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Thursday, August 31, 2006
this morning i was riding the tram from the "bobcat" stadium to the university campus. i had on my headphones. i think i listened to an edith frost song that i didn't recognize, a dawn landes song. there was a boy in a green shirt with a curly mohawk and a sweatband. he was right in my line of vision so i remember him. when you're standing up on the bus, clinging to a vertical steel rod, fighting inertia by a graceless kind of DDR, and your elevation causes the view out the window to be reduced by 75 percent, and all you can see is grass and the bottom of loads of laundry drying on the line, if you're listening to... wait, i can look it up to remember... sufjan and stereolab, but the one i remember without looking it up is up, bustle, and out (everyone should have their records). i stepped off the bus to this great song with flutes and brass and tabla and flamenco guitar and oneness received me. i've heard that flamenco dancers can kill themselves by jarring their organs too much, and that it happens. among flamenco dancers. i'm so glad i get to go to school. i get to ride around on a bus and walk to and from stately buildings with my headphones on. and study weird sh*t. i get to spend 8 hours twice a week comepletely cultivating myself. and hosea spends eight hours with a wonderful lady who loves him. i am thankful, for financial aid and a baseline energy level at which i feel i have arrived since motherhood that sets me up for studying well. and myriad other factors. thank you thank you thank you! right now charlie mingus is on in the bedroom and i can hear it. there has never been music that has affected me like charlie mingus's epics. i don't know why i should relate to it so much, but it makes my blood boil. admittedly, my blood is at a ready simmer most of the time. hosea started liking "take five" by dave brubeck, pretty early. it was baby crack*, kind of like those einstein things. it would calm him down so well. but, god knows, we listened to that baby mozart thing thirty, forty THOUSAND times. oh infants. i'm so glad that my beloved son is no longer an infant, that i actually feel like it's right on my heels and at any moment, it could snap me back up and i would again be the mother of an infant. and, in fact, i am sexually active, and would most certainly carry any baby conceived to term if possible, so it could, potentially, BE right on my heels. the mingus brass is sounding like baby wail occasionally. must be hard to not know what the sh*t is going on in your environment but still feel subject to its effects. of course, that's just a different scale from our own rampant and inescabable ignorance about what in samhell is happening in this existence. so i guess if hosea wailed, i'd go pat him on the back and let him know it would be allright if he just went back to sleep. why do we, syntactically, speak of things that could be as if they are in the past?
*this phrase, specifically to describe baby mozart, came from jamie royer. thank you jamie. she's also the wonderful lady who cares for my son. thanks, again.
At the end of the summer the light is a little hazy. I planted new mums in the pots that were up on our little deck. They were good replacements for the scraggly marigolds and the wan pansies that had been in there.
Two small children, a puppy, and a woman arrived in our yard in the middle of my work day. The boy said to me: "Look. I brought my Harry Potter sword and I'm wearing my cape. In case there's any trouble." The girl said "Watch what I'm doing." She began to jump. "Look what I'm wearing. This is not my shirt. It's Kit's." The woman asked me, "Can your dog come out and play with our dog?" I said "Sometimes he runs away. He doesn't understand our commands yet." She said, "I'll watch them carefully." I let our dog out into the yard.
I went back to my work. I was smiling because of the guests in our yard. I worked at my computer, with half an ear to what they were doing.
My daughter came and stood by me. She was having a tired day. Earlier she had not felt well. Now she was just needing attention. I suggested that she read her new magazine and sit on the porch by me.
Our son came home from band practice. He has a new cell phone. I am trying not to worry about it or think that it could drop out of his pocket. I worked at my computer some more.
The guests in our yard left. The dog came inside and laid down on the porch. A woman walked by, pushing a baby in a stroller. The baby was sleeping.
The phone rang. It was a man telling me that the new garage door would be installed on Monday and they would call between 7 and 8 a.m.
A friend who repairs musical instruments came over to pick up our son's saxophone. I gave him my flute to fix up too.
Then it was time to be done with my work. I needed to get ready to go babysit my nephew. I needed to call my husband and tell him that I was leaving and that he'd have the kids tonight. Our middle daughter was at a sleepover.
Such is my life today. August. About to jump into September. Treading water in the middle of the end of the summer.
As we join the story already in progress, Babyloni Yoni, our favorite Austin white witch, has suddenly found herself and her life slowly being whittled away. With a marriage and sanity gone south, she scoops up the babies and heads a different direction, away from Austin, away from Greenman (her ex) to a new, and old, home.
You realize pretty quickly that you are not in Austin anymore. This ain't Dallas -- heck, it's not even anything like Shreveport. I keep wondering what I'm doing here and why I'm in this handbasket. Down the road from my mother's house, there's a salvage shop and any day you drive past you are sure to see one or two of a wide assortment of Sanford and Son type junkers out there in the driveway. I guess they're dropping off loads of junk or having a brew and a marlboro with Sweaty, the owner, out on the sticky tar asphalt. Whatever. One night, I was driving and crying. I was bawling like a freak to the degree that I knew I was making the Laura Dern style ugly face from Blue Velvet (or was it Wild at Heart? I cannot remember... anyway). I'd had a nearly stroke-producing anxiety attack in the middle of the damn grocery store.
The sadness of leaving my husband and Austin is coming up in strange ways -- sudden geysers of unpredictable magnitude in the most inappropriate places. It was Walmart. I melted the fuck down. I don't want to shop at Walmart. Ok, for good measure, let me repeat myself:
I DON'T FUCKING WANT TO SHOP AT WALMART, GODDDAMMMMITTTT!!!!!!
But I was there anyway because I needed groceries and I went to the local Albertsons whose produce sucked so much ass it looked like a freshly fucked buttplug, mmmkay? Ok, so I'm thar at the Walmart and I lost it. I tried to call a friend. She wasn't home. I tried to eat a mother's little helper... no drink and too dry to swallow. When I finally got out of the fuckforsaken pit of plastic, my longing for my lost relationships, husband, home, city and life was so strong and overwhelming that I felt the pain acutely in my body -- even my uterus ached and the memories of living in this town years ago (in the same bedroom, even, which actually features a large portrait of me, round and fecund, he draped around me like a sexy man-glove) and growing our first baby were so physical.
I feel so pathetic, coming back empty handed in the husband department and strangely, I was tremendously sad about the emptiness in my womb which seemed to offset the emptiness in my OtherParts so perfectly. Oh, woest is me... I cannot see through the tears, the headlights of oncoming cars are like kaleidoscopic tunnels that wail a siren song of release and I hit the accelerator, crank the volume of the music... "Oh, tear it down/bed slats and all/tear it down/ if you catch another mule kickin' in yo' stall/ you gotta tear it down..." and consider deeply swerving, eyes wide open, into the pretty lights refracting off the surface of my tearwater. I didn't, obviously, but I felt the jolt of electric fear and adrenaline zipping through my roots and I knew I'd come close.
A few moments later, turning down my mom's street, I was rewarded by this little gem... at the junker shop, down the road, there was an unusually festive, heap o'shit truck; the sides emblazoned with the Texas and US flags, respectively. Dead center of the tail gate, there had been affixed a toilet seat. On the lid, in a mentally-ill-style font, in red electrical tape, is the following message:
Be PRaPARED sHIT HaPPENs
It was like god herself came down from the clouds and whopped me on the cheek with her wise cock of glory. Suddenly, the dark sky cleared and I saw a shooting star. Off to live another day... preparing for the shit that is yet to come. Thar wraps up this week's episode of "Tales from the Incognito City Witch Observing the Locals Whilst Living Under the Radar." Tune in next time when I discuss "Therapy: To Go with One's Mother or to Run Like Hell?"
Y'all come back now, ya hear. _________________________________ Babyloni Yoni is the swamp-born mama of two young goddesses whose names translate into "Life" and "Will". A genius waitress, professional kitchen witch and domestic goddess extraordinaire, Babaloni Yoni has a passion for irreverence and hooch dancing and she envisions a life of off-the-grid harmony. Currently unemployed, she spends her time in search of the perfect troubadour, playing house and lulling the voices in her head into submission with large doses of homegrown music and the powerful love of her family. She is part of an amazing community of mothers, artists, musicians and freewheelin' freaks who know just how much it means to have a crunchy floor and happy kids while simultaneously keepin' it weird. You can contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Walking the path to salvation is no easy feat, my friends, and even though it sounds good in a biblical, Zen master kind of way, I can't say that I would have chosen to stay that particular course on anything other than principle. I found myself there, at the corner of Forlorn and Fuckforsaken, during the darkest night of my soul. Tripping in deep furrows I took for potholes, I cried and cussed. A lot. I later discovered that the potholes were actually the fossilized footprints of the hundred gazillion feet that had pounded that brutal ground in solitary stampedes over a millennium. I felt very small there and not having a map added to my overall sense of directionless gut-level despair.
I guess I was sleepwalking when I left Greenman. I hit the road and headed east in search of answers and solace, destined for the home of arch nemesis number one: my mother. I had been sick in both head and body for a long time and the illness was consuming and absolute. I think I understand now, that condition they talked about in the olden days and its apt name: "consumption." Something was preparing to eat me alright. I could smell my own flesh cooking. I saw the blistering and heard the crunch of bone and felt the tug against stringy sinew. My sedentary muscles too were just too weak to fight and it was all I could do to hunker down and play possum then run away first chance. I could not think straight thoughts anymore and the grip I'd willed myself to maintain had faded to fingerprints, my own hands invisible on the wheel. Everything was complicated and my physical body had become so heavy and dense that breathing and moving was difficult and anger producing. My chronic low-level anxiety had become a symphony of screaming internal pain and were it not for my children I would have killed myself dead, dead, dead.
My mother met us with hugs and genuine happiness and, in addition to making space in her home, she had armed herself with joint therapy sessions for the two of us. What a strange and wonderful thing. She rearranged her home to accommodate a play nook, making places for mock cooking and beds for sleeping dollies. My sweet mama set up a comfortable room for us with plenty of drawer space and a satellite radio. Her dog and cat became our instant trauma assistance specialists, entertaining us with wild antics and messy affection before we could ever get too sad. Her partner, a gruff good ol' boy of the Republican persuasion, thoughtfully stocked the refrigerator with Shiner Bock, just for me and this small act of thoughtfulness was so touching that his typical behavior didn't faze me in the slightest. In their own funny ways they rose to the occasion, nurturing me out of my hole with gentle nudges, beer and backwater jokes. They played Granny and Paw-Paw games with my girls and bonded with them over cookouts, fishing excursions and swampland boat rides. The time provided me with a real face-to-face opportunity to get off my ass and remember my roots and there were many precious, fleeting moments where I felt things--powerful things I had forgotten in my earliest years. From the start, the kids had a blast and I learned how to let go of some of my closely guarded neuroses. I had my moods and occasionally acted like the mentally ill person I felt like and my family let me be in that place without consequence. Before this trip, my mother and I could not get through a three-day visit without one of us being utterly convinced that the other needed committing or at least a prescription for some strong anti-crazy medicine. In previous years, her boyfriend was a source of endless irritation for me and he seemed to like it that way. Going there in dire straits must have somehow provided just the right climate for my mother to welcome me in perfect love and perfect trust and I guess he just followed suit out of love for her and something approaching "like" for me. Warily, mom and I tiptoed around for a day or two until our first session with the therapist. Everything went surprisingly well. As I gave the guy a brief history in the life and trials of my family, I got the distinct benefit of watching her nod, never arguing, speaking only to add details to my grisly cliff notes version of the background we share. I cannot explain how satisfying that was to me. There was no arguing, no fireworks... in short, it was a very civilized affair which fell dreadfully short of my imaginings which had us on par with the Jerry Springer genre. My desperate need to get my head above water had sent me to an unlikely place and somehow the horrible act of leaving my children's father metamorphosed into a road trip royale. It was my first vacation since having children. We didn't go to the beach but I did get to apply for government assistance and if you've ever been to the welfare office, you know just how delightful that can be.
This is not my first flames-to-ashes-to-life-again episode, and I am not foolish enough to believe that it will be my last. I have lived my adult life in the typical fashion of any self-made drama queen with little capacity for authentic self worth or reliance. Changing that sort of thing feels like it will require Herculean strength and I am not sure what will fuel me aside from raw will and magnetic attraction to the theatrics of the act of dumping and sorting out the "ignore box" of my mind. The chance to become somebody new is irresistible. I was initiated Pandora on the very night the Greenman and I met and my experience of life was forever changed by those self imposed rites of passage. We frolicked and roiled about the hill country woods naked and wine-crazed, goddess and consort and--let me tell you--since that spring equinox 8 years ago, I know all about the box empty but for Hope. Hell, who am I kidding?! Three weeks later, even Hope bolted out the door and scuttled away, hiding under some parked cars. That was the night I told Greenman I was pregnant and that I was his for keeps. I didn't hear from Hope again even though I left the porch light on for her until the bulb burned out and by then I'd forgotten why it had been on anyway.
After it seemed apparent that god had screwed me over, I reacted to the situation as I have with countless busted relationships: first comes the standard cold shoulder, then stony silence and the occasional random verbal abuse coupled with hurled objects for good measure. Finally there's the yelling, raging, snot-flying banshee routine. Like, "Fuck off, god, you sorry joke of a piece iconoclastic plastic dogshit, we don't need your bull-larkery today, now take that!" Well, as it always goes with me, over time, I soften despite myself and my sworn grudges erode. I wax retentive and wane expulsive, bi-polar without rhyme or reason. Why do I do that? Is it a deeply ingrained facet of my double Scorpio nature? Is it because I learned in childhood that everyone was out to get me? Was it the old adage my mom was fond of pounding into me... "Screw me once shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me"? I guess nobody really can say and it is a pontification without purpose because the outcome is the same whether or not I was dicked around and stripped of my shamelessness from an early age by my peeps. Any way you slice it, free will and personal evolution dictate that we make our own beds and lie in them to boot, so I'd just as soon have some clean sheets and fluffy pillows on mine and there have been times when I wasn't above lying and stealing to get them. After awhile, everybody gets tired of the piss and moan blues, no matter how justified the gripe. I'm learning that I just can't stay in the bad places of broken sad or blind fury anymore. It's exhausting and it makes me doubt my own perceptions. Self-fulfilling prophecies suck when they're about bad shit that you have manifested all by your lonesome. There will never be any shortage of asswheels drawn like moths to the flame of the flashing "victim" sign over your head. I hear a voice that says "Turn off the neon light, mama, it is time to be okay in the dark... you're a big girl now."
For years, my greatest source of pride came from my accomplishments as a mother and wife. Really the term "psuedo wife" is more apropos, as Greenman and I knew one another for exactly 3 weeks the night that Thing One was conceived in a drunken haze of sex magick and debauchery, under the light of a full moon on Beltaine eve. Over the months and years, we tempered ourselves one into the other and things were mostly amicable. I held my tongue a lot and he worked most of the time. I learned how to cook for a man and he learned how to change diapers. We smoked a lot of grass and I tried to hold his interest. I was no match for the sci-fi channel, apparently, and by the time Thing Two was tumbling and rolling, oblivious, in my dark waters, I was two steps away from leaving Greenman for good. He'd since made it clear he'd rather not touch me with the neighbor's dick unless it was absolutely necessary. There were incidents. There were careless words and insults that went all the way down to the belly pooch I still carried 5 months after first giving birth, the enlarged pores on my face and the loose skin I acquired after losing 70 pounds in the three months following my second birth. If it was painful for him to look upon my swollen, gestating body it was nigh on impossible for him to look at me directly postpartum when my fuckability quotient was so diminished in his eyes. For whatever reason, he could not grant me the tenderness I so desperately beat his door down for. I huffed and I puffed but he wouldn't let me in.
Maybe it's because I was unpleasant and foul tempered--something like a cross between a rabid hyena and a queen rhino who forgot to take her nerve pills. It didn't help matters any that by my sixth month, my personal couture was comprised of mu-mu chic and flip-flops. I felt like a living, breathing version of Roseanne Barr's character in the movie She-Devil. Looking back on this time, my friend Sarah says it was just a matter of my inner ugly coming out. Simply put folks, shit just went downhill from there and no matter what I tried, it never got good again for long. I pled and griped, whispered and crooned, one moment placating and the next hostile and belligerent. I easily bought the notion that there was some great thing I was lacking and so, by virtue of this imagined deficiency, I felt that I could somehow become worthy of the things I held so dear but saw so little of. If only I just could be prettier, thinner, busier, friendlier, a better housekeeper, a gourmet cook, a fancier fucker. In time, my mood swings increased, his walls thickened and gradually, I became someone that, secretly, I wouldn't have wanted to be sweet to either. Greenman simply faded into the scenery. He was a pro at living under the radar amid the wallflowers and branches and it was as if his body was a placeholder for a soul who was out to lunch on the astral plane. Eventually, I vowed that if things weren't different by the time Thing Two was three years old and of a proper weaning age that I would break it off. I guess it was always there in the back of my mind after that, so it doesn't come as a great surprise that my deciding to R-U-N-N-O-F-T (insert Mississippi drawl) would happen this year, two months shy of the Littlest Thing's fourth birthday. Seems to be true what they say about always being right where you are, no matter where you go. Ears are crafty little organs. They jettison your words right to the part of your brains that knows how to hold on to what you will, even after your conscious mind has opted for denial. Years of frustration and expectations simmered in the pot with an economy sized portion of self-loathing. Add to the mix a bouquet of dysfunctional breeding and just a pinch of Greenman's own weird dross and you get a heaping helping of homemade awful boiling over onto the pretty white stove.
I'm still scrubbing at the residual muck, having discovered that only elbow grease gets the job done. Sensitivities have instilled in me a great disdain for chemicals to make the job easier and the internal voices hawk and crow raucously when I try to take the crowded path of the masses. Messes must be cleaned and there's no way to the other side except straight through the middle. To that end, Thing One once barfed Amy's Organic Shells and Cheese all over the floor at my feet, creating a mess that I had no clue how to clean and it actually took me several long moments to grok that nobody else was going to swoop down and take care of it for me. It's like that sometimes, I guess -- a foul undigested puddle of excrement on the kitchen floor of your life, and there's nothing to do but to grab a handful of yuck and bail yourself the hell out and getting your hands dirty is a simple fact of the matter. Leaving a husband, walking out of the life that felt like it belonged to someone else, watching a beloved city disappear in the rear view mirror on the road back to your Mama -- these are the things that sometimes have to be done in order to begin the arduous process of cleaning up a big mess that's been sitting too long. I really thought I was going it alone until god came up behind me in line at a backwoods Wal-Mart, goosing me with a fat stick of pepperoni while I bent to clear the bottom of my cart. She's a riot, that god chick, and man, does she get off on making me laugh. Life's much funnier now that she's back and I find myself engaging with other people in ways that, just a few weeks ago, were far too energy consuming, too frivolous. Much to my own surprise, with god hanging out on the sidelines (doing the boom-boom dance in naught but Wellies, a lampshade and a gorilla mask), I managed to do a 360, tearing down some walls, reinforcing a few of the shaky parts of my foundation and even spackling a hole or two along the way. My dark night has been long but the scary black shapes flanking me are becoming illuminated by the soft glow of dawn's sweet rosy ass. I have never been happier to see the morning sun, friends, and even though I know that midday will be hotter than hell at audit time, I am humbled and grateful. I made it through the night. _______________ Babyloni Yoni is the swamp-born mama of two young goddesses whose names translate into "Life" and "Will". A genius waitress, professional kitchen witch and domestic goddess extraordinaire, Babaloni Yoni has a passion for irreverence and hooch dancing and she envisions a life of off-the-grid harmony. Currently unemployed, she spends her time in search of the perfect troubadour, playing house and lulling the voices in her head into submission with large doses of homegrown music and the powerful love of her family. She is part of an amazing community of mothers, artists, musicians and freewheelin' freaks who know just how much it means to have a crunchy floor and happy kids while simultaneously keepin' it weird. You can contact her via email at email@example.com
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