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Posts Tagged ‘benzo’

My first memory of going to look for my dad at 3:00 a.m. (or thereabouts) dates back to 1984; I was four. I’m sure these late night / early morning adventures took place long before then; after all, my mom and dad had been married for three years before I was even born, so this behavior I’m sure was nothing new. But my first clear memory of looking for my dad dates back to about then.

Have you seen the movie Christine? When the character Dennis Guilder drives away from Arnie’s house at night, troubled and and a bit angry, that song, “As I walk along, / I wonder what went wrong, / With our love, a love that was so strong / ….”. I don’t know who sings it; the Misfits maybe? It seemed like a throaty girl voice, like Carly Simon or Janis Joplin before the cigarettes and whiskey (with an e because I’m thinking she didn’t waste her time or money on proper Scotch). Anyways, that sound is playing in the background as Dennis drives away and the streetlights make these weird shadows, these shadows shaped like the rearview mirrors that bend and melt and drape over the over his face and the interior as the car maneuvers down the streets.

My first memory of looking for my dad was exactly like that, except my mom was driving the car, not Dennis, and she looked a lot more than troubled and a bit angry. She was also crying a lot. I was laying down in the backseat, being quiet, probably still half-asleep from being drug of bed for this early morning rendezvous. My mom smoked, and sang, and cried, and occasionally cussed. She asked me if I was ok, and not to worry, just go back to sleep.

I don’t remember if we found my dad that night. But many nights were like that. And, at the end of the day (or early the next morning, I guess) he always found us. He always found his way back home. I thought that was a good thing; I didn’t particularly want to know where my dad had been. I knew he had been bad places. I knew he had been drinking. That was a constant in my life; I never knew my dad any other way. Later I would learn that drugging and whoring was a big part of the drinking lifestyle, as well, or at least his.

But as a little girl, I just wanted my dad to come home and my mom to quit crying. And when he came home in the mornings, admittedly she would cry and yell even louder and more intensely than before, but it would normally get better. My dad would always hang his head in shame and mumble something about how sorry he was and how he would never let it happen again. Normally he would want me sitting in his lap while he apologized and sucked up to my mom; I was some sort of shield, I guess, from her wrath and fury. Within 24 hours, all would be well.

And then three days later, he’d be gone again. Rinse, lather, repeat cycle above.

She would punish him sometimes, of course. I remember once we actually found him at some scuzzy, fat, white lady’s house over off of Buchanan and the Boulevard, across the street from Horace Mann school. She brought his clothes over in a black plastic garbage sack and threw them in her yard. And he came back a few days later.

One of the funnier things I saw my mom do was pack him a special lunch before he went to work one morning following his typical late night shenanigans. I knew what was in that pail, but he didn’t. I’m sure his workmates had a damn good laugh when he opened his lunch pail at noon to discover a pile of bologna, still with the rinds, thrown into his pail with a few slices of cheese, still in the wrappers, a bag of chips, crushed to powder, and some moldy bread. Oh yeah, and a water bottle of hot ugly AMA tap water. Hee hee, take that cheater!

This went on for 20 years or so, at least that I am aware of. My dad always found his way home. And mom always let him back through the front door. The locks were never changed. But, she changed.

He changed, too. Out of necessity more than anything else. My dad is 63 now. His health is failing, both mentally and physically. He’s too old to drink and drug and whore. Now he drinks two beers and he’s tanked. Falls asleep on the couch. A shot of whiskey for his toothache, perhaps. Quiet, family man. It’s nice. I wish I could have had that before my brother and I had grown up, but it is what it is. I’m glad he’s better, although that’s really a relative term.

My mom…I cannot say she has changed for the better. Something died inside, a long time ago. I was either to selfish to see it or in denial. But there’s no looking the other way now. She’s broken. Damaged. Hollow.

I suppose in some ways I’m more like my mom than she realizes. I have her flaw of being a doormat to people I love and to people I think love me, even if it’s in the smallest possible way. Maybe that’s why she gets so angry with me.

My mom didn’t have a choice. She had a kid to raise, no education, and no skills. She suffered through that marriage for me, and later, for my brother. Now we’re grown up. She’s still suffering. She looks at me and says, you have a choice; you have everything I didn’t; I sacrificed everything, so you, my daughter, wouldn’t have to make the same mistakes as me, as my mom, your granny. You can take care of yourself. You still have a chance at happiness, even though you’re thirty. Don’t make the same fucking mistakes I did.

Change the locks.

Don’t let him keep finding his way back home.

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I woke up this morning and promptly fell apart.

It all began (don’t you loathe stories that begin with that odious phrase?) with my morning cleaning routine. Yes, you read correctly. Cleaning routine. I actually have a list (imagine that) taped on the fridge with each day of the week and what should be cleaned that day. Kind of like a McDonald’s checklist hanging on the bathroom doors, with a list of duties that are timestamped and initialed by the unlucky worker who had to perform those tasks (toilet and tub have been scrubbed, baseboards wiped down, cosmetics table reorganized, mirrors polished, rugs washed and dried at 8:47 a.m. by A.O.).

So I was working on my kitchen and an hour later, after scrubbing the stove, wiping down the cabinets, washing dishes, hand scrubbing the floor, and starting a pot of coffee, I thought I’d end my kitchen routine with a load of laundry. Mainly rugs from the kitchen and bathroom floors, a few pillowcases perhaps. I popped the dirty rugs into my Speed Queen washer and walked away to the living room, to plan a new cleaning schedule with some additions to the existing tasks and a reorganization of days to clean. (Yes, I’m anal, but not in the way that guys like, so that means I’m just single and really, really tidy…).

As I began my list of additions (clean ceiling fans weekly, scrub baseboards around the house weekly, move washer and dryer and fridge from their normal homes to dust and mop underneath the appliances bi-weekly, etc.) I also began to get a bit panicky. I really don’t know how people have a clean home and a full time job. Seriously. Do they all have maids? I basically have two full time jobs, plus my writing which I don’t get paid for, that takes up most of my time. As I looked at my schedule and wondered how in the hell I was going to pull this off when the fall semester started and I went back to work, I heard the sound of running water. Well, more like pouring water. Like rapids of water. In the kitchen.

I knew immediately what had happened.

When I moved into this house, this lovely quaint home in an old historic neighborhood, I didn’t have a washer or dryer; I did my clothes at the laundromat. For about three months. Because it sucked. I finally went to the local Taylor’s and bought a washer and dryer, brand new. The Speed Queen, recommended because it is so powerful. So powerful that when they installed it in my home, I figured out that the spin cycle, which throws the water off, is too strong for the plumbing int his house. So every time the washer hits spin cycle, I have to go in the kitchen, keep an eye on the sink, and when the sink starts filling with water due to the backlog of water being thrown into the pipes by the washer, I have to raise the lid of the washer, stop the cycle, let all the water drain back down into the sink, and then close the lid to start the cycle again. If I do not do this, the sink overflows and gallons of water pool up on the kitchen floor. And of course, any food in the pipes from the night before gets deposited on the floor, as well.

So I walked into my kitchen and stepped in dirty washer water and old rice from the last night’s dinner. And, to top it off, my house is slightly slanted so the water all had all rushed to the opposite side of the kitchen and pooled under the fridge and stove.

What did I do? I cleaned it up, of course. And bawled the entire time.

It just doesn’t seem fair. Yeah, I know life isn’t fair. I know that everyone gets equal doses of unfairness in life. But, as the pig in Animal Farm noted, some animals are more equal than others, so I assume that some people get more equal shares of shitty hands in the game of life than others.

I cried and asked myself, and God, why oh why do I have to suffer through this? I simply can’t do this alone. What is “this,” you ask?

My fucking life.

I am spending hours a day perfecting my lawn, perfecting my home, researching to finish my second M.A. thesis, reading new pedagogy books to stay abreast of writing techniques that I can bring into my classroom, reading new fiction to stay abreast of the competitive writing market I’m trying to enter, growing fresh herbs so I can learn fancy new recipes, making fucking apricot jam to give out to family and friends, trading BPAL on the forum, doing yoga and walking and toning to perfect my body, touching up my roots and making sure I have weekly pedis and facials (all done at home, of course) to perfect my looks…I have not even begun to list everything written in my daily planner.

And all for what? Why I am so obsessed with perfection? Why am I working so hard to achieve everything and be the best at everything, even stupid shit like having a clean home and being Betty Crocker in my free time?

I am obviously laboring under the delusion that being perfect will somehow buy me love from someone. A permanent, unconditional love. That elusive feeling and state of life that we all read about, see on TV, and some of us are lucky enough to actually witness it in real life, maybe in friends or family members. Maybe, just maybe, some of you actually have it in your own life.

It is very difficult and painful to know that you are a disappointment. And I am. I am not playing the sympathy card or seeking pity; I’m simply stating the facts.

I am my mother’s greatest disappointment. I figured this out long ago, in my teens, when my personality and convictions actually began to arise and show themselves. My mom loves me, don’t get me wrong. But she doesn’t necessarily like me. If we were to simply meet on the street, she wouldn’t be friends with me.

I’m not like her. She doesn’t like that. I’m a lot like my dad. She doesn’t like that. She loves my dad, but she doesn’t really like him, you know?And she feels the same about me. She would never admit it, and she’ll probably not talk to me for quite a while when she reads this. But I only speak truth.

Like many people, I tried to find love and acceptance outside of a family who really didn’t offer it. And, I failed at that, as well. You will read more of that story in the Benzo Chronicles, but suffice it to say that I couldn’t even get an unemployed, dirty, ambitious-less, and lazy man to like me, not to mention love me. It sucks that it took fifteen years for me to figure that out, but that’s just a testament to my dogged determination…I tried really hard, as with everything in my life, to be a success with him. But I totally and utterly failed.

I can only surmise that my need to be the best at everything I can be, whether it is teaching or housekeeping or writing or whatever…I can only surmise that it is my feeble attempt to find a way to validate myself. Most people get their sense of security and meaning in life from their loved ones; they are here for a reason, you know? They are important to someone, somebody, somewhere.

I want to be important to someone, too. But until then, I’m just going to back to the kitchen and raise the lid on the washer. I can hear the water hitting the floor again.

Sigh. FML.

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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.

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