Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Things have been very hard, I know. I saw a boy tie himself to a tree yesterday, by the ankle. He tied himself hard and the ankle bled a little onto a walk about of black ants carrying a dead, or wounded. Two birds fell out of trees in the park, dead. A hissing stream of low lying clouds rained for three hours and then disappeared and every older man's face was angry and grumpy as he drove his car or his truck. I was, myself, twice attacked by jumper cables, and that night I also locked myself out of the house with nothing but duct tape and a jar of organic peanut butter. At midnight, my neighbors began vacuuming while playing harmonica, and no one answered the door. A police car drove by and kept driving. A car alarm suspended belief for two hours before the work alarm went off. All this time I thought of you, and your spider veins and smart eyes, those dark cracked glasses you won't replace and your summer ankle socks, your cat, your tom tom, your Belgian waffles with honey, the cliff of your nose that you hate and I love, your Pierce Brosnan underwear (haha you always hated him) and the slices of peach that you put on a plate next to my cereal at breakfast after M. died.
I know you are speechless and I haven't called you but one time at midnight when my neighbor's mowed the lawn and I could hear you breathing and you cried and I felt like shit and I'm REALLY SORRY I ever called. I knew better but I miss you. My fingers hurt and my vagina tingles like it's falling asleep and I know you have got to do what you have no choice about doing and I know I love you and wouldn't love you if you weren't like this but I am like ME and so I hate it, anyway. Even though there isn't another slideshow to put in. Yesterday Lily posted the news and two people called me who I know for a FACT that you hate so I won't mention their names but they both received scathing replies from me. Of course that is a total lie but I did tell them briefly that I was too busy to really talk but thank you. I know you might/might not be smiling at that point and at least that is some relief, or the idea of it.
A big propaganda had begun in the house and I'm supposed to be going along with it but I'm not. J. is not talking to me again and S. said I was insensitive and pushy, which I translate into ' not going along with the script '. I lost my toothbrush and it made me miss you so much I cried but then J. opened the bathroom door and when he saw me crying he made this HORRIBLE face like I was the pathetic and walked away and for a minute I thought about opening his neck artery with his toothbrush, like they always do in movies. It made me HATE him for a minute. Really. That hate feeling where you think you might throw up, even though I know right now you are shrugging at me, it's true, and I can't just let it go, because he's such a wimp. He's more muscular and tall than ever and he's the biggest coward of all time. He's not crying, though.
I'm sure you remember that S. lost her license last year after the work party incident and she just got it back and wanted me to pay for her insurance. When I wouldn't loan her the money she hissed at me. I can't BELIEVE I'm the one everyone scowls at when I'm being HISSED at. I know you are thinking this is all the same bullshit as always and it's my fault for being unhappy since I should move out. And you are right. I'm just saying that nothing has changed. Not even me. I still miss you. I miss you more than ever. I think you are the closest thing to real I've ever known outside of Mrs. Nickels and she is a little too real, if you ever smelled her up close. I'm so lonely is what I"m saying. L. says I'm unfocused and he's right but he's so focused it's shit scary. He's so focused I think he's literally squeezing himself to death. His eyes bulge when he's mad. I guess the reason I have to tell you these same things is because sometimes I think I'm starting to see the reverse of everything, like they see it, and I wonder if I'M the one who is crazy, and then I feel like I"m going to throw up and my head buzzes and I feel trapped inside of myself and I don't know what to think or believe and that is right when you would say something really simple and honest, maybe not the most brilliant thing ever but so honest, and I would be able to breathe and that huge dark crushing weight would ease up a little.
L. is so quiet all the time. I can't look at him. I can't stand to see him like this. He's shrinking up. The worst part is that I think he likes it and the scariest part is that I know he does, he likes being like this and I can see by the way his face is that it feels kind of GOOD to him, to be this controlled and tell these lies to himself and I know the truth is never going to make him feel like that. So the truth loses. And that means that I lose. I lose L. That is what it means. When I move out- I WILL, stop smirking- L. and S. will call and I'll call them but the final closeness between us all will be gone...you know... all of us, telling the same story. All of us in on it. They are starting to hate me because I'm not saying the right lines anymore. I actually said that to S. one time and she mocked me. She said I was ridiculous and dramatic and always sure I was right. That's what she always says, because what else can she say. In the kitchen last weekend S. actually broke a plate because I said that P. had never really liked us. Which is the most honest and obvious thing to anyone- anyone who knows us- but for the three of us? It's not what we agreed to say. You know? You do and that is why I call you at midnight when the lawn mower is going. I'm sorry about that. Next time I'll call at noon. I miss you so much. Please hurry and get better.
I just read this over and realized I said hardly anything to comfort you. ( I was going to say 'make you feel better' but doesn't that sound so brutal really? ) That's because, as we both know, I am an infantile beast. But I do love you.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
mouth. dark ink tipped trees
collect birds, shake them gently
out of their dusty heads.
i am spinning, my feet are flat.
i cannot hear anything but traffic
the noise haunts me: i gut-ache for bird
song, water falling, leaves masturbating.
the ground thrums with horns, tire
tread. i lean into my dogs thick head
and breathe his fur, his skin. something
organic blooms, i open a window:
i cannot hear anything but traffic.
the computer blinks it's insomniac eye,
i slip from the sunroom to the backyard
at dusk- like a teenager, like a child,
press my face into the paltry grasses,
fecund dirt, a small beetle waves-
i think this neighborhood is so friendly
slip a pocket of dirt into my lip like chew.
the sun lets it's orgasm reach a pink frenzy,
i am undulating between the black night
inside this grass and this dirt
and the bright eruption of universe
that settles easily into afterglow.
i cannot hear anything but traffic.
i think this is why i am crying,
and eating dirt, lying in the dark
wet mouth of an evening in September.
maggie may ethridge
I picked up on John Edwards around the same time that many average liberal citizens did, being attracted to candidates who publicly discuss the issues that matter to me- human rights, health care, the environment- for which Edwards has been a great spokesperson. As soon as I began to read about Edwards, I was reading about his wife Elizabeth, and the loss of their 16 year old son Wade in a car accident on a windy day by the beach. I watched the married couple rise together in the campaign for President, and came to an informal, casually knowledgeable opinion about Edwards, which is the description I would use for most of my opinions on politicians. I am not a passionate political follower, nor an in depth reader of political books or articles. I read a handful of articles through major media like the New York Times, and come up with an opinion.
What I was really interested in was his personal life; as a mother I was horrified and compelled to read about how a family survives after such a loss- I searched through their accounts of Wade's death as if there could possibly be such an inane thing as Tips on How To Survive The Greatest Tragedy of Your Life. There is not. There are only factors. John and Elizabeth entered their living hell with good mental health, money and support, which may or may not make it more likely for a person to survive such a loss without spiraling into addiction, mental illness or complete detachment. They also had other children to care for, and they did, and eventually crept into public consciousness, and my own, in the Presidential Election.
And then Elizabeth was diagnosed with breast cancer. I read the People headline, the updates on MSN on her exact diagnosis and prognosis, and hoped for her a total remission. I was old enough to know that life does not have a limit on suffering. And so it proved: Elizabeth's cancer came back, and her prognosis was 'hope for ten years'. I read her memoir, largely about the death of Wade, their firstborn, and found her voice and her story to be obvious: she was a woman who had lost a son she loved with her entire self, and she was carrying on with the strength of her spirit for her children and her husband. The memoir revealed little about the dynamics of her marriage. John worked, she worked, they parented, the loved. No depths revealed, the marriage kept private, for whatever reason- to keep it sacred, or to keep it hidden, or both.
When the headlines announced John Edward's affair, I felt the blow in my gut. After years of reading about John and Elizabeth and being a married mother of 3, I felt the blow as women feel for one another in our homes, our health, our children, our marriage, these things are the centrifugal life forces for many of us. I stopped to think of the emotional crisis unfolding before me, paper in hand. The private lives of these two people, revealed in strangely shaped chunks that the media, and it's consumers, myself, would try to put together, spinning them around until they came up with a shape that made the most sense. But the truth of the emotional life of these two adults? We can only guess. All that is clear and obvious is that both of them have suffered irrecovely from the death of their son Wade and Elizabeth's cancer diagnosis, and John Edwards was not able to cope in a way that did not humiliate and devastate his wife.
And now the final media reveal: He is the father. A book deal in the works with a man close to Edwards saying that Edwards planned on marrying his mistress, the mother of Frances who is looking assuredly to be Edward's daughter. Edwards told his lover that they would be married after Elizabeth died, says the story. John Edwards sits in virtual seclusion, his family hiding out, waiting, waiting for the next move. My mind circles around Elizabeth like water round a drain, going nowhere. And yet I cannot help but wonder how she is coping. How she is feeling. Does she have any emotions left, or is she numb with the continual heartbreak of life? Is John Edwards ashamed of himself, devastated, or is he empty, exhausted and angry at being caught and cornered in his greatest fault and failing? How will Elizabeth find a peaceful way to leave this life? I look to those who are suffering because I have failed, and I have suffered, and I want to see how we do it, us human beings, how do we make it through when we make it at all?
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Then they decide this form of communication is ' yay! my favorite! ' and do it. all. the. time.
2 I turn on a fan. Someone else gets up ten minutes later and turns off the fan. They do not make
eye contact. They don't dare those sneaky hot cowards.
3 I walk. Someone else walks into me. They walk away. Without a word. Oh, excuse me. I forgot
what a queen you are. What a prince.
4 Someone asks me a question. I begin answering. Someone interrupts and says ' I know '
This someone might be 7 years old, with long blonde hair and large blue eyes and a penchant for sneeze-farting.
5 Someone refuses to get up in the morning. Someone is late to school. Someone turns to
me and says ' Thanks a lot, MOM. '
6 Someone asks me a question. I begin answering. Someone gazes off in the other direction
and it appears they have had a stroke, an alien abduction, been taken in the Rapture, or
have the attention span of a small microbe imbedded in the ass of a smaller microbe. As
a test, I stop talking mid-sentence. Someone nods and drifts off in the other direction.
A few minutes later, someone asks me THE SAME QUESTION. AGAIN.
7 I sit at the toilet. I have to urinate. After urinating, I go to wipe my Lavina. There is no tissue
paper. This is because my entire family has no hands. No arms, either. They are also legless,
and cannot move without scooting along on the ground as an inchworm, and in this way
they are able to reach all of electronics and candy, while I am getting toilet paper and cleaning
up cat shit.
8 I make dinner. I go to throw away trash. There is no space in the trash can. There is an
enormous, terrifyingly alive pile of towering refuse that is in danger of growing the legs
that my family would need to take out the trash.
9 I take out the trash. I come back in, after taking out the trash, making dinner, cleaning the
living room, putting in toilet paper, working all day, feeding animals, and before putting
children to bed, making lunches, and cleaning up after dinner. I ask someone to move their
things and clean them up. They sigh. I growl in frustration. OH YOU ARE SUCH A MARTYR,
10 I leave my house, my husband and my children, and move to Barbados, where I take up
heavy drinking and eating. I lay on the beach and tan. I get up, and head toward the hotel,
where I meet my new lover, Roberto. Roberto and I make passionate love on the floor (ouch)
and I use the rest room. I go to wipe my Lavina......
10a I stay home, and take deep breaths while plotting how I can booby trap the trash can to
spring explode on the next person who puts an object down on a full pile of trash.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Floss Wolfgang and Bodie's teeth. (dog-s)
Run something cottony soft and clean deep inside Bodie's ears. *
Rub Bodie's stomach lumpsack to assure that it is not turning cancerous. **
Open the lip of Bellatrix to observe the sore there and ensure it has not reddened. (cat)
Penetrate all feline poop to observe any possible worms.
notes to make me look better:
* although I have taken him to the vet to have his ears treated ** although I have taken him to the vet to have it biopsied
Monday, September 14, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
On that note I think I'll make a list of the top of my head of some of my favorite biographies, and why not, autobiographies.
1 Middletown, America by Gail Sheehy ( the stories of a few post 9-11 widows )
2 Savage Beauty ( the life of Edna St. Vincent Millay, the famous poet ) - fascinating, brilliant.
Truly a shining star in in my library.
3 Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller ( an African childhood )
4 First, They Killed My Father- forgetting author...I dare you to read this without weeping.
5 Death At An Early Age by Jonathan Kozol ( a teacher in inner city black schools turned
writer and advocate )
6 The Big House author I'm forgetting- but this book is a true gem. The kind of book you
dream about stumbling on, the one you've never heard of but are absolutely charmed by
and fall in love with.
7 Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Cook ( this series is astonishing in it's ability to combine
scholarship with juicy storytelling and politics all in one. i've read the series twice
and can't wait to let time pass and read it again! )
8 The Glass Castle ( memoir of a fucked up childhood, but with an intellectual and forgiving
eye and ear, really good writing )
9 Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs ( awful childhood, disturbing & hilarious )
10 Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott ( heartbreaking and funny, something about it
just gets to you and stays that way, the first year of a single mother's life and Lamott's
most popular work to date )
xo- looking forward to reading all your blogs this Monday morning. I'm home with Lola who is feverish, sore throatish and sick to stomachish. My boss is unhappy with me. I had to make one of those calls you hate to make to work, where I'm like ' Yeah she is suddenly really sick the day before I come back to work on a three day vacation ' and I was so upset thinking she was thinking I was lying I assured her I was not! To which she cleared her throat and hoped Lola would feel better. Oye.
* remember that movie with Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis- Witness? And that really hot Amish in a barn scene? And did you know McGillis came out as gay in the last few years?
Friday, September 4, 2009
I never knew my father. I never had anyone to compare him to before he became the man I feared so deeply and profoundly I have spent my adult life peering over my shoulder, hoping not to see him. I grew up with his madness. Where was he? Was he in there? In that genius mind, that endless rubbernecking articulation of lies? Was that my father throwing fruit at the wall, screaming at Mom, a tassel of bananas exploded in yellow against the cream paint- he looked remarkably like a lion, 70's hair still framing his strong handsome face... was my father made of exploding bananas and fingers thick and foul as the cigars he smoked? Or was my father the young man my mother fell in love with, sweet and passionate and gentle and loved by everyone who knew him- the man he insisted he was, the same man who cradled a dying girl in the hospital and wrote songs for his daughters? Did he know these daughters could not hear his music? Only his voice, loud and vibrating and embarrassingly, humiliatingly, terrifyingly out of control. An adult male not in control of his temper, not in control of his mind, not in control of his life. That was my father.
The last time I had a episode of what I think of as my ' panic disease ' and I suppose could be called ' generalized anxiety disorder ' or ' post traumatic stress syndrome ' or ' depression with severe anxiety ' or ' panic disorder ' but all end in the same room, with my head in my husband's lap, my face as I see it in the bathroom light completely ugly and unrecognizable except for the freckles and blue eyes. I stared at my face the last time round, in the flourescent light, stared through three days of almost nonstop crying and shaking and pills and looked as hard as I could into my blue eyes. Who is in there? I wondered. I looked SO HARD. I wanted to see what was left of me when I was mentally ill. Who was I when I was not funny, or strong, or sweet, or even functional? My eyes were smaller than normal, bleary, terrified, young and horribly old at the same time. Yet I thought, looking so hard my hands white knuckled the tiled bathroom counter, that I could see myself in there, the same Maggie I remember knowing, something essential, from my earliest memories.
I have spent my life testing myself. Am I my father? Am I my mother? Am I an entirely different creature, or bound by blood to a legacy I cannot escape? I have done cruel things and watched to see how far I would go, the detachment that was such a part of my life until only the last ten years marking me Observer, while the physical me took cues and took action, then stood back and looked up at The Observer: Are you happy now? I had terrible PPD after Dakota was born. I wasn't born myself- 20 years old, barely survived childhood, still in shock at what my life was. I had this boy and my hormones went bad. My chemicals went bad. I was a swamp of evil foul smelling things that must be brought up and exposed to light and air, lest they kill me. It was expose or die. I had to see myself for what I was, I had to find out. I did shitty things, finding that out. I don't know how else to live with myself but to remember what my life was. I got help, so much help, I stuffed help down my throat like a bulemic vomits food- books, friends, articles, biographies, movies, quotes, anything that could help me find my way out. I found out what Holocaust survivors know, what great psychologists and humanists and scientists know: we can only rise so far, human beings, in rotten trash, we bake, we struggle, we keen, we cry in our cribs Come Get Me I'm Not All Right- but if there is no answer, for too long, no hands reaching to our skin, no comfort in relentless misery, suffering and despair, we fall. This is why- you know?- how we say?- Only Human? This is why.
So I screamed and fought and demanded help, and I was lucky, because I had help, the right kind, yes I was a lucky one. I cry for those who have not been so lucky. I cry for my sister who was helped too late for me to keep my hands on her boat, to keep her from sailing past the horizon. I have not seen her in seven long years.
I looked into my own eyes in the bathroom's gross light, and realized I could still see myself, but it was simply because I was not sick enough. If I went further down the abyss, if I sailed past my husband's grasp into the rock, rock, rock of insanity, I would not find myself- I would not know to look. Where would I be, if I were not in my own mind?
Why do we love the people we love, and how do we keep loving them when they are not themselves? When a child dies, the parents have terrible odds of the marriage surviving. I know if the impossible happened, I would not be the same Maggie that Mr. Curry married. I would be someone new, certainly essential parts of me would be distilled and brought along, but still. Nothing is above the relentless change of nature, of human nature. Not our memories even, as my Grandmother's dying taught me. Not our bodies and not our youth.
It is the incredibly poignant qualities of human life that surround these truths and make an essential distillation where a madness may rot. We hope despite death. We love despite loss. We heal despite decay. We make love despite hate. We cleave, and we come apart, and if we are terribly lucky, like I am, we are tossed about the waves with tears in our eyes and palms full of salt but the wind blowing a thrill through our hearts just the same.
I do not know who I am, essentially. But I believe that looking, and demanding answers of myself, requiring a practice of moral rigor and 'sharpening the blade of the soul' as C.S. Lewis said of his dying wife's struggles against cancer, are what will give a depth, a finite and infinite moment that brings peace to the troubled human heart- a grain of salt, a piece of the fabric of the Universe- and this is the 'me' i saw in that bathroom mirror, the me I recognized- fucked up, so far gone! but still looking for a way out., still fighting. I know I have done hard work, the work of love, the work of life, and I can rest, even as my failures and faults try to define me, I refute their claim with my back to the wind.
Rage, rage!!!! Against the dying of the light!!!
Yes. Oh hell yes.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Lola wrote a little note in the comments to you all. You guys rock. Thank you for making my sweetface feel so great.
dictated to me by Lola-
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
1. Why do Bellatrix and Ron Weasley still poop on the sunroom floor even though they own a very fine and clean litterbox in said sunroom?
2. How do I email people back from their specific comments on my blog post?
3. Is Oprah real?
4. Where did the thousands of pictures I can no longer find anywhere on my IPhoto go?
5. How can I make a copy of my novel on Word without copy and pasting it page by page, so that I can use said copy to mess with the whole structure without fearing irreperable damage?
6. I want to repaint my coffee table. How do I do this without filling in the lines that follow the rectangular top with paint? Right now the table is white and the lines are just the bare wood, carved into the table, free of paint. I can't just tape the lines because I couldn't make the tape perfectly fit the very thin lines and it would look very sloppy.
You guys rock! Thank you so much for all the helpful and and hilarious comments. I'll get back to you and let you know how things work out. I'm especially excited to be able to work 'better' on my novel now that I can have a safe copy.