“You’re turning VIOLET, Violet!”

Posted: November 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


So as I often preface any autobiographical story, this is not 100% what happened, but it’s how I remember it…

I live in Brooklyn, NY.  The nature of my work some would describe as amorphous.  Composer.  Radio Programmer.  Children’s Choir Director.  Gourmet Food Vendor.  Sometimes Bartender.  Failed Copywriter.  Abstaining Manic Depressive.  (That one requires a lot of work from home.)  The week of Hurricane Sandy derailed whatever delusional organization I had in my life to start with in the most literal way that it could: it destroyed the New York City subway for 10 days.  Luckily, I live almost 2 miles inland from the East River, so I was guiltily exempt from any of the flooding or massive electricity loss that brought the city into a vampiric coma.  We spent the majority of these inordinate stretches of doing nothing precisely doing that: watching vanguard music videos on my flatscreen, checking in with CNN feed to see when we would be next, burning candles so expired that they eventually smelled like leather… and of course, by making an ambrosial affluence of FOOD.

By ambrosial affluence of food, I mean that we got fat.  On a normal day, such an impromptu gourmet course might include: three cheese truffled macaroni with turkey sausage.  Slow roasted maple pork shoulder served on a brioche pun with spicy mayo and water cress.  Maple glazed brussels sprouts with bacon shards.  Belgian Waffles served with a scoop of Butter Pecan.

We avoided mirrors.

By the time that everything that Con-Ed had turned on all the major power generators in the East Village, the bright lights were back on in the big city to cast its boomy blaze on our fat faces.  Seeing as how my vanity can lead so reflexively toward apprehension and self-loathing, this meant spending more time at home.  More time honing my skills as an impromptu chef to substitute for the love that I could only ever owe to myself.  When forced upon normal outings I would wear a garish houndstooth sportjacket with a yellow construction hat, a wisecrack to others, letting them know that: “Yes.  I am out of my apartment for the first time in a century, too.  Look at me – DON’T look at me!”

A clip of Presley (my friend from LA) and I being abandoned by the public bus on 23rd st and 2nd.  It’s called “The M15 Drops Two Stars Out In Darkness” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe242W78Akk

And as the weeks transpired, so did dayjobs, so did my choir directing responsibilities, and my side collaboration with brilliant performing artist Erin Markey.  But did everything fall back into place?  Of course not.  And how could it?  There lay the ravaged beaches of Staten Island, the shivering derelict ashes of Sandy Hook Bay, and me, who awoke every morning feeling as if I had spent the entire night wrestling some oompa-loompa that crawled into my bed, asphyxiating me in my sleep.  By the time I actually did muster the courage to walk to the bathroom mirror each morning, I found my that my face had become something of a horror show.  Not only bloated to a 1/4th of its usual size but red/purple rashes trailing around my mouth, then faintly uncoiling down my neck. “You’re turning VIOLET, Violet!” I actually said to myself, The Superhuman Blueberry.  There was no way I could brave the next week ahead.  Not in front of precocious, pushy 4th grade contraltos.  Not with the perpetual sensation of being strangled.  And most certainly not with these rashes.

I got through it the way many of get through things: my denial went on autopilot.

But the next week would find me back with family in Seattle,  gaining some much needed sympathetic relief from my psychological warzones.  I have two families that I return to in the Pacific Northwest.  In future posts, I’ll explain how this wildly asymmetric dynamic has somehow managed to become the most functional thing I know.  But like any “fully-grown” homeward bound adult, there is both the pressure of pretending you are more adult than when your parents saw you the last time, and the tricky alleviation from having any responsibilities at all.  However, when I climbed the stairs to hug my mother after that 5 1/2 hour flight, I felt like I was like I could have been E.T. picking up his date for the prom.

WHAT.  Is. THAT?!”

Some people are so transparently polite that some looks, alone, from them will send you straight for a doctor.  Or as my friend Luis would delicately call them: “white people.”  And my Mom’s white face was telling me in no uncertain terms to see one the next morning.  I went to a local dayclinic that charged $150 without health insurance.  I ran through an agitated list of my symptoms to the doctor like someone playing a bad game of charades. As for her assessment: “Well, it seems to me that you have an insufferable deal of anxiety. Often times anxiety manifests itself in the form —”  And this is where I stopped listening to her and snatched the xanax prescription. I did, however, ask her if she thought I should x-ray my neck, which felt, at this point, suffocated by boa constrictors.  It was the very least I could do.  She said that was another $300 charge and that their machine had been reserved for another 3 hours.  “Forget about it,” I said.  “That’s it.  We’re done here.”

I filled out the prescription at Bartells,  went home to pop a xanax and watch Courtney Stodden be a total idiot on VH1’s Couple’s Therapy.


  1. […] 2. “You’re Turning VIOLET, Violet!” […]

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