Inevitable

It was bound to happen. As if the ache in my leg wasn’t a constant reminder of this.

It wasn’t unexpected. As if the grape-sized mass was the parting gift I deserved.

It was avoidable. As if the concerns and fears I cried fell on deaf ears.

It wasn’t escapable. As if there were no other way out.

It was fated. As if the chances of me getting out unharmed were impossible.

It wasn’t destined. As if the trajectory of my life lies in one place.

It was certain. As if the bruises will fade away with the memory.

It wasn’t unpreventable. As if the writing wasn’t on the wall.

 

Owning My Bad Luck While Adorning The Good With My Friday The 13th Tattoos

To put it simply, I enjoy art. Music consumption is arguably one of my primary hobbies, whether it be traveling for concerts or actively investing in my favorite artists. I look forward to spending days exploring museums in unfamiliar cities. I decorate my walls with posters, paintings, graphic art, and tapestries. I find beauty in how people arrange plants and flowers in their garden. I love the rebellious nature behind graffiti and street art. I have always had a fascination and adoration for body art.

 

Even as a child, I remember seeing people with tattoos and piercings and finding appreciation in it. I can’t exactly pinpoint when that went from childhood curiosity to something I actively wanted for myself. If I had to guess, it was around the time I was into emo music and seeking more outlets to express myself. Luckily for me, tattoos aren’t legal for angst-y teenagers. Though my parents are not nearly as enthusiastic about body art as I am, they have come to terms with me wanting to express myself in such a way. Or at least I hope they have, several piercings and tattoos later… Have I mentioned how wonderful my parents are for putting up with me?

 

I have only personally entered the tattoo world this year. After realizing I was losing autonomy and control over my body, I had a real “screw it” moment and got a tattoo after brunch. I was just as surprised as everyone else was. Because I have always wanted tattoos, I have always been prepared for when the moment happened. I got the latin phrase from my dad’s family crest inside my left forearm. The quote reads “coleum non animum,” or “sky not soul.” The longer Horace quote essentially translates to “climate may change but never the character.” Its facing me so I can remind myself of it whenever I need it. This was quickly followed up with symbols from my mom’s family crest inside my right forearm, including an arrow and a hand. I feel much more balanced with both.

 

Much like other tattoo enthusiasts, I have automatically associated Friday the thirteenth with tattoos. I cannot attest to a correlation between those who feel they experience regular stints of bad luck to those who have tattoos, but the tattoo industry must have realized there was some connection there. This article from The New York Times showcases this “holiday” tradition with personal anecdotes from participants along with explanation of the history, stemming back to Oliver Peck. Oliver Peck is probably most recognizable from his time on Ink Master however he holds the world record for the most tattoos given in a day, which was on Friday the 13th. We can thank him for this tradition.

 

Beyond having an appreciation for tattoos, I also believe I have bad luck. I jokingly cite Murphy’s Law on a regular basis. I’ve learned to embrace it and find humor in my misfortunes. Of course it becomes frustrating when I experience multiple spells of bad luck in a short time span but I am learning to ride the wave. This bad luck is in balance with all the good aspects of my life. At least it provides me with funny stories. At any rate, this lucklessness has translated to a fascination with superstitions, including the number 13. I like to find the good in the number instead of assuming something bad will happen in association. My current apartment is number 13. I rescued my cat Pixie in 2013. I like to offset the good and bad.

 

A couple of weeks before this past Friday the 13th I was having a typical conversation with my friend Claire. If I had to guess, the conversation consisted of catching up on our current melodramas, discussing our individual wellness or lack thereof, and thinking of ways we can do everything we want in life while still maintaining responsibilities. That’s what friends are for, right? I remember divulging how I wanted more tattoos but how I really shouldn’t be spending my money on that at this point in time. She then lovingly reminded me that Friday the 13th happened to be two days before my birthday. I automatically rationalized my ability to get myself a cheap tattoo for my birthday. I deserved it. I was going to treat myself. Unfortunately it really is that easy for me to justify the decisions I make.

 

Once I realized I was definitely going to do this, I scrolled through the Instagram #fridaythe13thtattoo tag to see if any somewhat-local shops were celebrating. I then came across some cute tattoos posted by an artist at Jersey Devil Tattooing & Body Piercing from Friday April 13th and asked if they were doing the same specials and designs for July. The artist, Tracy, quickly and enthusiastically confirmed they were and I was set. Nothing works more for me than immediate feedback and positivity. I was sold.

 

The thirteenth rolled around and I had a lot of energy. I prepared my playlist for the car ride. I made sure I had enough fuel to support my mini-adventure. I am very aware of making sure to eat, drink water, and relax before tattoos. I also had about an hour-15 minute drive each way, which is taxing for the said lack of control over my body. I left around 10:35 to give myself enough time for traffic in assumption of the shop opening at noon. I arrived a few minutes early and met with an artist outside. I stretched my legs while he asked if I was there for a Friday the 13th tattoo. I verified those intentions. He told me to go inside and the dude at the front desk would get the stencil on me. It felt like I had impeccable timing.

 

I walked into the shop to be greeted by one of my favorite Thrice songs blasting through the speakers. It was another affirmation that I was in the right place. I originally went into this experience wanting an alien head tattoo I saw on Tracy’s Instagram however thought I saw a genie lamp in the story she posted the previous night. Once I looked at the flash sheets, I confirmed I did in fact see a genie lamp. I was torn. I couldn’t decide between the two. The alien head was perfectly adorable. At the same time, I have always wanted a genie lamp tattoo. The “see jay” in my blog name is a play on my first and middle initials, CJ. My middle name is Jean, given to me by my mother, Jean. Jean goes by Jeannie. Jeannie, Genie. I had the genie lamp stencil placed on the outside of my right forearm. It was perfect and in close proximity to her family crest tattoo.

 

I then told the guy I was going to go gander at the flash again and contemplate the alien head. He told me he was going to take care of something quickly and instructed me to add my name on the list. I noticed I was next in line and felt another twinge of excitement. Apparently the shop had opened at eleven but this was better for my timing anyway. I looked at the stencil again while checking my wallet and the prices. I realized I had enough cash to get both. When he returned I asked him to put on the other stencil “just to see.” Once it was on I knew there was no turning back. It was my most serious “¿Porque no los dos?” moment to date. For those who don’t speak Spanish, it means, “Why not both?” Its another weapon in my arsenal of reasons I use to make decisions. I highly recommend incorporating it into any decision making process. I was directed to go outside, next door, and upstairs to see Tracy for my tattoos. I came outside to Turn Me On by Kevin Lyttle casually playing through the outside speakers while two heavily tattooed men sat at the bench smoking. We exchanged hellos and I went upstairs.

 

Tracy was finishing up a couple’s tattoos and told me to relax for a few more minutes. I walked around to explore the artists’ various sketches and flashes to pass the time. I noticed her playlist consisted of great hip-hop, which I later complimented after the couple left. She thanked me and explained how the other artist in this part of the studio usually controls the tunes as he as subwoofers. This was her chance to command the music while he was running late. I was glad she did. It helped listening to artists like Lil Wayne for that moment of ink bliss.

 

She set up her station and got me situated for the genie lamp. She and I confirmed that we spoke previously on Instagram and I explained how her response helped me decide on 1) getting the tattoo and 2) going to her. I also divulged it was my birthday present to myself and she was even more excited to tattoo me. While completing the genie lamp, she said she felt it needed shading though I had just asked for an outline (for financial reasons). She then said she wanted to shade it for me for my birthday. In hindsight I am so happy she used her artistic authority and gifted me the shading. I would never stifle an artists’ process and I was reminded of this rule. After my first round of tattooing she cleaned and covered the lamp then sanitized her station. Even though I was her “next” customer, this provided reassurance on how thorough and clean she was.

 

This allowed me an opportunity to reaffirm I wanted the alien head. I looked at it in the standing mirror to make sure. She noticed me checking out the stencil and double checked if I was happy with the placement as I would have to go back down for a stencil if I was not. I checked the placement and decided to go for it. I liked how she styled the alien head. I liked the placement. I loved the price. I was ready to go again.

 

I’m not sure if it was the placement or the shading of the eyes but that little bugger hurt more than the lamp despite the size difference. Luckily it took only a few minutes to finish. During this time I noticed she decorated her supplies with Lisa Frank stickers. I pointed them out and we discussed our love for the artist. I told her that someday I would be interested in getting a Lisa Frank-inspired cat tattoo since Pixie looks exactly like one of the cats. She voiced interest in doing a tattoo like that. I told her once I was ready for it I would hit her up. When she was cleaning the alien up, I genuinely got excited to see the end result. Without thinking I expressed my adoration with an, “Aww, little fuck!” (side bar: I eventually named her Hailey the Alien because I love to personify inanimate objects). Tracy laughed as she was wrapping my left arm up. I thanked her for the tattoos and the bonus present. We firmed up finances then I was on my way home.

 

See? Sometimes we have to find new ways to take back ownership of our bodies. Not that I’m necessarily suggesting everyone go get tattoos but I’ve found it to be a small way to have some autonomy. If my body isn’t going to perform the way it used to, I can at least embellish it with beautiful art. This has also opened me up to a new, welcoming community of people, whether it be from the interactions I have with tattoo artists or people coming up to me to compliment my body art. My genie lamp in particular has gotten so much love. I don’t typically seek out attention but these praises hold a place in my heart. I am happy I chose to do something for myself for my birthday and participated in a tradition I’ve admired from afar. Let’s see what I get into on Friday December 13th, 2019!

Fun, Panicky, Kaleidoscopical Dynamite: being diagnosed with a genetic disorder

As of June 26, 2018 at approximately 12 pm, I was officially diagnosed with an autosomal dominant genetic disorder that affects approximately one out of 150,000 people. Though it is something that has been a part of my existence for the last twelve years, I am now equipped with the name, research, impact it has on my body, treatment options, and prognosis thanks to a wonderful neurologist at Robert Wood Johnson in the Clinical Academic Department. After a thorough conversation and neurological exam, the neurologist verified that I was blessed with Familial Paroxysmal Kinesigenic Dyskinesia. PKD for short. Fancy name for a movement disorder that runs in families. I feel it is important to note PKD is not exclusively a genetic disorder, however in my case it is.

 

My (F)PKD story began before I was old enough to form memories. According to my mom and medical records somewhere in my parents’ house, I had the two non-febral, grand maul seizures in a two-week span when I was six months old. The first seizure happened while I was in my cradle. Luckily my mom was present and saw it happen in time to rush me to the hospital. From there I underwent a bunch of tests to confirm there was seizure activity and no other underlying medical issues were going on. My mom vividly remembers how upsetting it was to see baby me getting a spinal tap. How bad-ass though. 27 year old me is handling everything more babyish these days.

 

Two weeks later, my mom was driving with my toddler-aged older brother and me when he said, “baby funny!” I was the baby. Baby was having another seizure. Because I had two seizures two weeks apart and there were no other indicators of issues, I was prescribed Phenobarbital and sent on my merry way to go, you know, learn how to walk and talk I guess? What else is a baby to do? After about a year, my mom insisted on having me weaned off the medication in hopes of me no longer needing an anti epileptic. Doctors eventually complied and I was no longer on the medication by about two years old. I have been seizure-free since. Go me!

 

Fast forward past age two and we move from Long Island to Central Jersey. I was doing the childhood thing. I enjoyed cheerleading, dance, and gymnastics. I had a brief stint in the Girl Scouts. I did well in school. Things were chill for childhood to adolescent me. My next “incident” of neurological nature happened when I was 15. I was in my freshman year math class. We were playing a pre-test game. We were teamed up in groups to do the problem assigned by the teacher. Once we had an answer, a team member would run up to the board and write the answer. It was my turn to run up. The pressure was on. Once we had our answer, I got up to run to the board and my right side of my body had a different agenda. My right hand uncontrollably curled inward. My right foot turned inward and my jaw was moving and clenching. Horrified but also attempting to immediately pretend nothing was happening, I spasmed my way over to the board. I remember the answer being “5.” I squiggled it on the board with my curled hand and somehow stumbled back to my desk. I remember classmates commenting on how messy my five was. If only they knew why. At that moment, I didn’t either.

 

I returned home from school with quite the topic of discussion for my mom. Luckily at this point I felt comfortable enough to casually communicate openly with my parents about all of my teenage woes, so that wasn’t the difficult part. I just genuinely didn’t know how to describe what happened. I vaguely remember starting the conversation with something along the lines of, “Hey, so the funniest thing happened to me at school! I tried to run to the board and my muscles spasmed and jaw moved around. Do you know anything about this?” Per her MO(m), she calmly explained I more than likely had a movement disorder that runs on her side of the family. She had it as well and had been taking medication for it since she was a kid. She told me three of her brothers also had the disorder and found relief with the same medication. She then explained however that in most cases symptoms are mild and I would have “episodes” less frequently if I slept well, decreased caffeine intake, and reduced stress. She also noted it wasn’t something totally worth discussing with doctors since it wasn’t greatly understood. She wasn’t even fully sure of the name of the diagnosis herself. Regardless, she let me know treatment existed whenever I needed it. Somehow all of this registered in my mind. I understood and felt able to balance this at 15. As with the other lovely genetic predispositions that exist on either side of my family, my parents approached my brother and me honestly about them and reassured if we ever needed help on any of the issues to simply let them know. It was matter of fact but non judgmental. It wasn’t pushy. It was a fair and highly appreciated warning.

 

I eventually came to accept the reality of knowing I would inevitably have a one-minute long episode approximately once a month, twice if I got lucky. I began to almost predict when they would happen beyond just feeling the “aura” I would occasionally feel preceding an episode. I learned ways to hide my episodes. I was “dealing with it” as best as I could. Before this whole thing, when I was 14, my doctor “pretty much” diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) based on symptoms I was experiencing. She told me I would “probably have difficulty getting pregnant,” or wouldn’t have a baby successfully without some form of medical intervention. I was formally diagnosis when I was 18. So on top of monthly, one-minute long half-body “abnormal movements,” I was ALSO having unpredictable menstrual cycles. I clearly was a thriving teen. I learned early on to accept the things I cannot control, like my own body.

 

Beyond navigating my rebelling body, I worked hard to do well. I did the whole “be a student for a while to push off real adulthood” thing so at least I would be highly educated by the time I had a clue on what I wanted to do with my life. I did particularly well in the sociology, social work, and psychology classes and found myself enjoying (tolerating?) the curriculum. I figured it was a good path to stick with. It led me to my masters degree that ~can never be taken away from me~ according to my mom. I was experiencing episodes once every two weeks at the height of my graduate school-enduced stress, anxiousness, lack of sleep, and routine coffee drinking. It was still manageable in my book. At some point within that time frame, my mom disclosed one of my cousins was diagnosed with the disorder and started taking medication for it. I was saddened to hear it had also affected her but happy to know she found relief. It proved how genetically dominant this disorder was.

 

Fast forward to January 2018. I was recovering from a physically and mentally traumatic event. My left side of my body was (still is) essentially useless. I experienced severe spasms and pain from my neck, to my shoulders, to my chest, to my hands, to my lower back, to my hips, and my entire left leg (and still do). I was trying to find a new normal (still am). My body was more or less useless (still is). Despite that, I was still seeing myself as an independent woman who could take care of herself and handle life’s responsibilities on her own (this is debatable now). I felt confident that I would go through the rehabilitation motions and bounce back. That was not the case whatsoever.

 

As mentioned, the left side of my body had proven to be severely unreliable. I could barely walk, sit, lay, and perform basic daily functions. To compensate, I needed to rely on my right side to get me up and propel me forward, literally and figuratively. As one could imagine, physical and mental trauma affect health and stress levels. The severe pain and muscle spasms deeply affected my ability to sleep. Those two factors caused the severity and frequency of episodes to skyrocket. I was having episodes several times a day. I would get up, relying on my right side in order to do so and would experience the severe, abnormal, painfully uncontrollable movements. I then would look to my left for support to no avail. I would spasm down to my knees. This arguably couldn’t be helping my already badly bruised leg. I was having severe episodes on my right side along with severe spasming on my left during and after my physical therapy appointments. None of this was sustainable. I feared I would further injure myself if I didn’t address the multitude of issues going on, including the frequency and severity of the movement disorder. It was finally time for me to come forward and medically address it.

 

I feel like I should add a personal side bar of explaining why it took me several years to do this. Here’s the short list: 1) I was less than satisfied with most doctors I had and have seen in my lifetime. 2) For me personally, I’m an anti-medical model sociology student. I understand the necessity for doctors and medications but truly hate America’s health care system. Health care should be a basic human right and I loathe being treated like a number and by my diagnoses. Therefore I only go to doctors when I “have to.” Clearly my life calls for medical intervention at the moment. Anyway, I will proceed.

 

I updated my mom on the frequency of my episodes and she suggested I see a neurologist. I knew I had to but definitely procrastinated making the call for a day or two. My mom also suggested I talk to my cousin about her experience as it had been a long time since my mom’s diagnosis journey and she was sure things had changed. My cousin also happens to be one of the smartest people I know in real life. I knew talking to her would decrease my anxiety around starting this process. I casually texted my cousin giving her a general (shitty) life update along with divulging that I too was also impacted by the familial disorder she had. We jokingly celebrated our commonality and set up a time to talk on the phone when she was able to talk a break from her studies. I provided first-hand empathy as I had been through the educational ringer myself. Once we got on the phone, she gave me the lowdown on her experience, provided some advice on how to navigate the appointments, and as a bonus told me what medication she tried and failed first. One medication gave her bad photosensitivity, a.k.a. being allergic to the sun. I’m already allergic to the sun as it is so this information was basically life-saving for me. I thanked her for her insight and having gone through the process before me so I had some idea of what I was getting into. I otherwise don’t mind being the guinea pig but I am happy she took one for the team of affected cousins.

 

My first step was to schedule an initial appointment with a Neurology group. I chose to call the one closest to where I live just for convenience purposes. I requested to see someone specializing in movement disorders and they scheduled me with a specific doctor in their practice. I had my mom join me for moral and historical support, especially for the everything that happened when I was a baby and the other family members.

 

I guess I was never going to be fully prepared for this appointment despite the immense familial support and guidance. I was hoping the doctor would hear the family history, symptoms, diagnose me then send me away with a script for the “family medication.” In hindsight I recognize this wouldn’t be thorough or in good practice but one can dream, right? We met with the doctor and one of her students to discuss what I was going through. I told her I thought I had PKD as it was something that ran on my mom’s side of the family. My mom described her familial history along with my infantile, non-febrile seizures to provide some background. I then described my first incident and how the disorder has affected me the last eleven years. I described how “manageable” it was up until recently and how it was no longer manageable. The doctor followed all this with a basic neurological exam, wherein the only observation she had was my major anxiety. I thought it was fascinating that my anxiety could show through neurologically but I also know it makes sense, especially since I’m quite the ball of anxiety.

 

The doctor then proceeded to tell us that she has never seen this disorder in person. She also wanted to make sure my “episodes” weren’t in fact seizures as I was the only family member with a history of seizures in their lifetime. She wanted me to see an “actual movement disorder specialist” and referred me to a Dr. Mark at Robert Wood Johnson. Before this appointment, however, she ordered an EEG and an MRI of my brain to check for seizure activity. She also encouraged me to attempt to film some episodes to show her and my other, more special neurologist. This is due to the paroxysmal part of the disorder. She essentially said she wasn’t comfortable simply treating the disorder without ruling anything else out and without referring me to a ~real~ specialist.

 

I left that appointment disappointed. I was hoping for treatment on the spot. I recognize now how ridiculous that notion is but at the time I wasn’t thinking so rationally. I felt stuck in the symptoms I was experiencing. I mean, I really was. I had a new fear that I was having seizures and wondered if I did have my own, separate neurological disorder. My mom is a saint for accompanying me to these appointments and providing support after. The end result usually is me leaving with more questions and difficulty emotionally regulating. I know it’s not fun to be around me. We usually end these medical escapades with a solid lunch to debrief and find time to talk about things non-medical, though it has sort of been the theme of this year.

 

Within the next two weeks, I completed the EEG and MRI. The techs for both were sensitive, empathetic, and helped me get through both with slightly lowered anxiety. The EEG was first. That test was unlike anything I have ever experienced. The tech started with sticking a bunch of wires to my scalp. After being strapped in I was told to relax while the machine ran the test. I was warned beforehand that the test would conclude with strobe lights and that she’d give me a heads-up beforehand. Relaxing is not an easy task for me. It took serious effort to focus on deep breathing. Luckily I am not a novice meditator and can navigate my way through some counted breaths. The 4-7-8 method is usually effective for me.

 

Picture me with a bunch of wires stuck to my head, hair imaginably a wreck, chilling in a reclining leather chair, trying to breathe deeply. I’m sure it was quite the sight. I know my friend Matt wanted photographic proof for my blackmail file but I wasn’t going to further torture the tech. She gave me warning of the rave finale of the EEG and I was ready to continue “relaxing.” The strobe lights made my eyes flicker, caused my “aura” to activate, and I sneezed the second the EEG concluded. She noted my impeccable timing as the test was over. It was a solid 30 minus of checking on my brain activity. She shared her two-cents, assuring me it looked pretty normal to her and I would get a call next week if the doctor wanted me to do an ambulatory EEG. I was sent home to get the literal gunk out of my head. It actually came out easier than I had anticipated. Gunk was not my biggest enemy at the moment.

 

My brain MRI was next. I had feared MRIs until I had the pleasure of having my first two back to back earlier this year. They’re loud. They’re really enclosed. I’m anxious. I hate tight spaces. I had to really work out my anxiety beforehand to be able to handle the test. Since I am not on medication for anxiety, I explored the natural realm for anxiety relief and took Valerian Root before my appointment. It proved helpful in decreasing my nerves and allowing me the ability to focus on breathing. I was asked lots of questions while preparing for my MRI, which was done with and without contrast. This meant I needed to have dye injected into my veins. Did I mention I hate needles, too? Everyone was in for a ride, myself included. I disclosed my anxiety and claustrophobia to the staff and they did everything they could to ease it. They told me everything to expect, made sure the panic button was secure in my hand, and constantly checked in to make sure I was okay. I probably kept replying, “Yep, I’m good,” which usually means I’m panicking. I wouldn’t expect them to know this, though. They seemed surprised with how I handled the test. I was also just as surprised.

 

I followed up with my first neurologist on the results of the tests a few days before my appointment with the movement disorder specialists. She let me know my tests came back normal. This was both relieving and frustrating at the same time. I was relieved I wasn’t casually, unknowingly having seizures. That was cool. I was frustrated because I figured with the frequency of episodes I would assume something would show up somewhere. I guess that’s why this disorder is such an oddity. She also guaranteed she would forward my records to the specialist and depending on how that appointment went, would be willing to treat me thereafter if the doctor felt it was appropriate. I was feeling less irrational about the doctor “not wanting to treat me” and was recognizing she was simply wanting to be thorough. She wished me luck for my upcoming appointment. My mom and I reiterated our appreciation for her guidance and rigorous effort toward my wellness.

 

A handful of days later I was on my way to Robert Wood for my appointment. I was frazzled. It was an early appointment that required me to arrive early to find parking, find my mom, find the right floor, and fill out paperwork. I decided to break my no-coffee-lifestyle with my favorite kind from my favorite place, Rook, to possibly assist in getting an episode out of me. I got to the appointment relatively unscathed. Once I was in the waiting room, though, panic ensued. I was all over the place. I almost left my wallet at the front desk. It required my mom and other patients to get my attention to grab it. It was weird hearing a chorus of people saying, “Chris, your wallet!” On a completely unrelated note, I truly dislike when people I’m not close with calling me Chris. You don’t know me like that! But I digress.

 

The appointment from start to finish was almost two and half hours long. I feel like that’s unheard of nowadays. I was taken in by a nurse relatively quickly to take care of vitals and the reason for my visit. She noted my pain level and anxiety were concerning. I told her it was another day in the life. The doctor made her way to the room and we got down to the nitty-gritty. Her intelligence and knowledge on the subject was evident. Her sense of humor was also on-point. She told me she appreciated having a young, smart patient as most of her current patients were older adults with Parkinson’s. My mom and I retold our stories. The doctor did a more rigorous neurological exam than my first, which honestly feels more physical than anything. I had to tap my nose to her fingers, push and pull various limbs, perform memory recall, and an array of other physical tasks. It felt almost akin to an extremely in-depth field sobriety test… not that I’ve ever had to perform one of those. My dad is a huge Cops fan.

 

She then prompted me to have an “episode,” which required her to actually scream at me something to the effect of “GET UP AND RUN RIGHT NOW!” It send my right side into a spasm. It felt unnatural. The episodes hurt my muscles. I normally try to mask them. “Masking” episodes turns into me unsuccessfully fighting with myself to not be so spazzy. I told her I was trying not to fight it but it was second nature to do so. She watched me intently. Once it was over I sat back down. She then confirmed what we all knew. I had PKD. I did not have any other neurological disorders, unless we include the anxiety. We thoroughly discussed treatment options and she agreed that prescribing me the “family medication” would be a good place to start. She said she would normally first prescribe Tegretol however with my cousin experiencing photosensitivity and my pre-existing photosensitivity, she agreed to skip that step. She prescribed Dilantin. She said she would make sure I had around nine months to a year’s worth of refills and could follow up with a local neurologist next year. She told me to call her if I had any issues with the medication as Dilantin has a number of side effects and contraindications. My mom and I expressed deep gratitude in her help. I picked up the white-and-lavender pills later that day. I felt solace in the notion of no longer needing to fear my episodes. I was advised to ease into the medication by taking the pill once every other day as the medication has a 24-hour half-life. I eased into a routine that felt right for me and would eliminate episodes. I know it works because when I have forgotten to take it, I felt the aura come back. Beyond that, I have found an effective way to manage this one part of my medical story. Its helped to have one aspect under control.

 

See? It has been a fun journey. I panicked constantly throughout. It shifted my perspective on opening up about my struggles. It taught me to challenge my thoughts and fears head-on. It taught me to slightly rotate the outlook I had on my life, sort of like a kaleidoscope. I had some dynamite-grade reactions throughout. I was about ready to explode at any moment. Despite not handling this as gracefully as others may, I am proud of solving this mystery in my life. I have lived the last twelve years faking and hiding this from most people. I didn’t think I would openly discuss it, let alone write about it. I have been given both treatment and a voice to talk about one of my battles. That’s a big accomplishment for me. I was given more than I asked for.

I Felt Alive at Flatbush ZOMBiES’ See You in Hell Tour

Let me preface the following “concert review” with a perspective into my personal lens.  I put a lot of physical and emotional energy into going to this show. It was the first concert I attended in solitude since I had what I will call ~a traumatic experience~ a handful of months back. I am working hard toward getting back into the swing of things by moving forward, finding a new normal, and committing to finding happiness in activities I used to enjoy. I also put a lot of emotional investment into getting through this evening unscathed as a way to gauge my “recovery process.” I hope this serves to set the scene and tone for some of the overarching messages I felt transpired throughout the evening. ALSO, disclaimer/trigger warning: I will be discussing alcohol use, drug use, mental health, and other similar topics the artists rap about. Reader discretion advised.

 

I was first introduced to Flatbush ZOMBiES around 2014. My former roommate, Matt, would play their music in the car when we would run errands. Their songs were undeniably catchy, packed with intricate production and diverse rapping styles. I am pro hip-hop groups (see Three 6 Mafia, Wu-Tang Clan, and Dipset). I also have an affinity for Brooklyn and/or New York-based hip-hop artists (see Notorious B.I.G., Lil’ Kim, and Jay Z before I questioned his rationale behind cheating on Beyoncé). The more I explored FBZ independently, the more I began to appreciate the lyrics behind the rapping styles. They spoke about “real” topics, such as mental health struggles, drug use, political turmoil, and current social events. Not that I don’t enjoy me some nonsensical rap I can dance to (see Migos, Rick Ross, and Ludacris), but that’s neither here nor there.

 

In March 2016, they dropped their first album, 3001: A Laced Odyssey. Following the success of their freshman release, they took to the road for tour. I was fortunate enough to catch them at Starland Ballroom in December 2016. That was also quite an adventurous evening. I literally fell OUT of the venue following Matt to the smoking section. I did a poor job of predicting the height of the steps, which I have quite the knack for. But I digress. This album and concert verified my full appreciation and commitment to support them. I vowed to see them whenever I got another opportunity.

 

Their second album, Vacation in Hell, was released on April 6, 2018. As mentioned in the preface, this was in the middle of my own personal vacation in hell. It turned into something I really needed at the time. It was an album I could jam to while relating to the lyrics on a deep emotional level. It stimulated my mind while making me feel less alone in the struggle. It was an album I didn’t know I needed until I had it. I’m not trying to be dramatic. I genuinely connected to the album and the concept. Sometimes the struggle can look sparkly, fun, and glamourous. It helped me work around the pain to experience fun times and gave me some form of solidarity to connect with. I appreciate nothing more than raw art telling it like it is.

 

The trio then announced their tour and I was reminded of the vows I’ve made to myself, which are: go to as many concerts as you can, travel for worthy artists and adventures, and when an artist or group is amazing the first time, see them again. I noticed their concert at the Fillmore Philly was not sold out yet and tickets were not too pricey. I tend to presume friends are unavailable for concerts on weeknights (you know, adult responsibilities and all). I used to not let this stop me from attending concerts but with my new fear and lack of trust, I was nervous to do this on my own. Eventually I convinced myself I could handle it and bought a ticket. I let a few friends know of what I was doing in case they were interested and to let them know of my whereabouts in case something happens (you know, girl things). I told myself I was “fine” going alone. I knew past self would just get a drink, find a good spot, and chill for the evening. I hoped I could maybe, possibly do it again. Being “chill” has been hard as of late, but I figured if I found a nice little corner I could keep to myself.

 

I survived the drive. The venue had ample parking, which is always a blessing for us travelers. I safely avoided the unofficial t-shirt sellers in the lot. I had a lovely interaction with one of the security guards about my essential oil roll-ons while going through security. She told me I was awesome and knew I would be zen tonight. She wasn’t incorrect. I then followed my tradition of finding a “nice little corner” and made myself as comfortable as possible for the evening. “Comfort” is also a newly foreign concept but I’ve learned to manage.

 

I’m not going to lie. I didn’t get see the first opener, Nyck Caution. I had to preserve my aforementioned low energy with the drive back and forth along with seeing FBZ. I also do not have a knack for planning my concert timing. I’m either way too early (see my DMX experience) or miss good openers. I did get to see Kirk Knight and his set was enjoyable. I don’t really listen to him but seeing him made me want to check out his music.

 

Flatbush ZOMBiES started approximately 9:30pm, which is beautiful for an old lady like myself. They revealed their stage set up with two standing caskets, one laying casket in front of a hearse, headstones, and some flames, which I thought was a great touch. They opened with HELL-O, which was appropriate and made plenty of sense. Zombie Juice came out of a standing casket with a black heart on the outside to rap the first verse in the song. Then Erick the Architect followed by exiting his standing casket with a purple triangle in front to share his verse. Finally, Meechy Darko stood up from the middle casket and jumped around while rapping his verse. His casket was shaking back and forth while he was jumping around, adding extra effect. They started flawlessly and were in it from the get.

 

They followed up with Chunky, which is the second song off their new album, Vacation in Hell. With that, I was wondering if they were playing the album in chronological order, but spoiler alert: they did not. I must admit I have gone to a few 10th Year Anniversary tours recently, thus clouding my judgment. It really would have been cool either way. I will definitely go see the Vacation in Hell 10th Anniversary tour in 2028… just sayin’.

 

It was then confirmed to not be just a ViH tour when they played Bounce from their 2016 album 3001: A Laced Odyssey.  This is an exciting song live, since they all just literally bounce and shout their lines throughout. It really got the crowd hyped, myself included. Great song placement and perfect for the theme of the tour.

 

What happened next was… fascinating. They jumped back to ViH with Headstone, which I felt was following the flow nicely. Business as usual, they were getting into it with Juice doing his first verse. In the middle of the second chorus, however, the speakers BLEW, making them all jump but recover and attempt to continue the show. The speakers continued crapping out, so they went backstage. Because they played it off casually, I was having difficulty telling if this was a stunt or unexpected. If you’d like a peak into this, my notes read,

“headstone …..? either speakers blew out or it’s an act idfk

OHHH cool okay they put background music on??? k definitely not an act

now everyone lights up ok cool too

damn this kinda blows for them tho!!

and us”

After approximately five or so minutes, the trio approached the stage and Meechy asked, “Still with us?” He then explained how he never went to engineering school, had no idea what happened, and that the techs were “fixing shit” and they would be “picking up where we left off.” He asked us to “pretend it never happened,” but I think it was important to include. As performers, they handled it the best way possible and picked up without skipping a beat. I always value these type of people. They redid Headstone and sincerely acted like nothing happened. It was a great example of real showmanship.

 

They continued the ViH trend for three more songs. Next on their list was M. Bison, which I lovingly refer to as the Gelato Song. I like how in this particular album and on tour, the trio shined light on each individual artist and producer’s talents while performing together. I felt this was a start to Zombie Juice’s spotlight, but each member had their chance later on. They followed up with Vacation, which I highly recommend watching the music video linked here. It’s such a summer jam but totally stays in their Brooklyn drug rap genre. As a kid who grew up watching TRL, I can fully appreciate a well-crafted music video. But anyway, back to the concert. Sans Joey Bada$$ it was still an amazing, dramatic performance. When Meechy shouted, “I just got back from Australia,” I felt that and I’ve barely been off this continent. I remember the set then getting quieter for a few seconds, which was broken by Meechy starting the chorus of Big Shrimp slowly for us to all get into the rhythm. Much like Vacation, Big Shrimp has a catchy chorus while still hitting hard in the verses. Quite a different tempo thanks to Erick the Architect, but still a similar vibe. If you didn’t know, Erick produces all their beats AND has an even portion of the rapping responsibility of his own in each song. He’s quite the powerhouse and force to be reckoned with.

 

The ZOMBiES switched back to 3001 with This Is It. Opposite to their Vacation video, this music video is stripped down with the three in black and white, no background beyond their individual dancing, rapping, smoking, outfit changes, and other dramatic effects added with moments of solidarity. Similar to this video, they all support one another while individually rapping live, giving quite the unified feeling. Somehow they do an amazing job of highlighting their individual talent while showing genuine symmetry. The whole bigger than the sum thing, but its even more than that. The sums are pretty damn incredible, too. It was a perfect song to play in ~the city of brotherhood~ or whatnot.

 

They stayed on the 3001 vibe for two more songs, following up with New Phone, Who Dis? where the term Zombie Mami came to exist (dammit, I NEED that necklace) and Ascension, which began the trend of each rapper having their own individual spotlight in their set. This began Meechy’s spotlight and was an exemplary intro into his harsh, raspy style. Presumably to show diversity in his style, he flipped back to ViH with Facts unfortunately not featuring Jadakiss. Similar to how he introduced Big Shrimp, Meechy Darko aka “Count Rackula aka 2Cup Shakur aka Durt Cobain aka” started Facts without the beat, which allowed the crowd to join in the rap-along. This concluded the first spotlight, which led to a lovely transition supported by a sample of Jimi Hendrix’s If 6 Was 9. I think the love for Hendrix was collectively felt within the crowd, myself very much included. He’s one of my personal favorites. Maybe that’s my own projection.

 

Zombie Juice aka Bud Bundy’s spotlight then commenced. This is not to say that none of the men didn’t say anything prolific before this moment, but it was definitely one that stood out prominently in my memory. Juice had the crowd repeat after him, saying,

“I,”

“I,”

“love,”

“love,”

“myself,”

“myself,” and made the crowd do it several times, just in this one instance. If anyone needed that reminder and the repetitive nature of that reminder, it was me. If no one else was grateful, at least I was. Juice then jumped into Leather Symphony without A$AP Twelvyy. I believe this was chosen to show how he makes a dang catchy chorus while having a hard-hitting, creative verse included. He then went into what’s being referred to on Setlist.fm as Unreleased R&B. The video links to M. Bison, which is inaccurate. Anyway, my notes simply say, “bust that pussy open 4 me,” so I’m pretty sure that was the gist of the song. He closed out his spotlight with Lava Prod. By The Architect which was released last summer. He assisted in cultivating self-love in the crowd with the “I love myself” callback again, then let The Architect take the stage with a sample of Kids With Guns by Gorillaz bringing him out.

 

Erick The Architect began with Proxies, which features a lot of samples he regularly uses in his beats along with his intense signature introduction. Beyond that, he is great with his rhymes. He’s just great. Before getting into his next song, he took a second to “talk about mental health,” which incited cheers throughout the crowd. He then noted how mental health is quite the real and tough issue to experience and shouted out to anyone who knows someone going through mental health struggles, even if the person was themselves. I wouldn’t dare attempt to butcher and fake quote the words he specifically used. He then asked for light either via a cell phone or lighter for the next song and transitioned to Trapped. Though mental health struggles come up in plenty of their songs, it was an appropriate time to discuss the topic. Full disclosure, much like Juice’s request to feel self love, this hit me. I had been struggling quite tremendously for the months leading up to this evening. It was another moment of harmony, one that actually brought me to tears. Only a few. Enough to wipe away subtly, or so I thought. After this, I noticed the couple in front of me hugging in solidarity, and the dude next to me got his lighter out. Remember how I thought I was being subtle?

 

The mood was switched with the transition to 222 from BetterOffDEAD, which was way more boppy and lighthearted (in FBZ’s own special way) to bring the remaining members back on stage. They reunited over 3001’s Trade-Off, which is yet another song that highlights their uniqueness with their own separate version of the chorus and verses. This song pulls no punches, which are some of my favorites from them personally. I think this song has particularly witty lines throughout, partnered with an intricate beat. The men then discussed their opinions on the concepts of power and influence. Of course my sociological brain always gets too into these one-sided conversations artists have on stage. I really wish I could sit down, chill with FBZ and talk further about their opinions on the topic with them. But really, if you guys want me to come to Brooklyn and chill, LMK. I’ll be there whenever you’re down. After the ZOMBiES’ lesson on power and influence, they got back into the See You in Hell vibe with Best American. How appropriate. I really, truly, deeply love political rap. This is a solid example of political rap at its finest. I promise to provide a list of other wonderful political rap songs in the future.

 

I did not anticipate the song that was to come on next. The beat for LUAM came on and the crowd started dancing hard. According to Setlist.fm, AK came out to join in this performance. I honestly was way too into it to notice but I trust them. If you’re unfamiliar, Flatbush ZOMBiES also are in Clockwork Indigo with The Underachievers. Check out their EP if you haven’t already. This then led to another sampling, this time featuring System Of A Down’s Toxicity. Oh yeah, SOAD is another band I casually loved growing up so I was not mad about the throwback on this Tuesday evening. Some of my favorite memories are of my friends drunkenly screaming along to Chop Suey! while out on the town. If you’ve ever been out in downtown Asbury Park, you’ll know what I mean.

 

They followed up the sample appropriately with S.C.O.S.A. an early jam of theirsThis assisted in keeping the crowd dancing and grooving. Another surprise followed with Bath Salt by A$AP Mob, wherein FBZ is featured. If only A$AP Mob came out, all of my dreams and fantasies would be fulfilled. They “concluded” their set with the last song on ViH, The Glory, a wonderful choice to bring the crowd down to earth before the encore.

 

Per concert tradition, the trio left the stage just to hear the crowd chant their request for “one more song.” The couple to my left and I joked about wanting two, or three, or ten more. They of course returned on stage to close out with arguably their most popular or recognizable song, Palm Trees. This influenced another collective cloud of smoke to end the evening, which was fitting for the closing song. They officially ended their set thanking the crowd for sticking with them through the technical difficulty, noting to request at least two more songs for next time, and leaving the crowd with the concept of, “open your fucking mind.”

 

The concert was in fact a mind opener for me. Not to say I keep my mind closed, but I am always seeking experiences to make me further reflect on life, people, music, traveling, society, and within myself. I got enough people-watching out of my system for a bit. I enjoyed the performance of one of my favorite hip-hop groups. I actually survived the evening relatively unscathed. I only cried once! That’s pretty solid, all things considered. I kept to myself for the most part but did have lovely interactions with the people I did speak with. Overall this was a successful date with myself and I think I would go out with me again sometime soon.

 

See? I survived. I lived. I felt alive.

I Saw DMX Three Days Before He Went Back To Jail. I Swear It Wasn’t My Fault.

One of my favorite hobbies is going to concerts and music festivals. I was fortunate to be raised by parents with the same hobby and saw Journey, Steely Dan, and other awesome bands as a kid. They also recognized my early passion for artists like Britney Spears and 98 Degrees and took me to see them, as well. Bless their hearts. Hell, my family even ditched back to school night when I was a freshman and my brother was a junior to see The Who. Beyond enjoying concert going, my brother played drums all hours of the day and night while we were growing up. This gave me exposure to all different genres since he would listen to anything he could find with an intricate or unique drum beat. I also have an affinity for any music that will make me dance. This led to me being exposed to a lot of hip-hop and rap in my early teens, where I credit my deep love for that particular style. As I do with everything, I take this passion as far as I can. I chose to spend my money going to Bonnaroo over going to prom. I went to a music festival in Montreal before I went to college. At this stage in the game, I attempt to go to a concert around once a month or so. I chalk it up to self-care and sticking to my roots.

 

Back in December, I was searching “local” venues’ schedules as I usually do. For me, local means anywhere within a drivable distance or a train ride or two away, particularly Philadelphia and New York for bigger acts. I try to research upcoming shows every few weeks or so, just to make sure I don’t miss anyone good. In one of my routine searches, I stumbled upon FREAKIN’ DMX playing at the Theater of Living Arts in Philadelphia. I immediately thought of all my amazing and tolerant friends I could convince to accompany me to such a magical evening. If my true friends know me, they know that any time DMX comes on anywhere I have no choice but to dance and rap along. I am obligated to do so. I have no say in the matter. But I digress. While fantasizing about seeing him live, I remembered my best friend /slash/ former roommate, Matt, still needed a birthday present. What’s a better present to give than one you want for yourself AND get to enjoy together? None. He took me to see Tegan and Sara’s The Con X Tour for my birthday, so I thought it’d be an even trade-off. I immediately sent him an emergency text informing him of his gift and he was down. Fantastic. I frantically ordered the tickets and knew X was gon’ give it to us.

 

January 27th rolled around and I was ready to GO. Traveling to concerts in Philly always feels like a mini-adventure for me since it takes over an hour to get there from ~The Jersey Shore~ and somehow just ends up being an escapade because of the antics I get into. Luckily, Matt lives closer to Philly so it helped break up the trip a bit. I stopped to pet his roommate’s dog. Again, another thing in life I’m just obligated to do- pet all the animals I have access to. We switched drivers and headed into the city of brotherhood for some shopping, sushi burritos (which are AMAZING), and DMX-ing.

 

We got to the TLA around 8 pm, hoping the opening acts would have at least started. This was true, however we didn’t get the memo that this DJ, which Matt and I recall to be named Dirty South Joe was going to play for over two and a half hours! I’m not complaining yet. The DJ played a chill mix of current songs and old jams. It allowed time for Matt and I to dance around and be silly. It was a decent time killer and gave everyone plenty of time to drink and smoke copious amounts of whatever they wanted. For real, people were even smoking cigarettes inside. I’m sure it was due to the frigid temperatures, but still. Other people were fully capable of stepping outside. As suspected, this led to quite a handful of people having too much fun and being escorted out of the venue. I even pulled a Social Worker Assist and helped a security guard by talking to a kid who was too high to make sure he was okay. Turned out he didn’t eat enough, hit his pen too hard, and fainted in the crowd. I even had an extra drink than I had originally intended (bought for me, you know how it goes… guy ~accidentally spills his drink on me and friend takes it as an opportunity to buy me a drink sort of gig~ even though I was with my male friend).

 

Around 10:30-10:45 pm, the crowd began to verbally express frustration toward the length of time we had to wait for His Royal Highness by booing and shouting other obscenities. We then heard people mumbling, saying he canceled his show the previous night and didn’t announce it until midnight.  Since it was ~Matt’s birthday present~ I gave him the responsibility to decide what we were going to do. I will find any excuse to pawn decision-making onto someone else but this seemed valid to me. He suggested we wait it out a little longer, and thank goodness we did. The way the rest of the night unfolded was worth the over four-HOUR wait to see DMX for a multitude of reasons.

 

As I mentioned before, the longer they kept the crowd waiting, the more vocal about their frustrations they became. In hopes of easing the crowd, X sent out some artists to spit rhymes while we continued to wait for him. People were openly booing the supporting rappers seemingly nonstop their entire performances. Of course Matt and I were laughing at the social scene we were witnessing and basking in all the opportunities to people watch. There was a dude wearing a backwards tucker hat with the words Sick Day printed across trying very hard to hit on multiple girls. Sick Day actually climbed under a railing and stuck his head through to talk to a girl. If you’re reading this, Sick Day, thank you for the pure entertainment. Matt also photobombed pictures of girls posing hard to make me laugh. A girl sitting next to us was complaining on Instagram Live about the wait. You know, the usual drunk and annoyed concert crowd.

 

It was around midnight. Matt and I mutually confessed how hungry we were and debated what would possibly still be open by the time we get out. I checked in again to see if he wanted to keep waiting and he said he did. We ultimately remembered Wawa is always there, no matter the time, to save the night (morning, technically). This ended up being the moment the crowd was SO PATIENTLY waiting for. DMX finally emerged onto the stage. We were genuinely surprised to see DMX at his own show.

 

It was well worth the wait. I have to say he did put on an amazing show. He seemed to genuinely enjoy performing and knew exactly what he was doing. It appeared to be second nature for him. He exuded confidence while also remaining humble and appreciative of the fans. Matt and I started watching his performance from the balcony then ultimately made our way down to the crowd to bop around to One More Road To Cross. After performing his first few songs he began discussing how much he loves performing. He said, and I quote, “When I’m on stage in front of a room full of people that love me, it’s better than the best pussy I ever got in my fuckin’ life.” The crowd exploded with cheers. I was hysterically laughing, NOT because I didn’t appreciate the sentiment, but because HOLY CANNOLI DMX IS LOW KEY HILARIOUS! He then told us “we knew what time it was,” and proceeded to climb the speakers on stage right. Matt commented that he “hopped on like an old person,” which was a fair and funny observation. He is 47. After some brief crowd hyping, he jumped into Ruff Ryder’s Anthem, which made everyone go wild.

 

I admit I didn’t do my due diligence of documenting every song he played as I wasn’t intending on writing a review in the first place. I’ll blame it on the anticipation, extra drink, memory problems in general (a familial disease we call Can’t Remember Shit) and the need to jam out with my best friend for his birthday. I promise to improve on the memory-recall thing for next time. I do prominently remember him going into What These Bitches Want with lots of pent-up energy. He seemed to feel really passionate about these women mentioned in the song. It’s another one of those giggle songs for me. We were then blessed with Party Up (Up In Here), which is arguably one of his most recognizable songs. Even my mom knows the line, “Y’all gon’ make me lose my mind, up in here, up in here.” It is also the song I am particularly under obligation to rock out to, regardless of where I am or who’s watching. I have friends who first met me in such instances. The crowd mutually rocked out together and shouted the lyrics with the dawg himself. This trend continued with a follow-up of X Gon’ Give It To Ya, another classic to get down with.

 

I could tell the concert was coming to an end a little after one am.  He was starting to give some parting words and was transitioning to his last song.  He closed with Slippin’, which ended up being quite the predictor of what was to come for Earl Simmons in real life in the next few days and months to come.  The crowd was filled with lighters and cell phones beaming light at X whiles he performed one of his most personal songs.  He was continuously singing, “Yo, I’m slippin’, I’m fallin’,” throughout the closing of the show. Maybe it was a cry for help. Maybe it was an acceptance of his reality. I haven’t figured it out yet. The lights came on soon after and we made our way out.

 

Matt and I felt truly lucky to have seen him in all his glory. He put on a spectacular one hour and 15-minute performance despite the over four-hour hold up. We felt it was totally worth the time and hunger. I felt accomplished for providing an awesome birthday celebration. We quickly made our way to the nearest Wawa, much like most of the remaining concert goers, to prepare for our trek home. It was a successful evening on our side. While writing this article, I asked Matt for his most memorable moments from the evening since 1) he was sober, 2) it was ~his birthday present~ and 3) for added commentary. He mentioned the dude fainting and someone thinking Matt was proposing to me in the smoking section outside, which I had previously forgotten about. He bent down to tie his shoe as I was innocently standing next to him. A nearby woman shouted, “Oh my god, are you proposing to her?!” We cracked up. Of course someone would look at us and be like, “Yep! Marriage proposal in the smoking section!”

 

Three days later, I was doing my typical Instagram-Tumblr-Twitter surfing rotation and came across a tweet from @TheSource saying Rapper DMX Heads Back to Jail After Failing Drug Test. My first reaction went something like, “Duh. But damn. What?!” I forwarded the article to Matt, jokingly saying it was “all his fault.” Matt’s reply was, “He was sad that he had let me down.” All jokes aside, the article further explains X apparently went on tour without the consent of the judge and without his Mobile Drug Counselor, thus why he was ordered to take a drug test and presumably what led to his failure. The Source article cites Simmons’ one-year-old was hospitalized in mid January with a high fever, which led to his relapse.

 

DMX ended up back in jail because he tested positive for cocaine and oxycodone. His court date to determine his sentence for his 14 counts of tax evasion (totaling 1.7 million) was set for March, wherein Prosecutors were pushing for a five-year sentence even though X pled guilty. It appeared to be another example of throwing the book at a celebrity to deter others from making similar mistakes.

 

The conclusion of his last show was quite the foreshadow to how his sentencing went to determine the proper time DMX should serve for his crimes.  According to the New York Times article Judge Gives DMX a Year in Prison and a Chance to Be Heard, Musically, his defense team played a recording of Slippin’ for the judge to give full perspective of his rough life, from growing up in an abusive home and battling addiction. The song must have helped, considering his sentence was knocked down to one year instead of five. I can appreciate a judge who will listen to a defendant, victim, or anyone for that matter, and take the whole story into consideration when sentencing. Simmons acknowledged responsibility for his tax evasion but stated he wasn’t trying to be “like a criminal in a comic book.” There is quite the difference between violent and non-violent crimes. Not that X is a non-violent person, but all things considered I believe the shorter sentence to help him work on his substance use and financial issues is priority over more time and tax money.

 

Per usual, I never really know what I’m getting myself into when I take on these adventures. I always simply hope for a fun night with a good story. Because I come from a sociology and social work background, I am always looking at everything through that lens, even if its a concert.  I had no idea my best friend’s birthday celebration would turn into such an epic and historic night for us. I had no idea that the performer would be back in jail three days later.

 

See? It really wasn’t my fault!