Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pride Weekend

Chicago Pride weekend is a bit of a wasteland. There are still a lot of people in the community that get a lot out of Pride, and it does serve a purpose of reminding everyone, once a year, that the whole LGBTQAI community exists.

Alphabet soup.

"But what about you, this weekend, you must be very excited about it all?"

I look at my date with a blank stare, completely dumbfounded and with no earthly idea what he is talking about.

"You know, Pride."

"Oh, gods no."

I may have said it a bit too emphatically. The problem with Chicago pride is that it has become a bit too much of a straight frat party, a sort of third St. Patrick's day, with an excuse to wear rainbow colors, run around drinking in the streets, asking people to show you their tits, and swinging around rainbow beads.

Frankly, it sickens me.

I don't celebrate pride. As a woman who has been out of the closet this perhaps comes as a bit of a shock, but I have know interest in the once a year "it's okay to be gay" day. I don't need that in my life. For my, everyday is a celebration of who I am, my sexuality, the sexuality of my friends and lovers, the freedom to be, and love, how we want to be and love. For me that doesn't happen just once a year.

Having someone stare coldly at me when I take the hand of a girl on a bus or kiss her in her seat. I get judged for that every day.

Having someone scoff and call me a slut when I take a different man home every night of the week. I get judged for that every day.

Having someone call me a dyke when I refuse to take them home just because they presented themselves to me. I get judged for that everyday.

Having someone get drunk, but her arm on my arm, and beg me to take her home and be her first but she's not really sure she is gay, but maybe, just this one time. And the coldness in her eyes when I tell her no, because I have a rule about sleeping with straight girls. The judgement. Oh yes, it's there. I get judged for that every day.

No, for me pride isn't a day. It isn't some jubilant celebration that I can live for one day. The reality is that, even though I am fairly out social, I still walk lines in my profession and work carefully to hide all the details of myself to avoid any potential repercussions. I still have to walk softly around relationships as a bisexual woman, constantly being judged for not picking a side from the self same people that are supposed to be the allies, the group I belong to. No, I have no pride in that either.

That is not to say I'm not proud to see what our community has done, but there is still so much to do. And I have to live every day be willing to face up to the potential judgement. I hold my head high, I look into the face of those who would judge and I live my life as best I am able to do. And in that, with that, as I do that, there is where I find my pride.

I open my eyes full of it, in the sun and snow and rain.

Around the year.

Every day.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Nick Cave at the Auditorium

The build up was palpable. The show on Tuesday night had such a magical quality to it that there was a general nervousness on my part: would Nick be good in Chicago, would the show resonate, will it be time well spent? The danger of seeing one of your favorite artists at more than one show is that everyone can have an off night. If Nick was off, finally feeling exhaustion after so much time on the road, would I see it here? Would it impact my enjoyment of the show? Such selfish considerations, and yet the thoughts flickered through my mind a touch. Perhaps it was just the overall challenge of the Chicago show.

As I usually do, I bought two tickets. 

Two tickets to a Nick Cave show, no date. 

Surely, I would find a date well before the night of the show. It is Nick Cave, after all. It is Chicago. My music going luck in Chicago, however, continues to hold true to form. I had two tickets for a show and the only date I wanted to go forgot (the sense there of complete and utter lack of value to another human's life when they forget they have been invited to a Nick Cave show is really upsetting, I discovered. I only allowed myself to cry for a night*). With around 24 hours to go before show time I found myself at a loss for what to do. 

The solution, as it often seems to be these days, was random stranger on the internet who was also a Nick Cave fan. In the end, more than anything else, I wanted to go with someone that shared my love of Nick Cave. My date for the night was an enthusiastic Nick fan, currently exploring the Birthday Party catalog, and very willing to show up. My ticket, then, went to the only bidder, a choice I do not regret. 

Perhaps after the New York show I should have stopped listening to hours of Nick Cave, but it is so hard. After several days of non-stop Nick I was starting to feel the sort of dark, otherworldly call of the siren. I wanted dark clothes and dark makeup and a dark mindset. I wanted to be dark and mysterious and beautiful: eyes smeared with kohl, red lips, sensual, strange. Finding my muse in the music I went as goth as I wanted to be, a dress of transparent black, gothic purple corset, boots, and eyes like black gems sparkling with mischief (this could also be described as Saturday Night Saradevil, but I felt more in it than usual). 

Prior to the New York show my workmate had introduced me to the online community that is Nick Cave. Following rabidly from event to event, I noted that everyone was in agreement: as soon as the show starts, Nick will call you down to the stage. Be prepared to move! 

The date was informed that the seats were optional for this show as I had every intention of getting as close to the stage as possible. Being not easily flustered, he understood and so it was that about 15 minutes before the show would begin I was standing at the aisle above my seats as he went to get drinks with a warning that I may have rushed the crowd before he could get back. Standing just below me in the isle was a woman wearing a rock-a-billy style sugar skull dress (that I wanted to steal) who was looking down at the orchestra pit and at the usher and back again. I approached, having a feeling that she might be a member of one of the internet groups. 

"I want to go down there," I said as a way of beginning a conversation. 

"Yes. Everyone says to go to the stage, but it looks like he is stopping people."

"Are you a cult member?"

Card carrying, was SugarSkulls. Kismet, a happy meet.

She points to the usher. A woman in  black with a drink passes us and walks towards the usher .

"I think she is going for it. If she is going for it we go for it."

The woman manages to get to the landing and talks to the usher . Goes back to her seat.

"Damn. Okay."

"I'm going to go as soon as it starts."

"Let's just wait and see. I have a plan."

We talked without taking our eyes of the usher. I could tell from the music on the stage that the show was not that much further out, the opening intro of Anthrocene was beginning to interject itself. Soon would be the whispers from the Prince of Darkness. Soon the stage would be a crowded throng. 

The woman in black made a second attempt. Sat again. SugarSkulls and I continued to talk. 

The woman in black sits. 

The music is changing, my inner mind starts to count the bars. I know exactly how close we are to the opening of this show. 

We watch. 

The crowd is humming. Most of this audience, at this point, has seen or is at least somewhat aware that Nick is calling people to the stage. There is a buzz like a saw blade running through the isles, my body is practically shaking with the desire to jump over the usher. 

We talked. 

This entire episode feels like a thousand minutes, twenty minutes, endless waiting. In reality between the first and second attempt of the woman in black, hardly three minutes had passed. 

Then the usher walks out the nearest door. 

I turn to SugarSkulls, "Let's go."

We glide down the stairs, past the ushers landing, straight into the orchestra pit, all the way to two empty chairs stage right, just in front of the stage. We are giggling and ecstatic. We say hello to the girls in the row and turn to the stage. Whispering among ourselves.

It was barely two minutes after we descended that the lights go down and the crowd swarms back around us. Mission accomplished, we are on the stage. There is an odd feeling of deja vu. I remember in this moment that I have a date and manage to fire off a quick text between the entrance of the band and the entrance of Nick.

And that was all. 

And than it was Nick Cave. 

And I was on the stage. 


So different, just being so close to him, with thousands of people pressed at your back. There was a wildness to being so close, the expectation and the potential. All of it bound up as he sits in his throne and reads to us, reminds us, proselytizes to us through the first song. Allowing things to swell further exploring this crowd, getting a feel for us. 

This crowd is different from New York city, too. They are hungry for him, they want him. Different from his other fans, a thirst where there was reverence elsewhere. The Midwest perhaps, reserved until given a pass to become free. Nick freed that pent of Midwestern control, to his benefit, perhaps to his horror.


In the meantime, I manage to check my phone and discover my date is just behind me. I pull him forward to the stage. Maybe a mistake as this seemed to signal to the girls on the right of me that I was not wearing a wristband for the orchestra pit. Girls not from the Midwest but from California. At this point, there were only maybe five people that close to the stage wearing a wrist band for the orchestra pit. The crowd had swelled as soon as the lights went off and more than half the people at the front of the crowd had rushed down from the dress circle. By the end of the night people from the nose bleed section of the theater, people from the box seats, people from the balcony, had all made their way down, pushing closer into the crowd if not onto the stage itself.


Perhaps it was because she was from California but she felt very wronged by it all. All these people without that marking of the elite, standing where she felt she had a right to stand. I, we, all of us, were out of line (as a note, every ticket for the orchestra pit and dress circle was issued at the same price, so we were both on equal footing as to the spend for the night). She yelled at me about her cost, her expense, her privilege. She wanted to make an issue of it, but I just waved my hand around¾indicating everyone else without a wristband¾and ignored her.


Unhappy she told security guards her tale of woe. 

The guards just looked at the crowd, a mass of arms, none of them wearing a wrist band. 

He shrugged. She remained unhappy. 

I lost myself in Nick Cave. It was the only emotion I wanted to feel at that point. The only thing that mattered. 
Through the first three songs he only toys with the audience, barely interacting. Walking about the stage, coming close, coming closer. Soon he is standing over me, I can smell him, his sweat, see his shoes, I could reach out and touch him, but I have too much respect. He stands and sings over me and I am overwhelmed by the power of it.

    
     Looka yonder! Looka yonder!
     Looka yonder! A big black cloud come!
     A big black cloud come!
     O comes to Tupelo. Comes to Tupelo

     Yonder on the horizon
     Yonder on the horizon
     Stopped at the mighty river
     Stopped at the mighty river and
     Sucked the damn thing dry
     Tupelo-o-o, O Tupelo
     In a valley hides a town called Tupelo

A story. A warning. He wanders around the stage. Pacing as the story builds, builds towards the damnation and ruin. Builds towards the end. 

     Distant thunder rumble. Distant thunder rumble
     Rumble hungry like the Beast
     The Beast it cometh, cometh down
     The Beast it cometh, cometh down
     Wo wo wo-o-o
     Tupelo bound. Tupelo-o-o. Yeah Tupelo
     The Beast it cometh, Tupelo bound

So caught up in the music I was, so straining for his attention I was, so immersed in singing the songs I was, that it didn't occur that Nick Cave was walking towards me. I was unprepared. 

Unprepared.


Unprepared for what would happen next. Unprepared for everything to be laid waste, the beginning, the ending. 

Nick walks towards me and reaches down. 

He takes my hand. 

He whispers to me...


     Why the hen won't lay no egg
     Can't get that cock to crow
     The nag is spooked and crazy
     O God help Tupelo! O God help Tupelo!
     O God help Tupelo! O God help Tupelo!

A whisper. His hand is smooth and warm. His eyes are like blue fire as he looks at me. His words mouthing to me. A moment that lasts a second a connection that lasts a second. For a moment, I am touched¾physically, emotionally, mentally¾by an artist that few can match in the history of my life. For a moment I am alone in that theater, my hand gently in the hand of Nick Cave while he sings words to me from a song about death, life, a warning, a challenge. 

It was intense and beautiful.

Perhaps this was a signal for a few minutes later I see a pale hand extend down for mine again, to sing to me about Jubilee Street. I almost pass out. He kept circling back near me. SugarSkulls and I both had the same idea.

"He keeps passing over me at every show."

"I think I'm his type," I respond. With my dark goth sensibilities, dark hair, dark eyes, let me believe it is true. 

Nick passes over our end of the stage several times. In the New York shows the right side of the stage was the place to be, but in Chicago the stairs are on the opposite side, so it is difficult for him to fall into our arms. At one point the girl from California jumps on my back and tries to wrestle me out of the way, much to her dismay when I am neither fussed nor give up my position. Perhaps trying to push someone wearing a ten pound corset who can bench press you is not such a great idea. Fortunately, after that, she leaves me alone, choosing instead to be miserable on her side of the stage. Later, I try to fathom making myself so unhappy in a space so full of wonder and I cannot.


The show continues, the crowd undulating, until finally he calls the audience to the stage for Stagger Lee, and I help SugarSkulls up, before crawling up myself. Standing there, on the stage, where I had envied the crowd just a few days before.

We rush forward and up, and it is there, standing there, that I capture a moment, Nick at the center of the crowd, Nick at the center of the universe, Nick at the center of all the universes. In a single instance it is as if the man, the musician, the hero we have all come to worship has drawn down on all the power inside that crowd, calling up our life, our aura, our essence, our power, becoming one with it, controlling it, controlling us.


He was right there. Exactly who he was born to be.



It was complete perfection, a full story, a full circle. Unlike New York, the crowd stays on stage after the final chords of Stagger Lee drop from hall. 

"Warren, what do we do now?!" 

There is a laugh in it, amusement, joy. The Chicago crowd is rougher than New York, vibrant and alive though, and Nick doesn't seem to care at all about it. 


Warren raises his hands and begins to shush us, then up and down, signaling for the crowd to sit, and they do. Like kindergarten children, they kneel, cross their legs, lie down in a circle on stage around Nick as the finishes with Push the Sky Away.

I am covered in sweat as the crowd breaks. My date turns to me.


"I think this pretty much just set the bar for every first date ever." 

This was a show to end all shows. 

We push onto the street, laughing, giggling, full of warmth and affection for sharing private passions in public, for worshiping with Nick Cave.




*Hellion, as always, I adore you for being there when I cried and making sure that it was the last time I cried over that. You amaze me. 
















Sunday, June 18, 2017

Nick Cave at the Beacon


Living in a daze of excitement trying to finish all the work that had to be finished before the show. My last meeting goes until 6, the show seats at 7, New York is sweaty as fuck and smells like unwashed humanity, metal, and exhaust. It's almost 100 and the sun is unrelenting as it pounds down on the city. Hellion is on his way to meet me, having secured the night free to see the show.


At the theater we stand dying in front of the doors, desperate to get into the cool and out of the unforgiving eat of the late evening. We are at the head of a line of Cave fans that goes down at least a block. 

Bag searched, entry secured, I get t-shirt and some wine and we wait to be seated. At the shows most of those seated in the Orchestra pit and adjacent rows would be on their feet. I desperately wanted to sneak down and join them, but security was over the top so we settled into our seats to wait the beginning. 

The stage was dark and set, Nick was opening and closing, no patience to sit and wait through another band and all the set up and break down entailed. There was not a single person in the audience that cared. Everyone in that room had ears, eyes, feelings, only for Nick. Our dark god of musical lyricism, a hundred dark stories of love and redemption; the devil and the angel and death following along behind love on the journey throughout human dealings. 

I sat with my dear sweet lover and we smiled at each other, at the stage, at stealing another moment together as our moments together become shorter and shorter. We waited and I relaxed against him, trying to contain my anticipation, my excitement, my joy. 

The theater is filled with low ambient humming coming from the stage, orchestral like a soundtrack but with very little movement. The chords themselves are not enough to engage, but the eerie quiet of it draws the audience in. We breathe, slowly breathing. The crowd enters quietly, almost reverently to get into seats and positions. There is very little chatter as the house waits in anticipation of the moment. 

Slowly, there is a mild crescendo in the music and suddenly it begins to take shape, slowly, the sounds is synthetic, unnatural, too natural. Then suddenly, we hear the dark whispers on stage, the lights dim, the stage is set, the band walks out. The orchestra pit audience rises at once and rushes towards the stage, the stage turns blue. 

The artist, the singer, walks out alone after the band. He sits in a chair while the audience strains towards him. Hands and faces uplifted, everyone, everyone, wanting to be right where they are, wanting him, the band, each other, to know how bonded we are in this moment over the music, the man, the storytelling. 

And he is there, on stage, a storyteller. He is our father and our grandfather and the chief elder, slowly, carefully, deliberately, telling us the story so that we might know, so that we might understand and maybe so that we might react. 

     All the fine winds gone
     And this sweet world is so much older
     Animals pull the night around their shoulders
     Flowers fall to their naked knees
     Here I come now, here I come
     I hear you been out there looking for something to love
     The dark force that shifts at the edge of the tree
     It's alright, it's alright
     When you turn so long and lovely, it's hard to believe
     That we're falling now in the name of the Anthrocene

We listen. We listen with all our hearts, open minds, open to what it is that needs to be said. We continue to listen as the audience swells, as this man who has become more of  man for so many who listens, throws himself into the arms of the audience. Allows us to caress him, allows us to hold him. There is a bonding here. A willing trust that is more intimate than one could imagine in a crowd of thousands. He undulates across the audience, in their embrace, surrounded by warmth. The hall becomes warm, we all sweat, we all lose ourselves.





I wept bitterly through all of I Need You. I laughed as swayed with Red Right Hand. I screamed my voice raw at the stage during  Stagger Lee. I watched as Hellion mouthed along the words of Higgs Boson Bules and fell even more in love with him than I could possibly imagine. We held hands, he kisses the back of mine, and we float into the final encore, as the crowed leaves the stage as the final chords of Push the Sky Away break over the hall.



We are stunned silence. Rolled through grief, longing, joy, pain, and out the other side again. Being reminded that, in the end, the strength is, has always been, within our reach.

It was rending and beautiful. In my wildest imagination I could not understand how the show in Chicago could be any better.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

One More Time with Feeling

I have, I have always had, I will always have, a ridiculous Nick Cave Thing. Bands come and go, some stay in the lineup far longer than they should, some have finally passed the point of listen-ability, wallowing in a sound that was for generations far older and to the modern lack influence. Some get better, and with few exceptions, are consistently amazing.

Then there is Nick Cave.

This is not a sex thing.

Perhaps, there are elements of a sex thing to it, but at the bottom of it, the core, it is the mastery of words, musical phrase, melody, harmony, rhythm and emotion. The artist, through his influences and influences, has managed to be consistently at the edge of the right musical place and the right musical time.

For contrast, take into consideration the almost circus like distortions of Dig Lazurus Dig, with it's gaudy over the top cover that speaks of lights and actions back to back with Push the Sky away with somber orchestrations and painful reflections on change, transition and growing older. Each new pieces in the library is a different story. Skeleton Tree is blindingly perfect as an example of a man inside a moment, utilizing that moment to understand the music and understanding the music because of the moment. Last year was a hard year for me and a hard year for Nick Cave. The album becomes a perfect way of address a year of love and loss, connection, endings, renewals, human kindness, human need.

The pointed need in almost every song. It's beautiful. The fans, most of us believed he'd never tour it. With the release of the film documenting the creation of the album, why would it need to be toured. Wasn't One More Time With Feeling, a documentary that is a  dive into grief and rebuilding after tragedy, a tour itself? When dates were announced there was a painfully converted glee, a fleeting feeling of happiness and guilt. The desperation with which I wanted to see Nick in concert with the Bad Seeds touring this album, and the guilt of knowing that it was a public flagellation, allowing the millions of people that worship a chance to see such a personally private man morn.

Tickets were hard to come buy, but I managed a pair for Chicago. My workmate was struggling to get some in New York, and I managed to score a pair for her, only to find out later she had her own set for a later date. We discussed the best way to handle it for more than a month before deciding she should take the tickets for the May show, since I had plans. I was jealous she'd get to see Nick Cave twice, but once was more than enough for me to be happy with it.

The year past, the calendar shortened the days grew closer to the US legs of the show. I get a late night text message from my workmate, my friend.

"With Nick and over the moon."

It happened that the second set of shows was going to be in June, when I would also be in New York. It happened that it would be a Tuesday night, after a long day of meetings. It happened that the date of the show and the realities of life were piling upon, forcing my workmate into a difficult choice: the show or responsibilities.

In the end, with much pain and hand ringing, she let me have the tickets in lieu of paying her back for the tickets she picked up. And so it would come to pass that I would see Nick Cave twice in the same week in two entirely different cities.

The experience is worth describing, even though I doubt I can do it any justice with my words.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The New York Things

It's late.

Three parts exhausted, three parts elated, all parts in New York. The clock is ticking closer to midnight and I have an early morning presentation.

I grab a cab and tell him where I want to go.

New York at night, the city in June, midnight and the traffic is, as usual, terrible. We are on the highway for a few minutes and I'm throwing myself into my music. So it was that it took me a minute to start when I felt the taxi cab jump the curb.

I sit up.

The driver puts his hand across the front seat and turns around to look at me.

I'm waiting for him to say something to me, instead he speaks more to the car, to the traffic, to New York city.

"The traffic is so bad."

And then he puts the taxi into reverse and starts driving backwards up the exit ramp.

Fun. I figure if New York is going to make a serious play to kill me, this will be that play.

Our ride backwards lasts almost all of five minutes and somehow, given how busy it can be, we didn't run into another car or anyone trying to exit onto the highway. The car zipped about on side streets, little back roads, down alleys and over bridges until we finally join up with the FDR and head towards downtown.

The music is loud again, and despite myself, I admire the east river and the sparkling lights from Brooklyn and Queens. It's warm, even though it's midnight, its vaguely quiet on the highway, the calm before the storm. We break into Manhattan around 33rd street, heading over to 42nd. I've done this trip enough times that I'm not thinking to much about the fact that we cross Lexington and seem to be going really far west. I trust my driver and think perhaps I was just confused about which side of the city my hotel was on.

From quiet to the dense, cluttered, peopled streets of New York city on a Friday night. On the corner of 41st and Broadway a Puerto Rican group is playing music and people are dancing on the sidewalk spilling into the streets. Couples walking hands in hand, as the hucksters push street meats and sweets to the growing throng, and the cab pushes through it all, past it.

"Welcome to New York."

"Yeah, it's not my first time."

"Yeah, when I was living back overseas. I came to visit New York. And I said to myself, this is where I want to live. I want to live in New York. It was my goal, you know, my dream. Yeah, I really wanted to live in New York."

"Not me."

"Yeah, now I know. I didn't know. But now I know. It's not so great. It was better for a visit. At least you are only visiting."

He drops me at my hotel and I head to check-in. "Thanks for that trick on the highway, we would have been there all night."

"Yeah."

The bell hop hears me and asks "What he pull?"

"Backwards up the ramp when we hit traffic coming in from the airport."

"That's pretty good."

"Yeah."

"That's how we do it in New York."

Everyone seems to be full of New York tonight, amused by New York tonight.

"Ah, honey, you just checking in?"

It's almost midnight and an older couple gets into the elevator with me.

"Yes, that's right."

"Well, it's not so bad, you can relax now, honey. You'll like New York."

"I just got in from Toronto and I have a conference at 9 a.m. tomorrow."

"Oh, I-" His wife grabs him and drags him away, chastising him under her breath for flirting with me. I get my papers out to get checked in.

"Are you sure you have a reservation?"

I show the reservation again.

"You're at the wrong hotel."

Of course I am.

"We have two on 42nd in New York. It happens. It's the city."

The city. I get back downstairs, I get the bell hop to call me another cab and I hop in.

"Where you headed?"

"My driver took me to the wrong hotel. I thought it was funny, I need to be on the east side."

The driver chuckles.

"Picked you up at LaGuardia, did he?"

"Oh, yeah, why?"

"Yeah, cause from LaGuardia we get the meter it's not flat. So he takes you over to the west side he makes more money on the drive. Happens all the time, it's a New York thing."



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Don't Touch Me

It was a short hop plane from Toronto to New York. Nothing terribly fussy and a fairly easy in, easy out, after some minor stress on the getting to the airport on time front. I was happy to be in NYC. Hellion was on the ground, we were meeting at my hotel in roughly an hour, life was mostly good. I had music in my ears to keep me going, it being almost eleven p.m. after a long day. I didn't want to be asleep too early. Didn't want to lose focus.

Dancing on public transit is rather a hobby of mine and I like to do it.

Dance like no one is watching on a bus.

Dance like no one is watching on a train.

Dance like no one is watching on a plane.

I am my own private dance party, and I don't care if anyone is watching.

So it was that I was dancing on the aisle on my plane. The plane was only lightly populated, so deplaning was sure to be fairly swift. My seat was not so far back to be an annoyance, and without large bags all I needed to acquire was my backpack to be ready to go.

The sound is up.

The song changes.

Nick Cave - Supernaturally



Tunes are loud, body moving in strong. The line is not quite moving yet. People are giddy, laughing, and happy. It's a good night. It's a late night. 

There is a group of girls next to me, wine drunk. White girl wasted. The stewardesses had done their best on the flight to be humorous and make the passengers laugh and the girls were into it. I didn't care about the girls. I just wanted to get off the plane. The stewardesses make a final quip and people laugh. I bounce around in line, excited to see Hellion, excited to have a few days on the ground. 

Which is why at first the poke on my side didn't bother me. People are shuffling around on plans, there are always pokes and arms and elbows. I looked down, the girl was not trying to get my attention. I looked at her. She smiled. I turned back to dancing. Then she started again. 

Poke. 

Poke. 

Poke. 

Poke. 

Poke. 

It occurs to me this is in time with the music. Part of me wants to ignore. Until I realize she is doing it in time with the music. 

She is laughing, her face a big wide sharks grin as she continues to put her hands on me, to touch me, treating my body like an object for her entertainment. And suddenly I'm filled with rage. After my most recent sexual assault I bought a bracelet to remind me that it is okay to tell people not to touch me. That the past life learning that tells me I have to let people casually put their hands on me can be undone. That I don't have to tolerate physical attention on my person without my consent or interest. 

TOUCH ME AND DIE

Poke

I turn and I shout at her, raising my hand at her, raising my bracelet at her, "Don't fucking touch me!"

The plane get's quiet. The girl looks like she is about to cry. The passengers behind her shake their heads and look away. Judgement is apparent. Judgement for not playing along with the cute little blonde girl that was just having some fun. Judgement for wanting my body respected. Judgement for dancing to the music and not understanding that was in invitation for unwanted attention. Judging, judging, judging. 

My stomach is a pit and I feel sick, nauseous, as soon as the isle opens up moving as quickly as possible to get off the plane, to get away from all these causal assessors of my behavior. I grab my bag and get out of the airport as quickly as possible, still shaking, texting Hellion to let him know what happened. 

A few minutes later I get a call.

"Are you somewhere safe?"

A simple question, and with a simple question I feel all the stress and guilt melt away. The only medicine for the sickness: concern. 

Knowing that someone cares means all the world to me and it was all I needed to calm down, come down, feel better. We talk for a few minutes to confirm the plans, I tell him I'm safe, I get checked into the hotel and wait for food. 

Later I collapse in his arms, telling the story, showing him my bracelet. 

"I was wearing a fucking sign that literally says 'don't touch me'."

"Okay, first, she shouldn't have done that. Second, you need a bigger sign."

I laughed. Inside I was dancing for entirely different reasons. 


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

You Guys Want to Hang Out?

The dinner portion of the date having finished, we walked across the street to call a car to come bring us back to my place from the hinterlands of RP (just far enough to be a pain in the ass to walk, just out of the way enough to be almost inaccessible by public transit). We stood on the street outside a Popeye's restaurant, the sun starting to tilt towards the horizon.

Most of the dinner portion was spent lost in storm cloud eyes and doing my best not to embarrass myself (I only half succeed at this). The food was good. The company was better. Across the street at the cross walk so as not to die at the hands of oncoming traffic, we stand, we wait, I order a car.

"Hey, so how are you guys doing, I'm just walking down the street and I thought I'd come say hi."

The stranger, for he was a stranger to me and to the date, had come out of nowhere. He was tall and lanky and dark, with that heroin look of lead singers of goth bands. His bottom lip had three rings, the bridge of his nose was pierced, his ears looked like hamburger though there were not currently any visible rings, just holes. His hair was cut into a ramshackle mohawk, which glistened oddly in the light. He looked like a picture of goth, with goth cut jeans that had pipping and leg guards, with doc martins that needed a polish.

He stood jittery, drinking the beer in his hand, taking a sip, and picking up the conversation.

"Yeah, so I was just out drinking my beer and I saw you there, and I thought you guys would be cool and stuff, and hey you are kind goth yourself."

The beer points at me and I smile, "Yes. I am as goth as they say I am." I'm dressed in a black sweater dress with a lace up front, black stocking, docs and black eyeliner. The pink leather jacket just makes it that much gother. I smile again. I'm almost certain my eyebrow ring is sparkling in the light as I stand there.

"Yeah, that's cool," he says, he's not listening. I'm amused. I'm so amused. "So, do you guys want to like go somewhere and hangout, you know and like chill?"

"Actually, we were planning to go back to my place and have sex." The way in which I pointedly don't look at my date amused me. The way in which he doesn't react is perfect.

"Yeah, yeah, I can see that's cool and stuff. Yeah, I'm just out doing my thing, you know. In Chicago. I'm like the lead singer of band, right. Ascension, right."

"Is it like goth music?"

"More like goth industrial stuff you know."

"Do you play in Chicago."

"No man, it's like all on facebook and shit, right. I make a song and you have to upload it an get it out there and instagram and facebook and all that shit."

"Social media marketing is a real drag."

He looks at me blankly. I'm not putting forth the conversation he is hoping for, but it was the best I can do. His frenetic energy is pulsing in every direction. I look down the street, wonder where the car is.

" And look there is Pekish, man I want to get something to eat."

"They are closed-"

"My friend took me there the first time and I thought it would be all like Ed Hardy and shit, but the menu is really cool and they have great beer, and the food is good, but man, yeah, I could really go for some Pekish, the food is alright."

"Their closed."

"Ah, really, man. I was going to go there and get something to eat. They have really great food. I like to get-"

"That place next door is open. We just came from there. They are setting up for a band."

"Yeah, a band. That's cool. What kind of music?"

"Looks like old school Chicago blues. Old guy setting up with a guitar. We might have stayed, but you know, we are going to have sex."

"Yeah, yeah, I get it, if you are trying to get rid of me that's cool and stuff, but you know, I like music, yeah, maybe I'll go there," he taps his beer against his leg.

"So-" He turns back into us just as the car pulls up and we say a swift, cluttered goodbye, our words not making any sense as we jump in and start off towards my place.

Laughter, I'm barely able to contain myself.

"What was that?" We are both smiles, we are full of giggles.

"Yeah, shit like that happens to me all the time. Welcome to my life."

The laughter got us back to the house and back to my room. We did what we had planned to do.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Medieval Dress Up

We road bikes from the Shedd to the Art Institute. The late spring weather was perfect for a bike ride through the parks of Chicago. Warmish wind running through our hair as we dodged the various tourists walking about the lanes on our little blue bikes. Pedaling and keeping up with each other, racing here and there where it was safe, on sidewalks, on the road. The city laid out before us, crowded and full of people, and the two of us, disappeared in our own little world on bikes.

The museum was not to crowded on the afternoon and we made it quickly into see the new display, Saints and Heros, Medieval arms and armory. The collection is one of the best curated I have ever seen, with plate metal from a variety of regions, chain metals for various occasions, jousting gear, helmets, spears, swords, and ancient guns.

Most impressive was the gun room. To imagine the time when the gun, the rifle, these things were just being built, just being figured out. The time between load on any of them being almost thirty seconds. A lifetime against their modern progeny.

Beautiful craftsmanship, with silver handles and ivory, and polished woods. Gorgeous and deadly.

Afterward we went to the art bar and Hellion bought me a cupcake. We went out to the patio to eat and I picked up a glass of prosecco.

"I don't really want any." Hellion insisted.

"That smells amazing." Hellion exclaimed.

"Just a sip."

"Oh my god."

"I'm going to go get a us a bottle," I smiled, amused, happy in the garden of one of my favorite places in the world with a man I adore.

We sat sipping on sparkling wine as the sky slowly clouded over and the rain began to come, slowly at first, to pick up as we worked to wend our way back home.

The afternoon was fragrant with lavender, the smell of the storm and an air of happiness.








Monday, June 05, 2017

Among the Fishes






Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Aquarium

"We must watch all the Sherlock now."

I let Hellion dictate what it is we will do at any given time. His ideas tend to be better than mine. The youthful prism through which he sees the world is engaging and I'm happy to be dragged along by home. Most of the time, because I want to be. Only occasionally kicking and screaming.

So it was that we were laying in bed sipping wine and watching movies and laughing and snuggling and embracing and being and living when the screen flickers into a scene that looks to be at the bottom of an ocean, an aquarium somewhere in London. All black with blue highlights on the walls, the underwater, the underground.

"I miss that. I miss the fishes."

"We can go to the aquarium tomorrow if you'd like?"

"Can we? Yes, let's do that."

Somehow we managed to get ourselves out of bed and moving eleven, packed into a car and headed downtown to see the fishes. The lake was beautiful that day, being beautiful, as usual, as is it's way. We pulled up to the Shedd just around lunch time, while it was only a small amount of busy. As we worked our way through the lines I checked out what seemed to me to be some ridiculous package prices until we finally got to the counter.

"Don't you have like a day pass for Chicago residents?"

"Do you live in the city?"

"I do."

"Do you have your driver's license?"

The fact that I haven't driven since 2002 is the constant bane of my existence sometime. The fact that I have no real interest in driving keeps me from doing these ID related things. I care not.

"I have a passport."

"Do you have something with an address on it?"

"Let me look."

"I can take anything."

"I have nothing. I have my phone bill, maybe, on my phone."

Phone: You have forgotten, mis-keyed, or in some other way fucked up either your ID or password, so under no circumstances will I allow you to log into this account for the next 24 hours. Try again and your account will be deleted.

"Uh, I have my home address on my Uber account?" Flashes the phone.

"That's, can you just tell me your address, I just need to type it in."

I give him my address and he dutifully types it in and gives us two five dollar tickets that get us into basically everything except the special exhibits (which you can pay five dollars a pop for if you REALLY need to have that experience). I smiled as I handed over ten dollars, while the tourists around us paid almost fifty a head for their entrance. Sometimes it pays to be persistent.

We wandered into the tanks, watching the variety of water life move back and forth and do their various things. From the underwater blue of the Caribbean tank, the the north wetlands, southern wetland, shores upon shores, riverways, waterways, lakeways, wet ways, down the corridors, around the bend to see otters and dolphins and take in the scents of salt and fresh water, moss and undergrowth, snapping turtles and crocodiles who starred back or starred not at all as we walked past.

Through the warm humid air of the South American room taunting the piranhas, past the sturgeon, and the fish petting zoo, and the spiders and the snakes, with the luminescent jelly fish floating carelessly and deadly in their cage. We ate lunch on the lake, we held hands, we kissed in front of clear and murky waters.

"Was this what you wanted?"

"It was perfect."


Saturday, June 03, 2017

Impulse Purchases

"I don't know..."

"Yes. Just yes. You need those in your life. Just buy them," Hellion is an awful voice of conscious when I'm trying not to make an impulsive purchase.

"I mean..."

"No. Buy them. Buy them now."

"Do you really think so?"

"You should absolutely buy those," this from Gongalu, who is also not helping.

"Guys, these are awfully expensive."

"They are perfect, they look perfect on you. Buy them." Hellion has made up his mind.

At this point I have tried them on, and I must admit, I like the feel. There is a sort of power imminent in them, the fit and the shape perfect, when I move, they move with me. All my dark goth day dreams swirl in my head. I'll never be a fairy princess goth anyway.

"If you are not sure, we can put them back up and you can come back later."

"Don't do that, get them now. They only have that one and look at how fast things are moving," Gongalu points out.

"Buy them." Hellion has spoken his mind about this now.

"We can hold them for a-"

"Just shut up and take my money," I finally relent.

And so, now, I am the proud owner of  12 inch demon horns.

Seems perfectly appropriate.






Friday, June 02, 2017

Leather Recall

Wandering through the isles of the vendor market at IML with Hellion and Gongalu in tow lead to many avenues of amusement.

"My god, the smell!" Gongalu was overall fairly impressed with the quantity and quality of leather to be discovered at the market. Hellion, having been the year before, was possibly less impressed but still equally amused. I was only half shopping. I enjoy looking and poking about at things, but with a leather and gear collection that is already overflowing I'm hard-pressed to find something I want, let alone need. For the first time in years I didn't purchase a single flogger, but then, I didn't find one I thought I really needed to add to my collection.

The leather boys and leather daddies were out in droves. On my left a random man grabs another by his jock strap and starts to finger his ass while they kiss deeply. Yes, I think, to myself, it's IML again.

Part of me is entirely in the moment, small bits of me are floating on the past as we walk down the halls. I think back to almost two years ago now, when I went to the event, but after went back to the home I had then shared with my love. The Author and I had managed to get my name on the list for a bootblack and I had to wait but finally managed to get so I could get a proper blacking of my knee high docs (my knee highs make all the leather boys, bois, and girls jealous).

My particular leather slave for that adventure was sporting cubby ears and had on wrestling half jock. He had placed as an International Boot Black runner up some years before, and I was happy to have him working on my boots. He did good work, too, though he didn't know how to ladder lace and I was left to redo all the strings on my boots later. At least it got done.

To have my boots blacked I had to sit on a chair that was almost like a throne and I had a view of the entire event as I sat there, overlooking the balcony so I could see all the vendors down below, and there in front of me a group of burly bears, rough looking leather men, all oiled up, and smiling and cajoling, with a younger bear somehow in between them.

I watched.

They joked around with him, pushing him back and forth between them. Laughing. He smiled, part of it was shy, part of it was lust, the attention of these four big men all focused on him, he smacked of someone who had found himself in a situation that was somehow perfect and also completely unexpected.

One of the daddies grabbed him by his hair, another stroked his chest, the third pushed him down onto his knees, the fourth undid the zipper on his leather pants, the first pushed his head forward. And so I sat from my throne, my boots getting polished by a leather slave, my hands rested across my corset, my smile one of sheer amusement, as the leather bears managed a half circle jerk, half face fuck. The feeling that this show is for me, for my amusement and pleasure, is strong. This was proper and appropriate, and fully IML.

After my boots had been polished the Author caught up to me. "Did you see that."

"Yep."

That night I eventually got picked up by my love. It would be one of the last nights we would spend in each others arms.

IML is still amusing, but somehow the weekend comes with more emotions than it used to. The memories are excellent, though, and the event still worth it.


Thursday, June 01, 2017

Sunshine

The weekend went much as intended, and yet, in reflection, I'm hard pressed to find the adventure in it. Perhaps the greatest and most pleasant part about the weekend was that there was not a sense of fixed or forced adventure. The weekend went as intended, I spent much of it wine drunk and wrapped around Hellion. 


I bought a pair of horns. 

I watched the leather parade. 

I collected around 1000 condoms for free. 

I laughed with friends. 

I enjoyed my dogs. 

I enjoyed the sunshine. 

All outward appearances are a happy mask, satisfied, elated, really. 

Underneath there is burning turmoil of a thousand unasked questions. Gnawing doubt and questions about myself, my instincts, my beliefs. 

Trying to find the meaning in the things that don't actually have any meaning. 

It's a sunny day though. 

Summer has started. 

I got a pair of Docs with roses. 

I got a bunch of dental work done. 

I got bracelet that says don't touch me. 

I got a phone call from my lover. 

I got a schedule for my next adventure. 

I got an idea for something to engage me, for something to keep me going. 

I got rejected. 

I got accepted. 

I got to get on going. 

Birds started chirping at 3 a.m. and I watched for three hours as the sky turned from black to pale yellow and finally the sun rises over the lake, chasing away the few pleasant dreams I have. Running around in my head with those I believed to be lovers, those I want to be friends. There are smiles in there somewhere. My dreams were sunny and melted easily into the light of dawn. Now is the time for nouns and active verbs and moving away from passivity. 

At least, for this I have something. 

I have something.