Black Hole Sun: The Song That Changed My Life

Picture it, 1994: Southern California

I hear this song on the radio, and I saw the video. Immediately loved it. It was soothing at a rough time in my life. 1994 was not an easy year for a whole number of reasons. This song was like a drug–it would take me away from my problems for 5 minutes and 18 seconds. I actually bought an import CD single of it. I think I ended up selling it on ebay or it’s hidden in a box somewhere in storage.

On March 1, 1996, the band The Moog Cookbook was shooting a video for their synth version of the song “Black Hole Sun.” Kevin was “location manager” for the day, as the locations were at Remote Control Studios, in front of a very large Moog modular synthesizer he’d spent the past few years assembling; and Mutato Muzika, the lime green building on Sunset Blvd. The original plan was to film in front of the legendary TONTO system, which was housed at Mutato at the time. That didn’t work out, but the building was a decent alternative for two guys wearing space suits.

After all that shooting was done, Kevin went home, fired up his computer, and logged into AOL. He found a message board for the band Devo, and made a post about his visit. I saw it and looked up his profile. His quote was “Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.” I was into quotes back then, so I emailed him and simply said “I like your quote.” He replied, and he became a big part of my life for the next 18 years.

In August 1996, I went to Lollapalooza at Irvine Meadows. Chris Cornell stood alone on stage and performed “Black Hole Sun.” I only watched him a little bit because I was too busy dancing like a hippie on acid, happy that I got the chance to dance to this song live.

It’s always been, and will remain, one of my favorite songs ever.

Surviving Amor Fou, #2: Music

I’m sitting here listening to The Beatles album Let It Be. Much like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon, The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, and Suzanne Vega’s 9 Objects of Desire, this album reminds me so much of Kevin that I’ve actively refrained from listening to it until now. I don’t know what changed my mind.

In this case, we listened to this on the way down for me to meet his father and his stepmother (technically–the marriage happened when Kevin was in his 30’s), a month after I moved in with Kevin. We had little jokes that involved this album. You know, those jokes you develop over time with someone you’re close to. That stuff you can never quite convey properly to the rest of humanity. The little things that start to become painful once that person dies.

This album reminds me of so many good memories, which are a bit on the bittersweet side right now. It’s hard to think of what we used to have because it’s gone. I picture so many things in my mind’s eye while listening to this album. The apartment where we lived, his ’67 Mustang Fastback, the cats. . . So much laughter, so many very early Internet videos, hanging out with friends. . . I was so young back then. I had no idea how long I’d have with Kevin. I knew back then we’d lose all the cats, but I thought we’d start a new group of them in my 40’s. I could never have guessed that he would be dead six months after losing the last one.

That life has been over for 6 years. The good life was pretty much done six years before that. Yet listening to this album still evokes memories of that time. I’m quite happy that it’s not emotionally painful. It’s still great music and I may try to slowly put some of these songs into playlists.

The one song that I have been able to listen to is For You Blue. It reminds me of my Sweetie. But we don’t have Amour Fou, thankfully.

Another New Normal

I remember years ago, the “New Normal” for me was being grateful for the gift of a wheelchair so Kevin could go out without having to walk around.

These days, it means spending a lot of time in my room. I’m fortunate to have been working from home for the past 8 weeks. I love my company, because they’ve been on top of the pandemic situation and slowly rolled out the necessary precautions since late January. This is the kind of steady job that I’ve always wanted, but was convinced for years that it was a bad thing to want. Funny how that goes sometimes.

I’ve been writing fiction again! My problem has always been completing a story. I get too many ideas about key scenes and don’t go back to fill in the gaps. So, I’m taking a different approach to it. I’ll let people check it out once I have my content organized.

Stumbled upon the SiriusXM channel 1st Wave about a week ago, courtesy of the TV service that gets beamed to the house. My inner teenager is digging hearing songs that I haven’t heard in like, over a quarter century! I’ve been using my Google Play account to build a playlist out of the songs I don’t want to forget. Even some of the DJ’s are the ones I listened to back then! My “Spring 20” Playlist also has a bunch of different stuff I discovered when making my own custom “radio stations” on Google Play based off of a single song and noting what I enjoy. Jazz fusion, New Wave, and Motown, mostly. It all mixes together fine in my mind. Branching out a bit in music is good. I’ve discovered and re-discovered a lot of good songs.

Much like when I grew up here but for much different reasons, I can’t go anywhere. I do take an occasional drive, especially now that the weather’s nice enough to drive around with the top down! I don’t want to offer my thoughts on the current situation. Well, I do want to go on record saying that while it is a drag to have to stay home all the time, and masks are a little awkward, it’s a lot better than being told what to do with my uterus. Plus, technology nowadays has made it much easier to get things delivered and to stay in touch. And yeah, with my “pre-existing conditions”, it can get very depressing to be away with my loved ones, but we’re all still alive and want to stay that way! I don’t want to focus on all the stuff I can’t do. I have it better than scores of my fellow Americans. I can’t take that for granted.

I also enjoy being able to get up a half hour before work, because it means I have more time after work to relax and enjoy myself. Then again, I’ve never really been a morning person. If I didn’t have to stick to a normal work schedule, I’d so be a night owl. I miss those days.

So does this count as having written about the current Pandemic for future generations? šŸ˜‰

Another 20 Year Milestone

On April 26, 2000, I got my tubes tied. I had to fight like hell to get it. Everyone saw this unmarried 20-something of Mexican descent in LA County who did not want to have children. They laughed at me. They tried to get me to get a psychiatric evaluation. They kept telling me I was too young and that I would change my mind in 10 years and then where would I be? Quite annoying. Even on the operating table before they put me under, they asked me if I was sure. I said I was. I knew I wouldn’t regret rendering myself sterile. I was right.

Now that I’m a widow, I know getting my tubes tied was a good decision. I can’t imagine trying to parent a fatherless child while I’m grieving as well. Heck, I’m glad there were no cats left that had to accept the loss of such a great Cat Daddy. Plus, depression runs in both my family and Kevin’s. We didn’t want to pass that trait along to another human being. (Not to mention the child would have an increased risk of suicide!)

Oddly enough, after Kevin died, I was told a few paternal aunts were under the impression that Kevin forced me to get my tubes tied. (Yeah, because a relative’s first concern after hearing her niece’s husband died should be the niece’s fertility status!) They were informed they were wrong.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that childfree women actually enjoy sex more after sterilization, either theirs or their male partner’s. Childfree women who aren’t sterile often fear pregnancy the way some people fear death. Personally, the thought that all that fun could result in having to get an abortion put a little damper on the act. My Catholic upbringing taught me that only abstaining from sex until marriage was the only way to avoid getting pregnant, because birth control has a failure rate. (I was also taught that condoms were useless because some STD’s could still get through.) That stuck in my head, and was part of what prompted me to get my tubes tied in the first place. Plus the fact that my maternal family is quite fertile, and my Grandma got pregnant while on birth control.

So here I am, in my mid 40’s, still grateful that I’ve been able to forego hormonal birth control for two whole decades. It’s saved me quite a bit of money over the years, especially considering I didn’t have health insurance for many years on end.

To any woman in her 20’s who doesn’t want kids, you probably won’t change your mind, especially if you’ve known since you were a kid that you don’t want to be a Mom. Fight for your life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness! I did, and it’s still one of the best things I ever did for myself.

It was 20 Years Ago Today. . .

No Sgt. Pepper here. šŸ˜‰

20 years ago today, April 6,2000, I stood on a cliff in West Maui and married Kevin. I still smile when I think of that day. Giggling as we held hands and walked behind the minister on the way to that spot. People noticing us and cheering because we were getting married.

It was windy, and our long hair blew everywhere. The kiss, which brings up this line from a Steely Dan song: “So in love, the preacher’s face turned red.” My “smiling muscles” hurting because I’d been grinning for a very long time.

Do I regret eloping and not marrying in front of family? No. Having a wedding with my in-laws would have been a lot of drama. My late FIL married thrice, before and after his marriage to my MIL. (He incorporated at the end of his marriage to my MIL so she didn’t get nearly what she should have. Though she did get to collect benefits once he died.) Not to mention my Large Beaner Family (meant with affection–I’d rather call myself a Beaner than a Latina/x) and the high potential for drama that crowd brings.

The day before we got married, we took a trip into Lahaina to get clothes and rings. I chose a brown dress, and he chose a blue shirt. I can’t fit into that dress, but his shirt fits me well. We got our rings at a reasonable price when Kevin used the phrase “triple keystone” to the salesman. (FIL was a wholesale Jeweler. He allowed Kevin to get his GED and leave high school at 17 as long as he worked for him. Those skills came in handy at times when he’d restore synths. His tools were passed along to a friend who will use them. Tools are supposed to be used, after all, not sit in a box out of sentimentality.)

I’d love to go back to the Hali Kai, where we stayed, and spread a little bit of his ashes into the water. That was a special place for him, long before I was born. It meant a lot to him that we went there together, and that’s probably why he decided to propose there.

I’m listening to Dish’s 80’s Hits channel. I was listening to 70’s Hits, and heard a few songs that remind me of Kevin. Right now, on the 80’s Hits channel, it’s Missing Person’s “Words.” He liked to blast this one from time to time.

I knew I was due for a sense memory attack related to music, so I decided to do that bit of self-care. (Crying while I listen to a song that helps me process the emotional pain due to the loss is really helpful.) Yesterday, I decided to take a bath and listen to music I knew would most likely make me cry.. I decided on Stevie Wonder’s “You and I.” It’s from the album “Talking Book,” which we listened to a lot around the time we got married. (In fact, somewhere on a hard drive there’s footage from this time, where I walked around the condo we rented with the album in the background.) Have you ever cried so hard you have to remind yourself to breather? That kind of crying. I refuse to call it “ugly crying” because I’m supposed to cry like that over the loss of my soulmate, according to my friends.

Today, I’m wearing a shirt with the famous logo for Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of The Moon.” It’s still hard to listen to parts of that album, because that was another one of our favorites. “Great Gig in the Sky” still gets me.

It was a complicated marriage that ended with his suicide. I’ve had 6 wedding anniversary’s as a window now. They’re getting easier. I just have to remember that I have to have a good cry at least once during this time of year. And his death day, and his birthday.

Well, I used up half my lunch to write this, so I’m going to spend a little time away from a computer while I can.

Narrative Mostly Freewriting #4

The friends that have walked on before us
Are waiting to take us to laughter and dancing.
The friends that have walked on before us
Are waiting to take us to the sky.

Dreamland, The B-52’s

I’d like to believe there is an afterlife, but I really don’t have proof. I mean, sometimes I can feel the presence of a loved one, but I don’t know if that’s just wishful thinking.

This is going to be a huge year of change for me. My Sweetie and I are giving up the room we’ve shared for 4 years for a number of reasons that don’t have to do with the state of our relationship. Moving is going to be a pain, but far less headache in the long run. We have somewhere else to call home already, though for me it’s the weekend home because commuting there would get old after a day.

It was a fairly typical day of work. Just another Monday. Didn’t bring lunch so I went out and grabbed a salad. I try not to travel with the rest of the people who work in the area to the more popular destinations. Today was the first day I actually got stopped at the train tracks. Wasn’t too bad.

Making friendship bracelets again. Funny how one can still uncover muscle memory after a few decades. Though I’m sure I made random ones here and there since I was a teenager.

Still trying to wrap my head around the concept that 1990 was 30 years ago. It doesn’t seem that much time has passed. Maybe that’s only because I keep trying to block out most of my 20’s and 30’s because of how painful it is that I no longer have the family I had back then.

It kinda feels like today’s a journal writing day. I think I’m gonna go do that.

Narrative Mostly Freewriting #3

The news that Neal Pert has left this world reached the world today. Such a talented person we lost too soon. I listened to most of Rush’s “Moving Pictures” today on the drive home. We still have the music and lots of videos that have archived a lot of his work. That’s one thing I love about the 21st Century–we have a way of preserving much of the 20th century in ways that they didn’t have in those Roaring Twenties that have been popping up in memes for the past year.

As I have to do laundry and clean up my room before I head up to spend some time working on wiring for Neotropolis this weekend (among other things), I decided to go for a dab. I started getting anxious on the way home. I thought it was my upper back, which has been bugging me lately. Then I remembered how much Rush reminds me of Kevin, and that one memory I treasure is my 30th birthday, when my friend Grinner came to visit. I had to choose between them when I was 21, and I chose Kevin. When I was 22, I found out about Polyamory and realized I actually didn’t have to choose, but it was too late. I regret not knowing that, but I also don’t think it would have made a difference. I had the life I had from 21 to 39 because I made that choice, and I can’t change it.

I’ve been wanting to write about Kevin again, mostly because I’m trying to listen to songs we both loved again, instead of avoiding them because they usually make me want to cry. The biggest culprits are:

  • From the Beginning, ELP
  • Pretty much all of Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys
  • Everything Counts, Enjoy the Silence, Question of Lust, Depeche Mode
  • Moonlight Feels Right, Starbuck
  • Chamber of 32 Doors, Genesis
  • And You And I, Yes
  • Pretty much all of Talking Book, Stevie Wonder

It always sucks when the more popular ones of these songs pop up at work, especially when I can’t stop what I’m doing and run to the bathroom. I’ve learned how to cope, but it’s hard stuffing that kind of emotion back into one’s soul to focus on my job. I’ve designed it where I don’t have to do that anymore, finally. The loss I feel is so profound that I need to give myself a larger chunk of time to start processing it and making sense of it all. Those songs bring up so many snapshots in my mind’s eye that my coping mechanism of trying to pretend those 18 years of my life were a dream. Sure, that’s allowed me to start to build a life for myself, but it’s keeping me from truly growing.

There is a woman who sits
All alone by the pier
Her husband was naughty
And caused his wife so many tears
He died without knowing forgiveness
And now she is sad, so sad
Maybe she’ll come to the park
And forgive him
And life won’t be so bad
In Paisley Park

Paisley Park, Prince

I forgave him before he died. Now it’s time to get rid of the survivor’s guilt I feel.

Narrative Mostly-Freewriting #1

When I first started this job, I used to take the bus. I wanted to reward myself at the end of each day and make the commute home more enjoyable. So, I walked down to my local dispensary and got myself edibles. Rice krispie treat in my case. (It can tolerate being cut into 6+ pieces and eaten over time best. One $5 treat lasted 6 to 8 days.) By the time I got home, I’d usually decompressed from work and gotten a little hungry. Sometimes it was a light journey, listening to music and catching up on Facebook. Other times, shuffling through my playlists prods some sense memory that forced me to feel that profound pain loss I’ve done my best not to feel too often. Then I cry while I keep listening. This is how it’s leaking out now, so I might as well go with it. The leak will stop, aided by the walk from the bus stop home. Everyone keeps telling me that I should feel this pain, and I keep saying that I resent having to feel it in the first place. As I’m finding out, this has not been the healthiest thing in the world. So folks, allow yourselves to feel that horrible pain of loss when it happens. Storing up all that pain will come back to haunt you at the most inconvenient of times.

On Paydays, I started a tradition to go to the dispensary, which was right near one of my bus stops, and have a dab, much like someone else would stop at the bar or liquor store on Payday. There’s something therapeutic about consuming marijuana via concentrated wax. It’s a more “body high that taps into the third eye” kind of high than traditional flower tends to be (unless it’s REALLY good). It also allows me to bleed the pipes, so to speak. I can allow myself to feel that pain, but not to dwell on it too long. The old slogan fits, too, a little dab will do ya.

I still partake in this tradition every now and then. It’s cheaper than Starbucks, even with tip. These days, I’m lucky to have a car, but I still walk to and from the dispensary. Getting a DUI is an expense and hassle I don’t need. It’s roughly the same amount of time I spend on the bike at the gym, which is good because there’s no way I’m taking a Lyft too and from the gym. That would become an expensive habit fast.

The best part of the walk home is the music. I’m sure people around this neighborhood think I must be crazy because I’m dancing down the street like I’m in my own private musical. Listening to music stoned is something I’ve been doing for two dozen years. Usually it was when my late husband Kevin and I were working or I wanted to write or work on the online sales part of our business. That’s why a lot of music I enjoy triggers sense memory–Kevin introduced me to a lot of music that has become a part of my soul. I also love dancing, which gives me a way to channel emotional energy into movement. I learned how to do this when I was 18 and it really helps. Nowadays instead of dancing, it’s usually kicking. I spent most of my 30’s studying and teaching Taekwondo. I miss it, but I can’t go back to teaching unless I have another way to make an actual living. It’s the Art that I love, and as my Grandmaster taught me, it’s okay to charge people according to what would fit into their budget.

This little ritual is slightly reminiscent of an old one I had when I lived in Toluca Lake in my 20’s–get high, walk to Trader Joes, buy a bag’s worth of groceries, and walk home. It took less than an hour and I enjoyed it. There are a lot of happy memories of that time of my life. I think I need to remember that as I start to confront all the bad ones prompted by all the issues in my marriage.

I often find myself starting to write in my head. I’ve probably written this in my head a couple dozen times already. I guess that’s why it was relatively easy to finally set all this down.

I love living in this day and age, where I can actually do something like this, in the neighborhood I grew up in, thanks to the open-minded voters of California.

Narrative Essay #1: December, 2019

It’s rare that I leave the house after sunrise on a weekday. Most weekdays are spent waiting as long as possible to get out of bed, then stumbling into clothes and a bathroom routine. Gather my things, grab lunch and a Soylent from the kitchen, and head out the door. If I’m up to it I’ll make sure the sink is clear. On Fridays, I empty a couple of trash cans into a bag so I can toss it into the large trash can that’s a few yards away from my car.

I usually grab the newspaper for my Dad, except on the rare occasions that he’s up before I’m out the door. I started out a year ago just putting the paper near the back door on my way to the bus stop. I started putting the paper on the arm of his chair when I started exiting out the back door.

On damp days, I clean off my windows while the car warms up. Set up my phone and plug it into the car stereo, open the bottle of Soylent and take a swig. Check for messages from my Sweetie if he’s already up. Maybe check the commute and figure out when I’ll get to work.

I’ve been in the habit of listening to Audiobooks or Podcasts on my commute. Music’s been too much to take in while driving to work lately, and on the way home, I like to finish up what I’ve been listening to. At this particular moment in time, I’m listening to AcidĀ forĀ theĀ Children, Flea’s memoir. His writing style and how he reads the words he wrote has been inspiring. On this particular weekday, his voice fills my ears as I see the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains as I get to the peak of the hill that offers a view that I grew up seeing. The houses go higher up into the foothills as they did in my elementary school years. It’s snowing in places it hardly ever does, which is why the mountains look that way. Every 5 to 10 years, this happens. People can be so quick to forget because they act like it’s never happened before every time it happens.

It’s an odd coincidence this is happening now. I remember when this happened a decade ago. My life was much different. That snow was surrounding me, as I was on the other side of those mountains in a geodesic dome with the family I had then. Yes, I once had a husband, six cats, and for a time a rooster and a couple of hens. I lost all that almost 5.5 years ago. While I’ve spent the time since that loss going forward and building a life for myself, I haven’t really processed the profoundness of being the only survivor of that household. I took a step towards finally doing so, with the assistance of the same group of mental health providers I had in the 90’s. The office has been upgraded, of course. I now speak to the folks at the front desk through glass. There’s a security guard behind the glass with them. I now answer questions on a tablet that are tracked with every visit–a mental health equivalent of taking my vitals. Yes, I’m really depressed and anxious, but no, I’m not suicidal. Having survived my husband’s suicide, I have no desire to put my loved ones through that. Especially my parents and my Sweetie.

I have to open these “cans of worms” as I’ve been referring to them lately. The hole in my heart for my former family and the life I once had. The facts: I know why that life failed, and I didn’t have as big of a hand in it than I was led to believe while I was living that life. All of that requires a lot of mental strength and time, as I have to recover from allowing myself to feel all of that. It hurts just as much as it did when I broke my arm. But it’s an emotional pain, which is a much harder pain to endure and find relief from. I have a plan in place to open those cans, examine the contents, and realize what it means now. I need to do it. I can’t keep that kind of pain in anymore. Even if it means missing several days of pay over the next few months.

Work is work. I’ve worked harder for the same money, and I have benefits. Getting out of bed is hard, but once I’m out the door, I can get through the next 10 hours. Sure, there are days when I’d like to go home an hour after I clock in, but I find a way to get through the day, and am very proud of myself when 4 o’clock rolls around and I head out the building and to my car.

My commute home is a different route the first third or so of the way due to traffic. It’s a fun drive a first, which helps me unwind and makes me happy that I have a sports car (but I don’t drive like a maniac). If I’m up for it, I take a detour to the gym to get a little stretching and cardio in. My only goal with the gym is to keep going and get at least 3 miles in on the bike. Then I go home, check in with my parents, eat, shower, talk to my Sweetie, and head to bed.

This kind of routine is not one I’m really used to. In my former life I worked at home. I’ve had this job a year. The last time I worked at a job for a year was 2002-2003. I was at that job exactly one year and was coerced into quitting by my late husband, for a reason that was never really explained, but had to do with us wanting to move out of our apartment and into a house. We got the dome in mid-2003 and had it exactly for 11 years.

It’s the last Saturday morning in December and it’s time to drive up to see my Sweetie. I leave after sunup, partially tracing my commute home (in reverse) to get to the 60 freeway. The snow-covered mountains greet me again, but this time I’m heading to the other side of them. Flea’s voice fills the car as I head east to the 15 North. When I pass Devore, the snow starts to become more visible, but it takes until the 138 to appear on the side of the road. I have to slam on my breaks right past the Weigh Station that used to excite me because it meant I was almost home and back with my former family. Today, the exit I used to take is quite long–people wanting to take advantage of the snow to head out for a family day trip or to enjoy the ski resort. I’m glad I can avoid all that. I hated how crowded it got on Hwy 2 after a snow when all I wanted to do was run my normal errands. All the impatient families who used my old road as a playground and set up little hibachi grills like they were at the park. They couldn’t be bothered to actually head into town, buy a $5 pass, and go into the area set aside for them.

But today, I head past all that, marveling at the snow that covers the hills around me. More snow is expected in a few days, but I’ll be back to the land of my birth and the area I’ve been working in for the past year.

Now it’s Sunday morning and I’m writing all this down. My Sweetie had to work early today, and I found myself alone in our room for the first time in months. I started writing, and it felt good to finally get all of this down. It’s been brewing in my head all week.

I keep telling myself that I have to make more time for myself to write. I think I will when I have those days to work on those cans of worms. Narrative essay style rather than journaling or first person fiction. I feel the need to articulate my thoughts and daily experiences rather than how I feel. That will come later.