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It’s not easy to put together a homepage that sums up who I am in just enough words to attract readers and convince them to stick around. This must be my third attempt at an “About Me” section. After taking down my last one months ago (and leaving behind a “still under construction” message), I waited until life threw enough hellfire and brimstone at me, I was being crushed under the weight of dying dreams, and pressures from every aspect of my life were so unbearable that I would have no choice but to write something that would be the truest reflection of my crass, often caustic personality and the enigmatic shit magnetism I carry that forces me to lead such a troubled, yet beautifully paradoxical life.
I’ve always carried something heavy on my shoulders at every point in life, maybe because the agony of burden and distress balanced out the other side of me—the part of me that’s always been indifferent, care-free, and chose to make jokes at inappropriate times to avoid dealing with the discomfort of real-life issues. I’ve been a packhorse for life-problems as long as I can remember. I’ve only added to the misery by choice, and I have grieved consistently for decades. Over what, who knows? I’m always losing so many things I love and care about, that it’s hard to keep track of what ails me most from day to day. So much precious time has been lost, I constantly have to find something else gut-wrenching to tote around so I can avoid thinking about it. When that fails and I can’t handle one more thing packed on, planning suicide is the next, most reasonable option, of course.
Proper scheduling and coordinating of any execution (or wedding), especially your own, is never without its own set of quandaries, but it can be therapeutic and fun if you let it (unless it’s a wedding, in my opinion, which may as well be a funeral). And just when I spent a whole day recently plotting a pleasantly painless garage suicide of carbon monoxide poisoning while listening to Our Lady Peace, the phone rang and I could see on caller ID it was a sales call. If it ain’t Jehovah’s Witnesses banging down your door, it’s a salesman calling you…just one more reason people kill themselves.
Despite my precarious situation, I chose to pick up, anyway, thinking it would be morbidly hilarious to tell the stranger on the other end that I “robbed a bank recently and escaped with a little more than $100,000 but accidentally killed a bank teller in the process, and unable to live with the guilt any longer, I am killing myself and the money can be recovered in the trunk of my car should anyone wish to beat someone else to the recovery of my dead body or the money”. Instead, the male caller instantly began his pitch in broken English about how much money I’ll save on my electricity by switching to Suburban Safety Gas & Electric Co. He refused me even one second to interrupt him.
I put him on speakerphone while sitting on the edge of the bathtub, shaving my crotchal area (I can’t have the county coroner thinking I didn’t care about myself enough to at least leave behind a soft, pretty, hairless vagina to remember me by—no one wants to be the hairy chick who offed herself in the garage; I also planned to do my make-up and hair and wear a sexy sequined gown). With my legs spread, a cigarette hanging from my mouth (it wasn’t lit—I quit years ago), and taking care to shave my nethers ever so delicately, I listened to “Frank” (who sounded suspiciously more like a Gupta or Raj) as he read from his script designed to get my attention and convince me to throw my money at him, I couldn’t take it any longer. He was determined to not even pause to breathe, and I had things to do, and a suicide plot to execute. So I loudly interrupted.
“Whoa, Franklin! Can I call you Franklin? WHOA,” I spit out the cigarette and it hit the floor. I rinsed off the razor and leaned closer to the phone to speak loudly into it. “You’re talking way too fast for someone who is starting to remember she left out some important things in her suicide note and is trying to remind herself to amend it once she gets her cootchie nice and smooth.”
“Okay, Ma’am,” my words did not phase him a bit. “I’ll try to talk slower. Now, this offer I have for you today is very exciting.”
“Is it as exciting as suicide?” I gasped sarcastically. Franklin still remained unaffected.
Franklin Gupta was probably leafing through his handbook at his cubicle in a chicken coop, trying to find a translation or suggested response to ‘suicide’.
“Ma’am, I can tell you it is very exciting, so yes, more exciting than…um, that.”
I put my razor down and looked at my dog, Meatball, ever the loyal companion by my side, resting peacefully on the bathmat beside the tub. “Tell you what, if you get Meatball excited about it, then I will be excited about making the switch to your company as well AND I won’t kill myself.”
“Okay, ma’am, dis ‘MEAT-BULL’? He is head of household, yes?”
I didn’t have to lie; Meatball really does run everything. “You bet. He’s right here,” I rested the cordless phone next to Meatball’s head. “Meatball, Franklin has some exciting news to share with you. Franklin, you’re on with Meatball; tell him how excited you are about how much money you’re going to save him.”
“Good eve-neeng, Good Sir,” the unwitting caller addressed my fat Chihuahua as though he were a wealthy dignitary, “I am pleased to offer you and your family the finest we have to offer our new customers…”
A stuttering Franklin Gupta gave an impassioned speech to Meatball on saving money, the importance of feeling “confee-dunt” with your “pro-veeders of uh-lectric and notch-rahl gas”, and promised “pleats of minds” in customer service. Then there was the unmistakable sound of air escaping Meatball’s tiny asshole before a loud snore escaped from the other end, and I needed to leave the room before Meatball’s gas leak took my life right then and there before I was done shaving.
“Okay, Franklin,” I picked up the phone, unintentionally covering it in shaving cream as I walked out of the bathroom to my office down the hall and sat on my desk (hey—it’s my desk—don’t judge), “my vagina is almost bare now—once it’s completely shaved, I’m off the phone with a suicide to follow through with. As for Meatball, he does not appear convinced; he apparently didn’t feel the excitement. In fact, he looks anything BUT excited. So, I’ll do you a favor and give you a few seconds while the bathroom airs out for you to get yourself psyched out of your MIND and you can have one last chance to get Meatball pumped!”
“I’m sorry, Ma’am,” Franklin sounded concerned. “Did your mister not understand?” My mister?
“I suppose not. He needs you to be excited for him to understand and be excited himself,” I rolled my eyes, bored and wanting to finish shaving and get my garage suicide over with, already. “Okay, Franklin, it’s like this: pretend you’re a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader, pretend Meatball is a dog, and pretend you have a piece of bacon you’re excited to give him. But he needs to be really excited about it, too, before you give it to him, and before I’m excited about it.”
Franklin didn’t understand much, but from whatever cardboard box in India he was being outsourced from, he understood dog, bacon, and Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader very well. “Yes, Ma’am. I will try to get him understand.”
“No, Franklin!” I was running of patience and wanted to get my kicks at Franklin’s expense, already. “He understands just fine. But he needs to be excited! Get it? Stirred-up! Thunderstruck! ON FIRE for ‘Suburban whatever natural gas’!”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Franklin shrieked with forced animation, “I get your mister very excited!”
The bathroom was thankfully aired out when I returned, and Meatball was standing up, stretching, getting ready to come find me just as I placed the phone on the floor beside him once again. “Okay, Franklin, you’re on with Meatball again, and you’ve got his attention! Hurry before you lose it!”
Poor Franklin Gupta didn’t have a clue he was talking to a dog, but still managed to do as he was instructed and was chattering hurriedly in a blend of English and Hindi that I couldn’t understand. All I could do was laugh quietly for a few seconds and then cheer him on loudly. “That’s right, Franklin! Get him fired up! You should see his face! He’s getting psyched out of his mind! Keep going!”
Meatball was, in fact, getting so hysterical, he was spinning and prancing around on his “happy feet” as I call them, soaking up all the confusing attention, and just when Franklin Gupta thought he was on the verge of making a sale (that I see in retrospect might have fed his family for a month, and makes me feel guilty now), Meatball was so overcome with excitement that he began barking madly. Just as I shushed him, a deflated Franklin murmured, “Ma’am, I am speaking to dog, yes?”
“Yes,” I tried to pretend as though I were more ashamed of myself than I was, “but at least you succeeded in your challenge and now I won’t commit suicide.”
“And…you make switch to our company?”
“Oh,” I blushed, “well, that’s not what I promised, Franklin. I said, if you get Meatball excited about making the switch, then I will be just as excited. So, technically, you win. I’m pretty damn excited, and I won’t kill myself. But while Meatball runs the house, neither of us have control over the electric bill…”
I have no clue how long I was talking to myself before I realized that Franklin Gupta had hung up on me. I felt bad in a way, but—wait—no, I really didn’t feel bad about it. And was I really going to kill myself? No. Well, the likelihood was less than .001%, despite it being the worst day of my life to date if you asked me about it that day. But sometimes, when I am so vexed by the walking nightmares, sickened by the ugliness in people, weakened by the backstabbing beyond my control, and angry with the dizzying pain of not having a single answer to ease the burden of even one predicament shackling me, I’ve found that plotting my suicide can be a therapeutic and often funny way to work through your issues and slay some demons. In your heart, you know you want to live, but you just need to have control of something sometimes.
Franklin Gupta gave me a good laugh, and I would feel awful if my deviant hijinks led to his own untimely demise at his own hand, but it was a small reminder of what keeps me alive some days: my sense of humor. Not everyone finds me funny; I am twisted, I am weird, I am quirky, and few people understand me. But I don’t need everyone to like or understand me. And what I needed at that moment was to find myself witty and hilarious even if Franklin thought I was a mean, American bitch.
Some days I wake up wanting to rip my shirt off in a telephone booth and fight crime, and other days I want to, well, put a gun in my mouth or Google “suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning”. I know it sounds like I need some serious psychiatric help, and you’ll read that I do see someone, sometimes with hilarious or heartbreaking sessions. Anyway, some days, I just need to sit in the middle of the floor with all the chaos and fire raining down on me, write my suicide note (while using a dictionary and thesaurus to ensure it is at least well-written and grammatically correct), sobbing uncontrollably, listening to White Buffalo, plotting my final moments and choice of execution. I’ll shave my legs and make sure I have a presentable-looking labia for autopsy (we all know they see it, no matter how you kill yourself), write a cryptic message on Facebook I’ll delete later, and spend hours holding Meatball and crying.
Then, just as the gun is in my mouth, the garden hose is in the window with the key in the ignition, the rat poison is peppered over my Lean Cuisine, or the speedometer is at 105 with my hands poised to sharply force the steering wheel into an abandoned construction zone with a pile of steel beams…I get what I need. I have felt something fierce and wild; I have felt hated, then the hatred is followed by comfort. I remember the day when it wasn’t just a gallop to the edge of the mountain to feel the rush of near-disaster; I remember holding my dog, him being the ONLY reason I pulled a poison-filled syringe from my vein and decided to not leave him behind. I went through REAL hell that day and many days following it, nearing death more than once, and fought with everything in me, with all that was strong by choice even when only weakness was left. So, to the edge and back is my constant state of being.
“Under construction” was my “away” message for a few months; well, I’m always under construction, always under suspicion, always under fire, and always under-selling myself. I have been “away” a while, unsure of where I am, where to go with what I have, or how to get what I don’t have that I need, uncertain of what it is that keeps the fire burning inside and what is so damned determined to put it out all the time. I realized: it’s love that keeps me going, but it’s my own subconscious need to self-destruct that tries to sabotage it all.
So, swinging, singing, walking, screaming, I go daily to the edge and back, and I fight to be here. I am in love with a man who swings back and forth with me in an effort to keep me close and not let me fall off completely. I have a brilliant mother, tired of the unpredictable swings but being a pendulum herself she knows the game and lovingly chooses to stay by my side. My Meatball, who for nearly a decade has been by my side every moment, is happy as long as I am alive, and is often my sole interventionist as no one ever knows about these moments except for him, and the occasional telephone solicitor.
I write, which keeps me here. I started this blog at a point in my life last year when I thought I knew where things were going with my book, when I thought things were more transparent than they are. Some things happened, and I stepped away for a while to gain a batter grasp on what certain things meant, including my need for stepping so close to the edge. I needed a better understanding of my twisted sense of humor, a realistic idea of what a real friend is and who mine are, a glimpse of where my place is in the non-profit work that I do (a hard pill to swallow upon the realization of where I stood, with a small voice in a greedy world), and finally, I had to know my odds in being a writer. I mean, anyone—anyone—can be a published writer. But I long to be a good writer—a great writer—and I lamented over my loss of education growing up which I believed would be what would ultimately rob me of being a NY Times Best Seller.
Amidst all the mourning and existential crises, I learned my limited school education is sufficient for writing as long as I continue to self-educate and take advantage of bettering myself when I can, because, I am told, my natural talents will take me where I need to be as long as I continue to build on them and soak up everything like a sponge. My real friends have stuck by me, have been a source of encouragement and growth, and I’ve even made new friends that I am certain will be here for a lifetime. And the non-profit work, well, I’ll just have to get loud when I need to! As for my book—my series of 7—the first and the six that follow, are destined to be great.
Here, at ckholland.com, I may not write anything worthy of getting a million views or make myself a household name, but I am now certain that after bleeding out the uncertainty and unshackling myself from those feelings of inferiority, I am happy to just be me. I am and always will be under construction, swinging out over the edge and back, but I know now what I am about. I am CK. I am a writer—one who happened to work at the “World-Famous Moonlite Bunny Ranch” years ago, and it has inspired much of my writing. I was told by a fellow working girl when I began working there, “Put away ten percent of what you make for taxes every year and save 40% of everything else for retirement. You stop making your good money after you’re 40, so plan on early retirement.”
I couldn’t imagine working at the Bunny Ranch longer than a few years, let alone retire there. Hell, at first, I was under the impression that I could work there a few months, make millions, and retire at 21 and live like Lil’ Wayne. I was quickly disillusioned, but still had a new plan that didn’t involve being a “lifer” like many women there are. My plan was to make quick, easy cash, save it, and start my own business when I left. I was still extremely young then. Well, 21 seems pretty young to me now, especially, and I thought at 24 I’d have saved lots of money, then use it to buy a horse farm in Tennessee and offer boarding, teach riding lessons, and maybe even have enough to buy some acreage nearby and run a really cool gun range with tactical training, etc. The possibilities were endless. But I looked at so many of the older women working there, and knew without a doubt that while many of them could be perfectly happy with their lives, it wasn’t what I was meant to do for long. Even Dennis Hof, the owner of the Ranch, saw something different in me. We dated briefly, and he told me several times I was smart…smarter than most girls who traveled there to work. I came to know many of them well, and although many were simple-minded, they were still some of the sweetest, most amazing people you would ever hope to meet. Then there were girls with four-year college degrees, who could quote Shakespeare or impress you with their ability to speak three or more languages fluently.
The Bunny Ranch was a big part of my life in such a short time, and though its name is both famous and infamous, it is not something I would use to build my own name as a writer or sell my books; I want to build my name myself. My fiction series is based on a young girl who goes to a brothel in Nevada to hide and start her life over, and there is no likeness of any of my characters to people I met at the Bunny Ranch. But the entire time I was at the Bunny Ranch, I knew I would someday write a book inspired by my time spent there, as it was a colorful, alien world that not many people would ever get a chance to experience, either as a customer, or an observer. So, I’m not “the girl from the Bunny Ranch who wrote a book”. You will learn as you read this blog, through all of my TRUE stories here, that I have been a storyteller since I could talk, and a writer since I could put words to paper. I just so happened to find inspiration after making a decision to work at the Bunny Ranch years ago, which led to the creation of my book. My book…second only to my God and all the people and animals in my life, is what I love most and put all my hopes and dreams in. I hope you enjoy my stories here on the blog, and I plan to continue writing more until the book is published. Then, I will take a trip somewhere for a month and you won’t hear from me until I return and start on my second book, and I will then escape here throughout the process of writing the second book and share more non-fiction with you! Names are always changed to protect the innocent (but mostly the guilty) and there is something here for everyone.
My username here on the blog is bloodrockcounty. Though CK Holland is my pen-name, Bloodrock County is the name of my series, the first book in the series being called, The Dark Horses of Bloodrock County. So, when you get a response to your comment from bloodrockcounty, that’s me. And I hope you do leave comments, ask questions, and keep coming back. Ckholland.com is where I reminisce, write about the day, keep my followers updated on the book, and share every funny tale I can recall. But please remember, I’m not just the girl from the Bunny Ranch; that was but a blip on the strange timeline of my life. I’m a writer, and everything you read here, though it may sometimes seem wild, unbelievable, and strange, is true and real. I hope you decide to stick around and be a part of this process with me and toast my success soon. It’s been a wild ride, and I’ve no doubt it will continue to shock and frustrate me. I’m not afraid to share it all with you!
*This blog is dedicated to Stan, because without his support, I wouldn’t have come this far or have the option to continue like I do now. Also, many thanks to my Mom, my Dad, Ashley S. Thompson, Annie Bananie, Steve Fritz, Meatball, and Jill Hughes, the most brilliant editor I could have ever hoped to find who has become a great friend and supporter. I owe you all a great deal.