even Australia/New Zealand. And even though they’ve come to San Francisco several times in the eleven years I’ve been in the Bay Area, I haven’t seen them play since I lived in Portland. I’ve always meant to go see them, but something always came up and I ended up not going. Even on a visit to Portland, I was going to go with a friend but she got sick so we ended up not going.

A few months ago, I saw that they were coming to San Francisco again and I marked the date on every calendar I had, AND I kept a post-it note stuck to the iMac. I was determined to see my Favorite Portland Band! As the date came closer and closer, I kept checking the tour page of their website to make sure they were still coming. During the week leading up to the show I not only checked their site, but kept daily tabs on the calendar page at Bottom of the Hill, just to cover as many bases as I could.

Yesterday was The Day. Well, OK it was The Night. Well, to be even more precise today was The Day as they went on after midnight. Knowing that Dead Moon has a large and loyal fan base, and just to be sure I’d have a ticket in, I bought mine in advance on TicketWeb.

I got to Bottom of the Hill just as the first band was winding up their set. As the first band tore down their set and the second band was setting up, the lights went out. “Uh-uh!” I thought to myself, “This can’t happen!” Then the lights came back on, much to everyone’s relief. About a minute later, they went off again. It turns out that a transformer nearby blew and the whole area was out. I finished my Sierra Nevada and wandered outside and looked up and down 17th Street. It was totally dark, and I was totally NOT HAPPY.

I went back inside repeating to myself, “I do not accept the curse! I deny the curse!” I saw Fred wandering around and went over to say hello. (An aside: One of the reasons Dead Moon has such a large and loyal world-wide fan base is because these are three of the coolest, friendliest, most approachable people on the face of the earth!) Fred greeted me with that ever-present smile and I shook my head and said, “You know, I’m trying really hard to not take this personally, but I’ve been trying to get to one of your gigs for more than ten years now and SOMETHING ALWAYS HAPPENS.” I told Fred that when I left Portland, no one told me that I’d have a curse put on me that I’d never get to see my favorite band, ever again! He laughed and said that in all the years he’s been doing this, this was a first.

One thing you learn about Fred Cole very quickly is that he always has a great road story for every occasion. He told me about the guy in Melbourne, Australia who hated rock music and got into the basement of the club they were playing and kept shutting off the power during their set and some guy in Nuremberg, Germany who thought he’d stage dive (off of a 6″ stage!) but ended up tripping over the power cord that ran the whole stage.

He also told me about how they weren’t even sure they were going to even make it from Los Angeles to San Francisco. After over 15,000 miles put on their van this tour, it was giving out Big Time. But, miraculously, the van made it…then this. About that time, Andrew came over and he hasn’t changed, either. He doesn’t remember, but I do: He’s always been one crazy joker and he did the eyeing-me-up-and-down bit (again…he had done that in Portland years and years ago) waiting for me to act befuddled or something. I just looked at him and smiled, and he broke into a grin and said, “I’m just joking!” Yes, Andrew, I knew that!

Pretty much everyone stuck around through the outage. But time was dragging on and it was looking more and more like there wouldn’t be a show. “I DENY THE CURSE!” I repeated furiously to myself. Fred took to the stage and shouted to everyone that they were told it would be another hour or so before the power would come back on and that if it did come on by 1:00 a.m. they’d be able to play (unfortunately, it looked like the second act was S.O.L.).

About ten minutes later, the power was back, and there was much rejoicing!

The second act did manage to get in and rock, though with an abbreviated (and fast-paced) set. Then Dead Moon set up…and it was as if we hadn’t even passed eleven minutes, much less eleven years! It was so familiar, right down to Andrew’s Jack Daniels candle holder on his drum kit (which is front-and-center…Dead Moon perform all at the front of the stage together, no one “sits back”). Andrew came over and lit the candle and I thought, “OH MY STARS! I’M REALLY GOING TO SEE DEAD MOON!!!”

At the risk of sounding like those dorky fans, they played every song I hoped they’d play (they started the set with my two favorites: “Poor Born” and “It’s OK”). The place was packed and rockin’ and I was dancing my fool head off! I was shakin’ things that ain’t been shook in a long, long time (and am paying for it today, lemme tell ya)! For a good hour or so, I was transported back to the much happier times I had in my 20’s in Portland (those times just before my world collapsed around my head).

By the end of the set, I was sweaty, I was exhausted, my ears were (and still are) ringing…and I was so damn happy! I went over to the side of the stage where Fred was dismantling his gear and he saw me. “You broke the jinx!” he shouted. “Yes,” I said, “the curse is lifted, hallelujah!” We shook hands and I wished him and the band a safe journey back to Portland and to hurry back to San Francisco…and that I would definitely be there when they did come back!

Strange Limbo

I am at the point in my planned relocation to North Carolina where I’m marking my remaining time in the San Francisco Bay Area in weeks, even days.

Today I sent my property manager notification of my intended departure date (we had talked previously about my plan to move, so it will not be a surprise). As I had given notice at my job nearly two months ago, with this notification I have completely let go of this life in the Bay Area.

Before I sent my notice to my property manager today, I was thinking about it and, quite unsurprisingly, felt some jitters in my gut. After all, I’m letting go of “security”. It’s kind of daunting until I realized that none of this belongs to me anymore.

As I wrote the letter I noticed that those jitters had gone away and I wondered if they would reappear as I got closer to hitting “Send”.

I sent the notice hours ago: still no jitters.

I find myself in a strange limbo where I’ve released the bar I’ve held onto for nearly a quarter of a century—the bar that is no longer mine—so that I can reach for the next bar that the Universe is sending for me.

I am not afraid.

Short On Words, Long On Things To Say

I am at a complete loss tonight. Of all the things I could have heard this morning, I was not prepared to hear that Chris Cornell died. I’ve been in a tailspin since 5:15 this morning, with virtually no time or space to process this news and grieve.

If you follow any of my socnets, you may notice a Chris Cornell influence. My Tumblr references “Drawing Flies” and I may still have “Searching For The Good With My Good Eye Closed” as a tag line in a few places.

To appreciate the gift of Chris Cornell’s words, and the power of Soundgarden’s music, it isn’t necessary to have been in the Pacific Northwest 30 years ago, as some incredibly powerful and innovative music was gestating in clubs along I-5. If Louder Than Love or Badmotorfinger made you sit up and take notice, then you knew early enough what an influence Soundgarden would have.

Portland was fertile ground for many of these bands that had formed a few hours north, in Seattle: Mother Love Bone, Mudhoney, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Green River, Alice In Chains, and many others. For those of us who are contemporaries with these artists, who came of age with them and supported them in those early years, in small, steamy clubs with sticky, beer-soaked and blood-splattered floors (those mosh pits tho), they are we and we are they.

Andrew, Kurt, Layne, and, now, Chris. Losing them hurts like hell.

Many people are posting many Soundgarden/Audioslave/Chris Cornell videos today. I’m choosing a live version of “Seasons” which has been playing in my head all day long. It is one of the most perfectly beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, and I like this live version because it shows Chris’ humor. Even if I can’t cry yet, he at least got me to smile one more time.


Found Words

I was going through a box yesterday evening when I came across a stack of old journals, many had been started, then stopped.

One in particular has a few entries beginning right after my mother’s death, as I began processing that and everything that came at me in the months that followed. I wasn’t consistent with the entries: some are a couple of days apart and then there is a gap of several months. Some entries are letters that I wrote to Mom.

It isn’t easy to read those old entries, yet in re-reading them I see that I handled her suicide really well. I was very aware of what I was feeling and very tuned in to those who were helpful and those who were full of shit.

From 22 December, 1991: “I remember right after Mom died people were saying that they hoped one day I could forgive her for what she had done. And I couldn’t understand that because I wasn’t ready to be mad at her yet.

“Of course, time has changed all that. I was at my angriest last month when I was trying to finish up on the house.

“I’m still angry, but now I’m more lonely and scared. And no amount of love and support from friends and relatives can fix that.”

There was the trip I took with some friends a year later, when we visited San Francisco. The ticket for Alcatraz and receipts from various shops and restaurants are pressed between the pages.

I also was trying to document random things about Mom so I wouldn’t forget (how she drank her coffee and the way we would sit on the couch with the dogs and read or watch TV). Three and a half years later, after my Grandpa died, I wrote more random things about him that I didn’t want to forget.

That journal stopped after I wrote only about 1/4 of the way through it. Usually when I find partially-filled journals, I press them back into service and finish writing in them, but for this one, I think I’ll just let it end where it stopped.

Half A Life

My temperament has been a little on the fragile side the last couple of weeks. And yesterday, as I looked at a calendar, I realized why.

I have officially lived half of my life without my mother.

From this day forward, I will have lived more of my life without my mom than with her. That sentence feels pretty weird.

I can’t really say that surviving mom’s suicide has gotten easier over the years. It’s more like the sharp edges of the grief and pain and anger have dulled with time, as flowing water smooths out a stone. I haven’t dwelled in grief for many years, yet there are times when it just sort of pops up and stops me in my tracks. And, in that 15-day gap between my birthday and the anniversary of the day that my life changed forever, I tend to feel overwhelmed a little more often and my patience is razor-thin and I need quiet alone time even more than I usually do.

And so today is one of those days that I am aware that I need to pause and take a breath.

Because I am the one who is still breathing.

New Year’s Day

And so I begin another trip around the sun.

I’m a different Me this year. Or, rather, I’m more ME now than I have been in a very long time.

victoria, sitting with hands in prayer position

Over the past year I’ve made an assessment of my life and have been sorting what I’m bringing with me—and what I’m leaving behind—in the year ahead.

I’ve done some Spring Cleaning in my apartment: a first pass of the bookshelves and donated four boxes of books and carrying piles of magazines to the recycle bin. I’ve also been working on some Spring Cleaning of old beliefs and habits that are harmful…though releasing some of those beliefs and habits is not quite as easy as putting books in boxes and driving them off. Sometimes it requires driving the habit away several times before it stays away for good.

The year ahead guarantees challenge and change. Victories and setbacks. And learning. All the learning. I know that I’ll come to know myself even more deeply, and that many of my relationships will strengthen (and that some may dissolve entirely). I begin this year with a list of behaviors that I will no longer tolerate, just to keep peace. In turn, that allows me to begin this year with my feet firmly on the ground, and an open heart.


How I Know That My Birthday Is Near Without Looking At A Calendar

I’m sick again! I thought my suddenly stuffy sinuses meant that my allergies might be taking off, given the pleasant weather we've had this week, following two or three solid months of rain (POLLENPALOOZZA). Alas, as the afternoon wore on yesterday, I was ticking all the boxes for Cold (allergy attack generally means stuffy and itchy; cold means stuffy and body-achy). The only box I didn't tick was the sudden intense craving for tomato sauce or salsa: that seems to have been replaced with the craving for Thai curry.

Admittedly, this is an improvement over last year, when I caught the Death Flu, missed several days of work and then had to cancel my birthday vacation to make up for the sick leave. At least with this cold I'm somewhat functional, despite snot-induced sleep apnea preventing me from getting much rest overnight. (On the plus side, I don't really need to wear my night guard, since mouth breathing keeps me from grinding my jaws.)

Since I've got stuff to do this weekend (ex. Charlie and Clancy have now decided that they hate the "yellow" can food and prefer "blue" can, so I need to exchange cat food), I'll be packing the hand sanitizer and limiting my interactions as much as possible. (EDIT) As much as I looked forward to attending the viewing party with my fellow Alamedans, I’m grateful that today’s Action Event livestream will be available to watch from Casa de los Gatos Locos, so I don’t have to worry about infecting other people (or grossing them out). This is a really important event, so I’m grateful I’ll get to attend without leaving home.

The theme for today: tea, tissues and leftover Thai food.

vicster, holding a cup of tea and a box of tissues