Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
tired. weary. gray. hot. slummy. wild. heart. brilliant. being. ornery. flagrant. foul. chicken. bugawck. lenient. principal. order. way. stuff. turkey. thanks. many. lots. parking. beach. sand. ocean. waves. baseball. sports. announcers. costas. rica. quote. letter. blog. paragraph. seo. daily. new. keyword. adword. google. adhere. blunt. brief. point. boxers. hanes. shirts. bacon. wrapped. present. christmas. mom. dad. cancer. life. death. grandma. grandpa. old. new. baby. twins. boys. born. living. still. calm. peace. tranquil. serenity. movie. lines. ropes. carpet. red. pop. corn. blue. chips. stock. market. store. ralph. grocer. butcher. play. kids. playground. swings. summer. swimming. pool. lifeguard. station. hut. ramp. on. off. freeway. lion. cage. roar. anger. freeing. liberation. 2010. y2k. bozos. earthquake. water. shutoff. valve. gas. fire. burn. ash. smoke. cigarette. stink. lungs. rot. decay. cay. timoty. island. trees. palm. coconut. frond. pineapple. hawaii. vacation. surfing. honolulu. relax. chill. solitude. massage. warm. cozy. cove. rocks. salt. fish. shark. dolphin. anew. seek. ice. fall. pick. battles. wars. wage. economy. down. south. north. pole. arctic. bears. polar. iceberg. warming. global. earth. planet. green. cycle. bike. walk. carbon. footprint. reduce. around. high. crack. home. less. restrict. aware. awake. arrest. police. car. truck. suv. trip. drive. road. asphalt. concrete. jungle. monkey. chimp. words. sign. language. shift. thinking. believe. animal. nature. instinct. intuition. gut. wrench. plumber. pipes. clogged. twist. snake. swamp. aligator. crocodile. chocodile. junk. eat. ack. hack. vomit. sick. heal. meditate. mind. brain. activity. stagnant. bliss. achieve. excel. blow. corporate. exact. enough. never. much. always. depth. need. skill. cohesive. communicate. swear. passive. agressive. type. keyboard. click. tap. nudge. push. pull. ebb. flow. speed. meth. capital. washington. dc. comics. books. cartoons. daffy. duck. bugs. bunny. wabbit. elmer. glue. hold. together. smile. laugh. one. all. we. us. our. common. ground. electric. youth. elder. generation. x. y. chromosome. genetics. healthy. disease. decide. choice. pregnant. not. early. late. embryo. life. rights. taken. away. afar. women. man. stick. stone. break. bone. fix. necessary. no. leave. now. alone. free. bird. fly. plane. superman. superhero. out. crowd. afraid. allure. magazine. pages. rip. shred. tear. up. aloof. sacred. feminine. genuine. real. authentic. you. yourself. have. pink. nose. edge. inside. outside. fear. claw. scratch. door. foot. wedge. butt. pant. leg. naked. truth. elephant. room. lie. white. slave. driver. daisy. miss. pushing. under. six. feet. grave. digger. shallow. rain. feel. drink. one. more. grace. gone. camera. canyon. left. sunset. rise. occasion. falter. help. hand. finger. nail. head. own. responsible. child. latchkey. pots. pans. cook. self. alcoholic. mother. cows. moo. hill. pout. shit. lip. steal. thief. heart. whisker. thick. poke. through. me. jog. mile. eight. seven. countdown. celebrate. party. 1999. over. under. gamble. lose. nothing. back. shirt. shoes. flip. flop. waver. waiver. clause. contract. deal. card. cookie. crumble. behave. consequence. yawn. teeth. growl. bark. carve. name. love. knife. sword. daggar. cuts. deep. seated. set. broken. doctor. nurse. soccer. bask. glory. raise. arms. glee. sing. pop. culture. cult. classic. shining. jack. dull. boy. donor. marrow. plates. blood. family. ties. thicker. bleed. red. rant. rave. reviews. moral. judgment. ethic. vote. judge. save. constitution. civil. case. hook. sinker. comedy. show. tell. ask. don't. realize. blinders. horse. ass. tail. swat. flat. tummy. saggy. boob. tv. program. remote. control. authority. fought. law. won. johhny. cougar. melons. camp. tent. stake. mallet. mullet. lame. hair. trim. lesbian. landscape. brow. furrow. gag. spoon. shoplift. pootie. jerry. tom. couch. crazy. misfit. mishap. weave. web. charlotte. genius. bar. draught. beer. lite. miller. case. pillow. fight. cat. dog. jax. clean. floor. termite. gross. expensive. homeowner. overrated. adulthood. middle. school. junior. senior. college. exam. pass. fail. learn. succeed. grow. align. forage. plunder. blunder. mistake. con. pro. football. american. rugby. hairpiece. trying. false. sense. security. guard. shot. heard. round. gimme. putt. tee. fairway. chunk. shank. alley. dark. lit. bounce. baller. sorbet. champaign. mimosa. sunday. morning. ease. bed. enjoy. sleep. flail. try. cling. blanket. belong. curse. goat. bambino. little. tiny. teeny. weenie. button. penis. nah. fold. over. comb. iron. towel. toss. salad. dressing. showers. benches. hurdles. marks. slim. chance. go. 200. dollars. cash. cool. dirty. money. rich. wealth. health. self. esteem. colleague. boss. blink. tipping. jeans. tennis. billie. holiday. paid. month. year. sail. around. bay. idea. lab. science. major. english. minor. math. journal. accountant. log. irs. tax. honor. values. pilot. force. army. navy. marine. biology. bigger. aware. mindful. action. authentic. reality. dreamy. mac. book. author. wannabe. gogo. stage. cheer. friends. core. abundant. everything. willful. disaster. wonders. plight. mankind. neanderthal. study. discovery. national. international. worldly. trotter. basketball. dribble. wipe. moist. cake. chocolate. vanilla. creamery. cheese. house. indeed. ownership. wood. fence. glass. ceiling. feminist. movement. classy. broads. understand. seek. knowledge. accept.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I just finished the book. My emotions are all over the place. I cried this morning because Erin walked past me as she got ready for work. Which is what she does every morning, but this morning I wanted her to stop. To stop and look at me. Notice that tears were welling in my eyes. Notice that my emotions were too raw for her to get ready for work. I walked around the house. I fed the cats. I sat on the bed. And when she walked in to get dressed, I could barely get the words out, "I'm feeling a little emotional today." I cried in her arms and didn't know exactly why I was crying. Guess I didn't need to know.The book has since taken on another series of rewrites and is hoping to be edited again soon. This is the kind of book I can't rush, and still I know it's dying to be ready by all of your eyes.
This morning I printed a copy of the book and handed it to a friend to give me some feedback. I'm headed to Kinkos as soon as I'm finished with this blog and printing off six more copies. One for Texas, One for Orange County, two for Long Beach, one for Studio City, and one for Venice Beach. Some are giving me technical feedback of, "take this out, put that there, add more here," and some are giving me real life feedback of, "this really spoke to me, wish there was more on that."
My emotions seem to be bred from fear. Fear that it's all crap. Fear that I just spent three years putting my soul on paper and it's not going to amount to anything. Fear that I'll get ripped to shreds in the feedback that I've gone and asked for. I realize the fears are unfounded, even irrational. The important thing is that I'm processing through it. Feeling the fear, addressing the fear, and moving forward anyway. It's the only way to let the fear go. It will come up again, I'm sure of it. No life is sans fear. And when it does, lather, rinse, repeat.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
that up there is one of my favorite pieces of eye candy, the capturing of the most frequent words of each entry. what's captured above are the words of this morning's writing.
the summer breeze is cool and light. it refreshes the air and the mind and the body and the soul. the ocean air is cool and damp.
the fog lifts as the sun rises and sheds light on the day, the city, the street, the house. our house is filled with light and love and summer and breeze and ocean and air.
our beach is sandy and warm, that slight breeze kicking up the grains of sand that refuse to stay put. the grains of sand are wanderers among the earth of vagabonds. no grain willing stay put for too long, it has been through too much not to take its story to the next place willing to listen, to learn, to love to honor, to cherish, to feel, to flee, to be, free.
our lives are filled with these ocean breezes and this summer air. the fog rolls in, the fog rolls out. wise words and my kind soul permeate the soft skin made supple by the moisture in the air from living by the sea. if the air is cold, my heart is warm. if the air is warm, my heart follows suit.
we do not believe in "one or the other", we believe in coexisting in a life where anything, everything is possible. my brain is the genius it set out to be all those years ago when formulating a plan to be here, to love, to cherish, to honor, to bring forth the light in my being i've always known was here. and so i am, and so it is.
this is the life i have chosen for myself, but not as a human, as the tiny microorganism that lived and has lived for centuries and milleniums. this is the way of life and we all are much more than we can conceive of with our own two eyes and ears and arms and legs. our minds are supple just like our skin, although we see so much less with our minds than we dor our soul.
our mind blocks the soul from speaking, but not from seeing. the soul is patient and will wait its turn because the soul is not the ego and the ego has no place in the soul.
the ego knows this and takes its rightful place in our minds and begins to settle in for the long haul with the intent of protecting us. but the ego has a two-year old's mind and offers tantrums and punching as a way of resolving conflict and communicating fears. this is the way of the ego and it is what it is.
we all see things differently and the love in the air is more powerful than the ego in the mind. it's a matter of letting that love in, which the soul is kindly obliging.
the summer breeze brings us back around and the ocean air will lay its fog and lift its fog in its own good time. we all will lay our fog and lift our fog in our own good time. our ego will try to tell us otherwise, and sometimes our minds will believe, but the soul knows best.
we don't always listen to the soul because we're not always listening. but today i am. today i listen.
today, we—my soul and i—are one. we travel the ocean air and fly in the summer breeze. we compliment each other and say how nice our hair looks. we notice the sparkle in each other's eyes. we share the glitter of sea foam as a dolphin pushes up for a breath of fresh air and a playful jump. we sit in awe of each other and revel in our marvelousness. we take care of each other and nurture one another with kindness. with indulgent prosperity. with deep and loving compassion. we understand that our imperfections are just the opposite, and made for reasons that—at least, i—cannot comprehend.
but the soul has infinite wisdom and understands that i will learn in my own good time. i will understand and grow in my own good time, just like every redwood does. we grow in groves, not in solitude, but because we have others around us and are meant to thrive in a world where we see each other for our greatness and not for our weakness.
redwoods see greatness in other redwoods, and strive to grow taller, not to outshine, outlive, out-do the others, but so the other redwoods will do the same.
we grow and thrive because of our community and sharing and willingness to help others grow. we will rise to the top of our beings and continue to grow and thrive. and it's not so we will be taller, bigger, badder, better than anyone else, but so that others may see us grow, and do the same—have the courage to grow where once there was blind courage and no growth—see the inner wisdom that's been kept hidden in the depths of the soul, only to come out and play when the soul knew it was time.
we all have our time, we all have our wisdom, and our time is now and our wisdom is here.
this is what i have to say on this beautiful sunday morning.
Monday, July 26, 2010
shared with you they hold water like salt,
kept from you they hold water like cracked dams
killing the dense population of my mind.
core burns hard within
singes paper mind
healing happens outside me
stumbles alone quietly
through the night dream air
i own reality
among brilliant cats drinking
everglades from gators
harp indigenous jowls kept.
labor mars naivete
offers prayers quick
resolves sore time, used venom
willful xenons yearning zeal.
the great thing about poetry is that it means something different to everyone. we see the words on the page, the screen differently. we share the experiences in our mind with what we see in front of us and we say, oh that makes sense, or i don't get it, or i just can't think about this right now. we hide under the covers, we blow them off, we creep tentatively into the daylight, wondering how we'll be affected, afflicted, inflicted, infected, reflected, rejected. we make up words, signs, wisdom in our heads so when something goes wrong we say, see i told you so, even if just to our inner child who tried to dream one last time.
and in the end, you're still the same you, and i'm still the same me, and time moves on as ever it does, as ever it will.
we will survive. it's all we know how to do.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Courage, from Sept 2008:
From 7 Days:
My father was the epitome of courage, although I didn't realize it until after he died. There was one single moment in my life where everything changed.
My father pulled into the driveway of the placement home I lived in when I was sixteen and said six words.
"It’s your mother. She’s dead, Dian."
And thus began my new life.
When my father got sick two years ago, my first emotion was relief; many more would follow. Since my mother's death I’d spent the better part of fourteen years wondering when my father was going to take his turn. I did not dread his death, but felt relief in moving forward. Forward without the anticipation, the anxiety of wondering how my father was going to leave my life.
My mother left unexpectedly, abruptly; my father gave me time to adjust. Time to say good-bye. Time to say all the things I would need to say in order to bury him without regrets; in order to be buried without regrets.
I wondered for years who would break the news of my father's death to me. It never occurred to me that he would be the one. It never occurred to me that I would walk him through it. It never occurred to me that I would watch his last breath heave into his chest and be slowly released. It never occurred to me that I would feel the last beat of his heart with my own hand on his chest. It never occurred to me that I would cherish that moment; just as I’d learned to cherish those six words my father had spoken all those years ago.
My father was not a man of wealth in large bank accounts, but a man of wealth in the courage he held quietly in his heart. My father loved me, of this I am sure. Not because he told me, but because he showed me. His soul spoke six words to me as I held my hand on my father’s chest.
It’s your father. I’m dead, Dian.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
today i will tell about heaven and earth like this…
ooh baby do you know what that’s worth,
ooh heaven is a place on earth.
when i was young this was just a pop song by a girl i had a crush on
today, i live those words,
live that life
my heaven is being curled up in her arms.
my earth is being tangled in around on with her being.
my heaven is watching him dance and play when he cannot see me.
my earth is throwing a ball back and forth for hours.
my heaven is them.
my earth is me.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
playfully, reality, rawly, really.
i write my truth.
i write my soul.
i allow my self to come out and play.
i cease from hiding and move into being.
i can relax and enjoy the writing without feeling like
i have to
i can let the words roll off the tips of my fingers and live on the page just as they like.
just as they are.
just as i am.
i am free.
i am alive.
Monday, June 7, 2010
my truth says,
you are not alone.
my truth says,
you are big enough,
you are just right.
my truth says,
you are powerful beyond words.
my truth says,
you are powerful with your words.
my truth says,
you are powerful when you
speak your words.
my truth says,
you are perfect.
my truth says,
you are brilliant.
my truth says,
you are already
you are already
my truth says,
you are brave.
my truth says,
your courage is beautiful.
my truth says,
your tears wash away
what no longer is;
the feeling is bliss.
my truth says,
you are all that you need to be;
you are growing.
my truth says,
just be you.
my truth says,
you are worth it.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
This morning I'm enjoying a bit of quiet time, while Erin and Jackson are sprawled on the bed sleeping the morning away, Killer is curled up on the futon enjoying her alone time, and Sly is curled up next to me on the couch (finally finished cleaning himself).
I once thought that I was over my mom's death. Until I realized that whenever someone close to me would bring up their mom I would victimize myself in that I didn't have a mom and how hard it was for me on Mother's Day or her birthday or a random Tuesday because you can call your mom just because you feel like it and I can't. I realized that I had processed my mom's death, but I never processed the anger I felt around it. And so I carried that anger along with me where ever I went. I carried my anger with me to lunches and meetings and relationships and road trips and intimate dinners for two and large parties and into the shower and the bath and on walks and hikes and bike rides and to the grocery store. The anger didn't show up in everything I did nor everyone I talked to, so I thought it was manageable. Until I went through some coaching last month.
Not only did I acknowledge the fact that I was angry with my mom for leaving, for being a bad mother, for teaching me the wrong way to love so had to figure it out on my own, but I also gave myself permission to feel that anger. To really let it out and sob and scream and be ANGRY! I found that expressing this anger didn't take away my love for her, but it let me move past myself so that I could see and be at peace with the wonderful mother I had. While she was terrible at some things, she always did her best to be the best mother she knew how to be. I am who I am largely because of my relationship with my mother, in all its flawed brilliance. And because I felt the anger, because I let it pass through me, because I was willing to feel it and let it go, leave it in the past, I can now move forward a lighter person, without the weight of this bag of anger I carried around for so many years.
Friday, June 4, 2010
i wonder what needs to be said. i wonder what needs to be heard. i wonder what fears lie beneath.
i wonder where i will go next. i wonder where my writing will take me. i wonder what questions are dying to be asked. i wonder what’s dying to come out.
i wonder what i know but don’t say. i wonder what i say but don’t know.
i wonder what’s next. i wonder what a-ha is lurking in the underground. i wonder what’s been left unsaid. i wonder what’s been silent. i wonder what silence will be heard.
i wonder what piece of me is dying inside. i wonder what piece of me is thriving. i wonder what piece of me is feeding off the fear that has hold of my heart.
i wonder when my heart will let go. i wonder when my heart has had enough. i wonder when my soul will step in.
i wonder when my writing will be my soul. i wonder what writing is my soul. i wonder what writing is at the center of my heart, the center of my soul.
i wonder what’s deep. i wonder what’s raw. i wonder what’s inside.
what do you wonder?
Thursday, June 3, 2010
His eyes seemed grayer than the day before, and the stubble on his cheeks and chin had grown quite a bit. A sticky white residue from the tube in his throat being taped to his face for stability was left on his lips and stubble. The nurses and I wiped him down several times, but his face remained greasy from lack of a real bath or shower in more than four days. The flesh on his cheeks was rubbery and plastic. It felt as though it might stretch across the room just as it hung from his bones. I was having to work harder to recognize my father. My father, the man who always bailed me out. The man who always went to work. The man who showed up every time he said he would. The man who always believed in me. The man I could always count on to be there, wherever “there” was. He was always “there”. He took me in when my mother turned me out. He found BILY* and taught me how to communicate. He had all the goods on me, and he loved me anyway. As I stared at this man who had been a part of my last thirty years, I wondered: Who would be there to love me unconditionally as he always did?
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
the place i’m meant to go with my writing and my words is….
deep. raw. inside. what i think people won’t love me for. what i think people will judge me for. what i think people will hate me for.
the place i fear the most. that fear guides me into the fears of others and calls out to come and play, what would stay underground and unheard for years.
where i have feared to go. where others have feared to go. where others have no idea.
the place no one else can get to. the place only i can see. the place only my intuition can shed light on. the place we all need to go.
the place i need to be. if i focus on nothing else, i ought to be focused on what’s dying to come out.
the place i’m meant to go in my writing is the heart. the soul. the center.
[Updated with video below, also as seen on Authentic Realities 6.1.10]
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
of course i was left to sort through what is. what was. and figure out the difference between what was and what is.
the rain. the hospital. the tears. the cancer. the kleenex. the food in the cupboard. the clothes in the closet. the money in the bank. the memories in my mind.
what's real? what's fabricated? what's only my perception?
my perception is my reality.
one foot in front of the other. moving. shifting. changing. growing.
without having to wonder when it was finally going to happen, i could focus on what was next. but then, just what the hell was next?
but let me stay in this moment of brilliance for one more moment. one more moment of relief. one more moment of surrender. one more moment of knowing. one more moment of peace. one more moment of this gift my father has given to me in letting go of this world and giving it to me to do with as i choose.
the funeral can wait one more goddamn minute while i sit here in this peace.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
I'm a DIY kinda girl. Part of that comes from not wanting to ask people questions when I was a kid for fear of getting in trouble, and part of it is going with my father to job after job after job, and not only watching him build decks and fences and furniture, and repair plumbing and electrical and mechanical stuff. He was a carpenter, a plumber, an electrician, a jack-of-all-trades handyman.
My father wasn't much of a technical guy, though. When it came to computers, he relied on me to help him. My father was comfortable with tools in his hand, and I with a computer at my fingertips. I felt like it was a great payback system for all the handy stuff he showed me how to do for myself over the years. It gave me a great sense of pride to be able to teach my father how to do something because I'd learned so much from him over the years.
In the last stage of my father's cancer, he couldn't get up and move much. He was tired all the time from the blockage in his liver and the medication and the cancer. His mind couldn't stay focused on any single thing for too long, but he could stay focused on Freecell.
So I bought him a laptop. Just so he could play Freecell in his lap and not have to get up to it.
The laptop had a huge 17 "screen. He felt like the cards were coming right at him. His birthday had just passed in October, and December/Christmas wasn't quite there, but when it comes to doing something just to see someone smile, there doesn't have to be a special day to do it.
As I'm sitting here going through page after page of the book and looking back at those last 7 days with my dad, I'm drawn to think about not the 7 days, but all the days that led up to the last ones. I still have that ginormous laptop, and I'm pretty sure the only thing it does anymore is play Freecell.
When my father passed away in the January following this for-no-good-reason-other-than-I-love-you-and-want-to-see-you-smile gift to my father, I wondered if I'd wasted the $1,000 I'd spent on it, as I had nearly no use for it.
I can replace that $1,000. What I can't replace is the joy my father took in being able to play Freecell right in his lap. And as long as I remember him, I don't really have to.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Today the dark clouds loiter and take me over. Today the dark clouds soak me into their gloomy existence. Today the dark clouds become me.
I don’t fight the clouds, I let the wispy molecules surround me and hold me to the ground. The wind pushes us around, the sky holds us down, the sun is nowhere in sight.
Today the clouds rule the earth, and I doubt the sun is anywhere behind them. Until she peeks out briefly, as if to taunt me.
I lay in bed and close my eyes again, unwilling to brave the darkness beyond my closed eyelids. Tomorrow’s sun will just have to do.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I didn't really do much thinking, I just walked to the door and asked her to show me where. She pointed the bird out, and I opened the front door to go check it out. I bent down and saw the bird was still alive. I reached my hand out slowly and the bird did not flinch away from me. I felt in my bones that I needed to help this bird.
I called the local animal hospital and they told me to bring the bird in. I grabbed a couple of towels and a paper Gap bag, and went outside. As I approached the bird this time, he began to breathe heavily, look frantically around himself and chirp, presumably for help. Trying not to scare him, I reached with the towel and tried to pick him up. He turned away and began to flutter his wings. He left poop behind on the pavement where he'd just been still. His wings would not work, but he still fluttered them and continued to hop away from me. Just before he reached the fence between our driveway and the neighbor's enclosed grassy area, I scooped him up into the towel and lightly wrapped it around him. I promised him I wouldn't hurt him and that I'd take him to a safe place.
And so I did.
In thinking about the events of the afternoon, it took me maybe 30 minutes to check on the bird, make the call, scoop him up, and drop him off at the animal hospital. When I got home we went about the rest of our evening as if it never happened. And the following morning I couldn't shake the feeling that something divine had happened with that bird.
When I stood at our front door and looked at the bird sitting in the driveway, I felt an immediate connection to him. I also felt an immediate connection to my mother. I didn't hear her voice, but I felt her spirit in every cell in my body. For a split second, I wondered if I should take the bird in and try to rehabilitate it. Until I realized that wasn't me at all, but my mother.
She would have nursed that bird back to health on her own. That's just what she did. And that's just why we had 4 rescued dogs and 8 rescued cats and 3 rescued birds when I was growing up. These weren't animals that she went to the pound or a shelter to save, these were animals she happened upon and couldn't help but take care of them.
Through this experience I get to see how my mom and I are both different and the same. My mom tried to save everything and everyone who crossed her path. Sometimes this was a godsend. And sometimes it was a futile attempt at saving people and things that didn't want to be "saved".
My mother bred me a strong inclination to help others. I have a rescued dog of my own, which we got from a shelter, and 2 rescued cats birthed from a cat I found in the parking lot after a softball game one night 11 years ago. But I've learned that I can't help everyone or everything.
My mother would have taken in that bird and known exactly what to do to get it healthy. That's who she was. Me, I know nothing of how to get an injured bird healthy. I feel like I honored my mother in saving that bird, and honored myself by taking him to a place that could actually help him. This gives me peace.
I don't know why it's important for me to share this story, maybe I just want to share the connection I felt to my mom in order to make it more real. I just know that my "decision" to help happened so fast that I missed the connection to my mother to begin with.
Which is why I'm glad I went back for reflection.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I remember my father telling me about The Visit years after it happened. He said The Visit always made him uncomfortable, but he didn't really understand why until he found out why it should have made him uncomfortable. I only vaguely remembered it when he first recounted it to me, but it stuck out firmly in my father's mind more than 15 years later.
Steven showed up at my father's door on a Saturday I was with my father for the weekend. Steven wanted to take me out bathing suit shopping for an upcoming trip. In the back of my father's mind, he thought that was odd. Steven said he promised me he'd take me since my mother didn’t have time. My father asked me if I wanted to go and I shook my head, "No." Steven left quietly, and nothing more was said about it. That’s how everything went in my family.
Until after my mother died. Apparently a lot of things didn't seem strange until after my mother died.
My grandparents took The Family to Hawaii for 3 weeks during the summer between my 7th and 8th grade years. "The Family" included my grandparents; my uncle, his wife, and his son; and my mom, Steven, and me. Except, my mom was pregnant with my little brother, so she didn't go. My grandparents treated Steven and I as a family and roomed us together when we got to Maui. We'd all stayed in a 3-bedroom villa on both the previous islands, but when we got to Maui, the resort we stayed in didn't have a 3-bedroom villa. So Steven and I got our own room.
I was thirteen years old.
At the time, the events leading up to "The Incident" only seemed a little uncomfortable. Steven had made a daily habit of making sexual comments to me, so I didn't find it out of the ordinary for him to do so while on vacation. He was in constant reverie about how "tight" my body was, or how "firm" my breasts were, and often said he could see me in Playboy Magazine in a couple of years. The first time he put his hands on my breasts, it was uncomfortable, but he made it seem almost like an accident. We were passing each other on the staircase at the house, and his arm swung wide. That's when he commented on the firmness. Steven seemed to know where to draw the line, though, and never made comments about doing anything to me, he simply shared his observations. This became normal. And continued while we were on vacation, as long as he was outside earshot of the rest of The Family.
I was thirteen.
Honestly, I don't remember how many nights we were on Maui. I only know that the day after "The Incident" Steven did not continue on with the rest of The Family, but booked a flight home to go be with my mom.
I was thirteen.
I remember thinking that the sky was beautiful as we drove back to the hotel. We'd spent the day doing things people do in Hawaii. When we got back to the hotel, Steven and I did laundry and found a gecko on the wall in the laundry room. I thought it was gross, and Steven laughed at me for being such a girl. As I pulled the clothes out of the washer and flung them into the dryer, he told me to slow down and shake each article out before putting it in the dryer. This would help it dry faster. For a long time after "The Incident" I refused to shake my clothes out before I put them into the dryer.
I was thirteen.
When the clothes were dry, we pulled them from the dryer and took them back to our room. We folded them. I was used to folding his clothes, as I was the designated laundry folder of the house. He, on the other hand, was not accustomed to folding my clothes. He took specific note of how small and cute my underwear were.
I was thirteen.
He took his pants off and put my underwear on. He danced around the room and laughed at how small the front was, and how his balls barely fit into them. I remember laughing, too.
I was thirteen.
I took a shower to wash the day off. After I got out of the shower, he asked if I wanted a back rub. This was not an out of the ordinary idea. Usually it was me giving him the back rub after he got home from his construction job. He'd shower and then lay naked on the bed face down with a towel over his ass. I don't remember how that got started, but I remember that happening almost every day once it did start. I remember wondering if he pushed his penis between his legs on purpose just so I could see it or if it was just more comfortable that way. Of course, I never asked.
I was thirteen.
I took my robe off and put a towel around my waist. I laid face down on the bed, my back exposed. He climbed on top of my back legs and began massaging my back. For a moment, it felt good. His hands stayed on my back for most of the massage. Until they moved lower. He began massaging my legs. He might have even asked me if it was okay.
I was thirteen.
His hands massaged the back of my legs. Started with the calves and then to the back of the knees, and then to the back of the thighs. And then to the base of my butt. He massaged the inside of my thighs, closer to my knees. Then he began to work his way up. My heart pounded. I did not want him to touch me. But he was on top of me and his hands all over me. I did not want him to touch me, but I could not speak. I pretended to fall asleep. I thought if I was asleep he would stop. I was wrong. His hands moved further up the inside of my thighs and his thumbs touched the opening of my vagina. His thumbs went inside my vagina. I don't know how long I stayed still, hoping he would stop and just go away. When I could finally not stay still any longer, I jumped as if being jolted awake by a noise. When I did, his hands jerked back. He stopped.
I was thirteen.
He might have asked me a question. I might have answered it. He got into the shower. He got out of the shower. I prayed he wouldn't ask me to massage him. He put clothes on and said he was going out for a walk. I don't remember the rest of the evening. When we packed up in the morning, he said nothing to me. When we arrived at the airport to head to our final island of the trip, he announced to my grandfather that he wouldn't go on with us, but he needed to get home to my mom. The Family told me nothing else.
I was thirteen years old.
Two years later I told my mother about The Incident. She asked Steven about it and he denied The Incident. My mother and the rest of the family assumed I’d lied in order to get attention.
Nine months after I told my mother about The Incident, four shots rang out, and my mother was dead. After her death, The Family finally believed what I’d told my mother about Steven. And my father reflected upon The Visit.
The Visit was a month or so prior to The Incident. After my father learned of The Incident, he felt guilty. I don’t know when my father was told, but it wasn’t me who told him. I first learned he knew in a therapy session shortly after my mother's death. He felt that he should have known better. He thought he should have protected me. He believed he was a horrible father for letting someone violate his daughter like that. He thought he should have seen the signs and known what was wrong. I have no doubt that his guilt about The Incident is part of what killed my father.
I know the doctors told us all it was cancer. But I saw the look in my father's eyes as he told me he was so sorry for not protecting me. I believe that look—his guilt—invited the cancer in to take over his life. I tried to explain to my father that The Incident was no one's fault but Steven's, to no avail. It took me years of time and therapy and healing to know in my heart that it wasn't even my fault.
My father preferred to bear the burden of blame, believing it was his burden to bear.
If you suspect physical or sexual abuse, talk to your child. Seek immediate professional help at your local police department, Department of Children's Services office, or check out Child Help online.
Monday, March 15, 2010
it's rare that i think about my mom on the last day i saw her. i prefer to think about all the days before that day because i've worked through most of the pain of that last day and the days to follow. but for the story, today i needed to go back to that day.
here's a little bit of what i remember from way back when...
Come to think of it, it was 7 days from the last time I saw my mom until I found out she was dead. And 7 days from that time until I saw her in the mortuary. I held her hand—no, that’s a lie. You can’t say that you held someone’s hand when they’re dead and they don’t know you’re holding it, can you? When they’re not holding your hand back?there are so many parallels between my mother's and father's deaths. and still, they were nothing alike.
I entered the room. Was anyone with me? Must have been because I remember asking for some time alone with her. My grandmother was skeptical about leaving me alone with her. So was my father, but he might have known better than to attempt persuading me not to. They left the room and a silence I’d never heard before filled the room. My mother was in the room, but there was no laughter. There were no jokes. There were no rules or restrictions. She wasn’t ever going to ground me again or tell me to get off the phone again or tell me anything, ever again.
I went to a funeral with my mom when I was thirteen. This was nothing like that. I thought I was sad when Brandy Fernandez died. But if that was sadness, it felt nothing like this. I’d heard before that when you lose someone you love it feels like your heart is being ripped out. I didn’t believe them until I felt the tearing of my flesh beneath my skin. It was slow and subtle at first, and then like chains and pulleys had been wrapped around it to be pulled out of my chest. I was afraid to look for fear of seeing blood drip from my wounded soul.
Someone—who was it? My father? My therapist? A stranger walking down the street?—suggested I write a letter to my mom and tell her all the things I wished I could have before she died. To share my soul with her on paper, then read it aloud to her; to her spirit. I pulled myself together as best I could and did what I was told. I began reading. One word and then another. I began to sob. I kept reading. Through sobs, I focused on the words on the page and getting them out. And while I read I missed her. I missed my mom. I wanted to hold her hand again. I wanted to feel the warm touch of my mother’s hand just one more time. Without thinking about what I was doing, I reached my hand into her casket and put my hand on hers. This is where I wonder if I held her hand.
It wasn’t supposed to feel like that.
I remember walking in the room now; an image that’s stuck in my mind all these years. Nothing looked liked her except her lips and her hands. I never noticed how much our hands looked alike until that day. But they no longer felt alike.
I couldn’t believe what I felt against my skin. Just like the silence I’d never knew existed, I felt a coldness no living person can ever truly understand. For all of my sixteen years, my mom had the warmest hands I’d ever felt.
They comforted me while having thorns pulled from my shins after running through rose bushes. Dried tears of sorrow and incomprehension with just a hug when she knew words held no meaning. Those hands cared for me more than I ever realized I would miss. And to touch them with no warmth, only ice seeping through her pores, stunned me.
I struggled to breathe for a moment and stumbled away from the casket. I dropped to my knees and sobbed. Loudly. I could think of nothing but the hole in my chest that I could feel but not see.
As I sat beside myself in grief I heard a door creak open. I looked towards the entrance to the room and have a vague recollection of shooing away whoever had checked in on me. I was embarrassed at being unable to hold myself together. I quickly stood up, wiped tears and snot from my cheeks and chin, and then continued the letter from where I’d left off before I’d distracted myself with my mother’s hands.
After finishing the letter, I folded it back up, and tucked it under those cold hands, leaving it to be cremated with her.
Looking back, I wish I’d kept a copy of that letter. At the time I’d been angry that my last moments with my mother had been disturbed, but I said nothing. Instead, I felt cheated and kept it to myself. The last mother-and-daughter moment I would ever have was cut short and there was nothing I could do to get it back.
Friday, February 26, 2010
february 29, 2008
i started reworking my book about my dad this month and the progress has been pretty good. it’s hard to know what’s the right thing to write, what i should leave in, what should be left out and sometimes even knowing what i’m comfortable writing.
i’m going back and forth between my dad’s childhood and the way he was raised and the effect it had on him as an adult and then as a parent. and then it forces me to talk about how all of that affected how i was raised, how i chose to receive the parenting i got from him and how i raised myself in his absence during the week.my dad was a weekend dad from the time my parents got divorced until i was fourteen. that’s when my mom decided i was too hard to handle and that my dad needed to take the reigns as the non-fun parent with all the rules. it was quite a change from what i’d been used to from my dad as a parent.
i was excited to move in with my dad because i’d always had fun when escaping to his house for the weekend. only it wasn’t weekend dad's anymore. he noticed things like what time i got home from school and whether or not i’d done homework. it was like he was talking to my mom...learning tricks of the trade or something.
with my dad’s new-found interest in my life outside of tagging along with him to friday through sunday softball, i found it hard to like him as much as i had before i moved in. he wanted to know where i’d been, who i’d been with, what i’d been doing, and why i got back so late. the prying into my personal life was invasive, at best.
even though i was no longer living with my mom—and more importantly, her boyfriend—the issues that had been created while i did live there still lingered. since my dad didn’t get home from work until after 6pm on most nights, i had to go to my mom’s after school. only, my mom didn’t get home until after 5pm, which meant i shared empty space with steven from the time i got there until my mom came home.
after the hawaii incident, he didn’t touch me at all. he still looked at me like i belonged on in a section of playboy without words, and he still made inappropriate comments from time to time. but i could live with that, as long as he didn’t touch me anymore. only, my dad didn’t know about any of that yet.
at fourteen, i felt like an adult. i’d had my own key to the house out of necessity of letting myself in since i’d been in first grade. i’d been stealing my dad’s truck at least once a week and taught myself to drive a stick in doing so since i was thirteen. i’d had sex by then, and while i understand much more about it all now, i really thought i had a handle on the world and people and knew how things should work.
i’d had the example of an alcoholic single mom who divorced a man she loved but didn’t want to be married to; who divorced another man who decided that he wanted to be with another woman; and who refused to marry a man who probably cheated on her numerous times (and what of his thoughts and actions with me?) but she couldn’t bear the thought of another failed relationship. so she stayed, portraying misery as the foundation of any relationship worth having.
i’d been drunk on numerous occasions and smoked more pot between the ages of twelve and fourteen than i ever have after. i’d tried lsd, coke, and speed but only stuck to speed (due to the ease of acquiring it, even when i did have to pay for it). i’d been arrested five times before i turned fifteen.
i was sure i was all grown up.
and in all of this, i was still fourteen. i was still three years away from getting my driver’s license. i was still four years shy of being able to vote. seven years short of legally being able to drink. only two years away from losing my mom (as it turned out) and becoming more adult than i ever could have imagined. at fourteen, even with all my experience, i was still a child; still in need of parenting. only my dad just didn’t know how.
his father left his mother for another woman when my dad was a teenager. his step dad beat him with a stick that my dad had to go find himself in the yard. the navy showed my dad how to smoke pot (or at least, his fellow seamen did), so even though he earned a free education on the GI Bill, it almost went to waste because he smoked pot and played softball more than he went to class. luckily he was somewhat of a genius and ended up with a degree in history, which he never had the confidence to use.
as told by my dad, he muddled through his twenties, thirties, and even forties unsure of what he wanted to do with his life. he was a good man though, aside from all his faults and absentee parenting he received as a child. he found a way at some point to salvage something of fatherhood and began to take care of me. i didn’t realize he was doing it at the time--i thought he was just trying to piss me off. turns out he knew a little more than me.
turns out we’re not always the bad part of what our parents taught us. my dad never beat me. my dad only loved me. i was able to escape alcoholism because of my awareness of my mom and grandfather never fully getting a handle on it. my dad was extremely patient with me as i began to reveal the details of the (my) “relationship” with my mom’s boyfriend. in the end, i think he internalized too much of the blame and may have been part of what caused his death. i’m not saying guilt causes cancer, but the toxins that it does create certainly don’t maintain a pure environment for the body—guilt certainly doesn’t provide energy for the immune system to fight off even a cold, let alone the cancer that overtook his body for death in just fourteen months time.
my parents spent most of their lives trying to escape their respective childhoods (and maybe their adulthoods, as well). my mom and her abusive father. my dad and his abusive step-father. the drugs and bad relationships. the always trying to please everyone but themselves. they spent their whole lives trying to escape instead of trying to let go.
and still, here i am. in all this realization of lives and loss and regret and remorse and letting go of things i never knew i was holding onto, i still have so much more to learn, so much more to let go of. like the idea that my parents were perfect, just because they’re dead. they were parents and they were human. and if not for how they raised me, i would not be who i am today. and so, all i can do is be grateful. i wish it were as easy as it sounds.