Today we are going to talk about dysfunction junction, my family. I think everyone secretly has a family that is completely insane and we all just try really hard not to talk about them but sometimes things come up like…well…fame. Suddenly your crazy brother is selling stories to the National Enquirer (a la President Clinton). Or worse you are only semi-famous and your doctor/lawyer parents are looking down at your career and asking, “What didn’t we do for you?” the subtext being, her rainbowed hair really clashes with our white perfect life. The latter is my life. I dropped out of an Ivy League-like college and informed my stunned parents that I was starting a punk band. After explaining the political and feminist reasons why this was the right thing to do, my parents both started screaming that I was adopted. But I have seen my birth certificate…and I know I wasn’t adopted, ‘cause that would make SENSE!
So let’s start with my mum, the passive aggressive Irish homemaker-type. She called me up after seeing my picture in a magazine, demanding to know if “that minuscule dot” on my face was a nose ring. Few know this, but all mothers are specially equipped with high powered nose ring radars.
“As of today you are disowned!” click.
My mum hung up on me! Granted, I have been disowned twice before but last time she asked for an explanation.
There are only two reasons for a nose ring, you have either gone punk or gone Indian (and Indians laugh at my safety pin nose rings, and tell me I pierced the wrong side).
So after she didn’t call me for 2 months, I called and said “Hey I am over 21, aren’t I old enough to get a nose ring?”
“So when am I old enough?”
“When you are dead.”
Great, so I wonder how much the mortician will charge for my casket, the make-up job, and the extra nose piercing. When Switchblade Kittens, first CD came out I flew over to my parent’s house and gave them a first listen. My mother heard the song I wrote about my father and responded “If you write a song about me I will kill you” then she left the room. Well, at least THEN I could get a nose ring.
My mum has since come around, sort of. Whenever I am in a magazine she buys 15 copies. I asked her what she does with so many copies, but she said it was none of my business. No doubt she has made a dartboard out of my band and is throwing those innocent Velcro balls at me and trying to stick them to my nose ring. She has even victimized my snoring father! One morning he woke up with my ARIA ad taped to his forehead. He woke up starring straight into my eyes (and nose ring).
My dad takes all of this pretty well. “If you can’t beat ‘em, torture ‘em,” is my dad’s philosophy. My father has a business in a conservative area. He works for himself so when his clients don’t pay him he has to go over to their house and harass them for the money. This is the part of his job my father really hates, so I am glad my wayward existence can help him out. One day he explained that he just got back from a client’s house that was a month overdue for paying him. He participated in small talk with her and encouraged her to go to our website and download our songs claiming how proud he was of his daughter. My dad then turned up the volume on our Indie pop rock songs and continued to play all 5 of our songs over and over. Remember this is a conservative town, his poor client was holding her ears from the noise and then my dad asks for his money. So I said, “Let me get this straight, you are hard balling little old ladies with my songs.”
“Yep,” he replied.
“Did it work?” I asked.
“Aye, I got everything I was owed” he said.
I think the Americans used a similar tactic on the Arabs during Desert Storm.
Out of all my family members the worst reaction to my chosen career was my sister’s. A reporter working on a story about me, called back teed off because, according to her, I wasn't "leveling with her." Flabbergasted and fuming cause she practically called me a liar, I figured out the reason for the mistrust. The reporter wanted to interview my sister and my sister flat out denied that she was related to me, AND she told all of her friends that she was an only child!
If that wasn't enough I got a call after one year of not speaking to my sister with a real shocker, she wanted me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. Apparently, my passive aggressive mum had forced her into the decision…uggh just fab. This story gets worse, first she had to tell all her friends she had a sister (so I am a bad plotline from Days of Our Lives appearing as the long lost sister) and she, of course, wanted me to take out my nose ring and hide my hair. She claimed I would attract too much attention at HER wedding. I understand her point, but I play music for a living and I have looked like this forever! I didn't run right out and dye my hair just to ruin her wedding. At the rehearsal dinner I really got in trouble because apparently a radio station near her house was playing our "Titanic" song pretty regularly and members of the wedding party started asking me for autographs. I quietly signed napkins at the table and placed them in the centerpieces for the members to pick up and hoped she wouldn't notice. Then the day of the wedding arrived and I was trying to get my nose ring out and I couldn't. Goddess help me! Two years before, I had jammed a backing onto the backside of my nose ring to make sure it wouldn’t fall out if I got hit in the nose in the mosh pit. This cubic zirconia was never leaving my nose. So I did the only thing a sister could do, I ripped it out of my nose, and well…I started to bleed…a lot. So I was trying not to bleed allover my flamingo vomit colored dress and I get the kicker, my hair couldn't be hidden by the flower headdress. So now I have to wear a Dolly Parton wig! My hair is frizzy as it is, but when they put a wig on top of my hair, the wedding cake and I began to look like twin sisters!
In my long tight dress, pointy purple shoes, and the biggest hair this side of the Mississippi I was definitely doing a good Dolly imitation (or a bad Marie Antoinette). Somehow my sister thought that looking like this would attract less "attention." At the reception someone asked me if I was with the bride or the groom and I responded, "I came as a guest of the cake."
In spite of my sister, I have some family members who get a kick out of having a musician relative. My little cousins write me e-mails telling me that it is cool that their cousin Drama is a "indie rocker." My aunt Penny teaches a jr. high class and tells them about me and shows them every time I am in a magazine. My favourite cousin, Jennifer, has her own cable access botany show where she tells the viewers what her crazy cousin “the rocker grrl” is up to on a monthly basis. It cracks me up that all these Martha Stewart types have to listen to the story of my naked ARIA ad while concentrating on planting chrysanthemums.
Last but not least there is my stepsister Tabbie. She was already on the outskirts of society printing t-shirts for independent musicians and businesses with her print shoppe aptly named, Angry Girl. I tried to help her at the print shoppe one night and accidentally flooded the shoppe (only ankle deep). We have since dubbed that area "Angry Lake." But it seems that she has helped me with my business by joining my band and I am not ankle deep in water (only metaphorically). So as far as family matters go I guess you win some, you lose some.
~taste the rainbow~