Category Archives: Booze, Drugs, Health, Cigs

Angela’s Diving Diary from Curacao: cigarettes nearly ruined my dive trip

Angela’s Diving Diary, 1st week of September: couldn’t dive today. I spent so much money coming from the U.S. to Curacao to dive and scope out real estate to move here.  But I came mostly to dive.  And I learned a lesson – a valuable one – about the respiratory system. As some of you know, I quit smoking a few years ago. But a few nights ago I went out here in Curaçao and ended up smoking WAY too many menthol cigarettes. When I get a few gin drinks in me, the desire to smoke a cigarette comes on strong.  Way strong.  Drinking and smoking always used to go hand in hand for me.  So I started smoking cigarettes that night like I needed them to live.

And all of that smoking fucked up my throat – I wasn’t used to it.  That combined with 2 days of breathing compressed air from diving led to extreme irritation. I called the DAN medline today to ask if I should dive and received quite a lecture on how very bad it is for a diver to smoke and to not do it anymore.  I was told all of the biological effects on the lungs and how that didn’t jive with being underwater.  She said I may even end up with a respiratory infection and to not dive until it is checked out.
I’ve worked too hard and spent too much time and money to be a diver to mess it up with something this stupid.  I do not want to ever smoke again – ever. It is NOT worth it and not part of who I am anymore.
I think I thought I could incorporate some of my old lifestyle into my new one, but it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole – the 2 do not go together anymore. I am not the same person I was – I used to love to party and be out all night and smoke all the cigarettes.  But I don’t know, I ain’t feeling it anymore.  Partying like
I am 35 just sounds exhausting to me.  And no good for my diving goals.
I have learned so much about who I am by being on this island and by diving. And those cigarettes must go FOREVER! I cannot believe I went there and I am kicking myself – these stupid things screwed up my Open Water certification plan today. I am really pissed at myself. #dontdostupidstuff #ilovecuracao #nevergiveup #girlgetyourprioritiesstraight [Editor’s Note: I did finish OW the next day, but still lost a day of diving in paradise because of smoking.]

Sex with your scuba diving instructor

by Angela Perez

Let’s not quibble about the dude’s gear setup in the picture.  You get what I’m doing here, right?
While out drinking in Curaçao one night, a friend of mine told me that part of the fun in being a dive instructor on the island is that he gets a lot of pussy out of the gig. That women who come to the shop always want to bang the hot dive instructor who taught them how to overcome their fear and do something fun and little bit dangerous.
When I got back to the States, while sitting around one afternoon drinking beer with a couple of American dive buddies (who happen to be instructors), I’ll call them Jerry and Dave (though they both said they don’t care if I name them – but I won’t do that). I relayed the island instructor’s epiphany that the job title “Divemaster” is a pussy magnet. Dave laughed and snorted out beer through his nose, “Fuck no, nope. I don’t get laid from teaching diving. Never happened. Damn, I’m teaching in the wrong place. What the fuck?”
Jerry agreed, “No way, Angela, I never got offered pussy for tips on how remove your mask without drowning. That dude is full of shit. Or he was probably trying to fuck you.”
I said, “Wait, though. Maybe he’s telling the truth. It’s not just the divemaster, student relationship that leads to sex, it’s the location. Dude, it’s because these women are on vacation. It’s vacation sex. It’s part of a whole island fling fantasy. Bored single women or even married women go to a tropical island and get their groove back courtesy of salty, oceanic, teacher cock.”
I thought about the nature of this fantasy while Dave went to go urinate (or maybe he went to jerk off thinking about the dive fantasy I just described) and Jerry went to get us more beer. The island fling scenario is so cliché, so played, so…wait, though, that’s part of the appeal, right?
When Jerry and Dave got back to the table, they both pressed me for more explanation on the island fantasy.
Jerry said, “Okay, okay. I want to know more about how a woman thinks about this divemaster thing. Maybe I’ve been playing this all wrong.”
I laughed. I said, “No, you’ve played it as well as you can in a dirty quarry on the outskirts of a boring assed city like Raleigh. That dank cold quarry will never prime a chick for the fantasy. Pussy comes out of the quarry cold and ready to just get that fucking 5 mm wetsuit off. Not sexual AT ALL. A Caribbean island for single women is NOT reality and the dive dicks that are offered to you are attached to men who are living some sort of tropical-themed Groundhog Day – every day they encounter new half-naked women who come in with the same heightened expectations, the same dream, the same desire to let go, to feel everything and care about nothing, and then the sun goes down, some drinking and fucking occurs, chick flies back to her home, and the dive instructor goes back to work, repeats the same scenario over and over again, day in and day out, until his dick falls off or he goes to a different island and starts the same day all over again.”
Jerry put his beer down and said, “I want to live this Groundhog Day, just for a few weeks. I swear to God. Take me with you when you move to Curacao and I’ll live with you and work at a dive shop.”
I laughed, “Okay, but you can’t bring these women to my house. I’m not down with that. No Fantasy Island at my new place. But it would be nice to have a roommate who can take me diving whenever I feel like it. You see, I want to use you for your diving ability, not your dick.”
Jerry said, “But you can have both. That’s how I’ll pay my rent.”
I said, “I’m liking this plan more and more.”
We all laughed and decided on tequila shots next. Dave said, “So, what about your island fantasy, Angela? What is it?”
I said, “Well, I already lived out a couple of them.”
Jerry said, “Details, please. ALL the details. Right now.”
I said…well…if you want to know what I told the fellas, stay tuned for my next blog – coming out this week…Also, some tips on whether or not to rent or buy on your sexy Caribbean island of choice. P.S. I did NOT tell them about my actual personal experiences and I’m not telling you. Some things are only for me. And my best girlfriends.

 

Sunday, Sept. 15 Diving Fitness Update

FITNESS UPDATE ANOMALY: I gotta tell you about the craziest thing this week. I came back from Curaçao doubly inspired. I put in extra time this week at the gym and had no appetite. I don’t know why, but I just didn’t want food. So I made myself eat raw fruits and veggies. No alcohol and never again with the smokes. And I accidentally lost 3 pounds this week. Total lost so far: 20 pounds in 2 months. From working out and eating mostly right.  I will be back in Curacao soon and cannot wait to figure out how much weight I WON’T need in my BCD.  #divinggoals #nevergiveup #ilovecuracao

 

Leaving behind the dark side of life (and the people who inhabit that place)

When I lived in DC and worked from home now and again, I’d get stir crazy and miss human interaction – then after a few days in the office I found I couldn’t handle the Dilbertesqueness and day-to-day horrors of office politics. I left the larger corporate world – sure, the money was wonderful, but there was no joy in it.

When I was finally making over six-figures, I believed I had truly arrived in life. That the salary was the culmation of all of my dreams, hard work and, yes, graduate shcool debt. But none of that turned out to be true. I realized that my happiest days were when I was living off of $20,000 a year, traveling the world and immersing myself in other cultures. Learning to understand who Angela was in a global context. Moving from ethnocentrism to ethnorelativism.

Lately, I’ve been reading one Princeton professor’s work as to what makes for work-related /career happiness and ultimately general happiness. Before I started reading up on living a life of effective altruism and normative ethics, I already understood I am obligated to give of my time and money to make a difference in the world. If I am in a position to do that, then ethically I am obligated to do so. Once you figure that out, the rest falls into place.

There are lots of sociological & exhaustive psychological studies offering stats on what makes for a satisfying career. In my career and in my voluteer/side pursuits I’ve learned to follow these tenets (and push myself even more on the volunteer side to live these) and it’s what drives me now. For number 6, I had to do some altering of that personal life – for me, it was to quit drinking, smoking and surrounding myself with negative, needy, dark and draining people and people engaged in their own forms of self-destruction (ah, is that altruistic behavior? Yes, if those kinds of people are keeping you from achieving and being all that you can.) Once I did that, my God, it was shocking how much clearer the path became. I also used to believe that my cynicism and dark side were the things that kept me honest – the fact is, acknowledging that I have both of those and looking them square in the face and not being enslaved to them is the most honest pursuit I’ve ever embarked upon. [Editor’s note:  about 3 and a half years later, I discovered that I could drink again and do so in moderation and not let it lead me down the dark path – though, when I get tipsy, the desire to light up a cigarette is STRONG in me.  But I have scuba diving goals and smoking fucks that up.  So, note to Angela – NO SMOKING DAMMIT.]

So without some meme saying trite things like “Follow your passion” (I have a passion for Chinese opera but I won’t find happiness by trying to make a career out of it because I would suck at it on numerous levels – but I CAN support Chinese opera and feel just as fine about that), here is the prof’s simple premise – remember though, these are edicts for people in a position to make choices and who have options – part of fulfilling obligations to helping those in the world who need it or devoting yourself to particular causes:

“Here are the six key ingredients of a dream job:

  1. Work you’re good at
  2. Work that helps others
  3. Engaging work that lets you enter a state of flow (freedom, variety, clear tasks, feedback)
  4. Supportive colleagues
  5. A job that meets your basic needs, like fair pay, short commute and reasonable hours
  6. A job that fits your personal life
  7. Most importantly, focus on getting good at something that helps others.”

I swear to God, people, it works.

Shirtless Gerald is not a closet gay but does enjoy cocaine: a story about Raleigh

Gerald was shirtless, wearing only a pair of cut-off jean shorts and those scuffed-up blue suede Pumas he never got around to throwing out.
“What dude wears cut-off jean shorts?” said his roommate Bobby, shaking his head and wrinkling his nose in semi-distaste. “Dude, that look cannot be pulled off, even ironically. It just outs you as the closet fag you’ve always been. Like James Franco.”  He hunched over the kitchen table, moving closer to his Cheerios, but not eating them.  He lit a cigarette instead.

“Hand me my smokes,” said Gerald brushing past him.  He moved closer to the kitchen window, peering through the stained, twisted metal blinds. His right eye twitched. “Where IS Judd? He said he’d be here in twenty. I ain’t got all day. He’s such a little fucking liar.” He let go of one of the slats, accidentally popping it back into perfect alignment.  It had not been straight in years.

The thing is, Judd dropped dead 10 minutes earlier from a heart-attack just as he was walking out the front door of his condo, little bags of shitty ineffectual cocaine in hand.   The drugs, intended for Gerald, were clenched in his quickly cooling right fist.   Hundreds of muscles loosened all over his body and carbon dioxide began building up in millions of cells that would, in a short while, split wide open and begin to devour themselves.

At the very moment Judd’s pinkish skin went loose and was fading to blue, Gerald reflected on the pattern of his life: moments of stultifying boredom and self-loathing peppered with bits of great anticipation only to have nothing much transpire.

Why should today be any different?

7-card stud, fried catfish, and girls who are ripe for Southern dick

by Angela Perez

Dear reader, I’m going to share with you a conversation I overheard yesterday whilst dining in one of my favorite country-cooking cafés.  As I feasted upon cucumber & onions in apple cider vinegar, hushpuppies, slaw and fried flounder, a rough-looking, ruggedly handsome, middle-aged fella, about 50, and his buddy, a wiry, white-haired, elderly man in a John Deere cap, sat in the booth behind me.  I know what they looked like because I checked them out when I got up to pay my bill.  Here’s what I heard (names have been changed):

Younger fella: [in a thick, Southern accent where one-syllable words are spoken in two syllables – like “cah-aHd” for “card”]: I’ll tell ya’, that ole gal’s running that card game in [tiny town in rural Franklin County] three days a week now.  All ‘dem boys is gettin’ in on that game.  7-card game.

Older fella: Nah. Nah.  Count me out.  I ain’t gettin’ in trouble with the old lady.  No cards for me.  Not anymore.

Younger fella:   That Tommy is a crazy sumbitch when he’s drunk.  And he always loses when he gets to drinking.  I won $3,000 last Thursday night ‘cause he was hitting that bottle.  Had been all week.  I don’t know when he ain’t drunk lately.  [Pauses, looking at the menu].  I’ll be damned if they ain’t added some new things on the menu.  Chicken-fried steak…clam strips…Nah, I want my usual, them chicken livers.

Older fella: I’m getting the chicken and dumplings. That’s always good.

Waitress comes over to their table. She’s tall and scrawny, a very weathered-looking 21 or 22, chewing gum, white-frosted, stringy, mouse-brown hair pulled up in a bun, and quite possibly, hidden under her purple t-shirt, a tattoo sprawled across her lower-back consisting of a shaky galaxy of stars, hearts and/or butterflies or maybe the word “Slipknot” or “Carolina Panthers” with the team logo.

Waitress: Whatch’all boys having to eat today?  Tommy [Editor’s note:  This Tommy is not to be confused with the drunken Tommy, you know – the one who turns into a sumbitch when he gets drunk] I know you.  You want them chicken livers.

Tommy [to the old man]: What did I tell you, Ed?  This little gal knows what I like.  [guffaws in a suggestive way]  I like a gal who knows what I want.

Ed:  I want the chicken and dumplings….ummm….no….get me that catfish with fries and hushpuppies.

Waitress: I gotcha.  It’ll be out in a little while.  [she walks away]

Tommy: That lil’ gal is ripe for it.  Just like her momma used to always be.  And I gave it to her more than a couple times.  Her mamma, I mean.

Ed: What’s her name, our waitress?

Tommy: I can’t remember, known her since she was little.  But her momma, now, you know her.  Donna.  Used to be Donna Jackson.

Ed: Oh yeah.  I remember her.  Well, I remember hearing about her.  She married that Phelps boy.

Tommy: Yep, Jimmy Phelps.  He plays cards with us, too.  You know, I read in the paper today that that ole’ boy ain’t paid his taxes.  But he’s up at that trailer every week playing cards like he’s got money to spend.  I feel bad for him though.  He had to put his momma in that nursing home and it’s costing him an arm and a leg.  But three people stopped by my store today and told me they saw Jimmy’s name in the paper for not paying his taxes.

Ed: People love to tell you bad news when it ain’t about them, don’t they?

Tommy:  You damn right.  You know, I saw Jimmy kick his dog one night.  He had brought that dog of his, a yellow retriever, up to the card game and Jimmy was drunk as hell and he was losing all his money.  And that dog kept whining at his feet and he kicked that dog so hard I thought he’d killed him.  I’m gone tell you one thing you don’t do around me and that’s hurt a dog.  Jimmy nearly got his ass beat that night.  We made him go home after that.  Kick no dog around me.

Ed: Nah, ain’t no call for hurting a dog.  That’s unconditional love right there.  Cain’t expect that kinda loyalty from people, I’ll tell ya’ that much.

Tommy: You know, Lou Ray won $2,200 that same night and he don’t never win.  I still think he was cheatin’ somehow.  You cain’t trust a single one of them in that whole family.

Ed: His daddy won’t no good.  And none of his boys are.   They’re all trying to find a way to make a dollar off you, whether it’s to your good or not.  And it’s never to another man’s good, I can tell you that much.

By this point, I had eaten all of my food and needed to go ahead and go the counter and pay the check. As I stood up, I accidentally pushed the booth seat back into Tommy’s booth seat behind me.  I apologized to him and he smiled. 

Tommy: Aw, purdy girl, I thought you was just getting fresh with me.

Angela:  I never get fresh before 5 p.m.

Tommy: Whoo, girl [he gives a low whistle] call me at 5:01 then.

Angela:  [laughs out loud]

As I walked outside, I thought about going back inside and asking Tommy if I could go to a card game at the trailer with him some time. But I figured he’d think I was ripe for it.  So I let it go and went back to work.

What a woman obsessed with scuba diving looks for in a man. Or rather, what you don’t want.

by Angela Perez

Ah, what ARE women like me (who are obsessed with scuba diving) looking for in a man other than him possessing a working penis, all of his teeth, a job, and a strong stroke?
Well, I’ll tell you.

This conversation happened between me and a co-worker at some half-assed Mexican restaurant (you know the kind, where they feature $5.99 specials called Speedy Gonzalez 1, 2, 3 and so on.  And each dish tastes exactly the same but satisfies a craving so you go and eat half a pound of two day-old chips and shell out 8 bucks total plus tip for the waiter who is wearing too much Drakkar Noir and wonder why you put yourself through this mediocrity every 3 or 4 weeks.)

My co-worker, who is in her mid-30s and has been married for 10 years and has 2 children, asked me this, “So Angela, do you think you’ll find the one any time soon?”

“Find the one what?”  I asked, reaching for one of the stale chips.

“You know,” she said, “the man you’ll marry.”

“You know that I believe marriage is for the weak,” I said.  “You and your husband excluded.”  (I just said that to pacify her. I actually count her in that bunch.)

“Oh, Angela, there’s a wonderful man out there who will make you want to run down the aisle.”

“Maybe,” I replied.   I tried the guacamole.  “Good Lord,” I exclaimed, “I think they put shredded jicama in this.  It’s incredible!”  I dipped my spoon in for another try.   They had indeed put jicama in guacamole.   A revelation.

“You’re avoiding the topic,” she said.  “So, how about this.  Tell me who your ideal man is.”

“I honestly don’t know,” I said.  The waiter came back to ask us how everything was even though we hadn’t gotten our food yet.  The acrid smell of his cologne was actually clinging to the back of my throat, ruining the joy of jicama.  Suddenly I recalled that the first time I ever had sex was with a boy wearing Drakkar and we were listening to a Metallica cassette on his boom box.

“Okay,” she said, not giving up, “let’s do this.  Tell me what you absolutely don’t want in a man.”

“Hmmm…okay, that I can come up with,” I said, dipping a chip in the salsa.

“Yayyy!” she squealed, daintily clapping her hands.  “Finally.  So name five things quick – without even thinking about it.  Aaaaand…GO!”

“So.  One. I could never date a man who suggested that for a first date we eat at Olive Garden.  Or any chain restaurant. I could never date a man who regularly wears golf shirts and khaki pants with pleats in them.  Men should never wear pants with pleats in them.  Flat front only. Wait – do those two items of clothing count as two reasons?  He’s got to love to get in the ocean – swim, snorkel, dive, I don’t care.  But he has to want the water as much as I do.  Hmmm…also,  I could never date a man who wears Y-front white underwear.  Gotta wear boxer shorts or even just let your balls and dick swing in the wind.   Oh, and I like nice, solid forearms.  My favorite part of a man’s body.  Oh and one more, I could never date a man who thinks getting a group together to get on one of those Trolley Pubs in downtown Raleigh would be a fun thing to do.”

[Trolley Pubs are found in larger cities across the U.S.  They are these rolling pubs (like a giant bicycle) where up to 14 people get on and sit around a bar-in-the-round and each person pedals as they troll through the streets of downtown, drinking beer and going from pub to pub.  Their revelry combined with the flashing light decorations make it the most annoying sight and sound imaginable.]

“Oh my God,” she said, frowning.  She let out a sigh.   “I was thinking more along the lines of you naming certain qualities like if he was a Republican or is obsessed with sports.  Which I know neither of those is okay with you.”

“Those are two good ones to add to the list actually,” I said.   Wow, I didn’t know she knew me that well.

She shook her head.  “You are going to die alone.  You can’t be so specific.  One guy isn’t going to have everything.”

“I know that,” I said.  “Okay, I can maybe let go of most of those except for the ocean part.  It’s fundamental to what I think about, how I look at the world.  I cannot get around someone not wanting to be in or near the ocean.”

“What if he doesn’t like the ocean but had a lot of money and treated you like a queen?”

“I’d rather die than concede,” I said.  “Power never concedes without a demand.

“What does that even mean?” she asked.

“I don’t actually know.”  I looked around, weary of the conversation and of, particularly, myself.  “Where the hell is my Speedy Gonzalez number 12?”

“Do you really even truly know what you want?”

“Yes,” I answered carefully, “I want a man muscled in flame and who sweats kindness and intellect and who is funny and who will burn me to the ground causing me the exact opposite of harm.”

She rolled her eyes at me and nodded towards the approaching waiter.  “Okay.  Whatever.  Our food is here.”

“Good,”  I said.  “Great.”   And I threw down on that Speedy Gonzales like the good little single Mexican gal I am.

 

 

What I use Facebook for, people who get upset with other peoples’ posts, and your reasons for being on social media

Recently, a friend of mine was “scolded” by her morally upright friends and family for some of her “wild” Facebook posts – photos of her drinking and smoking.  They warned her that the world would think terribly of her and that she must stick to posting photos of her latest bowl of pho and of the autumn leaves changing.   That she was being perceived as a wild slut.  Also, I’ve seen a lot of posts from friends lately who are so upset by Facebook that they are going to have to check out for a while.  Here’s what I’m thinking about all of this:

I view social media as a form of self-expression – a way for me to be completely open, honest, and transparent.  And at the same time, I am able to mold and shape that self-expression in an artistic and thoughtful way that is still honest.  My posts are a way to combine reality and art in a public forum.  It’s a grand thing really, to be able to do this.   Social media is catharsis for me.  That’s why I am careful about who I friend – I don’t friend co-workers or family or people I think would not understand the extremes of my personality or self-expression.  They will easily misconstrue my posts.  The people who respond to my posts negatively or judgementally or argumentatively, I delete them.

I see people, and this happens to me sometimes too, getting frustrated and upset their experience with Facebook or the responses to their posts.  Anything you see from me on social media is a true expression of me and where my head is at that moment – or I wouldn’t have posted it.  I’ve had phases where I eschewed selfies and I’ve had phases where I posted a lot of selfies.  And I am sure there have been some who have been irritated by my “selfie” phase.  I post a lot of photos of my dog.  (If you are ever irritated by dog photos we weren’t meant to be friends anyway.)

There are a lot of posts of me going to shows and of me out on the town with friends and a lot of posts of me drinking gin and and about sex and men and even sometimes smoking and partying.  Of me traveling the world to snorkel, swim, and scuba dive. Because that’s my lifestyle.  If I posted something else, it wouldn’t be honest.  It wouldn’t be me.   My posts aren’t to celebrate self-destruction or self-glorification.  Jesus Christ, I ain’t 12 years old.  No my posts are part of my free and single lifestyle – the way I am currently choosing to live my life.

My posts reflect what is happening in my life – the good, the bad and the ugly.  If I was always knitting and baking cookies or had a baby, well, you’d see endless photos and posts about that.  But I don’t do those things.   No, I go to shows.  I love heavy metal.  I drink gin.  I swim and dive.  I read a lot.  I love Russian literature and Japanese and Chinese film.  I am in the dating scene right now.  I am getting laid now and again.  I like to write.  I have the sense of humor of a perverted 15-year-old boy sometimes.  This is who I am.  And my social media activity reflects that and is a lens for those activities and ideologies.

I love my family.  And I love my friends.  But at the end of the day, it’s my fucking life.  And I cannot and will never let anyone dictate what I do or how I do it.  In fact, unlike my girl friend, I cannot even fathom what I express about myself on social media being an issue.  If one of my family members or friends told me that my posts were too “wild” or “immoral,” well, once I stopped laughing I would tell them to go fuck themselves.  Period.  Then don’t look at my posts.  Delete me.  Unfollow me.

I’m going to express myself however the fuck I want to.  And the type of people I am friends with, for the most part, are eccentric, creative, wild, free, artistic, have similar interests, etc. and understand what I am doing with social media.  Those people do similar things, and many of you fascinate and entertain me on a daily basis.  (Also, I need social media to keep track of the shows I want to see and where I want to dive next.)  So many of you have similar lifestyles.  Or, maybe you have settled down, but HAD a similar lifestyle and you understand what I am expressing.  It’s funny, when I go out, most nights, there’s always someone who comes up to me and mentions how much they enjoy the things I share and express on Facebook.  And although in no way do I need validation for any fucking thing I do, it makes me feel good that somehow my self-expression meant something to someone else – high brow or low brow.  I like knowing that what I put out in the world makes someone else feel good.  Or better.  And, okay, at the end of the day, social media is a purely self-indulgent, selfish, giving, and sharing exercise for me – and I am fascinated by how words and photos manifest those states of being, of thinking.  The process of the ego and the id in the world.

What is social media for if it’s not to be a true expression of who you are?  No, no, no – it can never be a full expression.  But what is?  It’s not possible. I’ve thought long and hard about this.  We’re in a new era of sharing and understanding ourselves in relation to one another – now through this bizarre lens that isn’t going away.  You may say, but we’re not supposed to KNOW that much about one another.

I disagree.

Social media may evolve or morph, but it’s not going away.  If you don’t use it to parse out and create something that is utterly true to who you are, what’s the fucking point?  Social media is indeed, in 2019, an extension of ourselves.  Deny it all you want.  But it is.  It’s a new way to connect and communicate with the folks around us and friends far away.  People we’ve never met or didn’t know before.  In fact, there are people in Raleigh I’ve known through going out for over 10 years and I’ve learned more about them through Facebook than I ever did before and cultivated deeper friendships based on some of the information I found out which piqued my interest.

I use social media to express my psyche – insight for myself and those around me.  And the psyche is not a clean, ordered, moral place.  It is the opposite of that.  And people who claim to constantly live in a clean, ordered and moral place or who care about how perfect their lives look to other people, well, I don’t want or need those people in my life. It’s not honest.  It’s not genuine.   And I want to live genuinely.  The noble and the cowardly.  The high brow and the low brow.  The cool and the absolute idiocy.  The wise decisions and the really stupid, dumbass shit.  And everything in between.  And I want to express it through this incredible medium – through articulation I come to understand myself and the world around me better.  If you construct your life in a way that leaves the worst out, then I’m not being honest.   And that is not a life that I am going to live.   Ever.

 

Two stoned dudes ordering at the Bojangles drive-thru: gimme all your dirty rice

I needed hot fried chicken last night.  Real bad.  So, while I was at the Bojangles drive-thru waiting on my order and I could hear the two stoned-as-fuck guys behind me ordering (they were on the loud speaker):

Stoned driver ordering: Rice. Gimme rice.
Bojangles worker: Sprite?
Driver: Rice!
BW: Fries?
Driver: Rice!! RICE! Gimme all your dirty rice.
Stoned passenger to driver: Man, I’m the highest I have ever been at a Bojangles.
Driver: Shut the FUCK up, I’m ordering.
Passenger: Get me some mac and cheese.
Driver: No way man. Last time you got that shit all over my fucking truck. You’re getting fries.
Passenger: I’m high and I know what I want. End of story. There’s a big difference in fries and macaroni and cheese.
Driver: Not when you’re wasted as fuck and riding in MY truck.

Alas, dear reader, my order came all too soon and I had to pull away. So much wonderfulness all around us if we just pay attention while getting hot fried chicken.

cheech and chong

Destroying What You Love: on quitting liquor and smokes for 45 days

by Angela Perez
When I’m fucked up on something, I am masterful at destroying what I love.  So I had to stop all that shit.  This blog was written on April 15, 2016.

Yesterday marked 45 days without cigarettes or alcohol. It’s hard for me to believe I’m saying this, but I don’t miss it.  Even gin’s bright juniper-mist voice falls on deaf ears.  It’s like when you finally get rid of a boyfriend you knew was bad for you but you thought you couldn’t live without so you kept at that same tired old ruinous rusted busted emptied-out bone-weary relationship, but once you finally cut the ties and enact a strict no-contact rule, after a while, you wonder why you ever thought you couldn’t live without that person.  You shake your head, perplexed, when you examine that disfigured bloody corpse of a horse you both beat into the ground.  How did we let our once glorious communion come to such a state as this?

 And I’m not saying alcohol and cigarettes are inherently bad. Lord no. They were just bad for ME.  And in my new found clarity of soul and unmuffled head, I remembered something that I will advise you to remember:

 find those people who feed you intellectually, who make you grow as a person in thought and deed. Surround yourself with non-lazy, ambitious folks making interesting things happen. Who, when you talk with them, the world and all of its possibilities seem to open up before you. Divest yourself of the rest, while still communing with all. Don’t abandon the ones reeling in darkness and hurt.  But don’t live there with them, clawing at mouldering dust, moaning in a pitch-black tongue you used to speak oh-so-fucking fluently.
These broad edicts are impossible things to do when you aren’t ready. Easy as pie and bluebirds when you are. It’s the getting to the ready point that’s the real son of a bitch.

As one of America’s truest masters of poetry, Galway Kinnell, wrote:

Walking toward the cliff overhanging
the river, I call out to the stone,
and the stone
calls back, its voice searching among the rubble
for my ears.
Stop.
As you approach an echoing
cliffside, you sense the line
where the voice calling from stone
no longer answers,
turns into stone, and nothing comes back.
1_HeadofaDeadMan_l

Working is for suckers: cocaine dealers I have known

by Angela Perez

I once knew a drug dealer in Raleigh who, after many years of being a moderately successful coke slinger, abruptly decided to go the straight and narrow. He felt avoiding jail was in his best interest and recently he’d made some bad decisions that were about to land him there.

And while he truly enjoyed snorting coke off the titties of a constant bevy of eager strippers; being the center of attention at wild parties;  receiving the red carpet treatment at certain clubs and restaurants; and cruising around nightly in rental limos stocked with liquor, well, he supposed it was time to give all that up.  “I’m done,” he told me one night on the phone.  “I’m out.”  And he hung up.

So one of his closest friends got him a job in a downtown furniture-making shop and he went to work eight-to-five pulling in just above minimum wage.  He abandoned his nice rental house in the Raleigh historic district and moved into a dilapidated 2nd floor walk-up with a buddy of his who delivered pizzas.  The apartment was a dump that reeked vaguely of rotten oranges but it was cheap and he could manage his half of the rent.

Every morning, he got up at 7, got to work by 8 and worked until quitting time.  During this uneventful period of manual labor in his life, he ate lots of Oodles of Noodles and Big Macs and drank Food Lion brand soda.  Every night, he watched t.v., usually wrestling, until he fell asleep.  Or played video games on a very large, top-of-the line t.v. he’d acquired during his drug dealing days.  Few people called and, unlike the old days, strippers stopped dropping by at all hours of the night for a visit.

Every Friday at lunchtime, he’d pick up his paycheck, cash it, and have just enough money left for a week’s worth of groceries, a cheap bottle of bourbon, and to pay his part of the bills.  He went through these motions for about 6 months and found that he was more depressed than he’d ever been in his life even though he no longer suffered from the fear or pressure of being arrested or robbed (I don’t know if he ever worried about actually being killed.  He never said so.)  Although he came to realize who his true friends were and that the number had diminished greatly since he’d become a working stiff, he missed the company of dilettante acquaintances and the easy thrill of superficial good times and weary fucked-up sex with chicks who probably had some sort of venereal disease.

One Tuesday night, I was bored and went over to visit him.  I knocked on the sagging screen door and he yelled for me come on in.  He didn’t ask who it was.  I don’t think he cared.  Odd thing, a screen door on a 2nd floor apartment.  Never seen that before.  Through the screen, I could see him sitting in the Lazy Boy there in front of the door and past him I could see the tiny kitchen table covered in dirty dishes and over-flowing trash bags.  I walked into the tight apartment and he motioned towards the flatscreen,

“Oh, hey, you’re just in time for wrestling.”

I shoved several empty pizza boxes and wadded-up McDonald’s bags off the torn leather sofa, a once-glorious piece of furniture that originally cost $5,000, and sat down on something sticky that soaked through my pants.  “What the fuck?!” I yelled, leaping up,  “Why don’t you clean this hell hole up??”

He didn’t look away from the t.v. and shrugged.  “What’s the point?” he said.  “What’s the point?”

I decided to keep my mouth shut and picked up a rancid, faded beach towel off the floor and gingerly spread it across the couch cushion.  I sat down and stared at him.  He turned off the t.v. and closed his eyes, leaned his head back and said,  “Working is for suckers, Angela.  It’s for fucking chumps.”

The next day, he didn’t show up for his job.  And he didn’t show up any other day after that.  He went back to selling coke.  I don’t know how successful he was at it that time around.

I only know that he was dead 4 years later.  He was my brother.  And every morning these days, I wake up and wearily haul myself onto the metro to head for the office.  And most mornings his words seep into my muddled thinking,

“Working is for suckers. It’s for fucking chumps.”

My corporate job is in a grey building in Washington D.C.  Sometimes, on my way to work,  I nod off while sitting on the crowded subway train thinking about what he said.  And I miss my stop and have to take the next train going back.  None of the other people packed into the car know that I think they are suckers.  I think they are chumps.

Author’s note: This little story might be true but then again it might not be.

Your day job vs. gardening – when your wife will only suck the tip

by Angela Perez

When the Life Path Genie appeared before the man in his dull grey cubicle there on the 39th floor of the office building, it really was quite a shock. He had never complained about his work.  And while pushing cyber paper and assisting Vice Presidents with important needs and gentle egos wasn’t what he’d dreamed of being when he grew up (he’d planned to be a sexy astronaut or a real pussy magnet in a loud and famous heavy metal band), well, he was never the type to complain.

And while his job wasn’t necessarily as fulfilling as his hobby of raising 20 varieties of daffodils in a tiny hothouse he’d built in the backyard, his job paid the bills and provided decent health insurance for both him and his wife of 10 years.

Although he was middle-aged and in full health, he knew it was just a matter of time before he needed pills of all sorts and regular rectal exams.  “That’s the aging process love!” his mother told him before she died last year.

The man often found work fulfillment by sometimes attending a monthly whiskey club some of the lower-level employees on his floor had put together.  But he wasn’t much of a drinker so he didn’t always go.

The Life Path Genie showed up the moment he clicked on the third job listing on LinkedIn.  POOF! The genie appeared next to his computer. Only 10 inches tall. The man was startled but he didn’t cry out.

“Since you’re in a cubicle, I’ll have to whisper,” whispered the genie. “I see you have been looking for jobs while you’re at work.  You know, you could get fired for that.”

“You aren’t wearing little shiny pants,” said the man.  “Or a little turban. Where’d you get such a tiny business suit?”

The genie tapped the computer screen impatiently.  “These things are of no importance.  What is important is that you looked for jobs three times three days in a row from a work computer. Such actions immediately summon me, your personal Life Path Genie.”

“Wait, are you from human resources?” asked the man, looking around nervously.  “Are you here to fire me?”

“No, no, no,” said the genie, laughing just a bit.  “I’m here to help you find your true life path.  Obviously this isn’t it, or you wouldn’t be looking for jobs.  At work.  That’s really taking a risk you know.  IT and human resources could find out and then it’s the axe.”

“Well, it’s not so much that I want to quit. I mean, I have great benefits, the pay is decent.  Higher than average really! I’m low-level so I’m not really on the radar of the really super important people in the top levels of management who ensure the continued success of this operation.”  The man paused for a second and continued.  “Oh, and there was this one woman who was only about 30 years old working in the cubicle next to me and one of the new managers really liked her blonde hair and cute pants and noticed her talents and raised her several pay grades.   She was moved up, not for looks, but for talent.  It shows that you can get ahead around here if you have talent and combine that with the right pants!”

“Sir,” said the genie, “you’ve been here six years. The flowers of your labor are in full bloom. You come to work early so that the important managers can see you and you stay late, laughing loudly at co-workers’ jokes that aren’t funny, so the managers know you are working late. When, in fact, you are playing solitaire, updating your Facebook page, reading the New York Times online and talking about sports.  Is this how you want to spend your life?”

“Well, genie, there ARE worse things to do with yourself,” replied the man.  “Like working for the state or with people who don’t speak English.”

“I also know that your wife doesn’t have sex with you anymore because she also isn’t happy in her office job,” said the genie.

“Well, she gives me hand jobs some mornings,” said the man sheepishly.  “Sometimes she gives the tip of my dick a right good sucking.  What business is that of yours?”

“Good sex is important to finding your life path,” said the genie matter-of-factly. “Well, sir, I think I know all I need to know about you.  Get ready, my friend.  Your life is about to happen!”  And with that, the genie disappeared with a poof that was no louder than an unobtrusive fart.

The man had no time to figure out what had just happened because he had an important meeting to attend that was actually really very unimportant.

That night after arriving home and tending to his tender daffodils, he walked out of the hot-house and stood very still in the quiet of his backyard.  It was dark already and the stars were clear and bright.  He looked over into the neighbor’s yard and there was the pretty 24-year old school teacher who had moved in only 3 months earlier.

She was naked and looking directly at him. He walked over to her.

“What are you doing?” he asked, feeling blood rushing into the tip of his rather unused penis.

“I’m going to fuck you right here in my backyard,” she said, wrapping her lithe young limbs around his body. “And then I’m going to kill you.”

The man turned to see if his wife was peeking out the window.  She was not. He turned back to face the school teacher.

“That’s fine,” he said. “I very much want to stick my cock into you and see where this goes.  But please don’t kill me.”

“We shall see,” she uttered softly. “We shall see.”

The next morning, the man’s wife found her husband dead in his hot-house, stabbed in the stomach presumably by the clipping shears protruding from his belly. He was sprawled across the Hoop Petticoat variety of daffodil.

The police speculated that this was most certainly a suicide. When they questioned his wife and the neighbors, including the school teacher, no one knew of any reason that the man had to kill himself.

“We loved each other,” sobbed his wife. “We went to the movies regularly and ate out at lovely restaurants once a week.” When asked about how he felt about his job she replied, “He’d just gotten a 3 percent cost of living raise at work. They allow him access to social media. It was all going so perfectly.”

“He couldn’t have suffered from any kind of despair or disillusionment. Why, why throw our life together away?” she wailed. The wife was inconsolable but comforted by all of the gluten-free and free-range gourmet duck fat casseroles that friends and family had started to bring over to express their sorrow at her loss.

Later that week, at the man’s office, as his department’s administrative assistant cleaned out his desk (there were mostly clip binders and soy sauce packets in the drawer), she found a sticky note addressed to the VP of Human Resources.

“Dear important sir. I did not attend the three meetings I had on my Outlook calendar for tomorrow. I didn’t want to work here anymore.”

“Tsk tsk,” said the administrative assistant. “What could he have wanted to be, poor dear?  A VP perhaps!” She was going to give the message to human resources but remembered she had to put out coffee in the conference room because four very important managers were scheduled for a meeting in 10 minutes.

A Tinder conversation: lesbians and spider webs

Dude:  hey sexy, my lesbian girl friend and me will go out tonight.  care to join?

Angela:  Why are you telling me that she’s a lesbian?

Dude:  just ’cause 😉 😉  she’s hot though 😉

Angela:  Are you telling me to let me know that you aren’t homophobic?  Because that’s awesome if you’re an open-minded person.

Dude:  hell yeah LESBIANS

Angela:  Your lack of capitalization except when it comes to LESBIANS is quite troubling.

Dude: you wanna come 😉

Angela:  And gay men?  How do you feel about them?

Dude:  naw son not down with that some wrong shit

Angela:  Do you mean being a homosexual is wrong?

Dude:  not if you got big titties 😉

Angela:  What else have you got to entice me to go on this extraordinary date?

Dude:  I am all tatted up and am hung big dick baby.

Angela:  I noticed the tattoos on your arms in some of your photos.  What other tattoos do you have?

Dude:  just got two spider webs

Angela:  On your elbows?

Dude:  nah around BOTH NIPPLES ha ha ha

Angela:  So basically you now look like you’re wearing a spider web mesh BRA all of the time?

Dude:  you down or not

Angela:  Let me mull this over.  [UNMATCH WITH MUCH HASTE]

spider-1920-1080-wallpaper

Oh, what a tangled web we weave whilst single.

The Summer of ’88: W.A.S.P., weed, and Governor’s School

By Angela Perez

PART ONE – PLYMOUTH HIGH SCHOOL

In the spring of 1988, when I was a junior in high school, I found out I had been nominated by my AG history teacher, Mr. Morgan, to attend Governor’s School West for the summer.   AG stands for “academically gifted” and somewhere back in the 4th grade about 15 of us schoolkids had been designated as super smart and we’d had the same classes together pretty much ever since.
The rest of the poor bastards at school were deemed “average” or “remedial” and since they were obviously never going to college, the teachers let them do fun things like take naps during class or color with big giant fat crayons. I should note that this was in high school. Meanwhile, the AG kids had to take endless quizzes about Shakespeare and the history of how happy the slaves were in the South.

One day, during history class, when we were supposed to be reading quietly about George Washington but I was drawing the Van Halen logo on my blue cloth 3-ring notebook, Mr. Morgan came up to my desk and in his very Southern accent said, “Angela, my dear, I need to talk to you about something after class.” He looked at me very seriously. Though, with his carefully coiffed bouffant dyed black hair, tightly trimmed thick mustache, and effeminate lisp, it was hard to take Mr. Morgan seriously.   “It’s VERY important,” he said, raising his eyebrows and tapping his college class ring on my desk.   My best friend Laura had once told me that grown men who wear college class rings after they’ve graduated from college are gay. I wondered if Mr. Morgan was gay and what gay men got up to when they took their clothes off together.

“Angela,” he said. “I mean it. This is serious.”

“Oh shit,” I thought. Had someone told him about me smoking weed up in the light booth with Wayne Phelps in the drama room? (Note: the drama classroom also served as the actual theatre where plays were performed. As you can see, our school administrators placed tremendous value on the dramatic arts.) Had he heard about me smoking cigarettes in the girls’ bathroom? Or maybe he heard about me copying April Trueblood’s answers to the algebra test we’d taken yesterday. No, wait, he wouldn’t care about algebra.   He was a history teacher.   Whatever Mr. Morgan wanted, I was sure it couldn’t be good because I had done too many bad things all year long. My days of weed, and cigarettes, and swilling Boone’s Farm in my boyfriend’s Camaro during lunchtime were numbered.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, the bell rang and everyone packed up their books and left class. Mr. Morgan came and sat at the desk next to mine. “Angela, I want to talk to you about something. I’ve nominated you to attend Governor’s School at Salem College in Winston-Salem this summer.”

“What’s that?” I asked incredulously.   I wondered if this was some kind of reform school for the intellectually gifted.   I wasn’t far off the mark. Mr. Morgan had plans for me.

“It’s a school for the best and brightest. You’ll be attending with other rising seniors from schools from all over the state. You’ll study art, music, literature, dance.   And the teachers are top notch. Plus, going to Governor’s School makes you a shoo-in for college.”

I furrowed my brow. I already had summer plans: slather myself in baby oil and bake to a dark brown in the front yard of my house and also to have lots of awkward sex with my boyfriend every day until he went off to college at NC State in the fall.   “Why me? There are lots of other AG kids who are doing better than me in school.”

Mr. Morgan nodded. “Lord knows, that’s true. But I happen to think you have more promise than any of them. We just have to get you away from this little town and away from that bad-news boyfriend of yours. He smokes pot, you know.   And I’ve seen him flirting with a lot of girls since you two have been dating.”

I felt sick. “Flirting with WHO? WHO?” I was going to knock some bitches up beside the head with a can of AquaNet that night at the softball game. I just needed some names.

“Don’t worry about that, Angela. Let’s just agree right now that you’ll go. Promise me. It won’t cost you anything.   Be sure to tell your parents that.”

“But I was going to make some money waiting tables at Mamma’s Pizza this summer,” I said plaintively. “Last summer Mr. Chalmer’s gave me a $50 tip and all he got was sub sandwich.”

“Trust me,” said Mr. Morgan getting very red faced, “Mr. Chalmer’s does NOT like girls.”   To this day, I wish I’d followed up on that particular reference by Mr. Morgan.   I wonder if they dated and it ended badly.

“Promise me, Angela, you’ll do this. You need to get away from the drama club miscreants and think about your future outside of this town.”

“Okay. Okay,” I nodded. “I’ll do it. Could be fun.”

And boy howdy, was it ever.

PART TWO – SALEM COLLEGE

Early in the summer, I arrived on campus at Salem College having never been out of eastern North Carolina except for that one time when I was in 8th grade and my mom and her girlfriends took me on a road trip to Raleigh to shop at Crabtree Valley Mall.   On that particular trip, I got some neon green legwarmers and a portable butane-powered curling iron and we even ate at a Mexican restaurant called Chi-Chi’s.  After four margaritas, my mom exclaimed, “You know, chi-chi’s is the Mexican word for titties!” Her girlfriends giggled. I was mortified and asked for more nacho cheese dip. I’d never been to a Mexican restaurant before. Whatever those beef fajitas had to do with titties, it was damn sure good. I couldn’t wait to get home and tease up my hair with my new curling iron.

But I digress. So I arrive on campus in Winston-Salem.   After all the flurry and hubbub of my parents and brother moving in my suitcases and make-up cases and saying goodbye and after all the crying by my mom, they left and I sat there alone looking around the dorm room feeling very sad and uncomfortable and lonely.

My roommate, Heather, hadn’t arrived yet. I had received a letter from her in the mail one month before. The information packet we received from Governor’s School told us the name of the person we would be sharing a room with for five weeks and that person’s address in case we wanted to get to know one another beforehand. Heather had written me evidently the very day she received my address because I received a letter about four days after we’d all gotten our packets. The letter was written in a very large, curly-q cursive script that slanted oddly to the left.   It read:

“Hi Angela!!!! We’re going to be roomies soon. It will be totally like college!!! It’s going to be totally rad, don’t you think. I am from the big city of Charlotte! I have a boyfriend named Jeremy and I am going to super big-time miss him (we haven’t gone all the way! We are waiting until we get married after college. I’m going to be a doctor and he wants to be a lawyer. I want to have three children, hopefully all girls. In my free time I sing at church and volunteer at the hospital, which can be kind of gross sometimes but it will look good on my college applications. I plan to go to UNC-Charlotte or Harvard. I like all kinds of Christian music like Amy Grant.   I hope you like music because I am bringing all of my Amy Grant tapes with me and a boom box. We’re going to have SO MUCH fun!!! I can’t wait. TTYL (that means Talk To Ya’ Later in case you don’t know!!!). Bye – Heather”

I reread the letter.   I looked through my cassette collection: Dokken, KISS, Blondie, Def Leppard, Rush, Winger, Cinderella, AC/DC, Michael Jackson, Tears for Fears.   Fuck. I hate Amy Grant, thought I.

Back to Governor’s School. So there I sat on my very narrow bed waiting for my new best friend Heather to arrive. I must’ve fallen asleep waiting because the next thing I know, I feel a gentle pull on my hand and hear a girl squealing, “Angela, get up! I’m here. I want you to meet my boyfriend.”

That’s right, Heather was so mature and worldly that her parents had allowed her boyfriend to drive her up. My parents had barred my boyfriend, Tommy, from coming anywhere near the College. He and I had a tearful goodbye the night before (well, I cried and he mostly just tried to feel my boobs. “God, I’m going to miss these!” he moaned) and he vowed to sneak up every weekend and get us a hotel room. I didn’t know at the time these hotel sex fests were to be funded by his selling of weed and crack. Yes, that’s right. The entire time I was dating this fella, he was a crack head. I thought he just looked sleepy and mysterious, like Daryl on The Walking Dead. Little did I know, he was just high and tired and run down all the time. Still, his was the first penis I had ever seen and I didn’t question much beyond that.

So, I met Heather’s boyfriend who looked to be old to me. Like, maybe 21 or something. I remember he had a ponytail and wore cowboy boots and looked very stern. He shook my hand. “How do you do? I’m Jeremy,” he said in a voice way too serious. “I want you to keep an eye on Heather this summer. Keep the boys away.”

I looked at Heather and thought, that won’t be hard.  She was no looker. She resembled a run-down, overweight Molly Ringwald but with a perm.   The two of them sat on the bed and hugged and whispered and cried. I thought it was very unbecoming of a man to cry.   I wrinkled my nose in disgust and excused myself to the bathroom in the hallway.

Over the next few days, I was introduced to some seriously smart kids.   Looking back, I didn’t realize how smart. They had been exposed to EVERYTHING already. Some kids sat around in the dorm lounge and traded stories about trips to France, Germany, England, New York, and Tuscon, Arizona.   They pontificated on the composer John Cage and the book Fahrenheit 451. Some played the flute and cello and some knew the choreography of Martha Graham. Me, well, I knew all the lyrics to “Animal: Fuck Like a Beast” by the hair metal group W.A.S.P. I also was one of the few girls I knew who could successfully use hot rollers and who had read Lord of the Rings 30 times.

Heather and I fought endlessly over what music we were going to listen to in our room at night while we did homework. I was already pissed that I had homework. It was the fucking summer, for Christ’s sake.   I kept putting in my heavy metal tapes and she kept putting in her Amy Grant tapes.   It was war. I hated that straight-laced fat-faced Christian with the old man boyfriend.   His ponytail was S-T-U-P-I-D. If a dude had long hair, surely he should tease it up and dye it blonde and have bangs.

To make matters worse, I really missed my boyfriend, who I just knew was probably wearing the purple jogging pants and sweatshirt that I gave him for Christmas and flirting with other girls. I was miserable. He hadn’t come to visit like he’d promised and three weeks had gone by. And only two or three phone calls. I didn’t know at the time that being a crack-head takes up a lot of your free time and spare cash.

One day, I received a call on the pay phone in the dorm lounge. It was Tommy! He announced that he would indeed be coming up on a Friday afternoon. He was skipping school and planned to get us a hotel room. He was bringing Bartles and James wine coolers and we were going to party all weekend.   I found out later that he’d gotten the money for this trip by selling some of his mother’s gold necklaces and the family VCR.   But, hey, anything for the woman he loved!

I lied to the RA on my floor and told her that Tommy was my cousin and he was picking me up to go and stay with family in Greensboro for the weekend. I’m not sure how I got away with getting off campus but I remember realizing even back then it was easy to fool anyone if you just said your piece with confidence and an unflinching eye.

We leave campus and after about a 10-minute drive, Tommy pulls up to the “King’s Arms Motel” and says, “Come on, babe. Let’s get in the room. I’m ready for some sweet poon-tang.” Tommy was nothing if not a romantic.   Later, five minutes later to be exact, after we’d made sweet love and lounged naked on the stained, thread-bare polyester comforter, he lit up a cigarette and exclaimed his love for me. “I miss you so much,” he said. “Let’s get married before I go to college. I leave in a few weeks and I don’t want you having sex with anybody else.”

His reasoning seemed to make sense. Getting married so that I don’t screw someone else while he was away seemed a true vow of love.   He told me about the cover band he’d started since I left that summer. “We do Slayer songs and King Diamond songs,” he announced proudly. “I’m the lead singer. Though, I could be the lead guitarist too. David sucks at it but he’s the only one of us who has a guitar.” And then he serenaded me with his best heavy metal high-pitched falsetto voice: “Missy, I miss you so little sister!”

I immediately said yes to the marriage proposal.  We made love again, this time for 20 whole minutes.

Needless to say, Tommy and I never did get married. Because something changed in me during Governor’s School. Despite my best efforts to ignore the annoying nice people around me, I was exposed to authors, music, and film in ways that took some of the vague longings I’d been pushing back for years and concretized them into something real and urgent. The things I learned made the future very clear – I wanted knowledge. I wanted to explore the world. I wanted college. I wanted to be, above all else, a writer.

I don’t know whatever happened to Tommy. Someone told me that he’d briefly dropped out of college because he smoked too much weed and spent all of his money and time on it.   I also heard he eventually got his act together and went on to get his MBA, which makes sense because he’d run a pretty lucrative crack business when we were in high school and managed to keep it very secret from his girlfriend.

Heather and I weren’t speaking by the end of the summer.   Mainly because she was pretty sure I was a Satan worshipper. She found the back of my KISS Alive II cassette tape highly disturbing. Of course, to be fair, Gene Simmons’ hellish visage is covered in blood.

Since that summer, I have indeed traveled much of the world, lived overseas, learned to speak Russian fluently, and, well, I never did become a writer. But maybe one day. Maybe one day.
Oh, and by the way, thanks Mr. Morgan. For everything.

I sat in that bar and drank all day on Sunday for more than one reason

by Angela Perez
I sat in that bar called Slim’s and drank all day on Sunday for a reason.
Oh, sure, I had a good time.  No doubt.  Nothing finer in this world than being surrounded by good friends who make you endlessly laugh ’til you cry.
And I have a deep appreciation for milling about dark places listening to good music amongst people I might or might not be inclined to sleep with.  Or at least touch the tip and graze the lip but not go all the way because then it’s just promiscuousness.
Ah!  But my reasons for knocking back all that Cardinal gin on the Lord’s day were deeper than just having a good time.
Lately, life has gotten too comfortable and too safe.  And I see the people around me, my age, posting on Facebook and Instagram all of these stultifyingly boring photos of children and grandchildren and spouses and snapshots of chili and bowls of soup they made.  And these folks write about how grateful they are for being secure and getting engaged and drinking hot chocolate this morning and on and on.
And all of those mundane, regular-folks’ posts make me feel like I am suffocating.  I am drowning in those posts.  And I want to flee from these people and their penchant for the opposite of pain, dangerous adventure and anguish.  Jesus Christ, this is where it’s all headed for all the average and not-so-average Joes, including myself.
These youngish- to middle-aged lives I see around me fall so neatly and predictably into that pattern of goodness and the straight and warm and fuzzy path to the grave.   And it makes me sick.  And ill.  And I want to burn it all down to the ground.   But now, as I have gotten older, I know that there is no stable but magical brilliant place of wild satisfaction and quick release behind the curtain.  Oh no.  That place beyond the beer, shitty coke, and cum-stained curtain is dark and warped and a realm where bad people go to live in misery. It’s a place from which nothing warm and fuzzy and secure can emerge.
And so I’m caught between two worlds, neither of which appeals to me.
A limbo of longing and disdain.  Of pity for the regulars and the predictable people alongside an abhorrence of and lust for the twisted.
While I ponder on that, I suppose I’ll just sip my gin and get laid and think on glorious food and boys who smell of warm gray wool and taste of peaches and cigarette smoke.  Because, really, if you just do it once and a while, it’s just a good time, right?  I’m going to say yes, because, on this particular Sunday, it was.
But if I do it again next weekend, it might not be.  As you know, you can never fully relax when you’re getting all lit up on Sunday because in the back of your mind, as you knock back that Fireball shot somebody ordered for you, you’re thinking of all that grown-up regular responsible adult shit you gotta do on Monday morning at 8 o’clock (or whatever time it is you get up), things that the damned on the other side of the curtain don’t give a fuck about.
[Editor’s note:  this story is told from the point of view of someone who is not actually Angela Perez but who thinks along similar but not exact lines.]
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Throwin’ You a Hard Rock-and-Roll Bone: The Battery Electric and that Sunday at Slim’s

by Angela Perez

Last Sunday afternoon, it was all sunshine and blue skies outside.  I know this because while I was sipping cold gin at Slim’s,  I saw  golden light filtering through all the rock show flyers and band posters taped haphazardly to the grimy front window.  But, as I sat there on the cracked vinyl of that rickety barstool, I wasn’t really paying attention to the world outside.  Because something bizarre and wonderful was happening there in the dank bowels of my favorite downtown Raleigh bar.   That something was the New Jersey band, The Battery Electric.  The rock-and-roll foursome was playing an afternoon benefit show after having already played at two other Triangle music venues on Friday and Saturday.  Technically, they should have been slogging through the set, worn out from a weekend of mayhem.  But they brought a full-on, we-came-to-party vibe that had the room groovin’.   More about that later.

As the rough and rowdy motley band launched into their third hard and heavy song, my buddy standing next to me leans in and says, “What the fuck is this?  I’ve never heard anything like it.”

“What do you mean?” I ask, trying to catch the bartender’s attention for one more Cardinal gin and soda.  “Don’t you like it?”

“No, it’s not that,” he says.  “It’s just…well…I don’t know what this is.  I mean.  It’s like hard rock.  But there’s a lot of R & B and soul to it.  And yet it’s not cheesy.  It’s great!  It’s just that I can’t figure out WHAT it is.”

I’ve thought about his description since then and, after doing a bit of digging into the “Jersey Shore sound” and listening to more songs by this band, I think I know what he’s on to.  And why this band is something I’ve been looking for – for a long time.  And why you should keep an eye on them.

So, first to introduce the guys who I saw at Slim’s, and who are, I believe, taking Jersey-style raunch-and-roll to a new level.  Well, a new place at any rate.

Ron Santee, vocals

Brent Bergholm, guitar

Alex Rosen, bass guitar

Kevin Troeller,  drums

BatteryElectric

I’m not 100 percent sure what the situation with their drummer is – most of their recent press photos and online postings only show Ron, Brent, and Alex as being The Battery Electric.  What I do know is they are an Asbury Park band – part of a re-burgeoning blue-collar, hard-working pedigree that has existed from the late 60s ’til now – with waxing and waning periods throughout the decades.  The area spawned Bruce Springsteen, the Bouncing Souls, Bon Jovi, the Gaslight Anthem and so on.  There’s an endless list of bands who were born and bred here and there are a lotta ways to define the sound – but, by and large, it seems to all boil down to some rock and roll grit with a touch (or, in some cases, a lot) of soul and R & B.  How that “grit” plays out lately down the Shore is anybody’s game but let’s talk about The Battery Electric’s game.

From what I saw at Slim’s on Sunday and from some online listening this week, this band operates amidst a musical framework that stays grounded in a seamless fusion of heavy party rock (I kept thinking of KISS), old-school metal (think Black Sabbath) and primitive punk sensibilities (the Stooges if they’d been injecting Fireball shots instead of heroin).  The look, the feel, the texture of the band and its music are all solidly and overtly blue collar.  This project IS working class at its core.   Nothing revelatory here, right?  That’s stereo-fucking-typical Jersey Shore.

What’s revelatory about this band is the authenticity of this bizarre, ever-morphing fusion of metal, punk, and soul.  All too often these days, genre fusion leads to some pussy way-too-self-aware indie bullshit.  But this band isn’t just playing around with their roots (no pun intended) in some self-indulgent circle jerk – it feels like they have their hands in the dirt, digging around probing the dark around those roots, understanding the heart of the rock-and-roll universe they are drawing their life’s blood from.  That created them.  There are no oh-my-God-what-does-it-mean-to-be-blue-collar indie sensibilities muddying up the project – this music is about having a good time – it’s the quintessential rock-and-roll project – sex and drugs and liquor required.

But there’s more to this fusion than meets the eye.

The overtones, the guts of the music feel like old metal & punk sans the anger, the anguish, the politics, the dragons, the bats, the pentagram, and the witches spewing blood.  This enterprise, at its heart, is about feeling good.  When you watch The Battery Electric, you know they didn’t come to save the environment, didn’t come for dark catharsis, or to shout at the devil.  They came to party.   And even if you didn’t intend to, by God, by the end of the set you WILL end up partying with them.

Some of the songs’ lyrics and the lead singer’s antics remind of the days from my 20s when I lived with three guys in three different Raleigh bands in an old house downtown decorated mainly with rock-and-roll instruments, pedals, cheap furniture that someone’s parents gave us or that we scored from Goodwill – or, in one instance – a rug we found by the side of the road.  What tied the room in that house together?  A cheap-assed fiberboard coffee table perpetually covered in empty beer cans and bottles and overflowing ashtrays and old pizza boxes with a bong hidden underneath.  Or not hidden.  The Battery Electric’s music is THE anthem for THAT house.  For that lifestyle.

Like I said, they are constantly paying homage to the best of several worlds and there’s some real cultural work happening here inextricably bound to the Asbury Park scene.  But at the same time transcending it.  That transcendence to me comes through in the heavy metal grooves present in most songs, even in their light-hearted or soulful cover songs.  There is definitely something heavy and dark in this music that firmly keeps this band from being just a raunch-and-roll band.  It’s taking them many steps beyond the Jersey Shore and I think that solid metal heaviness combined with their authenticity and charisma will be what takes them to a national stage.

Oh, and I should mention, it seems that most of the ladies are smitten by the tall, pretty-boy looks of bass guitarist Alex.  But for my money, I think that filthy French-dandy looking fucker fronting the band is the one the ladies should be partying it down with.   And we should mention, the guitar player in the jean jacket cut is the one kicking metal ass and has great hair to boot.  But, truly, all these fellas are bringing something sexy to the table.  Because it’s real, it’s authentic, they are down to Earth and they are good at what they do.

 

One weekend in downtown Raleigh in a nutshell

A friend of mine who lives in Washington DC asked me if I missed living in DC.

“I do indeed,” replied I.  “The restaurants and the art museums.  You.  And good bakeries.”

“I always wondered this,” he said.  “Why do you love Raleigh so much?” he asked.  “I knew even when you lived here how much you loved it.  It was the WAY you would talk about it.”

I’ve thought about his words quite a bit since yesterday.  And I thought of a way to describe how I enjoy my time here.  It’s not like this all of the time, but can be:

That Saturday evening, we went around downtown Raleigh in such company.  We stopped in at the bar at Garland and had mezcal and crispy garlicky bites of fried chicken; we grounded at Capital Club 16 over fat glistening pork sausages and gin and whiskey; we dined on tender cheap ribeyes at The Mecca washed down with cold beer; we hit our worst break at Slim’s Downtown, which, later the next morning, struggling in our cups, we deemed the “Graveyard” because we knew the bartenders too well; there we had a run-in with a bizarre, young girl who gave off a black energy that threatened our liquored-up gaiety, but we moved quickly away from her lifeless end of the bar.  I remember it as though it was yesterday.  We threw our cigarettes away so as not to be tempted to stand outside in the cold, lest we miss any good songs on the jukebox.  The men lost their heads in lust and passion. I was being hit on by a man with hair gel and no beard but was fished out by friends and saved through a round of Fireball shots.  Now, at this age, I don’t worry about falling down a hatchway and being washed away down river a corpse.  For I can afford an Uber towncar and a fancy hotel room at the Marriott if need be.

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Shock me, make me feel better: sugar in my veins and the plague of mortality

Aw, things ain’t bleak at all.  My long-dead and mouldering libido returns!  But I don’t recognize the cut of its jib and I am suspicious of it.  I shan’t welcome that thing with open arms just yet.

As many of you know from my recent blogs, life has been a hellacious emotional roller-coaster since my Type 2 diabetes diagnosis.  Focusing on my health, mind, and soul has kept me from documenting all things Southern – though, I suppose, as a Southern woman, telling you about my relationship with the universe IS indeed documenting Southerness.

About two weeks ago, one of my docs said cut all that bad-for-you shit out and guess what?  I actually listened to him.  Because I was too scared by how bad I felt not to.  The resulting healthy changes in diet (not really exercise yet), in addition to losing 10 pounds, well, let’s just say that my eye doc told me my eye sight has, in fact, gotten better since he saw me a month ago.    Evidently, my blood sugar was so high then that it was affecting my vision.   Now that I have gotten my sugar levels below 180, my eyesight has improved.  My glasses are too strong!  Sweet.  Very sweet.

Between the weight loss and improved vision, that anxiety building to a fever pitch has been quelled somewhat.  I figure that I will probably NOT die in my sleep and go blind by the weekend.   Knock on wood.

My message to you is this – if you are overweight and haven’t had your blood sugar levels checked, you should.  If you’ve ever heard the words “pre-diabetic” or even been told by your doc that your blood sugar looks high but you just attribute it to that Bojangles chicken biscuit you ate on the way there, don’t take a chance.  I am catching my diabetes early and, at the moment, it looks like I can turn things around dramatically.   And if you are perennially thick around the middle, ask your folks and grandparents if they have diabetes.  You will be shocked to find out how many people around you have it.  And that proclivity, combined with your penchant for all that glorious fatness can easily (though not always) equal to diabetes.

I still don’t love the healthy food MORE than the croissants, biscuits, pizza, and sausage gravy – but I love how I FEEL these days much more than those things.

In the words (well not exactly but similar) of Dostoevsky, it seems, in fact, as though the second half of a my life will be made up of living out the ramifications – good and bad  – of the habits I accumulated during the first half.  

Only that youthful sense of immortality makes you want to burn the candles at both ends in your 20s and 30s.   In the second half, that inevitable plague of knowing you are indeed mortal, well, once cursed with it, living badly is just plain fucking foolish unless you are okay with speeding up your dance with death and suffering.  But hey, death and suffering come to us all, so, forget what I said.  Do what you like.    

Even this woman won't live forever. And one day that ass will droop low. Despite the inevitability of old age, death, suffering, wrinkles, and droop, we can still make the journey less painful but indulging in a modicum of healthy behavior.

Even this woman won’t live forever. And one day that ass will droop low. Despite the inevitability of old age, death, suffering, wrinkles, and droop, we can still make the journey less painful by indulging in a modicum of healthy behavior.