Thursday, July 2, 2015

I Am The Phoenix

A summary of my diary (minus the personal stuff) 
~February 20-June 30, 2015.~
If this sounds like a whole bunch of whiney boring crap to you, imagine what it was like to live it.

The Allergies

It all began the day after a friend's birthday party at Dino's at the end of last February. I was crushed by a brutal allergy attack (I totally blame Dino's) that lasted 8 long miserable weeks. I tried to tough it out with no medicine but it just wouldn't go away. The local news said it was the worst allergy season Las Vegas had seen in many years. I concur. I began having what seemed like random hot flashes. I couldn't handle extreme temperature changes or bright light. This caused me to have a total breakdown on a friend's birthday party bus. A neighbor gave me some allergy medicine to try and assured me that it was non-drowsy formula. He was wrong. It took me 10 days of extreme lethargy to figure that out. Doctors didn't want to give me a steroid shot because I'd already had so many of them in my lifetime. Eight weeks later, the allergies finally began to go away.

The Spine

The same week the allergy attack came over me, I was scheduled to begin physical therapy to correct the (lack of) curve in my spine caused by 23 years of being a manicurist hunched over a table. I spent over an hour at a chiropractor's office including 20 minutes of cervical traction and adjustments 3 times a week before work. The allergies left me exhausted while my spine and muscles were fighting to heal. Between that and the allergy medicine, I was sleeping 10+ hours a day. Not only did I manage to keep up a full time job and take care of a household at the same time,  I somehow also managed to move my nail business to a new location one weekend in the middle of all this. Unfortunately, I ran out of insurance, time and money before a proper curve in my neck could be fully achieved and I had to discontinue my appointments after 3 months of tri-weekly treatment. I will return for more treatments after the first of January 2016.

However, in the midst of all this physical exhaustion, a real miracle occurred...
When I was 13, I was sent to the doctor by the school nurse with the suspicion of scoliosis in my spine. This really crappy doctor, whom to this day I still credit with the death of my grandfather, didn't think this odd curve in my spine, located between my shoulder blades, was scoliosis but had no solution for the problem besides putting me in a brace, which I declined. I was under the impression at this young age that I was born with this deformity in my spine and it was just something I had to live with. It sometimes felt like I had a hook in my shoulder blade. I was unable to rotate my right shoulder backwards without feeling this "hook." For 20 years, assorted massage therapists tried to rub the knots out of my upper back but relief was only temporary. About 2 months into the cervical traction treatments, I noticed one day while driving that I very suddenly couldn't feel the "hook" in my shoulder blade anymore. I moved around in every direction, nearly doing the chicken dance in my car and it was GONE! I mentioned it to my chiropractor and he said that the x-rays showed that my spine was twisted in that area so apparently, the traction and adjustments must have straightened it out. He told me that it was likely caused by something violent like a car accident. Immediately, my mind went back to being 10 years old and deciding to run down the side of a large sand dune at Lake Michigan. I was a fast runner and I wasn't going to let my friends beat me to the bottom. I didn't understand the law of gravity + velocity and so my feet flew over my head and I tumbled violently, end over end down the side of the sand dune. As I layed there feeling broken, afraid to move, I knew something was wrong. My 10 year old mind wondered how they would get an ambulance to me in the sand. Instead of getting help, a bunch of adults told me to get up and walk it off. I'm convinced that was the incident that caused 30+ years of back problems for me. I've always been physically awkward, off balance and unable to dance but now for the first time in my adult life I move so gracefully and feminine!! I am grateful for this every single day and I feel like I have a new body.

The Water Leak

Just as I began to recover from the allergy attack, I was pet sitting for the neighbor who lives in the condo below me. I went into his bathroom to take care of the litter boxes and discovered a bubble in the ceiling, an apparent water leak coming from above, from my home. Two weeks later, demolition crews were tearing apart the walls and floors of both my bathroom and bedroom. My quiet home, my sanctuary, looked as if it had been turned upside down, shaken and covered with a thick layer of dust. I sneezed for weeks. I tried sleeping on the sofa but that was a bad idea. I would come home every night to this mess and want to cry. I eventually went numb. Construction workers, plumbers, contractors and estimators paraded through my home for 5 weeks. I was lucky if I got more than 6 hours of sleep on any given day during that time. It took me another 26 hours to clean, paint and reassemble everything with no help from any other human beings. Coincidently, the bathroom that was destroyed was the one room in desperate need of a remodel. This mess was a blessing in disguise paid for my homeowners insurance. It was a nightmare but I came out better in the end.


This is the last place I ever plan on getting political so let's just say I'm NOT a fan of Obama. Nonetheless, the ObamaCare funded affordable healthcare is one of the greatest things to ever happen in my life, financially. Being self-employed I was paying nearly $300/month for average health insurance with a huge $7500 deductible. I was insurance poor for many years, paying more for health, car, homeowners & life insurance than I paid for my mortgage. The first year government funded health insurance became available, I miscalculated my monthly credit in their favor which meant I was owed more credit than I took. My accountant said, "no worries. that just means you'll get a bigger tax return." Awesome! At the end of February, I found out how much I would be receiving and decided to use that money to pay for the part of my physical therapy that insurance didn't cover. How perfect. But then, the money never came. I got the runaround with the IRS for 3 months and they even had me thinking I was a victim of fraud before I finally learned that they were doing "a line by line" review of my tax return since I was getting back more than I paid in due to the healthcare credit. I just now, finally received my tax return money after all this time--plus interest!


The last 4 months have been quite a test for me physically, emotionally and mentally. I found myself getting very angry over the smallest things. I had no patience. I got into verbal fights with strangers, stormed out of an office, pissed off a co-worker (who still refuses to speak to me) and began living off donuts and coffee. And I don't care who you are, keep your annoying kid away from me or you will see ugly that you didn't even know existed. I had no regulator on my mouth (speaking or eating!) and I didn't care. Who am I?? I am PISSED that I had to deal with all this shit completely alone with nobody to help me, nobody looking out for me, nobody checking in on me and only one local friend actually offering help. Amazingly, all my local male friends went MIA and so did most of the people I thought were my best friends. My faith and my clients were my source of daily strength and my out-of-town friends/family were compassionate listeners. During this time I began having hot flashes. Being one of those people who is cold all the time, I went to my doctor for a blood test thinking with all this rage, I surely must be menopausal. The results came back perfectly normal with high cholesterol. (I blame the donuts.) I discovered that deep down I really am just an angry person who can't handle stress. Even through all my prayer and praise and faith, I became a numb, angry, impatient, hateful person. If this was a test, I definitely failed it emotionally and mentally.

It's all over now. Looking around me, I see that my home is better than it was, my back is better than it was, my business is more successful and my bills are paid off. Even though I knew it all would eventually work out, for the first time in months, I actually FEEL grateful, FEEL calm, FEEL normal. I went to sleep last night with a smile of victory. And I woke up the same way....LIKE A PHOENIX.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

IBX Nail Strengthening System Demo & Review for Professionals

As a 22+ year beauty industry professional specializing in nails, I am as thrilled as beauty school graduation day whenever a promising new nail product enters the market. With the invention of gel nail polish circa 2011, the nail industry changed overnight. It was the single greatest thing to happen for manicurists since the mid-1980s brought us safe (ethyl methacrylate) acrylic liquid! I often wondered what it must have been like for those techs learning and troubleshooting with acrylic nails for the first time. Like being dropped in the middle of a jungle and whacking your way through to civilization with a machete, or in our case a 100-grit nail file, now I know. The last 3 1/2 years of trying to get it right with gel manicures has been a challenge. With manufacturers changing their training instructions and every different gel polish company having different products and procedures, it has been at times a frustrating yet rewarding challenge. I am eternally grateful for the patience and understanding of my clientele as I slowly learned and honed my techniques over the years. 

We've been in this gel manicure game long enough now that we can no longer pretend that the removal of gel polish is always gentle and non-damaging to the wearer's natural nails. It can be and should be but it just doesn't always go that way in the busy time-constrained salon environment. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. Thank goodness for Famous Names, LLC and their newest product IBX!!!!

If you do gel manicures and you care about the health and condition of your clients' nails, then you need to have this product on hand. The IBX 2-step system was created for all natural nail clients whether they wear gel polish, normal nail polish or no polish at all. The thing that sets this product apart from any other nail strengthener is that it absorbs into the nail as opposed to sitting on top of the nail. Step 1 is called Repair. It's like the "base coat" of the system. Repair absorbs into the nail and lays down the foundation like double-sided sticky tape. Step 2 is called IBX. It's like the "top coat" of the system. It also absorbs into the nail and creates a strong but flexible weave with the Repair that the manufacturer calls IPN (inner penetrating network).
In only 2 months of using the IBX system regularly on my natural nail clients, I have seen the following improvements: 

  • splits fusing back together
  • ridges smoothing out
  • weak flexible nails becoming hard and solid
  • gel polish staying on longer with less peeling/chipping
  • Vinylux polish staying on for 2 weeks (!!!)

I can no longer imagine doing manicures without this product. I have the procedure down to where it only takes between 5-15 minutes. All you need besides the IBX kit is an LED lamp, a normal 75 watt light bulb or tiny hair dryer as a heat source, nail cleanser & 99% alcohol. The IBX kit comes with 2 bottles, Repair and IBX. Here is the procedure breakdown depending on whether you're applying to a gel polish client or a manicure client:

Gel Polish Client
Start by gently removing the gel polish completely. Shape the nails. Cleanse nails with a lint-free wipe saturated with a nail cleanser like CND Scrub Fresh. Shake the Repair bottle. Apply a very thin coat of Repair to all nails being careful to avoid the surrounding skin. Place your client's nails approximately 8" from a heat source (light bulb, hairdryer) for 1 MINUTE. Lightly blot the excess Repair from the nails with a dry lint-free wipe and cure them in your LED lamp for whatever the manufacturer's recommended cure time for gel polish is. (I use OPI's LED lamp for 30 seconds). Wipe nails with cleanser or 99% alcohol. Shake the IBX bottle. Apply a very thin coat of IBX in the same manner that you applied the Repair. Place client's hands under your heat source for 2 MINUTES. Blot, cure, wipe with cleanser. *For first time applications, it is necessary to heat the first coat of IBX for 4 MINUTES, blot, cure, cleanse and then apply a 2nd coat of IBX placing your client's hands under the heat source for the usual 2 MINUTES. Blot, cure, wipe with cleanser.* Proceed with your gel manicure as normal.

Basic Manicure Client
Start by removing nail polish completely. Shape the nails. Cleanse nails with a lint-free wipe saturated with a nail cleanser like CND Scrub Fresh. Shake the Repair bottle. Apply the Repair as a spot treatment to any splits, ridges, divots, damaged or peeling areas being careful to avoid the surrounding skin. Place your client's nails approximately 8" from a heat source (light bulb, hairdryer) for 1 MINUTE. Lightly blot the excess Repair from the nails with a dry lint-free wipe and cure them in your LED lamp for whatever the manufacturer's recommended cure time for gel polish is. (I use OPI's LED lamp for 30 seconds). *Do not blot the nail if you are using the Repair to fuse the layers of a peeling/delaminated nail back together, go directly to cure.* Wipe nails with cleanser or 99% alcohol. Shake the IBX bottle. Apply a very thin coat of IBX in the same manner that you applied the Repair. Place client's hands under your heat source for 2 MINUTES. Blot, cure, wipe with cleanser. *For first time applications, it is necessary to heat IBX for 4 MINUTES, blot, cure, cleanse then apply a 2nd coat of IBX placing your client's hands under the heat source for the usual 2 MINUTES. Blot, cure, wipe with cleanser.* Proceed with your manicure as normal.

UPDATE, NOVEMBER 2014: I was so thrilled with this incredible new product and how it has increased my client happiness and loyalty factor exponentially that I wanted to become an educator for Famous Names...and they accepted me! I couldn't be more proud to say that I am now working with award-winning Famous Names Products and I'm very excited about this new chapter in my professional career!

For more information or to purchase the IBX system (PROFESSIONALS ONLY):

Looking for a nail tech in the Las Vegas area who uses IBX?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Life Changes: Why I Dislike Music Festivals & Arena Rock Concerts

It is no secret to anyone how much I love some kinds of music. Music makes everything in my life except sleeping that much more enjoyable. I am therefore always drawn to places that have live music as I appreciate being surrounded by such kinds of talent.
However, one thing I never really talk about...and it may come as a huge surprise to many people who know me... is how much I dread attending large arena-style rock concerts. I'm convinced there's a vile place in hell for outdoor concert festivals as well. Of course, there are the traffic jams both in and out, plus the parking nightmares. (hello Woodstock!) Then there is the never ending challenge of being able to see the stage due to the people around and in front me who are either tall or moving around too much. It takes some social adeptness to be able to assess the obnoxiousness level of those around you at general admission shows and I've gotten pretty good at it, but inevitably some asshole always elbows his way in. I have forever despised the people who think concerts are just a big party for getting shit-faced wasted and don't even bother watching or listening to the band. On top of avoiding obnoxious drunks, I then aim to avoid inconsiderate smokers since I like to breathe while I'm trying to enjoy a show! And by the way, the reality is that all smokers are technically inconsiderate if they're lighting up in a public place because their smoke is going into everyone else's lungs regardless of where they hold their hand. Then there are the really big guys who push everyone out of their way and the aggressive assholes who throw drinks at people. All this to deal with while trying to appreciate talented artists playing their passions out on a stage!! It's just not worth it!!

There was once a time when I knew a lot of "important" people. I was always part of the inner circle and I was protected from the aforementioned experiences. I never had to mingle with the peons, so to speak, unless I wanted to. But over the last 6 years or so, that all began to change. Some people moved on and either forget about or no longer have room for me in their lives (or guest lists!) Most devastatingly of all, one of my closest friends who had all the connections and always looked out for me, died suddenly and unexpectedly. I woke up one day having to get concert tickets the normal way, I had no guest list pass and had to fend for myself in the crowd. "Oh poor spoiled snobby girl!" you might say. Say what you will. I don't fit in here. This is not where I belong.
I've tolerated this shit for way too many years. Especially now that the average ticket price for any large arena show in my city is around $100+, rock concerts and the mean, trashy heathens that attend them can kiss my music appreciating ass. I can count on less than 2 hands the musical acts I would still pay that price to see. (Robert Plant, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, The Black Crowes, Foo Fighters, Guns N Roses) I even boycotted Collective Soul the last time they played at the Hard Rock Hotel pool for the main reason that the last time they played there, maybe 400 people attended specifically to enjoy the music while another 1200 people were there just to "party" and act obnoxious. It's not fun. You're fooling yourself if you say it is.

I'm sorry my concert-going friends, I always appreciate your invites but I'm going to be a lot more choosy about where I spend my time and money. If it's not a small cozy venue or side stage as a guest of the band, you won't be seeing me struggling to defend my air and space at these miserable concert experiences anymore. To make my resolve loud and clear, next weekend I'm sadly choosing to pass up a band I've always wanted to see (NIN) to instead hang out at one of the greatest blues bars in the country listening to the son of a southern rock legend while lounging in a comfortable environment with good food and drinks and mostly nice people.  My aim is to surround myself with others that have class and maturity and I can no longer allow myself to be dragged down by the God-less energy that I feel in these places. THIS my friends, from now on, is how I am gonna roll. You're either along for the ride or left in my dust. Onward and upward...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Original Hipster: Always There First

It all began in Kindergarten. I thought the song "Shake Your Booty" by KC & the Sunshine Band was really funny. I decided to be sassy and start singing it in front of my class at the end of a school day, figuring all the other kids knew the song and would think I was funny. Only one kid knew it and he sang it with me and we giggled and giggled and made everybody laugh. I remember walking away wondering why nobody else had ever heard that song before.

From that point on, I obsessed over the radio, rolling the dial up and down slowly and listening to every station. My likes and dislikes formed naturally, uninfluenced by anyone else. Then in 5th grade I discovered a couple kids that were just as bananas over Styx's "Too Much Time On My Hands" and AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds" as I was. How exciting to actually talk to my peers about something I liked and have them "get it!" That's when I started to receive confirmation and validation that I had damn good taste and a natural recognition for things that were "cool." I began to read music publications like Hit Parader, Circus & Creem magazines and confidently presented myself as a rock music know it all.
By middle school, I was so hungry for new music and had met a group of friends of the same mindset. One friend in particular, Mike, can be credited for turning me on to both Motley Crue and Metallica long before anyone in northern Indiana knew who they were. I eagerly lapped up anything he wanted to share with me. Guns N Roses, on the other hand was my own personal discovery during the summer of '87 and I spent the next 6 months or so telling everyone I knew that they had to check out this band because they were going to be the next big thing!! I was not only 2 steps ahead of my peers musically (thanks in part to Mike) but also fashion-wise as well.  As a matter of fact, it drove me absolutely insane whenever I would come to school with some cool new accessory or fashion statement that I had visualized mentally and agonizingly sought out for weeks or months (in the days before you could find something instantly via the internet) and a week later, several others were copying my style. I realize now that's a huge compliment but it pissed me off to no end. Be authentic! Be original! At least be creative enough to conceal your fucking sources!

I've been wearing either vibrant colors or feathers in my hair since pretty much forever. I have Bohemian and rebellious hippie blood, an endless inner battle going on inside me between being "natural" and trying to make myself look on the outside like I feel on the inside no matter what the cost. A few years back, both unnatural vibrant hair colors and hair feathers became all the rage. The world had caught up to me. I was thrilled at first. Then I looked around and noticed that everyone including their 9 year old daughter and 80 year old grandmother either had pink/blue/purple hair or feathers clipped in. Of course, I immediately went back to natural hair and wore my feathers only on special occasions. Here's a tip:  if it's cool with kids 12 and under, just stop because it's not cool anymore.

Flash back to the year 2000. I met these guys from a band called The Szuters. They were outstanding songwriters and dynamic performers and I was a massive supporter of their band. They eventually got a record deal, changed their name to Magna-Fi and toured with Ozzfest. At their CD release party, I had them sign a photograph for me. One of them wrote, "To Cari, always there before anyone else!" And that sums it up!!!  It took me a while to understand what he meant, but once I did, it felt great to have this acknowledgment.

Being "cool" or being a "hipster" or whatever they decide to call it in the next decade, is about attitude, not fashion. That's right, attitude. When I was a teenager, people who dressed the part just to fit in were called "posers." (That's how we mis-spelled it.) They had no authenticity and didn't really "get it." Every generation will have them.

So, why do I even care? What good does it do me or anyone?  
I wanted to be a leader but instead I got competitors. Now, I just want to be an example of a life lived with passionate integrity.  
And yet, I remain a paradox. 
I've spent my entire life searching for a place where I could fit in, be accepted and belong while at the same time fighting fiercely be different and set apart from average Joes. 
I am...the original hipster.

And I was "Here Before You." *wink*

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Twins Are 18!

Eighteen years ago I was suffering. I've never experienced such unbearable pain, no painkiller pills could relieve the misery. I couldn't eat and was hallucinating. I did this to myself. I chose to have breast augmentation surgery.
In 1996, I was very young and naive and didn't know much about anything. What I did know was that I weighed 120 lbs, my chest measured 32" and my hips 38" which made shopping for any clothing a depressing, frustrating hassle. Nothing fit right, very few things were flattering and I spent lots money at alteration shops. It was time to make a change. I wanted to feel good about the way I looked. I went to a flashy doctor at a big facility in a big city, seemed like the smart choice. It was a Friday and there would be no staff on duty over the weekend. I stayed the night in a hotel. They did the surgery without drainage tubes, since no one would be there during the weekend to remove them. I didn't even know use of drainage tubes was common practice. My body had to absorb everything on it's own. They didn't prescribe Valium nor any anti-anxiety nor muscle relaxing medicine for me, which I later found was also commonplace for doctors to do. What's worse was that I wasn't told that I needed to take pain medicine immediately upon filling my prescription post surgery. I was so full of morphine when I left the facility that I didn't feel a thing when I was discharged and went straight to the hotel and fell asleep. I awoke like a startling nightmare to crushing searing pain and I vomited. From that point on for the next 2 weeks, it was impossible to get a handle on the pain. I was so sick and dehydrated. Some Chinese mushroom tea was the first thing I was able to keep down after 3 days. At night, I couldn't tell if I was asleep or awake. It looked like snakes were slithering down the curtain panels. It was the longest 2 weeks of my life. I did nothing but cry between intermittent napping.
In time, my body healed. It took me a nearly a year to get used to my new body parts. I was thrilled with the way I looked and at all my new clothing options! The pain eventually was forgotten. Looking back now, I realize that had I given birth to a baby that day, I would now have an adult child. I made the choice when I was 17 that I was not going to have children and I've never once regretted the decision. Instead I chose a life of freedom....and breast implants. Some may think it's vain, slutty or somehow just wrong but for me it was none of that. The relief of having a proportionate body is immeasurable. The elation I still feel to this day to have my body on the outside match with the femininity I feel on the inside is also immeasurable. Happy birthday to the twins, although getting them was worse than childbirth, I still consider it one of the best decisions of my life.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How To Juice Wheatgrass Using A NutriBullet

The benefits of wheatgrass are widely debated. I just like the way it tastes. My personal belief is that anything that helps restore alkalinity to the blood is a good thing. Rich in chlorophyll, wheatgrass aids in detoxing the body and liver as well. Wheatgrass is higher in vitamin E per ounce than other green vegetables. All I know is that drinking green plant juice has to be better for you than not drinking it. Here's how I "juice" my wheatgrass using the NutriBullet extraction method:

Buy a flat of organic wheatgrass. Trim the grass as close to the root as possible. 
1/2 flat = 1 serving

Put wheatgrass in a strainer and wash/rinse thoroughly.

Place wheatgrass into small size NutriBullet cup. Add approximately 1 inch of purified water to cup. Add slightly more water for double serving (but not double the amount or it will become too watered down.) Experiment with the amount of water that works for your own personal taste. This is just what works for me.

Attach the NutriBullet extractor blade, place on the motor and extract for at least 60 seconds.

Remove immediately and invert. Using a strainer, slowly pour juice into a wide-mouthed glass. Use a rubber spatula to press any remaining juice out of the froth. The small amount of remaining pulp/froth can be discarded or mixed into your pet's food.

 Serve with an orange wedge, if desired. Cheers!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


This is an update to a blog that I posted several years ago, a true story about a magical day I spent hanging out with Guns N Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin in 1988.

November 23, 2012
It took over 24 years for the stars to align in such a way that Izzy and I would end up in the same place again. Quite honestly, I'm surprised it took that long, with me always traveling back and forth to many of the same cities he's known to frequent. I always imagined that when the day came that I would cross paths with him again, it would be in a casual situation where I could pull up a chair and smile and speak quietly and naturally. Unfortunately, that's not how it went... 
Right before Thanksgiving, I received an email with a PDF attachment from a generous Christian friend of mine. It was a ticket to see the last show of Guns N Roses residency at the Hard Rock Hotel. He refused to let me pay him for it, just said he couldn't go and wanted me to have the ticket. Knowing Izzy Stradlin makes random appearances to jam with Axl now and then, I had no doubt he would show up to one of the Vegas shows. But which one? When this free ticket landed in my lap, I just knew. I woke up on Black Friday to a Facebook post from the Hard Rock Hotel announcing that "former GnR guitarist Izzy Stradlin" would be joining for the last 2 shows of the residency. I immediately went there and bought a ticket for the other night as well. I rented a room and decided I was just going to revisit the past and have a Guns N Roses vacation weekend. 
Later that evening, I was sitting in a lounge talking with my friend Mel. When I looked up, there was Izzy in the distance--suit, white shoes, fedora--I recognized him instantly. Mel said, "Go! Go talk to him!"  I was just going to let him walk by; he was too far away to catch in any kind of casual way. I don't chase rock stars. They chase me. This wasn't how I pictured our second meeting to happen. Before I could decide, Texas Mel jumped up and ran after him. He was walking quickly, head down, talking on his cell phone. Mel yelled at him, "Izzy! Cari from Indiana is here! Please stop and say hello to her!" I did not hear this, as I was still far behind walking casually. According to Mel, he stopped, eyes wide like saucers and said to her, "Cari from Indiana? I'll be right back." That's when she waved to me to hurry up. There was no turning back now, I had to just go with it. 
We followed along to the backstage door where I decided to take the lead and speak up. "Izzy," I said in a whiney tone of voice, "Could you take a photo with me?" He stopped and waved me over.  I smiled and greeted him and he looked down at me and said, "Cari from Indiana." I was thrown into a spiraling vortex of confusion. Was he expecting someone else he knew from home with the same name or did he know damn well who I was? You see, for many years after meeting Izzy in 1988, I sent him ridiculous, immature letters, photos and even a gift or two. (I know someone received them anyway, because they were never returned to sender.) In my defense, I had gotten myself into a long term relationship with an insecure, controlling, mentally/emotionally abusive mate. Izzy's home in Lafayette was only 2 hours away from where I lived and I often taught classes there. So many shitty "men" had paraded through my life by this point that Izzy stood out as the only one who ever treated me so sweetly, so respectfully--even if it was only just for one day. I purely and innocently wished to just simply be his friend, and I didn't think that was a tall order, especially since he was out of the limelight by then. More than likely, I probably came across as a creepy stalker! Or perhaps he didn't remember me from my crazy letters but instead knew who I was because my author friend Pamela DesBarres wrote about me in her eBook called One Night Bands. All these thoughts were swirling through my head in that nanosecond as I tried to figure out where he was coming from. I nervously said, "It's so great to see you again. I spent a whole day hanging out with you in Michigan back in '88." I went to put my arm around him to pose for the photo Mel was taking and he was as stiff as concrete, not the warm, cuddly, bouncy, flirty Izzy I remembered. And then he said 3 words that continue to echo in my head, "Was it good?" Pausing to process this, I said, "Yeah it was good. It was great." I knew he was late so I told him to go and thanked him for stopping for me. He said he'd see me later...and I really believed I would see him later. After all, we would both be hanging around the same hotel for 2 days. But! I only saw him later on stage. 

"WAS IT GOOD?" Maybe he was just being funny. Nonetheless, I learned a lesson. Regardless of whether or not he really knew who I was, it occurred to me in the moments that followed that I would never again write about another human being without thinking first about how that person would feel if they read it. I never once thought past how *I* felt and what *MY* experience was. It was never my intention to exploit Izzy nor to be disrespectful of his privacy. I simply wished to hold onto a magical memory as tightly as I could. When someone makes you feel wonderful, you cherish it, you want to never forget it. Since Izzy never welcomed me back to his inner circle, writing was the creative outlet I chose as my coping mechanism. (Especially since I failed miserably at playing guitar.) So, first I wrote the stupid crazy letters to him, then a starry-eyed online blog entry and haphazardly allowed my friend, the queen of groupies, to publish an incomplete version of it. If Izzy does know who I am, he probably fucking hates me!
Forgive me, Izzy, for blabbing about you online, etc. I'm harmless. I'm honest. I'm a sober, Jesus-loving little Indiana girl who still thinks you're the coolest guy on the planet. Thank you for having such a positive influence on my life because I really like who I am! And until we meet again....YES, IT WAS GOOD.


Below is my original blog post from years ago, a true memoir, re-written with detail as it should have been the first time:

~Hey lady you got the love I need, maybe more than enough, oh darlin darlin darlin walk a while with me, oh you've got so much~

July 30, 1988
In the summer of 1988, a few friends and I took a long road trip to Val-Du-Lakes Amphitheatre in Michigan to see my new favorite band, Guns N Roses, who were the opening act for an old favorite band, Aerosmith. We arrived very early and wandered around the grounds in the sweltering heat. I walked up a hill with a friend hoping for a better vantage point to view the area where the bands' tour buses were parked behind a tall fence. At that moment a bus door opened and someone came out. The next thing I knew Guns N Roses' guitarist Izzy Stradlin was propped up over the top of the fence pointing at me and wiggling his finger to come over. I looked all around me in disbelief but he really was pointing at me! I ran down the hill to the spot where he instructed security to let me through. We spent the afternoon talking to each other through the fence. Security wouldn't let him take me to the other side without a pass so he sent a crew guy to find one. Izzy kept running back and forth from the bus doing a show and tell, displaying clothes and jewelry he'd bought on tour and telling me stories about some of the places he'd been. We had to tilt our heads slightly to see each other clearly through the fence. I was entranced by his eyes, glowing with the most magical olive and amber tones I had ever seen, as the glaring sun reflected down into them. I remember at one point he asked a road crew guy to help him rip the tag off his brand new pair of black jeans. His personality was bouncy and uninhibited. We could pass things back and forth through the fence and hold onto each others hands but it was frustrating... like a tease or foreplay buildup...that neither of us was allowed to go to the other side. Finally, right before he had to be on stage, one sticky pass was found and given to me.

My friends and I went out into the crowd and watched the show. It was a typical Guns N Roses live performance for that time--really bare bones, raw and raunchy sounding. This was only a short time before GnR Lies was released and they tried out a few songs none of us had heard before called "One In A Million" "Used To Love Her" & "Patience". The crowd, which was much bigger than the venue anticipated, went nuts and began tearing down a chain link fence that separated the VIP section from the GA section. It was scary. My friend Jynni and I were in a crush of people and had lost track of the friends we came there with. The agreement was for the car to be our meeting place if we lose each other. When the time came for me to go meet Izzy backstage, I was really scared. I was taking a big risk leaving my friends behind--we didn't have cell phones back then, you know!

Izzy was there at the fence waiting for me. As he was digging for the bus key in his pocket, he unknowingly dropped guitar picks in a trail behind him (and I tried to be sneaky and pick them up). Something about that was incredibly adorable to me. This must have been during a short sober faze because he had no drugs or alcohol and he offered me a 7up to drink on the bus. I think Aerosmith had a strict no drugs policy on that tour perhaps? He showed me more stuff he'd collected on the road and some live photos of Guns N Roses in LA. He had me pick out a photo and on the back of it he wrote "to Cari with lust...Izzy." He kept playing with my hair, piling it all up on top of my head then leaning back to look at me. Was he trying to see how I would look with an up do?? So playful and lovable, that Izzy.  He had just cut his hair short and told me he might stop dying it black too, seemed on the fence about it and asked me what I thought. Being an earthy hippie girl at heart, I was all about everything natural so couldn't understand why he would want to dye his hair if it was already dark to begin with. Of course "grow you natural hair color back" was my vote. He told me his real name and that he grew up just a couple hours south of where I was from in Indiana. He had just gotten the newly released Cinderella tape "Long Cold Winter" and put it on. We were having some serious music and philosophy talk and he said that I'm not like the other girls he meets on the road, that I actually have a brain and was really cool to talk to. He had me write my contact info in an address book for him.

At one point he started to kiss me but I was chewing gum and had yet to master the art of making out with gum in my mouth, so in a very parental way he put out his hand for me to spit it into and went to throw it away. Hello awkward moment! I couldn't have felt less sexy. Then again, what does a 17 year old really know about sexy anyway? For the sake of Mr. Stradlin's privacy, I will refrain from sharing the intimate details of our sexual encounter. I will, however, say that I was a clueless, naive little Indiana girl who had no idea what I was doing. Izzy, on the other hand, being almost 9 years older than I was, knew exactly how to do it right and I learned a thing or two. Izzy was a vision of perfection, with such smooth skin and a youthful god-like body, wide shoulders and a narrow waist. It was while he was laying back that I noticed for the first time his beautiful mouth, delicate, sweet and angelic, curled upwards slightly at the corners. Izzy and I had a lot of fun and even took a little nap as the summer heat had worn us out. We kept getting pestered by Steven Adler (whom he endearingly referred to as "Stevie"). Steven was jumping around excitedly, pounding on the bus windows yelling that there were 14,000 people in the crowd! This must have been one of the biggest crowds they'd ever played for at that time.

It was dark by now and Izzy changed into some running pants and a jean jacket and we went outside for a walk on that perfect, magical, warm summer night with the full moon over our heads. We stopped by the hospitality tent for some pizza and there were Slash & Duff, kickin' back on a sofa having a deep conversation about drugs. Ok, now I was starstruck, and I stood there staring like a dumbass.
Duff: "You still have that shit man? What are you saving it for? If I had that *sssssnniiiiifff* it woulda been gone a long time ago!" Slash: "You can't do that much, man. You only need a little bit." I interrupted with "Slash, dude, you are so cool." (Somebody shoot me! I'm an idiot!)

Slash said thanks and Izzy dragged me out of there to the side stage to watch Aerosmith's encore under that amazing full summer moon. I'd never seen so many people in one place in my life--a sea of faces as far as the eye could see! Standing on the stage just a few feet from Joe Perry, I could imagine how it felt to be a rock star. Suddenly I realized in that moment that out of the 14,000 fans in that crowd, I was the only one backstage. Why me? And that's when the magic feeling came over me, showering me like fairy dust...Why not me?! I was different. I wasn't like anyone I knew, not family nor friends--no one I knew saw the world the way I did. I realized that for the first time, I was amongst my peers there backstage. And if I had the privilege of spending a day with the hottest band in the country at age 17, someday I would be doing a lot of other cool things all the while making my own dreams come true too!

Izzy asked me to ride on the bus with them to Cincinnati, but in the days before cell phones, I had no way to reach my parents back home nor my friends who were waiting in the massive parking lot to make the 3 hour drive home with me. What if I ditched everyone only to have the band's management say "no way, this groupie is not riding the bus with us!" and then I'd be stranded in a field in the middle of nowhere. What if I ditched everyone and they thought I got abducted and called the police? I can only imagine the deep shit I would have been in from every angle. I was helpless. He begged a security officer that was on a horse to escort me to the car--maybe I could tell my friends and then go back to meet him--but the "mountie" was a jerk and he refused to help us. I had no choice but to say goodbye and that's my biggest regret to this day. I'll always wonder about all the "what ifs".

My friends and I headed back to our little Indiana town. The phone woke me up the next morning and it was Izzy. It sounded as if he were whispering. He said, "Listen...." I heard him press the play button on a tape player and then heard a clip of "Over The Hills and Far Away" by Led Zeppelin, a band we'd talked much about the night before. Then he clicked the tape off and said, "Bye...." and I never heard from him again.

That one magical summer night is what led me down the path to becoming the independent, confident, dream chasing woman with rose-colored, heart-shaped glasses that I am today. I'd like to thank Izzy for making me feel so special...he might not remember me but I'll never forget him and how for one day I was "one in a million".

~Many have I loved, many times been bitten, many times I've gazed along the open road.~