Writing my Life Story on Xmas
December 30, 2012 § 2 Comments
It’s 1:38pm on xmas day, and I’m in bed naked with my beauteous cat Lulu, kissing her head and nuzzling her neck. As usual, I’ve been up since 6:30am. I’m not depressed, even it it might look like it. This is how I have chosen to spend xmas. I called my daughter Kate and wished her and the grandkids merry xmas, drank a giant mug of hot sweet Irish breakfast tea, and ate four pieces of fig-laced Pleasure Cake which I’d baked on Sunday. It is pouring down a cold wintery rain. I live on a busy street and love the noise of the tires slipping by on wet pavement. I’m toasty under three blankets, and have finished the dyke s/m mystery that I started last night. Occasionally, I’ll jerk off or check Facebook to make sure my friends are social and cheery, and they are. I’m happy.
I usually spend xmas depressed, so this degree of contentedness is not typical. When I hit my alcoholic bottom 25 years ago, I spent xmas day in a cavernous house, lying on a filthy mattress on the cold hardwood floor, drinking from a pitcher of bloody Marys, and alternately snorting from two fluffy white piles of powder, one of ground up sopors and the other of bad cocaine. I managed not to kill myself even though I wanted to, and I got sober the following summer.
I’m in a fantabulous queer writing group, and with much sweet-talking and pushing by Mark, Rome, and Avi, I’ve been working on my memoir…but I’m bogged down and bored with it. Every time I pick a time span, there is weird fucked up shit puking fucked up shit everywhere. Or just giant weird shit. Sometimes the best that I can claim is that there wasn’t a rape, or a miserable lonely death, or the heart-numbing poverty of picking food out of the trash for dinner. My teens were spent cutting myself with knives, hanging with Persian Marxists, hitchhiking around two countries, hooking on the streets of Hollywood, and finally living with an ex follower of Charles Manson. Then returning home in the Midwest six months later at 17 to discover that my family had moved, thrown away all my belongings, and although I was hurriedly put into the guest bedroom, a lacy Victorian wonder called Miss Pittypat’s Room, I was decidedly not welcomed home. The prodigal daughter, indeed.
I needed a place to live and friends. I met Beau, my first husband, on the streets. He was a 7′ tall brilliant and handsome junkie Apache with Marfan’s Syndrome. He stopped using, and then he started again. When I became pregnant, I was disowned by my father. Beau and I had two children, and then he died at 23 after emergency heart surgery. I didn’t have the time and energy to think about the abandonment I felt from my mom, dad, husband, and brother when Beau died. All I could do was bumble through with a 1 year old and a 3 year old, 1 friend, no job, and living on welfare. We were voted one of Franklin Counties most needy holiday families that year, and our drafty living room was filled with toys. I remember is that due to some flukish combination of bad weather and poor insulation, it snowed inside our windowsills.
After Beau died, my 20s were spent in and out of art school, working in a porn store, being homeless, being a punk, and drinking as much as I could to let out my rage. It was a clusterfuck of anger, blackouts, and despair. And Arleen. Arleen, the doomed and obsessive love of my 20s…left to die by her latest girlfriend of a heroin overdose on a Taco Bell bathroom floor. It’s true.
I got sober when I was 30, and went back to art school. Then my mom died, and I inherited a small trust fund. My dad said not to spent it all in one place, so I quit school to paint and collect dividend checks in the mail. I’ll never forget the first time I went grocery shopping with cash instead of food stamps; I bought as much frozen orange juice as I could carry, and when I got home I mixed it Full. Fucking. Strength. I started painting about incest, self-mutilation, alcoholism, and being a teenaged whore. Went to AA, SLAA, ISA, and SAA. Then my 13 year old daughter ran away from home to become a crack addict and lot lizard. I found out my younger daughter had been hurt by a counselor in subsidized summer camp for poor kids. See what I mean? It just never fucking stops. How can I write about this? This history pummels and looms over me.
Maybe it wouldn’t be so awful now if I hadn’t felt like I needed to build a box around my heart over and over. I was a Navy brat and then an archaeologist’s child, so we moved every couple of years. From country to country, and social stratum to social stratum, reinvention and amnesia were my tools. I was acclimated to leaving everything behind. My father told me that historically, there was a universal upheaval every 50 years, and I reinterpreted this personally to every five years. I called it my five year limit, and I sprang up reborn quinquennially, shedding my past like a snake, leaving everything strewn dusty and discarded. I don’t leave every 5 years anymore, but have a lot invested in being alone and going away.
My past is too much to contain inside of my sore tired chest. I’m beginning to think I need a spreadsheet in order to write this memoir. This is just the gnawed upon bloody bare bones, the stringy puked upon gristle. It is a demented bingo game; voodoo, cannibalism, princes, the dyke punk band The Blunt Stitches, cross-dressing Buddhists, illiterate gigolos, Selling plasma for rent, Peter Brooks, frigidity, suicide attempts, homelessness, farm houses, the sad 13 hump guitar, Marines on acid watching Willie Wonka during blizzards, salted green almonds, threesomes with Members of Parliament and bikers, Native American trappers, caviar smugglers, 2 daughters & 8 grandchildren, ghosts, digging up prehistoric mass burial pits, Tupperware parties, Savak, gender changes, sobriety, wild fucking, exiled holidays, sex education activism, chadors in the summer, love, counseling at the suicide hotline, Persian rock bands, the CIA, bodywork & therapy, coming until I can’t talk, graduate school, preadolescent s/m shenanigans, breast prints, sucker punches, marvelously cooked meals, biker funerals, art exhibits and being banned from shows, near death, three rapes, and more. Over and over, there is change. Notice how I slipped “love” in like I hardly noticed it? At 58, I’ve finally noticed that it is difficult to recognize or experience love when your heart is busy sitting cross-legged inside a box.
It is still raining. I take another gulp of hot black tea and am enveloped. It isn’t all bad, but all of it is big. I want to tell my story for my dead friends and other sad souls, in memory of all the grief we’ve lived through and died with tightly wound into our hearts. I want to live through my grief and isolation, rather than set it aside. And I think that maybe I want some love. Is that the end? I don’t believe it is the beginning or the end; life does not occur with such abrupt linearity. Love. Alright.