Friday, August 14, 2009

Cyber Launch Party Day 25: The Ballad of a (former) Party Girl

Welcome to Day 25, the last and final day of the Ballads of Suburbia Cyber Launch Party! For all of the details on the party including guests, the daily contests and the grand prize drawing be sure to read the information at the beginning of Day 1's blog. However since this is the last week, there is one slight change to the rules... WINNER FOR ALL PRIZES THIS WEEK AND THE GRAND PRIZE WILL BE DRAWN ON MONDAY AUGUST 17!

Before we get started, I just wanted to let you know about a blog I just posted on the MTV Books blog (I post there around the 14th and 30th every month). I wrote about how obsessed I was with figuring out the meaning of my dreams as a kid and how I recently had a dream that I'm trying to turn into a book idea. So check out the blog here if you are interested.

Today's Winner:
Each day I am announcing the winner of the contest that was posted one week earlier. Today there are two winners, each one of them getting a gorgeous bookmark from Kay Cassidy! The winner of the Glass Slipper bookmark is Brain Lair from Blogger and the winner of the butterfly is lovelessangel93 from livejournal. I will email you for your addresses shortly (actually I have lovelessangel93 from a previous contest)! Remember to enter this week's contests!

All winners will be drawn on Monday as well as the Grand Prize Winner!!!! The more you comment on the blogs throughout the whole cyber launch party, the more entries for the grand prize you have racked up!

This week's guest blogs/contests are:

Day 21: Danielle Joseph blogged and up for grabs is the Shrinking Violet Purple Indulgence pack, which includes the book,an SV bookmark and Victoria's Secret bubble bath and shower gel!

Day 22: Daniel Kraus blogged and up for grabs are 3 copies of the Bay-Bridged comp CD

Day 23: Gwendolyn Glover did a Women Who Rock Weds interview and up for grabs is her book Cast the First Stone

Day 24: Liza Graves of Civet blogged and up for grabs is a signed copy of my book I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone

And now it's time for me to close out this party....

The Ballad of a (former) Party Girl: Stephanie Kuehnert

The party's over
A CD skipping
It's the same hook repeating
Grows more grating with each passing second...

And the walls contain a resonation, laughter, and conversation.
It was fun while it lasted, but now we should be going.
I hope everybody had a real, real good time
The hospitality's partaken, my head is flying my heart's racing to keep up.
And I hope I haven't overdone it nooo...
-T.S.R. by Against Me!

The above song will be the last song I play on my wedding night. It's a good end of a party song, but it has emotional significance to me because my fiance and I met (via MySpace) because of our mutual love for Against Me! and my fiance has one of those CD alarm clocks and I think for like the first 6 months, hell maybe the first year we were dating As The Eternal Cowboy by Against Me! was the CD he had in there and T.S.R. was the first song, so every morning I would wake up beside him to that song and it was like awww... the party is over and now I have to leave him and go to work.

Of course if you listen to the rest of the song (and you can view a live performance on YouTube here or read the rest of the lyrics here), I get this image of someone who has been partying so hard for such a long time with all the wrong substances and people they love but are maybe the wrong people and then boom... they start to OD.

This, of course, is another theme of Ballads of Suburbia. You know from the first pages of the book (so it's not a spoiler!) that Kara goes down a path that ends with a near-fatal heroin overdose. And you'll see at the beginning of the book that she started out shy, quiet girl who doesn't really like crowds or parties.

This is another thing that Kara and I had in common. I wasn't really a party girl in high school (though I did my fair share of drugs and other craziness, it just happened in smaller groups), but post-high school something happened to me. I'd been through a lot of emotional shit and I needed an escape. At first that escape was innocent. One of my best friends and I moved out on our own to Madison, Wisconsin. We lived, we worked, we listened to music, we went for drives. For about three or four months, it was just the two of us. I'd sworn of drugs, alcohol, and smoking the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. Then we met people. One of those people was a guy who was five years older than me. He was over 21 and quite the partier. Because he was part of the goth club scene and he liked me and his friend liked my friend, suddenly we were allowed into the scene and this included entrance into a club we were four years to young to legally go to. It sounded like fun. It sounded like a release for all that emotional shit.

I remember my first night at that club. My friend and I weren't drinkers (I'd been more of a pothead in high school), but we felt we should drink something so we shared a vodka and cranberry juice. We glanced around nervously, worried we'd be thrown out at any second.

That was in April. By August, I was a fixture at that club. I'd started smoking again. I'd learned to drink gin and tonics. When I wasn't at the club I was drinking wine in a graveyard or the bedroom of that boy, who I was totally in love with.... And unbeknownst to me he had another girlfriend.

At the end of August, he departed for Boston to live with that other girl and I departed to college in Ohio. On my first night at college, I went to hang out with some upperclassmen. They asked me if I wanted to smoke pot or do shots. I wasn't doing drugs again (yet), so I gladly swilled down a shot of Jim Beam. Over the next hour, I did nine more. I was a hundred pounds and 18 years old. As you can imagine, it did not end well... It ended with me puking on the fire escape outside of my dorm. Did it teach me a lesson? Hell no! I was hurting and confused. There was all the baggage I hadn't dealt with from high school and then this heartbreaker of a new boy on top of it all. Plus, I'd come to this college which had been the college for me at the end of my junior year of high school when I'd visited it and applied early admission, but now, a year later, it was so not my thing. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.... so I partied.

I spent my entire freshman year of college drunk. Like every day. I'm not kidding. Even on those days I'd wake up so hungover that I thought I was going to die, by night time I'd feel well enough to numb my pain with more booze. When I wasn't hungover, sometimes I'd start drinking as soon as I woke up in the morning. I'd pour tequila in my orange juice and bring it to creative writing class. Or I'd skip class and go off with a friend searching for rural Ohio bars that wouldn't card us. I got so drunk, I'd go home with complete strangers. I got so drunk, I'd call my mom and tell her that I wanted to drop out of school and be a stripper. I got so drunk, one of my hallmates called 911 on me because she thought I was going to kill myself. I got so drunk, I forgot why I didn't do drugs (it ruined the lives of a few friends in high school) and started experimenting with speed, coke, opium, whatever I could get my hands on. I have some funny as shit stories from those days, but at the core, they are all really sad.

I dropped out of college at 18 to "be a writer." But being a writer actually entailed moving back to Wisconsin, getting back together with (if you could call it together or really if we ever broke up) the alcoholic boy and partying until I turned 21. There was hardly any writing involved. There are more fucked-up and not really as funny stories of bad acid trips and arguments over cocaine and me coming home from the club so wasted that I puked a sea of booze that covered my bathroom floor and fights, lots of fights with the boy, not physical, but ugly, ugly, ugly. Oh and I was spending every dime that didn't go to rent on booze, which meant using the "emergency" credit card my mom gave me on groceries.

My mom was the one who snapped me out of it, who urged me to come home, go to Columbia and pursue my creative dreams. And once I was in school, writing, really writing, the desire to party evaporated. I can't really explain it because I still had the alcoholic boyfriend and I'd come home to find my childhood best friend was also a total alcoholic and they'd be tempting me constantly to party, party, party and sometimes I sucumbed, but mostly I would just look at them... I would look at they way they were screwing up their lives and they were completely refusing to face their demons, just trying to drown them in a bottle instead. But I faced my demons head on. I purged them through writing, I went to therapy, and I saw dreams emerging. The dream of being a published author was worth more than a million parties with the best booze and best drugs.

I was able to find moderation. I drink occasionally. I work at a bar. My ability to balance these things is definitely strange considering my very destructive past and I can't really explain it. I just saw something I wanted more than anything and I worked through my shit so I could achieve my goals. The childhood best friend and the boyfriend weren't able to do this. Alcohol mattered more to them than their dreams, their friends, their family... than me. It was honestly harder for me to give up the two of them than it was for me to give up partying. But they couldn't get healthy, they didn't want to get healthy, and I couldn't keep being hurt by them.

So here I am. For the most part, I'm back to the girl I used to be. I'd much rather spend a quiet night with my man, maybe having a drink, but it's totally not necessary cuz he's a good guy through and through and just being with him makes me giddy. I really don't like parties, unless they are book related. This kind of party, this gathering of a bunch of really cool people online, this kind of party is my speed!

And I'll walk away from it exhausted, but not hungover or near dead. Actually, I'm pretty inspired. I hope you enjoyed listening to these ballads as much as I did. Did you have some favorites? I'm not really sure I could choose favorites because I love them all. But let's reminisce about this incredible party as part of....

Today's Contest:

We had one guest who just wasn't able to make it to the party because she was out there touring her fabulous book, The Girl's Guide to Rocking. I'm talking about Jessica Hopper, who you may remember from her Women Who Rock Wednesday interview. Even though she couldn't come, she's offering up her book as a prize. And please note, it's not just useful for girls but for anyone with rock star ambitions.

As usual there are ways to rack up a bunch of entries:
+1 for commenting, perhaps about your favorite parts of this month-long party
+1 for blogging/tweeting/etc about this blog
+1 for leaving comments on the MTV Books blog I told you about above
+1 for blogging/tweeting about that
Just note your additional entries in your comment. Winner will be chosen at random on Monday August 17 with all the other winners and the GRAND PRIZE WINNER!

Please come back on Monday to see who won!!! And I promise, my blog will continue to be loads of fun even if it isn't party central :)


Sab H. said...

Loved it!! It sucks when the party times are over..

marina said...

i love against me!!! i've seen them twice. once at warped tour and once at this club in town, Greene Street, and i was right up front and shook their hands after. they're wonderful. also, i'm really sad the partie's over.. i wish it could continue forever. the contests, the stories, the fun...


melony said...

when i clicked the link to read this, T.S.R. came up on my itunes. i've been listening to Against Me! for a few hours of my shift. i also have seen them twice, once at warped tour, but that time i was mostly getting killed by the sun ('cause i'm too white), so i had to go hide in the trees and the shade, and a second time at the orange peel in asheville, nc. that concert was probably my favorite of all time, against me! fans are really serious about being against me! fans, but the energy that the fans and the band produce was amazing.
and now, the drummer has quit to sell burritos; a life-long dream, apparently.. who knew.

anyways, i think it's amazing that T.S.R. is going to be the exit song of your wedding, As the Eternal Cowboy was my theme-music for most of a 12-hour drive to missouri a couple months back. i love it.


Lori T said...

This has been so much fun and I really enjoyed reading everyone's ballads. I think that it is just so amazing that everyone was willing to share their stories with us.

Thank you!!

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Glad everyone enjoyed the party!

And since we are sharing Against Me! stories here's mine... I discovered them a bit late in the game back in 2005 when Searching For A Former Clarity came out. I was doing a semester in LA program through Columbia and was out in LA with my really good friend Katie and this girl Amber who has now become one of my best friends. Amber kept talking about this band Against Me! because she'd grown up with the singer, Tom. She played Searching... and Katie and I were blown away. For six weeks basically all we listened to was AM! and they were touring at the time and came to LA and since Amber was good friends with the band we not only got to hang at their shows and go backstage, we got to go to the president of Warner Brothers house because the label was courting them at the time. It was freakin hilarious bc it was all of us punk kids drinking Dom perignon and then the suits got tired of our antics and we were all told it was time to go and they were actually turned the sprinklers on us as we were saying goodbye to the band on the lawn, lol. But they still signed with that label. I've seen em live a bunch of times since but those LA shows will probably always be my favorite.

of course they don;t compare to my fiance who saw them back in the day at the Fireside Bowl.

Jake Lsewhere said...

Looks like a good book, please enter me into this drawing.

Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

Llehn said...

I love hearing about the different authors and their ballads. It's been a blast! Thanks for running the party!


runningforfiction said...

this has been such a wonderful 25 days, Stephenie. you are so awesome.
runningforamsterdam @ hotmail . com

melony said...

searching for a former clarity was my first against me! album! i used to listen to it while driving my beat-up firebird, Gretchen, on any and all roads. between that and the Arctic Monkey's 'whatever people say i am, that's what i'm not,' that car and i had good times.
and now i'm addicted to Against Me!, i've got all albums (including vivida vis, insane as it is), and very jealous of your fiance seeing them at the Fireside.


Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Dude, Melony, how did you get your hands on vivida vis? I want to hear that so bad!

melony said...

i had to search and search and search torrent sites. i kinda felt bad for downloading it, but i didn't think i'd be able to find an actual copy anywhere, and i really wanted to hear it. it's pretty insane. if i knew how, i'd send you the song files.

Alexandra said...


I know I haven't commented much, but I've been following your blog party, and I just wanted to say that it's been a blast. Hearing peoples' stories is always wonderful, and there have been some awesome stories here the last few weeks.

Alexa said...

I loved everyone's ballads and I learned a lot. This was really fun and thanks for hosting this party!!
+1 I posted a link on my sidebar about this blog on sidebar
+1 link to Shooting Stars Mag's HUGE Ballads of Suburbia contest on my sidebar:


Jake Lsewhere said...

I've also blogged about this giveaway here.


Anonymous said...

I`ve never seen a book like this before and I would love to win a copy!
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com