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Broken Breasts

I had a conversation yesterday with a close girlfriend of mine. I’ve know this chick for a few years; I’ve actually known of her much longer than I have had the pleasure of being a part of her life. I used to always admire her from afar because she is one of those girls that part of you wants to hate, but deep down a bigger part of you wants nothing more than to be her friend.

No need to bore you with details about her looks; suffice it to say she is beautiful in a real way: voluptuous body, flashing blue-gray eyes that can be seen from across the room, never a hair out of place from her stacked ‘do and always with a full face of makeup. She is the kind of girl who doesn’t go out of the house, not even to go get a coke from Toot n Totum, without being dressed to the nines; stilettos are her shoes du jour.

She grew up on the rich side of town, went to the rich school, and hung out with the richies. I grew up on the north side of town (there are actually people in AMA who admit to never having crossed the Boulevard to my old stomping grounds…this slays me), attended a school with a less than stellar reputation (we were one of the first schools to add a daycare to our campus, in order to accommodate the numerous 9th graders who were pregnant and at risk of dropping out of school), and was raised around families that had to make decisions about whether to pay the water bill or buy food for the week…not exactly the kinds of decisions she was used to making, or even realized that other people grew up having to make.

When we were younger, I can guarantee she would have never give me the time of day; shit, the stuck up bitches at my ghetto ass school didn’t even give me the time of day. But people grow up, and for some of us, our friendship boundaries widen; we make friends with people we wouldn’t have in high school because we don’t give a shit anymore. We realize that old adage is really true: high school doesn’t mean shit.

So, in our mid twenties we met each other and slowly became friends. And it was slow, believe me. Because even as adults, we are two different people. (Well, from the outside, anyway. At the end of the conversation that I am recalling, I realized how alike we really are…) Picture it if you can. The two of us, sitting next to each other at the bar: She is tall and curvy, with supermodel cheekbones, icy gray eyes surrounded by smoky black liner, shadow, and mascara; her lips are plumped with Max Factor plumping gloss and her hair is reflecting the light because of her Paul Sebastian glosser. She is wearing a red carpet, plum colored, short, snazzy cocktail dress, like she should be at a club in NYC, not a dive bar in AMA. Her legs, planted into a pair of Manolo Blahnik high heels, are strong and shapely and tanned and glistening, like her hair; everything about this girl sparkles. Her rings, her bracelets, her smile.

And next to her is me. Voluptuous, yes; I’m half Latina, so I’m shaped like a guitar. Large bubbies, not on a J scale, that’s for sure, but as I’m 4’11” and not 5’9”, that’s probably a good thing as I’d tip over. My hair is dark chestnut and espresso, and is half curly and half wavy; ringlets in some places. Olive skin, full lips, fact cheeks, and dark brown, slanty eyes. I’m the kind of Hispanic that looks kind of chinky. Natural makeup; powder to cut the shine, a dab of mascara, maybe some gloss. My clothes are bohemian, not club stylish. My jewelry is nice, but most of it is in my face. And, probably most eye-catching are the colorful sleeves I proudly wear; most of my clothes consist of spaghetti straps and halters as to display my body canvas.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty, but in a totally different way. And on a totally different, lowered scale. We don’t look like two girls that would be sitting at the same table. But that’s what we became, and now three years later she’s sitting on my couch and telling me about her broken breasts.

Yes, you read that correctly. Her broken breasts; her mark as a failed daughter and mother.

She had tried to breastfeed when the Sweet One was born. But she simply didn’t make the milk. Her mammary glands, for whatever reason, were refusing to emit enough fluid for baby. So, she started buying formula. This, in her parents’ eyes, was absolute sacrilege.

They accused her of being lazy. Too lazy to feed her own child. She responded by trying to pump more; she would sit in her room for hours, breasts attached to the state of the art, best that money could buy breast pump machine, while the suction drained her breasts of the milky life that was supposed to be hidden within. Her parents would await anxiously in the parlor (people like that don’t have living rooms) and when she emerged from her room, they would harangue her with cries of “How much did you get? How much came out?” as if her value as a mother could be measured by the fluid ounces of milk the machine sucked from her breasts. And each time, with growing despair and defeat, she would answer sadly none, no milk, maybe just a half ounce after several hours of agony.

They gave her dirty looks, sucked their teeth, tskd tskd, and rolled their eyes. See how lazy you are, they said; your breasts are even lazy; your mammary glands suck at life, just like you.

Her mother went and rented a high tech, more state of the art machine than the own they had at home; it was 100 dollars a day to rent from the hospital, but she did it, and she came home and gave it to the Sweet One’s mother and said, Quit being lazy, go pump, go be a good mom. She hooked up her breasts; the machine sucked and pumped. Nothing; the Sahara Desert had more chance of fluid nourishment than her breasts.
Her parents gave up; took the machine back to the hospital. Cleaned and packed up the breast pump at home. Went and bought formula. Sighing and tsking tsking all the way.

What could I have done, she asked me tearfully. I took fenugreek and other herbal supplements; I did exercises, I did everything right; why did my breasts fail? Why did I fail as a mother?

Why did I fail as a daughter?

At her house, everything always looks perfect. Who knew inside of that house of perfection were broken breasts.

 

It’s Friday night and I’m babysitting the Sweet One. He is happily asleep in his brown and tan teddy bear themed room; I think it’s Eddie Bauer or something else fantastically sheik and expensive. I am sipping a diet Dr. Pepper, which is gross because I hate Dr. Pepper. I don’t like fruit flavored soda. And I also hate aspartame. So I have a can of bitter prune juice with carbonation. It sucks.

On A&E right now, it’s 7:00 p.m. so of course “Intervention” is showing; tonight Angelina has fallen asleep in her bowl of cereal again. I don’t know if it’s due to the heroin or the Xanax. Her brother Bud doesn’t want to see her much anymore. But there’s always hope with interventions.

Maybe she will find her Brad. Maybe she can adopt some Ethiopians or Somalians with her trust fund checks (her family won a ten million dollar settlement some years ago when her half brother died, infant he was, in a hospital due to negligence) and fill that empty hole in her arm…I mean, heart. It must be hard to be Angelina; after all, upon blowing her lump sum from the settlement, she only gets one grand a month from her remaining trust, and that’s simply not enough to keep her high. Whatever to do?

Juxtaposed against this sad tale, this sorrowful white noise in the background, is me inside of a house that is spacious and…well, nice. I’m sitting on a brocade recliner with a matching ottoman; the chair has arm slips, but instead of just slipping them on like plain Jane recliners, these arm slips are buttoned on. And not just any old tacky brass furniture buttons; no siree Bob, not on a street called Cape Colony. These are arm jackets, not arm slips. There’s no slipping these off; no way. You can tell in a house like this, nothing ever slips off or falls out of place.

I’m imagining myself to be a Real Housewife. You know, not like a real housewife. I don’t have a lazy man sitting in his Lazy Boy, flipping through sports channels and dribbling beer and chips into the cracks of the furniture. There isn’t a stack of dishes crusting over in the sink or a lawn that needs mowing or three kids less than one year apart in age, screaming for food or hugs or swats or whatever it is kids scream for these days. I was thinking more along the lines of a singular aspect of the group of Real Housewives. I normally prefer to kill my brain cells watching the women in NYC or NJ, but I feel more like a Orange County housewife, sitting at home in my amazing home with central air and little switches that dim the lights in each and every room. The granite counter-tops are just aching for a bottle of Pinot Grigio to be popped open while I change the baby into his designer onesie.

I decide it’s time to feed the Sweet One; after I burped him and lay him down on the floor for some tummy time. Decided I would FB to let everyone know just how sweet he was…and as I hit the send button with my right finger while my left hand steadily patted his back, he projectile vomited across the room, over the blanket, and right on the hard wood floors; the hardwood floors that, according the flier I read lying in the foyer area, were authentic teak. Not just any old fake Home Depot wood, no siree Bob, not here in Wisteria Lane, I mean, the Colonies…

And, to make matters worse, as I was washing the hot foamy formula from my arm (yes, it was in the way of the flying bile), I see that four minutes ago a girl I went to elementary school with, a girl whom I was horribly mean to and should probably be bitch slapped by God for my atrocious behavior, just FBd that her husband and her were on a date without their daughter and he just told her she was THE (her emphasis, not mine) most beautiful woman in the GALAXY. Yes, she interrupted her date to FB that. She probably twatted it, too.

Believe me, I’m not making fun of her; FB and Twitter is the literal equivalent to the old cliché of shouting it from the rooftops. And who doesn’t want to let the world know that someone loves the shit out of her? Or him? (yes, yes, sexism revised)…

But, this is the kind of fairy tale realities come true that makes me feel like slug slime. Why does she get to have it all and I have to make believe in my friend’s parents’ house, with someone else’s baby? Am I that horrible of a person that I don’t deserve love and marriage and a baby carriage and all that happy crappy? Do I have the power to make that many people run the other direction from me?

I don’t think I’m particularly unattractive. I’m not a ten, but I don’t think I hit every branch on the ugly tree. And, from what I understand from books and movies and, um, the world going on around me, having a good personality is supposed to go a long way. Those of you that know me, don’t laugh. At least not out loud. I happen to think I have a fucking A+ personality.

But maybe I suffer from a form of personality dysmorphia, like body dysmorphia. Like a fat girl who looks in the mirror and thinks she can wear skinny girl jeans with stilettos and rock it like Paris Hilton (when really she looks like Perez Hilton all trannied up). Maybe that’s me. Maybe I just think that my charm is gregarious, my smile is winning, my laughter is infectious, my humor is witty without being too terribly sardonic, and my heart and loyalty are bottomless. Maybe the reality is far, far different.

So I just continue to sit here, at least for tonight, and play make believe, like a little girl again. Like that little girl who was so mean to the other little girl. The other little girl who grew up and found someone to be nice to her forever, and then decided she would let the world know, shout it from the rooftops, and FB it.

Apparently karma is a bigger bitch than I could have ever been.

I have hit the delete button at least five times already; how does one begin the opening line, the infamous attention-getter, the hook that stabs itself through the readers’ mandibles and then drags them in to my world?

I don’t know; that’s probably why I’m lamenting my life as a failed writer. I’m such a failure that I haven’t even received rejection letters…I’m too much of a reject to send my work out to readers and editors. In fact, I’m too much of a reject to even put words to paper lately…well, if lately translates to the last, oh, ten years.

The odd thing is that I’m a compulsive writer; I spend about five hours a day reading and/or writing in some form. I’m the queen of lists; I actually have a notepad that is a list of lists: lists to be made, lists to be revised, lists that might or might not make it to the final cut of lists to be made. I carry scraps of paper with me at all times, in case I need to make an emergency list (that will of course be recopied at home, nicely and neatly, into a proper list).

From that large umbrella of  lists, the list wellspring, you might say, comes the smaller sub-genres of lists, the list rivers: grocery lists, cleaning lists (it’s Thursday, time to move the fridge and scrub the floor underneath and around it), exercise regime lists, gardening lists (what needs to be plucked? pruned? watered?) project lists (as in scrap-booking, organizing the garage, putting together digital photo albums, conducting genealogy research, finding new recipes to try)…and when all the list making is done, I try to actually accomplish said tasks.

Did I mention that I’m a bit compulsive? And obsessive? I have always been an extreme person, a very passionate, addictive person…I obviously swing from hypographia and hypergraphia.

hypographia: otherwise known as writer’s block; the inability to produce meaningful words via text.

hypergraphia: the compulsion to produce reams and reams of written text, sometimes to the point of overproduction which leads to meaningless text (i.e. more quantity than quality).

As Francis Levy noted to Alice Flaherty at a 2007 symposium at the Philoctetes Center title “Hypergraphia and Hypographia: Two ‘Diseases’ of the Written Word,” perhaps my hypographia kickstarts my hypergraphia…the classic chicken or egg conundrum, indeed, but I suppose that doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that I haven’t produced anything of substantial value or meaning for about a decade, unless you count my numerous scraps of paper and lists that, really, amount to nothing more than rubbish and dreams…or dreams discarded into the rubbish bin, take your pick. Clean the kitchen or begin that short story collection…both a pipe dream, so why not share a scrap of paper?

So in a moment I end this opener to begin a new list: how to categorize my blog entries. I doubt anyone wants random tidbits about my day (please, I hate reading blogs that are really nothing more than electronic tween diaries), so I propose to find a few niches and focal points, for my own sanity and the sanity of my as of yet non-existent readers.

Definite categories to come (all non-fiction):

  • The Benzo Chronicles (oh my, I hope that one turns into a best-seller someday…an amalgam of Danielle Steele, Michael Crichton, and Aprhodite Jones couldn’t dream fiction fodder as good as my fucked up reality of a life ).
  • Tales from Ten Years at a Community College (again, these stories or characters could in no way, shape, or form have been made up…I have yet to meet a writer with a mind sick enough to create such horrible people…not even Chuck Palahniuk or Stephen King could drink or drug enough to come up with these assholes…).
  • Daily Musings (which may not be as entertaining as the above two…we’ll see…I think my daily events are pretty effin’ funny, but honestly, who knows…).

Now what will be interesting, to myself at least as I don’t know about my hoped-for future readers, is to stay abreast of my non-fiction writings and then, later, see if and how they manifest into my fiction.