Huntress of the Lens


Monday, August 31, 2009

Two trips around the Sun

For some reason, around two years ago I decided to start googling my birth mother's name. She's not important, I wouldn't expect to find her there, but you never know. These days people google potential dating partners to see what pops up, and you'd be surprised who actually has an entry or two. It was my secret obsession, googling Dottie. I found one entry, and I couldn't stop searching for more. I found them, here and there.

The funny thing is, she's kind of a minor celebrity, or was, in a group called "Save our State" which is dedicated to rooting out all illegal Mexican immigrants in California. She's even patrolled the California Border with a group called the "Minutemen" and I can't imagine what an old woman would do if she came across a desperate family or group of men trying to enter this country to find a better life or a living wage. Was she armed? Did she carry a gun, or maybe a stick? This group that I researched and even joined so I could read their message boards is founded on hate and superiority, and can trace all the ills and woes of the state of California, and possibly the whole United States to the influx of illegal immigrants, and Mexican people in general. My "mother" is a part of a hate group. She is their martyr in a small way, or was for a while.

She gained her celebrity when in a protest about a statue that was erected in Baldwin Park she was hit in the head with a plastic bottle of water by the opposing side. The statue had an inscription that said something regarding the idea that California originally belonged to Mexico and the indigenous people who lived here before it was swallowed by the great US, and would one day return to it's original ownership. Half true, it did, but we all know the United States never gives back what it has digested. Apparently there were some people who were in favor of this piece of art being displayed and paid for by the city, and an opposition that she belonged to who came with hateful signs and were there to yell about it. The water bottle was thrown and it hit her in the head. She inflated that into some imaginary brain damage and tried to sue the city of Baldwin Park for a million dollars for not protecting her adequately.

It drove me mad, I was only able to find one picture, and it's blurry. She's referred to as a "66 year old grandmother" and I became extremely agitated at that description, she's seen Paul a few times, and the last time she saw Andrew he was a baby in diapers who didn't know how to crawl yet. That's the last time she saw me as well. She didn't know about Molly till she heard about her through the sick family grapevine and Molly was already about ten years old. "Grandmother." She has no right to that as a title. I took a sad and even sick pleasure at how decrepit she looked in that blurry newspaper photo. Truthfully, I'm not even sure it was her, I don't know if I would recognize her now, it's been over 23 years since I've seen her in person. 

I am so amazed and yet not at all surprised that without speaking or discussing our political views for over two decades we manage to be opposed in political belief. She is involved in hatred and exclusion and I try in every moment to come from love and tolerance; to see the me in everyone, to know that we are all one part of the same thing. Why does it not cause me even a moment's pause to know that she and I are still opposite in everything that matters, the things that feed the soul and run the machine of our lives? Even on the "equality for all" issue we may differ, even though she has been in a relationship with the same woman for the last twenty-something years as far as I know. I don't know if they're out, or still "roommates" that share legal ownership of a house. She may have had the same lover since her last husband killed himself and still believe that "God hates Fags." That would be her style.

I contacted her lawyer, who promised me anonymity, just to get an email address so that I could write to her when I was ready. I got an email not two days later from her, all chatty and cheerful, and happy that I wanted to be in touch again. I was far from ready for that, but hey, I started it. 

I did finally write and send her the letter, the one I have written and burned, written and deleted for years now. The first drafts were all about how I would kill her and why, and just why she deserved it. Then they morphed into letters of victimhood and how she had ruined my life, how I would kill her and why she deserved it. Then I started the series of letters about why I would never talk to her again in this lifetime, stopped talking about killing her, but gave every reason that she would never hear from me again and why she deserved it. I have worked on these dead letters with therapists, friends and my sponsor. The dead letters. I could have made a book of just those and their evolution. I never sent a single one, and there were hundreds of them.

The final letter, the one that made the cut, the one that fit all the criteria my spiritual and intellectual advisors had helped me out with was something like this:

"Here are the things that happened in my life and how they affected me then, how they still affect me now. Here are the questions I have about how a mother could do these things, because being a mother myself I can't imagine doing them myself. I'm on a path to forgiveness, and I really need to understand what you were thinking, how you justified those things to yourself. Maybe I could forgive you if I could understand you. My feelings about our relationship have colored every aspect of my life since my childhood and I'd like to let that go and I need your help. I would consider a relationship with you, but I need an explanation, and an apology in order to do that."

Of course it was more emotional than that, but I really worked hard to not do any name calling, or blaming, or demonizing. I tried to use "I" statements. I did the best I could. When I shared it with my current therapist she gave me thumbs up on it. I knew when I hit the send button I would get one of three responses, and knew I couldn't send it until I was ready for any of them.
She would deny it all, argue with me or just ignore it. Well Monty, she went for door number three. I have never heard from her again.

I suppose the reason I'm even thinking about these things this morning is that it's somewhere around the two year anniversary of the sending of that letter, and I just wrote again yesterday of the way that Angelique held me while I cried the tears that rightfully belong to Dottie, that woman who ejected me from her vagina, gave me her name, abused me for her own amusement until she grew bored and then walked away. 

At the one year mark I did write a letter that said a lot of things that were along the lines of my wishes for how it could have been. I wrote to her about how I wished I could have shared with her the amazing woman I have become, the obstacles I have overcome. Despite what I have been through on my journey I would have liked to introduce her to the woman I am today. I would have liked to tell her of my three children and how unique each of them are, how we have close and uninterrupted relationships, how they are all destined for different greatness. How they all know they were wanted, and that they've never heard from my lips that my life would have been a better place without them in it. I would have loved to tell her about my daughter who is so close with me that we can finish each other's sentences, and how we can have whole conversations with a twitch of an eye and a lift of an eyebrow. How my daughter is the star that crowns my existence and has never cried one tear thinking that she was not meant to be, or at fault for my own troubles. I would love to have shared with her that all three of my children surpass me in their being, and that I wouldn't have it any other way. If you do it right your children turn out better than you are yourself, it's not a competition where you have to hold them down in order to win. I wrote a very long letter and hit send.

That letter vanished. It's not in the sent folder. It's not in drafts. It's nowhere. It was not meant to be shared, although I cried and poured my whole heart into it. It was just a writing exercise after all. I suppose it was just for me and my Higher Power, since we are the only two who ever read it. Oh well, you know about it now too.

So it's been two years now. It's been a long time since I checked my email every three minutes to see if she'd respond. I hated myself for writing her for a while, for twenty years or more I could go along and only think of her when something in my heart hurt, but I had no expectations. I hated that I had set myself up to have another hope to be dashed. I'm over that now. Eventually she'll die, and I think I'll hear about it. She is the one who will miss out though. She's just a hate-mongering, bitter old lesbian in a house in the desert and I am living in a world of wonder that is filled with so much love that it can overcome me and make me overflow like the Ace of Cups sometimes. I would have invited her in, all I wanted was an explanation and an apology. That's a fairly cheap price of admission I think, but maybe my pocket is deeper.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


It's funny sometimes how I think I'm doing one thing, and actually the long term result is that I've done something completely different than I originally thought. Usually this is best illustrated by people, who I think I'm interacting with, and who is left over with after the water settles.

Women's Weekend is a good example of that for me. I thought I was going there to tattoo, and see my friends from the river, and ended up with Angelique. Through her I became acquainted with Sister Sarah and other Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Angelique played the role of   Archetype of Mother for me, and was pivotal in some major healing. I thought I was just going on a business trip and I met the woman who was able to help me heal the little girl who still cried for lack of a mother, the mother in fear of not knowing how to raise a daughter. 

My personal transformation had begun the Wednesday night before when I thought I was just going to see the Indigo Girls as a mother's day present from Michael. I cried through the entire concert, from Matt Moriss' simple acoustic opening songs to the more poignant songs that Amy and Emily can always reach me with. By the time they played "Ozalline" which contains the words 

"I had to put the dog down,
Before I hit the road,
I watched that sweet old life
Become a bag of bones."

I was sobbing. It spoke to me of the loss of my Jack Bennett, who I hadn't finished crying for; my thirteen year companion who died as I held him and let him go at the same time. The best friend I wear inked into my skin with "Good Dog Jack Bennett" surrounding it. Michael encouraged me to go ahead and cry, everyone was looking at the stage, it was dark in there, and loud enough that no one could hear me as I let go in his arms. We probably looked romantic. I thought I was going to a concert and I opened a flood-gate that wasn't done flowing for a week.

I met a man in early recovery, who was good looking, and an amazing artist, who eventually needed a room to rent. We could talk about art and life for hours. I interpreted this to mean that we were in love and a couple and he actually went along with me for a few months there, we definitely had a a connection and we shared so much in common. He was mystical and hard to touch, like fireflies or northern lights, and hard as I tried I couldn't make him love me. I did try too. I thought I was having a boyfriend, but what I was really doing was gaining a lifelong sister. His sister. 

I see now that the only reason that he and I were ever together was so that I could meet her and have her in my life. I do have regrets that he and I can't seem to be friends now. I know the woman he married and have liked her. He and I shared so much common ground. Now we're both married to the perfect mate we waited so long for, and I've done my best to make amends for my behavior when I was trying to make him stay. Like my boys' dad, it still mystifies me that we're not friends, I am a good and loyal friend to have now that I'm grounded in the love I was meant to live, and you're not in danger of me thinking that you should love me and here's my plan for making it happen.

This sister-friend though, well, well, well. We have managed to maintain our relationship through all of the tempest of my tears as I battered her poor brother's shore. Through the floods of tears that I wasn't going to get what I wanted. Through the years of single moms raising teenagers miles apart and yet together. I thought I was on myspace but what I was really doing was maintaining a friendship that was destined to last indefinitely.

We see each in person other rarely, and hopefully that will change at the beginning of the year. She and Amber and Josh have plans to move back to town here and be close enough to visit regularly. By visit, I mean we could go into each others' refrigerators without asking. I was born without blood siblings, every time she calls me "sister" it gives me this little thrill of unfamiliarity and warmth. I've never had a sister. She refuses to let me remember that. She's another archetype for me, and I get to see her today. It seems like only yesterday we visited, and yet the video I'm sharing with this post was made a year ago by her son Josh, so it's been a whole year.   We write so regularly that the time seems much shorter.

These people I write of, the ones that are the waterline, that mark my high points after the floods have receded, are the true gifts that I find as I go along my merry way thinking I'm doing one thing yet actually doing another. Good thing I don't really know what it is I'm doing, or only do what I set out to do, or I would be missing so much. I went to an NA meeting, and came home with my husband.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bicycle Men

There is a certain kind of guy in my town, who I see all over. He's on every street. His details vary a bit, sometimes he pulls a little trailer meant for one or two children behind his bicycle, sometimes not. Sometimes he balances an amazingly large plastic trash bag of aluminum cans on his handlebars, sometimes his little trailer is homemade and isn't recycled from some of the belongings of a couple that thought pulling their children down the road behind them through traffic was a good idea. He usually wears a frayed, plaid, quilted jacket, no matter the weather. Somewhere on his self-propelled vehicle you'll see that he has all or most of his belongings with him. 

His jeans are a web of dirty cotton threads at the heels, missing fabric at the knees. He often has a backpack to match the outfit. He is always in motion, going somewhere, on the move. You'll see him standing still when a police officer wants to ask him a question, and I always think wouldn't it be funny if the cop hit that distinctive blast on the siren, the one that lets you know it's your turn this time, just to say "Hey buddy, come over here. Do you know what year the Normans conquered England? I can never remember if it's 1055 or 1066." I doubt that's what they're talking about, but I like to imagine it. 

He never has all of his teeth, and always has a scruff of facial hair. Not always a full beard, but the remnants of a shave that say "I am able to groom myself, just not recently." Sometimes he favors the really high ape-hanger handlebars for his bike, and once I saw a guy with a black cat that rode on his shoulders. That cat's entire life and home was on top of his man. I haven't seen that particular man with his cat for a long time now.  This man is everywhere here. 

Sometimes he still has an old truck with a camper shell that was never meant to match it, and many repairs and reinforcements have been done with duct tape. Through whichever windows haven't been replaced with plywood or cardboard you can see that it's  full to the top with belongings. Items. Stuff. This is property ownership for this guy. Sometimes you see him at an NA meeting once or twice, or once in a while, and in rare cases you see him come back many many times and hear that he's got three years clean and just married one of the prettiest girls in the program.

I've seen his female counterpart, in the evening, only out after dark. Where does she go during the day? She wears the same fashion style that didn't really look that good in decades gone by, and her clothes don't really fit her now. She has a thing for cleavage or bare midriff, even though both are sad and shouldn't be seeing any light, even the artificial yellow cast of the bar lamp. I don't see her riding the bicycle, she goes to ground during the day. She and all of her sisters have the same sunken cheeks, the similar facial features that make them look like they are all from one family. All of them, the men and the women look as if they are from one extended gene pool. And they are all approximately my age.

This is the part that worries and wonders me, what it is that happened to the people of my generation. Lately people have been posting yearbook pages, or pictures from softball events, or team shots, or just random shots of my classmates sitting around in our feathered hair and our Ditto pants, carrying our stamped leather purses. We all looked as young and full of promise as the kids of today do, with fresh skin and all of our teeth.

It's not all of us, my generation, class of '78 that ended up on bicycles. Many of us did the smart thing and went to college, or did other things that led to success and families and ever-increasing affluence. These are not the nationwide classmates I'm speaking of. I'm talking about the aluminum gathering, copper stealing, bike riding, drug-addicted rest of my generation that seem to be everywhere, at least in this town. I see us riding bikes all over, and in the off chance that I'm in a bar for some reason that doesn't include drinking and I see my sisters I wonder what happened to us in such great numbers. 

I was driving and talking to my son Paul the other day after passing one too many of the bike men and I asked him "What do you think happened to us, do you know that many of these guys are actually younger than I am?" He said "Well, your generation was kind of famous for experimenting with drugs..." and we were. We were garbage cans. We would smoke anything, snort anything, swallow any pill without asking what it was. Eventually I think as a whole generation we found and settled on methamphetamine, because it was relatively cheap and readily found. Meth is what happened to us.

I hate it when people throw around percentages as though they've read more than one set of data to back it up. Michael does this all the time. It's one of the things that I don't find cutely endearing, but love about him anyway because he's just making a point and I love him always, no matter what. I'm going to do that very thing myself now: I have heard that only 2% of all people who become addicted to methamphetamine are able to stop using it for sustained periods of time. Holly and I tried to figure out just when we quit together. Our best guess is that it's been almost 18 years now. I'm going to call that sustained. Michael likes to say that for every addict that comes to the rooms hundreds or thousands die without even sitting in one of the chairs. For every addict that truly finds recovery there are hundreds or thousands that die without ever finding freedom from their addiction. So many of these  people who are dying are my age. Meth is culling my demographic.

When I see the guy on the bike, I say "Thank you God." for myself, and "Go with God." for him. It's never too late for someone to find freedom from active addiction, but it is always too late for someone who isn't seeking it. I wonder how many people who smile from the pages of my yearbook are dead now, and how many were chewed and swallowed by the jaws of addiction? I have no way to gather this data, but if you're my age I bet you know at least one person who was taken out by drugs or alcohol in one way or another, don't you? We all worry about chemical warfare, and yet we wage it on ourselves daily. 

If you've never tried a drug, or just experimented in high school before growing up and knocking off that nonsense as you began your adult life then of course I don't write to you. If you have a glass of wine with dinner, or like to go out for a few beers with your friends now and then, you can count yourself out of the "we" and "us" that I write of here. But what about your brother, your sister, your uncle, your friend from long ago? Don't you know at least one of us? We're everywhere, and only a very few of us ever get a chance to gain our freedom and park our bicycles for good.

If you secretly (or not so secretly) struggle with any kind of addiction I am no expert on anything at all, but I've learned some things, and found my freedom. Write me a private message and I'll tell you where I went to find my life, just waiting to be lived. There is a whole family of people much wiser than I just waiting for you to come in from the lonely and find the same freedom for yourself.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Learned, seen, or a combination of both?

I was emailed an incredibly personal document by my best friend recently, to give my opinions on. We had already discussed the bulk of the material, and he had covered it's content well, there were no surprises, and that let me know that it had been read and re-read a few times. It's a letter he's waited years to receive, and it falls short on so many levels. We discussed it in person and I gave my best psychological feedback at the time of face to face conversation, and then got my eyes on the actual piece for review just the other day.

I have been playing around with different fields of study for years. Graphology, which works best if you have the actual paper in your hands to determine the weight of the pen stroke, even when only a signature is provided. Other studies that I can't articulate or quantify, but that give me information to do readings on things, especially my beloved words, when they come from someone else. I have no way to know if I am correct in my reading about this document, and yet I felt so certain that I was seeing so much more than the words that were lined up there trying so hard to say one thing and yet declaring another.

Even seeing the page on a screen and not holding it in my hands (which would have told me so much more, when I hold objects in my hands I see pictures and stories and pick up the emotional charge, especially if they are very saturated in feelings or deception, That's why it's often so easy to read my clients, because I have hands- on contact with them and I see so much with my eyes that are not eyes from that tactile contact.) I saw a whole story, and found that from years of studying books about this and that I had my own studies to back up what I was saying. The signature alone brought all the graphology I have studied in books and books right there  to the front of my mind and I felt like I could tell the writer's story effortlessly. 

It's not a pretty story, the letter was written by a con-man and a liar. Even the signature bears that out. I won't go into any of the details of the letter, because they certainly are not mine to share, but what I write about this morning is the amazing knowing I felt when I looked at it, without even touching it. It was like there was a whole different letter floating just above it that said something absolutely contrary to what the original was trying to say. I wouldn't choose to know the writer of this letter. Not all choices are mine however. It was like there was one message superimposed upon the original and I could see it as clear as day. Not often do I feel that my thousand books and years of study add up to anything that makes me qualified to read anything or anyone with the same competence and confidence that Christine does every day of her life. This was one of those times though, and it felt good. 

My whole time with Dottie she let me know that some women in our family have a "touch of the sight" but that it skips a generation. She has it, her grandmother had it, and I most certainly would not ever see with those other eyes. I tried to substitute with studying and books the thing that she says they were born with. I think that she was lying to me, and that possibly what she does is have the occasionally accurate dream. What happens for me is a seeing that is there and always has been. I think she knew this from things I could see as a child and in her constant competition with me wanted to take that away or make sure I never believed in those other eyes. When I see something and it's clear I often hit it as hard and true as a carpenter with his well-worn hammer. Not all the time, but when I do, a feeling of certainty comes over me and I just know. This alarms or amuses strangers if I just blurt it out, I have developed some sensitivity and a filter, because when you're sitting with someone hands-on it can be uncomfortable to just ask them an entirely personal question about a picture you see floating if it's not flattering. "Have you died before? Or been considered dead but revived? I see water." or "Did you have an abortion that you never told anyone about?"will freak someone out, especially if the answer is yes. The filter is handy.

The letter was one thing, but it was the signature that really told me the whole story. It didn't tell a pretty story, and I feel sorry for the boy that grew up to become that man. I'll pray for him, because now I know his name.

Of course I gave my friend another dose of my emotional comfort and response to the document, but we had really covered that in person. I just found it strange how I became possessed by this document examiner I didn't know really existed inside myself. This person is a collection of every book I have ever read on the subject, and there are many, many books on that list. I will never again question my book choices again, wonder why I'm reading something that seems to have no practical application to the life I'm living at the moment. I'll need it someday.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Words at large

I finally broached the topic of my garage and entered the past yesterday. This garage is a two-car garage, built in the 50s, when cars were big and gas was cheap, and people would go for a "sunday drive" just for the fun of it. It has more space than some of the apartments I've lived in. It may actually have more square footage than my Grandmother's house that I grew up in, maybe not, but it's a big garage. The roof sags a bit. It has been home to spiders and stuff for thirteen years. Michael set off not one but two spider bombs so we could safely enter. 

Traditionally the right side is for things that other people have been invited to store there, or the place we put things that have been left behind by roommates. It's random storage. The left side, however, is mine. My past lives there. Art supplies I have no space or current interest in. Pictures that should have been better cared for. Items that I have assigned value to, meaning that they're too important to throw away but not valuable enough to take a place in my daily life. 

When Karen lived here we went through the whole thing stick by stick and had a garage sale in the driveway. That was in the days when our porch and walkway was full of five gallon pots blooming with different things and the overgrown mess of a box was actually filled with vegetables and roses. Grandma Carol will remember, because she always asked to see my garden first when she visited. This was before my house got too out of control and I became too embarrassed to have them over and started visiting them only over at their motor coach when they come to town. I can't remember the last time I've actually invited my parents into my home, but it's been years.

The left side became so organized, art stuff here, camping stuff there, pictures, this, that, all organized and easy to access. That was years ago as well. Somehow it's all mixed itself up and now my personal things have somehow migrated to the shelves that divide the space, as well as along the back wall. The time bombs, the writings, pictures, love letters and other things that are just too private to have available to any eyes but my own have always been locked in a hope chest I got for my 16th birthday. I stored them there because I never had enough hope to need a whole box to hold it. I hadn't realized it, but the box has deteriorated enough that when moved yesterday the whole lid just popped off, forgot that it was ever locked. I feel like my rib and sternum configuration is now removable and all my inner workings are exposed. 

What I also didn't realize was that over the years I've been casually storing notebooks of my words in various wooden wine boxes. I prefer the flat ones that are meant to hold several bottles on their sides. I have many, many of these boxes. I also have a thing for boxes. I have never finished a notebook in my entire life, the lure and smell of a new notebook makes me fickle, and so I have dozens of notebooks with the first twenty or thirty pages filled with handwriting that has changed over the years. In the truly drunken years the writing becomes far more disorganized than I like, but for the most part it's fairly regimented although not overly controlled.

I have always carefully avoided the obvious left-handed back-slant, that shows a clinging to the past and holding the emotions in. It's unnatural and uncomfortable to get the right-ward slant going or to keep it consistent, I am left handed after all. For some reason I can't reign in the loops on my lower case D, although that's called a "murderer's loop" and I have always tried to change that. Maybe I'll kill someone some day, I don't know.

Yesterday I saw Molly with a purple notebook in her hand, fresh out of a wooden wine box, reading what was obviously my handwriting and she says "Oh, I think this one's about me!" and I just lost it. "Is that a notebook of my handwriting? Why are you reading it? Were you invited to read that? Close that immediately!" and I was a bitch about it so the only possible response a sixteen year old girl can come back with was to be a complete bitch right back at me and I was very mature and stormed out of the garage. So much for asking for help with going through all the stuff on my side, huh? I think I have a hundred or a million half-finished and hand-written notebooks scattered through all of my things, most of them undated I'm sure, although I could tell you what time of my life they were written by reading the words. They all come from a time before my first computer. They all were written before spell check and the chance to edit. They all existed in a time when I wrote without the idea that anyone would ever read them. They are written in blue, black or purple ink, but they may as well be written in blood. I'm afraid they're everywhere. As I said, I've never been able to resist the lure of a new notebook, or a new pen.

I need to find them all and get them locked up after reading them and sharing certain excerpts with Michael for laughs. Everyone can read all of it after I'm dead and wonder at the sheer volume of words and complete lack of importance I felt compelled to record. But as long as I breathe those words belong to me and are too private to just lay around in wine boxes. Some of them go back to my teen years. There is at least one composition book that I know exists that is a dream I had in my early teens about a guy named Scott and a set of keys he threw me that were warm as though they'd been in his pocket for a long time. How do I remember that and I can't remember things I'm supposed to get done the day after tomorrow?

I am almost fifty, and I have been generating words in one way or another for probably forty-five of those years. If I wasn't writing them I was carefully clipping them out of publications and gluing them onto objects I had painted first. I love words like Andrew loves numbers and the possibilities of concurrent dimensions. Ok, I love those too, but maybe not the numbers quite so much.

Now, while everyone I know is cutting brush and whacking berry vines I am on a word search. I feel a deep and personal need to take my butterfly net and capture every fluttering word I have left loose out there and get them into one place, and then with my typical Moon in Scorpio nature get them under lock and key. I don't know if I will rest easily until I do.

The art supplies I just hunger for, because I'm about to claim a whole desk as my own, and I am overflowing with art, much of which will include words, because as I told you I'm not content to just write them, I like to paint and then use them in my art. Remember how Batman talked when he was tied to something with a boulder wrapped in chain that would drop on him slowly, controlled by a timer set by the Joker as he laughingly left the room with some clever threat? I don't mean today's Batman, I mean the one played by Adam West. The Joker would set the timer and leave the room with Batman and Robin tied to the chair and the timer ticking and the boulder slowly descending and Batman would say "Must.....Get....Out....Of.....This....Robin...." and Robin would come up with the answer? I feel like "Must.....Make.....Art." I have no Robin tied up with me, but I already have an answer, it's a desk I'm about to claim and the supplies that are scattered all over my life. I'm going to get them into one place and start creating.

Just as soon as I find all those words.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Boxing Day when you don't live in Canada

I woke up one morning, not so long ago, oppressed by the sheer weight of the items I owned, that were packed into my house like something assembled for shipping by an expert in Japan. I started what I'll call "the purge." If you've been reading me on any kind of regular basis you've heard about various aspects of this for a while. If you're here for the first time you're unacquainted with the boxes of books, the tonnage of clothes, the whole kitchen of unnecessary items I've let go of so far. DVDs, travel trailer, snake cage, wall art, furniture, all given away and not sold, because I am affluent enough in my life to give and not sell; the gratification and joy that has come with that. The things I have let go of, the people I have gained and assimilated into my family circle in the midst of letting go, the joy that has come with culling material items. If you haven't been reading me, you can join me here.

Michael's response to all that was to clean. Clean the spaces left open from the removal of stuff that had sat there for sometimes the entire 13 years I've lived in this house. There is no Merry Maid that can clean as thoroughly or deeply as Michael can. I think this comes from being a professional painter. You can't paint it until it's clean. Recently our home has become a place I am happy to invite friends into, because it looks like a home, not one of the episodes on Dr. Phil about hoarders, except with two little dogs running through it all. 

My urge to divest myself of items has it's taproot in the fact that in 2006 the owner of this house said that he was going to retire in 2010, and wanted to live here after retirement. That sounded forever away when he said it, like the distance to 1984 when I first read it in 7th grade. Yet we're over halfway through 2009 now, and the thought of moving out of this house where I began living when Molly was three years old and started my mass accumulation with the assistance of 20 roommates or so was a terrifying and daunting prospect. Each and every person who has shared this house with me has left something or a lot of somethings behind, and I still have it all. Had it all, until the purge began. Terror is a powerful motivation.

Another of Michael's special gifts is that he can speak to plants and earth, sometimes with tough love, and make them do as he pleases. For some reason, Inka is always at his side, helping and meowing at him, as though cheering him on. The half acre or so that we call yard has always been daunting, and time has always felt short. I haven't really encouraged him to work his magic with our outer environment since there's been a four year clock ticking. "Help me with the inside of the house, and that two car garage, back from when cars were really cars, and big ones." I would tell him. He completely cleaned and organized the basement for us at one time, and the things that didn't make the cut began a pile, that when joined with the greenery that naturally wants to reclaim the open space created a wall that sealed off the rest of the yard at the bottom of the steps leading from the house into the back yard. It was that way for a long time. He bought a machete, a really large one, and brought it home to show me. I could see the Indiana Jones fantasies swirling around his head, see the hat and the bullwhip coiled at his waist, he was going to take it on, Michael VS the yard. It didn't really work out that way. I mocked him where I shouldn't have.

Then we got Josh and Lauren for the trade of a snake cage and the meager offering of some tattoos that will cover his old life and speed him along his way to a new one. They are some of the family we got in exchange for giving things that probably had monetary value. Older blogs. I don't know if you read them. Between Michael who has a vision and Josh who can rip out trees bare-handed the clearing began. Together they made a pile of ex-yard that was large and impressive enough to warrant an abatement notice from the fire department in our driveway. Calling it a pile is not even doing it justice, it's a funeral pyre for a king. It's a problem for the city of Napa. 

These kinds of notices generate communication with the owner of a house, the absentee homeowner  who I have never been able to reach personally because he goes through a management company. I do all my own repairs here, or have them done so that the management company never remembers that I exist. When the bathroom floor went mushy and every shower came with the question "Is this the time when I'm going to fall into the basement in this cast iron tub, naked and wet, and break both my legs?" I paid 6,000. in a combination of cash and tattoos to have the tub taken out and an entire new floor and sub-floor put in. Why? Because the only real answer to real repairs would be to kick us out and totally remodel this old house and rent it for what it's truly worth. I'm paying rent that is still stuck in the price range for a house like this 13 years ago, plus the one raise of 75 dollars  that has happened in all that time. So I got an email from the actual owner asking me about the pile and what my plans for it were.

Fortunately, I was able to answer that a yard-waste box was arriving Wednesday (today) and that I had a whole crew of people willing to help me get it loaded up. The whole crew part was really Michael, Josh, Michael II the sequel and his friends and Paul if he's willing to wake up and help. It'll be here for a few days, we'll get it chain-sawed into small pieces and loaded to it's max capacity by then, and the garbage company will come and take it away. Then I sent him pictures of his back yard as it looks today, and explained that the pile is evidence of the "deep cleaning" that's been done out there. I was able to work in that my husband is a professional painter and handyman who would like to paint and weatherize the front porch, which badly needs it. ("we care for your house") also, that he would like to paint the two sides of the house that have no artificial siding but are the original lap wood siding and are deteriorating and need some professional painter's love. I told him that my husband loves and cares for this house as if it were his own. His response was that he is "considering retiring in JUNE of 2010" (the word considering made my heart soar) and that he "has many options, but moving back to Napa is low on his priority list." My belief and my prayer is that he may allow us to continue to live in this wonderful old house where all three of my children have grown up, and longer than I had imagined. We want to buy a house, but our own personal economy is in no way prepared to buy one, even though now is the time to do it. Michael is just starting school, and will have to work full time to pull his part of the household expenses, so he doesn't have the luxury of being a full-time student. It's going to be a while before we hang his degree on our wall.

I have never met a man who is more willing to work hard and ceaselessly to better his family's situation than my husband, but one man can only do what he can do. Me, I'll just ride the economy, find the answers to my disease and return to whatever good health I can, and work my ass off to carry what I can while he goes to school. Maybe we'll divest ourselves of a few adult children who draw on our resources without contributing to our situation. However it goes we'll build what we can, and prune what has over-grown. 

The box arrives today, and we'll fill it and send those bits of yard on their way. My head is a blinding helmet of pain, I have no appointments and though I should sit in my shop and hope for something to come my way I think I'll put a note on the door with my phone number and go into the land of garage with my daughter and slowly but surely start picking through my past that's stored there, and other pasts that have been left there by others. I'll keep what I really need and make a pile of the rest for future removal. Even if we get to stay and aren't going to have to move we're going to slim down and trim up and in the words of my ocean going friend make things "ship shape." This feels good and right. This feels like being a real grown up. When we do move from here, whether into our own home, or into another rental, or into a box down by the river we'll be so much lighter, and the old saying "less is more" wouldn't be cliche if it weren't so true.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Today I'll be having lunch with one of my oldest friends, second in time only unto Karen. He's very much my fraternal twin, although I spent over a decade of confusion thinking he was meant to be my partner, because when you meet someone who matches you on an atomic level that way it's easy to be mistaken that there must be a romantic connection there. I always thought there was, he never did. He was always smart enough, kind enough, loving enough to hold me at arms length until I came to the realization that we are siblings and not lovers before he really let me in. 

It was Michael who shined a spotlight on the fact that he's not my husband, by being my husband himself. I remember writing the email to him, who I call Steve, Steve the Spy, telling him about my upcoming marriage. I said "The reason I know I've found my real husband is that if you rode up on a white horse in shining armor and said 'Wait! Laura, after all this time I've changed my mind!' I would still marry Michael." and knew I was telling the truth. I cried as I wrote those words. The death of one dream and the birth of another is an emotional thing. I was telling the truth then, and I still know it to be so today, yet it can still make me cry sometimes. I could have wasted another decade or two if Michael had not come along and shined his million candle-power light on me.

Steve goes to sea for a couple of months at a time. This is when we're usually closest these recent years. When he's just a few miles away he's busy with this and that and I'm always busy. We call each other once a week or a little more. He's a spy on land because he's tricky and mysterious, and you never really know what he's up to or where he might just show up. When he's at sea though, we send each other long emails and have bared our souls in the last few years. In times past we would spend a lot of time in each other's presence, but not so much lately. We have three or four, maybe five lunches in a year and these are golden. We know we have a limited amount of time to talk. Neither of us take phone calls, and we do nothing but talk. We communicate on a level that is built on a foundation of years of love and respect and secret sharing and the kind of knowing that comes with telling only you these things.

A lot of our past coincides, our pain, our seeking, our discoveries, our truths. Neither of us can lie to each other, we look each other directly in the eyes and with the flick of an eyebrow can completely call "bullshit" and redirect at any time. Neither of us ever had a mother. What a relief to know he's my twin and not my lover, it has freed up the love between us and I can love him full strength right to his face without the polite barrier-wall of kindness coming up. He has always done that for my own protection and his, and I will always be grateful that he had the insight and the patience to wait for me to come into alignment with who we really are. I am so grateful that I have a husband who loves me enough and has the confidence in my fidelity and forever-love for him to let me go love my non-bio brother like this without torturing me with jealousy. My husband and my brother hold each other in high esteem, I am the common point of contact and we all share love. 

So we're having lunch today, and he says he has much to talk about. This means that he's going to trust me with some things that he wouldn't talk to anyone else about, and come to me for my insight and feedback on issues that he normally wouldn't share. I'll be talking about my disease, my spiritual awakening and my new marriage which has risen out of the ashes of my old self. He has always loved my marriage and what it is for me, and has given me and Michael his hard-won blessing many times. He loves me, love given with the rarity of large diamonds. To have received as much blessing and support for the union that I've chosen is like being dipped in chocolate. He would never, in his own words "Blow smoke up my skirt." if he thought I had chosen poorly. I don't know what he needs to share about, but I will take it in completely, and meet it with logic and what he calls "laser insight" and give it back with love and some healing, which is my new seat at the table. It will be glorious. There will be no phone or clock. We are timeless, this soul and I.I know and love the woman who loves my brother Steve, and I root for her as she tries to navigate the path of loving this complicated and convoluted man. I truly believe that she is the one who belongs in the place I saw as my own for all those years, and that in itself, to me anyway, is a sign of the rightness of their connection. I thought he was mine for over a decade, if I now believe he is hers then that is a blessing that means something real. I am meant to stay out of it, other than loving both of them with all of my heart, but secretly in my head I am meddling. If meddling were peddling, my bicycle would be flying through the skies. Only in my head though. I'll let God and the two of them sort it out, but I really want him to find and know what I have in my own life, with all the permanence and forever-love that makes my days golden even when it's raining frogs and the seas run with blood.

We were both born only children into different kinds of abuse, yet today twins will meet for some food and talk and love and healing. Thank you God for letting me find my brother.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Plane, the plane!

I can't believe it, but I'm ready. This nest is crowded, and I'm ready for some of those birds to learn to fly, and find their own nests. When I think of Molly, who is my youngest, going off to school, or even over to her dad's house it triggers the whole middle aged "empty nest" thing but these other birds, the full grown ones, should be flying by now. I'm tired of being awakened in the middle of my night by people coming home and talking at a regular conversational tone. I'm tired of people being on vent while playing World of Warcraft until dawn and not thinking that they need to be quiet. I'm ready to go shopping and stock my refrigerator knowing that there will still be items in it three days later. I want a dry bathroom floor. I want to walk out from the shower with a towel around my waist, or go get coffee in my bra.

I would love to have my house look the way it looked in the morning when I left for work, and never again see an empty Peets drink cup on any surface in the house that I, the guilty leaver of cups and water bottles didn't deposit there myself. I want to live with my husband. I picture living in a house with an attached and self contained unit for Molly, who I wish would live with us until she's 25 or so, but not really in our house. I want milk in the carton dammit.

I admit, all three of these boys who are men are here at my invitation. All were invited by my guilts of one color or another. At the time it felt good to offer my home and my assistance and bring them home so I could do it right this time, finally be a good mother, or in Michael's case heal the damage I've done to our relationship by living together and not being a douchebag to him any more. That's going well, I love him. I love them all, that's not even the issue. I'm just sick of living with them. I'm sick of supporting them financially. By I, I mean we, because Michael and I are one unit with one set of aligned goals. He's not writing this blog though, so I get to say I, and my favorite me, me, me.

I think this stage of parenting is like the secondary heal that all tattoos go through. There's the first part where the tattoo flakes and peels and is obviously is shedding it's dead layer of skin and finally looks good. Then all of a sudden it develops this milky layer of skin that comes off slower, and less dramatically. That's called secondary heal. When they hit 18 you think "Ok, now they're grown up, but I know they're still kids and need some raising for a while, I'll help them get up and into the adult world." and it's no surprise that they still live at home and don't know how to live on their own. By the time they're 25 and still living in your back room and don't have a job or have never gotten around to registering a car they've owned for five years all of a sudden it can be overwhelming. This part of parenting is where you think you're done, but you still have grown adults in your house asking "What's for dinner" or saying "We're out of shampoo."

One has had a couple of promising job interviews, one has a good job and says he's moving out in late September, early November, and one sleeps on my couch all day. Correction, sleeps on his brother's couch all day. Up all night, sleep all day, times two. Talking in the middle of the night. Locusts in the kitchen, ducks in the bathroom. I want to live with my husband. 

Once my brilliant mad-scientist moves out and takes his couch with him, I get a whole living room to make into craft central. Every space will be either for art, or music, or writing. The hot glue gun will become decor, the sewing machine will take a place of honor on a surface large enough to lay out and cut fabric. There will be ample space for a microphone stand and some other music equipment and a computer to record some tracks. That room will be ours and Molly's until she's old enough to go to some school somewhere and be on her way to whatever fantastic future she's aimed at. I personally do not believe it's simply a salon, whether she owns it or not, I think there are larger things in store for her.

I want our own house, most probably a smaller house, but with a large yard so I can have all the animal friends I want without worrying about the landlord's disapproval. Even though my current residents would say "Eeeeew, gross!" I would occasionally like to walk around naked. Yep, I'm old, and I would still like to do that now and then.

For now, everyone needs to have a job, and/or go to school and make a significant contribution of time and money to the house we have. They need to finish growing up and find their own homes. They need to mature enough to marry and provide me with those grandchildren my secondary clock is ticking for. Call me Grandma and I'll feed you your own spleen, but we'll get to that when the time comes. It's time to be done with this phase of parenting and get on to the next one, the one where they visit often and I still love each and every one of them as much as I do today, yet can buy cheesecake and have some tomorrow because it's still in the refrigerator. I'm ready to be able to invite my adult friends over and not have to sit on my bed because there is nowhere else in my house that doesn't have someone sleeping or on a computer. Actually, I'm ready to live in a house that doesn't have 7 computers in it, I think my three are enough.

This entire speech is brought to you by a woman who was awakened at her usual pre-dawn hour by her husband returning from Jack in the Box because two adult baby boys came home at three in the morning and acted like it was mid-afternoon in volume and activity, which for them it was. By the time he finished being angry and came back to bed I was swimming up to the top of sleep anyway, and was aware of his absence. On some level I always know if he's close or far, because we are connected, whether I'm asleep or not. I want to live with him. Did you notice the period at the end of that last sentence? It's because there was nothing more to add.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

All of a sudden, One

Everything is slowing down for me. My tattooing speed is getting slow, my ability to just go to a store and pick up a few items, everything. It's because of the people around me. I'm becoming fascinated by everyone and can't stop talking with them. I have these long conversations where I feel so interested in that person, whether they are a stranger, or a friend, or a slight acquaintance. Even if I was just in the middle of something (like a tattoo) if I start talking to someone else on the phone or in the shop to make an appointment all of a sudden they're now the most interesting person and I've lost touch with what I was just doing and now I'm in a deep conversation with this person.

People are glowing, and I see it with my eyes that are not really eyes, and I can see their pain or their excitement or their love shining and I have to talk to them. I'm easily distracted. I can't remember things like names, for people or books I've read many times, even when I can tell you which character I'm thinking of or what they did or that the cover of the book was blue. My mind is full of information, but so much of it I can't access immediately. I'm a fact oriented person as a rule, and yet I seem to be crossing lines out of that realm into the land of colors and feelings, which I'm really starting to see around other people. I want their stories, I want to pull them into me and make them mine, and when I sense pain I want to pull it out with my hands and my words and set it free like circling birds. I sound crazy to myself, because I operate mainly on data as a rule.

I've always seen, or known to a certain extent, but I have never become so lost in my fascination before. Tattooing is a hands on procedure, and art comes from a deep well inside me. When I put those things together it seems like it's taking me a long time to get things done. I'm loving the way my work looks these days, don't get me wrong, I think I'm turning out some of the best art I've ever done, it's not that. I'm just not banging them out one after another the way I used to. With my emotions so close to the surface I cry often, and with my empathy lever stuck on high I can cry just as easily for you as I do for myself. Half the time my tears are not even for sadness, they can be for beauty or connection or, I can't even name the third reason to justify the structure of this sentence. I am having sensory overload.

I don't feel crazy, in the ways I've used the word in the past to describe certain states of being. I feel connected. I feel so much the state of being one with everything and I want to know all my parts, which in turn, sounds crazy. Maybe. I find myself loving people I've formerly hated, and I mean really hated with a daily dedication. Even Dottie, the evil skull and crossed bones on my poison bottle is starting to become someone I'm just trying to have empathy for and I can't even say I hate her, there's only pain left, but the vicious hatred is gone. New people though, I find myself falling in love with, and quickly. Not a "Hey, I want to get romantic with you." kind of love, but a sibling or parental kind of love. Younger people are all bringing out the mother in me. Older people are either my brothers and sisters, or respected elders who make me want to sit at their feet and hear stories of their pasts, which are somehow my pasts as well.

Not every minute of every day mind you, I'm not walking around in this fog of love like a being of light, it's just happening more and more and slowing me down, making it harder to keep a hectic pace that I've run for so many years. Last night I sat and beaded a necklace on the bed while Michael dozed and the music played instead of the television. It was very grounding for me, counting sequences and choosing colors. Being with him, and yet not talking, just being together while all those beautiful songs swirled around me. I'm finding that resisting television and news is good for me, it fills me with fear and anxiety, there is so much conflict and damage going on. The words "Breaking News" never mean anything good has happened, it means I'm giong to be served another dose of fear or tragedy.

Maybe this is all coming from a disease in the gland that controls emotion and mood, energy and metabolism. Maybe it's because for the first time in my entire life I am in a relationship with someone where I am truly risking opening my entire hart and being intimate by taking a giant leap of faith and offering my whole self instead of holding some back for safety's sake. Maybe it's menopause, maybe I've been touched by the hand of God, or it's the meds. Maybe this headache is the price I have to pay for the rest of it, and if it is, would I trade it all away for relief of the pain? Why have I been gifted with all of the questions and none of the answers? Yesterday Shayla said she thinks I'm here to be a healer. Traditionally it's an older woman who fills that role, maybe I'm just coming of age to be who I am meant to be? All I know is that I am slowing down, and becoming more one than one of many.

If you've come to me for work lately and been annoyed at how long it takes to get your artwork I am truly sorry for your distress. All I can promise is that you got the best I have to offer, and that I loved you and cared for you as a person and the artistic outcome of your tattoo and gave you the very best I had to offer in the moment. If you're my real life friend, I hope I need to type no disclaimer at all, that you just know what I say is true. If you've never met me, well, bring me your stories, your pain, your excitement and your love and I will lay my hands on you and see what kind of birds we can set free to fly above your head.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pocket Lady

My day went nothing like I expected yesterday. Nothing like the appointment book spelled out anyway. On the books I had Shirley the older southern lady who was coming back to get her tattoo that I just couldn't find time to do the other day even though she had an appointment, and a girl who I called to re-book and then just kind of dropped the ball on because of medication and then shame that came from not re-contacting her in a timely manner. She came back in, I gave her a groveling apology, she accepted and I told her I'd give her her tattoo for half price to make up for it. Called her Ruthie. Then worked on her design for an hour before she got there so that she would know I mean business and was really ready to do the work. Shirley cancelled and didn't want to rebook because Shayla and I had been too raunchy with our humor the first time she was there and she was offended. Granted we can get to sound like the waiting room in a brothel, where all the ladies gather while waiting to see who is chosen to go upstairs with the next client, we do get a tad specific in our joking. I admit it, we were discussing a thirteen and a half inch penis.

The minute I picked up on Shirley's distress I asked if it was a bit too much for her, the face one wears at a really good horror film or when shown a photo of a particularly bad car crash was my clue. She said yes and we toned it down immediately. Too little too late. So no first client. Then my second client, whose artwork I had been working on for so long shows up and I say "Hi Ruthie, ready in a sec." and she says "Why do you keep calling me Ruthie?" and I realize that she's a totally different girl, She also wants a large piece on her side, but if she's not the one I treated so shoddily there's no way I can do this piece at half price. I tried to negotiate a two-thirds price, but now her mom's mad and says she can't get tattooed by me at all and she leaves. by two o'clock I have chased significant money out the door when what I had declared and planned to claim was a profitable day to cover some large expenses.

Next up is Laszlo, a charming Hungarian man for a free touch up. I always touch up solid black, because I work it gently the first time around and to get it black as Dottie's evil heart it just needs two sittings. He brings a man named Daniel with him. I already know it's Laszlo's birthday, because he told me when he made the appointment. When I asked what his big plans for his day were, he said "Daniel and I are going to go back to my home and drink!" They have been best friends for twenty-two years, all the way back to Hungary. Laszlo doesn't talk as much as I'd like, the accent is beautiful, but I like him. I said "Well here, let me give you a hug from a pretty girl to make it a perfect day!" and did just that. He's old enough that I am still a pretty girl.

Daniel, on the other hand loves to talk, and we did that through the whole tattoo. Not only have they been friends for twenty-two years, they escaped service in the communist army together and went to a refugee camp in Austria for two years together. They came to America three weeks apart, and though one landed in San Francisco and one in Washington DC they stayed in touch with family in Hungary who in turn helped them find each other here. Laszlo had one penny when he left that camp, and he found it on the floor. They have a friendship that makes me want to cry. Karen and I have a friendship that has lasted a bit longer than that, but has not one iota of the challenges and triumphs that these two have been through. Daniel was working in the White house somehow, just three months after he got here. Not in the "visiting area" but somewhere there. I'm sure he didn't have the english he has today, but just think about that.

He's made a business for himself that revolves around art as well. He was very interested in the art I do for a living and started asking me questions about mine, and all sorts of other art I have done. "Have you done this? How about that?" and as I answered and started listing all the different medium I have become engrossed with, overtaken by, spent hundreds of hours doing (sometimes without sleep or food) before I moved on to the next thing I realized that I am an artist. Not like eighteen years as a working artist making a living with my skill doesn't qualify me, or that I've been making art since before I went to school would make me an artist, but I've always thought of that as dabbling. In answering his questions and both of us laughing and saying "Me too!" I became a real artist in my own mind. I have been looking at Jenn Honey or Aaron Malakai and thinking they are the real artists, and yesterday I graduated and joined them, at least in my own head. It was a beautiful thing.

The more he talked about what he does, the more I wanted to learn it. I said "Will you teach me?" and he just said "yes, of course I will." not "For ten thousand dollars I will teach you." but simply "Yes." Mr. Toad is going to go on a new wild ride. I have to get to San Francisco, and there is a bridge between me and what I want to know, so I'm either going to have to learn to ride Bart like Angelique (who will teach me, of that I'm sure) or Michael will come with me, or someone else will take me, but I'm going to get there and I'm going to learn this. My skin is tingling right now just thinking about it. New art. Things I've dreamed of and never known anyone who had the skills. Thank you Laszlo for bringing me your lifetime friend who holds keys to one of my dreams. That appointment, although not for money, was far more valuable than collecting dollars!

Then I had an email from Maryam and Jeff yesterday morning, wanting to get in for an unscheduled appointment. I thought I was booked all day but I said come by around noon and I'd see what I could do for them. Since my first two appointments didn't even happen I had time and energy to do work for them after all. Work that kept me in the shop till ten something at night. What can I say, it takes as long as it takes to do what I do. Originally I thought they were married, and on their honeymoon. Then I thought they had come to Napa so he could propose. Nope, just boyfriend and girlfriend. Right. When I look with my eyes that are not eyes I see a long road for these two, it's already a done deal. Their energy, the who they are just captivated me and made me so happy, I kept having this feeling that this is why I do what I do for a living, and saying it out loud. When you love what you do and it's only incidental that people hand you money for it, it is not a job it's a blessing. Their tattoos required my eye for detail and were fairly expensive, on top of that they gave me a very generous tip. There were the dollars I needed to collect to pay those certain bills, and keep food in the house for all these people who are depending on me. Poof, Universe at work, new friends and Joy in love, all rolled up into one exhausting day. Who could ask for more? Not I, that's for sure.

Thank Goodness Michael came down for the last couple hours of the odyssy, I missed him terribly all day and I really wanted a chance to show him this beautiful half sleeve that Jeff has by an artist in Sacramento. I took pictures of it that I want to post on facebook, but I left the artist information at the shop and there's no way I would post someone else's work without giving complete artist credit, that's piracy and I wouldn't consider it. I'll post them from work today. I have mad admiration for the artist who did the piece and it's too good not to share. Maryam and Jeff were my facebook friends within a couple of hours after they got there, and I don't usually go that far on a first date, they just brought out the facebook whore in me I guess.

So Where I thought I was getting an old lady and a young girl I got a Hungarian artist and a couple who reminds me of Michael and me when we first got together, and now that we know each other and are really in love. I won't say "Life is like a box of chocolates..." because I want to slap Sally Fields for ever uttering those words. I will though, say that life is like the Pocket Lady at all the school carnivals of my childhood. You'd give her a ticket and you could reach into any of the many, many pockets sewn into this magical robe she wore, and pull out a prize. Sometimes you would get a plastic spider ring and sometimes you would get a really good prize. No matter how hard you tried you just couldn't predict what was going to be in a certain pocket, you just had to reach in and hope for something good. Yesterday's pockets had some extremely good prizes for me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Well I can see that this blog may suffer some coming right up here soon, I'm cheating on it with my book. I'm sure if something's burning me I'll have to come here, but to be honest I am consumed with the people who are emerging from this keyboard and I really can't wait to find out what they're going to do or say next. I was pretty sure I knew my characters and who was important, who was just kind of there as a supporting actor, but some of them are surprising me. What I thought was an outline was just the roughest of ideas, and as I write these people they are taking on lives of their own, and it's like watching TV in slow motion, the story unfolds at exactly the speed I can type. Thank God I can type rather fast or it would be killing me.

Like Jack, he was just going to be sort of absent and maybe works a little too much, but damn, when that guy drinks too much he's obnoxious as hell. Plus he's got a mean streak a mile wide and he's a total control freak. He's kind of a douchebag, actually. I don't like him very much, and Lila who is my strong female character is really more fragile and wounded than I ever thought. I knew they were going to have a fight at one point in order for her to leave on a trip, but damn, when she finally stood up to him yesterday it turned out it was the first time in their whole marriage that she had ever done it and I was rooting for her so hard. I wrapped up that chapter and I was like "Yeah! You go girl!" I was so proud of her. I forgot for a moment that these are just people that I am inventing, in word world they are real people and I'm just chronicling what they do. I'm concerned about Jack, I think he may have lost his job and he may be drinking the whole time Lila's gone and that house is going to go to hell, and that's too bad, because it's a nice house. I'm not sure she's coming back, but still, I feel bad for them, they've put a lot of time and money into it. It just seems like such a waste. I need a house, I wish they could give it to us if he's just going to treat it like that. Whatever, it's only words and I live in the 3D world, I couldn't go 2D and live in it anyway.

Side characters have names and personalities, and pasts and reasons for being who they are and all of that needs to be written. I know nothing about Alzheimer's (although Grandma Carol does) or New Orleans (Although Jessie does) so I have real life things I need to find out for the sake of authenticity, and I have no real idea of how long it takes to get from one place to another, especially if two people with a baby end up on the run trying to evade either law enforcement or a private detective or both. I don't even know anything about the private detective, or the actual realities of that as a job (going to have to meet and talk to one of those) and I have no idea if that character is male or female. I don't know if that character is on our side or not, or whether it turns out to be the "government guy" that used to chase me in my dreams and turned out to be Dottie when I confronted him one night.

After years of being chased by the yellow-eyed government guy with the hat pulled low and the trench coat that could find me no matter where I was hiding and keep up with me even if I did find a car to drive away in I finally turned around one night and said "Who are you and what do you want with me?" and he took off his hat and it was Dottie. She didn't have yellow eyes any more, and it was just Dottie. I stopped having that dream. After that she started showing up in my dreams as one of those inflatable clowns that have weighted bottoms that are meant to amuse children because you can punch them as many times as you want and they bounce right back up. In my dreams I would punch her, or stab her with a knife and it never damaged her, she would just laugh and laugh and bounce back up, but she no longer had feet to chase me, just that weighted bottom. I guess that's progress, right?

Everyone always asks me, so I'll clear it up here on a total side note. Dottie gave birth to me, and had me in those early developmental years when it's easiest to fuck up a kid and do the best and longest lasting damage. My grandmother overlaps with her and she got me at 7 and laid the stones for my eventual healing. She and my Big Daddy were my constant northern star for my entire life until she moved up into the real sky when I was 25 and left my Dad here to finish the job of never leaving me. My Grandmother was my real mother in my childhood and early adulthood, and my Dad married Carol when Andrew was a walking yet diapered baby. She's the mother I claim here on Facebook, and the mother I'll have for the rest of my life. I could do no better if someone had allowed me to pick a mom to finish out my life with. My Dad picked for me, and although I was beyond raising when I got her, I still need a mom and I have her now. Even a middle aged woman needs a mom. Thank you God, I have her. So, that's who Dottie is. If you ever hear me refer to her as my mother, please throw a tone of sarcasm on it, she's of a species that will eat its young if given the chance.

My word-people, or simply My People are fascinating and entertaining, surprising and dear, and the part that I know on some level is that they are all me or parts of me. Or parts of people I know. It's as if the world of personalities in my life were a large drop of mercury that I can shatter and recombine as I see fit. It's the alchemy of personality and I can be the magician as long as I'm willing to sit at the keyboard. I'm cheating on all of you with these people, but I'll try to keep up both relationships, because I love you too.