Category Archives: I remember

Not such a Bad Motherfucker after all

Disclaimer: The following is a rather graphic story of the birth of my Son. If you are frightened by words like placenta then this may not be something you should read. Actually there really isn’t much on this whole blog that you should read. pussy.

I had plans. Of course I did, I am OC fucking D after all. What I failed to plan on was….well, every motherfucking thing. I wasn’t prepared at all. My goddamned know-it-all, I can do anything, Hawkins approach to life really fell through for me on this one. I don’t know what I was thinking, what I was expecting or why I thought I had it all figured out. Twelve hours of intense labor showed me how much of an idiot I actually am. I am truly humbled by the power of my own body, an uncontrollable force of nature which taught me one of the most important lessons of my life, I am not a bad motherfucker after all.

My water broke around 4am on July 24. I immediately got in the shower, washed my hair and shaved what I could. After I finished applying my makeup and blow drying and bouffanting my hair I made sure my bags contained all the necessary items and everything was organized and ready to go. Then I proceeded to do what I had planned on doing for as long as possible, wait. I didn’t want to be one of those women who rush to the hospital at the first trickle of water just to get sent back home or worse yet get pressured into an induction.

Contractions had not yet started so I knew the wait might be awhile. I had no idea that I would spend the next 56 hours waiting. About 12 hours after my water broke and contractions had still not started I began to wonder if my water had actually broken. I may have been convinced that it hadn’t if it weren’t for the somewhat continuous flow of water that leaked from my vagina every time I moved.

I bounced on my exercise ball. I walked laps around the house and the backyard and eventually the neighborhood. I did the few yoga poses I could still manage with my overwhelming girth. I paced and stomped the ground tantrum style and all to no avail. I performed hours of nipple stimulation and even briefly considered clitoral stimulation but decided that was too weird even for me. I ate an entire pineapple and swallowed dozens of Evening Primrose oil capsules. No contractions here. Back pain, yes. Swollen feet, yes. Thunderous thighs rubbing together as I limp and waddle my way around the block, yes.

After 48 hours I was exhausted. I hadn’t gotten much sleep in weeks and the anxiety of not quite knowing if I was in labor or not, should I go to the hospital or not, am I putting my baby in danger or not, had taken its toll on me. Not to mention it’s the middle of Summer and hot as fuck. I am done with this shit, this pregnancy, this slow ass labor, this uncomfortable reality that is about to get really fucking weird and I know it, I feel it coming. An anxiety I had not planned on was creeping in and making itself at home, firmly planted where I thought my calm resolve would be, where my bravery and strength should be.

This wasn’t in my birth plan. What was in my birth plan was plenty of “will not’s”, “do not’s” and “only in case of emergency’s”. I had planned on a natural birth without any drugs, epidural or measures of induction. I had planned on self-hypnosis and breathing to help me through the pain. I expected to ease through each phase with grace and quiet acknowledgement of my body performing a natural act. I planned all of this on my own after reading a few books and some brief research on the internet about childbirth. I wanted to channel the inner tribal woman in me, the primal female surviving on instinct alone.

I had theories and dead set conclusions on the matter of childbirth and what was “right” and what was “wrong”. Epidurals were “wrong”. Why? Because it represented weakness? Yeah, that must have been my reasoning. Drugs administered to ease pain and help restore calmness were “wrong” because once again they represented weakness. And of course because I am after all an addict and obviously any possible interaction between opiates and myself will result in yet another torrid affair of pills and lies. Induction was “wrong” because it would ultimately result in a cesarean section. Episiotomy was “wrong” because it was unnecessary especially since I had been performing perineum massage for weeks to prepare the tissues. An IV being put in my hand in case I needed fluids was “wrong” because it was really there to tempt me into accepting drugs. And above all caesarean section was “wrong” because what does a surgical procedure have to do with having a baby? Women have babies they don’t have operations and babies come out of vaginas not incisions. I left no grey areas, unless the statement “only in case of emergency” is grey but really it’s more transparent than grey, more an admission of “I know I’m not really in control if shit goes south and you are going to do whatever you want anyways so go ahead”.

What was there left to be “right” after so much being boldly proclaimed as “wrong”? Being left alone was “right”. Breathing silently through the worst of the contractions was “right”. Trusting my body to do what it naturally knows how to do was “right”. Staying calm and alert was “right”.

I didn’t follow my fucking rules any more than I have ever followed anyone’s rules. My contractions finally came around 8am on July 26 and by noon they were coming every 5 minutes and getting fairly strong (or what I considered to be strong at the time). Time to go. At the hospital they told me I was 5 cm dilated and fully effaced. Ok, halfway there, I can totally do this. Around this point I get in the bed and I do not get out of the bed until the next day. I had planned on staying pretty mobile and active during labor, pacing the halls and experimenting with positions. I did neither of these activities.

As the hours passed and the pain increased I became aware of one thing and one thing only, I was not prepared for this kind of intensity and fuck it all, I was scared. I couldn’t admit defeat quite yet, at least not out loud. Silently I was begging for the epidural, I was waving white flags and falling to my knees in humble defeat. But on the outside I was breathing through the contractions like a good girl and pretending to relax during the intervals. I was sipping my water and feigning interest in a television program.

Then shit got weird. The contractions got fucking strong, like going through a meat grinder at 60mph strong. I sat upright in the bed propped up in a lobster crawl like position through the worst of it. I felt my body tensing, bending and extending like Reagan in the Exorcist. I even projectile vomited just like the lovely demon child. I was just short of jamming a crucifix into my vagina when the Doctor proclaimed, “Okay, you are at 9cm. We are almost there.”

Transition, the worst was yet to come but it was almost over. I could do this. Maybe? Oh, fuck, no I can’t do this at all because I can’t breathe, I can’t focus and I can’t even remain conscious. Everything goes fuzzy, black and weird. I hear voices that seem very far away. I am hot as shit and keep begging for the air conditioning to be turned up. I am shivering uncontrollably, shaking and trembling. Every muscle in my body seizes with the coming of each contraction.

One hour later the Doctor comes back and proclaims, “still at 9cm”. “FUCK!” I gutturally yell as he removes his hand from my vagina and my hope from my soul. And he leaves.

It is midnight and my screams are disrupting the entire floor. I am a spectacle. Nurses assigned to other patients are peeking in to see what the racket is all about. Apparently natural births aren’t all that common around here. My exhaustion is apparent and I am now unable to even pretend to breathe in an effective manner. I get through each contraction by screaming as loudly as possible and then quickly pass out from the pain only to be brought back to reality by yet another contraction even stronger than the last.

One hour later, still 9cm. I give up. And the baby isn’t happy. His heart rate is low. I am unable to help him, I am too tired and I barely know who I am or why I am even at the hospital at this point. I admit defeat and ask for the epidural. Due to my very clearly written birth plan the Nurse actually does her best to talk me out of it. I convince her I will not regret this decision.

It takes forever for the anesthesiologist to arrive, he’s a busy man. In fact everyone at the hospital seems overworked and exhausted. I had been all too aware these past few months that I was only one of many pregnant women waddling around town. In fact I can’t remember ever having seen quite so many rotund bellies before. I am so desperate for a moment of peace that I don’t care how dark the circles are under the anesthesiologist’s eyes just stick that fucking needle in my spine and make me happy. As I scoot my giant naked ass towards the edge of the bed I begin to have one of the strongest contractions yet. I am instructed not to move, that it is incredibly important that I do not move, in other words, “stop fucking moving bitch, there is a giant ass needle going into your spine”. I sit still through the bowel shuddering contraction comforting myself with the knowledge that relief is now only moments away.

A few minutes later and I am calm, I am still and soon I drift off to a short well needed nap. I awaken to the Doctor telling me that I am still at 9cm but we can go ahead and start pushing. Two deep breaths, push, push. Two deep breaths, push, push. Rest. Although my nether region is comfortably numb I can still feel enough to tell when I am having contractions so I am aware of what my body is doing and I know when to push and when to relax. Two hours of pushing and every muscle in my back, neck and head have congregated into one angry charley horse. Then it happens, the Doctor tells me he has to perform an episiotomy. Oh fucking fuck fuck!! There goes my vagina, done, mutilated for life. I feel the pressure of the incisions welcoming my newly formed vag-ass. This should be a lovely wound to deal with for the next month, a gaping slice in my tenderest of fleshy parts to cushion me every time I sit, lie down, walk or god-for-fucking-bid sneeze. Whatever, this kid needs to get the hell out of my body and if that means cutting me open and turning me inside out while at least half a dozen people stare into my bloody gaping cavities then so be it.

Deep breath, deeper breath, push, push harder…..and I feel a release. He’s out. It’s quiet. Really fucking quiet. The only sound I hear is my own voice asking if he is alright. He is not being placed on my chest as I had expected. My breasts exposed and waiting for the warmth of my son grow cold. They tell me that he is having a hard time breathing. I see his limp body in the bassinet surrounded by nurses, a tiny oxygen mask being placed over his little face. His silence breaks my heart, his bluish skin rips my soul to pieces. Half an hour goes by and still I have not looked into my Sons eyes, he has not felt my skin against his face. The nurses assure me that he is fine and I am at least comforted by the fact that he has not been taken to the NICU. If it were serious he wouldn’t be here in the room with me. At least I have that. I surprise myself with my composure. I am not a hysterical mess, I must be strong for my Son.

Finally, he is placed on my chest just as the last of the placenta is being pushed from my uterus. He stares into my eyes (his vision unhindered due to the fact that I insisted that they not administer the standard erythromycin eye drops which make a baby’s vision blurry for about 12 hours). I know his eyes just as he knows mine. We have known each other for a lifetime, for a hundred lifetimes. In our quiet contemplation I know that nothing will ever be the same again. A human being just came out of my vagina, or should I say my vag-ass. Of course I knew he was in there for the past 10 months, his kicks and squirms were impossible to ignore but I don’t think I had fully realized the enormity of the situation (if you consider 8lbs 15oz enormous). This boy in my arms was mine, my responsibility. His health and well-being depended upon my own health and well-being. Selfishness is no longer an option, my own body hardly belonged to me anymore, a sacrifice of flesh and a surrender of vanity. Well, not a complete surrender of vanity I do still have a full face of make up on and I have recently touched up my lip gloss.

During the next few hours as I hold my Son close to my heart I try to calm down from the delivery. I am shivering uncontrollably, a side effect from the epidural. My body temperature is all over the place, freezing and sweating at the same time. My legs and feet begin to tingle with feeling and I am anxious to use the toilet instead of repeatedly having a catheter inserted into my urethra. What I am not looking forward to is the effects of the epidural vanishing completely and facing head on the pain and discomfort of the episiotomy.

I drift off to sleep around 3am. I dream a soundless, colorless, weightless vision of calm nothing, a sort of surrender to the unknown. I am exploring this non-place with quiet enthusiasm. I don’t know where I am going but I am not afraid and I do not hesitate.

I awaken to the weight of my Son in my arms, a weight that feels right as if my arms have always been empty, waiting to be filled.

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Filed under I am a Mother, I am Pregnant, I dreamed..., I remember, Something that happened

Artifacts

I sometimes forget how odd certain things in my home must look to someone seeing them for the first time. In my dining room I have a triple beam scale on a shelf next to a collection of rocks and gemstones. I have seen this scale since I was a child in various rooms and in various states of use and non-use. As a child the scale was often on the kitchen table amongst containers, bags, jars and various other items (accoutrements, paraphernalia…whatever you want to call it). Later in life the scale was displayed on a shelf above my Dad’s computer in his office, a reminder of sorts of another life, another man.

After my Dad died I brought home many of his things, things I knew he would have wanted me to have, things he would have been sad to have seen in a pile on the curb. I took his arrowhead collection, some of which we found together on our “adventures” we took when I was a child, a clumsy yet eager child, eager to hike as far as the sun would allow and eager to please her Dad by finding the most interesting rocks and the occasional arrowhead.

I took his framed paintings he had acquired from the “Spaceman of OB”; a blind artist who sold his wares on the streets of Ocean Beach. He had also purchased a “ticket” from the Spaceman which reserved him a seat on the spaceship with instructions that the ticket is only good if you have it with you at the time of your death. Needless to say, the ticket could not be found amongst my Dad’s belongings.

I took his last bottle of Gin, unfortunately not top shelf Bombay but middle of the road Beefeater. I finished the bottle, each martini tasting worse than the last even though I knew his recipe, I used his shaker and even had his glass. Martinis would just never be the same made by any other hand than his. The empty bottle now sits on a shelf holding dried flowers next to a painting of a strange red man with a long nose also holding a flower. This painting was my Dad’s favorite, painted for him by a female admirer of his in the Seventies (at least that is the story he told, he told a lot of stories). This odd image is permanently ingrained in my mind as that of curiosity and for some reason, empathy. Maybe it’s the expression on the man’s face or the gentle way he is holding the delicate white flower or maybe the way I felt as a child, laying on my Parents bed in the afternoon, staring at this psychedelic face, imagining him as a wise all-knowing man of peace and truth.

I took a large wooden box that once held his rock cleaning tools, dremel bits, baby food jars filled with tiny opals shimmering in oil, mini sword creations covered in silver solder and tightly wrapped in leather strips with tigers eye stone inlay. This box now holds letters and cards I made for him over the years, a bandana that still smells like his aftershave, a journal that I made for him which he filled with poems and pictures and the remainder of his cremains. By the remainder I mean what I have kept for myself after sharing them with possibly hundreds of people. You see, my Dad wanted to be shared with anyone who wanted a piece of him and to have them do whatever they pleased with him. When I received his cremains I filled up hundreds of tiny baggies with the coarse grey ashes (actually more sand-like with an occasional bone fragment than ash) to be handed out at the memorial service. I loved the fact that I had to go to a head shop for the appropriate sized bags. I cried and laughed as I spooned his cremains into the baggies, talking to my Dad the whole time.

His cremains have been tucked away in special places, planted in gardens, forgotten about in a purse or a coat pocket, scattered in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ireland, Hawaii, Northern California, all over San Diego; from the Cuyamaca mountains to Ocean Beach and many more places I can only imagine of one day visiting.

These artifacts are only a small reminder of the man that my Father was. I can feel his presence when I hold a rock he polished smooth or when I hear a low whistle from an unassuming stranger. He is everywhere and nowhere, within every cell and atom, he is the energy that moves me forward, the wind that sweeps through a town destroying homes and lives, the water that nourishes a forest and the breath that I will take as I share the memory of him with my Son.

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Pissing on Park Place

I knew I was going to piss my pants eventually. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. I was that girl at school that kept a spare change of clothes in the nurses office “just in case”. I would just get to laughing and suddenly no amount of concentration, squirming or crotch grabbing could keep it in. Warm piss soaking through my underwear, streaming down my legs and puddling inside my shoes. Tears of laughter became tears of shame.

I pissed my pants everywhere; at school, at the park, on a tennis court, while filming a goofy fitness video with friends and even on a Monopoly board. My cousin loved that one! We were playing a long drawn out game of Monopoly and I probably did something ridiculously stupid to make the game more interesting which resulted in a laughing fit which of course led to spontaneous urination. As I leapt from the ground and headed towards the bathroom I left a yellow trail of piss down Park Place, soaked the community chest and defiled the bank.

Later in life I pissed my pants more than a few times while drunk and these stories were probably quite funny if I had any recollection of them. Waking up with cold piss soaked into your jeans isn’t nearly as fun as peeing all over a Monopoly board.

Now I feel like I am going to piss my pants almost all of the time and it’s not due to the giggles or vodka tonics. I have a growing baby smashing the fuck out of my bladder. I swear sometimes it feels like he is bouncing on it like a goddamned trampoline.

Whenever I leave the house I am in a constant search for public bathrooms even if I don’t feel the urge to go at that moment. Chances are that I will have to pee sometime in the next 5 minutes no matter what. Today was no exception. Luckily I was at the Library where the bathrooms are usually clean (even though at this point I will pop a squat behind a bus bench if I have to).

I enter a stall and attempt to close the door. Halfway closed, it hits my stomach. I can’t fit into the goddamned stall! I rush towards the handicapped stall, it’s a shit storm. Fuck! Back to the original plan. Again, stuck. I place one foot on the toilet and scoot over a little more. The door makes it past my rotund stomach and I almost expect a cartoon style “pop” noise to follow. Oh my fucking god! Now the piece of shit door doesn’t have a lock and the weight of my purse and bag of books hanging on the hook is forcing the door inward preventing me from pulling down my underwear. And……it’s too late. I am pissing myself. I push my head into the door to keep it closed and frantically try to position myself. Precariously positioned, I finish peeing but not without a significant amount of spillage, splashage and soakage.

And no, I did not clean up my mess. Fuck that bathroom. I wipe my legs down with paper towels and I am somewhat proud of myself for not feeling any of the old emotions of shame that once accompanied this sort of situation. I had heard that pregnancy led to being less inhibited but I had no idea that I would be quite so accepting of pissing myself.

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The two quilts

Shortly after my Father died, my Mother in law asked if she could have some of his shirts for a quilt. I was busy feeling about a million different emotions and my brain was seriously fried from dealing with all the finances, the funeral plans and my giant burden of a Mother. So, I didn’t give the statement much thought, I simply led her into his closet and said, “take whatever you want.”

About a year later she presented me with a beautiful quilt made from my Father’s clothing. It was not only an amazing work of art but a touching tribute to his memory and a perfect portrayal of his spirit. It included many of the Hawaiian prints he often wore, as many large men do, as well as many of his drab work shirts and at home t-shirts. Every side of him was represented.

At first I couldn’t look at the quilt out in the open and I simply folded it up and put in the closet. It sat there quietly while I dealt with my grief. It waited there patiently while I figured out what I was going to do with all these emotions I was left with. Was I going to ignore them forever, drink them away, vomit them into the toilet, cut them out with a knife and discard of them or was I going to feel them as deeply as possible and know that as much as it hurts I can stand it and learn to live with it in a tolerable fashion.

One night as I swam in the oblivion of drunken exhaustion I stumbled into the hallway, opened the closet and pulled out the quilt. I crawled back to the couch, the quilt dragging along behind me and curled up with my bottle of wine. Contentment followed comfort and then deep dreamless sleep. I still snuggle with the quilt every night only now I cradle a cup of tea instead of a bottle of wine.

This morning I awoke to my dogs barking hysterically and the sound of a car pulling out of my driveway. On the front porch I found a huge blue and yellow gift bag, an early baby shower gift apparently from either an early rising shy family member or a kindhearted stalker. The card attached informed me that the gift was from a distant Aunt, a shy early rising Aunt.

I pulled the contents from the bag and found an adorable handmade quilt, blue and white with Hawaiian flowers. I couldn’t quite comprehend what I was looking at. There were shirts, little Hawaiian print shirts sewn into the squares. They had tiny collars and buttons, it was really quite realistically detailed.

It was just too crazy a coincidence. I now had two quilts that had been hand-made specifically for me, one was made from my late Fathers Hawaiian shirts and one was made to look like miniature Hawaiian shirts. One a tribute and one a welcoming gift. One filled with memories both good and bad and one brand new, open to the opportunities of life.

Maybe I am putting too much thought into the whole thing. Maybe my Aunt had this pattern for a while and was simply waiting to put it to use or maybe she had even begun working on it long before I was even pregnant. But I would like to think that my Dad had a little to do with this. After all, he told me to look out for things, to keep my eyes open for coincidences just like this because he would never be too far away.

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Morgan Freeman Sundae Special

Last nights dream

Breastfeeding while everything falls apart around me, chaos and destruction. I keep walking with this tiny baby latched onto my breast. I have no idea where I am going yet I am not afraid and I do not hesitate. Men are scrambling for cover, an escape. I keep walking. Booming voices call out orders. I keep walking. There are explosions in the distance and the not so distant. A plane takes off near me, people are running for the door trying to climb aboard and falling out as the plane takes flight. Fences are being erected on all sides of me and are being torn down just as quickly by the frantic masses. I am oblivious to the mess which surrounds me, my only focus is to nourish and protect the tiny baby with my own strong able body. And I keep walking.

A dream from a few years ago

I was at a carnival and saw a sign that said “Morgan Freeman Sundae Special” and I knew I had to have one. I walked up to the booth and ordered the special. I was handed an ice cream sundae the size of a human head. It looked exactly like Morgan Freeman but it was made entirely out of ice cream and candies, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. It had little chocolate chips for his adorable freckles on his cheeks and his eyes were made out of marshmallows. The chocolate ice cream was cold and delicious and I was especially excited to find strawberries inside his head as the brain! It was the best ice cream sundae I had ever eaten. I don’t remember it having a gold earring like I have recently seen him wearing. I wonder if I accidentally swallowed it?

Hmmmm….

I haven’t had a silly dream in quite a while. I used to dream about ridiculous stupid shit all the time. I have written down thousands of dreams starting from when I was about 7 years old. My earliest dreams were those of cartoons, like a variation of Scooby-Doo and Sesame Street. Grover joins the gang and Scooby gets jealous, shit like that. I also began having nightmares (night terrors) around the same age or earlier. I still have them and it scares the shit out of anyone near me when I wake up with a scream. I never remember what I am dreaming about when I have a bad nightmare, I really don’t want to know what could possibly be that horrifying.

So, where did my silly dreams go to? Is this what it really means to grow up, to be an adult? I dream about awful shit and weird shit, but no silly shit, like eating Morgan Freemans head or Michael Myers as an interior decorator who has an unfortunate way with blood that his clients find a bit off-putting but are too scared to complain about. Or Ricky Ricardo joining a “Biggest Butt” contest and all the antics of Lucy and Ethel trying to enhance his rear while stuffing ice cream and butter into his mouth. I miss the nights where I woke up laughing from my dreams. Seriously, nothing beats the shit out of laughing in your sleep so hard that you wake yourself up.

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“bullying” made me who I am

A few weeks ago I was approached by a young woman yielding a clipboard at a mall.

“Could you take a moment to sign this petition against bullying in schools?”

hmmm…

“You know, no. I believe bullying made me who I am today.”

She looked at me like I had just told her that I strangle puppies in my crotch. I walked away and thought a little more about what I had just said and gave a silent little thank you to every bastard that ever teased me, pushed me down, beat me up, spread rumors about me, wrote slanderous remarks about me on bathroom walls, laughed at me both behind my back and to my face and refused to sit anywhere near me because I was infected with a germ that only other kids can see, a germ that somehow made me stick out like a neon flashing sign that said, “fuck with me.”

I was a relatively normal child until about the third grade. Up until that time I had attended the same school since kindergarten. During my third grade school year my Mother and I moved two times and I attended three separate schools. One of the places we lived at briefly was a senior citizens trailer park in a remote area on the outskirts of a depressing city. I was the only child around for miles. We lived so far from the school that the only bus that came anywhere near us was the handicapped bus. Arriving to school on the short bus is a sure-fire way to get teased relentlessly.

After that the reasons seemed to multiply without any effort whatsoever. I wore dresses every day, that made me an unfashionable outcast. I had frizzy hair, that made me ugly. I had a big gap between my two front teeth, that made me even uglier and obviously too poor to afford braces. I was chubby, that made me fat. I was tall, that made me fat. I was quiet, that made me stuck up. I got good grades, that made me the teachers pet. I read books at recess, that made me a nerd. I fell down when forced to participate in gym, that made me a klutz. I didn’t have any friends, that made me a loner. I didn’t fight back, that made me a pussy. I never cried, that made me hard.

By middle school the teasing had reached an all time high. To make matters worse I was maturing at an incredibly slow pace. I didn’t have the slightest interest in boys and my body was even less interested in developing breasts or anything else resembling that of a normal twelve-year-old girl. I didn’t understand what was going on around me, the girls spoke a language I knew nothing about and the boys uncomfortable laughter made me think there was a joke that I wasn’t in on, would never be in on. The sign that glowed all around me was just as bright as ever, tempting everyone from the popular kids to the outcasts to tease me, berate me and threaten me. I kept quiet, the silence building a wall around me, I was becoming impenetrable.

No matter what they did I never said a word; not to them, not to my teachers and especially not to my parents. When I came home covered in bruises I said I fell down in gym. I didn’t dare tell my parents how I had been jumped at the park near my house, how boys from another school happened to see my glowing “fuck with me” sign and beat the shit out of me for no reason at all. They laughed the entire time, as they kicked me in the back of my head and smeared dirt in my face.

I never said a word about the boy who threatened to rape me every single day for years beginning in the third grade. I had no idea what rape was but the way he would hiss the threat into my ear sent shivers of fear and dread down my spine. I was relieved of his torments for a year or so, after he physically attacked a teacher in the fifth grade. By seventh grade, he was back and I endured his unpredictable verbal attacks well into high school.

High school, I couldn’t bear the idea. I still felt like a child, or rather like someone more ready to be an adult than to be a teenager. I found the entire situation ridiculous. I still didn’t understand the language, the posturing or the general idiotic behavior of adolescents. But there was no way of getting around it and I had to figure something out. I knew I couldn’t keep going the way I had been, quiet and accepting of my fate. Something had to be done, I knew there was no point in expecting the situation to take care of itself, they would always be assholes, I couldn’t change them but I could change me.

I made a dramatic transformation between middle school and high school. I cut off all of my hair and dyed the remaining few inches bright black. I went thrift store shopping and got an entirely new wardrobe of old man clothes; baggy polyester plaid pants, over-sized golf shirts, paisley ties and dirty sneakers. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time but what I created was a “don’t fuck with me, I am a bad ass lesbian” costume. It worked. I mean, I was still laughed at and the rumors ran rampant while I did nothing to suppress any of it, but I found that it is a completely different experience when people laugh at you for something you have control of. When they laughed at my hair, I took it as a compliment. When they called me a dyke, I laughed because I had fooled them, I was playing a trick on everyone and I enjoyed the spectacle that I had created. This was a way better coping method than being quiet and looking at the ground. I paraded myself proudly and soaked in all the ridicule hurled my way.

My costumes changed over the four years of high school, from old man lesbian to ultra femme frills and lace with a little Morticia Adams thrown in from time to time and I not only kept them guessing at who I actually was but I was constantly figuring it out for myself as well.

For a period I needed the taunts and teases to keep me going, to validate what I was constructing or deconstructing. But near the end of high school I felt a sort of contentment within myself at what I had created, I began to realize that I had accomplished what I set out to do, to make myself inaccessible, impenetrable. The process that began so many years before was complete, the wall was up.

Up until now I have been grateful to have become the person that I am and I always gave some credit to the kids who teased me, taunted me and beat me up for helping to create that hard wall of “you can’t fuck with me anymore” attitude that I have carried with me ever since. But now that I am going to be a Mother, I am rethinking…well, everything. Am I too hard, too closed off, too self-sufficient? My wall that took so many years to build has served me well, perhaps saved my life but it might be in my way now. Maybe as I focus on bringing a new life into the world I should attempt to shed some layers from my thick exterior, not too many, just enough to let a little more light in, let a little more hope seep through and let a lot more love pour out.

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Happy Meals taste like tears

I didn’t eat much fast food as a child. Unlike many of my friends, my family ate dinner together every night. My Mother served the sort of home cooked balanced meals that lack originality but get the job done; meat, vegetables, potatoes and the occasional casserole. Ketchup, salt and pepper helped blend everything together to a palatable consistency. My Dad really loaded up on the salt, leaving a ring of white granules on the table once his plate had been cleared. He never held back on the complaints and I kept my mouth shut. While he loved to spur on the furious wrath of my Mother I lived in constant fear of her tirades.

“Goddamn, could this meat be any tougher?”

“Then you cook the fucking dinner from now on.”

“I wouldn’t make the dog eat this shit.”

“Fuck off and die.”

Between the lines they cared about each other in a strange and volatile way.

When I was about 7 things began to change, most noticeably, the dinner situation. We  weren’t eating together quite as frequently. Some nights I was left to fend for myself, a bowl of cereal or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. One afternoon my Dad brought home about 30 hot dogs from a gas station. I had never had a hot dog and I was so intrigued I must have eaten at least 5 of them, smothered in mustard and sweet relish squeezed from plastic packets. Our table was a mess of paper hot dog holders and soggy napkins, a crime scene of sorts, a portrayal of our current state as a family in the midst of a meltdown.

As the deterioration of  familial structure became more apparent I grasped blindly for some sense of security and familiarity. Everything was falling apart, crumbling before me and I was helpless to stop it. One night I awoke to find my Mother in the kitchen packing Tupperware into a box. I asked her what was going on and she told me matter of factly that “we’re moving, just us”. The next day my Dad picked me up from a friend’s house after school. He was driving a car I had never seen before and he looked tired, worn out, defeated. He said, “we have to talk”.

We went through a McDonald’s drive-thru and he got me a Happy Meal and a milk shake. Not only had I never had a Happy Meal, I had never even been through a fast food drive-thru. Something was seriously wrong and no amount of processed meat, salt and sugar or the brief delight of a plastic toy could conceal the fact that the shit was about to hit the fan.

We walked to a vacant bench near the playground. Kids squealed with innocent joy, birds chirped in nearby trees and the Autumn sun glared off my Dad’s eyeglasses. He encouraged me to eat my hamburger as he sipped at the chocolate shake. I struggled to swallow the greasy meat and salty fries, each bite another reminder that everything was suddenly different and might not ever be the same again.

“Honey, you know how when you are bad you get sent to time out?”

I nodded my head, eyes cast downward. I had never been sent to “time out” nor had I ever even heard my dad use the term before but I was of course familiar with the phrase and the meaning of the word.

“Well, Daddy was bad and I have to go away for a while, time out for grown ups….prison.”

I stared at my food, carefully spread out on the waxy paper, the colorful box and plastic toy nearby as if for comfort.

“How long?”

“I don’t know for sure, Honey. A year, maybe more. You and Mommy are going to be okay, you just do what she says and be a good girl.”

“Okay.”

I looked at my Dad only briefly, it hurt too much to know that this might be the last time I ever see him. That was how I felt, the final goodbyes, one last chance to make it right kind of moment. But there was nothing left, I was beginning the process of shutting down, a process that would continue for many years to come.

“Can I go play on the swings now?”

“Yeah Honey, go play.”

I walked over to the swings slowly, my head spinning before I even pushed off, feet sinking into the sand and hands tightening around the hard twisted metal of the chains. The cathartic rocking of the swings created a swooshing soundtrack to the spreading numbness inside me.

I felt abandoned and alone even as I slid in to the seat next to my Dad, his arm reaching around my shoulders in an attempt to reassure me that everything was fine. We were both too smart to believe it but neither of us brave enough to say it. He dropped me off at home and I watched him drive away knowing that life had changed, that I had changed, aged years in a matter of moments.

When I walked into the house, my Mother asked me,

“Did you have a good time with Daddy?”

“I had a Happy Meal.”

 

 

 

 

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I never want to feel that way again

“When was your last drink?”

“October 13, 2011, about 3pm”

“What was it?”

“Champagne, I was at work and I drank that shit all day”

I was a fucking mess. But goddamnit if the ED part of me doesn’t love how thin I was at the time. I had quit eating regular meals and had dropped to well below my average adult weight. I was also shitting blood every day and was covered in bruises. But I was thin, my stomach flat and my clavicle nicely exaggerated.

I realized today that both my first and last drinks were champagne (excluding the wine I got drunk on at two years old). I don’t even particularly like champagne, I was always privy to vodka, from Stoli to Popov, I wasn’t picky. I never once bought a bottle of champagne. It was a work thing, an availability issue, it was free and there for the drinking.

My last drunk week was a chaotic disaster of lies. I had promised to quit drinking a week earlier. A promise I knew I would not keep, one of thousands I had made to others and to myself. Fuck promises, they mean nothing. I was sneaking and lying, two things I am ridiculously talented at. But this time was different, I felt bad about it. I felt…..guilty, at the time an extremely rare emotion for me.

It was near the end of my shift and I was sipping on my travel coffee mug (filled with champagne) while I was scrubbing a mountain of dishes. The heaping mound of trash behind me filled the small back room of the kitchen with the foul odors of a busy morning. I was covered in grease, coffee grounds and questionable slime. My back ached and sweat dripped between my breasts, it was a normal afternoon. I patted my apron pocket to make sure I had my smokes handy, a compulsive movement I did numerous times a day out of comfort and security.

Suddenly, I was completely disgusted, with myself, my situation, with every fucking aspect of my life. I threw up into the sink, hot liquid spraying out of my mouth and nose, choking spasms of revulsion let loose all over plates of egg matter and bowls crusted with tomato soup. I screamed and spit violently, wanting to be rid of everything inside me, my burning esophagus, my rotting stomach, my fucked up brain, my worthless soul.

And that was it, I was done. I didn’t feel like a liar, I didn’t question why I felt the way that I did. I felt primal, my survival instinct kicked me in the head and I woke the fuck up.

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I want to feel like this forever

“When was your first drink?”

“God, two years old I guess”

“Two?! Ok, I will rephrase. When was the first time you got good and drunk?”

“Yeah, two. But I know what you mean. I was 13 the first time I willingly got drunk”

Ok, here are explanations of both….

Booze was never taboo in my family, it flowed freely at parties and my parents never kept track of what was in the house. In fact my first official drunk was when I was just a toddler. I obviously don’t remember this but I have heard my Mom tell the story over and over, laughing every time. I apparently stumbled over to the coffee table, grabbed a glass of red wine and downed the entire thing, a professional drinker at two! She told me that I screamed all night long, eyes rolling around in my head (I must have hated the spins as badly then as I did years later). She was too afraid to take me to the hospital for fear of persecution from Child Protective Services. I toughed it out that night, I survived to drink again one day. There is no stopping a determined toddler with DNA mapped out perfectly for addiction and substance abuse.

My next good drunk, New Years Eve, 1993. I swallowed my first glass quickly, my mood as sour as the champagne. I was struggling with bulimia, and by struggling I mean not having enough time to vomit between meals or enough hours in the day to obsessively run mile after mile. I hated school and everyone there. The only solace in my life was my new-found love affair with smoking.

My second glass, enjoyed a little more than the first but still gulped with purposeful intent. I feel the bubbles in my nose and this makes me gag a little as I am reminded of the sensation of vomit spraying out of my nostrils which unfortunately is a daily occurrence.

My third glass marks the end of the first bottle. I sneak out the back door for a smoke. I hold my glass of champagne in one hand and my Marlboro Light in the other. I feel like a fucking supermodel for about half a second. I am in love with that fleeting sensation of power, sex and maturity. I am no longer a child, if I ever was one at all. I stare at the night sky inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly, luxuriantly.

The second bottle of champagne disappears in no time at all. My Mom is asleep in front of the television, Dick Clark counting the year down like pennies thrown in a fountain, meaningless wishes and a waste of time. I stumble into my room and collapse onto my bed. I have one loud continuous thought reverberating through my head, “I want to feel like this forever, I want to feel like this forever….”

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The yard sale

She was a nervous child, she acted out to express her anxiety. Unease and discomfort followed her around like a heavy blanket wrapped around her ankles.

Her parents fought constantly, mostly about money as most adults ill-prepared for parenthood tend to do. She began to worry about the bills, the rent and groceries. This was on top of the already monumental tower of worries that the child carried around with her; the behavioral difficulties of her puppy who refused to be house broken, the daunting organizational predicament she encountered with her book bag that resulted in hours of preparation each school night, the nightly dinner dilemma of a full plate of food that in some unimaginable way was to be consumed fully and enjoyed and most of all was the constant and unyielding worry of the safety of her family and her home.

She felt as though her life and the lives of her family were held in some precarious position, ready to disintegrate at any moment. Somehow she had to protect them and herself from the unknown threat that lingered at the edges of every moment.

After an especially violent fight over the nonexistent rent money the child decided the time had come, she would do something to help. She had seen yard sales in the neighborhood and it seemed like a perfectly reasonable way to make some quick money and money was what her family needed.

The next morning was a Sunday and she woke up before sunrise, in fact she had not slept at all that night. She walked into the front yard and felt good about the task before her, she knew for sure that this was the right thing to be doing. She gathered most of her toys and old clothes from her bedroom, glad to be rid of the offending clutter. Arranging her belongings on a blanket beneath a tree she felt like a shop girl, humming a pleasant tune of self-satisfaction. She brought out dishes from the kitchen, knickknacks from the living room, records and books from the shelves, a clothes hamper, a step stool and a spare set of silverware that her Mother kept in a drawer.

Her first customer arrived soon after she had perfectly arranged every item on the front lawn just perfectly. The girl watched nervously as the woman rummaged amidst her family’s house wares. She wasn’t nervous about any possible repercussions of what she was doing, she simply hated seeing the items being fussed with in such a careless fashion. She was proud, possibly the first time she had felt such an emotion, of the work she had done and wished she had a few minutes alone to enjoy the moment. However more customers were filing onto the lawn and she resumed her duty as shop girl. She sold the step stool for $1 and the books for a quarter a piece. People pretty much made their own price as she held open her beaded coin purse, the heft of which pleased her deeply. Within an hour the lawn was a shambles of rumpled blankets and a few unwanted articles of clothing. The books had been carried off by an overweight housewife in a stained bathrobe, the clothes hamper drug away by kids on their way to a grassy hill, the records snatched up by an awkward young man with a bad complexion and the set of rarely used silverware was hesitantly purchased by an older woman with a cranky disposition and a guilty smile.

With a deep breath of satisfaction at a hard days work the girl held tightly to the bulging coin purse as she walked back into her house. Her Father was coming out of the bathroom and walked past her without a word. He put on a pot of coffee, sat down at the kitchen table and lit a cigarette. The girl placed the coin purse in front of her Father.

what’s this?
money
where’d you get it?
I had a yard sale
a yard sale?
yeah, for rent money
what are you talking about?
for the rent… I, I heard you and Mom yelling about not having enough money, I wanted to help
oh my god, what did you sell?
…um just stuff we didn’t need….Mm..my toys and some books
what else!
…uh….I don’t know,….some, some records and some silverware
some what!
the….the silverware that we never use, it was in that drawer….really, we never use it
oh god, oh no…no no no!
I just wanted to help, I’m sorry, I’m sorry….

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Cell phones and Cigarettes

As I sit with my coffee this morning I mourn for a friend, a companion of 18 years. Oh, cigarettes, I miss you so. I long for the ritual as much as the sweet smoke inhaled deep into my lungs, blanketing my insides with comfort, lovely poisonous comfort. Even the packing of the box against the palm of my hand, the swift tear of cellophane and pull of silver paper, crumpled together and shoved into my pocket gave me a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment. When both my hands were busy I would pull the cigarette from the pack with my front teeth, I don’t why I loved this little ritual but I did. I was a multi-tasking smoker, able to smoke an entire cigarette without the use of my hands. Does this count as a talent?

I remember my first cigarette at 13, walking home from school with my good friend Chelsea. She lit a Marlboro Light and handed it to me. I was in love with the very first drag and bought my first pack later that day. When I couldn’t afford my own smokes I stole my Dad’s GPC Menthol’s. I later switched to Camel 99’s and finally to Winston Lights for the additive free aspect. I always assumed my Parents knew I smoked and never really tried to hide it but they still pretended to be shocked the first time I lit up right in front of them.

Most of all I miss my mornings spent with coffee and cigarettes. I actually find myself having a hard time getting out of bed lately. I used to awaken with a smile upon my face and anticipation bubbling in my lungs. I smoked as the coffee percolated and smoked as I took my first sip of caffeinated motivation and smoked as I finished my third cup. Now what? I wake up and make one cup of weak ass coffee and sit, awkwardly, unsure of what to do next. How does a day begin without a smoke? I am really trying to figure this one out.

This morning I began think about how I will approach the topic of smoking with my Son. I truly hope that he never smokes that first cigarette because if he gets even a fraction of my fucked up addiction riddled genes he will fall in love just as I did. Then I realized that I don’t see nearly as many kids smoking these days as I once did. I attribute this due to fancy cellphones with all the email, texting and internet whatnots. When I was a teenager I relied very heavily on the distraction of smoking when I found myself in social situations. When I was uncomfortable I lit a cigarette, when I was embarrassed I hid behind a cloud of smoke, when I wanted to look like I didn’t give a shit I flicked my butt into the street. Now kids have cell phones in their pockets to fiddle with and appear distracted by. No more staring at the floor during an uncomfortable silence, just pull out the phone and pretend to check email. Cell phones have saved kids from cigarettes!

With my luck not only will my kid smoke but I will find pictures on his phone of him smoking while naked in public with a stolen stereo on his shoulder. I quite like the entertainment having a Son will bring to my life, even the uncomfortable shit like telling him not to smoke while I will probably still be secretly longing for my long-lost love Winston.

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Filed under Alcoholism and other Assholes, I am Pregnant, I remember