Allow Natural Death by dixē.flatlin3
I had a conflicted relationship with my grandmother. Growing up the dark-eyed, dark-haired one in a family of Germanic blondes was somewhat difficult. Add to this the fact that she was a hardcore nuclear housewife and believed all women were destined for lives of domestic servitude; it can be easy to understand where the friction came from. Since I did not fit the California Blonde ideal that my cousins did, I would have to learn other skills to find and keep a man. And grandma felt it was her duty to reinforce this into my thick skull.
Grandmother was also of diminished capacity from several “head injuries”, or so the adults in my life told me. There had been a nasty interaction between my maternal family and the father of cousin. One of their California Blondes had gotten knocked up at 17 and been forced to marry the guy, which was common in the late-60s. Within a few years this shotgun union had soured and he attempted to kidnap the kid. During commission of this crime, he ran both of my grandparents down with his car in the street in front of their suburban home. And thus began the lifelong story of not taking what either grandparent said to heart because they were both physically damaged. Funny what stories adults will tell to make sense of their dysfunction to children, but I digress.
Oddly it was my mother and I who always ended up caring for grandma whenever she needed it. The California Blonde, Orange County relations were always too busy to assist, in spite of their positions as grandma’s favorites. After her aneurysm in the late-80s, I was the one who moved into the guesthouse in Burbank and cared for her. In her later years she moved in with my mother, who served as her primary caregiver until her death. She spent more time around my son than any of the other great-grands. The other side of the family had been completely unable to deal with the stress and proved to be utterly useless. Occasional phone calls, rare visits and gifts in the mail were all grandma got in the end from her favorites. And she was mean and batshit crazy until the very end. And I was there until that end, still able to perform feats no one else could.
One morning when I walked into their house to drop off my young son with my mother, I was struck by the realization that I was going to find my grandmother dead on the floor someday. It was a profoundly creepy feeling, but I left and went on my way to work. Later in the day my mother informed me that my grandmother had been admitted into the hospital during the early morning hours. Having been found unresponsive in bed by mother just after midnight. My mother indicated that grandma was somewhat out of it, but able to communicate. I was filled with a sense of knowing that my grandmother had already left and that was what I had felt when I entered the house that morning.
Things did not improve; in fact, the prognosis became dire within the first day of the hospital stay. Grandma had suffered a major brain hemorrhage and would likely never recover. My grandmother had been very aware of her health in her latter years and had refused dialysis for at least two years prior to this catastrophic event. My mother had discussed with her the implications of her decision to forego medical intervention. “Eventually something will quit working, you will likely fall into a coma and then be placed in hospice until you die.” Grandma was totally cool with this, ever the progressive Californian she had signed all the right documents to prevent heroic measures.
When they transferred grandma to hospice I decided to make a visit. I had not seen my aunt or cousin in several years at this point because as an adult I did not have to interact with toxic people. It was a hardcore move, but one that my mother respected because there was no denying the dysfunction that had always existed within her family. To have a reunion of three generations of women in a hospice room was poetic. My cousin had traveled from her east coast life where she is essentially a housewife having married well. My aunt is a bitter, toxic person having been traded-in by her successful husband for a younger, newer model before she was 40-years-old. The first words my aunt said to me were regarding my body. Always the one for noting appearances, I guess it astounded her to compare me side-by-side to her trophy daughter, who had acquired the middle-age spread that can accompany the housewife lifestyle.
There was tense small talk between the others and myself. All of which was conducted over the death rattle coming from my grandmother. I had been in this situation several times before this, but it was all new to my cousin and aunt, who are control freaks. My cousin was most visibly affected by how my grandmother looked. Gone was the dyed hair and well-kept appearance. “Yeah, she didn’t want to go to the hairdresser anymore,” I had quipped. The cousin had not visited in several years, and grandma’s decline during this time had been drastic. Dying is not always a quick process. I had been at the side of several of my ex-husband’s relatives during their deaths. It’s not an easy cycle to watch, but you do get accustomed to the stages of it. Grandma was said to suffer from dementia during her last years. I believe her true, ugly self was showing thru the façade, but that’s just my opinion. And the sound of grandma’s death rattle was unnerving me because my cousin kept asking what was wrong, why was she making that sound. My mother and I were the only ones aware that grandma was dying.
The hospice grandma was in was a nice facility. Thankfully she had not been admitted to the location with a children’s ward because who-the-fuck wants to see the ugly reality of dying children. In fact I had never considered that this type of service was necessary before. I spoke briefly with my cousin, who was obviously shaken by this entire situation. She had kept an image of her grandmother in her head and had not had to face the reality for quite a few years now. The grandmother in her head could not be reconciled with the one that now lay dying in the other room. When we went back into the room, our mothers were silently staring at their mother and the sound of the death rattle was deafening. I requested a radio, which a nurse quickly provided. I tuned it to a 40’s swing music station because I knew this was grandma’s favorite. Grandma’s hands were now very claw-like and my cousin was attempting to put lotion on them, but it upset her too much. As we four congregated in a corner and discussed the inevitable in hushed tones, grandma started to choke.
The panic in the room was palpable. Especially with my aunt and cousin. They were still coming to terms with the fact that no one was feeding grandma or giving her water. They had provided sponges that we could use to moisten her lips and tongue, but that was it. Everyone rushed to the bedside and the chatter revolved around what to do, should they do anything because it simply delayed the end and why was no one coming to assist. My mother reminded them that there was a medical directive to deny intervention. But my aunt and cousin looked sickened by this realization, so I stepped up and asked them to hand me one of the sponges on a stick. I opened my grandmother’s mouth, stuck the sponge deep into the back of her throat and swabbed out the contents. As I removed the sponge every other person in the room reacted with revulsion. My aunt gagged and had to turn away. My cousin did the same, except she turned green and walked away. My mom was able to hand me a plastic cup before she too had to leave the room. So it was just my grandma and I and a cup full of sickly phlegm and I had just given her a bit more life to appease others.
Afterward all women present joked with me about how they had reacted to my actions. The also lauded by ability to stay calm and intervene when they had all choked and been unable to act. I mostly thought about how this would now be added to our family lore. I would forever be known as the only one who helped the grandmother I had never been very fond of. I left shortly after this event and grandmother passed away peacefully the next morning. I visited with my cousin once before she left. She seemed disgusted that there would be no memorial service, but we are all California natives and have no relations in our current states. Grandma had a few siblings who were alive, but none had indicated any desire to travel for a funeral or memorial. So this was all there would ever be to commemorate her passing. The cousin stated she would likely never return once she left, which made sense to me. Not like I’d miss her.
Several months later my mother and I delivered grandma’s ashes back to Southern California. We visited her mother’s grave at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills and placed some of her ashes there. A graveside, I might add, that had not been visited in probably two decades or more. I broke the law, but fuck it, my grandparents were pioneers in the area. We also placed some of her ashes behind the family home, which has been torn down and replaced with a McMansion. I had gathered up a carload of my friends and we went on a covert mission down the alleyways of Burbank. Due to the overbuilding in the area, we were initially unable to find the family home and placed the ashes along the wrong fence. But we went back and made it right an hour later after realizing our mistake. We then took some of the ashes to the beach and tossed them off a pier. Once again breaking a law or some city ordinance. But we’ve a saying that has always applied, cop didn’t see it, I didn’t do it.
In the end I am left with the only legacy my grandmother left me and it is this: we are not women who outsource the end-of-life tasks to others. She tended to her mother until her death, my mother tended to her mother until her death, and I am set to tend to my mother until her end. This is simply what the women in my family do and I am no different. I have included the scan that clearly shows the hemorrhage that finally killed my grandmother. I keep it as reminder that life can be over in an instant and the bitches in my family are prone to bursting blood vessels in their brains. :-)
Happy Mother’s Day, America.
Poor Impulse Control by dixē.flatlin3
It was recently brought to my attention that I have not published anything since February. The reasons for this lag are mostly due to the amount of extracurricular activities that I have undertaken in the past year. And thanks to the person who reminded me some people do still read.
Those of you who follow me perhaps know that one year ago I graduated with a business degree and got into beekeeping. After five years of school, and the constant academic writing that it required, I guess I was just plum out of shit to write about. But I need to pick up the writing pace again, in spite of the fact that the bees have been keeping me busy as, well, a bee.
Back in the day there was a 7-11 near the intersection of Yucca Street and Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood. A Google map search confirmed that it still exists as of December 2014. This was back in the 1990, when Lalaland was a-flutter with raves and underground parties. I believe that the group I was with had just left Bourgeois Pig when we stopped at the convenience store. We were en route to a party and had stopped off at the coffee shop to score drugs. Not sure if it’s still a big drug haven, but designer drugs were everywhere back then. So were coffee shops.
As I walked inside to purchase something, probably cigarettes, I somehow managed to drop several ecstasy tablets on the ground by the front counter. What’s a gal to do when she loses drugs that are not hers? Well, I can tell you what I did next. I threw my hands in the air and shouted, “Nobody move! I dropped drugs!” Not sure what would happen in modern day Los Angeles, but back then my fellow customers stopped what they were doing and joined me on my hands and knees and helped me locate the missing drugs.
Safely back in the car, my group had no idea that I had just caused a completely illegal scene in a convenience store. I did not have the heart to tell anyone that the drugs had just been on the gross floors of downtown 7-11. Not like the shit hadn’t been stepped on before we ever saw it anyway, right?
I can recall only one time that I attended any type of event related to the American holiday known as Super Bowl Sunday. I am sure my father watched the games when he was around, but I would have made it a point to be out of the house, so who knows. Having successfully avoided this shit for most of my life, you can imagine my surprise when I found myself smack dab in the middle of one of these testosterone-fueled events.
At the time I owned a tattoo shop and was married to my business partner. We had been in our location for more than two years when our new landlord came into the picture. This was pre reality TV days, so tattooing was a bit coarser around the edges than it is now. Two of our loyal customers were this biker dude and his old lady. The guy also happened to own a commercial construction company. When our building went up for sale, they decided to buy it, “for investment reasons.”
As I have already mentioned he was a biker who had an old lady, and to those of you who watch Sons of Anarchy that probably sounds super cool. Well, in reality, it wasn’t too bad I suppose. The guy was not a patch holder, but was a “known associate” of a notorious biker gang that reigns in my state. There was a big patch over a while back, but that’s another story for another time. That element has always been around within the tattoo industry. I was familiar with it from working in shops that were “known affiliates” of various gangs. It was pretty much the same: you could expect the owner to have a fucking Napoleon complex and lose his shit at least once a month. He typically also had an old lady who used to be a stripper/tweaker who thought she ran the place and showed up with black eyes frequently. Guess he had to tell her the same thing a few times.
I liked them; they were funny and honest, which are two key factors in making me happy. We did a lot of couple type shit together, which sort of made me an old lady, which was whatever. I was a bit too mouthy for the landlord’s liking, but he and I maintained a status quo that I often liked to shake up. He eventually accepted that I was the brains behind the business and talked to me about the contracts his company secured.
Over a period of several years we watched this man grow his business to become quite successful. Another perk of being a “known associate.” We went to a lot of corporate events as guests of his company. Pretty sure that is the only way in hell I would have ever gone to a NASCAR event- nestled amongst the corporate trailers.
Eventually he and his old lady bought a custom home on five acres and remodeled it from top to bottom. He also filled it with trophies from his hunting trips. This dude had a dead elephant in his house. I once asked him why he felt the need to trophy hunt and he plainly told me because he “needed to kill things.” Again, I am a sucker for honesty, and believe in personal freedoms. Would I live in a house that had dead lions and zebras and giraffes on the walls? Absolutely not, but that dude can do whatever the fuck makes him happy. It was creepy housesitting for them, but we did it.
I should also mention that the guy liked to run a Nazi flag up the flagpole just to piss of his neighbors. I also learned that money cannot buy class because the dude was blatant Aryan, another biker stereotype that is a reality. Learned that nifty fact during my formative years tattooing as well.
It was to this den of masculinity that I was called to on a Sunday to prepare dinner. Somehow my braniac of a husband had volunteered me to cook a meal of hot and sour soup. What I did not know was that it was Super Bowl Sunday. You can imagine my horror when I realized that I was making Asian food on what is assuredly one of the manliest of manly high fucking holy days in this country. We were clueless because, duh, we don’t follow football.
After many cocktails were made, games of pool shot in the basement game room, joints rolled and smoked on the expansive patios overlooking the national forest, it was eventually time to eat. I don’t remember much of how that evening ended, other than in complete disaster for me because what kind of old lady serves hot and sour soup on Super Bowl Fucking Sunday?! Good thing the guy kept Percocet and Xanax in the candy dishes at his house; right next to the dead, but tastefully preserved bodies of endangered animals.
Let’s have a Black Celebration by dixē.flatlin3
This morning I came across something a friend had written yesterday regarding those who may have not celebrated and shared with their families the American holiday known as Thanksgiving. First, let me acknowledge that I do not presume that every person on the planet knows there was a holiday in America yesterday. Secondly, regardless of where you live, if you are on social media, and have American friends, it must have been nearly impossible to ignore that the most Yanks were über friendly and not talking about politics for most of the day.
Yesterday was the American holiday known as Thanksgiving. A holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November. A day we eat a lot of food. I believe there was once some sort of bullshit history lesson wrapped into the gluttonous holiday, but given the historical facts of how this nation was stolen, er, I mean settled, they’ve sort of glossed over that part. There is also the matter of how to accurately depict the oft referred to celebration between the involved parties. Pilgrims and Indians are all wrong for the whitewashed 21st century. It is not politically correct; does not adhere to the Newspeak standards and offends the delicate sense of many of the comrades.
As a child in the American school system we use to dress-up for the holiday. Including those for whom English was a secondary language. We were directed by school officials to put on plays in honor of this day. Can you imagine how this would ruffle the feathers of so many gluten allergy affected patrons in the year 2014? America is no longer a melting pot; it is now one big salad bowl of pluralistic inclusion. Gone are the days of immigrant grandparents telling the children to speak English because they are Americans. This is how my peers and myself came to lose the native tongues of our ancestors. Italian, German, Gaelic, Slovak, Vietnamese, Chinese, Hindi, and many other dialects went the way of the dodo bird with our parents, and perhaps their parents’ parents. The customs associated with Thanksgiving have evolved. It has shifted away from a nationalistic, family-centric celebration to more of a day full of preparations for an imminent capitalistic spending frenzy.
My friend and I worked in the same industry for many years. This industry in particular was once known for drawing in the disenfranchised, artistic types. People who typically did not have strong family ties to begin with. Which was why I decided to host what I labeled the Freak Holidays. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I had noted that a lot of our coworkers had no intention of spending time with their families. This could have been due to the fact that many had come from other states for the opportunity to work in a particular business. However, many simply preferred to not spend time with their families, which was my personal preference as well. I then decided to invite every person I knew to come and celebrate the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas at my home. I did the majority of the cooking and provided the staple items. The only items I did not supply were booze and drugs, but I did have a room we called the Playroom. A room dedicated to the art of smoking pot, which was where most of attendees congregated
The first Thanksgiving was a huge success. I cannot remember how many people came and went that day, but it was a lot. We did not have the luxury of having Black Friday off because we were expected to helm the various shops where consumers would be looking to part with their hard earned cash. But the amount of food leftover meant that after-hours my house was full of people. This extended the holiday and drew out some who had chosen to avoid the initial celebration itself. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, word of the event had spread. There was a shitload of people at my house for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Of which more than a few slept wherever they could in my apartment.
I continued this tradition for several years. The transitory nature of the industry meant that there were always new faces in the crowd. And eventually there came a point when I no longer felt a strong enough sense of camaraderie to open my home to strangers. The floodgates to the industry had swung wide open, and those coming in were not cut from the same cloth as those I had grown up with. The invites became limited to a select few, and then that list dwindled as my years in the industry grew. But my memories are fond ones, and I was reminded of these by another friend yesterday.
I received an email from someone I had not heard from in a very long time. She wished me a happy holiday and reminded me of these gatherings of yore. She said that she had heard a song and it brought back memories of spending Thanksgiving at my house. She had fallen into the job opportunity bucket and did not have the funds or time to venture home for the holidays. She explained that she had felt like an outsider upon her arrival to work amongst us, but that after spending time with others in a non-work environment, it had been easier for her to adjust to her temporary home. That was 18 years ago, and it was a song that initiated her contact. She asked if I could still be found dancing around the kitchen and singing horrific pop songs while I cooked. This made me laugh because I suppose that image is hard to juxtapose against a house full of heavily tattooed, mostly male guests.
The words of another friend on social media caused me to contemplate this all. What exactly does Thanksgiving represent to Americans in the 21st century? What will become of the once sacred traditions now that they have been tainted as exclusionary by some? What does it mean to be American? I do not I pretend to have any answers, but I do know that the visage of my country has evolved into one that is frighteningly reminiscent of Big Brother. There is very little meaning left that is not directly consumer related. All of humanity’s woes fall to the wayside when Americans are given an opportunity to buy another television set at a slightly discounted price. That can then be put on display somewhere in their home, which they likely cannot afford, and they can gather around and watch the images of lives they cannot afford. But it is America; everybody has the exact same opportunity to be that special, little snowflake deemed worthy enough for mass consumption. Every American has an equal opportunity at being exploited by the machinations of the Capitalism. Regardless of whether or not they know it.
Now, leave your families and go forth and buy something, for fuck’s sake! This is ‘Murika! We’re at war! Feed the machine! And may gawd help us all as we slide into the holiday that celebrates the destruction and assimilation of paganism worldwide. Do not let the pangs of separation stop you! You have a device in your pocket that keeps you connected. And I assure you that connection is felt more deeply than any familial ties any human has every experienced.
Blessings upon you all.
Recently I had the pleasure of enduring a drunken phone call from an old friend. To say that she is less than pleased with her current circumstances would be an egregious understatement. Not that her present environment is unpleasant, it’s actually one that many women, especially mothers, would envy; she is a properly kept woman living on acres in the Deep South. She is married, has two children and does not work, but she does drink. Oh dear god does she drink. Sadly, I am her go-to whenever she feels the need to discuss nostalgia, which correlates to her consumption of Courvoisier and moonshine. I should know better than to answer the phone, but we all love a good train wreck, don’t we?
Thankfully, her most recent drunk dial was not to rehash the details of abortions of yore. One can only discuss the vague details of driving a friend to several clinics, when they were teenagers, so many times before it grows tiresome. And we have had these discussions many, many times over the years. But her most recent phone call was for a completely different purpose altogether.
There is much notoriety and mythology surrounding the area where we spent our time together. It seems that the desert east of Los Angeles has become somewhat famous, in purely musical terms, which never ceases to amuse me. I fucking hate the desert cities that are Palm Springs to Coachella and beyond. The fact that hipsters pay, out-the-ass, to see bands performing in a field, in fucking Coachella, still makes me laugh out loud. Trust me when I tell you that I am not alone in this point of view. But whatever, everything is fucking ghey now, and I expect nothing less from the 21st century.
You see, she and I attended [redacted] together, and are quite familiar with many of the individuals who have seemingly ascended to the plateau of fame. If you’re from the area, The Plateau is something completely different, but I digress. To me it is nothing more than faces and times that I care to forget. Obviously, to some, it has become a moment in time that they wish to relive. Regrettably, I am often forced to discuss this topic.
In this distressing damsel’s case, it involves a few tales of the ones who got away. You see, she completely fucked her full-ride sponsorship with the successful music producer. A feat the involved no less than fucking an industry drug dealer and being seen in public with the pariah. Even I knew her goose was cooked once this had happened, but to this day, she is unaware of her flagrant transgression. Another bone of contention between us, but I can be too kind with morons. I am working on it, trust me, but it’s hard.
After a few rounds of on the phone with her, I was finally able to discern exactly why she had reached out to me on this particular evening. Getting to the point with sycophants and narcissists is key, it saves energy, but again, I digress. Turns out she had come across yet another trust fund baby, and this one was fascinated with the desert rock or stoner rock scene, but she could not verify her existence within it. Naturally she turned to me for validation because I was her only true connection to any of the parties. Well, the only one without a dick, who still speaks to her.
During our conversation I realized that in our desert years, she had never been more than some girl one of my friends was fucking. And one who accompanied me, usually at the request of said friend, but she had never been more than that. She never made it safely into the friend zone. She always got stuck at cum dumpster, a position that I am woefully unfamiliar with. I eventually asked her if she needed me to vouch for her with this new guy because I was willing to do anything to get off the phone at this point. I even offered to write her a letter of recommendation because she is not in any of the pictures I took at the numerous gigs at The Colony that I attended. As a photo geek in high school, I always had a camera, and it was only ever pointed at friends when there was nothing better to capture. This was never the case at the generator parties, and thusly, I have no pictures of her to use as evidence.
I suggested that she perhaps use the article I wrote back in May to segue to the desert scene, but that would require her to give-a-fuck about someone other than herself. Let’s be honest, that ain’t ever gonna happen with anyone who has ever spent time in SoCal. Especially in the I.E. and other desert cities.
Cray*2 by dixē.flatlin3
Given our overall temperaments, I must admit, that as a member of the human female network, I am shocked that more of us do not kill. That is to say, that more of us do not give into the murderous impulses that we naturally repress. The urge to open up a throat with a razor, rather than smooth the ruffled feathers of yet another ego.
Given to whims of fancy; hormonal; bodies and minds at the mercy of the universe; the source of hysteria; dangerous creatures. I have known more than one man who has lived to tell the tale of his encounter with a knife-wielding member of the fairer sex. Both awoke to find themselves straddled by a pretty, broken doll; both happy to have survived their brushes with batshit-crazy death; both shaken, but not defeated.
I never allowed myself to sympathize, much less empathize with them because in female transgressions of this nature, the batshit-crazy had been thinly veiled in their partners of choice. Sadly, I have learned that this is not as easy for others to spot. Hard to believe, I know, but life is weird that way.