Punks and Pucks

I’m glad someone does, especially a Doctor Who fan.

Where’s My $400,000 Vacation?

I’ve written several blogs about the way I’ve been bullied at school, work, and in every day life. The kids at school who’d throw staples and large balls of ice into my eyes, trip me, call my names, throw me into walls, hide my belongings, and verbally taunt me for hours at a time. I’ve had bands and promoters tell people I fake being blind, and the ignorant people I’d meet back in Pennsylvania who’d call me “crazy eyes”, or use my disability as some kind of insult the second we’d get into an argument. Anyone with a physical or mental disability knows how painful it was to go running to teachers or the principal only to have them tell you it was your fault people were bothering you, especially if the students doing it were family friends of the teacher, or went to church with the principal. I eventually just stopped showing up at school and enrolled in online classes. Through all of this abuse, my only comfort was music. There was no such thing as an anti-bullying week. We didn’t have assemblies about tolerance and respect. And, most notably, NO ONE EVER RAISED $400,000 TO SEND ME OR ANYONE ELSE ON A GOD DAMN VACATION.

as I read the news about the older bus monitor from New York, and I see the reaction our society is having, I’m far from touched. i’m outraged. When did we decide certain victims of bullying are more deserving of comfort and help than the others? How do we even make that distinction? Why didn’t anyone raise $400,000 for the family in my town whose daughter killed herself because of bullying, or any other family was a similar story? And, above all else, do people really think money can heal the wounds bullying leaves? Spoiler alert: it can’t. no amount of money can fix my self confidence, and I know many other victims would agree.

I believe the parents of the children involved in this case should have given this woman some form of compensation, like a gift card to a classier local restaurant. I also believe the school should put them in mandatory counseling, since they clearly have deep-seeded anger issues. What i find horribly offensive, however, is that random Americans are giving her enough money to essentially not work for the rest of her life because of one incident caught on camera.

If we start valuing every bullying scenario where a person is made to cry at $400,000, in the past year alone I should have made almost $2,000,000. Just yesterday a bitter ex of mine told me I had “dead eyes”, and two people “liked” his facebook comment. So, all three of those people now owe me money, if this is the new standard. And, if we’re paying retroactively, I’m owed about $100,000,000 from 2002 to 2007. This precedent is awesome!

Nobody is ever going to send me on vacation, and my husband and my family will probably be the only four people to ever try and fix any of my emotional damage, despite the fact they had nothing to do with any of it. Our society won’t change. Children and adults will still get bullied, and none of them will get any compensation. We’ll be swept under the rug once “bullying” is replaced with a new buzzword. I pick “hypocrisy”.

Side note: Two of my biggest bullies in high school were members of the faculty. Ms. Vagni, assistant principal, and Mr. Jagger, my 9th grade English teacher who made fun of the way i spoke.

A Bisexual’s Thoughts on Transgendered People

I was in my early teens when I first realized I was attracted to both sexes. I used to dream of encounters with other wome more than I did with men. At first, i was open about it. I felt no real reason to hide who i was. However, the bullying by both students and teachers at school and the lack of acceptance from my parents forced me to hide who I truly was until only a few months ago. I’d secretly had sexual relations with a few women(which were always so much better than those with men, by the way), but never told anyone. Though I genuinely love the bodies of women, I’ve never wanted to be a man. I love being a woman, and I’ve never felt that i was supposed to be a different gender, or that i had the brain of a man. The way i am now is who I am, but I know that’s not how it is for everyone.

I won’t pretend to understand the struggles and mental hardships that transgendered people have to live through, especially since I’ve never questioned my own gender. However, I know the pain of having to hide my true self, since I did it for 7 years.

What i find most offensive is when people ask why people seeking gender reassignment surgery can’t just “be happy with who they are”, as if changing sex is on the same level as getting a boob job, or dying ones hair. All transgendered people want is for their outside to finally match who they’ve always been on the inside. It’s a brave, expensive, and extremely painful process that almost all insurance providers won’t even cover.

Tom Gabel was a talented, though rude, person. Now that she’s on the road to being who she’s always felt she was, i will stand by her. Any person who considers themself to be a punk, or a member of the punk rock community, should do the same. Mainstream society makes life hard enough for those of us in the sexual minority. Punk rock is better than that.

The Accident, in Detail

I’ve started, then deleted a blog about what I’m about to write approximately 7 times in the past few years. Every time I get about halfway done, I either break down crying about the situation, or get scared of the shit storm I knew was going to start. Today, I don’t care. It’ll be three years tomorrow that my life almost ended, and it’s time people knew what actually happened, and why I became such a different person.

This goes back to early 2009. A then very close friend of mine, Nathan, told me about this band that had essentially gotten stranded with him in Michigan. They were called Latin for Truth, and all but two of them were teenagers. I forget how they ended up there for so long, but Nathan said they were all extremely great people, so he didn’t mind. Their name came up to me again a few weeks later, when another old friend, Dylan of the band kids of Survival, approached me to book a tour package both bands were on at cafe Metropolis for May 7th. I cleared eveyrthing with the venue and confirmed the date. I wasn’t thrilled about booking a four package show on a Thursday in the middle of Finals week, but i wanted to help out an old friend, this band that was supposedly full of great people, and the other two bands. Almost anyone who’s ever worked wih me in booking a show knows that I went out of my way to do everything I possibly could for the bands I booked, even locals. My priority was helping bands and giving kids a place to go. I didn’t want fame. I didn’t want money. I wanted everyone around me to be happy.

About two weeks before the show, I realized I didn’t have a ride home from the Bamboozle festival that was being held in New Jersey the weekend before. Someone told me Latin for Truth would be at the festival promoting, so I thought I would ask to ride with them from that weekend until the Wilkes-Barre show, in exchange for some food and some places to stay. I approached the band, they agreed, and everything seemed great. Between then and Bamboozle, I became very close with two members of the band, Charles, the oldest, and Christian, one of the tenagers. Christian and I would talk about absolutely nothing, but Charles and I would have very serious conversations about virtually everything. We’d both had pretty difficult lives, and we seemed to vibe well. I developed a lot of respect for him.

Bamboozle came and went, and soon I was off on the road with the band. Sunday night we stayed in a hotel parking lot in East Orange, and I was convinced I was going to get killed. I bought everyone food at KFC, and we all hung out and tried to avoid the shitty weather outside. Monday morning came, and we’d all gone inside to visit with a friend they had inside the hotel. When we got back out, the guys had noticed they’d locked their keys in the Toyota 4Runner we were using to tour. I used my AAA card to get a guy to come open the door, and we went on our way.

We spent all of Monday wandering around north-central New Jersey while the band waited to hear back from someone on their label. We went to malls, Vintage Vinyl Records, and a Dunkin Donuts, where I bought everyone donuts. That night, we stayed with my friend Bryan and his yappy little dog, Cody.  Tuesday we drove to Connecticut, where the tour package had a show at the Space in Hamden. I spent most of the show drowsy on a ouch in the back, as I’d come down with some kind of illness. I had a bad fever that I couldn’t seem to shake. My friend Mat asked his friend Joe, singer of Shut Up and Deal, if we could crash at their band house that night and he said yes. We, along with the band Veara, stayed with SUAD and had a pretty great night. Wednesday was Long Island, where we played with this cool little local band called Holden Caufield that really, really loved Brand New. The original plan was to drive to my house Wednesday night, as it was only a three hour drive, but the band found a place to stay on the Island, so we ended up crashing with a set of teenage twins and their awesome, stereotypical Long Island mom.  I still felt terrible, but I was keeping my spirits up. I again bought everyone food that night.

Then came Thursday.

We awake to realize that someone had left a door partially open the night before, which caused our battery to die. We sat around for hours trying to figure out what to do until someone in a nearby house gave us a jump. We drove most of the way, then stopped at a Wawa off 115 I’d been to before with my cousin. A Newborn thriller, another band on the package, was there as well. We hung out for a minute and then headed out to finish the last hour or so of our trip.

This is the part I hate telling.

We were almost off of 115 when Charles made a turn down a road I didn’t recognize Laurell Run Road. The GPS had told him to go there even though it wasn’t necessary. I wanted to speak up and say “Hey, we can just stay on this road. I know where we are, somewhat”, but I was exhausted and my throat was killing me. I just wanted to get to Cafe Metropolis so I could get some pizza and a tea at the place across the street and enjoy my day. The road began to get windy, and I started to feel like Charles was going faster than he should be. The next thing I remember is dust flying up over the window, Cory screaming “BREAKS!”, and then… nothing. I remember my brain telling me not to die, and clinging on to the seat in front of me as hard as I could. The next thing I remember is being pulled out of the vehicle and placed on the street. I think I fell. Someone brought me my phone and I called my mom. I was spitting up glass. My legs were covered in blood. my stomach hurt, and my back was killing me. There was also glass in my ears and nose. My Have Heart shorts were soaked with blood. I looked and saw that our trailer was on its side, and I assumed that’s what made us stop rolling. To my left was a place they called Giant’s Despair. We should have been dead, but we weren’t.

The ambulance and fire department came. I remember walking over to the ambulance, but one of the band members, Michael, told me to go away. An EMT brought me back over anyway and cleaned up a little bit of my blood. Two of the guys were going in the ambulance, but I chose not to. If Ieft, the other three would be stranded, and I wasn’t going to leave my friends like that. I sucked up my pain and waited for my parents. They came and took the rest of us to the ER. It was trauma night at the hospital, and because of this it took me over an hour just to get interviewed by a receptionist. This was the night I decided that I hated the American health care system. The guys that rode in the ambulance were taken into rooms immediately, and the other three were treated soon after. Some of Christian’s friends from Altoona came and brought them food, but no one offered me anything. I finally ate at around 10:00, having been in the ER since shortly after 6. My brother brought me a plate of food he and Dad made the night before. Around midnight, a nurse came to get me for some X-rays. She never asked if I was pregnant. After that, around 1:30, I was told I wouldn’t see a doctor until the morning. The band had left by now, having been treated and bought a hotel room by those other people. I flipped out, demanded my X-rays, and went to the hospital my family would normally use. They took me in immediately, cleaned up the rest of my blood (the other place made me sit covered in dry blood for 9 hours), and gave me some pain medicine. They did their own X-rays and told me the pain I felt was probably just from contusions. I was sent home the next day, though I ended up in the hospital again the following weekend because I was still sick.

I was still having a hard time walking properly by the end of May. I was in a deep depression. I had hardly even heard from any of my friends, I was in horrible pain, and I was lonely. I ended up dropping out of school a week and a half before I would have graduated because I couldn’t be bothered to do anything. At this point, I was convinced I was going to end my life. I thought the fact that I had survived a roll over without a seat belt was a fluke, and that it was just time to go. I’d heard from the LTF guys a little, and everyone seemed okay. Michael needed surgery, but it was nothing major.

That summer was the worst of my life, aside from two incredible Menzingers shows. On top of everything my uncle had tried to kill himself, I wasn’t hearing from my close friends, and two people who used to be my best friends decided it was a good time to slander my name all over the internet, ruining a bunch of opportunities for me.

The Detroit Red Wings and The Menzingers willed me to survive, until one morning in September. My back hurt so badly and I was peeing every five minutes. My mom took me to the doctor, where I was again told I was fine, but he signed me up for physical therapy anyway. It took two more months before I got an MRI and found out that I had real injuries from the accident, aside from my obvious depression. I had a compression fracture, a bulging disc, and spondylolesthesis. I started taking heavy narcotics every day, and kept up with physical therapy even though it didn’t do anything for me.

By this time, I had medical bills piling up. I needed help. I originally wasn’t going to try and sue anyone because I’m not that kind of person, but I needed money, and working was out of the question. I decided to go after the insurance company, and my lawyer thought it would be a pretty simple case.

That is, however, until Latin For Truth started ignoring all of my phone calls and told their insurance agent I was never on tour with them, or in the accident.

I want to make this clear. I was NEVER suing Latin for Truth. I would never. These were people I saw as friends and who I respected. I was suing their insurance for a small amount of money so I wouldn’t have medical debt and so I could have a small amount of money to live off of until I figured out how to live with my injuries. I just needed help, that’s all. I didn’t ask for a cut of the donations people sent them because it wasn’t my place. I didn’t ask anything of them. I suffered in pain for 9 hours just so they wouldn’t be stranded. All I wanted was the same kind of consideration.

I had to drop the suit because, to this day, the band denies I was on the tour, and none of my evidence was good enough for their insurer. Even if it was, because they lied they’d be dropped and thrown in jail, and I’m TOO FUCKING NICE to let that happen to them.

Now I’m 21, can barely move on most days, constantly taking medicine, usually grumpy because I’m in pain, unable to lose weight or work out because I can barely move. If I get pregnant, I’ll probably end up in a wheelcair by my third trimester. Great!

I don’t know who the band has told about this, if anyone. Every statement they gave post-accident didn’t include me. I wonder if Charles still has my yellow Converse and brand new Get Up Kids hoodie. I wonder if Christian thought he was clever by looking up porn on my laptop when I wasn’t looking (which, by the way, was barely functioning after the accident). I wonder if any of them remember anything at all, or if this is just my own little Hell that I get to relive every May 7th.

There is no case now. I wouldn’t file one anyway anymore. I just wish one of them would apologize for lying. I blame no one for what happened, but I blame them all for making the years after what we lived through exponentially harder than they needed to be. It hurts even more when I hear that they’re still making music and living their dream, while I can’t tour anymore.

And people start saying I’m an asshole in 4… 3… 2…

the Menzingers and the Lion King

6 out of 7 nights a week, I have vivid dreams where I’m still in America. When I wake up from those dreams, I have no idea where I am for about 10 seconds. I’m happy with my life now, but up until about a month ago I was still crying multiple times a day. I wasn’t sad, scared, or in any danger, yet I couldn’t stop myself from breaking out into tears over the smallest of things. I had no idea what it was exactly that would set me off until a Lion King advertisement came on the television one afternoon, and I immediately started to quietly weep, hoping my husband wouldn’t notice. It was then that my demon finally revealed himself to me, and his face was that of change. The Lion King was the first movie I ever saw  in theaters, and every single memory I have of the film is from a time when my parents were still married, and my outlook on life in general was still idealistic and hopeful. Just hearing the chorus to the Circle of Life brings me so much pain and joy that I haven’t even been able to watch my blu-ray copy of the movie, for fear of ruining the experiance for everyone else in the room. Ever since I met my change demon, some of my “quirks” have began to make more sense, the most notable being my inability to like records made by bands I love that aren’t just their best record part two.

The Menzingers latest release, On the Impossible Past, is exactly what one would expect a Menzingers release on Epitaph Records would sound like, and that’s absolutely not a bad thing. So, why don’t I like it? I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it. It sounds great, and some of the songs are already playing in my head. The Menzingers are one of my favorite bands, and while I should be excited that i have some new material to enjoy, I can’t, because my change demon won’t let me. This happened about a week ago when I sat down with the new Jealous Sound release and found myself equally as distraught. I tried so hard to love both records, spending hours listening each over and over again, but my brain won’t let me enjoy them, and that, too, makes me cry.

I need to learn to accept the fact that things change, especially bands. Every producer is going to make a band sound different. I could give two different producers the same songs and they’d each give me back two completely different records. My issue, though, is not with the music itself, but with the fact that it’s new music, and that it further instills in me the reality of what my life is now. Gone are the days where I’d save up every penny just so I could afford a way to Cafe Metropolis for a Menzingers set. Gone are the days where I still went to shows, period. I’m growing up, bands from my town are becoming the success stories I always knew they’d be, and I need to embrace it all. Maybe one day I’ll be able to watch the Lion King with my husband, and maybe one day I’ll be able to put on the newest Menzingers LP and be able to truly love it. Until then, I guess I just have to try and learn to love change….