Thank Dog 2011 is FINALLY over. It was pretty much the most trying year of my life, which you probably already know, but here’s a brief recap.
It started out exceptionally well — amazingly so, actually, with a miraculous development along the lines of Deus ex Machina. I haven’t written about this before, so let me fill you in.
When I bought my insanely underwater house, I was dating/semi-engaged to a longtime boyfriend. We had been together about 2.5 years, but once we got the house we totally drifted apart. As previously mentioned, he was much younger than me — and MUCH squarer. In fact, he was PROUD of the fact that he liked Stove Top stuffing, baseball, and Velveeta-coated everything. Bleh! But we got along OK, until moving into the house, at which time we started drifting apart.
It wasn’t a super-dramatic split; we both just realized we were too different. He wanted a PTA mom for his future brood of Little-League-playing kids; I wanted to run around nude, smoking, cursing and blaspheming. Ya know, the usual differences! So we decided to break up, and that’s when the shit hit the fan. Because the mortgage was all in my name, he left me with an insanely underwater $340,000 mortgage, which in the interim has mysteriously ballooned to $375,000, despite my having diligently dumped in $125,000 (those crazy banks and their wacky exotic loans).
But I didn’t really get too pissed about that. Sure, it was a huge stress and it gave me a 2-year+ bout of insomnia…but what REALLY stung was what he told me the day the movers came to take away half our furniture. Come to find out, he had this weird rash on his hand, and when he went in to get it checked out…it turned out he had herpes!
He told me I’d better go get checked, too…so I did, although I resented every minute of it as an asinine waste of time, as I had never had any herpes symptoms. I figured he’d gotten it from his new girlfriend (he hooked up right away after we split). But I went to get tested anyway, just to be sure.
I swear, I have never been so nervous in my life!! For some reason it took several days for them to get the results, and all I remember is going to work, coming home and drinking giant glasses of Grand Marnier and smoking bowlsful of marijuana to dull my nerves. Mysteriously, even through all this, I slept very well (my insomnia didn’t kick in for another year, oddly.)
Finally the clinic called me to say they had my results — but I had to go in in person; they couldn’t tell me over the phone. Uh oh. I had to go straight to one of those corporate scavenger hunt gigs after the doctor — so I brought along a mini airplane bottle of Grand Marnier to chug in the parking lot if the results were bad. That way, I could at least get through my day.
Sure as sugar, the lady doctor sat me down and handed me a paper with my test results: positive. WTF!!! I knew it… just my shitty luck to have contracted an incurable STD, and not even know it. Come to find out, many people carry the herpes virus without ever exhibiting any symptoms; if your immune system is strong enough, it just sort of cruises around your bloodstream, waiting to infect others. You can still pass it on to a partner, without even knowing you have it — and that’s how it gets spread so widely. Most people don’t even know they’re doing it!
So now I was stuck with a soul-crushing mortgage AND an incurable disease. Fuck! I’m a MASTER at compartmentalization and dealing with shit, so I just crumpled up the paper with my results, shoved it in my purse, thanked the doc and went out to my truck to down that lifesaving mini of Grand Marnier. Then I drove up to Red Rock Hotel for the scavenger hunt, trying not to weep. But the bitch of it was, this was one of those scavenger hunts where I play the Bawling Bride — I was supposed to play the role of a jilted bride who has been left at the altar. The role called for me to wear a wedding dress and fake-sob, as though my heart was broken. Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to pretend-cry when you’re actually in imminent danger of breaking down into legit sobs…but if you have, you know it’s TOUGH.
Somehow, I made it through the game and then had to go to work right afterwards, taking photos at the Bette Midler show of all things. That show was heinous misery every single night of its existence — talk about a shitty, cheap, miserable old crowd! I think there must have been a Miami Beach shuttle, busing in cranky old yentas and their browbeaten, grouchy old husbands night after night. It was a nightmare, but especially so on this night. I somehow made it through the evening, then FINALLY got to go home and bawl my eyes out…which I did every single night for around a month.
Then, I put on my big girl panties and dealt with it — as I always do. (This is what pisses me off about my boss at the photo company telling me I’m “negative.” If he knew half the shit I’ve been through, yet never missed a night of work…he might shut his ass-kissing piehole for 2 fucking seconds to give me an ounce of credit. Anyhoo, I got on with my life — I started nude and fetish modeling to bring in extra cash, I got some EXTREMELY DISTURBING, CREEPY HILLBILLY ROOMMATES (remind me to blog about them sometime — they were a fucking freakshow!), and I started dating again.
The easiest way for me to date while harboring a dark secret was just to bring the secret out into the light — so on all my dating profiles, I put my herpetic status on BLAST. Something like, “Well, I have herpes…if you can deal with that, read on.” Fortunately, my exceptional hotness canceled out the herpes for most guys, and I had a successful dating life for the next couple of years. After awhile, it even stopped being an issue! Although it was still an awkward bitch explaining my status to partners I met out and about (as opposed to on the dating sites, where they’d already read about my secret).
Anyhoo, I went about my life and was hired by the local paper to write for this new Guide to Adult Vegas they were launching, called AfterDarkVegas (lame name, and everything else about the site was hopelessly clunky and lame. I’ll blog more about that some other time, too). Basically, I was supposed to cruise around town checking out the naughty stuff, then blog about it. It was AWESOME, except for the fact that our local paper is CRAZY conservative, and they were soooo uncomfortable with the subject matter that it was really hard to write compelling content that also passed muster with their Mormon Censor. The only reason I even got hired was, at the time the publisher was a forward-thinking Libertarian with a pervy streak. He saw some videos I did where I drunkenly and half-nakedly impersonated Sarah Palin, and that did it. (Well, that and the fact that I inadvertently flashed everyone in corporate at one of our meetings…the slit on my “sexy business” skirt split, and my luscious ass was hanging out for all to see.)
Anyhoo, this pervy Libertarian was ousted after I’d been working there 6 months, and a new, ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE publisher took over…and the first thing he did was put the kibosh on AfterDarkVegas. I was bummed, but also secretly relieved — they had me do all this cockamamie busywork all week, which no one even bothered to read, so what the fuck was the point?! Anything I wrote that WAS interesting ended up being edited to death by my conservative overlords. So I was actually GLAD to be done with it.
After getting the news, I went home and made a big bonfire in my backyard, to burn all my business cards and paperwork and whatnot. While I was at it, I figured I should clean out my other files, as welll — I’m one of those anal packrats who saves copies of every electric bill they’ve ever gotten. As I was going through my files, I found the folder marked “herpes.” (Yes, I’m THAT anal.)
“Well gee, I won’t be needing THIS anymore,” I muttered, wondering why the hell I kept the test results in the first place. I smoothed them out (remember, I had crumpled ’em up angrily upon receipt) and read them over for the first time — and it WASN’T EVEN MY RESULTS! The wrong date of birth was printed at the top!! Due to a paperwork mixup, the doctor had given me a faulty diagnosis of herpes.
“Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.” In the intervening 2 years, I had banged several herpetic guys — one in particular with out a condom (we were together for a year, and figured since we both had it, why bother?) many, many times. The cruel irony of it all was, I may not have been herpetic when initially tested — but I sure as sugar probably was by now! ARRRRGH!
Strangely, I found the whole thing kind of funny. I guess I was so used to the fact that I had herpes, that it didn’t even bother me anymore (really, it’s a bullshit “disease,” and half the country has it anyway with no ill effects other than unnecessary shame). But I went in to get re-tested, anyway…and sure enough, I was negative. All this time I wasted bawling my eyes out and feeling sorry for myself — for naught! If I had ONLY read the test results in the first place, none of this would have happened…but you know, I was so upset at the initial doctor’s appointment, I was in no state to read that shit. Can you blame me?
One thing I realized after all this was, electronic health records might be the wave of the future…but in this instance, I was REALLY glad to have a paper copy. And I was REALLY glad to be a packrat — if I’d thrown those results away, I would likely have gone for the REST OF MY LIFE believing I had herpes. Weird! Lesson learned: always double-check and verify test results. Ya heard?!
This was all in January 2011 — as mentioned, this year started out FABULOUS. But it went straight to hell after that. My dad killed himself by jumping in front of a train, I lost my 3-year battle to keep my house, my insomnia kicked in FIERCELY and as a result, I was diagnosed as bipolar by a jackass psychiatrist who talked to me for 5 MINUTES — and in that 5 minutes effectively destroyed my chances of ever getting individual health insurance. Because I was diagnosed bipolar (even though he qualified it as “mild” Type II), I have a pre-existing condition, and was denied by several carriers 🙁 My insurance agent told me I’d likely never be insurable unless I paid out the ass.
So I spent most of 2011 in a state of agony — my boss wanted to fire me for being negative, but I couldn’t quit or get fired because then I’d lose my insurance, so I had to suck up and kiss ass and toe the line against my will just to keep the shitty fucking insurance that had led to my misdiagnoses in the first place! Also, for most of the year I was under the misguided impression that I’d work things out with my bank, and get to keep my house — so I figured I needed to keep a steady job to prove my stability to them.
What a shitty fucking waste of a year. In retrospect, I wish I would have short sold my house right away, bailed on my job, and run away to join the circus. But, I didn’t….so here I am. 2012 can ONLY be better!
Anyhoo, that was my 2011. It ended even worse than it started, with me short selling my house for peanuts, and being forced to pack up and get out at the bank’s convenience. As I write this, I’m STILL sitting around on pins and needles, waiting for those crooked fucking assholes to say Yea or Nay to the deal. If they let it go through, and waive the remainder of my debt, I’m free. If they don’t….I’m fucked again, plain and simple. Meanwhile, I’m living with half my shit packed up, not sure when I’ll have to leave. It’s a really shitty way to live — no wonder I can’t sleep!
Thankfully, a friend came through with a new place for me to live — a really cute little 1940s bungalow near downtown Vegas. I’m planning to move ASAP — and then GET ON with my life!
In the meantime, I tried to enjoy my miserable Christmas. My mom has been having a really bad year, too — she was laid off a couple years ago, and has been trying to find work ever since, to no avail. She’s eating through her savings, and just had to dip into her 401(k). I feel awful for her, because there’s nothing I can do — I can’t even offer to let her move in with me, because my own living situation is so precarious!
With all this shit going on, we decided not to have Christmas at my mom’s house, because it’s too fucking depressing. Instead, my awesome grandma let us borrow the family vacation condo up at Lake Tahoe, so we all rendez-voused up there for the holiday. The rest of my family drove up from the Bay Area, and I drove up from Vegas — a 7-hour drive through the middle of nothing, just like going to Burning Man! It was really cool, though. My grandma’s condo is really nice and cozy, so we sat around cussing and drinking and playing games for 3 days. It kinda sucked because my sister just had RK surgery on her eyes, so we had to keep the lights dimmed and she had to wear big sunglasses and hide her head under a blanket most of the time…but we still had some fun. Because half of us are broke, we decided not to give gifts this year…but I cheated, and got everyone gag gifts anyway: I went to my favorite Halloween store and bought seven kooky hats, all representing various personality types, and wrapped them all identically. Then I had everyone pick one and open it on Christmas Eve, which was a riot! My mom picked the St Patty’s hat (ALKIE!), my brother’s girlfriend picked the witch hat (BITCH!), my brother-in-law picked the mini top hat (DIVA!) and my sister drew the jester’s hat (TRICKSTER!). I myself ended up with a furry rabbit hat (FURRY! EEK!)…all in all, it was gooood times.
We walked over to the casinos in Stateline (the little town on the CA/NV border on the south shore of Lake Tahoe), and took a walk around the lake one day. But after three days, they all had to go back home…so I got back in my truck and headed back south, back into the midst of all my shit and troubles. I figured since I didn’t have to be at work til Wednesday night, I might as well take my time going home, and stop at some hot springs. There are a ton of natural hot springs in the Eastern Sierra along U.S. 395, so I stopped at the ones south of Bridgeport, called Travertine. They were awesome!
Now, when I go to hot springs, I prefer to bathe Au Naturel. I’m a fuckin’ hippie, OK?! But I also don’t like offending people, so I brought along my emergency bikini just in case (I keep an old bikini in my truck for just these kinds of situations). When I rolled up to the springs (very conveniently located right off the 395), there was a young couple hanging out, and they were wearing bathing trunks. So I suited up and joined them, but they left shortly thereafter anyway and three lesbians showed up, and immediately started stripping.
Now, you might think this sounds like the intro to a spicy porno movie… but you couldn’t be farther from the truth! First of all, these were REAL LIFE lesbians — not the fake-ass fantasy shit you see on TV. Secondly, ALL FOUR OF US had fur bikinis thicker than anything Jantzen ever dreamed of… and hairy armpits, too (I hadn’t shaved my bush since Burning Man in late August, and my armpits since about November)(it was for ART’S SAKE, you haters!).
Anyhoos, IT WAS FABULOUS! We all sat there together stewing our pubes in hot mineral water, chatting amiably and comfortably like the witches of MacBeth, not having to worry about judgmental guys coming in and laughing at our hairy privates. Vegas can really warp a person’s perspective vis-a-vis body image — I had almost come to believe that all women have giant plastic tits, fish lips and baby-bald labia. Not so! I think I might be a nascent lesbian — or maybe just a plain old-fashioned man-hater, I’m not sure. Either way, it was very relaxing.
But I had 6 more hours to drive, so I reluctantly dried myself off and got back in my truck after an hour or so. Boo! Then I drove back to Vegas, and faced my troubles again. Double boo!!!
Thankfully, some of my nutty artist friends came calling, and distracted me from my misery: a bodypainter friend asked if I’d be interested in doing a creepy, post-apocalyptic photo shoot down in the storm drain tunnels underneath Vegas. WOULD I?!?!?! You bet! The only caveat was, I had to shave all my pubes and pits…but it was OK, because it was totally worth shaving for: she painted JAGGEDY TEETH on my labia, and gave my vagina a monster face. VAGINA DENTATA, BABY!!!
I went over to her house around 7:30pm on Thursday night, and she spent two and a half hours painting me. Then we drove down to the this parking lot near the Rio, which is where the storm drains open up, and met the photographers, so that we could all hike down into the tunnels together.
A word about these tunnels: people LIVE in them! They run for miles and miles underneath Vegas, and their purpose is to channel rainwater to the lake whenever we get monsoonal flash-floods in the summer. The rest of the year, they’re dry and empty…and make cozy dwellings for the homeless! I actually went out once with a guy who wrote a whole book about them, which was fascinating…he explored them for miles and miles, interviewing all the creepy subterranean dwellers he came upon. I’ve been DYING to go down and check them out for myself…but I’m too big of a puss to do it alone.
Thankfully, my kooky art pals were all about it, so we hiked down into this gully, towing a giant wagonload of photo equipment with us, and made our way into one of the tunnels by the light of an oil lantern (seriously…it was like Dungeons & Dragons!). This was around 11pm, so it was pitch black. Worse, it was FREEZING fucking cold, but since I was all painted up I couldn’t really wear clothes — the bodypainter (Suzanne Lugano) loaned me a little satin robe to sort of cover up in, but it offered little protection from the elements. But I’m a BAD ASS, so I soldiered on anyway.
The two photographers had brought a propane heater and a boombox, so once we got to a good spot, about 1/8 mile into the tunnel, we set up camp, with music, heat, lights and fun. It was just like Burning Man! Apparently, the photographers (Flash Adams and Derek from Get Back the Love) had done some exploring the previous day, and had followed the tunnel all the way under the freeway, under the Strip, and came out near the Imperial Palace — where they tripped some kind of security alarm and had to run back! But in the course of their exploration, they found the perfect spot, with all kinds of super-colorful graffiti…which is where we shot. It took 45 miserable minutes to set up their lights, but then we banged out the shot in 30 minutes, and I was out of there by 1am. Nice! I don’t have many of the photos yet, but I’ve added a couple so you can see what it was like…i.e. how AWESOME it was!
Anyhoo, after that excitement, I returned to the drudgery of packing and moving. And then it was New Year’s Eve, my most loathed of all holidays. Why do I hate it? Well, for starters, it attracts somewhere around 100,000 drunken idiots to the Strip, which they proceed to bury in a river of piss and vomit in short order, before turning to drunken violence and thuggery. But the REAL reason I hate it is, the photo company makes us work EVERY SINGLE YEAR, no matter what. If you try to call out, you’re fired — because supposedly, NYE is a magical night when everyone buys photos, and they can’t afford to miss any of the business.
HAH! They filled my head with this crap back in 2000 when I first started, and I was sooooo excited: “I can’t wait for New Year’s! That’s the night they tell me I’ll make a million dollars!” My green ass was practically salivating at the thought…until I went in to work it, and found out that it’s NO DIFFERENT FROM ANY OTHER NIGHT, no matter what the corporate line is. I have worked 11 New Year’s Eves in Vegas, and I can unequivocally state that this is the truth. Whoever says otherwise is a delusional company man, and needs to put down The Secret and pick up a bottle of Common Sense. Bullshit! Nonetheless, they insist on their Draconian NYE policy…so I found myself once again schlepping in to work the dreaded Sally Dingdong show.
Just to be clear, we can all figure out who I’m talking about when I say Sally Dingdong…RIGHT?! I thought it was a pretty obvious pseudonym, but comments on my Facebook page have proved otherwise. Suffice it to say that Sally Dingdong is a sappy Quebecoise banshee, and her fans are THE. MOST. PATHETIC. SAD. SACKS. YOU. HAVE. EVER. SEEN. Seriously, I don’t know what it is about her and her schlocky music that attracts the saddest members of society — the ugly, the crippled, the deformed and the unloveable. You know that Morrissey song “November Spawned a Monster”?! I think he was describing her fans!!! It’s incomprehensible to me, since her lyrics are totally sterile and banal, and she doesn’t even write her own stuff so how can she really mean what she’s singing?! The biggest laff is that during her show, she does a cover of Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen,” and prefaces it by reciting some rehearsed pabulum about knowing exactly what it feels like to be an ugly duckling. Talk about pandering! This skinny bitch was a superstar from the time she was 14 — when was she ever an unloved ugly duckling?! I wish her fans would wake the fuck up!
ANYHOO, I suffered through a miserable night of that shit, tempered only by a few furtive swigs of champagne in a back room of the photo lab. When I got off work at 10:30, I *briefly* considered going out to the Strip to join the melee (in fact, my bodypainter friend and her crew of goddess-worshiping hippies were having a drum circle right out front of where I work)…but my existential malaise got the better of me, and I ended up choosing to get the fuck out of the parking garage while I still could (after midnight it’s a DISASTER, and can take over an hour to exit). I went home to the house that isn’t even mine anymore, lit up my bong, and got high as a kite with my dog for company. I even kissed him at midnight (no tongue, you pervs). That’s the other thing I hate about NYE — I never have anyone to kiss. Arrgh!
So anyhoo, that was my SHIT-ASS 2011. I started out 2012 OK, by driving out to update my fetish website with some new breath holding videos earlier today…and now I’m in the thick of moving. I may not be able to update for awhile, so be patient!
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