A better understanding

In 1981, I was a Kristy McNichol look-alike, but with slightly larger, Bugs Bunny teeth crowding my oversized-smile. My thick, mousy brown waves had a life of their own and always seemed to lose the battle with the Hawaiian island humidity. I was an average sized tomboy who tanned easily with an SPF army of sun freckles splashed on the bridge of my turned-up Irish nose. I was a perfect tropical storm of adorable and awkward.
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When we weren’t in school, my friends and I spent our days body boarding the Free Disneyland waves of Waikiki Beach. I loved the outdoors, and like a true water sign, spent most my waking days in the ocean. My favorite pastime was riding those Waikiki water-coasters.
I LOVED my new bike!

On dry land, I tore up the neighborhood on my yellow Schwinn bike, complete with tasseled handlebars and glittered plastic banana-shaped seat. It was a time when childhood danced with freedom and Mother Nature was my discothèque.

Then I turned thirteen.

One day after noticing sporadic red bumps on my temples, forehead and cheeks, I asked my mom to pick up some CoverGirl® make-up at the drugstore. I thought I would slap some liquid loveliness on my face and poof; easy, breezy, beautiful.

My color selection and application skills were non-existent, so what I hoped would transform my face in to the next Christie Brinkley, made me look more like an Oompa Loompa. Like most teen-age girls experimenting with face-paint, I completely missed the mark.

So there I was, my bumpy pumpkin face hiding behind matching orange Pee Chee® folders, running around school in leg warmers and shoulder pads.

That same year, MTV exploded on the social scene, so wearing heavy Blondie-like make-up helped support my Glamamouflage cause.

Left profile following scar excision surgery

Theater tricks aside, my skin issues were far from concealed. The little red bumps quickly graduated to full blown golf-ball sized cysts and they were erupting all over my body.

I was diagnosed with Grade IV Nodulocystic Acne Vulgaris, a very severe skin disease consisting of deep seated fluctuant nodules and cysts. Most of my face, chest and back were infected and I would go on to have several surgeries on my face to remedy the scarring.

It was the beginning of a life-long struggle to ever feel normal-looking again.

Next up: Stripping to feel beautiful.

Christine Macdonald

Crazy is the new black

Being medicated is like being in the criminal system: once you get locked in, it’s hard to get out.

I’ve been called coke whore, boozer, pill-popper and just plain crazy. I have answered to all. When unsupervised, my brain can be chaos.

Thanks to self-induced damage from decades of abuse and good old-fashioned hard-wiring there is nothing more I can do than embrace The Crazy.

I am obsessive.

I am a drama queen.

I am compulsive.

I use double spacing and fragmented sentences for effect.

The reason I love Carrie Fisher so much (and Wishful Drinking) is because we share the same balls-out attitude. What is the alternative – shame? I don’t have the right wardrobe for that.

Everyone has a story. So tell me — what’s yours?

Anonymous comments welcome.

 

Christine Macdonald

Driving me back

 

There is something about road trips alone that bring reflection. I drove a little under four hours today. That’s a lot of thinking. This story is 100% true and a result of that.

1995 – Waikiki

“I don’t want to live any more.”

One, one-thousand. Two, one-thousand.

Three seconds of silence filled the line before Ben spoke.

“You’re talking crazy.” He was searching for my smile.

“I have a knife. It’s in my hand.” Hearing the words whispered from my quivering lips still didn’t convince me it was real.

“You really have a knife? I’m coming over. Promise me you aren’t going to do anything.”

“No. Don’t.”

Please hurry.

“I’m fine.”

I’m not.

“Fuck, Christine, shut the fuck up. I am on my way. I’m hanging up now so be ready to buzz me up in five minutes.”

Four, one-thousand.

“Fuck. Say something Christine.” I knew he was serious because he was calling me by my first name. Stephanie was somewhere lost inside me and he knew it.

“Ok.”

Please hurry.

After Ben talked me off the ledge of despair, he attempted to make me laugh. I managed a smile and through my shame of dramatic disposition, I leaned over and opened my arms.

Ben and I shared an embrace. There was nothing romantic or sexual about it; with Ben my love always shone under the neon lights of Platonic Party Friend. But after this episode, he was a brother.

Unlike every other male friend I hung out with, Ben and I never had sex. We kissed once high on ecstasy and shared a nervous laugh in the others’ mouth. It was awkward.

My clinical depression took me places I never imagined. I used to hide from the world in my apartment, unplug the phone and ingest massive amounts of drugs. I plotted my death. Envisioned who would show up at my funeral. What would they say? What music would they play at the wake and more importantly, what would they be wearing?

When I finally felt like actually following through with my fantasy, I reached out. I connected my phone to the wall and dialed up Ben before I even knew what I was doing.

***

After leaving the island and losing touch with just about everybody from those days, I sought help. I spoke of Ben frequently in my sessions.

Deep down I knew I never wanted to die. I simply didn’t know how to live.

Fast-forward almost twenty years and thanks to the marvels of technology, Ben and I have reconnected.

This post is a love letter. My way of saying thank you to Ben. He helped save my life before I knew I was capable of doing it myself. Thank you, sweet Ben. My knight in shining friend.

Christine Macdonald