33 Post Mortem

Dear 33,

I apologize for being so late in conducting your exiting interview, but you know as well as I do that I’ve been so damn busy catching up on processing all the epic shit you did while in office that we’re inevitably very behind. If there’s one word for your year in office, 33, I’d say it’s “prolific,” so much so that it’s daunting to even sit down and review everything.

Let’s start with your first day on the job: you woke up next to a guy you really liked and had sex so good it felt like you should be giving an acceptance speech. 31 and 32 worked really hard for you to have that.  Lots of people sent you funny pictures of Jesus, and that was pretty hilarious. It was an unseasonably warm day, and before eating Kenyan food and chocolate cheesecake with your family you relaxed with a novel. 32 had gotten you a really nice gift by asking the lead singer of your favorite Springsteen band to make a video playing your favorite song for you. She did that because at the time, you thought that you’d never hear him sing it in person again. But thanks to your TREMENDOUSLY hard emotional work, 33, he sang that song to you a whole bunch of times this year. In person. Without even being asked. This is a benefit that I will continue to enjoy and I can’t thank you enough for putting the work in. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/07/17/spirits-in-the-night-pt-5-tony-soprano-and-ponies-and-a-piano-bench/

You have so much to be proud of, 33. Especially professionally. You spent about a month of your time in office house sitting, which we love so much. And you used that time when you had empty houses to yourself so wisely. Using your vibrator, doing difficult writing, doing podcast stuff. I so appreciate it and hope I’ll be able to keep it going. It took a while to get up and running and it didn’t last as long as you would’ve liked, but for a while you got to host trivia, and that was pretty great. You also did a bunch of super easy babysitting, had some very cool opportunities with comedy, and after a really slow period made a very triumphant return to snuggling. They weren’t all new states for you, but you snuggled in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, Texas, and Florida. You never didn’t seize the opportunity. Also, you had the same job for an ENTIRE YEAR. You! And a job with weekends off. I don’t think I’ll keep us there much longer, but I’m so glad that thanks to you we can say that for an entire year, we worked as a professional taste tester, getting paid to drink. Thanks for making this chapter of life happen, 33. You also lined up a new job for me, so thanks so much for that.

You probably could’ve done a little better, but thank you for your sincere efforts with exercise. It wasn’t easy with that sprained ankle, and your job only made it harder. But you gave legitimate effort toward learning how to swim laps, and you worked your way up to running for an entire hour, which was a new record. And of course, there was lots of Richard Simmons. I’m going to try to move our life in a direction where exercise can be a priority, but you definitely did pretty well with what you had to work with.

I want to thank you, 33, for having faith in the creative process. You wrestled really hard with a lot of very painful writing that led to a lot of healing, and I thank you for that. And you waded through the shit with our cult show, too. You really set me up for success in that regard. And I’m so glad you finally got that picture frame with the nail clippings finished. Thank you for letting art be both healing and refreshing. And I know it wasn’t easy, but thank you for jumping through the hoops with the podcast. When our producer finally gets it edited and distributed, (hopefully sooner than later!) I’ll be very happy to reap what you sowed.

Men were a dumpster fire as usual. But you made some progress, 33. You didn’t take nearly as much shit from men, especially toward the end of your time in office. Mostly, you just stayed away from them, and for this I cannot thank you enough. I think the way you handled that G-Man guy was very admirable https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2023/03/01/spirits-in-the-night-pt-15-g-man/ and it felt like quite the test from the universe. And you continued to heal from Dan https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/lisa-vanarsdale-pop-pop-is-a-portal/id1458646903?i=1000560713404 and you probably protected a lot of women from that wrestler dude. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2023/02/05/spirits-in-the-night-pt-11-the-wrestler/ You got a lot of sincere apologies from men who had hurt you https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/07/17/spirits-in-the-night-pt-4-a-drunken-jubilant-ray-of-light/ and even though it was really, really hard and stupidly painful, you had a can-do attitude about chasing your healing from Killer Joe. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/07/30/spirits-in-the-night-pt-6-phishers-of-men-on-a-last-chance-power-drive/ I think now we just have to wait for the last remnants of sadness to fade with time. You fucked a mummer. That was pretty funny. Maybe I’ll have better luck with men, but I think you know as well as I do that I can’t really be bothered to find out.

Speaking of everything above, thank you for unapologetically chasing your curiosity and following your knowing with the whole being drunk at Springsteen tributes thing. Not only because it’s led to a lot of healing, and a lot of moments of bliss, but also because of the adventures that have come with it. Sleeping in a tent and on a boat and going to a ball, getting a picture with the son of Clarence Clemmons. If I’m remembering correctly, you went to nine Springsteen tributes, which is approximately eight more than 32 could have hoped for. Thank you for going wherever you felt called to go to listen to holy music and then drunkenly sit on top of the sacred space that is your pink car. Thank you for making that the priority that it needed to be.

I know you were pretty intimidated by 32. She’d done a lot, what with her summer at the beach and all her culty travels. But you might’ve outdone her, 33. Let’s look over the adventurous stuff you did next:

Religious adventures: You lived your dream of visiting the DC Mormon Temple. You also had Mormon missionaries over for dinner, and visited their priesthood restoration site. Excellent year for Mormoning. You also knocked the Scientology headquarters in Clearwater off your list, and visited a Buddhist temple, and lived your dream of visiting Woodmont to have dinner with the adorable elderly followers of Father Divine. To sit around a table with a bunch of 80 yr old virgins and hear about their friendship with Jim Jones was truly such a triumph, 33. The moonies’  Rod of Iron Freedom Festival was also a highlight. Loved that concealed carry fashion show so much, and knowing that the man who made your moonie crown was so happy to see you after 31 tried so hard to make that happen for you? Good stuff.

You also had a really poignant and meaningful hospice visit with some cloistered nuns that you never could’ve dared to dream of. You visited the largest Mosque in Africa. You spent All Saints’ Day visiting cathedrals in Munich, taking pictures of stained glass windows. And I want to thank you for carving out time to go spend Sabbath with the twelve tribes. 32 really needed that closure. And the polygamist retreat in Texas? Perfection. And you did those podcast interviews, too. Good shit, 33.

I’m really glad you chose to lean in for the animal encounters phase, 33. You had dinner with a sloth, snuggled baby goats, and swam with otters. You toured a wolf sanctuary and hung out with baby kangaroos and fed an anteater and held a roly-poly little hedgehog. You fed hummingbirds in the cloud forest and laughed at the wild ponies in Assateague.  You learned how to tag a monarch butterfly, and one was launched off your nose as he resumed his migration toward Mexico. Thanks to you, I get to watch a wolf eat a carcass while I eat waffles with my friends, if I ever get around to scheduling it. Thank you so much.

Speaking of eating, you had a very adventurous term in office for that, didn’t you? You ate pigeon and a camel burger and a fucking guinea pig. You ate gelato with cheese on top and god only knows how many weird things at work. You introduced your coworkers to guineps and tamarinds and Whittaker caramels. Thank you for always following your curiosity with food, 33, and for never denying yourself what you love.

Besides the obvious endless shitshow of Springsteen tributes, it was a very good year for music, in general. You finally saw Rod Stewart, which 32 so appreciates. And you saw Ziggy Marley, and danced to lots of wonderful live music during the warm months. You saw Phish at Woodstock, which was pretty damn ideal.  Now that you pay for Spotify, you’ve made really good use of that resource and explored sooo much music.  And of course, you saw the REAL Bruce. Thanks to you, I’m officially out of must-see musicians. Thank you, 33.

Those things all happened in the US, and you had so many other US adventures, too. You let an old man lead you through the Met showing you all the paintings that he’s loved since he was a little boy through his eyes, and that was a really beautiful thing.  After far too long without being on the parkway, you went to Labour Day so you could remember who we are. Thank you for being there. Turning the dress 26 wore to Taye’s house into our new J’ouvert dress was a gangster move. You explored new beaches in Maryland and Delaware, you finally visited the White House, and experienced the absolutely miraculous cultural wonder that is the Mummers Parade. And you tore it up. You visited your first-ever Buc-ee’s and came out with a beaver onesie. Love that for you.

You went on two clown trips to two new continents. Pretty badass. You finally went to Morocco, which poor 31 had worked so hard for.  You held orphans and made friends and spent quality time with Patch before it was too late. You left Morocco on Halloween, dressed as a slutty nun, and you Europed for the first time in more than a decade, absolutely tearing it up on your layovers in Germany. You traipsed around Munich wearing a dirndl and saw the Glockenspiel do its thing and ate a disturbing number of Bavarian soft pretzels. Getting all of that coordinated was an absolute pain in the ass, thank you for making the effort.  In Ecuador you showered love on some NICU babies and spent quality time in the jungle and dropped **** while sitting on the equator. You’re hilarious, 33.

Perhaps your most wonderful triumph was getting rid of our Fallopian tubes. Every time I remember you did that, it fills me with joy the same way it does when I remember that 31 made our car pink. Those scars make us more complete, not unlike our tattoos. Me and every version of me that will ever write one of these letters thanks you for making that wonderful, beautiful thing happen.

You spent your last day on the job in the jungle in Ecuador, seeing cool plants and animals, and that night you laid in bed and wrote down the notes for this letter, to make things a bit easier for me, and the lights were out by ten. You fell asleep listening to the rain and other sounds of the cloud forest, and I’ve been trying to catch up on your shit ever since.

I know it sucks to be an adult living at home, and that you’re often lonely because your peers are all doing the homeowner and partner and kids thing. But you have so much to be proud of, 33. Especially where the show is concerned, I intend to do my very best to take what you did and make it even better.  It’s an honor to scramble to catch up on all your shit. Thank you so much for outliving Jesus.

Love and light,


Spirits in the Night pt 16- That Place Where We Really Wanna Go

My first-ever Real Bruce concert deserves its own moment of storytelling without G-Man being the focal point, so that’s what I’m doing here. 

I’d been snuggling all day and barely had time to get ready for the concert. I was stupidly tired and worried I might be too sleepy to enjoy it. But! Caffeine and ice cream and the alcohol I had packed in my clear stadium backpack ensured that I was adequately energized.I’d missed the tail gate the Spring Nuts had invited me to because I had to work, but I still showed up to the outdoor promenade-type area a couple hours early to get into the zone. 

Pretty immediately upon arriving I heard, “Hey! For You!!” and saw a guy pointing at me. It was the group of dudes from the night before, the ones who told me I was their favorite person they’d met at the Born to Pun show. It made my heart smile to be recognized as the For You girl. What a wonderful person for me to be. 

I shot the shit with those guys for a while. All the girls were dressed in their summer clothes, because Florida. So many people were wearing shirts Bruce on it, or with Bruce lyrics, or that said “Jersey Girl.” It was surreal that we were all in Florida and not at the Jersey Shore. I was very proud to showcase my Pink Cadillac tank top to anyone who would listen. It’s a picture of a pink Cadillac with Bruce leaning on the hood, and I’m in the back seat, and Bruce is wondering what I’m doing in the back. The car is parked on a beach and you can see my Subaru in the background. A friend made the incredibly meaningful graphic for me, and I had it put on a shirt on the boardwalk during my sacred summer of Bruce. 


I was drunk before I even made it inside. I sat on a bench outside the marina finishing off my third canned cocktail, tearing up with gratitude because I was FINALLY seeing the Real Bruce, and in such a beautiful situation. It was also special because Bruce was the last musician on my must-see-in-concert list. Pretty big moment for this girl. 

The only two drinks I purchased for the entire trip were purchased inside the arena, and that only happened because they don’t let you bring liquids into stadiums. I’m pretty proud of that.

I was chatting with the man sitting on my left about seeing Little Stevie on The Sopranos, and he said I remind him of Dr. Dunphy. Wasn’t sure if it was what I was saying, or just my voice. Drunk Lisa accidentally drank the water belonging to the lady on my left and she wasn’t mad at me, so that was a nice moment of grace. 

They played a lot of songs that made me really happy. I love Out In The Street, because you really believe him in that one. And I’m still reeling from how fortunate I feel to have gotten hear Prove It All Night, AND Candy’s Room, which was immediately followed by Kitty’s Back. How fucking bountiful! Knowing that they played E Street Shuffle feels like I won the lottery. 

What’s great about Bruce is that while he has a lot of songs that make me feel like I might levitate, he also sings a lot of songs I don’t care about at all, so pee breaks were never a problem. 

During one pee break, I was staring at the speckly print floor in the restroom as I peed, and I noticed three pills on the floor. Despite the super busy print of tiny spots very obviously meant to hide public restroom filth, I noticed three different kinds of pills spread out on the floor. In hindsight, I realize someone probably was supposed to take their pills for the day, but dropped them, and couldn’t spot them on the floor. But at the time, I was VERY concerned that these might be club drugs and that someone might pick one up and take it. In hindsight, the sixty year olds who go to Springsteen concerts probably don’t do Molly, but drunk Lisa was very concerned with disposing of the dangerous pills. So mid-pee, drunk Lisa started announcing to everyone that there were pills on the ground, and not to touch them! That I would pick them up and dispose of them properly once I finished urinating.

Once the stall door closed behind me, I picked up all three pills that were strewn across the floor and loudly announced it as I threw them in the garbage can. My good deed for the day. Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear personalized pink Cadillac tank tops they had made at the Jersey shore.

A lady came out of a stall and, noticing my heroic efforts, told me I reminded her of her daughter. I asked hey why, and she said because like her daughter, I am sweet at my core. I made a joke about how my core is very weak, because I never do any sit-ups or crunches and that’s why people always think I look pregnant. The woman clarified that she meant I was good on the inside, or pure of heart, or whatever. And drunk Lisa thought that was really sweet, so we hugged. Neither of us had washed our hands yet, but you can’t let your hands get in the way of your core, you know?

I share this because oddly, this weird encounter in the ladies’ room is a full-circle moment. At my very first Born to Pun concert in Atlantic City, a lady in the restroom told me she’d taken my picture rocking out on the dance floor because I reminded her of her recently-deceased mother. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/06/11/spirits-in-the-night/ And now at my very first Real Bruce concert, a lady in the restroom was telling me I reminded her of her daughter. Weird shit happens in ladies’ rooms.

When Badlands played, I took a video and sent it to weak-knees Willy. Because I have a memory of him trying to remember all the words to that song on Friendsgiving while that documentary was playing. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2023/01/06/spirits-in-the-night-a-fourth-of-july-friendsgiving-and-christmas-miracle/

When I saw I had a text from Scooter I was filled with gratitude for the part he’s played in this whole ridiculous delusional spiritual journey I’ve been on. I cried a few tears for his brother, but mostly I was just happy to know a nice man like Scooter was thinking of me. 

He wouldn’t have been terribly far off if he’d been thinking it the night before, but I digress!

And then the big hits shot rapid fire. Born to Run. Rosalita. Tenth Avenue Freeze Out. Shit was thoroughly righteous and mighty. It got quiet and any reasonable person would’ve expected that when Bruce showed up alone on stage with his guitar, that he was going to end with a nice acoustic version of Thunder Road. But he didn’t play it. He played some other shit. Am I offended? Yes. Do I have trust issues now? Absolutely. We’ll see if Real Bruce can redeem himself in a few weeks when I see him in Philly. 

Seeing Real Bruce was great. I’m so glad it finally happened, and I’m thankful for the truly ridiculous string of events that led up to it. But the Spring Nuts who had warned me that I might not be able to appreciate tribute concerts as much after sampling the real deal were wrong. In a sold-out stadium, you have very little room to dance. Which is a travesty. But at a random casino you can really bop and jump around at whatever level feels right for you. And you can probably sneak your drinks in. Real Bruce is great, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t know the guy like that. Real Bruce didn’t play Thunder Road and there’s nothing I can do about it. If a song I want to hear doesn’t play at a Springsteen tribute, I can do something about it. And it’s never once cost me $350 to see Born to Pun, either.

Real Bruce doesn’t know I’m alive. He’s never going to know I’m alive. He’s never going to come say hello to me and ask what I want to hear, he’s never going to let me buy him a drink. His bassist is never going to sit in the grass with me and his drummer is never going to offer me an edible. (On the bright side, his piano player will never say creepy shit to me, and I’m excited about that!) He’s never going to kiss me on the cheek, and he’s never going to dedicate a song to me every time he sees me without being asked.

After the concert ended, I would have loved to keep partying until Uber prices dropped. But all the bars and restaurants were closed. It wasn’t surprising, because it was a Wednesday. But still, you’d think they’d want to be open to make more money off the Spring Nuts. I’m sure I would’ve gotten into some excellent mischief. But that all the venues were closed and that nothing profound happened that night confirms in my mind that while a Real Bruce concert is great, the spirits are in the nights at the tributes.

Spirits in the Night Pt 15- A Little of that Human Touch

This is one of those situations where everything feels so significant that you can’t remember all the details, or the exact order of things; just that it was important.

I think it’s safe to assume I started the conversation when I asked if he was here for Bruce. He said he was, and I asked if he’d seen Born to Pun perform in the café just now. He lit up and mentioned the piano player, which in turn made me deflate a little bit. “I don’t talk to him.”  I said, which was unusual for me. This guy holding the cocktail wasn’t the first person to mention the piano player to me during these two nights of shows, but it was the first time I gave an honest reply rather than nodding along.

He immediately asked why, and I continued to be honest. Alcohol can make you honest, but that was mostly gone by this point. I think this man showing me what seemed to be genuine interest and trustworthy energy was what spurred my honesty. I told him I’d had a bad experience with the piano player, bad enough that I didn’t see this band for almost a year, but therapy helped, and now I see them all the time. I left it at that. In a slightly bolder burst of honesty, I told this guy that I think God wants me to see this band, and to be drunk while I do it, and that I’m writing a blog series about all the stuff that happens as a result.

He asked me to send him a link, so I took his number and did. He introduced himself as G-Man. (Not actually, but I’ll give an explanation for why I’ve chosen that name later.) He immediately opened my website, which indicated an eagerness I wouldn’t have expected, then said he’d need to look at it some other time. I told him it’s a hell of a rabbit hole, so don’t sit down and read it unless you’re really in the market for some madness peppered with Springsteen references.

Like most people, he seemed surprised that I was traveling and concerting alone. He asked if I was staying at the casino. I told him I wasn’t, but that I love how the nightstands here have phone chargers built into them. He asked how I know that, if I’m not staying here, and I said I’d been in one of the rooms for work the previous night, before the concert.

This led to the inevitable and highly predictable conversation about snuggling. I don’t remember the details, but I’m sure he asked me all the usual questions. He asked if that’s my only job, and I told him my consistent job these days is working as a taste tester for a large beer company. So then he asked all the taste tester questions. Keeping with predictability, he told me that I’m very interesting. I hear that a lot, and get resentful when I hear it from men, but it was nice to see that he seemed to genuinely mean it. I hadn’t had many substantial conversations in Tampa that weren’t with clients, or with people far Brucier than me, or about Scientology. Not that I’m complaining. That’s the stuff I was there for. But talking to this guy didn’t feel like an introductory conversation.

Then, if memory serves, he circled back and asked what happened with the piano player. As I started to tell the story, much to my own surprise, I teared up a little. And then in this conciliatory tone he said, “Lisa…” He’d only just learned my name and said it as if he knew me. And when I told him what the piano player had said to me, (If you don’t know, you can backtrack to this entry where it’s explained: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/07/17/spirits-in-the-night-pt-5-tony-soprano-and-ponies-and-a-piano-bench/ ) He said, “And you didn’t like that, did you?” And I liked that it was a question. Not an assumption. Not a jump to defend the shit head piano player or wave it away as not a big deal. He wanted to comprehend. I think it says a lot that I felt comfortable enough to cry in front of him, even if it was just a few tears that slipped out by accident.

Please don’t think that I just talked about myself this whole time. I might not recall all these details in perfect order, but I know I was asking him questions, too. I’d established that he was staying there, that he’d only caught the tail end of Born to Pun’s show (what a loss!), and asked him about his drink (guava) and where he’d gotten it (the steak house).  At this point, I’d seated myself on top of one of those cement pillars that jut out of the ground in areas like this to keep cars from driving onto the sidewalk.  I’d settled into the conversation, forgetting completely that the coked-up guy was waiting to hear from me, calling an Uber being the furthest thing from my mind.

G-Man excused himself because he had a call coming in. I sat there intently while he took it, not walking away or anything. He stayed right there, so I gave him the same attention I’d been giving him while he was talking to me. I won’t go into details, but he said some things during that phone call, with whoever he was talking to, about the Spring Nuts, which made him roll his eyes, and some other stuff. When he was off the call, I asked him about it, and while I won’t say in what way, he explained that he was REAL important to the real Bruce and his band and the tour itself. I’d walked outside and casually started chatting with someone very very important, and to see him standing there holding a girly-ass drink, you never would have guessed it.  From this point on, this is the most typical Lisa shit there is.

The conversation continued, and I sadly sit here writing this as I continue to not remember the details or the order. But at some point he said how he had been given a suite at the casino, but he wasn’t using it for anything other than watching TV because he liked sleeping in his other room, and he’d been given some really nice liquor but hadn’t had any of it, and it felt like he should be having a party but all he does with his downtime is watch TV.

So obviously, I told him I was his party. And he asked if I wanted to go hang out in the suite. And of course I did, because sleep be damned, I was with a really kind and interesting person and I was enjoying connecting with him. So he took his guava cocktail and myself inside, and we went upstairs.

It’s hard because I don’t know what to include and what not to include. It all feels very significant to me, but all the minute details are written in my diary and they should probably not be regurgitated here, not that anyone ever reads this series, anyway. G-Man and I hung out for hours. He showed me the view from his balcony, which was strikingly unimpressive.  It was all parking lot. You could see a stadium nearby and clueless girl that I am, I asked if that’s where the concert would be the following night. He seemed like a good person to ask, what with his super important job. The concert was going to be in a different arena, downtown. Glad I asked.

He offered me food and he offered me drinks, but he made no effort to get me drunk, which is more than can be said for the last dude I was alone in a hotel room with who wasn’t a client. He turned the TV to the weird hotel channel that’s all music videos, and while we did do some silent watching (which didn’t feel awkward at all, it was truly such a chill vibe with this guy, like we could both be comfortable in mutual silence.) mostly we had what I thought was pretty incredible conversation.

At the risk of sounding arrogant, it’s rare that I get to talk at length with someone who is as interesting as me. I don’t say that because I think I’m the coolest person ever, or anything, it’s just that in a lot of conversations, the other person usually has a load of questions about snuggling, or comedy, or taste testing, or cults, or whatever other shocking Lisa hits are currently spinning, and my explanations tend to take over and snowball before I can uncover the intriguing stuff about the other person.

That wasn’t a problem here. It seemed like there was a pretty even back and forth of asking questions and volunteering information. I was impressed by what he did with both. He shared a lot of what I think is probably his usual highlight reel, including all the celebrities he’s worked with. And that was definitely fascinating and I loved asking and hearing about it. But the stories he chose to volunteer were surprising. He volunteered the details of a dream he had about Dick Van Dyke. It was weird, but really endearing. The sort of thing you only share if you’re being really open with someone.

And he of course showed me lots of pictures of Brucey stuff, of places they’ve gone together. A highlight was hearing about how he was there when the band did the Super Bowl. I remember watching it in my living room when I was only twenty, but it’s a performance I’ve re-watched several times since I started writing these entries, (and actually, watched the night before I left for Tampa) because I love what he says to the audience about how it’s time to put down the guacamole and get up and dance. And you really believe Bruce as he’s saying it, the same way you believe him when he’s singing about Santa Claus coming to town.  I sometimes refer to the experiences I’ve had at all these concerts as righteous and mighty, because when I heard him say it in the video of the Super Bowl performance, it really resonated with what I’ve been experiencing. (The first time I mention this is in the first entry in this series, which also has a link to the Super Bowl video: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/06/11/spirits-in-the-night/ )

He talked about how wacky the Spring Nuts are, which was pretty amusing. How they quit their jobs whenever there’s a tour and “follow us” around. I thought it was cute that he included himself with the musicians in his use of “us,” and I love a good quirky people-group. I told him about cults and other groups that I’ve visited. In particular, I told him about the Mummers. I haven’t blogged about it and probably never will, but I fucked a Mummer earlier this year, so G-Man started calling me “mummerfucker.” Love that for me.

We talked about lots of random shit. His family, his divorce, his favorite vacation spots. I probably showed him a photo of my Fallopian tubes, because the novelty of that hasn’t worn off yet. We talked about food and sex and how publishing houses want him to write a memoir but he doesn’t think he’ll be able to remember all the good stories. I told him I was jealous, because I DO write and DO remember my ridiculous stories and have in fact already written most of them down, but no agent can be bothered with my book. He asked to hear about one of the men from my book, so I told him about this guy: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2021/06/22/whos-your-daddy/ and I think also this guy: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2020/08/19/paging-dr-creep/ and probably others, but I honestly don’t remember.  

I told him how while Bruce’s music is definitely consuming a lot of my energy these days, but the rocker who resides at the center of my heart is still Mick Jagger. I told him about my license plate, and how I came to own one of Mick’s undershirts, which I wear for snuggle appointments whenever I can.

I definitely told G-Man the serendipitous stuff about the guys with the matching wolf pack tattoos. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2021/09/14/2431/ and I’m sure I talked about all my eery Pink Cadillac stuff.  https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/06/11/spirits-in-the-night/ At some point it came up that I was still struggling to get over Killer Joe. Probably because I’d explained that I’d hoped Scooter would join me tonight, but he couldn’t make it. G-Man asked how long it had been since Killer Joe left, and when I said it had been nearly a year, he kinda berated me a bit. He urged me to be over it in a way that was not sensitive, but I appreciated his vote of confidence.  He listened as I explained why it was a larger loss than normal because it was a secure attachment, and it’s harder to lose one of those than it is to get over a dozen assholes.

He asked me my favorite Bruce song. I told him I’m too enthusiastic for favorites of most things in life, but that lately my answer for that would be For You. I told him with pride how Born to Pun always plays it for me and how much that means to me. I carried on about my fondness for Mozart quite a bit, I’m sure. This was exactly the sort of conversation I would love to have with Mozart someday, but I doubt that will ever happen.

It was such a luxury to be able to talk to someone Brucey enough to know what song I’m talking about.  He said a lot of times when people ask Bruce for the meaning or story behind a song, he gives an answer that’s completely different than what they were expecting. I guess I’d be interested to hear Bruce explain the origins of his songs to me. I’d be an idiot not to. But I’m much more interested in how they make me feel, and what they mean to me in my heart.

I asked G-Man his favorite, and he said Night. He seemed surprised that I knew which song he meant.  I sang a few words to prove it: She’s so pretty but you’re lost in the stars, as you jockey your way through the cars that sit at the liiiiiight. Pretty ballsy move on my part, what with my lack of singing ability, but I didn’t feel like I needed to keep anything hidden from G-Man. He said that was the first time he’d ever heard a girl sing those words. Now whenever Night comes up on my playlist, I think of G-Man.

I don’t remember what song we were discussing, but he said how Bruce had removed said song from the playlist. I realized he was talking about the playlist, for the concert I’d be seeing the following night, and I told him not to ruin it for me. I was better off not crossing that bridge until I got there. Still, how fucking strange that on the eve of my very first Bruce concert I’d be hanging out with a guy who’s privy to coveted information like the set list. Pretty wild.

I was wildly unworthy to be in this situation. I’m sure that literally any Spring Nut would have been more appreciative and more qualified for the Brucey insider nature of the time I was spending with G-Man. I told him how I suspected that even after I partook of the real deal the following night, I’d probably still prefer the imitation. The members of Born to Pun know me and, with the exception of the piano player, are happy to see me. They want to talk to me, and ask what I want to hear, and Mozart always seems to come through for me. I don’t have that rapport with the real people. I said how I had a basic knowledge of who Clarence was, and knew Stevie Van Zandt from The Sopranos, and remembered thinking that the drummer guy seemed like he had a gentle energy to him in a video I saw at that exhibit with Killer Joe. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/07/17/3029/ But other than those tiny tidbits, I wouldn’t know anyone from the E Street Band if I tripped over them.

I don’t remember what order any of these things were discussed. But I do remember noticing, very early into the several hours that I spent talking with G-Man in his suite, that I felt tangibly less sad about Killer Joe. And not because he said the pushy thing about getting over it. I could just feel that I had less pain about it. What Killer Joe did was objectively wrong and will never be okay in principle, so it will always bother me in that regard…but the pain felt less heavy. Like a big chunk of it broke off.

And maybe that pain leaving in such a smooth and decisive way was what prepared for me when, several hours in, G-Man finally made a move.  It had been in the back corners of my mind that that might happen when he invited me up, back when I was still slightly buzzed. But it had been several hours and the situation was so comfortable and the conversation so sustained; I guess it slipped my mind that usually, when a guy invites me up to his suite, it’s ‘cause he thinks I’m purdy.

I won’t go into details because they honestly don’t feel significant in the grand scheme of everything I’m already sharing about the encounter. But we were somewhat intimate. With that chunk of pain broken off, I felt attracted and comfortable in a way that I haven’t since Killer Joe left. Not all the way better, but certainly MUCH more horny and full of desire than I’ve been the handful of times I’ve mustered the chutzpah to be intimate with someone since Joe left. 

I told G-Man I didn’t want to do much that night, but that I’d certainly be down to clown the following night. I figured there was no need to rush. I enjoyed connecting with this guy enough to want to maybe hang out again, and I’d rather sex be something that ensures a second meeting by withholding it, than guarantees there won’t be a second meeting by relinquishing it. Besides, I need another once-off sexual encounter with someone who won’t follow up with me about the experience afterward like I need a hole in my head, and I wasn’t ready or willing to risk finding out if G-Man would do that to me. I didn’t want to fuck up something that was already pretty great with an activity that has a track record for fucking me up.

So we only messed around a little bit. And it left me wanting more. Having agreed that we’d have a proper romp and take our time with it the following night after the concert, G-man walked me to the elevator and I was in my own bed around 5 am. Being stupidly tired through all my appointments the next day was worth it.

Let me tell you why I named this dude G-Man. I wanted a name from the song Spirit in the Night, because this felt like a very full-circle moment. ‘Long came Wild Billy and his friend G-Man all duded up for Saturday night.

G-Man is a good choice not only because he felt relevant to my G-Spot (during what precious little free time I had the next day, I had the most incredible time with my vibrator, solely because G-man had given me something realistic to think about for the first time in forever. SO healing.) but also because in the song, he is only mentioned by name once.  Despite being  unprecedentedly horny and excited all day leading up to the concert , and even texting during the concert…it’s no surprise that I didn’t see G-Man again that night. As Real Bruce’s concert cleared out, (I have a great story to share from the concert, something serendipitous and eery, but it’s not relevant to G-Man so we’ll need to stick a pin in it for now.) he texted to say that he had to fly to another city with a certain someone who shall remain nameless, but who I now refer to in my mind solely as “cock block.”  G-Man is the perfect name for this character.

Whether what G-Man said is true or not, I don’t know. He said he’d see me when they’re in town for the concert in Philly. I don’t know if that’s true or not either, but considering I haven’t heard from him, I doubt it. If there’s anything I’ve learned the hard way in life, it’s that you can’t expect celebrities or anyone celebrity-adjacent to come hang out in bed with you a second time. Not only because of the nature of their lifestyle, but because of the power-dynamic.  And nobody is better at fucking up their well-being with wildly extreme power dynamics and unhealthy sexy time with famous people than yours truly. (Thanks, therapy!)  But I’d love to be wrong. Even if we never got around to boning, I’d love to see G-man again and hang out some more, and maybe be his friend. I wanna hear more stories from the book he’ll never write.

To be fair, I haven’t reached out to him, either. Not for lack of interest, but because I knew I needed to process the experience first. Get my head screwed on and write about it here before doing anything that might change the variables in the equation. I would’ve loved to have been done with this weeks ago so I could reach out to him, but I’ve been just a BIT busy with the truly ridiculous amount of nonstop traveling and profound experiences I’ve been having, and I’ve hit a brick wall of mental exhaustion. So here I am, trying to do justice to my beautiful encounter with G-Man in an effort to wrap my mind around it well enough to be able to talk to him.

I know I say it all the time, but the first important thing I learned in therapy is that the value needs to be in what I say to someone because that’s what I can control, not in what they do or don’t say, because that’s not up to me. So I’m processing all of this so I can decide what would be the most validating and loving and most true things to say to G-Man once I’ve got my thoughts sorted out.

I’ve talked about how when I go to these Springsteen tributes, there always seems to be some sort of major action that bookends each concert. I listed a bunch of them in this entry: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2023/02/04/spirits-in-the-night-pt-11-spirits-in-the-cookie/ This trip to Tampa was my first time seeing Born to Pun two nights in a row. Obviously, the inciting incident/big development/turning point/whatever you wanna call it that can be credited toward the first night’s show would be the aha! realization that I could be there at all…the buying the ticket, the aptly named savings account, all that. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2023/02/05/spirits-in-the-night-pt-13-honey-it-aint-your-money/ As for the second night’s show, the pivotal thing revealed itself just after the show. Not unlike meeting Scooter, ( https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/06/11/spirits-in-the-night/ ) or what happened with the wrestler, ( https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2023/02/05/spirits-in-the-night-pt-11-the-wrestler/ ) or the drunk dials that led to all those healing apologies. ( https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/07/17/spirits-in-the-night-pt-4-a-drunken-jubilant-ray-of-light/ ) The thing this time, the this-is-why-you-were-here thing… was meeting G-Man. And the spirits made sure that no possible distraction, no uber, no silly losers from the casino, not even sweet Scooter who I SO would have loved to see, could get in the way of it.

But back to the bookend thing…

It was such a perfect bookend in so many ways. To have such a lovely time with a person who is in such close proximity to the real Bruce the night before (or more accurately, morning of) I graduated from tribute concerts to seeing the real deal was such a predictably Lisa thing to have happen that even as I struggle to process it, I know better than to have the audacity to be shocked by it. That spending time with G-Man seemed to have this healing effect concerning Killer Joe was very spot on. That it also made me incurably horny for DAYS after was very… G-spot on. Ayyyy.  Also, during the brief period where we were messing around I was brave enough and comfortable enough with him to speak up about the ways I do and don’t like to be touched. Most men aren’t interested in hearing that, but he paid attention and changed what needed changing every time without making me feel bad about myself. Refreshing stuff.  Felt like I’d leveled-up.

And in hindsight, it seemed like a final exam as far as my whole “stop-making-strange-choices- in-bed-with-famous-people-if-you-ever- want-to -be-healthy-or-at-LEAST- stop-relying-on-them-and-relinquishing-your-tiny-bit-of-power” thing that I’ve been struggling with for nearly eight years.

Sure, I’ve been stressed about getting this all processed and written so I can reach out to him feeling prepared and full of integrity, and that’s not been a walk in the park. But that’s just me trying to be responsible with what I’ve been given to work with and learn from, trying to keep up with life. It’s not anything to do with the dude. It’s very different than the way the communication-with-whatever-famous-person-I’m-currently-having-shenanigans-with-thing has completely consumed me to the point of despair most of the previous times. In regards to that, I think I passed with an A+ and deserve a gold sticker, and my therapist agrees. 

Over all, my time with G-Man felt like a very fair if not downright bountiful return on the leap of faith that was heeding the spirit and going to Tampa at the last minute.  I left the Real Bruce concert with my suspicions confirmed: I prefer tribute concerts and Mozart  to the Real Bruce and his band and that will not be changing any time soon. But even if it had changed, and the spirit left, I couldn’t be mad. This was pretty much the ultimate bookend. Whether I ever hear from G-man again or not, I am filled with gratitude.

One more fun tidbit from our hours of conversation: Somewhere after messing around a bit on the couch, but before migrating to the otherwise completely untouched bed, I did this terrible thing I do during intimate moments where I ask the guy a cringey question. Because I think it’s funny. I said to G-Man, “So. What do you like best about me?”  Expecting him to say something like, “You’ve got great legs, kid.” Or “Your wet pussy.”  But do you know what he said in response?

“Your spirit.”

Get it?

PS I could have very easily broken this into three less atrociously long pieces. But in case I decide to share it with G-Man, I’m leaving it in one piece so he doesn’t have to click around a whole bunch should he be curious enough to read it.

Spirits in the Night Pt 14- Born to Pun

The trip to Tampa worked out more beautifully than I could have reasonably expected for something that I planned so abruptly. The road really rose to meet me, as the saying goes, in a lot of ways. The weather was great, and Uber was having a blowout desperation sale, so getting around was super cheap. I brought copious amounts of alcohol that I got for free at my job in my checked bag, and I can’t begin to guess at how much money that saved me. I only paid for two drinks the entire time, and that was only because you can’t bring liquids into a stadium. Not too shabby.

 In addition to all my Brucey endeavors, I visited a Buddhist temple, knocked the Scientology Headquarters in Clearwater off my culty bucket list, and had six snuggle sessions. Six. Because I’d chosen to go to Tampa, I made nearly three times as much money as I would have if I’d stayed home and gone to work for a week.  There’s a lesson in there about choosing yourself, or whatever.   Nearly every moment not spent Brucing was spent culting or cuddling, which is basically my ideal situation, but it also left me very, very sleep-deprived. Such is life.

Scientology’s flagship church

There was one drawback that was kind of a bummer. Scooter lives in the Tampa area when it’s cold up North, and I thought he might be going to see Bruce on opening night, so of course I immediately let him know I would be around. But alas, Scooter was planning to see Bruce elsewhere, because he had some travel coming up and couldn’t commit to the Tampa show. It would’ve been yet another really beautiful full-circle moment if we’d been able to hang out, and I told him he should bring his wife to the casino for one of the tribute nights, that I felt very strongly that I owed them dinner  because he’d been so incredibly gracious to me as I’ve cried to him about his brother. Scooter is the only person I’ve ever invited to join me at a Springsteen tribute, and I don’t think that will change anytime soon. He said they would come on the second night if they could, but it ended up not working out. While I would have loved to see Scooter and meet his wife and have some Brucey time together, it’s a damn good thing they weren’t there. More on that later.

I saw Born to Pun two nights in a row, and it was double the bliss. On the first night, I was cuddling with a client in the same casino, and with his hundred dollar bill tucked in my bra, he and I did a shot right before I headed down to the concert, ensuring a perfect level of intoxication upon arrival. There was a shocking number of people at the concert who recognized me from the Jersey shore, which I wasn’t prepared for, but I can roll with it. I had my typical blissed-out-bruced-out experience, and no men bothered me. It was top notch.

During a break, I started chatting with an Irish lady who had come all the way from across the pond to see Bruce. She belonged to a group of Bruce fans called Spring Nuts, which I had never heard of but definitely approve of. The Spring Nuts are Bruce super-fans who apparently have thousands of dollars in disposable income to spend on traveling internationally to go to Springsteen concerts. Cannot relate. As the second half of the concert started, she invited me to come sit with two of her fellow Spring Nut friends that she hadn’t seen in a while. I told her that sitting and talking to other people during a Born to Pun concert isn’t a thing I do, but that I’d see her after the show.

After the concert ended she came and found me again and said her friends wanted to meet me. So I went and sat with her Spring Nut friends, two men from Sweden.  I cannot begin to guess how many times this group of people had seen Bruce live in concert all over the world. It made my current fixation  seem very, very normal. As we sat there eating nachos, we talked about partners and family life. I was the only one without a partner, and was very keen to brag about how thanks to my surgery back in December, I’ll never have children. Drunk Lisa showed the Swedes pictures of her recently-harvested fallopian tubes, and one of them was very disturbed. He kept saying that that was such a serious choice to make. What if you change your mind?? He asked. Nobody ever asks a woman holding a newborn that question, and her changing her mind would have far graver consequences than me changing mine, but whatever.  

We also talked about Born to Pun.  Not being from my small corner of the world, none of these Europeans had ever seen this band before, but they were very impressed. I was proud to say that I’d seen Born to Pun countless times, that sometimes they dedicate For You to me, and that the drummer had even offered me an edible that night. Ya know, just humble-bragging.  The Spring Nuts warned me that while Born to Pun is wonderful, seeing the real Bruce two nights from now was going to change my life in a way that this band could not compete with. A small part of me worried that seeing the real Bruce for the first time might force me to outgrow Born To Pun, that after tasting the real thing, this band might not cut it anymore. I was worried that the spirits that are in the night might leave me. And tickets for the real Springsteen are just so expensive.

That’s not to say that I don’t have trust in the unseen order of things.  If the spirits weren’t there, I’d move on. But still, outgrowing something gracefully doesn’t necessarily mean you’re happy about it. It occurred to me that if not for this Tampa trip, I had no concrete plans to see Born to Pun until after  seeing the real Bruce in Philly. That if not for this trip, I might not have gotten to see them again before everything possibly changed.

I appreciated these Spring Nuts for who they were, but when our differences became too much to hold my attention, I decided it was time to do one of my favorite things: to wander aimlessly through a casino while drunk. And wander aimlessly I did. I’m sure my hair wreaked of cigarette smoke by the time I made it outside, but all the drunken banter with fuckboy men who like to hang out in casinos unironically was well worth it. It made me feel like I was back in Atlantic City during the sacred summer of Bruce. Casino wandering is even better than drunk dialing, and I highly recommend it.  (It’s also how I ended up in the hotel room with the two young men with matching wolf pack tattoos: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2021/09/14/2431/ ) Toward the end of my jaunt, I exchanged numbers with some coked up guy who called later and made some pretty compelling arguments for why I should invite him to my hotel, but I needed my beauty sleep.

The Born to Pun concert on the second evening got off to a rough start. I’d arrived to the casino early so I could eat at the food court, but my timing wasn’t great. It’s good to have food in your stomach before drinking, but I hadn’t factored in time for my burger to digest before I started drenching it with the hard seltzer necessary to get on the proper level for the concert. My stomach was very full of burger and also very full of liquid, and no number of trips to the ladies’ room to pee seemed to speed up my rate of intoxication. There was also an old guy who was being obnoxious. My romper strap had fallen down off my shoulder, and he made a comment about how great it was that I was showing some skin.  Why this old man would think my cheap, stretched-out romper purchased on the Wildwood boardwalk would have anything to do with him, I will never know. If I were interested in meeting men at a concert, I wouldn’t go to a concert full of men the same age as my parents. I’d go see The Backstreet Boys, or whoever it is that people my age like. Or something soca-related.

The concert was great, awkwardly-full-stomach and annoying old creep notwithstanding. The band was joined for one song by the son of the late great big man himself, Clarence Clemmons. I don’t know much about the members of the E Street Band, but I know a bit about Clarence largely because of this version of Tenth Avenue Freeze Out that I really enjoy because it caters to my deeply superstitious sensibilities: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8POkLCKgfM I got a picture with Clarence’s kiddo, and sent him some silent empathy because it’s gotta be fucking weird when everyone wants a picture with you solely because you happen to be the spawn of a dead guy. Feeling defined by someone else’s shadow is a strange burden and I know it firsthand. The dude’s girlfriend was graciously taking photos for everyone, and I remembered how it was to be the gracious lady who is out with a desired person and helps everyone get their photos. I never minded being that lady, but I was glad I wasn’t her that night.

I sent the photo to Scooter so that he’d know very specifically what he was missing out on. Gloating can be fun.  

It occurred to me that while I’d shot the shit with everyone else in the band who I’d care to speak to the previous evening, I hadn’t said hello to Mozart yet, so I greeted him during the break, when the drinks I’d guzzled were finally getting their act together.  It occurred to me what a contrast there was in the last year. This time last year, I was dating Killer Joe and lamenting that I’d never see this band, or even just Mozart, ever again. But this year not only was I seeing them, but I was chatting with Mozart in Tampa the night before seeing the guy that he’s been impersonating since before I was born.  I’ll take it.

The second night was much more crowded with Spring Nuts than the first was, and all the enthusiasts from the Jersey Shore were making a lot of requests. I’d been very happy with the playlist over-all, so I hadn’t felt the need to request any songs, and nobody from the band had asked me. I was a small fish in this pond, so I was pretty blown away when the very last song that was dedicated to anyone started playing and I heard Mozart’s usual, “Hey Lisa, this is For You.”

An old married white guy who is old enough to be my father publicly dedicating my favorite Springsteen song to me without being asked…that’s my love language. I knew in that moment that no matter how wonderful the real Bruce turned out to be the following night, I wouldn’t be outgrowing this any time soon. 

The fact that Mozart, who doesn’t know me and probably doesn’t really like me, continues to do this and never ever says anything creepy and never tries to sleep with me afterward… is such an incredibly beautiful gesture.  I know this means that my standards are low and probably also means I’m starving for something more closely resembling what I’d been getting from Killer Joe (ya know, a relationship with actual human tenderness and connection), but the safe distance of this completely emotionally unavailable yet congenial old rocker was all I could handle. And after nearly a year of not seeing this band when I desperately wanted to, it’s something I’ll never take for granted.  Even if he does fuck up the words each time.

Some old guys next to me said it was great of me to request For You, that it’s such a great song and they rarely hear it. I told them that I didn’t request it, that the band just plays it for me without even being asked.  I was beaming with pride. They told me I was their favorite person they’d met so far. As I fucking should be.

I thanked Mozart after the show for playing my song, and he kissed me on the cheek with his sweaty self. I asked him what it’s like to deliver miracles, and he said he has no idea.  Mozart doesn’t even get it.

I mingled with an assortment of Spring Nuts for a bit and got invited to a tailgate before the REAL concert the next day, which was very flattering. As I left the restaurant and found myself back in the casino, I noticed a display case holding pants that had been worn by Clarence Clemmons. Thinking of his son, I wondered what it must be like to see your deceased father’s clothing behind glass, intended for the gaze of tourists and compulsive gamblers.  

I knew it was in my best interest to go back to my hotel, because I was already very behind on sleep and had a day of snuggle appointments lined up starting the next morning, but it was just such a sleep-when-you’re-dead situation.  I was in the mood for mischief. 

I wandered the casino for a bit, but it wasn’t as fun as it had been the previous night. I paused to take in the wonder of a piano on display in the lobby. It had belonged to Elvis, and Priscilla had had it painted with gold leaf as an anniversary present. It was the most Hard Rock Casino thing I’d ever seen.  I took out my phone and started replying to the coked up guy from the night before, who’d been carrying on about my irresistibly sexy voice all day while I was talking to Scientologists over at their headquarters. I was contemplating telling him to meet me at my hotel as I made my way out to the taxi bay.

Right before I went outside, the creep who had things to say about my exposed shoulder found me and complained that I’d been hugging everyone but him. I told him off and went outside.

I hadn’t called an Uber yet, but as I was looking at the app and marveling at the low prices, I started talking to a guy who was standing out there holding a cocktail, and he is the reason it’s a good thing Scooter wasn’t there. Because if Scooter had been there, I’d be inside having a lovely chat with him and his wife, and not out at the taxi bay meeting a man who felt like destiny. And that’s where we’ll stop for now.

Spirits in the Night Pt 13- Honey, it Ain’t Your Money

So you know how in the summer of 2021 I lived my dream of moving to Wildwood for the summer and having a boardwalk job and living life like a Springsteen song? I called it my Sacred Summer of Bruce, and it’s where I saw Born to Pun for the first time, and where I met Scooter, and where I had the best (but also most lonely) summer of my life. If you haven’t read about it, here’s a few blog entries I wrote about my time there, including the ones about my vulva tattoo and my orgasmic experience my first night there:

In preparation for the sacred summer of Bruce, I’d saved my pennies and put $3000 into a savings account. The savings account was literally titled “Bruce Springsteen.” I like to give my savings accounts clever titles, preferably based on classic rock references. For example, the money I put away for my trip to Morocco was called “The Marrakech Express.” And my money set aside for a cross-country road trip is called “Simon and Garfunkel,” because they’ve all gone to look for America. Get it?

I did so well financially in Wildwood (thanks, in large part, to going in with a BUNCH of unemployment money saved up) that I not only met every savings goal I set for myself while I was there, but I never even TOUCHED my Bruce Springsteen account. I even managed to not need it as I then spent the fall unemployed (other than snuggling, obvi) and traveling around visiting cults. That money just sat and sat.

Eventually, I used some of the funds to pay my taxes. All that unemployment money hadn’t been taxed, after all. And then I took out most of what remained to help pay for Morocco this past October, a trip that was more expensive than it had been when it was originally planned pre-covid. I spent about half of the Bruce Springsteen money I’d taken out for Morocco purposes, (and maybe used some of it for the first payment on my upcoming Ecuador trip? I honestly don’t know.) and then faithfully put the rest back into the account.  (Btw, if you want to read about that trip, you can do so here: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/11/09/3220/ )

Somewhere between paying my taxes and Morocco getting rescheduled, Bruce (The musician, not the savings account) announced that he would be touring. The media was making a lot of ruckus about how insanely expensive the tickets would be, and I figured that if push came to shove, I would just use Bruce Springsteen to pay for Bruce Springsteen.

But! That did not happen. As I mentioned in this entry here, https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/08/27/spirits-in-the-night-conclusion-the-secondary-summer-of-bruce/ …my grandmother died shortly after Killer Joe left me. We’d had a fight about funerals, which made the whole thing very serendipitous and movie-esque. I was not on good terms with my grandmother, nor was anyone in my immediate family. For whatever reason, she still left my dad (her son) some inheritance, and he didn’t want anything to do with her money, so he split it between the three of us, my brother and sister and I. My check for $350 was tacked to my bulletin board for a while. I wasn’t sure what to do with it. To just add it to my account and use it to cover whatever expenses, would not have matched the magnitude of the situation. I didn’t want to use the money to honor my grandmother, per se, but I did want to do something profound with it, to honor the situation. My grandmother was catholic. The mean, bigoted kind of catholic. The kind who tells her children their marriages aren’t real to God if they weren’t married in a catholic church.  I’ve been on this whole big spiritual adventure as I’ve been visiting all these cults and unraveling the faith that I grew up in, so I thought maybe I should use the money to aid that process in some way. But cults or no cults, I’m CLEARLY having one hell of a journey with this whole Springsteen thing, so I decided the most meaningful way I could use her pious money would be to invest it in MY spiritual journey, in the form of a concert ticket to see the REAL Bruce.

I’ve already told this story, but I think it bears repeating. The day the tickets for Bruce’s Philly show went on sale, it immediately sold out before I could even get through the digital waiting room. I was still able to get a ticket, through a third party. Grandmom’s money covered all but like, sixteen bucks of the ticket. Sixteen dollars to see the Boss pay live? Can’t argue with that kind of deal. I got one of VERY few tickets going for under $400, and that only happened because I was buying a single ticket. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There are certain journeys we have to take alone.

That evening, having purchased my ticket, I drove about an hour away to be interviewed on some podcast about the Moonies. On the way there, GPS had taken me on the turnpike. For some reason, on the way home it took me on back roads. And on that drive home, I saw my grandmother’s house. I haven’t seen it in years, haven’t been inside it in years. I know what town it’s in, but I don’t know the address and would have no idea how to find it. But the day I spent the lady’s money, there I was. EERY. I will also point out yet again that she is the third dead mom to enter this story. Rule of three. Eery cubed.

All of this to say…even with federal taxes paid, and a few months of being unemployed, and a very expensive trip to Morocco, and even with a Springsteen ticket purchased…$1500 still sat in my Springsteen savings account, waiting for its destiny.

When I saw Born to Pun at that show where I inadvertently ended a wrestler’s career, the drummer and I had been chatting, and he said how they’d be down in Florida for most of February, playing nearby venues as Bruce kicked off his tour down there.  And I thought to myself, “Man, to be in Florida in the winter, and see Born to Pun more than once in a short period, and then see the REAL Bruce…that would be a total dream. If I had money to wipe my ass with, that’s totally something I would be doing.”

This is the part that I sound like a moron. I knew consciously that I had that money sitting there in a Brucey account, waiting to meet its higher purpose, whatever it might be.  And I also had the conscious thought that if only I had the money, I’d go reach peak Bruceyness in Florida. My brain was not connecting the two thoughts that very obviously needed to be strung together.

But not to worry, serendipity found a way to work around my ditzy brain. The weekend before the Boss was due to kick off his tour in Tampa, I had planned a weekend trip for myself to Lake George, to go see the ice castles they make up there.  I’d heard about it last year and wanted to go, but I’d been house sitting, so I’d promised myself I’d go this year. The plan had been to leave on Thursday after work (I don’t work on Fridays) and drive up there, stopping at a cult along the way, and then having a cozy day of writing in a hotel room, and maybe some snuggles before going to see the ice castles the following evening, and then maybe stopping at another cult on the way home.  I was totally excited or this weekend trip.

But! Alas! The winter weather has not been cold enough yet this season, and they hadn’t been able to build any ice castles. My admission got refunded, and I scrambled to get a refund on my hotel. There was no reason to drive for five hours up to Lake George and not see ice castles, and I was VERY lucky that a nice man refunded my hotel stay, because technically  it was supposed to be non refundable.

On Thursday after work, at the time where I originally thought I’d be driving up to Lake George, I was feeling down in the dumps. I considered maybe just going to visit the cults, but it didn’t feel right.  I eventually accepted that it would be best to stay home that weekend, and save my money, and work on my show, and that I could go check out the ice castles once they could finally get them made.

Then, on Friday morning, I woke up too early. I was lying in bed, doing all the phone things while I waited to figure out if I’d be able to fall back asleep or not, and there was a clickbait article about tickets prices for Bruce’s opening night dropping fast. After reading the article, I decided to see for myself how the prices were. Ya know, do a little comparative shopping, for curiosity’s sake.

There were tickets available that would cost slightly less than the one I’d purchased for Philadelphia with my grandmother’s money.  And there, lying in my bed a couple hours short on sleep, THAT is when the two thoughts finally connected. I checked Born to Pun’s schedule. They had shows the two nights leading up to Bruce’s first concert. To see Born to Pun two nights in a row, and then, for the first time ever, sample the real thing?? In a subtropical climate?? Truly a best case scenario.

So I did it. I bought the ticket for the concert, then figured out flights, and then found a cheap hotel in a convenient location. I drove over to the bank where the savings account was, and emptied it out. Bye bye, Bruce Springsteen!  It was Friday, and I was going to be flying out early Monday morning. I’d miss a week of work, but sometimes I think about that night at Long Beach Island where I’d met Scooter and his friend, and how I didn’t stay over because I had to be at my shitty job the following morning, and how much I regret not choosing the opportunity to connect with Scooter over a shift in a parking lot. And Bruce is not a young man. He could easily drop dead before he gets up here for the Philly show. And you only live once, and all that. 

If I’d woken up that morning at Lake George, prepared for a day of writing and snuggle appointments and ice castles, I guarantee this would not have happened. Not only because my brain wouldn’t be on that subject, but also because I’d be away until Sunday. Not enough time to spontaneously book a pilgrimage to Florida. The ice castles couldn’t be built, the nonrefundable hotel had been refunded, and the universe aligned. So I was off to Tampa. How’s that for an inciting incident? I’m back now and still processing the experience, but I’ll write out all the glorious details eventually.

Spirits in the Night Pt 12- The Wrestler

This next installment is pretty crazy, so buckle up and strap your hands ‘cross my engines, or whatever. It’s at the concert that shit gets cray. Because of my job, I get a lot of free alcohol, and I had intentionally brought some with me to drink before going into the venue, because this girl is on a budget. I parked my car and declared my own tiny tailgate, downing a hard seltzer before I went inside. The venue was pretty quiet, so I had a table all to myself at the very front. I sat there drinking the second drink that I’d stashed inside my purse.

Mozart came over to say hello and make awkward small talk. He complimented my hair and asked about my holiday season. I can never quite get a read on Mozart, not that I’m ever sober long enough to really do so.  I managed to remember to give him his envelope, which felt like a triumph, because drunk Lisa was on her way and she probably wouldn’t have remembered. He tried to open it in front of me, but I told him not to. The awkwardness would have been too much for me to cope with.

The drummer and bass player came to greet me next. They sat down and we shot the shit for a few minutes. As we sat there chatting, I sense movement right behind me, so I turned around. The piano player had sat down directly behind me. Instant NOPE energy. I turned around, fished my keys out of my purse and said, “Well, I’ve got more drinks in my car so I’m gonna go be out there.” I didn’t miss a beat in putting on my coat and scarf. I left my purse there to mark my spot, with no fear of theft, only fear of a creepy man saying creepy things. As I walked away, I heard the piano player say, “Is it something I said?”

Yes. It was definitely something he said. If you’re not aware of the scary experience I had with the piano player, which upset me enough that I didn’t go to see this band for nearly a year, you can read about it here: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/07/17/spirits-in-the-night-pt-5-tony-soprano-and-ponies-and-a-piano-bench/

I got another seltzer out of my car and stood on the sidewalk where I could see through a window into the venue. Eventually the other band members got up and left my table, and the piano player just sat there alone, as if he were there to keep my purse company. I kept an eye on the window as I chatted with two guys who were having a smoke. I asked if they were big Springsteen fans. They said they were there because they often wrestle there, that this was the first time this place was attempting a music show. They said it’s usually a venue for wrestling shows.

I have no interest in wrestling other than that one of my favorite coworkers is a wrestler. I asked these guys if they knew of her, and they did. Small world. The music was starting, and the piano player had taken his rightful place on stage, far away from my table and my purse and myself, so I went back inside.

The concert was bliss as usual. The audience was only a handful of people. Three drinks in, I was the only person up and dancing. I don’t think it’s possible to care less about being the only person dancing at a concert than I did that night. I had no fucks to give. A few songs in, Mozart said, “Hey Lisa, this is For You!” and they played For You, for me.  I’m very spoiled in this way. I propped my phone up on my purse to record them playing the song without my phone hindering my dancing. The following morning, I watched the video and discovered that I’d wandered into the frame. Now I have an unintentional video of myself dancing, blissed out, and living my best life. And I don’t hate how I look in it. It was a nice unexpected souvenir.

I’m going to probably be a pretty shitty storyteller now, because I’m pretty sick of this part of the story. Some guy started talking to me. He sat at my massive empty table, and he came and danced with me.  He was a wrestler, and he knew my coworker who wrestles. I didn’t go to this event to interact with other people, I was there for the spirits in the night. But if some dude wants to come dance with me,  I’m not going to stop him from looking like a moron.  I love when people look like morons. I’m very easily amused.

I cut myself off after four drinks and finished the concert strong. They played Spirit in the Night and it was SO on brand with my fortune cookie! Such a thrill! The concert ended and this guy sat there with me as I ate pizza and began my endeavor to soak up the alcohol and sober up to drive home. Mozart came over and thanked me for the papers and said it was very sweet, and so forth.  My theory is that Mozart either doesn’t like me at all but is very good at customer service with fans, or he likes me a lot and is very bad at it. Either way, I’m amused.  

I wasn’t interested in the piano player having a chance to come near me again, so it was time to take the sobriety efforts to my car, where water and carbs awaited. The wrestler (who I’ve decided doesn’t get a Brucey character name, because he doesn’t deserve one.) said he was very concerned about me getting home safely. I told him not to worry, because I absolutely NEVER drive drunk, that I always wait, that I never even put my key in the ignition until I’m sober because I want to be above reproach. I told him I’d be partaking of the water and carbs in my car, and that he was welcome to join me. Conversation makes time go by faster, after all, and that way he could sober up, too.

We sat in my car, and I carried on about how I’m supposed to be drunk at Springsteen tributes, and how awkward Mozart is, and how punchable the piano player’s behavior toward me was, and so forth. I was spinning the hits. At some point as we sat in my car, Scooter texted me to say thanks for the photos of his papers from my happiness jar. He said that I’m thoughtful and sweet or whatever. It’s baffling that Scooter is such a stark contrast to his brother.

The wrestler guy asked if he could kiss me. Credit where credit is due, he did ask. I enjoy kissing as much as the next person, so I figured why the hell not? I didn’t find the wrestler attractive, and I soon found out I didn’t really enjoy kissing him, or how handsy he was getting, but to continue kissing him was a hell of a lot easier than to reject him, and what else was I going to do with my sober-up time? The wrestler asked if I wanted to come to his place, which I did not. I asked him if he was good to drive yet…and he told me he doesn’t drink. Dun dun dun!!!!

 Before I could point out that it’s predatorial to be sober and kiss a drunk girl you don’t know and try to take her home with you, he launched into a whole thing about how his dad was a drunk who walked out, so he’s never drank and he never will because he’s seen what it does to people…and we talked about that trauma of his for a while. He certainly had my empathy. Because we were talking about his trauma, it seemed like it would be a dick move to bring up his predatory behavior, and the conversation had moved well past it onto subject matter, anyway.

He said how he really wanted to see me again, and take me to dinner. This dude was eight years younger than me and we had nothing in common, so he really needed to reign it in. Once I was sober, I told him I was good to drive and thanked him for his company. He asked me to let him know when I made it home, which I did.

The next day, I was processing the experience and it occurred to me that the wrestler might not even know that what he’d done was predatorial. He was young and had never drank, so it didn’t seem fully reasonable to expect him to be aware of the etiquette surrounding an activity he’d never been involved in. I wouldn’t expect a Mormon to know the rules of safety about drinking. If I were to try to buy heroin I might very easily commit a faux pas because I’d never done it before, and I wouldn’t want my lack of experience to count against me.  Sometimes you don’t know something until you’re told.

It’s not like his unethical behavior had harmed me, thankfully. Thus, I decided the right thing to do would be to explain to the sober wrestler about how you can’t go around being intimate with drunk people you’ve never met before while you’re sober.  So I texted him. This conversation quickly turned into a dumpster fire. I’ll let the text messages speak for themselves:

So yeah, turns out the wrestler IS a rapey creep and he totally knows it. I sent screenshots of what he said to my coworker who wrestles. She’s a pretty woman, and he apparently can’t control himself around those, so I wanted to do my part and warn her about this dude. She got back to me this guy is the worst, and he already has a reputation for doing creepy shit to women in the wrestling world, and that a lot of places wouldn’t even work with him for that reason. That was all I needed to hear.

Wrestler guy had already friended me on Facebook, so I made a post with his rape-culturey text messages and tagged him in it. My coworker supplied me with the hashtag that wrestlers use for that sort of thing, and I went to bed knowing I’d done my part.

When I woke up the next morning, a random wrestler had sent me a FB message and wanted to talk to me. Apparently my post had caused quite a stir. I called the guy, and was told stories about what a shithead this guy has been and the women he’s hurt. My post got shared forty times by wrestlers, one lady wrestler shared her story with me, and it was discussed on some podcast. I heard through the grapevine that wrestler guy had deleted all his social media and was fired within hours of my post getting out there, and that he’d very likely never be able to wrestle in the region ever again.

Throughout the day I was thanked for speaking up and told that I’m brave.  I appreciated everyone saying that, but honestly, it just wasn’t that big a deal. After millions of people around the world have read about what happened to you with a movie star, shit like this is just small potatoes.  In moments like this, I still think about how I wish Hollywood had shown me the same energy these wrestlers did.

The girls in the wrestling world who he’d hurt hadn’t come forward because it might burn bridges or jeopardize their future in wrestling. I have no interest in wrestling and nothing to lose, so it was no trouble for me to take out the trash for those ladies.

But seriously. Do you see where I’m coming from with this whole God-wants-me-to-be-drunk-at-Springsteen-tributes thing yet? Those lady wrestlers’ suffering is over because I followed my heart to a Springsteen tribute and got drunk. If I’d let the piano player invading my space scare me away, I wouldn’t have been there to meet the wrestling guy and he’d still be out there being predatory.  Do I think I was led there by the same spirits that my fortune cookie mentioned? Yes, I do. Do I think the fortune cookies was referencing the same spirits that have been behind EVERY insane development that’s come out of me going to these concerts? You better fucking bet I do. The spirits seem to have extended their reach pretty fucking far…and it looks like they know how to wrestle.

OK real quick. That was supposed to be my nice and neat ending to this piece.  I was about to copy and paste it onto my website, and try to think of a clever title. I googled to see if Springsteen has any songs that mention wrestling in the lyrics…DO YOU KNOW THAT BRUCE HAS A SONG LITERALLY CALLED THE WRESTLER??? I sure as hell didn’t. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it, but I’m going to give it a listen once this is up. Here I’d decided not to give this guy a Brucey name…little did I know, I’d already given him one by default. What. A. Plot. Twist.  I’ll go ahead and add that to the list of reasons to be delusional.

Spirits in the Night pt 11- Spirits in the Cookie.

After the charity ball was such a victory lap, I didn’t hesitate to buy tickets for the next time Born to Pun would be playing in my area. The concert was set for Christmas Eve Eve, and I looked at it as a Christmas gift to myself to be able to go do my favorite thing. And so close to baby Jesus’s birthday! Unfortunately, the show got postponed until April because of apocalyptic weather. And that’s fine. I trust the process, and I still had a very Brucey day. I was house sitting over the holiday, (The same house where I’d spent a lot of time with Killer Joe, which was kinda sad) so I had a cozy day to myself, writing the previous two blog entries, and I took a bath while reading a book about biblical references in Springsteen songs. Because I’m on that level.

Luckily, Born to Pun had another show in the area coming up a couple weeks later, and even closer to me.  I’ve noticed this pattern, that with each Bruce tribute I go to, there’s usually some hard-hitting developments and turning points leading up to it. Before the charity ball, there was weak-kneed Willy. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2023/01/06/spirits-in-the-night-a-fourth-of-july-friendsgiving-and-christmas-miracle/

The time before that, it was a full-circle moment because it was back at the venue where the bad thing with the piano player had happened, a place that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to handle visiting again, and I was sleeping on a boat, and seeing Rod Stewart the next day and on it goes. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/08/27/spirits-in-the-night-conclusion-the-secondary-summer-of-bruce/

The time before that had been REALLY intense, having my star-crossed encounter with Killer Joe the night before, and seeing the band for the first time in nearly a year, and experiencing Mozart’s graciousness. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/08/04/spirits-in-the-night-pt-7-princess-cards-and-pink-cars/

As for the first tribute concert I mention going to in this series, I’d done a lot of emotional work leading up to it, and it yielded apologies from a bunch of men who had hurt me over the course of my sacred summer of Bruce in Wildwood. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/07/17/spirits-in-the-night-pt-4-a-drunken-jubilant-ray-of-light/

Going to these concerts always seemed to function as a book-end, or a turning point, or whatever. Inciting incidents for dayyyys. As my first Born to Pun concert of the new year approached, I wondered if that would continue to be the case. Nothing dramatic had happened. I of course still hoped that Killer Joe would magically decide to unghost me and make good on his promise, but I wasn’t holding my breath for any sort of miracle.

I realized there was something of a Brucey healing nature that I should be working on, and that setting the goal to have it done before going to the concert would be a very practical goal and a very ample bookend. A full week in to 2023, I was running behind on dealing with my happiness jar. For those who don’t know, at the end of each day I think about something that happened during the day that made me smile, or thankful, or made me laugh, or thankful or proud or whatever, and I write that thing down on a slip of paper, and then I put the paper into a jar. On New Year’s Day, I dump out the jar and read through all my tiny happinesses, and if the paper is about someone in particular, I’ll show it to them.

It was because of a paper from my happiness jar that I got back in touch with the nineties movie star we know as Nash (Or, as he prefers to be called…Daddy!) https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2020/04/14/wanting-more-part-3/ Oddly, weak-kneed Willy was directly involved with the very first paper I ever put in my happiness jar, but in that entry he goes by the name “Rob.” https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2020/12/31/2271/ I was pretty behind on showing people their papers from my 2022 jar, so I decided to work on that during the day before heading to the concert that night.

As I sat on my bed sorting through the pile of tiny slips of paper that needed to be shared with people, I had a previously unanticipated inciting incident. There’s this guy I’ve known for a few years, and we were texting. I mentioned in the post about Willy that there have been three dudes I’ve come across in life who I’ve loved for no logical reason despite them treating me terribly. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2023/01/06/spirits-in-the-night-a-fourth-of-july-friendsgiving-and-christmas-miracle/  The only reason to love them was that they seemed to need it, and which each one, it took me forever to shake it off. This guy I was texting is one of those three dudes. We’ll call him Jack, as in Got a wife and kids in Baltimore Jack, I went out for a ride and I never went back.  Not only because his dad did that to him, but because he always left me with a very hungry heart.  I’ve been trying not to be drawn to him for a few years now, since before going to Wildwood. It’s not a romantic or sexual thing, it’s just this weird, annoying, involuntary love that I wish I didn’t have for someone who has always been bad news. I have some sexual trauma from this guy, my friends hate him, my therapist hates him, all of that.

I’ve never written blog entries about Jack, but in the Out of Africa series when the priestess of Osun tells me I need to move on from a guy who is really bad for me if I’m ever going to experience real love? It’s that guy. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/02/04/out-of-africa-monday/He was apparently such a bad thing in my life that she told me I’d need to kill three roosters in order to make things right. Obviously I didn’t do that, but I hope I’m adequately painting a picture of just how shitty Jack was to me without going into any details since they honestly aren’t relevant to the story. The only time I ever felt capable of not corresponding with Jack was when Killer Joe was in the picture.

So anyway, I’m texting with Jack and he’s being his typical, predictable, flaky asshole self. And I suddenly decide that I’m done. I said a few last loving words, and blocked his number.  I’d unsaved his number on and off through the last few years, telling myself I would eventually lose track, and I came pretty close to losing track of him a few times, but blocking his number was new territory. My knowing, that same sense I’ve talked about throughout this series, which seems to intermingle with the spirits in the night to the point of being pretty intertwined, finally felt ready. I gained nothing from having Jack around except pain, and nothing to lose from cutting him out of my life except pain.

Still, it felt like a ballsy move, even for an inciting incident right before a Springsteen tribute. My thought was that with the miracles and healing I see happening because of this weird Brucey endeavor, to think that all of that healing couldn’t also extend to include men who have nothing to do with my Brucey experiences…would be thinking too small. It was absolutely miserable to do it, but it felt very right, and sometimes doing the right thing is super unpleasant. I gave myself some time to feel my feels about Jack, and then I got back to my happiness jar.

What a waste basket looks like after going through your happiness jar.

It occurred to me as I worked at this project that a lot of the people I had to show their papers were men from this whole Brucey saga, so it definitely felt on brand to be working on it before going to a Born to Pun show. The paper from the day Willy contacted me, I stuck inside a card with an explanation and addressed it to his apartment, an address I still have memorized because he lived directly above me for all those years in Harlem. I took pictures of the handful of papers having to do with Scooter and our phone conversations, and texted the pictures to him, thanking him again for being so incredibly gracious to me at a time when Killer Joe wouldn’t.

There were TWENTY papers that mentioned Killer Joe. Twenty papers all having to do with the same person was above and beyond a record. When I’d written them all down last winter, I never could have imagined that he’d be refusing to speak to me when the time came to show them to him. Finding them had sucked quite a bit of the happy out of my happiness jar experience. Given the choice between sending twenty text messages that would be likely be ignored or sending them in the mail, I chose the mail. Just because he ripped my heart out doesn’t mean he shouldn’t still get to see his “tiny happinesses,” as Nash called them.  Have I mentioned that Nash and Killer Joe are from the same small town in Jersey? Life is so fucking weird.

In Joe’s card, I said how my takeaway from knowing him is that I shouldn’t write things down about a man I’m dating, because it sucks the happiness out of the experience of reading through them. I still have a lot of grief inside me from Joe. Sigh.

It occurred to me that I had very good timing in completing this task, because it meant I’d have Mozart’s papers gathered up and I could just give them to him at the concert that night. I put Mozart’s few papers in an envelope and tucked it in my purse. 

My nerves were a bit shot from dealing with Jack in the midst of the project, but I’d gotten though all the happiness jar stuff and was feeling proud when I went downstairs to eat dinner with my family like the freeloading boomerang child that I am. We’d ordered Chinese and it was all still in the paper bag. As I emptied out the bag and put everyone’s containers in front of their respective seats, I saw the fortune cookies inside the bag and had a VERY strong sense of knowing that one of those fortune cookies was for me. Well, obviously one of them was for me. You get a fortune cookie for every main dish that your order. But I got the strong feeling that the message inside the cookie would be relevant to my current circumstance. I’d been dealing with tiny slips of paper all afternoon, and my knowing was telling me that there was yet another tiny slip of paper that would be needing my attention.

Deeply superstitious person that I am, I of course have a history of being convinced that a fortune cookie is telling me something important. Here’s one story about it: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2020/02/02/mr-malbec/ and here’s another: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2020/11/30/frame-and-fortune/

I ate my General Tso’s and as the meal was finishing up, my dad grabbed a fortune cookie. Suddenly I felt a sense of urgency that I needed to grab MY fortune cookie before someone else did. With nothing to base it on, I chose the cookie closest to me and was legitimately giddy when I saw what it said:


Ya know, I call this series “Spirits in the Night” for a reason. This delusion keeps receiving fuel! I took this to mean I’d made the right choice about Jack, and that inciting incidents did not need to be restricted to men of a Brucey nature. On the way to the concert, I let said spirit guides, guide me right over to the post office tp put the cards full of happiness papers for Willy and Joe in the big blue mailbox. Then I made me way to the concert, feeling very good about everything.

Spirits in the Night Pt 10- Bring on your wrecking…ball!

I bought my ticket to the ball. But before we get to the fun stuff, we have to go back to Killer Joe for a moment.

I had a heart to heart with Scooter (bless him.) and figured out what I needed. With Scooter’s nod of approval, I reached back out to his younger brother. It’s no surprise that when I contacted Joe, ready for him to help me heal, he never got back to me. I reached out multiple times, whenever I could muster the chutzpah to do it. For those keeping count, this means that Joe is now not only a gaslighting coward, but also a blatant liar. He lied to my face. It feels like even more of a gift (admittedly, a very painful one) from the universe that Joe was brought to me at the Phish concert…not only so I could say all those things in-person that he’d deprived me of the chance to say before, but also to confirm beyond the shadow of a doubt that he’s a shitty guy.

Having reached that sad conclusion…it’s not only a miracle that my sense of knowing at a Springsteen tribute led me to Joe, (via Scooter) this person who was like a composite character out of a Springsteen story, just when I so desperately needed one because I had unresolved trauma from seeing the band that had been God’s mouthpiece…but also a miracle that a man capable of that kind of cruelty managed to not be a monster to me for as long as he did, at a time where I really needed a not-monster to act as a placeholder until I could be ready to get back to going to Springsteen tributes. Joe was definitely not Mr. Right, but as the saying goes, he was the most perfect Mr. Rightnow that I’ve ever encountered. Sometimes I forget that not even all of Joe’s kindness toward me was able to make the pain of what I’d lost to that piano player go away, that I’d felt restless and unresolved about it the entire time we were seeing each other. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/07/17/spirits-in-the-night-pt-5-tony-soprano-and-ponies-and-a-piano-bench/

Being able to feel safe seeing Born to Pun is what was meant to happen. I’m back to that, and that’s what matters. It sounds vain, but I think that maybe it’s a testament to my worthiness and character that I was able to bring out the best in Joe for as long as it carried on for. Maybe that theory is convoluted, but it’s what makes sense to me, and what I need to tell myself to be able to cope with the way Joe left me wrecked not once, but twice.

Bringing things even more full-circle…I’m back to housesitting again as I sit here typing this. Not at that normal house in the suburbs where I was three times over the summer. I’m at the house filled with tribal art, the one where I retreated inward to process and write out the Out Of Africa series. ( https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/02/17/out-of-africa-pt-21-into-allentown-and-down-from-the-cloud/ ) Killer Joe came to visit me every weekend the last time I was here. It’s both surreal and sad to be back here, in a house where we cooked together and made out on the couch, in a place where he drove through a blizzard to come see me. It’s very sad to sleep in the same bed where I woke up next to him on my birthday and had sex so great it felt like I should give an acceptance speech. I haven’t been able to get close to men since then, and wonder if I’ll ever find a connection as great as the one I had with Joe; and being in this house is kind of rubbing my face in it. But it’s also a place to write about it. So I’ll take it.

When I got here, the accomplished psychotherapist I’m housesitting for asked about him. I told her he’d broken up with me in a text message and broken my heart. She asked why, so I told her about the funeral and church outburst that led to the relationship’s demise. She immediately asked if he was raised catholic, which he was. I described his reaction to the idea of visiting a church; that he refuses to set foot in them even for weddings and funerals. She’s not the first person to suggest he was molested or abused while involved in the Catholic church, and that that would drive his dramatic reaction and decision to sabotage the great thing we had going. So in addition to feeling heartbreak and rage because he’s a coward and a liar…I also feel very sad for Killer Joe.

I didn’t realize it until the day before the ball, (A Facebook memory prompted it) but the ball was scheduled to take place on the one year anniversary of the day I first met Killer Joe. Yet another instance of serendipity.

I am the queen of not needing a man to do things with me. I’ve never had a wedding date in my life, and it didn’t stop me from going to all the dances in high school, either. When I learned that my ex had originally planned to propose on my twenty-fifth birthday, I resolved to take wonderful birthday trips. Over five years, I took trips on or around my birthday to Vieques, New Orleans, Jamaica, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, and Vegas. I don’t mess around. A guy canceled a date on me at the last minute a few months ago, so instead of sulking at home, I went to see the butterfly migration in Cape May. I had an incredible time. Better, I’m sure, than I would’ve had with the guy. And as we know, I spent quite a bit of time this summer refusing to let Joe’s absence from my life keep me from doing all the excellent stuff we were supposed to do together. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/07/17/spirits-in-the-night-pt-5-tony-soprano-and-ponies-and-a-piano-bench/ …while it’s great that I’m capable of creating these redemption arcs by doing something so independent and empowering…it would be nice to meet a man who isn’t a monster so we can just do cool things together rather than me doing them to reclaim my dignity, or whatever. For it to not be an act of salvaging.

Unfortunately, Joe was a dick. And while that totally sucks…one year later I was at a formal event, with an open bar, seeing the band that one year earlier I desperately longed to have the bravery to see. AND it was all to help animals in need. It’s an understatement to say I traded up. And even if I lived in a parallel universe where Joe hadn’t behaved terribly, and a year later we were going to an event like this together, it would not have worked. Joe doesn’t dance. He is impervious to the spirits in the night. It would not move through him, and I’d be alone on the dance floor while he sat at the table embarrassed of me, anyway. There are certain places we need to go alone, and for me, the ball was one of them.

So it was off to the ball. I wore my only gown that I can currently fit into, and curled my hair. It’s nice to have a reason to get dressed up like it’s prom night every now and then. At cocktail hour I had four drinks and ate allll the party food. It was glorious. Up in the main ballroom, I was seated at a table full of randos, other people who weren’t there with a group large enough to fill an entire table who’d all been thrown together. Everyone went around the table and explained their affiliation with the animal shelter,  and asked if I’d ever been there. I told them I’m not from the area, but I really like this band. Like, a lot.

After some announcements about funding for the cause, the band started playing and I was immediately up and out of my seat. As per usual, I was the only person on the dance floor. Mozart saw me dancing with my double rum and coke and waved. After a song or two, a few nice older ladies had found their way to the dance floor and I wasn’t alone, not that it mattered. I was chatting with said ladies when Mozart said, “Hey, Lisa! This one’s for you.” And then they played For You, for me. Mozart messed up the words like he always does, but that doesn’t matter, either.

One year earlier, I’d have been legitimately afraid to go see this band, but at least I’d had Joe…my Brucey composite character placeholder. One year later, not only was I not afraid of seeing Born to Pun, but I was seeing them at this incredible event, and they were playing my song without me even asking, and so early in the evening! They didn’t even give me a chance to earn it! What a moment. After all that ugly crying I’d done in his face at that concert over the summer, Mozart was still willing to accommodate me. What a gracious dude. The band had to play songs that weren’t by Bruce, which was an actual travesty. But I didn’t get too bent out of shape about it, so Mozart wasn’t the only gracious person at the ball.

I consumed an undetermined number of rum and cokes. I remember the bartender’s name was Steve. My drunk Facebook posts were abundant, as they should be. The epic chandeliers that were all over this place featured rather heavily in the photos. A man at my table told me he was one fight with his wife away from having a gay experience. I wish I’d been able to sip some more of that incredibly hot tea and hear more about that, but the dance floor beckoned. I only sat down when the band wasn’t playing, as the event staff talked about charity stuff. I managed to eat dinner, but I missed dessert completely. Well, other than the smooshed brownie I found in my cleavage hours later. It stained the inside of my gown, but I have no regrets.

Drunk Lisa was going into the restroom area as Mozart was coming out, and drunk Lisa felt compelled to ask him his height and weight, for some reason? Idk.

The band’s final set didn’t happen because the timing of the speeches threw everything off. So there was no Thunder Road, and no Born to Run. Other than the songs they played specifically for me, (Pink Cadillac also happened in the first set, and it was very obviously for my benefit.) it wasn’t a very spirit-filled evening. But I think the night was more about the full-circleness than it was about the mediocre set list.

On her way out, drunk Lisa had a push-up contest with the valet guys and lost by a lot. It’s hard to do push-ups in heels. Some staff members were leaving the same time I was, and they took pictures of me sitting on top of my car. I wouldn’t hate it if that became a tradition.

It took a long time to sober up, but I had water and carbs waiting in my car. Twice I had to pee, so I removed my spanx and my tights and peed in the next parking spot, like the dignified lady that I am.

Eventually I was good to drive, and went home. My brother’s girlfriend was already long asleep in my room by the time I got back, (It was decided last minute that they would arrive later Friday night, after all, but destiny changed the plans just long enough to be able to get shit done.) and I was going to sleep on an air mattress in our finished basement. My mom had double-knotted my dress before I left, which was a very smart move, but it meant I couldn’t get it off. It was 3:30 in the morning by the time I got home, and I didn’t want to wake anyone to untie the knot, so I just slept in my gown. Like a class act. As I laid down on the air mattress, I could smell chocolate, and I discovered the brownie inside my cleavage. From glitter tits to chocolate tits. I ate it and drifted off to dreamland knowing my debauchery had helped needy puppies and kitties.

The next day, we had family time and I got to know my brother’s girlfriend. That afternoon, Mozart messaged me and said it was nice to see me. Hilarious. What a fucking year it’s been.

Spirits in the Night Pt 9- A Fourth of July, Friendsgiving, and Christmas miracle.

*If you are looking for the previous entry in this series, which is separated from this one by a few posts on different subjects, you can find it here: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/08/27/spirits-in-the-night-conclusion-the-secondary-summer-of-bruce/

I thought I was done writing about the miraculous healing opportunities that have come from being drunk at Springsteen tributes, but I am very pleased to discover that I was wrong. To explain, I’ll need to backtrack to the 4th of July, while I was housesitting for my friend for the second time this past summer. It was during this particular round of housesitting that I had the moment of serendipitous clarity about going to see the Springsteen Tribute band (Which I’ve spontaneously decided needs a name for the sake of making writing easier, so I will therefore refer to the band I loved in Wildwood, the band with the piano player who scared the shit out of me, the band that Mozart sings for… as Born to Pun.) the night after the Phish concert and it all came together in a very meant-to-be way that meant I’d get to sleep in a tent for two nights: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/07/17/spirits-in-the-night-pt-5-tony-soprano-and-ponies-and-a-piano-bench/

There was one other moment of Yes, that’s what I’m supposed to do next! that happened while I was there in that house. I was brushing my teeth on the morning of the 4th of July, and suddenly felt in my knowing that I should get in touch with a man who we’re going to call Willy. As in weak-kneed Willy, who you know is gonna be there. (I’ve referred to this same man as Rob in this other piece, https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2020/12/31/2271/ but I wanted to stay on-brand with giving everyone Brucey names, so Rob is now renamed Willy.) If you read that story in the link just above this, it sums up one of the many hard situations I found myself in with Willy that led to us having a difficult and somewhat trauma-bonded relationship.  Willy was my upstairs neighbor during my East Harlem years. Between the roommates of these two apartments we were all pretty close to each other during those years that the sitcom Friends tried to capture; the years where your friends are your family, and people sleep with each other.

It might be more fitting to call our Friends years the La Vie Boheme years. During those years, I had more than 20 roommates from like 12 different countries. Our apartments were havens for everyone from LGBTQ people to local rap artists, who all coexisted with the children I babysat. I smoked my first joint in Willy’s apartment, and was with him when I had my first edible. We would play True American. Most of us were gig workers with theatre degrees; we would have Write Nights, and go to each other’s improv shows. Willy’s headshot and those of his roommates were all on our refrigerator, and as tends to be the case with young bohemians, most of us were struggling to pay the rent.

Willy had a roommate who charged crystals and tried to heal my menstrual cramps with Reiki. The only girl to ever live in the upstairs bachelor pad would practice her knots on me during her stint as a dominatrix.  I spent countless nights listening to Willy play the keyboard, either from his living room, or from just below on my balcony. I’d slept in every bed in his 4-bedroom apartment. My kids knew him, felt welcome around him, and our whole crowd did a lot of holidays together. We’d do Friendsgiving and use the kitchens in both our apartments to get everything cooked.  He’d been my midnight kiss one New Year’s Eve. Most of my 4th of Julys in New York were spent watching fireworks on the balcony with Willy and company. I hadn’t been thinking about those 4th of July parties at all when I was brushing my teeth that morning. The coincidence of that didn’t hit me until later.

Willy is one of three men I’ve met in life who I’ve loved relentlessly despite not being logically interested in doing so. My warm feelings and grace for Willy always felt involuntary. He would routinely fuck me over, but he just kept creeping back into my heart. I often thought of myself as Wendy, and the guys who lived directly above me and around me as the lost boys. After he hurt me enough times, I eventually swore him off, but it took a lot to get me there. I am genuinely mad at younger Lisa for giving him so many chances.

Willy was a massive Bruce fan. You could sense his Jersey boy upbringing, his get into mischief but get out of this small town before it rips the bones from your back essence, from a mile away. He’s the nameless man I mention at the beginning of this entry: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2021/09/14/2431/ There were many times during my summer in Wildwood where I thought about how Willy would likely shit a brick to know I’d gone out of my way to have a Sacred Summer of Bruce, not that I would have ever considered reaching out to him at that time. That would have been unthinkable, not only because I was not in touch with most of the people I knew from that chapter of life, but because he’d hurt me too many times.

In part 7, https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/08/04/spirits-in-the-night-pt-7-princess-cards-and-pink-cars/ I see Born to Pun for the first time in nearly a year when I never thought I’d ever be able to see them again, Mozart sings my song, and I sit in an Adirondack chair in front of my serendipity tent, thinking that after seeing Joe and then having a healing experience with the band, that I must have just lived the grand finale. What I didn’t mention in that entry, however, is that I also took time that morning to message Willy. It had been a few weeks since the moment of knowing while brushing my teeth, and after the shock of seeing Joe at the Phish concert and the wonder of Mozart singing for me, it seemed like the time was as right as it would ever be.  

I called the only person I’m still in regular contact with from that chapter of life, Willy’s old roommate, Chrissy. The one who practiced her knots on me. She’d moved on from East Harlem life before any of us. I wanted to know if she thought my plan to reach out to Willy was unwise. She said she’d heard from Willy two days earlier, for the first time in a long time, and he’d been saying how he felt more ready to love people.  The part of me that is deeply superstitious knew from that tidibit that it was time to contact Willy.

I laid on my bed inside the serendipity tent and wrote out everything in a message to Willy. I told him about how I seemed to be meeting my destiny at Bruce tribute concerts, and apologized for the ways that I’d been ill-equipped to love him well back in the day. (Purity culture fucking me up had a lot to do with it, https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2020/12/26/purity-rings-and-paper-beads/ and also my relentless empathy that has found a healthier place to go now that I work as a professional snuggler. Willy had been a deeply troubled guy who needed love, and I tend to leak love and hemorrhage empathy for anyone around me who needs it.  There’s that part in the song Spirit in the Night when the lyrics say that Crazy Janie kissed him just right like only a lonely angel can, and when he said he hurt, and crazy Janie says “honey, let me heal ya”…that makes me think of Willy.

I wasn’t strong enough and secure enough in my own self-worth to not let Willy come back each time after he’d wronged me, but sometimes it was just easier to let him back in than to be principled. I had a moment of major clarity a few years later, thinking about the situation where Willy’s roommate Dylan attacked me. If I hadn’t gone into that party resolving to be friendly with Willy despite the fact that he’d recently fucked me over and we hadn’t talked about it yet, I never would have gone up with him to help wake Dylan up, and I never would have been attacked. (The link for that story again: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2020/12/31/2271/) It was a big aha! moment for me.) I told him that I hope that in his current life he’s surrounded by people who love him as much as I did, and that they’re better equipped to do so than I was. I felt all my feels, typed up everything I wanted to say, did some ugly-crying, and eventually pressed send.

A while later, I got a thumbs up in response. One of the first things I learned from my therapist is that in situations like this one, the value needs to be in knowing I said what I needed to say and not in the other person’s response or lack thereof. A thumbs up served as confirmation that he’d seen it. Willy had always been something of an emotionally unavailable coward, so I had no expectations of a valuable response from him.

With it being such a one-sided non-story, I made no mention of Willy in this this series. It seemed to be the end of the line for the hard-hitting stuff, and that going to Springsteen tributes could just go back to being the blissful spirit-filled thing that it was when I was living in Wildwood. And it was. As I mention in the previous entry in this saga, https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/08/28/spirits-in-the-night-conclusion-the-secondary-summer-of-bruce/ I went to see a different tribute band at Musikfest and had an amazing time, and carved out time to go seeBorn to Punin Atlantic City and had a complete blast.

As destiny has been known to have it, Born to Pun was having a show not terribly far from me, and it just happened to be on the anniversary of the  of the day I’d sprained my ankle thanks to being drunk at a different Bruce tribute band’s concert. https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/02/13/out-of-africa-pt-16-into-the-next-right-thing/ Marking that anniversary seemed like it would be a meaningful full-circle moment after a year of physical healing for my ankle, as well as spiritual/emotional healing for me, that would be very on-brand. So I bought a ticket. A coworker who lived nearby had even offered for me to stay at his house. I was jazzed for a meaningful full-circle evening, but I’d just gotten back from Morocco and immediately got stupidly, stupidly sick. So sick that I missed a week of work and couldn’t go. Even though I couldn’t go and was out five bucks, I was still appreciative of the serendipity as I stayed home with a terrible cold.

Then I saw a post about another show Born to Pun would be playing. This one was going to be a formal event, they were playing at a ball to raise money for homeless animals. Dressing up and paying lots of money to enjoy an open bar and eat too much for a good cause has become a guilty pleasure of mine pretty recently, especially to help animals. To have an excuse to wear a gown and be drunk at a Born to Pun show to help puppies and kittens is basically an event tailor-made just for me. It would be one hell of an upgrade from the concert I’d just missed because I was sick, and I love when a redemption arc includes trading up. I knew I’d be figuring out how to find the money to go this glorious event as soon as I saw the post.

…then I saw the date of the event. My brother was bringing his girlfriend home for the first time that same weekend. It would be her first time meeting me. I tried to reason with my mother that coming all the way from DC, the happy couple wouldn’t get in until super late anyway, so I should go to the ball and girlfriend could just meet me in the morning. We’d still have all of Saturday and Sunday to get to know each other. And I’m such a tidal wave of a person, it would be nice to give her a chance to rest before making my acquaintance. My mom was not having it. I made a comment about how I’d probably die alone because I was destined to meet my soul mate at the ball and I wouldn’t be able to meet him…and she said to ask my brother about it when he came home for Thanksgiving. I was dreading it and didn’t want my brother to be hurt, but had every intention of asking him when turkey day rolled around.

Two days before Thanksgiving, I left work early to go to the dentist. My brother would be arriving home late that night, and I intended to ask him the following day. I signed in at the desk and took a seat in the waiting room, and lo and behold, I had a message from none other than weak-kneed Willy. I am noticing literally right now as I write all this out that I had my moment of knowing about contacting Willy while brushing my teeth, and here he was getting back to me as I was about to get my teeth cleaned. Serendipity.

In his message, he said quite a bit. He apologized for doing things that made me uncomfortable back in the day. It was vague, but more of an apology than I’d ever gotten from him before, so I’ll take it. He said he hopes I’m still being myself, and cruising around in my pink car, and that the world needs more people like me. He said he misses me and to hit him up if I’m ever back in Harlem, and included a link to a Springsteen song: 4th of July, Asbury Park. It took a moment for me to notice, but I’d had that moment of knowing while brushing my teeth on the 4th of July. Teeth and the 4th of July. Double serendipity.

I’m so sick of hearing men say shit like this to me, but I’ll allow it.

I was glad to be hearing from Willy, but baffled that it had taken him a solid four months to get back to me. So much time had gone by that I’d pretty much forgotten I’d even reached out to him. I hadn’t expected a reply at all, but certainly not this far down the road. I asked Willy why I was suddenly hearing from him today. He said that with Thanksgiving coming up, he’d been thinking about how we used to do Friendsgiving (If memory serves, I think the first time we ever kissed might have been at a Friendsgiving?) and this made him think of me and miss me, and so he finally made himself respond. Willy told me he’d been so glad to hear from me, and there was so much to address and he’d started typing a reply so many times but always ended up deleting it.

That documentary I remembered Willy watching years ago? The one I watched at the end of this entry? https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/08/28/spirits-in-the-night-conclusion-the-secondary-summer-of-bruce/ …he’d been watching it while I was using his kitchen to make sweet potatoes for Friendsgiving. Teeth. 4th of July. Friendsgiving. Triple serendipity! My delusion had been fed a hearty meal, but it gets better. With all that serendipity slapping me across the face in the dentist’s waiting room, and the weight of knowing I’d be asking my brother a difficult question the next day, I could feel that I really needed to go to the ball. That this was the latest installment; that I’d earned it. Right as I had the thought, Bruce’s version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town started playing in the waiting room. With Thanksgiving coming up, Christmas music was only just beginning to play in public, and it was my first time hearing that song for the year. It’s tied with the Jackson Five for being my favorite version of that song. In both cases, the person singing is doing so with such compelling sincerity, that you can’t help but think they really do believe that Santa is coming, and that it’s cause for excitement. It seemed like a damn good omen.

That night I had a dream where I was stroking Willy’s hair like I used to do back in the day, on the rare occasion that he’d let me be affectionate with him.  I’d gone to bed long before my brother had arrived home from DC. In the morning, my mom called up to me, telling me that there’d been a change in plans for the following weekend. Instead of coming home super late Friday night, my brother and his girlfriend would be getting in on Saturday morning… so I could go ahead and buy a ticket to the ball.

Christmas Card Deep Dive

Hi! Are you here because you got my Christmas card, and your morbid curiosity has driven you to dive deeper into my dumpster fire? If so, here are links to all the random shit I talked about in my Christmas letter in roughly chronological order:

Getting my tubes removed:


My nail clippings picture frame: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/12/12/frame-and-fortune-part-4/

Funny sketches:

Something culty:

Terrible men:

Being in Morocco with Patch: https://lisavanarsdale.wordpress.com/2022/11/09/3220/

Happy reading/watching and thank you for liking me as a human despite my weird AFness!  If you’d like to read something Christmasy, but also culty, then consider this bonus content: