This November, I’m telling 30 stories about 30 albums. The albums on this list are not necessarily my favorite albums, but they are the ones that are instantly associated with a time and place. All of these albums represent a chapter of my life. This is the story of those albums, and by extension, the story of me, presented mostly chronologically.
A bit of a warning: The posts this week are rough and they only get worse from here. This one is all stardust and rainbows in comparison to what’s to come.
Album 10: The Land Of Rape & Honey by Ministry.
By the end of my junior year in high school, I stopped giving a crap about anything. I skipped school constantly, and if I showed up at all, I was drunk or high or both. It became a thing to skip first period, get provisions at Taco Bell, and go to a friend’s house to get high and watch Scoobie-Doo re-runs. I’d smoke joints with the parking lot attendant during lunch (parking lot attendants always have the best weed). I kept a bottle of vodka in my locker. I’d get a soda, drink or pour out half of it, and fill the rest with vodka. Redhead, brunette and I nearly got kicked off the bus on a school trip, because we were wasted.
By the time I was a senior, my cumulative high school GPA had dropped from a near perfect 4.0 (math was always my nemesis) to barely 3.7 in less than one year. That’s quite an accomplishment. I got a D in a class for the first time in my life and I was this close to failing several classes. I did not care at all. I went from an excellent student to barely showing up, physically or otherwise. I spent time in class cutting deliberate lines on my forearms or sticking safety pins through my epidermis. I didn’t even care about hiding the scars.
On my fifteenth birthday, I walked downstairs expecting my favorite breakfast and a resounding chorus of Happy Birthday. Instead, I was greeted with a work permit. “You’re old enough to work now. You’ll have to start supporting yourself.” “Wait, what?” From that day on, I stopped getting an allowance and had to earn my own. I had to buy all of my own clothes, music, cars, and whatever else it is that a teen girl needs to own. They didn’t charge me room and board though. How thoughtful. Had they given me any warning that this was coming, it might not have been so bad, but they didn’t.
I got my first job when I was fifteen years and two weeks old at a live music venue. I made good money for a teenager, above minimum wage. With only a few gaps here and there, I have been working full-time ever since. From the time I was old enough to work, I’ve never had the financial security of a family to fall back on.
Meanwhile, my sister was attending University of Michigan on my family’s dime. Her education and even the rent on her off-campus apartment was paid for by them, but I had to buy everything myself. My sister didn’t have a job, but I did.
My mom cosigned on my bank account and stole $400 from me to pay for my sister’s spring break trip. Yes, you read that right. A parent stole hard-earned money from her teenage daughter to pay for her other daughter’s vacation. I got my own bank account shortly thereafter, but I never got that $400 back.
This nonsense, coupled with the sexual abuse my family allowed into our home when I was seven, and their refusal to do anything about it, made me rebel in a big way. I was seething with resentment and I hated my entire family. I ran away from home to Redhead’s house many times, but they kept dragging me back. I gradually just stopped caring about anything, including my continued existence.
I don’t think I even remembered the sexual abuse at this point since there was a good long while where I blocked it out, but even if the memories weren’t there, the emotions were. I wasn’t able to connect point A–sexual abuse to point B–rebellion, but my family, who should have, didn’t either. I wouldn’t connect those two things for many years to come. Had I been able to do so earlier, i.e., had my parents gotten me help at any point before that, I might not have gone through many of the hardships that I did. My subconscious was screaming for help and no one was listening, not even me. Still, no one–not my family, not the school nor anyone else–thought to get me any real help. My parents forced me to see a psychiatrist once. One session was all I had, as if that would cure everything.
Brunette started dating a guy at another school. We hung out with him and his friends a lot, all boys, because it was an all boys private school. One of them was the domestic violence monster who would try to murder me years later, but that’s a story for another time.
I had managed to avoid having a boyfriend all through school. It’s not that I didn’t have suitors; I just didn’t want to be involved with anyone. I had enough shit to deal with, though I wasn’t dealing with it; I was just masking it with drugs and alcohol.
Even though I wasn’t technically a virgin since the pedophile stole that distinction from me years before, one night at a party, I decided to get it over with. I chose one of Brunette’s boyfriend’s friends and thought, “good enough.” We had awkward, terrible, no good sex in the corner of a room where there were a few other people. My first real kiss and my first fuck happened within five minutes of each other.
When I think about that now, I cringe. Not the awkward, terrible, no good sex, because no one’s “first time” is any good, but the “good enough.” I was already so terribly broken and I didn’t even realize it. It was just the first of many terrible decisions I would make regarding sex. I don’t even remember his name.
The guy promised me a ride home since I had come with a friend who was long gone. The next morning, his car wouldn’t start. I loaned him $20 and he ran up to a junkyard, bought another starter, and installed it; skills I might have been impressed by, but I was just bored.
That night or a few nights later, my friends and I went to all ages night at a bar we frequented in downtown Detroit, and written on the bathroom wall was “[whatever his name was] is a lousy lay.” I remember thinking to myself, “Yup,” even though I had nothing but a sadistic monster pedophile to compare it to.
The boy tried to date me. Poor thing, I think he actually liked me. I scornfully rebuffed him. Years later, I ran into him again and he returned the $20 I loaned him.
This was the album that was playing in that room the night of the party.