Once again, posting something I wrote last year. Gotta fill the silence somehow...

I remember things that didn’t happen.

Landscapes, events, people, colors that according to my mother have all either sprung from my own imagination or from my dreams, conjured out of the ether, lacking substance and any basis in reality. I remember sledding down a long gradually sloping hill, bundled together with my sisters, the snow collecting against my eyelashes and stinging my cheeks as we flew. No, says my mother. Never happened. I remember lying on the open tailgate of our old white station wagon, on a quilt of my mother’s, gazing up at a giant drive-in movie screen. I remember falling asleep there, propped up on my elbows, my chin resting in my hands. I remember the delicious satisfaction of having stayed up past my bedtime, of falling asleep outside in the night air, with the loud antics of the cartoon characters slowly fading into the background. No way, my mother says, shaking her head vehemently. The only drive-in theater around while you were growing up showed pornos. Couldn’t have been.

Her negation of so many of the pictures stored inside my head makes me question the moments and the flavor of the memories she cannot contradict.

I remember looking up at the stars the first time I enjoyed kissing a boy. (Not the first time I kissed, but the first time I took pleasure in being kissed.) I remember the clandestine sneaking out of the movie theater we were supposed to be in, running instead down the sidewalk, stopping between two buildings. I identified the constellation Orion as he tipped my chin up towards his own face. The belt of stars, the shoulders and knees, the arched bow all shining brightly in the clear night sky. I smiled sweetly in the blackness of the night, happy to be standing right there, right then, with him. We were supposed to be in the movies.

Is that true? At fifteen, was I brazen enough to enjoy a moment of direct defiance of my parents’ rules? Did I really smile sweetly up at that boy, or did I, more likely, smile nervously? Was I admiring Orion, eternally aiming at Taurus, or was I worrying about getting caught, being seen by someone, anyone? Did the world stand still in that moment or did it rush past like all the others before and after it?

I cannot be sure.

I remember the shirt she wore the first time I saw her. It was a stretchy leopard print, with smears of turquoise running through the blacks and browns. She was striking in that shirt, with her short black curly hair against the white of her skin. She was beautiful. Her eyes were piercing, even as she talked about the most mundane of things. There was an urgency in her. Eating breakfast cereal, walking to the library, watching television. Everything with her had more weight, was intensified.

But maybe that isn’t true at all. Maybe this hyper-awareness comes only in hindsight, looking back on her life with the certain terrible knowledge that it will be short.

The past is past and the present is quickly becoming so, the synapses of my brain firing frantically to store away the tenor of the moment as it passes. These black keys clicking beneath my fingernails, the spacebar, the delete. The breeze of the ceiling fan. The quiet. The way the pillows support my head as I lie back in bed.

I remember summer nights past, nights so similar they blend into the present, nights when the cicadas screeched in just the same way, and the weight of the bed sheets covering my legs was equal to the weight of the bed sheets covering my legs just now.

I fell asleep many hot July nights on a small cot at the foot of the bed in my grandparents’ guest room, the guest room bed where my two sisters lay tangled in covers, arguing in stage whispers until they both finally dropped away to sleep. The guest room opened off of the master bedroom in Grammy and Granddaddy’s house, and in the master bedroom, mounted on a shelf high in a corner, was a television plugged into a timer. Each night before slipping into bed, one of my grandparents would crank the dial; the muted strains of the M*A*S*H theme song and the whir of televised chopper blades couldn’t cover my granddad’s snores as he fell asleep, long before the dial ran down and the television flipped off. Grammy would invariably be awake long after the television was silent, sitting on her side of the bed (always the right side) with her knees drawn up, a paperback book balanced across them. Every so often I would hear the brush of a page being turned. Straining, listening for the next one, I would float to sleep myself.

Now my grandmother lies, miles away, in a bed of her own, 87 years of memories slowly unraveling inside her head. She does not remember me lying there on the cot. She does not remember the book she read, its plot or the small weight of it in her hands, nor, possibly, does she remember what a book is, or the reason for it. We cannot be sure what she knows or does not know, what she remembers but is unable to express. The words make no sense to her, the letters jumbled impossibly together, incomprehensible.

I remember the future, myself, flying through the air birdlike, arms outstretched. I remember the way the air will taste on my tongue, like the promise of rain. Who can contradict me?
I wonder what I have yet to remember, what I have yet to forget.

When I fall asleep in the car, my father comes around to lift me out and carry me into the house. I am small and don’t weigh much, though in sleep my body is heavier. I wake but pretend not to, so that he will carry me. I wonder if he can feel the weight of me change. I treasure the feeling of being wrapped in his arms and lifted, though I know I am too old to be held. I am seven years old, and we have just gotten home from the drive-in movie theater. I am happily exhausted with the thrill of it.

In eight years, a boy will kiss me, and I will look up at the stars.

In eleven years, I will meet a girl in a leopard print shirt.

In twenty-three years, I will sit up in bed and write. My fingernails will click across the keyboard. The weight of the sheets across my legs will be pleasant, will be just right.

Tomorrow, I may not remember any of this.


Dance like you mean it.

On a bit lighter note...reposted from one of my other, shorter-lived blogs...

I grew up with no awareness of how much money my parents made (or didn’t make, to be more accurate). To this day I’m genuinely unsure whether my dad is a millionaire many times over or whether he’s treading water, barely keeping his head above a roiling sea of debt. The impression he gives concerning his financial situation depends on his mood. To talk to him one day is to hear him brag about the solid oak trim in the doorways of his home, the marble windowsills, the ceramic tile, and all of it paid for. The next day he seems beaten down, worried over the rising costs of gasoline and insurance and the towering overhead demands of his small business. He claims he’ll have to divide everything up and sell it piecemeal, sadly dismantling his little self-made empire just to buy food. Or, he’ll offer a ride on his new Harley-Davidson bike, grinning a bit sheepishly under his helmet as he revs the motor.

When I was a kid, Dad shared none of his worries with his children, financial or otherwise. He seemed invincible, a man whom strife dared not touch. One of his favorite games to play was to pretend confusion while driving the family on car trips of any length. He’d scratch his head and say, “Hmmm…I think I’m lost…” This was certain to inspire a round of nervous giggling from the backseat followed by protests from us girls, “Daaaddd. You are NOT. We KNOW you know where we are!” He would ask us for directions, and when we’d reply that we didn’t know, he’d shake his head, “Uh oh, I was counting on you girls! Now what are we gonna do?!” But amazingly, we’d find Grandma’s house after all. That was what made the game fun—the very idea that Dad, of all people, could get lost, was preposterous, outlandish, comical. Dad knew everything. It went without saying.

The excitement was in knowing in our bones that we were safe. Armed with that knowledge, we could allow ourselves all manner of make-believe peril. Dangers lurking around the corner were exciting, never truly frightening, because Dad was always right there to steer the car back home.

Like our father, we girls became creatures of imagination. When we looked around ourselves, at the world our parents had created for us, we didn’t see an environment of lack; we saw one of potential. Removeable couch cushions became horses for us to harness and ride; sheets of plain lined writing paper, when folded in just the right intricate manner, became a town populated with houses, a bank, a post office, a library. Of all our shared exploits and made-up games, my favorite nearly always took place in the basement, where a wide-open carpeted space became our dance floor. We’d unwind the cord from my orange and brown Fischer Price record player (my most coveted possession), and plug it into the wall. I loved the delicious scratching of the needle as I dropped it onto the black grooved surface of a record. And then, it was on. Dance Party USA!

Dance Party USA was a competitive game in which each of us would take a turn showing off our best moves in time to the music. Very officially, usually in order from youngest to oldest, or oldest to youngest (I was always in the middle), we would step out onto the makeshift dance floor, oftentimes for an audience not only of each other, but also of a menagerie of enthusiastic stuffed animals and dolls. The winner was decided through judges’ deliberation (the judges being us)—and scores were given for technique, innovative choreographing, and general wow factor.

My oldest sister, Amy, was nearly always the undisputed winner. She had a killer move in which she held her arms alluringly over her head and rotated her behind in such a way as to lead the rest of her body along in a sweeping, sexy circle. At age six, I was far from any real knowledge of the definition of the word “sexy,” but I knew for sure that it had something to do with those hips of hers, the line of her shoulders, and the way she turned her head just so. Amy, at fourteen, was the very definition of cool, and she rocked the basement dance floor like nobody’s business. She would begin her dance innocently enough, and lead us along until we thought maybe, this time, she’s not going to…and then boom! She’d pull out the patented move, the Move that clinched her win every time. My and my younger sister’s efforts generally consisted of running around in circles with no regard to the beat of the music and turning random cartwheels, with a somersault or two thrown in for good measure, routines which paled in comparison to Amy’s practiced sensual gyrations.

Most of the time we played 45’s; with their one song per side, they allowed just enough time for one of us to strut our stuff, but not so much time that my Chubbles got bored watching. Also, we had many more 45’s than full length LP’s. We had Rush, Olivia Newton John (“Physical” was one of my favorite routines—I generally threw a bunch of jumping jacks in the mix during that song, to complement its theme, which was obviously exercise.), and a whole mix of Sesame Street records, the best of which included a song about Snoopy and the Red Baron. We only owned three full length albums that I remember: Shaun Cassidy (not to be confused with brother David), the soundtrack to Grease II, and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. These three 33’s were in pretty heavy rotation—part of the undeniable beauty of My First Fisher-Price Record Player was that the speed could easily be switched from 45 to 33 and back again, the chubby little brown adapter disc pushed down and then pulled back up.

Amy could rock it to any song you gave her. Adriane’s favorite was, without a doubt, Shaun Cassidy. The album cover was peeling into bits over his face from her many attempts at French kissing him. Me—I liked Thriller the best. Michael Jackson slouched, stylishly low-key on the cover, in his white suit jacket and pants, his thin black belt. He looked serious, but not in a threatening way. The album title and his name were scrawled above him in an almost familiar manner, as though he’d dedicated this album to me personally. And the song “Thriller”: perfect in every way. I always wanted “Thriller” for my Dance Party number. One: It was super long and gave me more time to turn extra cartwheels. Two: I knew it scared my younger sister Elecia, even though she tried to hide it. I knew it because it scared me too, but in a good way. And three: that song was just so fucking bad-ass. Victor Price rumbling his way through the intro in that deep, ultra-creepy voice, the creaking of the door, the awesome beats, Michael’s high-pitched groans. And then, the lyrics: “It’s close to miiiiiidnight…” I maintained a slow build-up of motion throughout the intro, but when Jackson’s voice started crooning those words, I went into spastic power mode, jumping up and down and shaking until I gave myself a stitch in my side.

“You try to screeeeeam. But terror takes the sound before you make it.”

I would shudder deliciously, incorporating my own semi-fear into the improvised routine.

Oh, I was sure Chubbles and all the Cabbage Patch Kids were in total awe of me now! Me with my dancing prowess! At the end of the song I’d collapse into a panting heap on the brown shag carpet, my tongue lolling to the side like an overheated dog.

It was a giddiness and a self-satisfaction that money couldn’t buy.

 At this point in my young life, there were a few things I knew for sure:  Even when he claimed to be, Dad was never really lost. Like him, I possessed an imagination that I could use to fake my way through anything. And, inevitably, my oldest sister Amy would kick my ass at Dance Party USA as soon as the needle dropped on the next record.


Please, please take good care of me. Especially when I don't deserve it.

I wrote this post in October of 2009. I didn't ever hit "publish" on it because it was inappropriate, like so many of my rants, and I was worried that it would unnecessarily hurt my loved ones. Today I feel exactly the same. Just like this.

Even though it's six months later, a whole new set of circumstances, a slew of new bad choices...I'm right back here in the same place.
And this time I'm hitting "publish." Why? Because it's just another bad choice. Because I can't tell  you what I've done now. Because I wish it would rain down on me.

October 2009
More and more frequently I find myself writing titles of blog posts and then never writing the actual posts. There are so many things I want to talk about: my first umbrella, Jenga, the rain. But I will title the post and then stare at that blank space for awhile before closing the window and retreating to my quietude.
I am sad. I feel broken. I want to curl up inside this spot and lie there, ignoring the world as it swirls on without me.
I want someone to just wake me when it gets better. Or not. Either way.

I’ve switched medical providers, and yesterday was my first appointment with the new provider. “Tell me what I need to know about your health,” she said, after I had been dutifully signed in, weighed, measured, and otherwise assessed by her nurse.
I began by reciting the checkmarks I’d made on the form. Allergies, asthma, depression, thyroid dysfunction. Blah. Blahddy-Blah. Bleh.

I don't even interest myself anymore. I felt like I was dumping something fragile on her doorstep and then hitting the bell and running away. Here I am on your page. Here is my record of illnesses, hospitalizations.

After listening (admirably, I thought) to my weak explanations and protestations (yes, I had a kidney infection and I was allergic to the antibiotics and a maddening itchy red rash invaded every square inch of my entire body, but it really wasn't that bad. I mean, it's not like my head fell off or anything), she gives me a sympathetic look, with just a bit too much pity. Can you tell me more about your depression?

Yeah. But I don't really want to. It's boring. Run of the mill.

I lost the two people closest to me within the last year. My friend died and my husband had an affair. As a result, I've not been myself. I say that because I'm supposed to say that.
I'm supposed to be okay. I'm supposed to express my anger and then forgive. I'm supposed to let it go.

Another friend detests me; my dad accuses me of being "uppity" and pretentious. Your quick wit and your sharp tongue hurt people, he says. You look down on our way of life. I what? Excuse me, but, wait, what? My whole family feels I'm being insensitive to their needs. Sometimes I think they're right, and sometimes I think they're assholes. Yawn.
What am I supposed to do?
My last doctor put me on meds that made me gain thirty pounds over the space of a few months. Then he made inappropriate sexual overtures. I didn't report him. I might have imagined it. I weigh more now than I did at the height of my pregnancy. But this is good, see, because it means my self-hatred is valid and not delusional. I am fat, therefore worthy of contempt. I don't believe that of other people, but I believe it of myself.

There's really no help you can offer me that I can't sabotage.



Life has been wild lately, but in a good way.

I've moved into a nice little duplex with my son, and am busy making it a home for us. There are only a few more weeks left in the semester at work, and times are crazy. So much to do, so little time, and so much sunshine distracting me!

Just wanted to say a quick "hello" to let everyone in blogland know I'm still kicking!

We will return to our regular programming shortly.