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Straight Edge Interview Project: Tanya Orpi, 33, the Western Slope of Colorado. they/them she/her

Instagram: orpi_farm_labs

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

Hi my name is Tanya Orpi. I recently just started a position in horticulture, while simultaneously starting a business in mycology. I’m a proud mama to my daughter Bou. I like to include her in all my endeavors like painting, music, skateboarding, hiking, calisthenics, yoga, and Wim-Hof. It was hard to rediscover myself in sobriety I now understand when the blood is clean the mind is clear and I can fully invest vulnerable sides of myself into all of these practices. As I move forward my main focus are motherhood, performing vocals in my band Horsie, and starting my business Orpi Farm Labs.

Favorite straight edge (or non-straight edge) bands?

Honestly I’ve always grown up listening to punk but in these last few years I’ve grown into quite the softie. I’d say my top sapphic favorites of this year are beach house, crumb, men I trust, And tennis. As for straight edge bands though I really love with War, Blue Deputy, have heart, limp wrist, rise against, bane, and fugazzi.

What is your definition of straight edge?

I think the definition of punk to me has always been to take responsibility for my own actions, and to never fall into anything that falls against my own morals. Straight edge to me just solidifies all that encompasses the old pick a bother up ethics of punk.

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

Today my favorite straight edge band is With War. I think they reminds us that with clarity in our voices it’s even more important to stay political and fight injustice. I like to integrate that influence into the lyrics I write for the band Horsie that I’ve been so fortunate to have the opportunity to do vocals for. I honestly hope that straight edge stays political.

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 think if there is anything that Spotify wrapped has thought us it’s that hard core kids don’t listen to a lot of hard core these days. And honestly it’s ok to be soft. I myself am apart of the music scene, but I think it’s more important to influence though my actions than my lyrics. We gotta walk our talk.

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

I think it’s just because I live in Colorado but a lot of people assume I smoke weed or cigarettes. A lot of people also assume I hate everyone who drinks or does drugs. I’m on my own personal journey, I’m not here to judge everyone else on there journey. My path isn’t necessarily the best path for another person. I like to respect everyone’s autonomy and free will.

What are some challenges you have faced when interacting with other people who are also edge? If you haven’t had any challenges, tell us some challenges you’ve faced when interacting with people who are not edge?

I butt heads with the gate keepers. But I have mostly a difficult time with the elitist mindset that were somehow better than other people because were edge. Honestly I don’t think I’m any better than the homeless guy in the ally with a needle in his arm. We’re both pumping blood and we’re both gonna be buried in the same soil. I’m not about to treat anyone less than.

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

Over time I’ve taken a slow transition to better every aspect of my life with yoga, fitness, claetherics, Wim Hof, and with my diet. I stopped eating meat and dairy, and eventually had stopped eating eggs after re-homing my chickens. I still eat honey so I’m technically not a full Vegan, I’ve recently purchased bee boxes am looking to do studies with bees to try and explore more ethical care for bees and see how I can pair that with mycology. My diet was mainly influenced by the straight edge community, the Krishna core community, and also the mycology community as mushrooms have been my favorite meat replacement.

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?

On Jan 7th this will be my 5th year of complete and total sobriety. Honestly I almost didn’t make it this far, I’ve survived my own suicide, and adopted heath issues, but I’ve also gained so much more! I’m most definitely celebrating another year sober, alive; Being rocketed into the 4th dimension. The love and accountability I’ve received from community has truly transformed me. Ive witnessed so much death. I’ve watched life leave the body while I’ve held someone in there last breath to drugs and alcohol. Ive lost my mom to suicide overdose, Ive watched my friend Brian get murdered by heroin dealers, and my partner Andrew was drinking and then struck and killed by a car in front of me. I got sober originally to cope with those deaths, to stop escaping mentally and emotionally through intoxication. In turn I found dark places inside myself that I almost let kill me. It’s shifted my perspective to radical love. Now I just regret not telling these people how much I loved them enough while they were alive, so in turn, I make it a point to be mindful and speak to everyone I love in a meaningful and loving manor, to tell people why they are significant and beautiful and how much gratitude I hold for there place in my life.

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

I think to me straight edge has always meant that there is a collective community that shared my experience of isolation and alienation when I’m sober at shows, and clubs, and party’s, but I also think what outweighs that is that there is a collective group of people who inspire me, and set a positive example for those around us because they are apart of this community and I hope that continues.

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

Yes I’ve always been an activist. I’ve lived in Anarchist collectives and communes on and off in my life and the majority of activism I’ve done revolves around homeless rights and fighting racial and trans/homophobic injustice.

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

I think I look at the 3 X’s as head stones. I see the first X as my friend Brian’s death over heroin, I see the second X as my dear Andrew and his fatality with alcohol and vehicles, and the third X I see as my own. I really believe that to relapse is to die. I’m true till death.

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

I think dating is the weirdest. I’m queer. I think it’s hard enough trying to meet women who are also queer that I’m attracted to. It’s even harder to find one that’s also sober. I’ve only ever dated norms and in that I do really believe tho that if your partner has had even one beer that we shouldn’t ever sleep with them because that leaves a complete and total lack of consent. I think sober people who date normies have to retain an incredible about of self accountability when it comes to sex and consent.

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

I think screaming in a sludgy loud band definitely helps. Working out helps a lot. For those of us who became edge, rather than those who were born sober I think more than trying to find escape in activity’s I think doing deep shadow work and digging deep into ourselves to find what ever made us drink prior and working thought that is huge. You can be physically sober and lack spiritual fitness.

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

It honestly made me sad. I wasn’t always straight edge. I used to drink and drug pretty heavily when I was younger. And seeing all these people swarm to the liquor store just locked in there homes depressed and getting drunk all day really brought me to reflect on my old self and the changes and choices I’ve made sense. It’s a nice reminder of what I don’t want to be, and it makes me proud that I can overcome strife with a sober vessel.

Have you ever considered breaking edge? What were the circumstances, and what changed your mind?

I did once. I was in an abusive marriage and I didn’t know how to escape. There was so much mental, emotional, and financial abuse. I was isolated and I didn’t know how to escape. I started thinking about killing myself, about picking up a bag and a bottle so I would have the courage to do it. I was gonna drive my motorcycle across lanes and in front of an oncoming semi truck or shoot myself by the river. I got brave and asked for a divorce. My wife walked out on us and left the house full of what felt like a million open alcohol bottles. I called a good friend to come and empty the house, shortly after I turned to AA. I never broke my sobriety only because of a beautiful community of people who only wanted to love and care for me and wanted what’s best for me. I’m forever grateful.

Have you ever stopped being edge for a period of time, if so why? Did you regret doing so? What brought you back? If you have come back, how do you view your commitment (i.e. for life, for now)?

I was sober once before but I hadn’t claimed edge at the time. I watched my partner Andrew get hit and killed by a car. I choose to drink at his memorial. I remember feeling the alcohol creep down my limbs and there was no going back. I sat on that relapse for a couple years before getting sober again. This time around I knew I wasn’t going to break again, and I claimed edge. Going into my 5th year I’m glad I made that choice and that Ive chosen a sober community.

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 never been in a relationship with anyone sober. I’m divorced from my wife and single now. Honestly my wife’s drinking did cause problems in our marriage. It made me sad that she always masked her problems with alcohol, weed, and pills. I hope that one day she chooses a 12 step program and is able to start getting past the things that keep her from being happy. I hope one day that I can have a healthy relationship with someone who shares the same values as me and hopefully that includes sobriety.

Has your family and social life been negatively or positively impacted? Have you faced or are you facing any specific challenges because of your lifestyle choices? If your family/friends are unsupportive, how do you deal?

I have received some negative comments from my family due to my lifestyle changes. My family is traditional Hispanic. Most family get togethers everyone is drinking and cooking some kind of meat. I’ve had family members tell me to “stop acting so white!” I think my favorite was when I turned down a beer and a taco from my cousin explaining that I don’t drink alcohol or eat meat he asked “do you even use electricity?”

If you are single, have you found it difficult to date?

I don’t really date a lot honestly. My priority has been on my child and my business. Any eligible Bachelorette readers feel free to look me up ha ha.

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?

n/a I’m friends with lots of normies

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

I love that my daughter has never and will never see me falling down, or stumbling. I love that if something happens Ill always be able to drive us to the hospital. I love that I can set an example for her. That she’s never going to see me smoking, or drinking, or getting high, or catch me lying to her. Kids aren’t stupid, we cant be hypocritical and tell our kids to not do what they see us doing on a daily basis. We gotta lead by example. Because I have good habits and hobbies she gets to join me instead of me ditching her with a sitter while I’m at the bar. I take her hiking, and we do yoga together, and all my friends are safe people that I like having around my kid.

How do you explain your lifestyle to others outside of the scene? Do you find it difficult? What’s your elevator pitch?

I don’t drink, I don’t smoke weed or cigarette, and I don’t use drugs or even eat meat. I don’t fill a void with excessive food or exercise. I make it a point to work on myself, mentally, physically, and spiritually and in all of that I’m still the same tough punk who like to toss her friends around at shows. I don’t put anything negative into my body because I don’t want to output anything negative from my body. I’m here to have all the same fun, but while still making peace with my fellow man.

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 think the big difference is that recovery programs are built on having open arms. If you mess up, they will take you back over and over and over again. Straight edge isn’t like that. You break edge and your extradited. I think I claimed edge this time around because I think I needed the accountability. I think I needed the raw, realness that punk holds. But I’ve honestly leaned hard on both community’s and they are equally near and dear to my heart and soul.

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

I think the hard core scene has a lot of toxic masculinity. I’ve heard a lot of dudes say nasty shit like women don’t belong in the pit. Like Kathleen Hannah, when my band plays I want the girls to the front. I wanna inspire younger girls to pick up guitars and think for themselves. To unlearn and rebuild there own morals and ethics. I think as a queer person in the scene, I’m a mean mama dike that doesn’t let people get away with shit, I’m a mean mama dike that stands up for her community because this community is sacred to me.

Straight edge and the associated music scene have long been male-dominated. What do you see as a woman/girls role in the scene? How has this role changed since you have been involved and what changes would you like to see?

I’ve told my guitarist going into this music project that in looking at the punk scene in our area, its being revived by the youth ten fold. But these kids, they are so much cooler than we were, they practice radical love, and they really wear there hearts on there selves. They are so openly loving and supportive, and they are building the best community. But these dudes in other bands I’ve seen when we were in our early 20’s hooking up with girls in high school, and now were getting older and these kids going to shows are younger and younger and it creeps me out that the same dudes are still playing shows. I honestly wanna play to inspire. I want these kids to stop looking up to us creepy old fuckers and I want to put guitars in the hands of these little girls. I want to teach them to lead themselves instead of looking up to us! I want them to take over and rule the scene.

What if any challenges have you faced that are specifically related to being a female in a male-dominated scene?

I think women get scared as musicians that they need to play as good as men, or that we need to be as tough as men to be in the pit. Fuck that. The old code says pick a brother up. I don’t wanna play better than men. I wanna play just as shitty as men and have fun doing it.

Do you feel the straight edge community has done enough to advance gender/race/social issues?

I think bands like With War teach us a great lesson that in having clarity in our voices we need to use that to teach and inspire and god damn it to keep straight edge political!

Is the scene as inclusive as it likes to think it is? Do you think there’s work to be done? If so, what would you like to see change?

I honestly wanna see more straight edge bands like Blue Deputy. I’m over the “hard core scene” being primarily what is deemed as straight edge. I think Sobriety and straight edge is so much more than hard core, and so much more than music as a whole. I think we can be political and vigilant in all acts of life without having to dip our toes into subculture structure. If there is anything that sobriety has given me its radical love, and acceptance of being soft not being a weakness. I wanna love unapologetically that’s who I am sober.

Do you have any questions that you think we should be asking but didn’t?

I do not, but I would like to say thank you very much for including me in this project. Im very grateful to stand beside you sisters of straight edge and have voice in this.

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

my favorite quote I’ve found in sobriety is ‘There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.’ -Ernest Hemingway. Stay true to you.

Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org

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