Tour Reflections…

Uncategorized | June 5th, 2013

…and then some.

I have been home for about roughly 4 days now, and I leave again in about 5. I’ve been sleeping 8 hours a night since I got home, but I am still exhausted. People keep asking me how the tour was…it’s hard to say, it’s kind of like when people used to ask me what married life was like back when Dan and I were still newly weds.

If I could sum up tour into one word, it would be EMOTIONAL. I sat with Dan, showing him some highlights that I had filmed. While I haven’t been touring as long as the veterans out there, I have been touring long enough to where the last 4 years kind of blend together, and it’s hard to say what stands out the most. It really depends on what mood I’m in when I’m asked, who’s asking, and what I can remember in that moment.

Life is a blur, and I’m enjoying the little bit of time I have at home while I can.

For the most part, tour was absolutely amazing. I met almost every person I’ve ever wanted to have a face to face encounter with and every visit was pretty much exactly as I imagined it would be. One of my favorite of these was finally meeting Ugly Shyla, a good friend for years since back in the days of MySpace. Shyla is a doll artist(among many other talents) who creates to help purge the nightmares she has about brutally murdered children and crimes against women. Her art is very intense and often misunderstood, but she does it without apologies and I feel it is important and necessary as all art should be. If art doesn’t make you feel something, then what’s the point? Once upon a time, she used to do commissioned work as well, and is responsible for the zombie cake topper that was used on my wedding cake. She is a true artist to the core, and I have a lot of admiration and respect for her. While her appearance is intimidating to a lot of people, she’s a big hearted cajun gal that will happily gab your ear off if given the chance, and she is one of my favorite people. She also makes a pretty delicious crawdad gumbo. 🙂

Shyla is also the mommy to the internationally famous, Winklehimer Smith The Painting Squirrel. It was odd being climbed like a tree, squirrels are fast little creatures.

Another highlight of the tour was getting to meet John Howard, my favorite comic book artist. I wrote about that visit a bit more in depth in my blogging about being a stalker…lol.

Seriously though, John has got to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He’s a very shy, polite individual with a gentle soul, and I’m glad I finally got to meet him face to face. His art work will be appearing more and more at my merch booth in the future, and you will also see it incorporated with a lot of my business stuff. I think the world should know who he is, because he really is an incredible artist with his own style that stands out on it’s own. In my opinion he should be as easily recognizable as Crumb or Coop, and I’m gonna do my best to ensure that happens.

Artwork John did for my last album cover.

While I love Wonder Woman, my favorite heroine was always John’s unnamed femme fatale from his shortlived series put out in the 90’s, Horny Biker Slut. In all of the smut and filth I found a strong woman that he created, and she’s one of my heroes. Just like all the other ones I have, she doesn’t really exist, so she can’t ever let me down. She’s a comic book character, so she does whatever the fuck she wants, and that’s rad. I was 16 when I found her, and it’s something that’s stuck with me the rest of my life and I don’t think that’s ever going to change. No matter what happens to her, she rides on to seek another adventure on a new day. I found it inspiring then, and I still find it inspiring now. The painting behind us in the picture of us in the luchador masks is one of his recent paintings of her. John said he thinks I’m his youngest fan. Most of the folks into his stuff are dirty old men. lol

I was almost embarrassed to tell him that I plan on getting my endorsement this September, but it’s true…I am, and John has agreed to take a crack at painting my tank and fenders. I had been toying with the idea of learning to ride for years, but I was always too drunk. It’s the only thing Dan has ever flat out told me that he didn’t want me doing, and he always had a strong argument too. But now that I’m sober, with no intention of going back to the bottle, he’s fine with me learning how to ride.

A work in progress, but she’s all mine!

I guess it’s silly to be embarrassed about anything at this point in my life. I can pee standing up and light my junk on fire in front of a shit ton of people, but expressing the depth to which an imaginary character has touched my life, and suddenly I’m all miss girly, shy retard. It’s pretty ridiculous. I am pretty ridiculous…I mean have you met me? I’m like a living cartoon character…the eternal child that somehow maintains responsibilities.

Another day that really stands out for me along the tour path was Salem. I guess you could say it helped to set the immediate mood of the tour. 11 or so years ago, I walked up to my grandmother’s doorstep after not having seen her in almost 2 years. The first thing she did was grab me by the chin and inspect my face with a disgusted look of disapproval on her face (the lip rings were new to her). She turned my head to the left and to the right, then said, “I don’t understand why such a beautiful girl would want to make herself look so damned ugly.” I choked back the tears, gave a quick halfhearted hug, and said sarcastically, “hey, it’s great to see ya, love ya so much, haven’t seen ya in awhile, you doin’ okay? Life been good?” She regains her composure a bit, then says, “my god, I’m sorry hunny, how are you, yeah it has been a long time, can you stay awhile?” I told her no, didn’t bother walking into the house, and said I had things to do. Then I left and walked to my buddy Lee’s house, where I was greeted with a beer, a bowl, a smile, and the comfort of being accepted and loved for who I am, however I am.

This is one day of many that has stuck with me for years, and probably will for the rest of my life. If you’ve spent some time reading anything I’ve ever written or are familiar with my music at all, then the relationship I have with my family should make a lot of sense. I have spent the last few years letting people go who could not accept me for me, and in turn I have been learning how to accept others as they are. My grandfather didn’t come out to my wedding because it wasn’t at a church, and apparently my decision to not have children broke his heart. It took sending him every single picture I had of him back to him with a 12 page letter to figure that one out. Grandpa’s girl, his favorite shining star wouldn’t give him great grandchildren, and somehow that’s a just cause to shut me out.

It’s scary to think that I am the most well adjusted member of my family…but this trip was different. A lot has happened in the last 4 years, and honestly if you want to know about it, it’s all here…it’s in my lyrics, it’s in my blogs, there’s an internet trail over 10 years long if you dig deep enough, and it’s all there, out in the open…full board honesty, because I am the worst liar I know, so it’s not something I really attempt to do. I figure it’s best to stick with what you’re good at. I’m good at being me, and I’m good at being honest.

If you’d like to read more about the tour date in Salem, there’s more of it here.

Me with my grandparents…all of us wearing real smiles.

What I didn’t include in that blog was any in depth about the impact the jam session I had with my Uncle Walt had on me. When I was showing Dan video clips from tour, this was one of the ones that I came across, and it broke my heart to listen to it, and it breaks my heart to watch it. I know my family, I know where I come from, and I understand the life he gave up when he married into it. He gave me some very sound advice, and it’s a good thing I’m too far gone at this point…there’s no turning back, and there’s nothing else for me but the music. Meaning that giving up is no longer an option(not that it ever really was). I feel fortunate enough to have Dan in my life. He is amazing, super supportive, and it’s because of his love and acceptance that I made it this far. My heart breaks for my Uncle Walt, my heart breaks for anyone who feels their dreams have passed them by.

I have a shit ton of songs I listen to as pick-me-ups when the days grow too long and the trials of the road make me weary…they are songs that remind me that pain is only temporary and there’s a brighter day ahead. Bad days never last forever. 2 of these songs are ones my step-father, David encouraged me to listen to when I was a child. Since I’ve grown older, he told me that he saw a strength in me even as a child that was admirable, and he made it clear to me that these two songs were very important and to listen to them and take them to heart. They are Heart of Steel and Master of the Wind. Both songs are by ManOwaR. The tattoo on my chest is my interpretation of the song Heart of Steel. It’s a steel heart sitting on the embers of a glowing fire, burnt into my skin is mirrored bass clefs, and the words “Stand and fight, live by your heart” are pumping through the blue steel of the heart. This is one of my favorite tattoos, and every time I get out of the shower and look into the mirror, it is a constant reminder to remain true to myself and do that which is only right by my heart.

In the song, Master of The Wind, there’s a line that says “Falling stars now light my way, my life was written on the wind.” When I was younger, I didn’t understand the metaphor and I took it literal, but now that I’m older, I recognize it. I felt the truth of it when my grandmother hugged me tightly and said, “I am so proud of you for going after your dreams, because I never had the will or determination to carry out my own.”

(and it will, because no one gets out alive)

The depth to which I feel and the depth to which I believe in the power of my dreams is something I will never be able to explain…it will only be understood by those who have felt what it is to be ridiculed and shut out, laughed at and cast aside for believing in their silly dreams. From Heart of Steel, “Those who laugh and crowd the path and cut each other’s throats Will fall like melting snow. They’ll watch us rise with fire in our eyes, They’ll bow their heads, Their hearts will hang low. Then we’ll laugh and they will kneel and know this heart of steel was Too hard to break, Too hard to hold.”

If you do not know what it’s like to sacrifice your family, to stand on the brink of insanity, to feel like you are the only one who is giving every breath of your being to the moment and the realization of your dream…then you will never understand. You will never understand why every drop of blood, every sleepless hour, every night that you curl in a ball crying yourself to sleep is worth that which you are doing your damndest to obtain. Sacrifice is a part of life…we all make our sacrifices, and the greater the sacrifice, the greater the accomplishment. There is no time to bitch, there is no time to slow down…there is only go and drive. There is only the attitude that says, “whatever it takes to get me to my goal without sacrificing my soul”. You can’t read it in a book, you can’t find it riding the fence, and you can’t live it through the lives of others…it’s all or it’s nothing…it’s learning and it’s growing…it’s pain and it’s joy. It’s life, and I am living it every day that I breathe.

This leads me to mention another person I was happy to meet along my travels, George Frizzell Jr., or better known as George The Painter to those who frequently read The Horse, a chopper magazine. Dan brought a couple issues home from work last year, because he thought I’d really connect with George’s articles. Within’ 3 magazines, I was dead set on wanting to meet him. The intention was to go to Smoke Out last year with my buddy Matt, but plans fell through. No biggy, everything comes in it’s own time and it’s own way. Eventually I found George on Facebook and discovered he had a book coming out in the near future. I grabbed up a copy less then a few days before leaving for tour. It kept me sane when situations would arise that my touring companions didn’t get. I’d read it and I’d smile, and we’d talk on the phone, and I’d smile. When you’re the kind of person who feels like your the only one going crazy for your passion, and you read about the struggles another goes through for the things they love, it makes you feel a little less alone in the world. Don’t fool yourself, you’re still alone because no one’s battle is the same…but your not alone in your dedication. Pretty much, the way I saw it, I had found another kindred spirit who felt the way about his bike that I felt about my music, and I wanted to connect face to face.

He calls his book a bathroom reader, but to me it’s a road guide on how to not take life too seriously no matter what comes your way. Buy this book, just fucking do it!

I’m kind of skipping along here, but it’s because of George that I made it to Choppertown Camparound. He’s the one who invited me out and talked the guys into letting me jump on stage. It’s because of his book that I better understood what it meant to ride motorcycles, and it finally clicked in my head why Dan gets so flustered when his ain’t running. Also gave me a better perspective on the seriousness of it all and why Dan was so adamant about not wanting me to ride back when I drank. Still though, I won’t fully connect until I take that first solo ride. I’ve been on the back of a bike off and on since I was a little girl, but it’s not the same when it’s just you doing your best to “keep the rubber side down”. When George got to the rally, not long after we’d been hanging out, he kind of laughed and said, “ya know, it’s odd that I just met you and it feels like we’ve been friends for about 5 or 6 years.” I just smiled. It was just as chill of an experience as I expected it to be, and I’m really lookin’ forward to getting my endorsement and taking some trips on two wheels. Choppertown wasn’t special just because I got to meet George though, Choppertown was special because it was Choppertown, and I felt instantly at peace and a part of the family from the moment I arrived. Seriously met a shit ton of awesome folks, and I can’t wait to go back next year.

There were more pics, but I can’t find them. Really wanted to post the picture of me and Trina, because that chick was fuckin’ rad and I really enjoyed hangin’ out with her.

There was so much more I could write about…Boston, fuck everywhere really if I think on it long enough…every place is special in it’s own way…

Tour is joy, tour is pain, tour is life. I do not look down upon others who do not feel as I feel, but it makes it so very hard to explain. The joy I feel by overcoming the struggle it takes to get to the next show and play it is the same joy anyone feels in that moment when everything in the universe lines up in a single moment that brings you whatever it was your heart so desperately wanted that you worked so hard for. The greater the struggle you overcome, the greater the joy you will find. You get out of life whatever you put into it and for me, I put my whole self in, because I know of no other way that satisfies the hunger in my soul and I know of no other way that tames the demon of chaos that battles me for control. Amidst the chaos I find peace and calm in my spirit. When the road gets rough, I get to see what I can live through, I get to see what I’m made of. When I get home, I look back and say, “hell yeah, wow…what a ride that was, let’s see if I can do it again!”

What this has led to is some of the most amazing adventures I’ve ever encountered, and I still feel like I’m just getting started.

No matter what happens in my life, no matter who I piss off or who’s heart I break in the process…you can not deny that I live to the fullest of my capacity, and my boundaries keep growing. Fuck the boundaries, let’s explore outer-space and inner-space, let’s not be afraid to know ourselves, let’s not be afraid to love or afraid to care, and let’s not be afraid to stand our ground when the moment calls for it.

I don’t know how often I’ll be able to check my internet once I get to Europe and I’m leaving Monday. I’ll be back in August because I have a good feeling that I’m going to live through this experience as well. At the very least, long enough to go on another tour.

Don’t let anyone shit on your dreams, don’t let anyone make you feel less than what you’re worth, and in turn do your best to not crush others in your path…if we were all busy doing the very best we could to follow our hearts, then we’d have no time to judge others. I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means, but I’m striving to be better, and I’m looking for more kindred spirits to share a moment or two with along the way.

Life is too short to waste it on being somewhere you don’t want to be.

Peace out. I love you all so fucking much it hurts. And it should…because it means I’m still breathing.

I’ll see ya when I see ya.

– Z


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