Archive for July, 2009

kid stuff

“You need a Thunderbird, Mama.”


“Yes! I love Thunderbirds!”

She loves Thunderbirds. Well, at least it has a bird in it. Say motorcycle. M-O-T-O-R-C-Y-C-L-E. Then we’ll have something to talk about,  kid.

She also informed me this morning that she wants a gold tooth. Just like the tough cat in Garfield. Egads! She knows how to shock her mother.

And, she’s been on a two week campaign for a DS game system. She’s gotten so fixated on this that she’s taken to cutting out rectangles from construction paper and drawing the controls and screen on, then cutting out a little pointer stick. She’s succeeded in getting me to feel a touch guilty, but little else. Good luck, kiddo.



Watched The Reader a couple of nights ago. I’m a bit haunted by it. I’d have to say that I loved it, but it’s not a romp in joy land. Though I liked the sex scenes alot. Have to admit that too. Sex and literature. In the bed! What a pair. Some would disagree with me, but Hannah is a fascinating character. Not easily likable, and not easy to sympathize with.

I think I can because watching Hannah was alot like watching my mother…though we’ll never catch Roz, it’s pretty safe to say, locked in passion (ok, I got that from Vicky Christina Barcelona, another flick I just loved) with a much younger man/boy. Roz much prefers older men. She and I disagree on that matter. But we both agree on keeping it legal. Just so you all don’t go wondering about me.

My mother appears simple, even naive and inspite of her age; innocent, even, but the more I’ve come to understand her (yes, I think of her alot, as faithful readers all know here), she’s incredibly complicated to my eyes.

Not long after she married…oh, maybe a month or two after the fact, my uncle Arthur observed to her sister as my mother waded in her swimsuit, that “Quack-Quack is pregnant.” My aunt disagreed. Even married, my mother seemed virginal and chaste, right down to her nurse’s whites. There is nothing remotely sexual about my mother, and that’s not just because she’s my mother. I chalk it up to her being a Virgo. However, she did go on to produce six children out of ten pregnancies. Go figure. But that’s  another story, perhaps. Crazy stories. I might tell you sometime, in someway, if I can figure out some way to actually say it. And then, I might not.

My mother’s been named Quack-Quack in her family since she was very little. Because she talks so much! All the time. Quickly, rapidly. Quack-Quack says a lot without actually saying much. I think she feels a need to expel her natural nervousness by filling the air with noise. There’s a lot of noise, both literal, and symbolic, in Quack-Quack’s world. Her house is a maize of narrow tunnels and passageways occupied and obstructed by  various treasures and duplicates of things she or anyone else just might need someday. There is probably more stuff than air, actually, by now. We, her children, fear for her safety in such a creation, but despair, after many lost battles, of ever changing it. I think of dealing with that house in the aftermath of…the inevitable…and I just want to cry.

Quack-Quack had done some pretty horrible things to us, her children, long, long ago. The specifics are unimportant details here. Through the years, with time and distance as a buffer, probably, Quack-Quack acknowledges by apologizing in a diffuse and non-specific ways, the damage. Like Hannah, it’s what Quack-Quack actually doesn’t say (for her, a miracle, really), that offers up the tiniest evidences of remorse. I know the tiny shreds betray beneath those meek offerings vast, perhaps bottomless, volumes of guilt and sorrow that are even larger, heavier, and more burdensome,  than the chaos she’s created in her house. My mother is sorry and I believe her. I never deny the facts, and can recall most of them, by rote, chronolgically, at will. Like most PTSD survivors, I can’t dial up the emotion. A shrink (actually one of the rare good ones I’ve met), once remarked that our sessions, no matter what dreadful recall I’d serve each time, had the demeanor, if not the character, of a very proper tea party. I know no other way of communicating it. We do politeness to a fault in my family. Big time.

Like Hannah, in spite of doing terrible, unmentionable things to others, my mother saves the very worst punishment for herself. My mother has not been a free woman, liberated and joyful, for a long, long time. I think she believes, deep down, that  she doesn’t deserve it.

I don’t know how to change that. But it’s my last wish for her. I want to take her by the shoulders, sometimes, and look squarely at her, and say, at least regarding to myself….to let herself finally, really, breathe and remember that people heal…where there’s scars, the skin becomes stronger, tougher. More resilient. She’s a nurse. She just might understand that.


“You can just step into the room on the right…”

“Um…If you don’t mind, I’d prefer to recline for this.” I was already sweating in anticipation.

 “Oh, sure. Not a problem.” He scooted a recliner over. I managed to plop into it and swooshed the chair into a nearby wall. Lovely.

I closed my eyes and lay back as he pulled me closer. I like to think good thoughts when I do this. Because I hate this. So I thought of sex. Really. Why not? Sweet. Comforting. Pleasant. A silly little grin spread across my face. I was in a good place.

I heard a female voice nearby. Older. “Ron, can I help you in any way?”

“No thanks, I’m fine”, said “Ron”. Great. He must be a newbie. Practically a virgin, probably. I’ve never had much use for virgins, sorry. Certainly not when I’m tense and vulnerable. My happy place was starting to float out and away from me. I made a fist.

The rubber tourniquet around my arm was tied tight. Snug. “Just a little coldness here, sorry”, Ron alerted me, as he swabbed the nasty alcohol across my arm. At least he’s polite, I thought. Manners count. Then, the prick. Sweet Jesus, I hate that prick. Did you know that for many heroin users, the kick becomes not the drug, but the needle? Sick. Sick, sick, sick. Today, I’m just not up to this. I suck in my breath and try not to squirm. My feet start to do flutter kicks and my back arches. I swear the needle feels like it’s penetrating deeper. What if Ron-the-novice accidentally pierces the other side of my vein? Will my blood leak out into my body, filling it until I resemble a giant tick? Mom!!!!! Sigh. Dear Mom the nurse was so good with us for these kinds of things. At least if Roz were here, there’d be the traditional pack of m&m’s dropped into my paws at the end of this torture.

This is taking far too long. I’m not sure how many tubes of my red juice are required, but I can feel a jerk each time one is removed and another replaced. It’s probably because it’s been at least three years since my last lab work. I can’t even remember the name of my former primary care doctor when asked. “You need to make a gyn appointment. This is not good when you have a history of ovarian cancer in the family.”, she said as politely as she could. “And you’ve never had a mammogram? You need one.” I know, I know. This  is bad. How is it that I can be so meticulous with the kiddo’s medical care and not my own?

Thank God I didn’t bring the kiddo. The other day when I took her with me for my physical, the good doctor could barely get past her outstretched arms that blocked access to me to check my vitals. My guardian angel. It’s sweet. Only, it’s supposed to be the other way around. I don’t need nobody around to protect me. No sir. I cool.

“Are you going to cut my Mommy open?!?!”, she’d demanded. I gently informed my sweet charge that this was not the place for slicing and gutting. I add that I am not under threat or in pain. She was relentless and defensive for the duration of the check-up. I can’t take such theater today.

Finally, I can feel the needle exit and a wad of gauze replacing it. “Let’s have your other arm”, Ron sings. My eyes snap open. Other arm? Holy shit. I’ve never seen this before. They want more? Vampires!

 I look up at Ron, petrified, eyes bulging incredulously. He laughs and guides my slackened other arm over to the punctured one, and presses my fingers against the gauze. Phew. I relax and sit up. “Gonna be ok?”, Ron asks.  I nod and actually stand up, barely giving him a chance to slap a band-aid on. I turn to book out of the place. This experience is almost forgotten, already.

“Whoaaa..not so fast”, the needle man called, holding up his arm. Jesus God! What the fuck now?

“After the pain, comes the humiliation”, Ron announced. “O.k., this is getting twisted”, I think, until Ron holds up the faintly familiar collection jar with my name on it.

“Oh, that. I’d forgotten about that”, I say as I follow Ron to the water closet. I did forget, too. I forgot to hold it this morning when I got up! Five minutes and more than a couple of knocks on the door later, and I’m still bone dry. After running my hands under a stream of cold water three times, I give up. For the first time in ages, I could really use a beer right now. Instead, I march over to another attendant and order a double shot of water.

Someone else has taken my place in the loo. So I’m led to the other lavratory, the one for the general public. Fine. This time, I perform. My cup doth not run over, but I’ve collected an adequate amount. Only now, I have to deliver it clear across a room full of people I’ve never met! Considerably less private. I cup my vessel surreptitiously behind my purse and skulk back over to the lab. Piss smuggler. Then I whisk the thing quickly over to attendant and stammer a quick ‘bye!. Finally, it’s over.

Sweet. Relief.

July 2009
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