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Sunday, June 17, 2007
the women in my family of origin were known for having raging mean cases of premenstrual syndrome. but the term "PMS" meant something altogether else. it is the monogram of the man in our lives, my stepdad, michael. when he and my mom re-met, in line at the grocery store, after decades of not knowing each other, he became the first producing artist i had ever met, the first texas trivia buff i had ever met, the first hot-pepper-eating-pearl-beer-drinking-kierkegaard-spewing-scirocco-driving- gallery-running ticklemonster i had ever met. and he became the first example of what a good man should look like. i. had. ever. met. he took abuse, more and more it seems throughout the years. my sister cried through their entire wedding. while he was recovering from a major surgery on his abdomen in which cancerous tissue was excised, he discovered i had pilfered $600 bucks from his checking account with his ATM card. one evening, when my mom was out of town, i came home after 12 hours of LSD and broke down and he just talked to me. he picked me up from ballet. he picked me up from drama rehearsal. he picked me up at the municipal court at midnight while i was there protesting a friend's arrest. he picked me up from jail. twice. he used to make our lunches for school and everyday he would draw a cartoon and a joke, or an endearment. and he was talented at it! last year, when i was sitting with my family at dinner on a return visit, i expressed to them how sorry i was that i had hurt them, that i had messed up so badly when i lived in their house. and mess up badly i did. very very badly. he looked at me and said, "that wasn't you." plain and simple. it wasn't me. he has loved me so much for so many years that the part of me that sins he can't even recognize. he reflects jesus to me. and he shows me what a daddy is supposed to look like. as a result, i was able to choose a husband, and eventual dad for my own child, who is good and kind and forgiving and selfless. PMS is now "pop." my son is obsessed with "pop's hat." and they are great friends, becoming greater. pop and i have a connection; he is one of the most tangible pieces of evidence that god exists for me, because i can't imagine another dad coming along that was more suited to my weirdness, or another daughter coming along more suited to his. this father's day is for him. happy father's day, dad!
on the mornings i wake up and there is no intense sun jetting through the tiny crack allowed by my curtains, my heart leaps. maybe it will rain!!!! i always play this game with myself, excitement and anticipation. maybe i feel like the rain will wash away sins, maybe it's a diversion, maybe things will cool off, maybe the grass will grow, maybe my boy will want to go puddle-diving with me and a rainbow umbrella.
but i should know by now that the clouds over austin are pregnant, overdue, and that they usually have stillbirths. like i said to my dear friend, though, the green is greener. what am i to make of that? where are we in all of it? there is beauty even in an aborted promise of the sky and there is respite in our smallness as we shake our meager fists at it.
today feels heavy, laden, blancing on a razor's edge: morosity on one side, ecstasy on the other. maybe today i will shut off my central processing unit and become a vehicle for sensory input. tiny arms wrapped around my neck, hot bitter liquid rolling down my throat, rumbling clothes dryer, a few withered leaves hiding among the turgid ones, beads of sweat sussed out of my pores in a diffusive scramble to get where the party's at.
a beeping when it backs up.
all mundane, but all sparkly 'cause it all keeps being made of molecules.
we were approaching austin sunday night during the lightning storm. my heavens! we had dropped off the critter at my sister's house in kyle to spend the night, and were on our way to see mice parade at emo's. as we hit the city limits, we could see the lightning in panorama, literally covering the horizon and maintain a high tempo. it wasn't till i saw the first flash to the right, and not to the front, that i realized.... "oh. we're driving into that. right."
by slaughter we could feel the hair on the backs of our necks standing up. my teeth were vibrating. and there were bolts showering down all around us. the rain got too thick to see much of anything by riverside, so we pulled over and parked in front of somebody's house. we made out until she came out on her porch to see what the storm was doing.
when we got downtown, it was virtually vacated. we had an hour to kill, and were hungry. it was still raining pretty hard, but it was warm. we just let ourselves get soaked it felt so nice. as we walked up sixth, though, i thought to myself "wow. there are a lot of homeless people out tonight." and then, like lightning, it hit me. there weren't more than usual, it's just that EVERYONE ELSE HAD LEFT DOWNTOWN AND GONE HOME. i have never had a more visceral understand of homelessness than i did seeing those neighbors huddle under awnings, tear neck holes in garbage bags, and set their teeth against the weather. i imagined what it had been like for them while the full rage of the storm had been about them. i was in a comfortable toyota with my kind husband keeping the vehicle steady. they were subject to the full force of those strikes. did anyone get hit? they are abused, whored out, living in their own vomit, addicted to whatever gets them through a night on a bench, untreated, unrecognized, dispossessed, and they are our NEIGHBORS. they are not hoarding resources which could be ours. i could have given them my huge comfy yellow raincoat and they probably would have given it away as soon as it stopped raining.
i am scared of them. i am even more scared of the ones who are not white than the ones who are. what did i do with those people? nothing. nothing except grok that they are people. but i resolve that something will be done. it must, right?
I became a mother by surprise, the result of a spontaneous couch excursion as the male half was leaving to return a video. Nothing could have resurrected me from the solipsis and thrill-seeking like this peculiar brand of salvation did. And I named him thus... "Salvation." He is another person, and though I have a piquant sense of his childishness, I believe in his independence. Everyday I find ways to establish my identity other than him and every day his, but as he grows they seem to mingle more and more. He makes me love more. Sunshine more. Sigur Ros more. Trees more. Tragedy more. I often don't believe this earth will tolerate us for many more years, and when I think of him, I see war and strife in his future. I write to push the war out. To name that demon and demand that it get behind me. I believe in his right to live and to provide life. I believe he is a child of the cosmos. And he welcomes me here...
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