Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I feel myself getting dumberer...Chapter 1

I think a combination of modern convenience and technology is adding to my if I needed any help in that department. I'm most often aware of this in public bathrooms. I work in a gym that has a hands free bathroom. Everything including the faucets, soap, paper towels and toilets are all motion sensored so you don't have to touch anything. In most situations this is a good thing. This technology fails you when:

a. You get the phantom flusher. I know you have been here...who's coming with me ??? You enter the stall and start to lower yourself to the shitter, it flushes. Then you start to pee and it flushes. You start to reach for the toilet paper and it flushes again. It's water conservation at it's best. have finished your business and you need to flush and NOTHING. You start to do a series of squats followed by some abracadabra hand movements...still nothing. Eventually, you look around to find a button or anything to manually flush it. You spot one...unwilling to actually touch that shit with your hand, you give it the 'ol Jackie Chan kick and BAM! VICTORY! That toilet can't defeat are better than that!

b. The paper towel dispenser gets jammed. You roll up to that bitch, wave your hands under it and once again....nothing. There is a tiny 'lil scrap of paper sticking out of it so you decide you are gonna ever so carefully grab that thing and carefully pull on it and somehow think that you will be successful at getting a paper towel. I usually end up lancing a cutical or bending my nail back from sticking my fingers in there and then manage to tear off a little square the size of a postage stamp. I am left standing there like an asshole holding my scrap of paper. At this point I use my wet hands to style my hair cuz chances are my wig is looking a little rough. I walk over to the sensored trash can to throw it away and that doesn't work either. I put that 'lil scrap on my finger and carefully wedge the trash can lid up and work here is done! As I head to the door, all I can think is why don't they have an automatic door cuz that's the one thing I really don't want to touch. I immediately start analyzing what item of clothing is the least valuable to me. Normally I might use a paper towel but that fucker ain't working. So I put my hand underneath the bottom back edge of my shirt, grab the handle and do a Dancing with the Stars spin maneuver outta that bitch.

c. You visit an old school public restroom. This whole blog happened because I went to a concert last week and against my better judgement, had to use the restroom. There have been many times in the past where I have stopped drinking fluids 12 hrs in advance to avoid the situation, but this was not one of those times. I manage to conquer the toilet with a regular handle by using a nice roundhouse kick. I walk up to the sink, put my hands under there and... you guessed it...nothing. Why you ask??? Because it is not motion sensored. So feeling like a complete idiot, I use my hands to turn it on. The restroom is full and I start to panic as I head towards the paper towel dispenser. Manual or automatic...that is the question. As I'm analyzing the situation, this chick walks up to the sink and asks me..."Do you know if somebody is using this sink?" I look down at it and there is still water coming out of the faucet because my dumb ass didn't turn it off :)  I normally don't have to perform that task and the fact that I would have to use my hands once again eludes me. It must have been the stress over the paper towel situation that was about to go down. I look at her and say..."How rude...that person must hate the environment."

India and China must think we are complete morons. In many areas of those countries, they dig a hole in the ground and squat. It just ain't that hard. Simple solution while firming your glutes and quads. It's a win win! The bathroom is not the only glitch in my matrix. Stay tuned for more tales of technology dominating me...over and over.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Eat to Live or Live to Eat? THAT is the question.

Live to eat???

Eat to live?

My name is Nikki Czechowski and I'm addicted to food. I LIVE TO EAT when I really should be eating to live because I am a personal trainer...ain't that a bitch! Can't have nothing nice! Admitting you have a problem is half the battle right? If that is true, then I only have half a battle left. The really HARD half. As a trainer, I preach to my clients all day about diet and exercise and how they can obtain the Holy Grail...aka the body of their dreams. I talk about moderation, protein, whole organic foods, water, cutting out sugar and processed foods, healthy fats, calories in and calories out. I know that if they can stick to the plan that science has mapped out for them, they will achieve their goals. The main problem is, the majority of them, myself included, can't stick to the plan. There are exceptions with some amazing will power and success. But for the most part I watch them try, get some success, fall off the wagon, and then beat themselves up for it. I watch that loop play over and over all day long at the gym. I have a great deal of compassion and my heart breaks for them every time because I'm fighting the same battle. We are not alone, obesity is now considered a disease, so it will be covered by health insurance. Apparently, Mexico just took the title of most obese country in the world away from the United States. Can't say I'm surprised. What do you expect when every meal starts with a free bowl of chips and salsa and a shot of tequila to destroy any will power they might have had when they sat down to dinner....extra guacamole??? Yes please...and you better super size that shit!...and don't forget to cover it in cheese dip...gracias!

I was a tattoo artist before I was a trainer. We would always be eating and they would always say "Give your scraps to the dog...She'll eat anything!" I was the dog. I remember at one point, I decided that I was gonna go on an ice cream sandwich diet. Each ice cream sandwich was 100 calories and there were 12 in a box. I figured I could eat 3 for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That would leave me with one bar for my morning and afternoon snack and one for dessert for a total of 1200 calories. It was a brilliant plan! Eventually I can to my senses and realized I would be highly malnourished and most of my teeth would eventually drop out of my head, so I didn't do it. Truth be told....I still think about it on hot summer nights. At that point I usually run out and get a Cinnabon from Burger King or a Churro from Taco Bell. And THAT my friends is why I'm TRAINER OF THE YEAR! Speaking of which, If you have not had a Churro from Taco Bell...don't. It's for your own good. I have been known to pull out of the gym parking lot and drive directly across the street to get a chocolate dipped ice cream cone from McDonald' of my all time fav's! Am I proud of these facts, HELL NO...I'm ashamed. Am I gonna stop? Probably not, unless I get hypnotized or take a blow to the head and get food amnesia. There have been times in my life where I have gotten it under control. Generally speaking, that's usually a sign that something really bad is going on in my life. Usually a relationship gone bad.

I can't overemphasize enough how much I love food. I wake up thinking about it and I go to bed thinking about it. Every day I start a diet and by the end of most days, I end one. I'm a foodie at heart. I love to cook and generally speaking, I cook really healthy shit. The problem is I eat a family size portion by myself. I almost never buy any unhealthy stuff at the store because I know that I can not have it in my house without eating one sitting. It haunts me until it is gone. Where I get into real trouble is going out to eat. The wheels come off and it is time to get my snack on and no matter how full I am, I always get dessert...Always. My friends and clients know that the way to my heart is through my stomach. It is my love language. Nothing makes me happier than to see one of my clients strolling across the gym with a bag of goodies in their hands for me. I feel really loved in those moments because they went out of their way to think about and take care of me. My friends leave stuff at the front desk at work or on the seat of my Jeep or just knock on my door and surprise me. I'm so grateful for that...the food clearly...but even more about the thought. Every once in a while, they feel guilty for enabling me and say they are going to stop. I beg them not to. Not so much because I want the food. I have money, I can buy that shit all by myself. I think it's because if they stopped, I would somehow feel less loved.

So how do I control my weight and guide others who can not do it by traditional methods? I tell my clients and myself every day, that you got to work out like you eat. If you want to play, you got to be willing to pay the price for it in the gym. After all, it is a simple equation of calories in and calories out. I work out for several hours almost every day. People always say "You must love working out!" My response is usually, "I really love to eat, therefore I workout...a lot!" Again moderation would be best and that is what I try first with every client. That does not work for me. I'm an all or nothing kind of girl. My day consists of working and working out, followed by laying down and eating. I'm traveling at 100 mph or 0 mph. That gray in between area doesn't really exist in my world.

For a long time, I felt like I was a bad trainer because I could not stick to a perfect diet and did not come down on my clients when they failed. I've decided that I'm not a bad trainer, I'm human and I am honest with myself and them. I'm giving them the tools they need to be successful everyday and encouraging them to do it in right way. If that doesn't work for them, then I try to find something that will that is safe and effective.  My clients are human and trying really hard to achieve perfection, but at what cost? Many of them are 5 or 10 lbs away from their goal weight and are killing themselves to lose it. They are miserable because they have cut everything out of their diet that is enjoyable. What is the point of having a perfect body if you are a total asshole because you are hungry?

 When we look in the mirror, many of us only see the flaws. I have been on a roller coaster of weight loss and weight gain my entire life. Even when I was at my skinniest and people were calling me because they were concerned about my well being because I was "too skinny", I remember thinking I was fat. It's the woman's curse. There are certainly men out there with body dysmorphic issues, but it has been much more common in my experience among my female clients. Instead of beating them down for their diet failures, I prefer to build them up for their successes. Maybe they already lost 10 pounds, or can do a push up on their toes or run a mile without stopping. The fact that they are in the gym trying is all that really matters to me. Some have a lot of success really quickly and for some it is a slow lifetime battle. One is not better or worse than the other.

I get asked all the time what is my favorite type of client. I always say without hesitation, it's not the fastest or strongest or the fittest one, it's the one with the most heart. I will kill myself to help them achieve their goals and I live for those moments when they do. They light up and pride beams from their eyes and the smile on their face. There is nothing like it. Gives me chills every time.

I think eating to live mostly mixed in with a little bit of living to eat is ideal and realistic. So everyday, I will continue to try to eat cleaner and encourage my clients to do the same. Some days we will win the battle and some days we won't and that is ok as long as we are healthy and making the effort to be better. Most of my food is nutrient dense and well balanced, but I don't want to live in a world without a glass of wine and a slice of cake, and you shouldn't either. Just be ready to pay the price in the gym when you do. Being at either end of the spectrum can be dangerous. You can't live on shitty food and be healthy but you can't cut out carbs and well... happiness your entire life either.  Everything in moderation is always ideal. Life is about balance. Try to find yours.

SHEW!...that was a long one. Time for a snack. It will be healthy...maybe :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Adventures of Bijou the Dumpster Diving Cat Whore!

Bijou and her bastard children.

Skinny Bijou before the all you can eat buffet...she still thought she was fat.

Bijou post buffet...she needs to do some cardio ASAP.

I am a HUGE animal lover. I love them more than most people because they have the ability to love more than most people. Their love is unconditional and unending in most cases until their death. They don't judge, gossip or stab you in the back...they might take a shit on the floor...but hey...who doesn't? Parents and partners have a set of expectations that need to be met or the result is disappointment, anger and possibly the end of that relationship. All animals expect from you is food, water and to be touched. I say this all the time, and some of you will think I'm a horrible person...but I'm cool with that... but if there were two kittens and one human hanging off the cliff and I could only save 2 of them because I only have two hands, I'd have to think long in hard about who I'd choose. I would probably grab the kittens with my hands and maybe throw my foot out for the human to grab on to. Judge away :) I'm the kind of person that wrangles bugs in my kitchen and sets them free outside. I refuse to kill anything...with the exception of that copperhead snake that popped through the side of the foxhole I was digging when I was in the Army. I chopped that sucker into a million pieces with my shovel and asked questions later. You put me in a hole with a deadly animal and I will do my best to win that fight. Roaches are also an exception. I will simply place my cat Bijou in front of it and let nature take it's course. She may not get it but she will certainly stand guard and not let it get to me. People have come and gone in my life but my cat Bijou is my constant. She is my boo.

Bijou came into my life unexpectedly. Me and my girlfriend at the time had moved into a low rent shit hole apartment that had a lovely view of the dumpster. Every night, I 'd look out the window and watch at least 10 feral cats hopping in and out of the dumpster looking for food. During the year I was there, I saw several litters of fresh kittens out there. It broke my heart, especially in the winter. My girlfriend and I went to Sam's and bought giant bags of cat food and a dog house with blankets for them. One day I came home from work and this scrawny ugly cat with huge eyes came rolling up to me. You could see every rib on her back and she had a saggy belly that was clearly full of kittens. That hussie went and got herself knocked up out by the dumpster. She probably had no idea who her baby daddy was. She was just purring away and winding around my legs. My first instinct was to bring her in because it was really cold and she needed to eat. I had 3 other cats at the time so I didn't because of how bad she looked. I feared she might have kitty HIV. After all, she may be a junkie too for all I know. You know how scandalous cats can be. So I went inside my apartment and couldn't stop thinking about her. I went to bed that night and cried. Finally I got up and went outside and looked for her, but she was gone. I made up my mind that if she was out there the next day, I would bring her in.

The next day I came home from work...and you bet your sweet ass, the cat was there. She knew a sucker when she saw one. She was curled up sleeping in the back window of my neighbors car. So I reached in and grabbed her and brought her into the kitchen. I put her on my lap and her motor was running. She couldn't be happier, and I couldn't be more relieved to have her....that is until I felt her stomach contract within 2 minutes of her arrival. She was having contractions. I looked down at her and I see a little bubble coming out of her business. I was like holy shit...she's about to have kittens. I picked her up and put her on her back in a box in the back room. My girlfriend was running around behind us was kinda hilarious. We were both tattoo artists at the time so she ran and got some gloves. I was sitting at the edge of the box and Bijou had her back feet in my hands and was using them like the stir-ups. I told her to slide down and cough...ok ok, I made that shit up...but the rest is true. She looked up at me with this look of terror in her eyes and let out a big 'ol howl and out shot the first kitten. At this point, my girlfriend started freaking out more. She yelled "You gotta break that kitten out of the sack or it will die! Get it out! Get it out!" So I snatched up that sack full of kitten and started to tear into it. That sack was surprisingly strong. It was really hard to get into. Finally, I got in that shit and pulled a baby kitten out. It was pretty much the sweetest thing I had ever seen. Bijou dropped 3 more kittens that night. So we went from 3 cats to 8 in about an hour. My girlfriend and I flopped down on the couch and looked at each other like what???

We immediately started putting the full court press on everybody we knew and NOBODY wanted a kitten. Desperate times called for desperate measures, so clearly there was only one thing we could do. We would have to have a dodge ball pussy giveaway party. We would buy 4 litter boxes with litter and 4 bags of food. We would then lure our friends over with food and A LOT of booze and promise to peg them in the face with a dodge ball and they couldn't refuse. Once they had a black eye and were nice and liquored up, we'd show them the kittens and those bitches would fly out the door. The plan worked perfectly...every last kitten was gone and went to good homes. The party came to an abrupt end then me girlfriend got a line drive to the head with a ball that knocked her down. She landed on her tailbone in the concrete driveway. Party over. The best part about it was she carried around an inflatable donut everywhere she went including the movies with her sister. She would inflate it and deflate it after every use. One of my favorite memories of that girl. We died laughing every time.

The vet said Bijou was about 1 at the time. I think she is about 10 now. She is more like a dog than a cat. She is not one of those bitchy independent cats. I never take one step without stepping on her. She goes everywhere I go. She sleeps in between my legs and I'm certain I have hip problems because of it. She has a very sensitive stomach and dry heaves every time she sniffs food on my plate. She has actually puked on my food several times. She probably was 3-4 lbs when I got her and has probably ballooned up to 12 or 13 lbs now. It's not her fault, she probably messed up her metabolism when she was knocked up and starving to death. Remember that next time you go on a starvation diet. I love that cat like I birthed her. I think about the fact that one day she will die and my eyes well up with tears. I generally don't get along with people that don't love animals...I'm a wee bit prejudiced when it comes to that, but there have been many exceptions. I hope one day we will all be loved by another human the way my cat loves me...unconditionally.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Friendship…Quality or Quantity???

I have received a ton of feedback from every angle since I started this blog. People have reached out to me through email, Facebook, Twitter, text and some have just rolled up and started talking. The reality is outside of my job, I’m pretty much a recluse aka hermit. In college my roommates called me the tree sloth because I was completely content to sit up on my top bunk for days and never come down. I would cast a basket over the edge and they would fill it with supplies like Twinkies, remote controls and cd’s. I was forced to be very independent at a young age. I got picked on and bullied at school in the early years because I was poor and dirty and wore second generation hand me downs. They were passed from my uncle, to my brother and then me.  I really only wore 2 shirts that were my own. One was a bitchin’ cream Bee Gee’s t-shirt and the other one had a bulldog on the front and on the back it said “Built like a Mack Truck”.  That Mack Truck shirt is still my favorite shirt of all time. I've been searching EBAY for years to find another one. So if you find one, hook a sista up!  My brother who was 2 years ahead of me and had mental issues and rode the short bus. He would usually start a fight at the bus stop on the first day of school and because I was his sister…I was usually guilty by association. I learned quickly to make myself as small as possible. By the time I had reached high school, things got much better financially for my family. Money was no longer an issue. I would say we were upper middle class at that point. I think the damage had already been done however. My social anxiety was here to stay. I have always been quiet and tucked into the furthest back corner of any room. To this day, I have to sit in a certain seat in any public place or I feel horribly uncomfortable.  My back has to be to the wall and I prefer to face the door. I’m a total freak about it…not really sure what I’m afraid of….perhaps a zombie apocalypse. Don’t want ‘em to sneak up on me and start snacking on my brain.  My goal every day is to acknowledge people as I walk past them and try to make eye contact. I am painfully shy, so it is a struggle. People tell me all the time that they thought I was a total bitch before they knew me. Don’t get me wrong…I can be a total raging bitch when provoked, but generally speaking, I’m pretty laid back. The fact that I am heavily tattooed and look angry when I’m not smiling doesn't seem to help much. My point is, I’m very careful and selective with the people I allow into my world. My tough bitchy exterior is there to protect and hide the fact that I am highly sensitive and fragile. (shhhhh…Don’t tell anybody, I have a reputation to protect) This blog is slowly revealing my true identity and some people are seeing me a little differently. Some like what they see…some don’t. The best part about it is, I too am seeing them differently. I’m finding that I have more things in common with people than I could have ever imagined. It has opened up a dialogue with people I have never met and people I have known for years. It’s been quite an eye opening experience. It has got me thinking a lot about friendship.

What is most important to you, the quality of your friendships or the quantity? I am all about quality. I’d rather have three quality friends that I would happily take a bullet for and know that they would do the same for me, than 100 friends that wouldn't.  My friends must be loyal, trustworthy and non-judgmental and that is exactly what they will get in return.  I have a one strike policy. If you break my heart, you are cut. There are no second chances. I have a really hard time with forgiveness. I wish I didn’t, but I do. Now I’m not talking about small piddly shit. I’m talking about a lie or betrayal.

Am I the perfect friend? HELL NO! My biggest flaw is that I don’t reach out to my friends. I go to work and workout and come home. That is my life in a nutshell. As a trainer, I get a new client every 30 min. I consider most of my clients my friends and put my heart and soul into every session with them. Being a trainer isn't just about making people pick stuff up and put it down and counting to 10. If you really care about your clients, it’s a highly emotional job. Some days I am more of a therapist than a trainer and some days they are my therapist. I’m beat physically and emotionally at the end of every day. All I can think about is my couch and food when I get off work. My true friends are always on my mind, but the fact that I’m a cave dweller and tired all the time keeps me from reaching out to them. This is something I’m really trying to get better at. Most of my friends at this point know this about me and accept it. I may not speak to or see them all the time, but when I do, they get my undivided attention. You will never see me out to dinner with my friends with my phone in my hand unless I am showing them a picture. There is nothing more annoying and just rude than staring at the top of someone’s head watching them text or check Facebook the entire time you are with them. I’d rather spend 20 quality minutes with them and then leave than 2 hrs with someone that is only kinda there with you. One of my favorite people in the whole world lives in New York. I maybe speak to her twice a year. We both are busy with our lives and understand that about each other.  The moment we get together, we pick up right where we left off without skipping a beat. I love her for that. Friendships should be somewhat low maintenance. Friends should not be jealous of your other friends or you relationship. If you tell them you are madly in love with somebody, they should by no means, try to make out with you or that person. If my old lady and my best friend went down in a plane crash in Alaska, I want to feel confident that they could take their clothes off and press their bodies together to stay warm and my girlfriend would have no fear of getting the old reach around from my best friend…even IF they were drunk. True friends don’t smile in your face and then throw you under the bus behind your back. I can’t tell you how many times I've been in a pack of women that sit around and shit talk whoever isn't there and their children. The next time we’d go out, the same women are shit talking the people that were there last time to the people that weren't.  (Say that 3 times fast) It’s disgusting! I can honestly say that if I have the desire to talk about you behind your back…you ain’t my friend and we ain’t gonna hang out. I’m not going to talk to you at all. I can’t seem to find the time to hang out with the friends I adore. I’m certainly not going to waste my time on the ones I don’t. Real friends give you their honest opinion when asked, but don’t judge you for your decisions. They may not agree with you, but they should love you unconditionally no matter how you choose to live your life. One of my best friend’s tells me her honest opinion all the time knowing it may not be what I want to hear. Sometimes I listen to her, sometimes I don’t. She still loves and supports me either way and I cherish that. The list above are all reasons I have walked away from friendships in the past. I attempted some second chances, but the friendship was never the same.

It’s ok to be picky with your friendships. Choose wisely. Don’t be afraid to say no if you sense something feels strange. Trust your gut and you intuition…it is almost always right. If you are dreading hanging out with someone…they are not your friend and you are not theirs. You aren't doing them of yourself any favors. You will not be able to be your true authentic self and will probably spend the majority of your time with them texting somebody else or surfing Facebook. Instead, spend that time with people you truly love and cherish. The person with the most friends doesn't win in the end. The person with the best ones does.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I kissed a girl and I liked it...So I did it again.

Me and some of my riff-raff college friends the day after I kissed a girl.

Flagler College...The scene of the crime.

RARE shot of me in a dress on stage with the Genitorturers. Just another day at the office sewing somebody's mouth shut in San Francisco.

I grew up in a very small town in northern Illinois called Fox Lake. There wasn't much to do there except hang out on the lake, go to the bowling alley or Burger King. My high school had about 800 students in it. Football games were a big deal because...well nothing else was really going on. It really was as middle of the road as you could get. Nothing really great happened, but nothing really bad happened either. It was the kind of place where nobody locked their doors and you knew all your neighbors. Overall, pretty good place to grow up. My high school was predominately white...that means we had one mulatto boy and that was the entire school! It seemed perfectly normal then because I didn't know any different. It blows my mind now to think about it. I had heard of gay people, but I had only met one. That was my great uncle Tommy who was a blind concert pianist who lived in California. I really couldn't say anyone was prejudiced, because there was never anybody around to test it. I'm have know doubt that there were gay people in my town, but nobody was out.

I dated several boys in high school and I gotta tell ya, I wasn't that thrilled. Some of them were cute..some of them...not so much :) I went to 4 Homecoming's and 4 Prom's. Again, being in a small town, this was a very big deal. My mom lived for those dances. She went all out...I have some pictures of me in large dresses and even bigger hair to prove it. At least half of those nights ended with me dumping the guy I was with and then calling my dad to come pick me up because my date tried to get in my pants. I never had sex with anybody from my high school which earned me the nickname "Sister Nicole". I was proud of that shit too. Didn't bother me a bit. I wasn't trying to be a good girl or anything like that, I just wasn't feeling it. I tried to be into those boys, I really did. There was some kissing and heavy petting only if they took me bowling and then to Burger King for a combo meal and hot fudge sundae. I was just trying to do what I was supposed to do, but it never felt quite right.

Eventually, I decided to try having sex to see what the big deal was all about. What a fucking DISAPPOINTMENT that was! I assure you, the hot fudge sundae before it was much more enjoyable. I was bummed. I couldn't believe THAT was what all the fuss was about. I dumped that guy immediately. After discussing it with some friends, they encouraged me to try it again. Maybe that guy was just lousy in bed. So I gave it another shot. All I can say is BOOOOOOOOOO. I was over it.

The day after I graduated from high school, I left for basic training. I was 17 and was headed to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. It was the summer of 1991 and I had joined the Army National Guard. I did basic training the summer before college and then I went to AIT which was my job training, the following summer. After completing basic training, I arrived at Flagler College to start my freshman year. I lived in a suite in the dorm with 5 other girls. We had quite a large circle of friends. I'm the kinda girl who holds a handful of friends close to my heart and keeps the rest at arms length. Mostly because beyond the tough exterior is a fragile little girl that gets hurt very easily and has a great deal of difficulty with forgiveness. So I prefer to minimize my risk. After our freshman year, we were all deciding who we were going to live with. My dorm room the following year would have 4 beds. I knew who two of my roommates would be, but we needed to find a forth. We ended up choosing a girl named Callie.

She seemed nice enough. I had heard she was bisexual and was currently dating a boy. I had the thought many "straight" people have...not a big deal as long as she doesn't try anything with me. I gotta BOOOO myself on that one. Anyways, we moved into the dorm and Callie and I became fast friends. We did everything together. She was a very touchy feely kinda girl with everybody, so I never thought much of it when she would grab my arm while we were walking or climb into my top bunk with me and hang out.

One day I purchased a book called Modern Primitives. It's pretty much the goth kids Bible. It was one of the first books on tattoos, piercings, and scarification. After reading this book, Callie and I decided we wanted a piercing. At that point in time, you couldn't just head down the street to the local tattoo shop and get a hole punched in ya. You had to seek that shit out. We lived in St. Augustine Florida and there was a free local Zine called JAM. It was mostly filled with articles on local musicians, but on the back page were one line advertisements. One of them said "Piercings by Gen" and had a phone number. I mean,  that seemed SUPER professional and safe to us, so we called.

Callie and I drove down to Orlando and pulled up to some shit hole apartment complex. Looking back, I really can't believe I did this. I never once thought that going to a strange apartment in a seedy part of Orlando to have a stranger stick a needle in me was a bad idea. So we roll up to the door and knock. This super hot rocker chick with bleach blonde hair and a raspy voice answers the door and lets us in. I immediately felt like I was in an alternate universe or some horror movie that was not gonna end well for us. The walls were painted black. There was all sorts of animal parts and even human parts in jars and a bunch of crazy artwork on the walls. It looked like a devil worshiping cult lived there. At this point in my life, I had still been very sheltered and not seen ANYTHING out of the ordinary before this. We start talking and Gen and she tells us that her real job by day is retrieving donor organs and eyes from people who die...mostly car accidents. By night, she is the lead singer in a band called the Genitorturers. She starts showing us pictures and videos and at this point, FINALLY, I start to freak out a little bit. The Genitorturers is a band that plays industrial music and has a fetish stage show going on at the same time. It was some pretty crazy shit.

Did we stop at this point??? Nope...sure didn't. So I got the web of my hand pierced between my thumb and index finger and Callie got her nipple pierced. Two weeks later, I decided I wanted to get my tongue pierced. So we headed back down to Orlando and got 'er done. The night we got back, Callie and I were hanging out in our room watching The Princess Bride quoting the entire movie to each other, since we watched it almost every day. We didn't have cable and that was one of 3 movies that we owned. She was laying in my lap when the phone rang. My friend Jeff was on the line asking me if I wanted to go hang out in the cemetery with him. That may seem odd to most folks, but it was perfectly normal to us. We were all arty and alternative and shit and had done a million photo shoots out there. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the country and the cemetery was bad ass! I told him yes and I could see that it bothered Callie, but I went anyway. So Jeff and I get out there and have a make-out session. We had never kissed before, but I think the tongue piercing won him over. It was no big deal and nothing ever came of it because he was like a brother to me. The next morning, Callie crawled into my bed and said "You kissed him didn't you?". I said "Yep". She said "I can't believe he got to kiss you with your tongue ring before I did". Without hesitation I said "Well, you could have". As soon as those words left my mouth, I kinda freaked out, jumped off the top bunk and headed to 45 minutes early.  I had no idea where that came from.

There was this old Fort out on the water, where we would all hang out. Later that night, Callie asked all of us if we wanted to go to the Fort. I said yes and nobody else did. So off Callie and I went. It would be the night that changed my life forever. I grabbed a blanket. She asked me why I had it and I was like "I dunno...seems cold". Pretty sure it was like 90 degrees...but whatever. So I lay out the blanket and we are already guilty as shit. We were both laying on the farthest edges of the blanket away from each other. As we started talking, we both started inching our way towards each other. Finally we ended up in the middle of the blanket. I was on my back and she was kinda laying on her stomach looking down at me. She said "I'm going to kiss you now." And I said, "Please do." And she did. And it was like we were in a movie and somebody yelled "Cue the rain!" The moment our lips touched, there was a torrential downpour. The rain was so hard, that it hurt my face. And it felt like somebody had set off fireworks in my body. I felt more from that one small kiss than I had ever felt in my life. We ran back to the dorm and ended up being together for about 2 years.

Those two years were pretty amazing. I felt whole and I finally knew what everybody was talking about when it came to sex. It was effortless and exciting and just easy. It was extra fun being in the Army at that time. When I signed up, I didn't know I was gay. I checked the box on the application stating I was straight. At this point I wasn't claiming that either. I was identifying as bisexual because I really didn't know what I was. To be honest, I didn't want to be gay. Life and relationships were hard enough without adding that little element to it. It was 1993 and Bill Clinton passed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I worked in the Headquarters National Guard Detachment for the State of Florida. So basically, It was a bunch of good 'ol boy officers, and me stuck in an office together. I'm not one to hold my tongue as you might have guessed. It took every ounce of will power to shut the hell up during that time. I can't tell you how many ignorant bigots worked in that office. Hey, at least I only had 4 of the 6 years left on my enlistment. I would like to take a moment to BOOOOO myself once again. I still can't believe I got out of there with an Honorable Discharge. I even left with a bunch of fancy awards and medals and shit.

Eventually Callie and I started going in different directions and the relationship ended. My parents had a hard time with me being a lesbian and weren't speaking to me at the time. For the first time in my life, I was completely alone. Three days after Callie and I broke up, my phone rang. Gen was on the line asking me if I wanted to go on tour with them for 3 months. I said "Yep." I had a friend drive me to the intersection of I-10 and I-95. We were sitting there and this giant blue bus with a trailer pulled up. I got out of her car and onto that bus and took of with a bunch of freaks to tour the US. I was a performer in the stage show. My job was to fire breathe, pierce people and perform a variety of other tasks. Google that shit if you wanna know more. I would like to state that I was ONLY a performer and it was a job that allowed me to see the world and get paid for it. It was not my lifestyle. If it were, I would admit it and not be ashamed at all...but it ain't my thing.

While I was on tour, I met this really cute boy in Miami. He was a professional roller blader. He did tricks and shit on half pipes like the skate boarders. I thought, let me give this boy thing another shot. When I got home from the tour, I invited to come up for a visit. I though if this guy doesn't do it for me, no guy will. At one point, he kissed me, and I knew...I was a lesbian. There was nothing there and I sent that guy packing.

I have been told that it's a choice. I have been told that it is a sin and that I'm gonna burn in Hell. I have been told it a phase. I have been told that I'm just doing it to be weird, get attention and hurt my parents. None of these things is true. Being with a woman makes me feel whole, safe and loved. Something I never felt with a man. It's not something I would choose. Countless women have told me that they were thinking about being with a woman. My first response is always, if you can be completely happy with a man, then stay there because it is not an easy life. Being with a woman is the easiest thing in the world. Dealing with all the assholes out there isn't. I've gotta say, the world has come a long way since 1992. I'm am an out lesbian and have not really had too many problems over the past few years.I always say that being a lesbian is the perfect filter. It gets rid of all the ignorant people I wouldn't want in my life anyway. I've got one life to live...and I'm gonna live it my way.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Blame It on the Alcohol.


Field only friend.

Sweet Moon Boots!

I have lived through 3 home fires in my far. I'm really hoping I have gotten that shit out of the way now. It helps that my brother is no longer living with me since he was responsible for two of them. The first one happened when we lived in an apartment building in California. I was only 1 or 2 yrs old, so I don't remember that one. Apparently my brother was playing cowboys and Indians and decided to build a fire in the middle of the living room. I feel 90% sure that he was probably planning on burning me at the stake for doing something horrible like eating his Spaghettios. He burned the entire complex to the ground.

The second fire happened at the farm. I can't believe how many crazy things occurred at that place. The fact that I can remember them is shocking since my memory sucks and I couldn't tell you shit about what I did yesterday. One day we were down in the garden, which was probably 200 yards from the house. I looked up and I saw a storm a brewin'. It was moving quickly towards us across the cornfield. The moment I felt a drop of rain, I took off running towards the house. I remember getting about halfway there when all of the sudden there was a CRASH! Next thing I know, I wake up in the hospital with a concussion. I had been struck by shit! My mom was right behind me and saw the whole damn thang! That explains a lot about me eh???

 We were surrounded by nothing except cornfields, but for some reason, we always had strange people or animals in our yard. Asparagus just grew wild in our grass, so people would just pull over and start picking it. One day there was a group of Mexican men who stopped and actually just started camping out in our yard. My mom let it go until they built a campfire. Then she poked her head outside the door and told them to "Get off my land!" The said "Sorry we no speak English." So my mom got her gun and shot it in the air. They said "We understand that!" and took off. 

Random animals would wander onto our property and my brother and I would always catch them and try to make them our pets. You can only go out and ride the pigs for so long until finally, the thrill is gone. We had a breezeway between the house and the garage, that was totally sealed...or so we thought. One day I was heading out to the garage to do something very important I'm sure, when all of the sudden, something jumped out and started hissing at me. I first shat my pants, screamed and then decided that I needed it to be my new best friend. It was apparently an opossum. It was bald and covered in sores (just like I like my ladies :) ) Not exactly sure why my mom allowed my brother and I to keep this diseased opossum with a bad attitude as a pet, but I was sure glad she did. Somehow we managed to set a collar around it's neck and drug that thing through the yard. I say drug because it laid down immediately the moment we started pulling. I tried to get my cat and it to be friends, but ya...that shit didn't go well either. Either my mom or the cat set that poor opossum free one night. I woke up and he was gone. I was devastated. There was only one thing left to do...collect some field mice. I figured about 10 mice would be equivalent to one opossum, so out to the cornfield I went.

I rolled out to the cornfield wearing nothing but my underwear, tank top and a big ol' clunky pair of rainbow moon boots. I was also pushing my mice collector...aka pink baby doll carriage that I had that I had gotten from that nice church for Christmas. As I pushed that shit through the muddy cornfield, I plucked those mice right out of their holes with ease. Getting them was easy...keeping them in the carriage..not so much. Clearly I needed a roof on that thing. As I plodded along, my legs got heavier and heavier as the mud caked up around my boots. The carriage turned into a plow since the wheels were no longer turning because they were covered in mud. Then it hit epiphany! Since I no longer have the strength to lift my legs anymore, I would take the boots off, throw them in the carriage and drop the mice down inside of them. Then I would cover the top of the boots with my hands. It was brilliant! I finally got back to the house covered head to toe in mud with two boots full of mice.  My celebration turned to fear when I realized how much mud was everywhere. I just knew my mom would be mad when she got home from work, so I started cleaning. I drug my boots and carriage into the upstairs bathroom and threw it in the bathtub. I filled the tub with water and as soon as the boots were submerged in water, a little renegade mouse shot up outta the water. Apparently that little bastard was hanging on for dear life when I was shaking the mice out of the boots into a cage. There must have been at least 3 inches of mud in that tub. It never occurred to me that that would be upsetting at all to my mom.

So there I sat scrubbing away, when I heard my brother yell "Nicole, get out of the house. It's on fire!" Clearly I didn't believe him and I said "Shut up Tad! I'm cleaning my baby doll carriage!" All the sudden, he appeared in the doorway and said "No really, It's on fire, we gotta get out!" I looked up at him and saw a huge cloud of smoke passing behind his head. I jumped up, ran down the stairs and out the door. This may have been my first long distance run. I took off down the road barefoot in nothing but my underwear. The road was completely empty and surrounded by nothing but dirt fields. I'm not exactly sure where I was going, but I knew I wasn't gonna get blamed for that fire! Eventually, a cop stopped and picked me up.

The fire department decided the fire had started in the kitchen. Apparently my dad had put a nail through a lamp cord over the table. We always blamed my dad and his 0.50 % blood alcohol level for everything. About 15 years later, my brother admitted that he started that fire. He lit a puzzle that he had gotten out of a cereal box on fire because that seemed like a really good idea at the time. The fire spread from the puzzle to the curtains and poof! 

The house did not burn to the ground but there was a lot of damage. We moved to my grandmas while it was being repaired. While we were there, my mom was admitted to the hospital because she had blood clots in her legs. She was wheel chair bound and the doctors said she may never walk again. She had this bitchin' battery pack that had wires coming out of it that attached to her legs. We called her Bionic Mommy. Me and my brother would turn that shit up while she was sleeping and watch her legs jump all over the place. It was super cool!

The day had come when we finally got to go home 6 months later. We pushed my mom through the doorway into an empty house. We had been robbed. They took everything...which I gotta say, wasn't much. We had like a 12" black and white TV, some old shitty furniture and a Christmas tree stand. Those must have been some desperate criminals cuz they didn't get shit!

At that point, mom decided we should probably move. Clearly there was an omen over that house. Some of my best and worst memories happened there. It was just me and my brother and whatever we could catch that day. We had nothing to play with but were never bored. No computers, iphones, cable TV or toys. We were forced to be creative. I think that forced creativity has served me well as an adult...just ask the mice!

Oh and when somebody yells "FIRE!"...believe them the first time!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Let's Blow Shit Up!

Me in the fridge as usual...looking for condiments.

Photo of Tad before his only graduation...grade school. Except maybe a few 12 step programs. Those diplomas have been revoked.

Sunshine sans Vaseline.

Alligator gar fish pre-freezer.

In honor of the 4th of July I thought I would write a little story about blowing shit up. Me, my brother...we'll call him Tad because that's his name...and he sure as Hell ain't innocent, so no need to protect him...and our yellow lab Sunshine spent the entire month of July blowing up everything we could get our hands on. I'm not really sure where my brother got all his fireworks. I'm pretty certain he stole them out of somebody's garage or traded my mom's engagement ring for them in a back alley somewhere. Who knows...but we always had PLENTY of ammo. Both my parents worked full time and we were always home alone which meant we got into a lot of trouble. Tad was always grounded for the entire summer...which didn't mean much since my parents were at work. Nothing could keep Tad in the house. My dad actually screwed his screen into the frame from the outside so he couldn't get out at night. A few months later, they realized that he had cut the tops off the screws and glued them to the screen, so it looked like they were there, but he could easily escape. It was brilliant! I always thought if he had used his ingenuity for good, he coulda gone somewhere in life. But he chose to use his 2 brain cells for escaping from my parents and/or the police.

Tad would normally wake me up in the summer pretty early because he did not like to be alone. He would either blast AC DC's "Back in Black" or he would throw a lit firecracker into my room. Sometimes if I was lucky, he would shoot a bottle rocket into my bitchin' waterbed. That's right...I said it...I had a waterbed and it was totally gangster with my Strawberry Shortcake comforter and sheet set. Man, if I still had that waterbed, I could really woo the ladies. I'd be like totally irresistible!

Anyways, we blew up everything with firecrackers or M80's...which I think is equivalent to something like a quarter stick of dynamite. Tad would say "Nicole...get the net...we are going fishin'! The lake was in the backyard and again, I can't believe we made it out of there with all our limbs and no accidental drownings or without freezing to death from falling through the ice several times every winter. So I would grab the net and roll down to the lake with him. He would light an M80 and throw it in the water. About 5 seconds after that thing blew, about 10-15 striped bass would float to the top. Me and Sunshine would jump into the lake and collect them. Tad would usually throw them directly into the freezer. My mom would get home and open the freezer and have about 20 eyes staring back it her. They were just thrown in there head and all mixed in with the frozen corn. One time we caught a huge alligator gar fish and planted that bitch in the freezer and scared the shit out of her. Writing this blog is starting to make me understand why she drinks so many screwdrivers.

Our favorite things to blow up included stuffed animals, potted plants, condiments, bags of flour and pillows. I remember being super stoked when I got a stuffed animal for Easter or Christmas. I could imagine it's little head being blown off and Sunshine chasing it as it rolled through the living room. Clearly we lit most of the explosives inside of the house because it was too hot outside. The best thing BY FAR that we ever blew up was a jar of Vaseline.

When my mom met my stepfather, he had just bought a house that he was gonna tear down and then build a new one. Lot's of stories to tell about that 15 year process. Anyways, my parents bedroom was a loft that overlooked the living room. The ceiling was barn style and was about 18 ft high with a big ass ceiling fan at the top. They had JUST finished painting the you know where I'm going with this??? So one day Tad calls me over because he is gonna put an M80 in a jar of Vaseline and light it in the middle of the living room. I was like "Sign me up! I ain't missing this shit!" Tad was in the middle. I was on one side of him and Sunshine was on the other side. He lit that shit and it was fuckin' Armageddon in that bitch. I looked down at Sunshine and she had a giant blob of Vaseline on her nose and her tail was just a waggin'! Tad was covered head to toe in grease. I soon realized that something was dropping on my head and it was Vaseline that had hit the ceiling fan above and was now raining down on us...and everything else in the living room. It was pure ECSTASY for about 60 seconds until we realized we were dead meat! I believe we got grounded until the following summer. There were little shiny spots still on the ceiling when I left for college years later.

Moral of the story...Do not leave your children unattended for an entire summer...even if they are grounded. If you do, remove all matches. Happy 4th everybody! Go blow some shit up and think of me :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

When Doing the Right Thing is the Wrong Thing to do

I started writing this blog because I'm always telling stories about things I have have seen or experienced and people are always saying that I need to write a book. The thought of that is overwhelming, so I thought I would start a blog and then just put them all in order and call it a book one day. I think everybody has really interesting stories to tell. The best ones seem to be about something really great or something really awful. In my case, I generally like to write about something funny. This is not a funny story. My very first real blog was about my stepfather. I wrote it on father's day because I was thinking how lucky I was that he came into my life. This blog is about my biological father pictured above. What is sad about that photo is I have no idea if he is alive or dead. And to be honest, sadly at this point, I really don't care. The other sad thing about that photo is that my brother turned out to be just like my dad. My parents have a lifetime restraining order against him. Everybody has their sad stories to tell. Nobody's life has been perfect. I'm not writing this for attention or sympathy or anything like that. It's just simply a chapter in my book that is my life. I will be 40 this year and I'm not sad about it's just my story.

My mom and dad dated in high school. According to my dad, he planned on breaking up with my mom the night my brother was conceived. My mom's side of the family is extremely religious. My grandfather's brother was a famous Arch Bishop on TV at that time. So, they decided to do "the right thing," and get married. I think my mom was about 19 when my brother was born. My dad was a musician. His music was his one and only love. He told me when I was 21 that we ruined his life and crushed his dreams of being a rock star. He was always on the road trying to "make it big." He left my mom home alone with my brother and all the bills. He would come home here and there and spend the small amount of money my mom made on booze. He was an alcoholic and drug addict. On one of his appearances at home, he knocked my mom up again. I like my brother was an accident. My mom hid her pregnancy from him because she knew he would force her to get an abortion or just throw her down the stairs like he had done in the past. He was physically abusive to all of us. I remember lying in bed and staring at the crack of light under my door. I would hear him stumbling drunk up the stairs bumping into walls and tripping over things. He would eventually fall and then get back up and look for somebody to blame. I would wait for that light under my door to dim. That would mean I would be to blame that night. I remember feeling torn. Part of me would rather take the beating than hear my brother or mom get one. I think this is where my shyness began. I remember trying to make myself as small as possible. I thought if he didn't see or hear me, then he wouldn't hurt me.

He is a horrible person but my brother and I thought he was so cool. We would take the tiny moments that he was nice to us and just cling to them. One of my favorite memories was sitting on his lap and driving the car around the back yard. It was a rare moment when I actually felt like he wanted to be there. He would make attempts here and there to make us happy which would usually end up bad. Like the time he hid Easter  eggs wasted and forgot about the bee tree. We had a giant oak tree in the back yard that was basically a big bee hive. All the bees were inside it that night when he planted a pretty blue egg beneath it. Morning came and in my excitement, I forgot about it too. I ran directly to that tree and was attacked by a swarm of bees. I probably had a hundred stings. My entire body was swollen. 

After years of abuse and affairs, my mom finally divorced him. He came around here and there until my mom remarried a few years later. After that we got a phone call on our birthdays and one on Christmas. Our birthdays were both in November, so he got all his calls out of the way in those 2 months. My mom got $200 per month in child support. I do remember going to visit him in Chicago. We would always go to the Space Place. It was an old warehouse in downtown Chicago where a bunch of bands would rehearse. There was a stage in the basement where they had shows all the time. My brother and I were those dirty annoying kids running around playing all their instruments and stealing whatever food we could find. My brother was usually drinking their beer. I did all the eating. That hasn't changed much over the years. We were always alone there. My dad was really good at ditching us. He would just tell us to wait in the car. One night, my brother and I got a blanket and fell asleep on the roof of the car. I remember waking up in the morning drenched from the dew that had fallen on us. Dad was nowhere to be found. It's crazy to think that I was 5 and my brother was 7 and we slept outside on a car in a pretty sketchy part of Chicago.

Eventually he moved to LA to pursue his rock and roll dreams. When I was 21, I was in a band and we were playing in LA and we had a day off there. I hadn't seen him in years, so I thought maybe we could hang out. So the bus rolled up to the venue and there he stood. After the show, we went back to his apartment.
It was horribly awkward. He was a complete stranger. He said to me, "I never wanted kids, but now that you are an adult, I'd like to get to know you." all I could think was...I don't think I want to know you. He followed that statement up with a little story...

"When you were a few weeks old, I was at home with you playing my guitar while your mom was at work. And you just kept crying and wouldn't stop. Finally I went over to your crib and put my hand over your mouth and nose. You turned fucking blue and I just had to take my hand away. I almost killed you."

Who does that let alone tells their kid that? My dad...that's who. In that moment, I decided that would be the last time I laid my eyes on him.

I wish he wouldn't have done "the right thing." I wish he would have dumped my mom as he had planned and pursued his dreams. A lot of pain and suffering could have been avoided if he hadn't tried to make everybody else happy. We all suffered for his one unselfish act. I think about it all the time when I'm making my own decisions. Growing up, I did my best to make everybody else happy at the expense of my own happiness. I really was a great kid. I lived to make my parents proud. The worst thing I could imagine was disappointing them. Revealing I was gay seemed to erase everything good I had ever done for a lot of people. At that point, I decided I was going to do what made me happy because life is to short not to. People stay in bad marriages and  jobs they hate and  then push their kids to be in sports they hate and then get a job they hate. It's a vicious cycle. Most of it seems to be rooted in money and status and some fairy tale of a white picket fence. I'm writing my own fairy tale. I'm a trainer at a gym. I will never be rich, but I love going to work every day and I love my clients. I would rather live in a cardboard box with somebody I adore than a mansion with somebody I don't. Never underestimate the price of your happiness.