I love when you walk into a space and find your people. I do it a lot at punk shows, church basements and a little book store that sells mental health books. My kid did it last night at a restaurant in town. We sat down at our table and our waitress immediately asked her about a shirt she was wearing and then started speaking a language that my therapist/mom brain could not comprehend. It was apparently Japanese because they were talking about 7,000 anime shows and manga graphic novels that they were both familiar with. Every time the waitress came back to our table she stopped and chatted with my daughter for a few minutes.
During the dinner my daughter mentioned what a great waitress she was and when she stopped back my mother-in-law made her stay with us for a few more minutes so my daughter could tell her what a fantastic server she was and how enjoyable she made our dinner. You would have to know my mother-in-law to understand just how common it is for her to strike up a conversation with a server or cashier, but she is a people person and she makes friends everywhere she goes. If there was an extra chair at the table she probably would have asked the waitress to sit down and she would have finished her shift while she chatted with my kiddo. I actually would have found this very entertaining to watch my socially awkward husband try to manage that interaction. As it turns out, the waitress also has social anxiety and she told us this after she received the compliment about her serving skills. She also showed my daughter photos of her in multiple cosplay costumes which about sent my daughter over the edge since my daughter spends much of her time cosplaying and making videos in her bedroom.
When the waitress showed her a photo of herself dressed as Velma from Scooby Doo at a cosplay convention I thought I was going to have to clean out the guest room for this young woman to move in. My daughter dressed like Velma for a full year between the ages of 3 and 4, including the glasses. She wouldn’t answer to anything but her stage name and chose a Christmas ornament with the name Velma that still hangs on our tree 8 years later. I guess I should have seen this whole cosplay thing coming way back then. While other girls dressed as princesses, my child wanted to be the nerdy girls and villains. By the time she was 5, she was wearing her Hogwarts uniform to the grocery store and casting spells on shoppers in the produce department.
When you are the cosplaying, artsy punk rock kid it’s not easy to find your people at school. Especially when you attend a small Catholic girls school. She has a friend in 10th grade that cosplays and the two occasionally go to the local roller rink where they are treated like royalty for being their freaky little selves, but I hear about how this older friend is literally tortured by half of the school for her individuality, including girls much younger than her. A few weeks ago a couple of 8th grade bullies had the poor girl in tears while they ridiculed her and a group of the girls in my daughter’s class chased her down the hall videotaping her for “fun”. These are the same girls who keep walking up to my kid asking her to show them some dance that she did in a cosplay video. I told her she needed to tell them to watch her YouTube video if they wanted to see it again and when she did she got the satisfaction of watching their jaws hit the floor while they questioned how she had 17,000 views on a video. It’s kind of ironic that the same girls are begging people to like their photos and videos and my kid doesn’t want kids from school to even see her photos, but they all follow her. She likes what she likes, and she does what she wants without much thought about what other people think. She blows my mind with her DIY spirit. I think we have a new punk rock queen in the house.
**In honor of my little riottt girl, I listened to Bikini Kill.
We moved into our new house and after a week of unpacking I finally had the chance to use the jet tub. It took about a week to fill up and was so big I couldn’t reach my feet to the end while lying down so I basically floated around while bubbles blew through my hair. It was nice to finally relax after unpacking approximately 7,000 boxes in record time. My husband had packed our old house over two months but somehow we managed to unpack in four days. I think it actually took the tub longer to drain than it took to unpack and my muscles had the knots to prove it. About three quarters of the way through the tub draining, my husband noticed that it sounded like it wasn’t draining properly. He walked downstairs to investigate the sound in the walls and found that water was pooling on the floor in the laundry room on the first floor and dripping out of the wall outlet. He followed the sound further and found water gushing out of the ceiling tiles in the basement. The entire tub had drained down our walls instead of the pipes.
I would like to say I was surprised by this event, but after having to replace most of our appliances, roof and carpet within a few days of stepping foot in the house, I was only surprised that the tub didn’t fall right through the floor. While my husband was mopping up the water, I was trying to scrape the paint off the screws to get into the access panel behind the tub. When I finally managed to open it up, we discovered a giant Christmas platter had been left under the plumbing and all of the overflow pans under the jets were overflowing with water. There was a gaping hole in the tub liner that had a TAMPON shoved in it. Yes, a fucking tampon was plugging the hole in our giant tub. I am guessing this was the work of a 30 year old man after seeing a Tampax commercial.
When we bought the house, we knew we would eventually be remodeling most of the bathrooms. My daughter’s bathroom was first on the list, but has moved down a few notches after my bathtub turned our basement into a rainforest. She doesn’t seem to mind. As a matter of fact, I don’t know if she has even seen her bathroom around all of her unpacked boxes. As my husband and I were running up and down multiple flights of stairs with lamps and boxes of books, she was finding the perfect window to sit in and play guitar. She busied herself setting up her drum kit while I loaded her clothing into her closets and her Grandpa hung her curtains. She was in full-on teen mode the entire move, which put me in full-on mommy dearest mood.
We have been in the house for a little over two weeks and we have had repairmen, deliverymen, roofers, plumbers, electricians and every other type of serviceman performing repairs, cleanups and replacements multiple times a day since we moved in. I feel like I should have just called an exorcist the first day. Just when we think we are done, something else breaks, leaks or falls off the hinges. My Dad has renamed our new house “the money pit” and he laughs until I remind him that once I run out of funds for repairs, I’ll be calling him.
I am learning a lesson from my kid these last few weeks every time I get worked up about something else going wrong. The house could fall down around her and she would still be sitting in her music room, surrounded by half packed boxes, playing guitar. Her drums are set up and she even let me rock out on them the other day. She located her happy place the night we moved in and surrounded herself with the things she loves most. I found my happy place in my office. It was the first area of the house I unpacked and the only room in the house that hasn’t had a major repair. I even hung up my artwork by myself after being told I should not nail anything into the walls due to my inability to measure before hammering and using a hairbrush to do so.
I keep reminding myself everyday that the bones of this house are exactly what we wanted. All of the headaches will be forgotten as time passes. The story of the tub with a tampon will be just a funny story about the asshole who sold us the house not understanding the difference between women’s plumbing and actual plumbing (which explains why he is single), and the groundhog in the flowerbed will be a memory for the cats who have finally found their litter boxes. Until then, I might just hideout in my happy place.
**I have been MIA for over a month, and this move has about put me over the edge. BUT, I have discovered a lot of new music in the process. The new Scowl is one of my new favorites.
About two years ago we decided it was time to move. It was shortly after the boy who lives next door punched my daughter in the stomach and scratched her arm while “playing” outside and then lied when confronted about it. Since that time, we have been looking at houses and wishing. A lot happened in those two short years. I changed careers, my Dad had a heart attack and my husband’s company was bought out, leaving us with a lot of uncertainty about the future. But at the beginning of this summer, when I watched the same neighbor kid who assaulted my daughter start hanging out in our backyard directly under her bedroom window, I had to pull the trigger.
We put our house on the market with a neighbor/friend who is a superstar in the real estate market and has a ton of knowledge and skill. She and her husband work together which has been great for me and my little ball of anxiety husband because they can both show us houses and help get ours sold with all of our crazy schedules. Plus, her husband is really crafty like mine, so they can talk about any building projects that might need to take place in a new home. I am pretty sure they may want to kill us by the end of this house hunt though because my husband keeps trying to look in cities I don’t want to move to and I keep asking questions about what illegal activities might be going on in the houses we see. My husband tends to be a little more cost conscious than me so he keeps looking at houses that are within our budget and I keep asking where the hell he got this budget, because that’s my department of the marriage. Meanwhile my parents are in the background making sure the house we move into has enough room for one of them to move into, while they have two houses of their own. So you can see how working with us might be a little difficult. At the end of this adventure, we’re really going to owe them a big gift basket of sweets, booze and possibly hand guns.
Needless to say, our house sold in record time and we have yet to find our next house. The good news is, my parents have two houses, so we can always stay at the lake as long as we need to, but moving twice is not really ideal. We are set to close on the sale of our house in a few weeks which is exciting, but that also starts the time table of when we need to move out. We also found out that our homeowner’s association has a lien on our house for a dispute that was cleared up over 10 years ago. When we moved into this house twelve years ago my husband went to an HOA meeting and introduced himself to a woman named Judy Kosar who was on the board. He gave her his name and address to update the records of the association. She apparently never passed along this information and for two years we did not receive HOA bills. The next bill we got was from a collection agency for the HOA that had an extra $500 in collection fees tacked on. I argued with the president of our HOA, Bob Salloum and paid the ridiculous bill to the collection law firm of Schlottman & Wagner and heard nothing again. I asked to audit the books of our HOA the following year and was denied access by both the president and the J.P. Carroll Co. who handle the management and administration of the HOA. It is now 2023, and we still have a lien on our house that the title company has to clear up and the HOA has never answered a single question I have had or allowed me to access any records. My husband had to stop me from walking over to Judy’s house last week with a hammer to tear down the back wall of her house that has been without siding on it for several years. So thanks for doing a great job Northfield Hills Homeowner’s Association and affiliates. I hope to never have to deal with another corrupt HOA again.
We had cameras in our house while it was on the market for showings and had been watching all of the families tour our home. It was nice to see who came in and what they had to say about the house. We also got to watch our next door neighbor, the father of the kid who punched my daughter, walk through our house and take cell phone photos of our personal items like family photos and and my daughter’s bedroom. What a creep. His good friend also toured the house and their teenage kids sat on our bed with their shoes on playing video games on their phones. When their realtor put in an offer with a note that the buyers were friends with both of our neighbors, I took them off the list of potential buyers before I even saw that their offer was lower than than any of the others. We also declined a really nice couple that loved our house just because I could not bear to subject them to our neighbors. We ended up taking the highest offer from a couple who I think is going to fit right based on their communications thus far. Fingers crossed that we get through the closing with no more hiccups.
I’m not sure how many houses we have looked at so far, and I’m not sure how many more we have to go, but I know our house is out there waiting. My mom always says that God’s timing is perfect, and I believe that to be true. My husband and I deal with anxiety differently, and his coping skills are certainly better than mine, but the fact that most of our house is already boxed and ready to move is a little unsettling. He has a moving company lined up, and our basement looks like a U-Haul store, while I am picking up our normal supplies of toilet paper and bubbly water at Costco. He hasn’t murdered me yet but I suspect he may do so and bury me in the backyard before moving day. Then again, that would mean he would have to move all of this stuff by himself along with the new cat tree I bought yesterday. Like I said, we cope differently.
**I wrote this while listening to old vinyl on my new record player that my family bought me for my birthday. It was actually a gift for my kid that she talked the family in to buying me, but I’m not complaining. The kid is clever, like her mom.**
Multiple day music festivals are more common than crop tops on pre-teens these days, but when I was a young music fan, there was no such thing. The first time I went to a show with more than three bands and one stage was Lollapalooza in 1991. My memories are limited, but include being among the 100 people actually stoked to see Henry Rollins before breakfast and a girl getting hit in the head with a lime and barfing next to me on a blanket. I do remember that Butthole Surfers and Jane’s Addiction both played and had stellar sets. From there, I went on to many more Lollapaloozas, Warped Tours and Tibetan Freedom Concerts (thanks Aunt Sue). Multiple Day music festivals became one of the highlights of my summers and sometimes whole years. Somewhere along the line I got too old or too lame to spend three days in the sun trying to soak up boob sweat while keeping my hair from gluing itself to my face. I’m going to blame this on my husband since the last festival I attended was Milwaukee Metalfest a few years before we got married where a guy in my party stole King Diamond’s hat and wore it in the van on the way home. Granted, I was working at that show manning a merch booth and babysitting a bunch of drunk musicians, so that could have been why I quit going to festivals, but it took until my daughter was 5 to get back to one. My little punk rock girl went to her first true festival to see one band play – The Interrupters at Warped Tour 2016.
I had been trying to get my husband to take me to Punk Rock Bowling since my kiddo’s first punk show, but his idea of a good vacation does not include standing in the sun with sweaty dudes, while avoiding drunk 20 year old girls spilling beer on our shoes for three days. Sometimes I have to ask – who did I marry?!? When I saw the lineup for 2023 and knew we weren’t going to see the Interrupters in Detroit this year I talked him into getting tickets since I knew it was the one band that would get him to go. So we jumped on a plane with a suitcase full of band Ts and Chuck Taylors to stay in the most degenerate buttcrack of the US in Downtown Las Vegas. You heard me, not the strip, the old, lawless, anything goes, Freemont Street, Las Vegas.
We arrived at the Golden Nugget just in time to see some showgirls try to get a skinny kid with a pink mohawk to take some photos with them and a man who looked like he just crawled out of a sewer get dragged out of the casino across the street. My daughter had her first viewing of a homeless man on PCP getting talked down by the police on the street, roving bachelorette party girls with glowing dick highball glasses and boas, and the entire cast of Chippendales dancers all in one evening. We had a lot of nice chats that night about how the police were doing good work at handling hard situations, how people make money dancing half naked, how bad choices and bad luck sometimes come together in a perfect storm and people end up asking for money in the streets, and how half our country is worried about something so innocent as drag queens reading books to their kids. We also got to see an old punk smoking weed outside of our hotel and being a dick to a nice family walking by, and I had to point out that even old punks can be assholes. We’re not all perfect.
But on to the music… Day one highlights were seeing the Interrupters and Bad Religion. I also got to see Fishbone whom I have not seen in 25 years and Me First & the Gimme Gimmes who are both hilarious and talented. Although we didn’t get as close to the stage as I would normally get, we were able to get up close and personal with Greg Gaffin earlier in the day while he was doing book signings and we were picking up merch that I pre-ordered. I have to say, for me watching the Interrupters is always amazing but watching my kid see them from her first time as a five year old with only about 20 people watching to now with a huge crowd singing all of their songs along with them is one of my favorite things to watch. She no longer lets me film her singing along like she did at five years old, but I did manage to get a stealthy little clip which I promised not to share with anyone publicly ever. My kid has grown up with this band as they have grown, so they will always be something special for me.
Day two was a later start for us since we didn’t care about seeing most of the early line up, so we swam with sharks at the hotel pool for a bit before doing some damage at the vendor booths and food trucks. I’m pretty sure my husband ate his body weight in dumplings and my kid drank about 400 watermelon slushies while I bought a few more band Ts and punk rock crew socks. We did manage to catch Face to Face, GBH, the Damned and of course Rancid. I’m pretty sure my kid has a crush on Tim Armstrong and she never even saw him in his prime. The girl has good taste though. He is a talented musician, artist and all around good human for doing all he does to help young bands grow and keep punk rock alive. The kids got so excited up front that they caved in the barricade and Rancid had to take a break while security got it fixed. The good thing about this is we got to do a little single along acoustic with Tim and make friends with our neighbors in the crowd, who were all fun and respectful of each other. My daughter and an intoxicated 30 year old made fast friends singing and dancing all night. There was even a little mini punk rocker in the pit with his dad having fun. This was also the night that we stopped by the Punk Rock Saves Lives booth to chat about their organization. They were swabbing people to donate bone marrow, which I am already on the list for, but it was great to learn more about their organization and how they help in their community. Mental health is one of their platforms and as a mental health professional, working with adolescents struggling with self-esteem, peer pressure, drug and alcohol exposure, social media and hormones, I wanted to hear how they are helping. They are a great organization, making positive changes in communities, and I couldn’t agree more with the statement that punk rock saves lives. It saved mine for sure.
Day three was a lot of me dragging my family around to see bands they didn’t care about seeing, like L7 and Agnostic Front until Dropkick Murphys played and brought the house down. I did get to show my daughter the difference between a punk rock pit that’s fun and safe and a hardcore pit full of dudes with anger issues that she should avoid getting close to during Agnostic Front’s set. I had not seen Dropkick Murphys live, and they blew me away. Ken Casey is a force to be reconned with and the band is full of talent from bagpipes to strings. Ken does a lot of talking between songs which I love and we learned that he was going to be a special ed teacher before punk rock sucked him in full time. We were lucky enough to get a view of some of the artwork being auctioned off by their Claddagh Fund earlier in the day and he shared that over $14,000 was raised to help addicts make their way to treatment centers that weekend. You gotta love that a bunch of people passed up the beer tent to buy art and help someone in need. Another great example of punk rock saving lives.
I was surprised at how well my kid held up over the four days in Vegas. She didn’t complain much or get herself worked into a little anxious ball like she tends to do with new things. She rolled with the punches and had a good time. She met new weirdos who accepted her with open arms, with all her awkward tweeness, and she danced and sang along with abandon. I expect in a few years I’ll have to drag her out of the pit when it’s time to leave, but I was happy she wanted to hang out with us and that she still stole my shoes to wear herself instead of being embarrassed by them. She even asked if we could come back next year. I told her as long as the Interrupters are playing….
**It took me over a month to write this because in that month we lost a cat, gained a cat and sold our house. It’s been a month, but I’ve been listening to a lot of punk rock to keep me sane – mostly this:
My cat died this week and I’m fairly certain there is a hole in my heart that will never be healed. I think I had forgotten how much you could love an animal until he came into my life. Maybe it’s because I had been wanting a kitten for five years before my husband finally agreed to let another animal in the house after the last psycho kitty we had. Or maybe it’s because all of the girls at our vet’s office got all googly-eyed when he came in because he was just so handsome and lovable. Whatever it was about that cat, he was one in a million and it’s hard to sit on the couch writing this without him in between my knees.
From the minute Brody came into our house, he ruled it. He jumped up to drink water out of my fountain, so I filled it with purified water and disinfected it every week knowing that would be where he chose to hydrate. I even bought him a fancy pet fountain to put by his food dish, which he half-heartedly drank from when he was too lazy to walk in the other room. He wanted to go outside, so we bought him a harness and tent. He was able to explore most of our backyard, dragging me behind him through pine trees and rose bushes tethered by a little green leash. The kids in the neighborhood came over to watch him roll around on a blanket in his tent and soak in the sunshine while he watched his favorite human play lacrosse with her dad. If we didn’t take him outside often enough, he let us know he was displeased by running into the garage and hiding under one of our cars for an hour while we tried to coax him out with treats. He knew what he wanted and did not like to be told no.
Brody was such a spoiled boy that he had his own pet and carried it around like a baby. I had been gifted a stuffed cat that made an angry face when you squeezed it’s head by my husband. I had been asking for a pet for so long that it was actually a joke and he bought me this stuffed animal as a birthday gift a year before Brody came to us. Sometime when he was still a kitten, he decided Fido was his pet and took him away from me. He carried that thing around the house late at night after everyone went to sleep roaring like a lion with an antelope. Sometimes we would catch him rolling around with it on the floor, alternating between fighting it and licking it’s face. After a year of this, I convinced my husband that he was asking for a brother and we got him a real live cat of his own, but he never really let go of his pet Fido. His little brother even found the behavior strange and ran away when Brody brought Fido out to play at night.
Five days after we took Brody into our home I brought him to the vet for the first time and learned he had a heart defect that would probably be the thing that would kill him at some point. He was the most expensive free cat ever, getting his own kitty cardiologist. Our vet was almost unable to neuter him due to the risk of sedation, but they were able to perform the surgery in a matter of minutes and bring him back when his heart started failing mid-snip. He was given a beta blocker for his heart twice a day mixed in with gravy like a little old man in a nursing home. Up until the the day he died, I could tell time by when he started to get needy and demanding, meowing for his medicine at 8pm every night.
The two times we went on vacation my parents had to pet-sit, giving him his meds twice a day and keeping his fountain full of filtered water. It was like handing over Little Lord Fauntleroy each time we left. I may as well have taken him over to their house in a carriage. They loved him like we did though and he even snuggled with my Dad a few times while we were gone. He sat next to Grandma on the couch and cuddled up in her chair at the lake like they belonged to him just as much as we did.
A few months before Brody died he had gone to the vet for a check up and it was discovered that he had a growth under his jaw. It felt like bone, but they could not tell without an x-ray which they couldn’t get without sedating him. They also had a hard time drawing blood from him and we had to wait a week and try again due to his increased heart rate. He had his nails trimmed a few weeks before he died, so at least the girls at the vet got to see him before he left us all. From the time the lump under his chin appeared he started to look like an old cat. His eyes were getting more soulful and his energy was not the same as it had been. He had moments where it looked like he saw something in the room that nobody else could see and I kept wondering if he was seeing little angel kittens coming for him. He just started up and down a wall or pounced on nothing in a corner. At one point my husband thought he was injured because he limped around like his back leg wasn’t working, but then shook it off and pranced away when I examined it. I had begin to wonder if he had some kind of brain cancer or neurological problem. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get any answers without tests that he couldn’t have without sedation.
The night before Brody died he stretched himself out on top of me from right under my chin to below my knees. He never lounged on me this way, only my daughter, and he did this at 3 am. He woke me up out of a dead sleep as he stretched out and snuggled into me and I pet him until I fell back asleep. I don’t know if this was him saying goodbye or if it was just one of the many little strange things he did that made him so mythical, but I’m holding onto that feeling for as long as I can.
Brody Logan – 8/1/2020 – 6/4/2023
*Brody was named after Brody Dalle from the Distillers, and this song will always remind me of my favorite little boy.
I woke up sobbing this morning like a little girl. It took me a minute to wake up and realize that I was a little girl and I was crying because I was talking to myself. It’s something I tell clients to do a lot when we are talking about trauma they went through as a child. I do it to myself when I think about the mistakes I made as an awkward adolescent, too immature to make better choices and too out of place to find proper guidance. I think it’s because I took my daughter to see Bikini Kill last week who took the time between songs to talk a little about what it’s like to be a woman, what it was like to be a female band in the punk scene in the 90s and how we can be better to each other today and make all people feel safe and at home at punk shows. It got me thinking about just how unsafe I felt so often at shows as a teenager, afraid of getting punched in the head, too close to the pit at a hardcore show, or having some guy think it was okay to stick his hand up my shorts while I was on top of the crowd.
I love being able to take my kid to shows like that so she can see women like Kathleen Hanna on stage, so incredibly comfortable in her own skin, doing what she was put on this earth to do. I love watching this woman dance and then describe her own dance moves as “the cringy mom” knowing that my daughter is standing next to me soaking it all in while some of her classmates are passing around a video of her in cosplay calling it “cringy”. Ironically enough, I was driving my daughter to school the next day telling her all about what the punk shows were like for me as a young female and how to defend against a crotch grab while crowd surfing at the same time the rest of my daughter’s classmates were being told that one of the girls was not coming back to school for the rest of the year. The classmate was a friend of my daughter’s until very recently when she started being mean, lashing out at friends for her own inner wounds. Later, while my daughter was showing me the texts from her classmates speculating about the reasons this girl won’t be returning to school, all I could think about was how grateful I was for the education I was able to give my kid the previous night in being okay with who you are. I was grateful that my daughter knows that validation needs to come from within, not from her peers, or boys, or even her parents.
I watch my tween navigate the world being a little different than her counterparts and I think about how much different I was than my classmates at that age. I think about how I gravitated to the other girls that didn’t really fit in and how I was the girl who welcomed them knowing what it was like to be the new kid and I watch my daughter do the same thing. I also watch as the new girls start to fit in a little bit, as they gravitate away from my kid, sometimes becoming the same girls that pass around videos of my daughter in cosplay trying to secure their place in the popular group by being a mean girl. And when I see it, I silently thank my dad for being the parent he was and reminding me that fitting in is never the most important thing in life. I thank my mom for teaching me that kindness is a greater quality than leadership. And I thank women like Kathleen Hanna, Kim Gordon, Aimee Interrupter and Alison Mosshart for being role models for me and my kiddo navigating our way through the world of Kardashians.
*I wrote this post listening to some of my favorite Riot Grrrls Bratmobile.