Once upon a time, I was a daily journalista. I tried to record my dreams along with the important (and sometimes uneventful) goings on in a day of the life of me. Somewhere along the lines I gradually got away from it until I had stopped journaling altogether. I promised myself I’d start back up again, but never really made the effort to devote the time. That is until a few weeks ago when a dear friend shared that he had begun keeping a diary. That was just the inspiration I needed to get off my ass and make some “me” time.
Now that I’m keeping a record of my dreams I’ve come to understand that my subconscious has some interesting ideas floating around that range from off-the-wall to downright bat shit crazy. My dreams are usually recollections of the events and thoughts I experienced that day jumbled into one long series of often indiscernible mini dreams that jump from one idea to another like flipping channels with the remote control.
(Fast forward a moment). I typically only write truth. Reality. Nonfiction. My articles usually consist of a concert or album review, a diary of some cool exchange I’ve had with my kids, the occasional political opinion blog, or an arts & crafts how-to page. Sure, I have been known to spin the occasional tall tale from time-to-time, but I typically work hard to keep my warped imagination to myself… my reality is already exciting enough.
(Flashback to journal) I am reminded of the saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” I’ve been re-reading my daily log entries (the same way you read a book, get partway into it, and everything becomes a movie in your mind with all the characters clearly defined) and realized I have some pretty amazing stories from my adventures. Then it came to me all at once. A blog (turned short-story) that is fiction derived from my (journaled) dreams, only with characters based on my real life cast and crew, some actual events (seriously, you just can’t make this shit up) mixed in with that warped imagination I referred to earlier. The story played out in mind so clearly that I decided to take it to pen and paper… er, um, I mean keyboard and Microsoft Word.
So here you have it….
Cliffnotes: If you were too lazy to read the prelude (while silently wishing you could comment, “TL;DR,” here it is in a nutshell: The story is classified as fiction, but really there are a lot of real people and real events that have been mixed in with my imagination, my day dreams & my night dreams, and a little input from my alters.
(Those bitches always have something to say.)
“The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated. #AliveAndKicking”
That’s the status update I just posted to the popular networking site, “iSocialize.” I could think of no other fitting words to announce to the world that I was not, in fact, dead. (Also, it was imperative to include the token, yet fitting song reference from my youth in the hash tag.) The status was also meant to announce the blog I was about to post. There was no way I could answer everyone individually and explain to them how everything had ACTUALLY gone down, so I rushed together a blog for everyone to read in the hopes that they would understand.
STATUS: The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated. #AliveAndKicking
My Comment: Hey everybody, I just want y’all to know that I’m doing well, released from the hospital, and I am most definitely NOT dead. Please read the note I’m about to post …
BLOG: “The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated”
(Link to blog also ‘chirped’)
By now you’ve figured out that either I’m alive and well, or someone has hacked my iSocialize and is playing a very cruel joke on you. Let me explain…
Aubrey and I decided to hit up the ATX (that’s Austin for you non-Texans) in search of live music, a few beers and laughs, and maybe stumble on a neat band to review. We hit up a couple of our favorite joints before deciding to check out this new venue that had opened half a block down the street. There was a line of twenty standing in front of a black gothic-style iron fence waiting to get in. As we chatted with the people in front of us, they explained how stoked they were to “check out this bad ass indie group from Phoenix for only $13! Dude, it’s their only Texas show!” We shrugged our shoulders and decided $13 was a small price to pay. Hopefully I’d be able to write the new-comers a smashing show review. That’s when it happened.
To me, it sounded like those Pillsbury Grands Biscuit rolls as they pop open when you knock them against the counter… THAT sound times a thousand. I heard four pops and screaming. “What the hell?” I asked Aubrey. She looked at me and flatly said only one word, “Drive-by.” (…or maybe that’s two words, I’m not really sure.) By the time my brain caught up with my eyes, I understood what had happened. I’ll never forget the inflection in her voice, the fear, one hand grasping her face in obvious horror, the other hand outstretched, pointing at me, and the high-toned pitch as she screeched out, “Oh my God! You’ve been shot!” Looking down, I could see the blood dripping from each of my fingertips in five perfect streams of deep red goo that flowed down to my feet, settling on my piggies through my grey peep-toed pumps … and that’s when I felt it. Sweet baby Jesus, this was the most excruciating, debilitating pain I had ever suffered. I was certain I would die. I mean, I was aware that I had only been shot in the arm… not exactly a life-threatening wound, but I was pretty sure I had once seen a guy bite the dust solely from the misery of pain on an episode of ‘1001 Ways to Die.’ The lights and sirens of police cars, ambulances, and the fire trucks blinded my eyes and deafened my ears. Some dude from UT started tying his hoodie around my arm before I even noticed he was there. I decided it was best to not worry my family about this right now. With determination in my voice and conviction on my face, I turned to Aubrey and firmly said, “Do NOT call anyone. Anyone.” She was skeptical. I could see it in her eyes that she was trying to decide if she would do as I asked or if she would sneakily call the hubs. Of course, she sneakily called the hubs. As the paramedics loaded me into the back of the ambulance, she asked “What hospital?” The EMT climbed in with me and told her, “Triple H,” as he closed the doors behind him.
We arrived at the Hippie Hollow Hospital (AKA “Triple H”) in about 30 seconds flat (how did the driver do that so fast?) and I was immediately rushed to my room. The Doc was in and out in a flash (or maybe I was just having trouble with my perception of time.) The bullet had entered the front of my right arm, exited the back of my arm, grazed clear across my middle of my back and left a 9” long scab (soon to be scar.) How delightful. My back was covered in gauze, my arm had some weird cast thing over it for protection, (we’ll name it Roy) and I had fallen head-over-heels madly in love with the pain medication. Have you ever had dilaudid? That stuff is straight up boss when it comes to pain management. I never have and I never will try heroin, but I’m guessing a dilaudid-drip has a similar effect as The Big H. Now I understand why people get hooked on that shit. I was patched up and feeling no pain, but the Doc still wanted me to stay for ‘over-night observation.’ “Pffftttt, I scoff at such a thing! My children are home alone and my husband would kill me if he found out I didn’t go home tonight!” I announced in defiance with a semi-British accent. (Apparently this is how I talk while under heavy medication.) I turned to Aubrey and pleaded (or is it, “pled?” I can never remember) with her to take me home. Begrudgingly, she agreed, so we left Hippie Hollow Hospital “Against Medical Advice.”
In case you weren’t paying attention kids, remember that she had gone against my wishes (as any good friend would in this situation) and phoned my husband Adam down in Corpus Christi? Following that phone call, he packed up his suitcase, checked out of his hotel, and drove straight to New Braunfels to get our kids. After they were picked up, loaded up, and buckled up they jumped on I-35 towards Austin. (By now, Aubrey and I are nearly to San Marcos as she has decided to let her alter ego, “Speed Racer” come out and play.) Right about the same time I had arrived at Triple H, a woman (let’s call her Jane) with similar height, weight, and age as me is being rushed through the ER suffering from the gunshot wounds she received in a different drive-by. (Can you see where this is going?) After a gallant effort from the surgical ER team, she was pronounced dead about 45 minutes later. By now, the nurses’ station had already gone through a shift change. My family came rushing through the ER doors. In his best as-calm-as-you-can-be-when-the-mother-of-your-children-is-hospitalized-with-gunshot-wounds-and-you-don’t-know-her-condition voice, Adam said, “I’m looking for my wife! She’s 5’4, 130 pounds, brown hair, blue eyes. She was shot in a drive-by! Can you please help me!?!” (Why it never occurred to him to actually use my name is beyond me. I mean, it’s not like those identification bracelets they strap to your wrist are merely hospital souvenirs. You are not at Six Flags, these things have a purpose.) Naturally, the newly-on-duty nurse thought he was asking about Jane. It wasn’t her fault. She reacted the way everybody does when they know they have to answer a question with terrible news… she hung her head low and averted her eyes to the floor. She had barely squeaked out the words, “I’m so sorry, sir, but…” and that was all it took. My husband and children thought I was dead.
Meanwhile, Aubrey and I had just made it back home to New Braunfels. She stopped at the Sac N Pac and bought me a Coke ICEE before getting me home. (Now that’s the definition of friendship!) It wasn’t until after I got settled in bed that we realized nobody was home. At this point, we were exhausted, her kids were waiting for her at home, and I was about to fall asleep in a morphine-induced coma. She stocked up my nightstand with all the necessary essentials… Kleenex, remote control, telephone, magazines, an extra large bag of Skittles, my ICEE, and most importantly… my meds. We hugged good-bye before she left and I laid there in bed, alone in my thoughts. My mind wandered to Jane and her family. This was a woman similar in appearance and age to me, was also in the wrong place at the wrong time, and was also shot during a random drive-by. Our story was the same; our ending couldn’t have been more different. Why was I the one to live and her the one to die? Was it fated, pre-determined? Was it simply her time to go? Maybe I was just lucky, but then again, maybe not. I don’t know if it was the trauma from the GSW, the OUTSTANDING medication I was on, or the fact that this was the first time in ages I was home alone, completely undisturbed. Whatever it was, my mind was set. I decided at that moment, there in the quiet darkness of my room that God still had a purpose for me. My time wasn’t up yet; there was a greater plan in store for me. I was left on this Earth for a reason and from that point on, changes were to be made. I wouldn’t let Jane’s death be in vain. I was going to accomplish my goals, work harder, play harder, love harder, and pray harder. (Hey God, that’s your cue to guide me down the right path… or you know, carry me on your shoulders like the ‘Footprints in the Sand’ poem… either way; whatever works best for you.)
Back at the Triple H, my family had already begun mourning. They were pacing and sobbing around the parking lot as Adam called his parents first. (Apparently, they took the news rather well.) My FIL drew the short straw and was burdened with the task of calling my mother. My MIL volunteered to call every single other member of their entire extended family. By now the kids had made phone calls to their boyfriends and besties.
That was how it started. The news of my demise had spread like Texas Wildfires. Friends and co-workers were already posting stories on my iSocialize wall about the crazy adventures we had gone on together. Inside my personal chirperverse of bars, concert venues, bands, and music blogs, there were few who didn’t dedicate a song or S/O to me with the hash tag #RIPmissmusic. (iChirp is iSocializes little brother with a character limit used for quick updates. Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure iWork (the professional networking site) never even noticed that I had died.
Adam was too distraught to go back inside Hippie Hollow. He was trying his best to hold it together while consoling the kids, and by now, the in-laws were already en route to my house. FIL promised he would handle the arrangements and MIL promised to cook up a storm! In what may seem tasteless to others, my family decided to pick up a 44 oz Coke ICEE (they don’t come in 40’s) so they could, “Pour a 44 on the curb for mah mommies.” (Later, when they told me this story, I was moved to tears.) Back at home, I had devoured about half the bag of Skittles, completed the crossword puzzle in People magazine, made the life-affirming decision to forever be a changed woman, and was about 15 minutes from full body shutdown. I would sleep like the dead. (Punny!) I never heard the front door open, but as expected, everyone arrived at the same time. While I was dreaming about how wonderful it is to be alive, my family was in the living room and kitchen grieving over my death. At some point, Adam decided he needed some alone time and excused himself to our bedroom. Even though I was medicated, even though I was exhausted, and even though I had fallen into the deepest sleep I had ever known, when my bedroom door began to open, I heard that tiny squeak coming from the hinges that need to be WD40’ed. Then, only barely audible, in a whispered gasp I heard him say, “Baby?” It didn’t even sound like him. I sat up on my elbow, squinted my eyes from the light and said, “Hey baby! I guess you heard what happened, huh?”
Then, the weirdest thing happened. He leapt from the door to the side of my bed in a single bound, fell to his knees, grabbed my hands and started kissing them, all the while not saying a word. I smiled at him and told him I’d missed him. He smiled back and said he’d missed me, too. Then he said he knew a few other people who were missing me that I should come say, “Hello” to. I put on hubby’s robe to cover “Roy” and stepped into the living room. “Mom’s home!” Adam announced. Through my groggy eyes I looked at my children and opened my arms. (Well, I opened them the best I could with the whole Roy arm cast debacle.)
There was confusion & questions, kisses & hugs, explanations & expectations. When Sophie, my littlest one shouted, “Mommy, we thought you were dead!” I felt nauseous. Those six words instantly brought me back 22 years. I was only 14 at the time, but I remember it as if it happened this morning. My older brother was the one who told me. You know that sickening feeling that races through your body with adrenaline and sits in the pit of your stomach when something terrible has happened? Like when you REALLY, REALLY fucked up? Maybe you wrecked your parents car, got caught cheating on your spouse, or your landlord came knocking at the door to collect the three months of rent you were late on. The feeling is instantaneous and it’s like dread on steroids. THAT was the feeling rushing through my body 22 years ago when my brother told me my father had passed, and that was the feeling I knew my kids must’ve experienced when they were told I had passed. I felt terrible. It’s not fair when a child loses a parent. (God should have a rule that he only takes people after their children have become grown-ups.)
Do you remember the scene in ‘Shawshank Redemption’ when Andy Dufresne crawled through 500 yards of shit and came out clean on the other side? (If you have yet to experience the awesomeness that is ‘Shawshank,’ immediately stop what you are doing, get yourself a copy, watch the movie, and then thank me later. I mean of course, AFTER you finish reading this.) That was the feeling I was experiencing. Standing in the pouring rain, arms outstretched towards the heavens, having just crawled through Hell emerging a brand new person. There was no redemption for me, for I had not fallen, but my death had brought me new life!
The flowers are now more vibrant, the smell is that much sweeter, the warmth of touch from a loved one is that more tinglier, and the sound of my family when they tell me they love is music to my ears. I hope the next time I die, I will be gone without the regrets I had the last time I died. I’m lucky to have been given this second chance and I promise not to fuck it up.