Borrowed Time Circa 79
Borrowed Time circa 79
I suppose I could cloak it in poetry or some flippant bit of prosey narrative, embellishing the frayed memory edges with glitzy bits of expensive words. Certainly, no one would know the difference if I didn't spill it real and raw and close to the aching blade edge except maybe that jade eyed crazy chick she used to be...before the sex, drugs, rocknroll and dirty diapers piled up like a freight off the tracks between us
There we were, flopped out under the swamp cooler, her bared back against that red brick wall and her hair caught up in her hand as she fanned her damp neck.
"You gotta hear this song. Its by Olivia....it made me cry and think of you." She pursed her lips as she pressed play - softly singing as the dust of the day swirled in silent sunbeams around her face.
Click, rewind, play...we sat for several hours harmonizing that simple song til a watermelon sunset turned her strawberry blonde hair dusky. Clinging to that casette player, she smiled speaking soft whispered promises of us, and forever and starlight spotlights.
"You know, Tam. We can start a band. We can sing. I'll learn drums. I can move out here. Or you can come back to Jacksonville. We need a logo and a name..."
My heart lied to me in those quiet hours. It told me I was destined to become more than that awkward horsey child idolizing a best friend for her farrah hair, and her soulful cantor. My mind spun a dream - shackling and gagging the screaming nightmare until it became a dull ache at the base of my skull. An endless loop taunting me...long after her babies were pulling at that auburn hair and I was curled up alone at night with my dog and a pistol under my pillow. My mercurial muse, she let it go for the sweet oblivion of little girls on her lap and a husband's arms...While I clung to nothing with savage veracity. A descent to despair...the anonymous truth of my real life always the monster in the closet - teeth bared and waiting to devour me.
But for sweet borrowed time -spent innocent and singing. We were best friends together again with the whole world laid out before us....starry eyed under a desert sky. And yes....when I think of her...you know I still cry. Now I'm real and raw, ragged at the edges and my personal resonance doesn't spin at 33 rpms - the music and the memory are an ache...I can never escape.
"Guess I'm lovin' on borrowed time
Didn't know that you would not be mine
I'm the fool I guess
I'm the fool I guess"
Jus' Tammy - all you never wanted to know about me.
Jus' Tammy was the name I used while blogging on 360. Since I'm not a Tamara, and I'm not much for internet personas - the moniker was fitting.
Admittedly, there is some angst and some quirkiness on this page - but I am not ashamed. I own all of it and if my odd stumbling through life as I know it benefits someone else - then its worth exposing my "soft emotional underparts." As you read this, keep in mind that I am actually pretty normal. Married with boys, a full time job and an active member of a local church. Writing is my playground, my release, my exploration of life, and sometimes my escape. Peace.
T's Superhero 021509
The late morning light filtered through verdant bushes outside my bedroom window as I listened for the stirring of my parents in the other room. The strident snores of my father confirmed that they were still soundly sleeping. Against house rules, I rose and tiptoed into the bathroom. My young bladder could not wait for the usual parental approval to leave the boundary of my bedroom. Completing my covert operation, I pulled the lever, hoping my straddled backside would muffle the flushing sound. The toilet gurgled menacingly beneath me and I stood, recoiling at the rising water in the bowl. I watched in terror as the swirling cobalt vortex breached the porcelain levy, spilling over onto Mom's pristine floor. I ran from the room in a panic, only to find myself stranded in the hallway, ankle deep in sewer water as sludge bubbled up from the main drain in the water closet. My mother stood, grim faced, and hands planted on hips in the thresh hold of her bedroom door.
Years later I still stood and closed the toilet before flushing. I switched to showers instead of baths in abject fear of the swirling whirlpool in the bath tub. Although I could not articulate the terror - I knew the sinister signature of the vortex and the evil it represented. The inexorable pull of forces I could not control continued to breach the boundaries of my life, spilling emotional sewage and chaos to corrupt my young spirit. My parents thought it was cute, their little girl sampling the adult beverages at the party, until she passed out on the carpet. While the revelers spilled bourbon down the back of her crushed velvet couch and puked in the backyard, Mom stuffed another batch of shrimp shells down the disposal....Their mutilated pink exoskeletons drifted amongst the flotsam in the hallway the next day. One party morphed into a series of cyclical events that eventually tore my family and my heart apart. Against the backdrop of seventies soul music and pulsing speaker lights my leisure suit and wide collar clad happy parents hustled out into deep water. They traded the dry land of domesticity for the rising tide of sexual freedoms and hard liquor. When the parties were over and they were faced with the morning after sludge, they turned to me as their whipping post.
I won't stick my hand in a disposal. I won't step into a vortex and the mere scent of bourbon makes my throat close in spasms. That swirling blue demon in my toilet became the metaphor for the monster that took my parents away. Real fear comes when innocence flees, When children wake up alone to realize their parents will no longer protect them from the bubbling emotional sewage and chaos of life. When a bottle, or a sex toy, or a plate of shrimp is more valuable than the life two created, when the levies have been breached - fear remains. And just like Mom's carpet after the toilet overflowed, I can't get the stain out of my soul. I have been warped and twisted by the vortex of fear.
AROHO Essays 10/2008
The premise of Essay D is to identify the creative project, the practical steps I've already taken as a writer, and the benefit of the project for the entire universe...uh, community and how would 50k help toward world domination...I mean realization of your goal....in being queen of the realm...or helping the community...sigh
Admittedly, I have been a slow starter in developing my creative path, but the “next level” has always burned within me. I have never been satisfied to stay where I am. Over the past few years I have transitioned from regularly writing poetry to working on my abilities as a short story writer and novelist. From my original first novel idea in October 2004, I diligently worked to first complete the novel in 2006, and then spent the next two years seeking publication which will commence by the first part of November 2008. I consider this first published novel not a destination, but a marker along the way of continued writing success.
Before I considered writing a full novel and seeking publication, I completed two separate writing courses. The first was a correspondence course in writing for children and teens, and the second was an on line course writing novels. Both courses were extensive, lasting two years each.
I have developed a personal website to promote poetry, short stories, and my first novel as well as a current series in process. I have a completed collection of short devotionals/vignettes and am seeking publication for this project. I have two other adult fiction novels simmering on my home PC hard drive, as well as a historical fiction novel in the planning stages. I am a frequent blogger on a social networking site where many of my connections are writers. I run a small on line writers’ group that offers weekly writing prompts and free information to poets and other writers. I also belong to a writers’ site on line where I actively participate by writing my own work and reading the works of other authors. Wherever possible, I provide any information I have found to writers on either site. Recently, I offered a weekly class at my church, designed to encourage new writers, as well as those more seasoned, to write regularly. It is not a lack of ideas that limit me but a lack of time.
Even more fascinating is the opportunity I now have in conjunction with three other writers to promote an on line magazine that showcases new authors. We published our first edition in April of 2008 and our second edition will be released in October or November We publish poetry and short stories at no cost to the writer.
As an unknown in any field it is difficult to get started. It is my plan that by writing, publishing, and marketing books, I will be able to develop the relationships necessary to gain respect as an author in the industry. Writing is only part of the actual goal. Eventually, I want to start a small publishing company that gives unknown writers an opportunity to get their work out in the public. As part of this long term goal, I hope to be able to sponsor writers free or for minimal fees. I deeply desire the opportunity to equip and empower others like me to achieve their goals of publication.
I am not at a loss for creative ideas; however, I know that in order to complete something as extensive as a full length book requires prioritization of one project in lieu of the others. I firmly believe that every person on the planet has a story that, if told, would benefit the lives of many others. While my personal story is not unique or new, it is my hope that my experiences would be familiar enough that when coupled with my skill set to present my story, and my desire to help others, I would benefit many in bringing this project to the page.
I, like so many people, am the adult product of a broken home. My parents were so consumed by the issues in their lives, they had little time and even less tolerance for me. They were so emotionally shackled to their own dysfunctional childhoods that they never realized they were in control of their destinies. For what ever reason, they doomed themselves to repeat the patterns of their abused parents, and the grandparents before them. Rather than follow in the succession of abused child becoming abusive parent, I determined myself to become a whole, healthy person with whole healthy children. As I studied the lives of my parents, my grandparents, and my great-grandparents on both sides of the family, I was appalled at the damage a single set of choices can make for future generations. For every option offered in the example set by my predecessors, I chose a different path. By the time I married and had my first child, I felt that the monsters lurking in my ancestors’ basements had been permanently silenced.
The litany of sexual and chemical addictions increased in timbre until my parents met, birthing one child at dysfunctional ground zero. It did not surprise them when I, even though I was happily married, drug free, and faithful to my husband birthed my own seething monster. From nightly screaming sessions as a baby, to a raging toddler strong enough to cause adults physical damage, to threats of suicide in primary school, I was told that my child was the helpless victim of my families’ combined genetic sludge. In successive attempts to quell this proverbial berserker in the basement, a series of pediatricians and psychiatrists offered various drug therapies and programs so that my monster would be malleable in public school systems and day care centers. After Ritalin for his nonexistent ADD, and Depakote for a possible bipolar condition that never manifested, we witnessed first hand how quickly medication is given to placate the symptoms. Rarely however, did any trained professional offer an option that would equip my child to live successfully in his monster’s skin.
There is a plethora of information to substantiate the theory that white male children of Nordic descent are prone to uncontrollable rage. Certainly in my case, my Norwegian paternal family and my Swedish maternal family is saturated with those individuals who either gave in to their violent tendencies, self medicated, or developed unacceptable behaviors as coping mechanisms to feed their inner monsters. Perhaps my own passion for the written word was only another form of addiction to quell my inner beast. However, in my case, and the case of my child we continue to find ways to grow beyond the toxic cocktail of genetics and blind acceptance. We choose to live apart from the rage.
The very thing that defines us as human and self aware, the abilities residing within our own minds can equip us to overcome any imprint of emotional scarring or patterned behavior. It is my desire to illuminate this in detail, by telling the story of my own victories and the victories of my child. The Room of Her Own Grant would give me the financial freedom to further study the influence of genetics on emotions, specifically the predisposition to rage in Nordic males as well as the prevalence of misdiagnosis of emotional issues in younger children.
My child, like me is more than the sum of his parents, his situation, or his DNA. I am fully committed to bringing his story to the page in the hope that it will inspire other parents and children to live comfortably in their monsters’ skins. The Room of Her Own Grant, however would enable me to do this with more focus, and in a more reasonable amount of time. In its current state, the project is a notated outline with several essays and journal entries comprising the bulk of the written project. As I progress, I will compile the essays and entries into a cohesive, chronological book format to include more familial, ethnic, cultural and medical research.
And finally - Essay E is the "community benefit " portion of the grant. What good will you do, what will you give, and how....and how.
The primary purpose of this project is not just to tell my story, but to equip and empower others to benefit from my experiences. It is my primary goal to share the information I have learned with others so that they are better educated to make decisions regarding dealing with their own familial histories and futures with respect to genetic predispositions toward violent behaviors. If my story can serve to better the lives of others, then the effort necessary to bring it to completion will be well spent.
Shared knowledge is always power. In order to get this project into the hands of those who will benefit from it, I plan to explore every option at my disposal, both time wise and financially, to publish the project upon completion. While traditional publishing houses are often lucrative and preferred by writers, I know this is not the only option available for this type of project. I therefore will not limit the queries for publication to traditional publishing houses. After publishing my first book as a joint venture, and exploring other self publishing resources, I will also consider these options, and invest financially in bringing the project to completion, if necessary. I will also implement a plan for providing some copies of the book at cost, or gifting the book whenever possible, in order to put it in the hands of someone who will benefit from it. I have set the groundwork for advertising via my personal website, as well as the other on line sites to which I belong, and will continue to expand my knowledge and contact base through the use of on line resources and personal networking.
Should the project become financially lucrative, I have a deep desire to assist other writers. I would seek opportunities in several areas, including donating time and money to workshops and retreats for writers. I also would like to contribute to scholarships and grants for writers, especially those writers within my local community and state. For so many writers, the creative process is greatly facilitated by networking, and I want to support the growth of both female and young writers. The opportunity to attend small group workshops in order to gain more knowledge about the craft of writing is instrumental in honing one’s skill set.
Finally, I want more opportunity to nurture other writers. There have been a few female writers in my immediate circle who have encouraged me to keep writing when it seemed that my circumstances eclipsed my creative dreams. Without these people at my side, I would have simply put my pen down and walked quietly away. I currently run a small group on line because I truly enjoy inspiring other people to be creative. I hope to expand this as I continue to publish my own work. Eventually, it is my dream to have the finances available to start my own small publishing company and sponsor unknown authors by covering the start up costs for at least one new, unpublished writer per year. While this specific endeavor for which I am applying for the Room of Her Own grant may never generate the capital required to start a publishing company, it may still provide direct benefit to others due to content as well as the indirect benefit of additional finances that I can invest in other writers.
No matter the specific outcome of this grant, whether it is awarded to me, or another deserving writer, I will continue to donate to the AROHO organization. The simple act of defining my personal goals while pulling together the information for the grant application has been a powerful motivator, as well as a learning experience.
So that's the end of it - except for the actual writing samples pulled from my gullet. And now for the rest of the story....When I was zoning in on the actual project - I wasn't sure about creative non-fiction because my fiction is stronger, and I'm not pathetic, you know? But this week - first with the link from DeAnne about "who are you" and the CD from my dad with pic's of my norwegian Great Grandparents - from their trip back to Norway and the farms where some of the families still reside (in Norway) I felt like I was getting a nod...or maybe my mind was just recognizing patterns in the chaos. I don't know. If I get the grant, I will work on this non fiction project. If not, I'll have to scrounge up another wildly insignificant goal and make it the focus of my life...
I'm feeling a bit waffley today. I'm not sure the project is strong enough to merit an award...and the day job has me down...It's a hope against hope thing, I guess. I'm feeling a bit underdressed! LOL. Peace.
For those of you who made suggestions on B and C - I love you. Peace.
the blue crayon 10/2008
The Blue Crayon
I’ve never been without a long term plan for my future. When I was ten years old, my teacher gave us an assignment that would determine my path and my approach to goal setting throughout the rest of my life. A benign time filler while she peppered our spelling test with her obligatory red pen, she asked us each to draw our career hats. While I watched all the girls sketching nurse caps, I rolled my favorite blue crayon back and forth between my hands. A coiled snake writhed across my table mate Steve’s artfully crafted pith cap and I asked him what job he was going to seek. An archeologist, he responded. Steve was always sketching animals, and I loved animals. That’s when my first plan gelled. I quickly parroted my girl friends’ white nurse caps and scripted a bold V in the center of mine with my blue crayon. I would be a veterinarian.
From that day forward, I voraciously consumed any information I could on animals. I was determined to learn as much as I could so I could go to college and get a degree in veterinary medicine. Even though I struggled in mathematics and had exceptional skills in English and writing, my love of animals fueled my desire to pursue my path. My writing endeavors were relegated to home made cards for my family at holidays, and random story outlines written on spiral notebooks on rainy days when I couldn’t go outside to play.
In February of 1979, my long term plan began to dissolve. My career military father was transferred from the deep south to the high desert where I found myself almost a thousand miles away from all the friends I had ever known. Alone in a new culture with new circumstances, I no longer fit in. I had no escape as my displaced parents spiraled out of control. Under cover of a nightlight in my room, I poured my teen heart out to a friend I’d left behind. I detailed for her the drunken fights of my parents and the male companions my mom was collecting like some women collected shoes. I described the crawling fears I faced in my urban High School hallways each time a group of chola girls with mall-hair, and prune lip lacquer shoved me against my locker and spat venomous Spanglish insults through clenched, perfect teeth. I lamented my first failing grade in Algebra, and the second in Chemistry. I journaled my fears and dreams in twenty page tomes I kept under my bed until I could scrounge the postage to mail it off my fractured words. After my mother found a particularly damning diatribe and vented her parental frustrations on my back with a wire brush, I started writing my nightmare life in poetic code. I wrote poetry, placing all my emotions on paper where I could deal with them in solace. Sharing my poems with a select few, I learned that I had a specific ability to spill the deeper emotions of the soul on to paper. I began to have hope in my writing as my ability to communicate with others.
Although I told myself first and others later my cathartic endeavors kept me from the exploration of more banal activities like dating and the casual experimentation of sex, drugs and rock and roll the real truth was that my writing became my shield, my expression of self and my path to finding that part of me unscarred by the battle I faced daily in my family. When I failed Algebra for a second time in college and was invited to read my poetry at a coffee shop off campus that same year, I let go of the dream of veterinary medicine and allowed the dream of writer to seed itself in my heart. I wrote voraciously about everything from love, to war, to lost pets, at every opportunity I had.
As I got older it became my mask, the extension of my inner self. While socially awkward in person, I was adept at written communication. I found myself with a dual identity. I applied my verbal skills in the mundane job market as a customer service representative and then as a collections specialist. After my children were fed however, I secretly dreamed of writing stories, and poetry for a wider audience than my husband, and faithful grade school friend. As I progressed down an accidental administrative job path I realized my love of words would only be used in the corporate world by writing the random dry communications like newsletters and procedural manuals. While I continued to better myself with each step up on the corporate rung, the quelling of the writer in me was equivalent to dipping one’s digits in acid to burn off one’s identifying fingerprints. I let the burn subside and kept my poetic endeavors limited to a section in the back of my Daytimer. I carried broken bits of poems and half written plot lines sandwiched between phone lists and scheduled events until my old friend sent me a link for an on line writers’ class. As I picked up my pen again, the locked up writer in my soul returned with an indescribable ache.
When I woke up one morning in October of 2004 with an entire novel filling up every spare spot in my brain, I knew in my heart that I am a writer, if I am anything. I love fleshing out characters and developing plotlines. I savor creating worlds and people who do more than simply entertain the casual reader. I aspire to inspire and uplift the reader as I take them to places of hope. I crave those moments when I am able to bring the people and places in my head out on to paper where others can see them as I do. With each completed storyline, I realize there is an unlimited amount of stories waiting to be told. There is fiction to wrap itself around the mind of a reader and take them to a temporary escape. There are the hopes and dreams to be told of my Nordic ancestors who came over with nothing but a wooden steamer trunk and the hope that generations the would never meet would benefit from the sweat of their hard work. There are dreamers waiting in my future who will be empowered by the voice I have found in the written word. I am only limited by the time I have available to bring each story from my mind, to paper.
Writing is now my identity. It is the medium through which I not only define myself, but reach out to others. There is great joy in inspiring another writer to find her creative voice on paper. I use my writing not only as a creative outlet but through the internet I am able to write to encourage others like me. I am at my best as a human when I am networking with other writers, sharing information, and inspiring other writers to explore their creativity.
Women are not always identified by their family or their spouses or their day jobs. As we transition ourselves from past to future, it is that voice within, that part of ourselves that longs to put something down on paper for ourselves and for others. I’ve replaced my blue crayon with a keyboard and monitor, and I’ve traded my paper veterinary hat for the title of author. Like that little girl however, I am still as determined to reach my goal. I have found my identity and I treasure it. Beyond that, I treasure the gift I can give to others by encouraging those like me to be who they are without wasting time and energy on who they aren’t.
"Five hundred a year stands for the power to contemplate,...a lock on the door means the power to think for oneself." Virginia Woolf
The world of the modern woman is a spinning monstrosity of scheduled events, obligations and responsibilities so consuming that by the end of the day it is easy to lose sight of little girl aspirations. That promise of emancipation whispered over our pink gingham cradle bumpers by our bee-hive coiffed mommies is a sad echo in the recesses of our phrenetic thoughts. The “you can be anything you want to be when you grow up” mantra becomes a hollow loop in our souls. Somewhere amidst the cacophony of corporate gunfire, needy teens, and unending pairs of dirty white socks there is that transient memory of a girl with a pen and a notebook. While her other friends dressed Malibu Barbies in the latest denim and daisy couture, she was creating volumes of iambic pentameter interspersed with fanciful prose. Scant chance she has now to scribble a line before another series of interruptions rips the inspiration from her emotional page like a gardener plucks the yellow heads of dandelions from a cultured lawn.
Let’s face it. I’m a woman for the ages. I have a home, a yard, a family barking pets and a middle management niche dug out by the sweat and tenacity tempered by my child bearing maternal tendencies. Perhaps, I should be grateful for those luxuries afforded me in the modern world. While I slurp congealing ramen from a Styrofoam cup, and gulp day old coffee at my desk, it occurs to me that I should be reveling in my success. Only two generations past, my grandmother left each morning before dawn to labor in a local grocery store cutting cattle and wild game in a freezing, concrete floored meat locker. Shackled by financial lack, she simply accepted the daily pain that shot through her arthritic shoulders at each heft of the five pound chubs of ground round. The winter morning she slipped on the ice, unable to bend her diseased knees back far enough to rise from the frigid
While I love my dear grandma, I bristle at this legacy I share with so many of my gender. What do I bring forward from her ashes? What markers will be left in my passing? Should I find my destiny as the faceless cog spinning in someone else’s machine, or facilitate change for my family and my future? Certainly the three years I spent, toddler on knee, keys clicking at the computer to obtain that thing which sets me apart from other workers as a “degreed professional” was worth the added monthly student loan and the lucrative career to which I am now inescapably chained. I am reminded of this sacrifice of time with every student loan payment I make. Amidst the blare of the TV and the drone of my family I learned to amortize, categorize and theorize. I learned to eat fast food from a paper wrapping while dressing a three year old. I have learned to develop multitasking abilities to a fine art. I have learned to tune out anything that would distract me from my goals, except the staccato beat of my own heart begging for change.
Yes, truly my life is nirvana for the independent woman. At the end of my ten hour day I return to domestic bliss, concocting something palatable in a pan while correcting the tween’s ever present homework packet and commiserating with the spouse about banalities of the day. And the end of me there is only time to chuck a few towels in the drier and fall into snoring, drooling oblivion before the lather-rinse-repeat routine commences. I barely have time to make sure my shoes match let alone give thought to that incessant fire burning in my gut. Passing it off as emotional indigestion, I rarely consider the possibilities of true sanctuary that a locking door and a salary independent of the corporate soul sucking machine would provide. Occasionally the thought of a place of peace in which I could take time to breath life into the myriad characters jostling for attention flickers in my spent synapses. Once in a while, I consider the dream of a sanctuary where a story line could coalesce beyond a phrenetic email sent to myself between bites of a lukewarm bologna sandwich. Sometimes time stops as I stare from my corner office window that won’t open to let in the day and I crave some small escape. While I wring the life out of every ticking second, I know intimately that time can only be spent, not saved. The all consuming career is supported at a price that rises every year faster than the benefits it provides. And while my ability to properly state the financial position of any company is of service to my employer, my impact is transient, minimal. Like my grandma, I find myself powerless against that mechanism that puts food on my table, fuel in my vehicle and clothing on the backs of my children. I am un-renewable energy for someone else’s dream.
There are those peers who malign my little writing hobby as a foray into self indulgence. I should see myself as successful with my marriage and my two children and my three weeks paid vacation. Unlike grandma, I don’t have to hose down animal carcasses to bring home outdated white bread and bagged elbow macaroni. Other mothers and coworkers advise me politely that dreams that are meant to be will wait while I raise a family and complete my lucrative career path. Like a thoroughbred turned out to pasture after the horseshoe rose wreath withers, I can have my illustrious run before retiring to spend my golden years with my face in the grass and the sun on my back. In twenty five or thirty years, I can jump from the dusty track and focus on the dormant dreams in my heart. With every innocuous platitude from the kind but clueless, I see the image of grandma before my bleary eyes. I know there are no guarantees that I will reach that bluegrass paddock with health and dreams intact. For me, the dreams are my only vision of freedom.
My personal definition of success is not exemplified in the obvious accumulation of job tenure, personal property, and swaybacked grazing bliss. For the little girl in my head who chews violently on her pen to keep from screaming, true success would be found in a room of her own, behind a locking door, with money independent of the demands of others. I crave the solace found in the steady flow of words from mind to paper. I long for the freedom to write my soul without guilt. For a moment, I treasure the vision of a place where the chaotic demands of so many others jockeying for my limited time and attention could be muffled by four walls and a pocketed key. My current course only offers the next generation a residual imprint of a life unrealized. I have so much more to give than ashes, costume jewelry and tears. The lasting words percolating in my head are locked down, waiting for a moment in which I am free.
I was reading the blog of a talented, popular writer (and 360 refugee) yesterday regarding her "personalities" and something deep within me registered with her thought processes. I am not - repeat NOT suffering from multiple personality disorder. I know who I am and what I am at any given time. But I concur with the theory presented by Michelle that many of us "compartmentalize" our personalities. Perhaps those of us who are rightbrained, or who were abused - maybe we are more prone to it. Since I am both, the process is logic to me.
So I followed her lead and I put my personalities down on paper. As you read it, remember two things:
1. I am not poking fun at anyone with any mental illness - there are multiples out there and this post in no way diminishes the severity of mental illness or it's root causes.
2. I am and have always been a writer. I live and breathe on paper. It is my preferred medium for communication. Therefore, I want my personalities to live and breathe on paper as well. They are all "Me." and as I am imperfect - not all of them are "nice." Some of them are prone to cursing. Some of them need to be dismissed completely and yet I cling to them because I am not yet cleaned up in that area of my life. Please be warned if you have 'delicate eyes' - the potentially offensive are starred ** so you can skip over them if you like. Rest assured. I am one complete person - and one person only. This is just a writers' exercise - a descriptive discourse of different facets of the same person, me. Peace.
Bug - Bug is eleven years old and loves horses and fairies and is the keeper of all childhood memories. She sings out loud and splashes through puddles. She loves to read anything but her favorite is still the Wizard of Oz series. Sometimes she pretends she is Polychrome, the rainbow's daughter. She is playful, friendly and smart. She loves her dog and her Barbies (her Barbies have superpowers of course - they can fly and communicate with animals) Bug talks too much but she has always been a "Good" girl. She adores her daddy and her best friend Evonne. She never asks for control...she just wants to be heard, loved and accepted. Bug believes in the happy ending. She lives in my heart, but lately she spends her time curled up, crying. I've become impatient and cruel with my inner child...and she suffers for it. Bug has always been with me even though I tell people I left her in Jacksonville in 1979. Bug is terrified of death, so much so she has to sing about butterflies to get to sleep. She is afraid she might die in her sleep. Sometimes she feels God's hand on her back so she stays very still so God won't leave her. She believes in God, but she doesn't think she's been good enough to go to Heaven, and I can't seem to convince her otherwise. She gives unconditional love - but she is incapable, I think of receiving it. Mom never loved us. And with Bug, I can't bring us past that reality.
**Bohemian - male. Bohemian has been around since fourth or fifth grade. Despite the name, Bohemian is the epitome of logic. For him, life is black and white and we would all do better if we got over ourselves and worked as one unit. He is the one who peers into the skull of the deer to show the boys how the wasps used the nasal cavity to make a paper nest. The concept of death and decay do not faze him. Bo would've made a great coroner. Since he's male he is comfortable with things like body hair, farting in public, belching letters of the alphabet, and eating just about anything with his fingers. Grossing Bo out is next to impossible. Bo sings tenor and is proud of it. He also plays bagpipes and harmonica. Bo appreciates physicality and strength. He'd like to be a bodybuilder but some of the other personalities are less agreeable to sweating and diets. Bo can stop a charging pit bull with the word NO. Bo loves diesel, leather, the sound of heavy machinery and was highly torqued when we developed "breasts." Once we got the heterosexual thing hammered out (sorry big guy - we are a girl. Always have been, always will be, only small girlie crushes on Cheryl Burke and Angelina Jolie allowed) we accepted Bo as he is quite useful in dealing with all the men we work with, picking up vinigaroons, and killing centipedes...Bo is probably why we birthed boys. Bohemian likes to use an English accent when he speaks. I only let Bo out when I'm alone and playing INXS or Billy Idol CD's. Because he's a guy, he's never allowed control of the brain. Bo has a thing for 80's big hair rock music and power rock bands like Journey, Kansas, Boston. He can totally relate to Jesus sitting around the campfire trading jokes with the disciples...come on, thirteen guys traveling together on foot? Seriously. Bohemian actually pretty cool, if only he were female...why is he male? I have no idea...he just is.
Lyric - The poettess Lyric and her twin sister Myth came along in the summer of 1982 and for 4 years completely controlled the brain. She is green eyed and a dancer. She is a talented ryhmer and only with much cajoling transitioned to free verse. She is, when given the time incredibly prolific - once writing eight sets of lyrics in the space of a few hours. Unfortunately, Lyric is both bipolar and OCD when it comes to writing. She is a creature of extremes. A worshipper crying to God in one moment, and then creating baby monsters in my brain the next. She plays trumpet but prefers guitar and keyboard, if she would have been disciplined enough to learn more than a few chords. Lyric does not accept the existence of Mara, or TL in the brain because Mara and TL are in direct competition with her for the creativity dendrites. If given the opportunity - Lyric will self destruct. She is currently sulking somewhere in my subconscious.
Myth - the artist and Lyric's twin. Myth loves to sketch and paint primarily animals (especially large cats) but if she loves someone like the kids, or a dear friend she will do portraits. She craves the scent of turpentine and oil paint. She is addicted to paper of all kinds. She also enjoys calligraphy. Myth is a voracious reader and loses herself in the study of world myths and religions. Myth believes that all myths and ancient religions weren't really pagan as much as precursors to the knowledge of God. She is patient, tolerant, gentle and kind. She is a tactile soul, savoring the feel of a loved one's hair, or the exquisite vibrance found in the color of someone's eyes. Myth appreciates smooth jazz, worship music, and Enya. She loves to see the artist in others and nurture talent. Myth sees the good in Mara and Grendel's mom but cannot abide by the Banshee. (you'll meet them next) Myth is the only personality who knows how to access peace...She finds it in the smallest moments - a spider web glistening in wet grass, the scent of fresh coffee, a sleeping baby...Myth is a praying soul who often pens her visions and believes dreams are kisses from God. Unfortunately...we don't have time for Myth. She is silent. Still. I wonder if I have lost her...
Mara Reber - (pronounced Ree Ber) actress Mara first appeared in a dream in the early 80's (college years) She is the "beautiful one", sensual, hedonistic. Mara likes silk, satin, wicker, stained glass, crystal - beautiful things and beautiful people. She is dramatic, an actress who craves the center stage...a spotlight of her own. Mara is brown eyed, with titian red hair, always in ringlets. You will never see her in jeans...She can be haughty, chilly, and vengeful, but is basically relegated to a dark corner since the appearance of stretch marks and the double chin. Mara laments things like warts and wrinkles and fat and gray hair...and since she is the keeper of my libido...sigh. She is the hostile woman scorned my head, imperious and unsatisfied. She usually detests all of us, with the exception of Bug. She thinks Bo is an uncultured cretan. Mara is a user of people and opportunities. She is the one who looks out through my eyes and calls me a hag. She came to me named, and after a bit of research I found out the word "mara" means "bitter." Mara is a "professed pagan" but often embellishes the truth about herself if she thinks it will make her more charismatic. She struggles with the concept of "Father God" and does not want to let go of her own personal control, but she is not above trying to "bargain" with her Creator for something good. We aren't sure why she has a last name but the root of Reber is "vinesman."
**The Witch: We call her Grendel's Mother when she isn't listening. She was born as an adult in 1995 after I quit the third consecutive nightmare job. Grendel's mom doesn't take any resistance from anyone. She is a perfectionist, demanding everything from fully executed tasks at work to a spotless room at home. She is intolerant, abrasive, quick to fire off a barrage of insults when her standards are not met (which is just about all the time) She has a lead foot in traffic, and a short temper at home. She freakin' hates whiners, and she's really not fond of happy people either. In fact Grendel's mom doesn't "Do" people. She'd rather manage numbers and spreadsheets and paper. She makes the rest of us tired. We hate her - but without her we aren't disciplined enough to meet the demands of our current job. She often sneaks into the blog page - a sentence or two here and there, a note of sarcasm...but she is the one who kicks TL's butt when TL threatens to wipe the hard drive. Grendel's mom believes in the law of averages. Eventually if we push hard enough - success will happen. The Witch believes God helps those who help themselves so all of us need to put our big girl panties on and MOVE. Her motto is "Do something. Even if it's wrong." Grendel's mom is the dominant personality and has been for most of the year.
**The Banshee - the banshee seethes, under my skin. I have kept her shackled for far too long. She is my release, my falling down...my inevitable humanity. She likes beer cold, but prefers bourbon and tequila. She can and will use the F word in conversation. She is the keeper of every insult, every abuse, every lie I have ever endured at the hands of someone who was supposed to love me. She has absorbed so much darkness she is a black hole. My primal scream, the banshee is a hater of epic proportions. If I let her go, for one moment something or someone would be broken. I know this as truth because I have seen her in action. She is incapable of love, only survival at any cost. She is my vengeance, my rage and she has done damage to my children. The Banshee is fully capable of killing small animals that annoy her, and would derive a certain sick satisfaction from it. If focused - perhaps she could be helpful but I don't know how to focus her. So I lock her crazy arse up in the back of the head. If she and Lyric ever partnered up - we'd be passed out in a ditch, or dead, and we'd take a people with us along the way. I don't entertain that thought though much, because the Banshee thinks writing is a waste of time and paper. She thinks we'd all be better off if we turned it over to Grendel's mother. At least we'd get something accomplished before we die. The Banshee not only knows there is God but she also is adamant about the fact that He hates her. She is unable to seperate actions from the person. Since the advent of age related hormonal symptoms, the banshee is making a chilly resurgence.
TL - writer: TL has only been with us since October of 2004. While I used to give free rein to many of the people in my head, TL has become the controller of the expressive pen. She is the "novelist" - organized, dedicated, committed to completion. While she draws from the other personalities to develop characters, she endeavors to "write for God" and for others. She pretty much frustrates the crap out of us because no one is allowed to just write for self. The Banshee is banned from any form of free expression and is severely censored. TL, if she had her way, would make us choose between Mara, Grendel's mom, and the Banshee and exorcise the two losers from the brain. Lyric is allowed only to explore light, no darkness - so she isn't writing at all. She tolerates Bo only because he is good fodder for male character sketches, and she keeps hammering me to reconcile with Bug, my inner child. TL is the enforcer and the one who pushes the idea of a publishing company. She is always focused on the "next level, and the next step." While TL is positive - she is also pragmatic. She does not believe Myth has the skill set to illustrate books, and therefore Myth should remain dormant until the kids are grown and there is more time for "hobbies." TL would take acid to the hard drive and start over if she were given permission because the other writers in the brain are self absorbed babies. She and Grendel's mom are in a knock down drag out right now for dominance of the brain.
The go between - Tammy - the mediator, the janitor, forever apologetic. I am the one who endured fifteen years in a denominational church because I wanted to be a good wife and mother and I never developed a relationship with my Creator. With all the stuff going off in my head - why add another opinion to the mix. I am the one who keeps it all together, keeps it safe, and keeps it under control. Lately I have wanted to take Bug in my arms and just love the little girl, but if I bring her broken spirit out into the light - the Banshee will be so enraged at the damage done, she'd rip us all new sphincters. And really, Lyric doesn't need any more fuel for morbid, soul sucking emoetry. Personally - I'm pretty tired of Lyric and Mara and want to flush them from my memory altogether. I'm not even sure that Myth and TL have a purpose at this point. They are attracted to distractions. I am the one who gives up the PC so the kids can play. I am the scheduler, the one who sacrifices with the promise that "someday we can" even though I don't believe it myself. I would never buck the system. I would never step out the box, or color out of the line...I know my limits - intimately. And because it's inappropriate to give voice to anyone else, I am worn out, run down and unhappy. I really don't want the brain anymore..but I fear the options. The older I get, the harder it is to keep Grendel's mom, and the Banshee in line. They feed off of the chaos in my life and grow stronger while the rest of us fade out and I pretty much find them intolerable. I'm not sure TL is truly capable over time of becoming successful...and I deeply miss Myth.
top to bottom: Bug, Bohemian, Lyric, Myth, Mara Reber (black dress) the Banshee, and TL
A song called “Dancin’” started it all. May 14, 1981 and we were 16, reveling in that fantasy between disco and new wave when music was a groove at 33 rpms, T-shirts and jeans betrayed no skin in between and Britney and Mylie and all the other misguided wannabes weren’t even born yet. We were girls with dreams bigger than the Western sky, all unicorns and butterflies and somewhere along the road littered with fuzzy velvet posters and feathered hair we discovered our own two-part harmony remained when the needle lifted and the music stopped. So we sang under streetlamps and stairwells, with our tennis shoe laces tied to each other's laces and lyrics spinning in our heads. And it was enough to carry us for awhile until my best friend got a job and a boyfriend and a trip to Europe after graduation and I found myself alone with my little dreams paling under the waning moon. Writing lyrics by the red light on the radio dial while my parents fought in the other room, I clung to the ghost of a muse I thought was my destiny while friends got married and pregnant and married again. I found myself alone, random stories in my head and poetry in my heart and once in awhile a sketched image of something more beautiful, more profound than the dead cat carcass that the mongrel pits chewed til it was footless and gutted, scattered in the neighbor’s yard. The sound of sirens and stray dogs lulled me to sleep at night. The mention of muses became a resonant ache in the depths of my soul as the years slipped by and the drone of mediocrity set in. So many years I kept silent and told myself I was sane. I let the dreams yellow and fade in boxes under the bed, drowning the ache in alcohol and the sound of domesticity. But some things don’t die easy and my lamenting heart called to the abyss and the abyss answered with creeping dreams of poetry and prose clamping around my barren heart until the muse became a monster and the dull ache became pain that engulfs my days and eats away the sanctuary of my nights. Call it a muse, call it the residual sludge of generations of “almost was” poets and musicians and artists that committed slow suicides, hacking away the brittle sanity of family to be consumed by a dream that never shifted into reality – until they became users and abusers intoxicated by whatever morbid addiction blocked the knowledge that they would never succeed. I see the mute proof in ink on silk and a fading playlist scribbled on the back of a tamborine, in pictures of sad eyed souls in suits and ties and the labored breath of my Dad as his gaze fixes far away. Now I stand in isolation, screaming silently that I am sane as my children perpetuate the welling chaos in sweet songs and sketches on paper that carries only the promise of desperation and lies. I Hinged my whole life on a cult movie and Xanadu is only a sound stage and a memory on vinyl that never plays…Still the music echoes in my head…another song, another muse…
Now I know
Well, I was wrong
To live for a dream
If I had my life to live over
I would never dream, no
I still wish you gone
And I will live alone
Yes, I will live alone
(Planets of the Universe, Stevie Nicks)
Self to self 090108
I wrote this for the one closest to me who SHOULD be a friend...but isn't.
You were there
in those little girl moments
summer grass and dandelions plucked
golden life cradled in open hands
The open world beyond white picket gates
Glimpsed in arcs as we swung
bare toes pointed at the azure sky
Peace was the sand beneath our feet
Freedom the breathless descent
Trusting the ground we closed our eyes
You were there
When I traded Barbie and Ken
For paper and pen
Words my only source of power
Nights and days perceptions the chains
and shackles the forgettable drag
Knowing ducks are ducks and swans are swans
Fairy tale endings won't carry you beautiful
Hitting the ground I close my eyes
You're still there
When days conclude and I cry alone
winging dreams are creatures plucked and gutted
You stand silent
I cling to moments slipping golden
from my hands
This uneasy peace between us
I miss you every time
you look at me
from my mirror
Shift my sight to the ground and close my eyes
Note To Self: Sex, drugs and rocknroll.
I know you hate that crappy mantra but it was the only way I could get you to turn down Stevie Nicks and stop spinning around like a deranged chicken while I clue you in on a few bits of reality as I know it and you will come to live it. By means of whatever cosmic mojo I’m writing this to you from 26 years in the future. Not from inside a big *ssed tour bus with your own stupid Tigress sketch airbrushed on the panels but from a cramped and drafty house only fourteen miles outside the
But before your pirouette yourself over to the bourbon bottle you like to sneak gulps from I will tell you there are some moments worth living. When you meet that blonde, hazel eyed Adonis in college Latin class, who writes you poems and drinks oolong – step away to chase your own muse. You have so much poetry in you. You have stories and novels in your core. Stay in college. Take writing courses and actually go to class. It’s so much harder later when babies are crying and the husband is playing N64 and you are overwhelmed with your mundane life. When you hold that first child let that moment sink into your soul. You were terrified that day. That memory escaped you along with the first month of his life, but pay attention because you could have it if you focus this time around. And your second boy, Good Lord don’t kill him before he walks, those sleepless nights will only last about six months and there will be times when you look at him and see yourself, only better.
Honey, you’re no Stevie Nicks, but you can string a few sentences together and this part of your dream will only strengthen. If only your myopic point of view could expand while you still have that fire – you are a writer. A real writer who in the midst of raising a family and serving penance in the bowels of corporate purgatory can still dream, only now it’s the elusive book deal or poetry anthology – some things never change.
One more thing. Sometimes sharing a bedroom….well that whole vow of virtue – giving your passion only to paper and song? Once in a while if you climb down out of that head, sex is a good thing. So good your toes curl up in those unicorn slippers just considering it. Yup. The slippers stayed. And your feet still fit in them. Imagine that.
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