For Black Sheep on Christmas Eve

“Christmas Wrapping” makes me tear up in a happy, Christmas-y way, which can be a little awkward when I hear it in the middle of American Apparel or at the grocery store and get a little weepy. It’s because of the general cheerful holiday associating and also that in the lyrics, even though the singer is about to spend her Christmas alone before she runs into someone and they spend it together, she’s making Christmas dinner for herself, because it doesn’t matter if you’re with people or alone, in the country or the city, you can still feel warm and happy and safe on Christmas as long as you have whatever makes it feel like Christmas for you (cranberries, I agree that cranberries are important).

My first Christmas memory is waking up in the back seat of my mom’s station wagon as she and Dad are driving my sister and I home from Christmas Eve at our grandparent’s house. His parents always had a Christmas Eve open house, and family, friends, and neighbors would come by and sing carols in the formal dining room. Granny took a giant sheet of posterboard and drew a big snowman on it, and all of the kids got to write their names on it and decorate it with markers and glitter. There were cookies, divinity and sandtarts and sugar cookies decorated with colored sugar, a big pot of chili and a pile of tamales, egg nog (virgin for the kids), a tree with fifty-sixty years’ worth of fine glass ornaments, a fire in the fireplace (even though South Texas winters barely called for it). We got home and, awake now, my sister and I sat in the den and watched the Sesame Street Christmas special before leaving out cookies for Santa and going to bed. It’s a perfect memory and Christmas has always and forever felt like that for me even when it hasn’t.

When I was maybe 15, I was spending Christmas with my dad and stepmom, and my dad busted me sneaking a cigarette in the backyard. I got a pretty extreme dressing-down and haven’t ever reacted well to being yelled at, not at all. All I wanted to do was get the hell out of there and back home to where home really was, Austin, with my mom. But I was 15, and therefore doomed to soldier through the holiday as the surly bad teen. Except I knew how to call Southwest Airlines, and how to call a cab, so around five in the morning I snuck out of the house, had a cab pick me up on the corner, and got a counter agent to change my ticket to Right Now, I need to go Now. By noon I was back in Austin, and called my mom who was somewhat frantic since I hadn’t of course given her any warning.

Christmas was saved since I wouldn’t have to be somewhere where I felt bad, and I wouldn’t have to do that ever again. She told me, and my mom is amazing for doing this, that you didn’t have to stay around people who made you feel bad just because they were related to you. Maybe it was her social work graduate program making her say that, but it was important to me.

I’ve been thinking about this because I don’t have an easy relationship with my dad. Variously we made efforts, but for the last seven years that Christmas Past ghost has more or less been given up. Mostly I’m glad I don’t have to deal with awkward Christmases, and I’m glad I don’t have to lie about my work to keep anyone happy. But I think about my stripper friends, sex worker friends, and people who have to lie about their work or sexuality or gender presentation if they want any hope of maintaining a relationship with their families, around this time of year and it’s not right, and I know this is an unspeakably hard time of year for some of them.

It can be a hard time for anyone who is sad right now because someone doesn’t love them, whether that someone is specific or general. It’s hard for anyone who can’t fully be themselves because revealing details of their work or life would bring down family judgment or excommunication. It’s hard for anyone who bravely shares the messier parts of their lives only to be met with a barrage of vaguely insulting comments and questions. “When will you quit? Isn’t it dangerous? Have you even tried being normal?” You go out there, you share yourself because you think it’s the right thing to do, and then you can’t just have a nice holiday because you have to explain your whole existence.

I hate the thought of anyone being deprived Christmas feelings. You all deserve to have nice feelings, and nothing is more detrimental to that than feeling like the bad kind of black sheep. All we want is to be understood and loved in spite of it. It hurts so much to be cut off by family, to know that they think some piece of oneself is too damaged to truck with, maybe it’s even contagiously harmful so it’s best to not even talk. To be marked as Bad by one’s family of origin.

Or to mark them as Bad. Sometimes they are, and it’s for the overall best to separate oneself from mean and unpleasant people. But I hate thinking about my friends who hide themselves or had to cut off toxic family members or for whatever reason have these familial rifts because of their work or lifestyle or gender status, I hate that some piece of them gets deemed Unacceptable and then they themselves are Unacceptable.

I hope everyone has their family of affinity this holiday season, I hope that if Christmas means something to you that you have your way to celebrate that makes everything feel right. I hope you have family members like my aunt and uncle from Dallas. The first Christmas after I started stripping, I got worlds of hell for it from my dad, stepmom, and grandparents, and this was all my fault because I was dumb enough to think it was OK to be out about it. But it was no better than being 15 and yelled at for smoking. I thought I’d just muck through since I could cross the street and see my other, less judgmental grandparents after Christmas morning gift-opening.

My uncle handed me their present, and I opened it to find a pair of purple-gold-green tasseled, sequined pasties. Nobody else found it funny but the three of us laughed like crazy. It was ballsy of them to make a joke of the family shame that was my topless dancing career and made me feel understood and not utterly alone that morning. Thank god, someone can have a sense of humor, is what it felt like. It was one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever gotten, and I hang pasties on my tree now because that’s part of what makes it Christmas for me.

image

Edison's Elephant - SEND THE GLENN OUT!
320 plays

thestripperhatesyou:

Send The Glenn Out — by Edison’s Elephant ft. ME

Reblog it? Or don’t. It’s cool either way. 

This is an interesting piece about Jamie Gillis (Dr. Seymour Love in The Opening of Misty Beethoven), pioneer of gonzo porn. “Though Jamie Gillis’ films more successfully deliver the goods, he and Ugly George both differ from later gonzo output by their emphasis on sexual failure”
gentlemanwillsloan:

<shameless self-promotion>
I wrote a long article about Jamie Gillis and the first “gonzo porn” film, On the Prowl. This was the video in which Gillis drove around San Francisco in a limo with a porn actress, and offered random men on the street a chance to have sex with her. If this sounds familiar, that may be because it inspired a memorable scene in Boogie Nights.
</shameless self-promotion>

This is an interesting piece about Jamie Gillis (Dr. Seymour Love in The Opening of Misty Beethoven), pioneer of gonzo porn. “Though Jamie Gillis’ films more successfully deliver the goods, he and Ugly George both differ from later gonzo output by their emphasis on sexual failure”

gentlemanwillsloan:

<shameless self-promotion>

I wrote a long article about Jamie Gillis and the first “gonzo porn” film, On the Prowl. This was the video in which Gillis drove around San Francisco in a limo with a porn actress, and offered random men on the street a chance to have sex with her. If this sounds familiar, that may be because it inspired a memorable scene in Boogie Nights.

</shameless self-promotion>

I love #dudetime, the cheerful spirit in #dudeselfies, and Lily and her radical pro-selfie agenda most of all.

myloveinthug:

for those of you who don’t follow me on twitter, i occasionally do this thing called #dudetime. it was originally modeled after lil b’s #girltime and you can hear me talking about the origins here (with jamieson, a #dudetime participant!) but basically it was intended as something silly and…

song liker, 2013

I was listening to this song earlier and I don’t think there are any others I have loved as much this year, and honestly if you’d told me this would be the band to make the song I connected with more than anything since “All My Friends” I would have been ending the conversation.

also I have loved and listened to this one a lot, too

Vintage items from the 1950s, like my name itself. via @katsnacks

Vintage items from the 1950s, like my name itself. via @katsnacks

on avoiding reunions

image

(on the left, Victoria, on the right, me, Memphis, 1997)

Last week I missed the one 90s indie band reunion show I thought I was waiting for when the Grifters played in Memphis and I stayed home in Austin. They were my favorite band from 1993-8, I saw them in at least five cities, have a photos and live tapes from their shows, and a fabulous cartoon thank-you note drawn by bassist Tripp Lampkins after taking him out to celebrate his 30th birthday one Halloween night after a show. Dave Shouse played a solo set at my wedding party. They were underappreciated, having disbanded pre-internet, they haven’t played in over a decade, and I always thought they’d be the one reunion I couldn’t miss, until I did.

Being born at the younger edge of Generation X means I was just old enough to see a healthy swath of 90s bands (I was there to see Nirvana fuck up an instore, to see Pavement with Gary Young drumming, to see Come, I was there) and just young enough to miss some important ones. Since 2005 I’ve seen the reunions of plenty of both—Slint, My Bloody Valentine, The Clean, Thinking Fellers Union 282, Pulp, Jesus Lizard—never worrying about being let down or marring great memories. Many of those shows involved air travel, domestic and international, and time off from work.

But this was the one I hesitated to see. When the news hit (not that far in advance) that they would be playing at the Indie Memphis Film Festival, I thought “what,” briefly talked with friends about going, then never pulled the trigger on a plane ticket, forcing me to awkwardly tell my BFF Jennifer, whom I have known since I was 13, that I wouldn’t be making the trip to Memphis with her.

The Grifters hit my turntable via a record store clerk at Austin’s Sound Exchange (the same place and guy responsible for the Daniel Johnston mural) I crushed on because he always put me on to good music, or whose recommendations I heeded because I thought he was cute: hard to tell at 16. He pointed out the Grifters’ second indie release, One Sock Missing, and the fuzzier-than-slanted sound and Delta melancholy interspersed with static-soaked freakouts became my new favorite. I wrote them a fan letter and introduced myself when they came to town in the spring of 1993.

Jennifer and I would go see as many of their Texas shows as we could, talking our way into Dallas and Houston venues or getting the band to sympathetically sneak us in, as we were still teens. Jen and our friend Steve were thrown out of Emo’s in Austin once for underage drinking and I still feel guilty that I wasn’t nabbed, too. In addition to these Texas trips, she flew up to see them in Minneapolis once (the only other time I missed one of their shows. I canceled after being taken out by a cyclist doing tricks at a block party), and I detoured an Austin-Atlanta roadtrip to see them play a warehouse in Manhattan, Kansas, on a bill with Rodan and the Flaming Lips. Finding that show in 1994 required using the primitive methods of calling the band’s label and consulting a AAA atlas to figure out where to go. A couple of years later, I wound up in Memphis for a summer, brought there by the connections I’d made in the city because of them.

The greatest hazard of trying to repeat a good past experience is that it won’t live up to the memories. A lesser one is that it will. In either case, the present loses. This never troubled me when I chose to see other reunion shows, but none of those bands crashed at my house when I was 20. This band and those memories are too real-life to permit me an aesthetic or fan appreciation divorced from the experiences and emotions of those times.

Read More