Straight Edge Interview Project- Monika Seitz Vega, 41, Southern California

Tell us about you? What do you do for a living? Do you have any pets, hobbies, pet projects? 

Film photographer. Old vegan. Cats. Avid reader and cross stitcher. Disneyland enthusiast. Hobbies include motorcycles, watching baseball, collecting vintage postcards, thrifting, the Golden Age of Hollywood.

I am also an avid thrifter!  The pandemic has really throttled my habit. When thrifting, what are you looking for?  What was your most exciting find?

I love that you’re a thrifter! I have been forever, my parents instilled it in me and I’ve never stopped. It’s the thrill of the hunt and having stuff others don’t! These days I like to look for out of print books (Hollywood biographies), paint by numbers, parasols or cool old umbrellas, Disney stuff, old photographs, and my number one obsession – vintage postcards. I think the greatest find wasn’t mine, it was my husband’s…. he text me a photo from an estate sale and he’d filled our station wagon with thousands of slides – 35mm film slides in those plastic carousels that spanned 40 years of the family’s life. It was nuts. We had friends over and set up a projector and traveled the world with this family, for $75. I still can’t believe it.

You’re a photographer?  Do you have a link(s) to your work that you’d
like to share?

I have a website for my photography and postcard collection, it’s www.achangeinscenery.com

As an avid reader, what have you read lately that you would suggest we
check out?

A couple recent reads I highly recommend are “The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood” by Sam Wasson and “The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History” by Nathalie Holt. Both tell their stories deep within the context of the times, I appreciate when a societal and cultural picture is painted beyond the subject of the book itself.

Favorite straight edge (or non-straight edge) bands? If you have links, please provide them!

Morrissey, The Smiths, Belle & Sebastian. Ramones. The Selecter. Dead Kennedys. Buzzcocks. Favorite inadvertently straight edge song is “I’m Straight” by the Modern Lovers.

What is your definition of straight edge?

An individual’s choice to refrain from substances such as drugs, alcohol, and tobacco for personal or societal reasons.

There’s an ongoing debate on whether one can be straight edge without being a part of the music scene, what’s your thoughts on this?

I agree that one can be straight edge without being part of the scene.

What are some funny/common misconceptions people have about you being straight edge?

In my 30s people would begin to assume that I was in recovery when I would decline a drink or not drink at events where others would be drinking. I got a lot of “Oh…. sorry….” comments from people and it honestly took me a while to figure out what that was all about.

Is your diet influenced or informed by your choice to be straight edge i.e. organic, antibiotic infused meat, genetically modified foods, vegan, vegetarian?

I’ve been vegan for 25 years. The vegan/straight edge movement was big in southern California in the late 90s, while I was/am both I wasn’t one because of the other.

What’s your straight edge story? Was there a key moment that made you realize straight edge is the way you want to live your life? How old were you? How did you find out about straight edge, was there someone in the community that introduced you, or were you introduced to it through people/bands, etc? What drew you to it?

My parents were both addicts who were completely incapable of being anything else. I am an only child and my survival instinct kicked in almost instantly. I was a very aware and astute child and I just always knew that if I got involved with drugs or alcohol at all my life would be over. I cared too much about myself and my future and my interests. I’ve never been high or drunk and never will be. I was always into music and metal led to punk which led to the hardcore resurgence of the late 1990s. I didn’t consider myself part of the scene, I was an outlier, which was fine. I always did my own thing and didn’t necessarily fit in any specific mold.

Define what straight edge means to you? Has this changed over the years?

At this point in my life straight edge means to me “stay alert and stay awake”. There’s too many horrible things going on in the world that there has to be push back – resistance – and nonconformity. I don’t think it’s changed much over the years!

Do you consider yourself an activist? What is/are your cause(s), and how have you been working to advance them?

I am absolutely an activist. A huge part of my activism is what I consider “voting with your dollar” – buying used or second hand to slow the manufacture of new goods when I can, supporting small business, supporting vegan owned business, supporting artists. Also, I think there’s something to be said about being yourself well into adulthood…. I have a family and a house and a job and everything but I’m still me – I wear what I want, and am into the things I like, and I never hung it up to be a cog in the machine only to have a midlife crisis and spend all my money on eBay buying back the stuff I got rid of when I “grew up”.

What, if anything, keeps you committed to the straight edge lifestyle?

I don’t know any other way. It’s as much a part of me as my internal organs.

What is something you didn’t think you would struggle with by claiming edge?

When I was younger it blew my mind how offended people would get. I wasn’t and haven’t ever been “preachy”, I don’t know why they cared when I didn’t even care!

What do you do for stress relief instead of drinking/drugs, tips for peer pressure?

I read a lot. I also find it completely necessary to turn off the television/news/social media for significant lengths of time.

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

The pandemic has definitely caused me to redefine my perception of things in my life. It’s been a magnifying glass, essentially pointing out on one hand what isn’t important at all while on the other emphasizing things I may have viewed as small before but are huge to me now. I don’t expect “normal” to exist again, and I look forward to that, actually.

If you are in a relationship is your partner straight edge, or have you had a previous relationship with someone who was not straight edge? What, if any, challenges have you faced relating to your lifestyle/choices?

I’ve been married a long time. My husband drinks alcohol occasionally and it doesn’t phase me.

Some straight edge women/girls I have talked to have told me that they feel isolated and that they find it difficult to relate to people outside of the straight edge scene. Is this something you can relate to?

I’ve found it difficult to relate to most people my whole life, this isn’t something unique to me being straight edge.

If you are straight edge and a parent, how has being straight edge informed how you parent and/or relate to other parents?

I often joke that seeing our daughter Xed up at a show by the security was one of the proudest moments of my life. It was, though, because we raised her to be self sufficient and smart and make good decisions for herself and watch out for herself. I think all of those things are part of being a young straight edge girl, which I doubt she considers herself, but that really doesn’t matter to me.

How old is your daughter?   I have three kids myself.  The other day
when I was working on xsisterhoodx my daughter (10) asked me if she
could be straight edge too- I thought it was the cutest thing.

Our daughter is 19! She’s in her second year of college, looking forward to transferring to a Cal State University next fall to further study sound engineering. For as much shit “millennials” get (I don’t use that word, personally), she and her friends and their generation are going to save the world.

I love how your daughter asked to be straight edge! Wouldn’t it have been cool for us to have moms like us?! I honestly feel like it goes beyond straight edge in that it teaches the youth to not fall for peer pressure of any kind. Confidence in one’s convictions. C had friends who made bad decisions but she’d be honest with her feelings about those decisions, not excuse actions because they were her friends, etc. She’s always had a good grasp of reality and we made it a point to never burden her with things that weren’t hers to carry (finances, media beyond her comprehension level, etc…)

Over the past decade or so individuals in recovery have stumbled upon the straight edge lifestyle and it has really spoken to them. Do you feel that the straight edge community has been welcoming to those in recovery? Do you have mixed feelings? Strong Feelings?

I can only speak for myself in that while I am completely in support of anyone in recovery making positive changes in their lives, the adaptation of straight edge in the lives of ex-addicts is not a concept I was familiar with prior to the last several years. Let me be clear that what I am about to say is completely without judgement – I personally do not recognize the recovery straight edge adoption as being the straight edge that I have known for decades.

How do you feel your straight edge commitment plays into the bigger social justice movement for gender equity?

I can be my best self – woman, mother, feminist – when I am “alert and awake”. I do all I can to set a good example for those around me, and being straight edge is a major part of that.

Have you ever had a negative experience in the scene related to your gender?

Luckily nothing more that dudes being dicks. (“Dudes are dicks” can generally apply to the next few questions as well)

Please add anything else you think we should know or you would like to share!

I remember xsisterhoodx’s onset, so happy to see it back and thriving

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Written by kellysisterhood
Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org
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