Monday, July 25th, 2011
I was lucky enough to interview Amy Winehouse when she was doing promotion for her first album, Frank. I, the young, wannabe music journalist unsure of what I was doing, Amy so laid back she put me right at ease. She was funny, charming, outspoken and opinionated. She’d clearly had no media training and was just telling it like it was. She was a breath of fresh air among a sea of bubblegum pop starlets.
Wednesday, August 5th, 2009
Last Wednesday, something bit me on my ankle. As a general rule, if there are bugs without a 50 mile radius of me, they will seek me out and munch on me something hardcore. I must taste pretty good to these little buggers.
The thing is, my pasty white skin is very sensitive and without fail, I will have an allergic reaction to whatever bit me. So, on Thursday my ankle had swelled up to the size of a golf ball and by Friday it was a basketball.
I never take medication. For anything really. I’m a firm believer in the body being able to heal itself. But I started to get concerned when my ankle had its own pulse. So, I figured I should bite the bullet and take an antihistamine. The pharmacist mentioned it’d make me a little drowsy. The thing is, if you never take any kind of medication, when you do, the side effects hit you like a ton of bricks.
With that being said, my question to you is this: did the weekend actually happen? I mean, was there a Saturday and Sunday? I took the Benadryl on Friday night and I don’t really remember much after that. Screw making me drowsy, it put me in a coma. I have vague recollections of getting up a couple of times to make cups of tea, but other than that, my whole weekend is pretty much a blur.
It was good times! That Benadryl high is something serious! I mean, it’s not like I’m bracing myself for something else to bite me just so I can take more and have another couple of hazy days where all I do is sleep, drink tea and drool. It’s not like I’m gonna start stock piling Benadryl in the house and bribing friends to buy me more. It’s not like I’ll end up on that show ‘Intervention’ with everyone and their momma warning me of the dangers of the Benadryl coma. It’s not like they’ll send me to a rehab facility in Omaha where I’ll sucker punch a nurse to get just one more liqui-gel cap of that Benadryl goodness. Not me, no ma’am. I’m in control of this.
Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
When I was 19, I dated a drug addict. A crack addict to be precise.
Clearly, I didn’t know he was an addict when I met him. Because I didn’t drink or do any drugs (and I’m thankfully the same way to this day), I was somewhat clueless about addiction issues. We met at a film festival in west London. He was a community youth worker (yes, that irony is not lost on me), who was employed as security to keep all the neighbourhood kids from stealing the film equipment. We talked and hit it off. He told me he was 26. (He was actually 30.) He had a great laugh and his voice, a very thick London accent, made me hang on every word he said. He took me to pockets of London I didn’t even know existed. We quickly became inseparable.
Before long, I noticed that he smoked an abnormal amount of weed, like it was cigarettes. I didn’t think anything of it, though I asked him to not do it around me. He would sometimes go missing. His phone would be off, the voicemail box would be full. I wouldn’t hear from him for a few days, then he’d reemerge out of nowhere like nothing had happened. I never got an explanation and I very rarely asked for one. Perhaps, deep down, I knew I wouldn’t like the answer.
One night, about 3am, he showed up at my dorm. I opened the door, half asleep and he came in. He took his sweat drenched shirt off and would not stop moving. He wouldn’t talk to me. He was hurrying around the room collecting random objects. He was hallucinating – he got on his hands and knees, thinking there was something moving on my floor. He got a pen and built, what I now know was a crack pipe. At the time, I had no idea what he was doing, I just knew he was scaring the hell out of me. I was trying to get him to sit down, calm down. His heart was beating so fast, I thought he was going to have a heart attack and drop dead right there on my floor. Next thing I knew, he was smoking. I just remember this as a blur. There were no words. I just watched. I was shaking. I was scared. I was begging him to stop, but it was like I wasn’t even there. And somewhere, deep down, was this sick rationalisation that at least he was here with me, rather than out doing it on the streets.
When he’d finished, he put his shirt on and left. I chased after him down the stairs, begging him to spend the night with me, but before I knew it, he was out the door, disappearing into the dark. I was a frantic mess. I didn’t sleep that night. I stayed up, calling his phone every fifteen minutes. Needless to say, it was off. The next day, when he eventually contacted me, he told me he used to have a problem with crack, but he didn’t anymore. The previous night had just been a relapse, he said, and it wouldn’t happen again. And I believed him. My 19 year old self did not know the limits to which crack can take a person. It seemed perfectly logical to me, at the time, that he could ‘relapse’ and just stop.
Because of my tee-totalism, he viewed me as angelic and innocent. I think he was hoping some of that would rub off on him. Our relationship continued on as ‘normal’. My friends all had boyfriends who they saw all the time. Meanwhile, my man would disappear, sometimes for a couple of weeks at a time. That was our normal. I just got used to it. The truth is, at that point, we had become each others drug. We’d had a couple of bust ups, but we just didn’t seem to be able to leave each other alone. As far as I knew, he wasn’t smoking crack, but part of me knew that he was just respecting my wishes and not doing it in front of me. Sometimes when he came over, he’d spend extended periods of time in the bathroom. Eventually, the penny dropped that either he had some terrible bowel condition, or he was in there snorting coke.
But I was stuck in it. It’s not like I could tell anyone. No one around me could relate to what I was going through. So it became my dirty little secret. When people asked how my boyfriend was, I’d say ‘he’s good, he’s just busy with work’, which seemed like a better answer than ‘I don’t know, I haven’t seen him in a while’. How can you just walk out on someone you care about, who you know has a serious problem (however much the both of you may be in denial about it)? I just didn’t have the heart to leave him. All that stuff about addicts having to reach their ‘rock bottom’ before they get help – well that’s true of the people who love them too. And I just hadn’t hit my rock bottom yet.
That came about a year into our relationship. I had invited him over for dinner. He was meant to be at my house at 6.30pm. I called him, his phone was off. I called again half an hour later, still off. I just couldn’t stand one more let down, one more broken promise. I decided to pay him a visit. He had recently moved about a fifteen minute walk from me. I stormed up there, so pissed off, more than ready to give him a piece of my mind. I got there and buzzed his apartment. He answered, asked who it was and buzzed me in. I went upstairs and knocked on his apartment door. Again, he asked who it was. This was a warning sign. Looking back now, I wish I had turned around, gone back down the stairs and just never talked to him again.
He answered the door looking a complete mess and dashed back to the sofa. Who knew how long he had been holed up in here? The curtains were drawn and he was sitting in nothing but his boxers and a pool of his own sweat. The TV was on mute and any time I tried to say something he would tell me to be quiet because ‘they’ might hear us. He was convinced that someone was after him and doubtless, the copious amounts of crack he’d smoked had only served to heighten his paranoia. I didn’t know what to do, but sitting there, every lie, disappearing act, broken promise, unreturned phone call, deceitful, deceptive, annoying thing he’d ever done to me ran through my head. I gathered myself, got up and walked out.
As I marched back to my house, choking back tears, I hit my bottom. It wasn’t until that moment, seeing him in that state, that everything finally fell into place for me. I think every ounce of love and respect I had for that man had completely drained out of me by the time I got home. I cried for ten minutes and then I was done. I couldn’t cry any more. I’d been crying for a year. It was pointless.
He came around a week later, with the usual apologies, but he knew I meant business this time. I was a 19 year old fashion student – there was nothing I could do for him. We were done.
Sometimes, I would run into his friends in London and they would say things like ‘he’s kinda lost without you’ and though it was never explicitly said, there was heavy implication that his drug use was spiraling out of control. I had to try and block this out, because to think of what he might be doing to himself was just too painful.
Eight years have passed since we broke up. I moved to New York, then Tokyo, then Toronto, but every now and then, he has crossed my mind. I always figured one of his friends would track me down somehow to tell me he’d died.
A few weeks ago, I got a message on Facebook from someone I don’t know. It just had my ex’s name, a phone number and the words ‘please call’. This was it, I thought, he’s dead, for sure. I took a deep breath and called the number straight away. It rang a few times and someone answered. That voice. His voice. Unmistakable. He recognised me straight away and called me the pet name he had always called me. I was relieved. At least he’s still alive, I thought. He’s been clean a year and a half, he says. This could all be lies and I know this. I’m going home at Christmas and have agreed to see him when I do. It may be crazy, but even after everything, I still have an intense need to know that he’s OK.
Sunday, September 14th, 2008
I’ve been having some pretty strange dreams recently. Each one leaves me more baffled than the last. I don’t want to look up the meaning of them on some dream website because frankly, I think it’d be a terrifying glimpse into my psyche. I’m sharing my top three weirdo dreams here – if you have any idea what they mean, feel free to leave your two cents in the comments section.
The Tattoo Dream
I randomly decided to get a full sleeve tattoo on my left arm. Then I added to it, extending it down to my hand. I went on numerous job interviews and people would always ask about my tattooed hand. ‘It’s actually a full sleeve’, I’d tell them. ‘Wanna see?’ Then, I’d either roll up the sleeve of my shirt, or in one instance, take it all the way off, to show off my ink artwork. Every time I did this, the reaction of the people interviewing me lay somewhere between befuddlement and disgust. I hate tattoos like that, especially on women and I’m the last person who would ever get one in real life, so why this was worming its way into my nap time, who knows?
The Drug Dream
Some friends of mine in London were the at the helm of a major, international drug ring. This dream was like an epic movie that took me from the streets of London to the backwoods of Colombia. When I woke up, I felt like I must have been asleep for days. And it was a lil’ too realistic. I kinda felt like I should call my friends and make sure they’re not in the slammer.
The Pregnancy Dream
I was pregnant with my ex boyfriend’s baby, which technically, probably puts this in the ‘worst nightmare’ category. Not surprisingly, he left me. But this was no normal pregnancy dream. My belly was gigantic. I must have been giving birth to some sort of half man, half beast, giant man child. It scared the bejesus out of me. Hopefully, when the fertility gods decide it’s time for me to procreate, they’ll make sure it’s not with a lying, cheating bitch ass egit with no balls – yeah, no bitterness there at all.
Thursday, February 7th, 2008
There are certain jobs where there’s a good camaraderie with your colleagues. Nightclub coat check girls form a bond, a code of ethics, a sense of loyalty not unlike that of say, the marines. When you go to work each night, you’re preparing for battle.
Oh sure, the beginning of the night is all air-kisses and pleasantries, but the end is a complete clusterfuck of cokeheads, drunks, lost tickets, screaming matches, ultimate fighting championships and police cars.
The club where I worked, in Ladbroke Grove, had previously been quite a hovel, notorious for drugs and violence. Then it was shut down and bought out by people who owned a chic hipster hangout, not far away, in Notting Hill. They gave it a makeover and it attracted a new, more up market crowd (read: hardcore cokeheads).
There were usually two or three of us working the coat check and a small army of security working the front of the club. They were there as much to protect us, as they were anything else. (That’s when they weren’t too preoccupied sexually harassing us.)
The majority of the night would be pretty fun. People would arrive within in a two-hour or so time span. Once all their coats had been hung, the rest of the night was spent horsing around, shooting the shit with security or sneaking into the club for a quick boogie.
Yep, it was all fun and games until the clock struck (the dreaded) 3am.
At 2.55am, my fellow coat check comrades and I would suit up and ready ourselves for war. At 3am, the music died, club doors flung open and a few hundred club goers descended on the coat check en masse.
They’d charge at us waving tickets, complaining they’d lost theirs or sometimes just wanted to engage you with their drunken tale of how they just broke up with their girlfriend.
Our job was to deal with all this as quickly as possible. The coat check was a pretty confined area so we were falling over ourselves and each other, digging through mounds of coats while trying to keep people calm and get the security guards hands off our asses.
People who’d lost their ticket had to wait till the end and that never went down well. They’d insist on holding everyone up while they drunkenly explain to you theirs is the black jacket with three buttons down the front, or was it four? No, wait, three. Maybe, two?
On one particularly busy night, a woman gave us her ticket and we looked for her coat. Try as we might, we couldn’t find it anywhere. She was out of it and extremely annoying. She kept screaming the description of the coat and as I waded through the 700 or so jackets, 699 of them seemed to match the description. I guess her last hit of coke was wearing off because her nagging had reached a whole new level. She had all three of us ready to drop kick her in the face or pay security to do it.
We combed every inch of the coat check while she screamed about how she’d make sure we paid for it if we’d lost it.
Eventually, I found it. It was a hideous little number that couldn’t have cost more than £29.99 from New Look. I held it up.
“This is it? This?! I would have done you a favor losing this piece of crap, you wanker. Take your shitty jacket and piss off.”
The one and only time we did actually lost someone’s jacket was not pleasant. Apparently he was a semi-big drug dealer in the area (he didn’t seem to be following the golden ‘never get high on your own supply’ rule though). He threatened to come back and kill us. A little extreme maybe, but there are certain jackets in my collection that would totally warrant a death threat if they were lost. So, I can’t say I blame him. But I did high tail it out of there like my ass was on fire that night.
Usually one of the bouncers would drive me home. Sometimes we’d stop at the all night bagel place in Shepherd’s Bush for a bite. I’d be at home tucked up in bed by 5am, ready to get up and do it all over again the next night. Ahh, all this talk of cokeheads and bagels is making me all misty eyed and homesick.