Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Many Years Ago On This Date

Today, August 1st, Facebook was kind to remind me that today marks the anniversary of MTVs debut in 1981.

I loved MTV in the 80s. It was my after-school friend and my main window to the world outside my tiny pocket of existence just south of Seattle. Unfortunately, in the beginning, the cable plan that my family had did not include MTV. It didn't bother me then. I had no idea what it was. In fact, when my peers talked about MTV, it had to be explained to me what it was: Music videos. Popular music accompanied by artistic visuals.

It sounded stupid to me. When I watched TV, I wanted a story with dialogue. When I wanted to hear music, I had the radio and a record player. If I wanted music with physical movement I went to the roller rink. Sounds simple enough. Why make things more complicated?

I saw some music videos played on other channels and I just didn't get it... at first.

Come the weekends, my brothers would be glued to the show Nite Tracks, which showed all the cool videos we were missing by not having MTV. Being that my brothers were older than me and, therefore, had control over the TV knob (remember those?) I could either find something else to do, or watch videos with them. What was I to do but watch those silly videos?

Pretty soon, I was begging alongside my brothers to my parents to get a new cable plan that included MTV. It was either late 1984 or early 1985 that we got our wish, not because our parents thought that a channel that played that racket at all hours was a good thing, but they needed to upgrade the cable plan and this just happened to include the golden channel!

So there it was in all its 24 hour a day glory! And not just videos, but guest appearances and interviews by all my favorite musicians!

Now for the good part...

August 1st, 1985, MTV is having a celebration! Happy 4th birthday, MTV, and they're having a party!!!

I was watching this, having a wonderful time, while waiting for my own celebration in the evening. You see, The Power Station, a music project that included Duran Duran's John Taylor and Andy Taylor, was coming to the Seattle Arena that night and I was going! Yes, I was going to see John for real!!!

While I was waiting, the only thing that kept me grounded was watching this MTV party. Duran Duran's Simon LeBon was there! And they asked him where John and Andy were, because they apparently weren't there at the party.

OOOOOHHHHH! I Knew! I Knew!

I just about lost my 12 year old mind when Simon mentioned that they were touring with Power Station.

YES! They were here! They were in Seattle and I was going to see them for real!

And so the time came: My very first concert!

Without parents too! My brother and his girlfriend chaperoned me, but since there was no assigned seating, I lost them in no time. I got a shirt and pins and made my way to the arena floor.

The adults sat up in the bleachers. On the floor in front of the stage, all the young concert-goers were sitting on the floor, patiently waiting for things to start. I sat myself as close to the stage as I was able to without crowing anyone else and waited with them. I was a good 25 feet away from the stage.

Suddenly, there was a stir in the crowd and everyone looked back towards the bleachers behind us. John Taylor was walking among the bleachers! A large gaggle of girls got up and ran towards him. Only it wasn't him. He had his hair and style of clothes, but the jawline was wrong, I knew it wasn't him. I thought about saying something to the girls who were getting up and leaving, but the John Taylor likeness seemed to be enjoying the attention... at least that was my reasoning for staying quiet. I got up and sat ten feet closer to the stage.

Thanks, Not-John!

Then the lights went down and there was an amazing shrieking from all around me. I screamed too, and I was a pretty loud screamer if I say so myself, but I simply couldn't hear my own vocals for the shrieking arond me was so loud. And then... AND THEN...

The supporting act, OMD, took to the stage!!!

Who?

What was this?

Where was Power Station?

I looked around. There were others around me who wore the same Power Station shirt that I did so I was in the right place. Though most people around me seemed to be into the show, I saw a few who looked as confused as I was. Luckily, though, I managed to catch somebody close to me explaining to someone else that Power Station would be coming on after this band.

Ok, then! I could appreciate this OMD, just as long as I get to see my John Taylor sometime this night!

And they were good too. I made a mental note to remember this band and maybe get their record someday.

Though many of us were not familiar with OMD, we crushed forward towards the stage. I was determined to stand my ground 15 feet away from the stage until the main attraction came on!

Until I got sick. Between the heat and the bodies crushing on me from every direction, my stomach started saying some unpleasant things that I didn't need to hear with my ears to understand. I started to push myself away... but I was pressed in place pretty good. I pushed some more but people only pushed back. I started getting mad and tried pulling at the people behind me, but they only got mad and slapped my hands away. My sight got hazy. I was going to faint. Suddenly, my biggest fear was passing out and being trampled to death unnoticed while Power Station came and performed to a crowd that was standing on my dead body.

"I'M GONNA THROW UP!!!"

The people around me heard that and pushed me back from the spot to a new bunch of people who resented this sudden invader of their area.

I repeated my message and I was pushed back again. This happened a few times until a reached an area that was not nearly as condensed so I was able to get out of the crowd and find a solitary spot next to the bleachers and sit on the delightfully cold floor.

After I got myself together (and managed not to throw up) I put myself back into the crowd, but not near as close as I was before. That was okay. This way, I could save my energy and ready myself for the physical and psychological chaos that comes with being in that mob for the main event.

When OMD finished and left the stage and the house lights came on. The crowd near the stage loosened up as many people left to get merchandise, leaving many gaps. What was I to do but fill those gaps?

Oh, I was sneaky! Without appearing as if I'm stealing space ahead of me, I inched forward, leaving no open space ahead of me alone. However, when I looked around, there were dozens of 12 year old girls doing exactly the same thing! I locked eyes with some of them, and then we moved forward, racing, shoving, showing mercy to nothing in front of us. How dare they try to get ahead of me!

Too soon, we were all locked into place, in our own tight wedges, as close to the stage as possible. There was no moving forward for any of us. My little nook was about 15 feet away from the stage. I was happy with that. Some of the others made it in front of me, but there was nothing I could do about it. Let them enjoy things from there. At least most of the others were behind me!

Then the lights went down again.

Did I say there was no moving forward for us from where we were? I was wrong. Everything moved forward another five feet! Any space that existed beforehand was crushed into a solid form. Air? Who needs air? I was ten feet away from the stage!!!

And there they were! There HE was! It was as if all my glossy magazine fold-outs came to life and John Taylor was there, ten feet from me! Yes, he was gorgeous!

And he played well. The whole band played well. I may have lost my voice by the second song but I still screamed and screamed.

At one point, my earring caught on somebody's shirt. Luckily, the owner of this shirt noticed my problem and stood as still as he could while I unhooked myself. All the while I'm thinking, "Please don't look, John! Please don't look, John!" Because it would be just my kind of luck that the one time he ever sees me is when I'm unlatching my stupid earlobe from some guy's shirt. But, Luck was kind to me at that moment because when I looked up, John was on another part of the stage.

But then it happened.

The moment.

My moment.

At one point, he was directly in front of me, at the edge of the stage, ten feet away from me. The lights are illuminating the audience for a moment and he looks out at us. At me. I blew him a kiss.

He smiled.

He smiled his John Taylor smile, the smile that only John Taylor can make!

And he did it at me! That made my night. It made everything worth it. You have no idea what that meant to me at such a tender age. It gave me so much joy to hold onto to pull me through some very dark times ahead of me. The concert as a whole was an amazing thing that could never be duplicated in my life, and I thank the other band members, Andy Taylor, Tony Thompson, and Michael Des Barres, for their participation in that outstanding band and amazing night!

August 1st. That date commemorates a lot of things for a lot of people. MTV has its own thing and I most certainly have mine. Even now, I remember that concert every single year.

May that memory never fade!



Thursday, March 22, 2018

Healing Through Macgyver

I think that many people can agree that today's TV shows stink. Lots of gratuitous sex, violence, special effects, and a story that's so layered that's its lost somewhere under the chaos. Except the "reality" shows, of course. Those have no story.

I don't watch regular TV anymore. When a show comes up in conversation, I have nothing to add because I know nothing of the characters or story. Whenever something is described to me, nothing raises my interest in it. Instead, I watch episodes of older programs. I have binge-watched Rosanne and both the original and TNG Star Treks.

My latest fancy has been Macgyver. Not the new one, of course, but the original show that ran in the 80s and 90s. Strange choice for me, considering I never watched it in the 80s and just wasn't my kind of show, but I find it therapeutic.

You see, I watched it for a short while in the 90s. It wasn't my choice to do so at first, but it was a show that my first husband liked, therefore, we watched it. I have mentioned before that he wasn't a very nice guy. In fact, he still gives me nightmares. So, we watched what he liked, if you see what I mean. After a while, I did grow to like it. It was fun watching the genius ways our hero would turn ordinary objects into inventive 007 works of art to get out of any situation. I'm rather proud to say that I tend to fix things and invent solutions with the basic everyday stuff around me and it was cool to see someone else do it on a James Bond level.

Pretty soon, I started pointing out flaws in Macgyver's inventions, such as how the odds were against things lining up so perfectly, or he would have needed more of this, or less of that, in order for things to work the way that they did. Nightmare didn't like me doing that. Perhaps he took it personally that I was finding flaws in a show he liked. Yes, he's that petty. Or maybe he was mad that I saw things that he didn't because he thought it made him look stupid. Yes, he has a way of twisting things like that and making the world seem like a conspiracy against him. Or perhaps I was simply being annoying, blurting obvious things out, during most spell-bounding scenes. Yes, I can see the other side of this too. But, whatever the reason, he went ugly.

Whenever I displeased him (and this happened frequently) he would get very angry and use everything in his power to hurt me to the core. Whenever this happened, whatever was giving me happiness at the time would become poisoned to me and I couldn't enjoy it anymore. I don't remember the argument, or the scene that took place (much of my life during that time is still blocked from my memory,) but in the end, I no longer wanted to watch Macgyver. When it came on, I would find something else to do. If Nightmare insisted that I watch it with him, I would sit with him and tune out the world around me. It just wasn't safe for me to watch anymore.

So, back to present time, after exhausting Rosanne episodes for the third time, I was scrolling through Amazon Prime for something new/old (meaning new for me but old for the rest of the world.) As you probably predicted, Macgyver popped up. It was still something that wouldn't have sparked my interest, even without the poison, but now it flashed out a familiar twinge of that old fear that likes to pop up from time to time, even though Nightmare is long out of my life. After looking at it a bit, I thought, "Go to hell, twinge, I'm going to watch it, enjoy it, say what I want and debunk whatever I want, and HE WON'T HURT ME!

I'm on season four now and enjoying it thoroughly! Yes, the whole thing is cheesy, and I can say so without the back of my head getting slapped, and I enjoy the freedom of expression my opinions to myself during the show and here on this forum. I love the campy 80s feel with its predictable story-lines, bad foreign accents (they have two of these, European and Asian, and sometimes sound as if the actors get the two confused,)  bad-guy and good-guy music, scripts that seem to come straight out of the after-school-special reject pile, theme music that was likely made from a single synthesizer in one afternoon, and the fancy slow-motion-running-away-from-explosions move.

What I also like is that it is nothing like today's television shows. Violence is minimal, and touches of innuendo are... just that. It's just a story and all the cheese the producers could pull together to make it into an exciting one.

One example of this was a scene where a dog was murdered. The murderer pulled out a knife, said something that implied the intentions, and then things were cut to the next scene where it was verbally confirmed that the dog was killed. Had that scene been made today, there would have been a stabbing scene, blood, a terrible cry from the dog, a shot of a carcass, and possibly a lingering scene with someone with a carcass fetish, and all of that would have been completely unnecessary.

Also, no, I will not be watching the new Macgyver episodes that came out this year. The innocent charm of 80s TV shows is sure to be absent. I would rather preserve my feelings for the original show by not muddying my mind with images of the "new" version. To those who do enjoy it, more power to them, by all means, enjoy it. It will simply be another show people can talk about in my presence and I would have nothing constructive to contribute.

In today's TV, there is so much darkness and desire to show just how evil people can be depicted. I miss simple stories wrapped up in single episodes. I also miss how good characters did not shy away from positive depictions of Catholicism. While I am well aware of the stigmas against the church, it seems that every bit of media out there seem to think that it's open season. While one can agree with the stigma, keep in mind that negative depictions of the church are coupled with the garbage that today's television, such as glorified rape and dismemberment scenes, which are designed as "entertainment."  Something to think on.

I suppose it is another example that I have healed, not only in my walk in life away from Nightmare, but hurt that I have carried around in the further past concerning the Church, such as stuff from my childhood. Much has happened to me since last September in Medjugorje, giving me the strength to let go of a lot of the hurt. The healing has come in many ways, from many angles, since Mary, the Queen of Peace, has reached out to me. She has used Duran Duran to reach me. Could she be using Macgyver too?

I am enjoying Macgyver on a surface level, which is pretty much all that it was designed for. At the same time, watching it is an achievement for me; a victory even. I am moving forward in my life, farther away from the nightmares of my past.

 All I need are all the basic everyday objects around me to get there...


Monday, March 12, 2018

Lamp Story

Hey there, dear readers!

It has happened again, that Hellfreezer, a narrator on YouTube who reads strange stories aloud, has read a submission of mine. This one is different from my glitch-in-the-matrix story. It's more of a spooky experience I had involving a lamp in my childhood.

Mine is the 4th story in, starting at 13:32.

Enjoy, readers, and thank you, Hellfreezer.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

The 32 Year Minute

A while back, I wrote about going to Zagreb for a concert and meeting three members of the band Duran Duran. However, that was only what half of the trip was about. Or maybe it was a small factor in the larger scheme of things.

This requires a little bit of backstory. I've been an ex-Catholic for over 30 years. I was born in a Catholic family and raised to be Catholic, but Catholic school pretty much fixed that. Yes, I had some bad experiences there, but to be fair, it really had nothing to do with Catholicism. It was some rotten kids and verbally abusive teachers who killed my faith. You bet it left a mark. But before my faith was completely crushed, I did pray to Mary, the Queen of Peace. I was 12 and wanted very much to meet John Taylor of Duran Duran and I asked her to make it happen.

Now I'm reminded of a joke about a man who was talking to God and he asked Him, "God, how much is a penny to you?"
God said, "About a hundred dollars."
The man then said, "How much is a minute to you?"
God replied, "About a hundred years."
The man then said, "Well then, God, can I have a penny?"
God replied, "In a minute."

When I asked Mary for what to me would be a miracle, it seemed she answered affirmatively, but something to the effect of "In a minute." It would seem that God's sense of time and Mary's sense of time runs a little differently, and thank God, because Mary's idea of a minute appears to be 32 years.

Time went by and my life went through all sorts of crazy things. I remained a loyal Duranie through my teenage years. I also found myself attending a church that was very anti-Catholic and anti-secular music. Well, the anti-Catholic part was easy enough for me since I had been practicing that for about five years at the time, but I stayed being a Duranie, though I had to be quieter about it. This was an abusive church, only this wasn't just a few bullying kids. It seemed that everything that was taught was designed to tear people down, especially people like myself who don't fit tidily into boxes.

As I have written before, I got married to a guy who bullied the Duranie out of me, and it took a long time before I felt safe enough to get that back. I also left the bullying church, plenty scarred, but much wiser. I remarried, and my husband, Zoltan, has helped me through much of the healing, both spiritually and by encouraging me to love the music that I love.

A couple of years back, Duran Duran played four shows in the Pacific Northwest area, so I caught two of them. I went to Vancouver BC and had a wonderful time there, plus I met some wonderful fellow Duranies. A few days later, however, when I went to the show in Everett, something different happened to me. This venue was closer to where I and many of my friends lived so I knew several people there, but it kind of hit me that all of them have had a Duran moment, meaning they had met the band members, and I had not. For some reason, it bothered me. It bothered me a lot, and I couldn't shake it. Was I ever going to have a Duran moment? I knew it was childish and petty to allow this to get to me, but feelings are feelings, you know? I went home in tears.

Zoltan, however, does not like to see me upset and decided that it was time for my dream to come true... but he wasn't quite sure how this would be done. He asked friend and Duran Duran archivist, Durandy, for tips, who gave him some very good ones, but the one tip that made me give up on my dream was that it was best to try and see them outside of the USA, because they were more inclined to mingle with the fans in other countries. Since I'm not much into traveling, I didn't see much point in pursuing the dream. It's just not going to happen.

It's a good thing my husband didn't share this opinion.

He works in a Catholic church (yes, ironic I should marry a Catholic man after my running so long away from Catholicism; one of my many life adventures!) and goes to many different church events. He was at one event, celebrating the Feast of Fatima, which commemorates a vision of Mary in Fatima, Portugal. It was at this event that he felt a sudden desire to visit Medjugorje, the location of another Mary sighting, and to invite me to go with him.

It's said that in the early 1980s, some children saw Mary on a hillside and continued to see her regularly for months and years afterwards. Over time, the people who come to watch the children correspond with Mary grew to hundreds. Now, decades later, three of them still see her daily, and the others, only on certain dates. One of them, Mirjana, sees her on the second of each month.

Zoltan was suddenly filled with a yearning to visit Medjugorje, just to see what was there, unsure if the sightings were real or not. Plus, he wanted to bring me along. He wasn't sure why, but he knew that he needed to convince me to see it too, but how in the world would he convince me to travel halfway around the world to a place that celebrated someone I had long ago stopped believing in?

Well...

A few hours later, Zoltan received an email from the Duran Duran website listing the dates and locations of the next leg of their tour.

One such date and location was August 29 in Zagreb, Croatia, which was a mere three hundred miles away from Medjugorje! Plus, it was only four days before an apparition event was supposed to happen for the visionary, Mirjana. Suddenly, somehow, going to both events in one trip seemed the right thing to do. Did Mary put this together? Was I about to be lured to a major Catholic event with Duran Duran as the bait? Would it work? Could it work?

My husband called me then and there. "Hi, do you want to go to a Duran Duran concert in Zagreb, Croatia?"

A few months later, I'm in a car leaving Zagreb, still buzzing hard from an amazing concert and the fact that I had not only met three Duran Duran members (including John) but gave them each a copy of my book, Speaking in Feline, on my way to Medjugorje, Bosnia.

I wasn't sure just what to expect with the religious part of the trip. I knew that it was Mary who answered my prayers and made my Duran moment happen, so it was my turn to take up my end of the bargain and see what Medjugorje was going to do, but not being very religious myself, I was a bit apprehensive.

The first thing I noticed upon entering the city was the peace. I don't just mean that the streets and townspeople were quiet. There was an inner quiet that I have never known before. I am clairvoyant and tuned into the spirit world. Every day, all the time, I can hear and feel activity all around me. My world is never completely quiet. Imagine spending your life in a room full of television sets, all of them set to various channels at various volumes, until one day, they are all switched over to a test pattern. They're not off, just resting. That is how it felt to me when I arrived in the city. Everything around me was resting peacefully. Whatever awaited me there, something very good was living and breathing in that town.

At 5am on the second of September, Zoltan and I made our way to the famous hill. It was already crowded, for some people had been waiting since the night before in order to find a good spot. It was not unlike the lines outside every theater in the US when Star Wars made its premiere. It was a quiet yet friendly crowd. People were praying and singing in small groups all around me. When the sun came up, I could hear a murmur ripple through the crowd as the woman who has the visions came and took her place. I never saw her because the crowd was so large.

After a few minutes, there was suddenly a hush through the crowd, which meant that the woman went into her visionary trance and was communicating with Mary. Everyone around me hushed in reverent prayer.

Looking around, I mused to myself that the last time I was among so many religious people, it was when I attended the abusive church many years ago. Back then, I was pressured to put on a show. We were all pressured. We were made to feel that we had to show that we were more Christian than everyone around us, yelling our prayers and raising our hands...

But here...

Some people prayed like that. Others prayed quietly to themselves. Some people, like me, were simply there to observe. And it was wonderful. Everyone had their own thing to bring to that hillside and nobody cared if it was a show or not.

It's said that when Mary speaks to people, she uses the language that the individual understands the best. When she spoke to St. Bernadette, she used a dialect that was used only in her region. If she wants to communicate with someone who uses slang, she will use that slang.

It's when I was marveling how I didn't need to try and out-Christian the crowd around me when she used my language. It was a clear and soft voice, partway next to my ear, and partway in my head. Her voice I cannot copy in my mind, but I would know it if I heard it again.

I will not post the words she said to me, because I am not ready to share that yet, but she simply affirmed that all I am is enough. If I put on a show, it's all mine. If I stand quietly, that would be all mine. Nothing that wasn't me was expected or necessary.

I looked around to see if anyone else heard what I did, but of course, nobody appeared to. I almost laughed a bit to myself at her words, because they were words that where meant for me and could not be mistaken to be meant for someone else, but I didn't. I didn't want to bother those around me by chuckling out loud.

After several minutes, people began talking and moving about. Apparently, the vision was over. I never saw Mirjana, but I had seen plenty. Someone announced to the crowd that any artifacts that were brought to the hillside were now blessed. I didn't think to bring any artifacts, but I did have a copy of my book that I had been taking pictures with through Europe. Since Mary put this trip together just as my book came out, I only found it reasonable that this particular copy was blessed. Why not? I later sought a sticker with a picture of Mary to mark my book with, so that I would not accidentally sell my blessed artifact. Many stores did not carry stickers, but one kind cashier had some, the kind to seal envelopes, behind the counter one and gave it to me for free.

Zoltan and I began moving our way uphill along with the crowd towards a shrine. The way there is rather rough with jagged rocks, but I managed without slipping or falling. When we made our way to the shrine, we rested a bit and then went back down.

Because of my arthritic back, aging knees, and weak ankles, whenever I go hiking, I have to take relatively even paths without a lot of ups and downs. Even so, I always have some ache or another at the end of the hike. However, after climbing up and down the rocky hillside, in the end, I was without any pain. I was extremely tired, because we had been up so early, and now it was midday, but my back, knees, and all those other places that tend to ache after a hike felt fine.

I don't know why I was brought there, but something was started. I don't know what Mary has in mind for me, but I'm curious as to where this will take me. She took the prayer of a 12-year-old kid to unfold the most amazing Tetris game I have ever seen. If she had answered that prayer while I was still a kid, I would not have appreciated it the way I do now. Besides, my first husband would have ruined that for me. I had to go through all that I did in order for the Duran moment to be as big and real as it was, and that Duran moment was only the bait for something much bigger that I didn't know I was looking for. But what does Mary, the Queen of Peace, want with me?

When we left the city the next day, the peace of the city was left behind as well, and the world around me is noisy again.

I have mentioned earlier that I wear Duran Duran buttons the same way some people wear safety pins as a public statement. Well, after all that's happened to me, I always associate Duran Duran with Mary, the Queen of Peace, and so now I attach a Mary metal to the buttons. That is my statement of safety and peace.

Some people might see it as blasphemy, the idea that Mary would use a secular band, the lead being an atheist no less, to reach out to someone. I believe that such people are sadly short-sighted to what an incredible entity is capable and allowed to do.

The Virgin Mary got my attention and made some amazing things happen for me.

And it only took 32 years.

When will I know just what she got my attention for?

It might take a minute.