Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Break your father's back

This is bizarre.  I just remembered this.

Walking home from elementary school - I was in 1st to 3rd grade?  I would step on EVERY. SINGLE. LINE. AND CRACK. in the sidewalks.

"Step on a crack, break your father's back.  Step on a line, break your mother's spine"

I used to step-hop from line to crack and repeat, over and over and over, the rhyme above and also - "please let them die in a car crash.  Please let them die in a car crash."  I remember the sidewalks had stampings from the dates they were poured (1930's or there abouts) and I remember the walnut trees and how the crows used to drop the walnuts onto the cement streets (CEMENT STREETS) to crack them open.  I remember the orange groves (that's why they called my little city 'Orange' I guess) I remember I used to try and go as slooowly as I could walking home.

I was 8 (ish) years old.

Life at Dysfunction Junction (1 in a series)

Attention class!!  This is Narc Coping Skills 101 - please get out your #2 pencils, etc.

At dinner, we were not allowed to have ANYTHING to drink.  No water, no milk, nothing.  We could, however, have a small glass of cabernet sauvignon if we wished.  (food, as we all know, is a great way to have power and control over your minions.)
Notice glasses of wine in front of children


If he ate dinner with us, it was because HE cooked (he wouldn't eat anything so pedestrian as MEATLOAF, for chrissakes) but that meant he had also been drinking wine for hours.  We would sit down to dinner (all 8 of us) and he would start pontificating about something, droning on-and-on-and-on about politics or something - Georgia sat to his right and more than once during these lectures she would sneak gulping drinks out of his glass of wine.  We thought it was hilarious - she was around 10 and would get a buzz.


For my high school graduation, they allowed me to GO to various parties (rather than have one of my own).  My mother went out and bought me a couple bottles of Boone's Farm wine *shudder* to take with me.  I puked HARD that night.


One of my sisters got me drunk for the first time - I was 15?  She took me to a party with her, I was drinking tequila sunrises *shudder*.  I puked HARD that night.  (One sister also got me stoned the first time.  One sister snorted lines of coke with me the first time.  It was the 70's.  Drugs were de rigueur at the time.  Have you SEEN Scarface??)


All they drank (usually) at home was wine.  Dad got CASES of some goddamned cab sauv labled "Bottled exclusively for the Alexander Kravitzes" - who knows how much that cost him.  We never had any of their friends over, so he must've taken it with him to parties.  Imagine talking to HIM at a party.  What a pretentious ass. 

If they stayed home they would stay up in the 'grown up' living room, listening to jazz and smoking cigars (BOTH OF THEM SMOKING HUGE CIGARS) and drink drank drunk.

They would go out FANCY sometimes, to LA - suits and organza dresses from Saks Fifth Avenue (<--quite posh in the day) and come home SMASHED.  She was his Dancing Monkey on those nights, a barbie meant to be shown off and be quiet.

The fights were EPIC.  Wine bottles thrown, screaming, crying (her) hiding in various places (us), pots and pans *bang* and *smash* (him).  I have no idea if they were ever hungover, I was NEVER around them in the morning.  Or anytime I could escape, really.

I would say ALL of us ended up with addiction problems.  Some solved it by only EVER having one glass of wine, maybe once a year.  Some of us are (WERE) still bathing our livers in vodka.  A couple toned it down and can have a drink or two before dinner and stop there <--wtf?  And our kids - shit balls.  They ALL (the older ones, the ones high-school and up I am guessing) have drinking issues.  THAT didn't make it out of the filter.  Behaviour modeled is behaviour  copied - hey!  Shouldn't that be a bumper sticker or tee shirt??  Shyeah...  drinking problems.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

You're fat because you eat too much*. Period.

I'm working on a post about dieting and it has me SO wound up.

The gist of it is - the diet industry is telling you that (on average) eating 1,200 calories a day is appropriate for a woman to lose weight.  What I have discovered is that it is a LIE - 1,200 calories a day is TOO MANY CALORIES if you want to lose weight.

Well, maybe if you ate 1,200 calories worth of bananas or oranges or zuchinni.  But 1,200 calories of frozen diet food has kept me FAT for over a year, even with biking 12 miles every-other day ALL SUMMER.  On the off days I would go to the driving range and hit a bucket of balls.  All. Summer. Long.  And I lost, what?  NOTHING.

I'll be back with a full post on this and it is SO off topic from our usual discussions, but srsly.  My narcs are dead/ish and this is what's on my mind (and MY ASS).

*Title of this post unabashedly ganked from this blog which I found by actually googling 'what did women eat in the 50's' because I have gotten so frustrated.  It's a pretty neato blog.

Power and control: 1

I've just realized that 'The Clean Plate Club' was all about power and control - as was everything in my childhood.

When one of my nephews was little, he would throw up if he ate peas.  His mother NEVER made him eat peas.  He would happily eat corn or green beans or whatever, but something about peas just grossed him the fuck out.  She respected that.

My parents, on the other hand, would have served peas at every meal. 

OH, but since meatloaf made my father sick to his stomach, he never ate dinner at home on meatloaf night.  I've talked before about how once he found out we would happily eat scrambled eggs, he decreed that FRIED eggs were the way we would now have to eat them.  Which grossed me the fuck out.

Sure kids will engage in a war of wills over food - simply BECAUSE they have the power.  Just, take the food away, no arguing, and NOTHING ELSE until the next meal THEY WILL NOT STARVE jeebus.  But if the issue is one of being grossed out, simply offering an alternative is NOT GIVING IN.  It is being respectful of someone else's preferences.

(I am not advocating catering to every whim a child has - just, if peas make him throw up, how about green beans?)

But narcs don't think like this.  First, they will sit on you to force the peas down you.  THEN, once they find out you hate peas, they will then make them an integral part of every single meal from that point out.  THEY WANT TO WIN - and they love that you have given them an issue to fight about.

The other side to this coin is - never tell a narc what you LIKE.  You'll never see it again.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Left behind - another in the series

But, this one was different.  This one paints my father in an ALMOST nice way and since the truth is what we're after, I'm shoving it in here.

There is LOTS to pick apart in this story about bad parenting, but he does show he is human.

SO - For whatever reason, Georgia and I went to a PTA meeting at the elementary school one night.  We had no reason to be there that I can remember.  I certainly didn't. - we weren't passing out cookies or helping...  I have no clue why we got to go. 

--> My parents would NEVER GO TO A PTA MEETING.  Oh holy jeebus on a crutch, that wouldn't happen.<--

Georgia and I got a ride with her friend's family, I'm thinking.  We get there and I, of course, take off and run wild like a 3rd grade banshee with the rest of whatever kids were there.  Georgia was in um...  5th, 6th grade by this time? So maybe SHE was helping her teacher with something.  ANYWHOOZLE.

All of the sudden I am one of the last people milling about and I realize I hadn't seen my sister anywhere in quite a while.  Neither was her friend and family still there.  I thought about walking home but it was beyond dark.  I don't know what calm posessed me (as even then I was a bit high strung *ahem*) and I asked to use the phone in the office.  I called home and dad came and got me.

HE TOOK ME TO DAIRY QUEEN (or equivelant) FOR AN ICE CREAM.  Because I had the good sense to call home calmly and have someone come and get me.

Georgia got in trouble for that one.  BUT - you know, honestly.  The very MINUTE we had pulled up to the school I had disappeared into the abyss.  She got busy with her friend and 3rd grade vs. 6th grade friends/thoughts/preocupation...  it wasn't like we had gone together on some hours-long adventure (like on the weekends) and she left me in a freaking cave, she just forgot. 

We weren't raised to take care of each other.  Or to watch out for each other.  To help with homework or hair brushing or anything.  I described it to Jeff like this.  Dad would get into a tirade and we would all scatter.  The thought each of us had was more along the lines of "I don't want it to be YOU, particularly, I just don't want it to be ME tonight".  Save yourself!  We were taught to stay out of anyone's business, don't get linked up.  I'm sure it saved him time - he didn't have to separate the herd when he wanted to hit. 

It made me have no relationship with my sisters till I was in my 30's.

Anyway, I didn't really WANT that ice cream, as it meant sitting there eating it with absolutely NOTHING to say to him the whole time.  He looked out the window and I ate the dish of ice cream and then we went home.  Fascinating.

But I'm here to tell the truth.  He did do some human things.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Camping Story - being punished for being afraid

August, 1967

I was 6 years old.  I had been living with THIS family for a year at this point I guess.  I had just finished first grade.  I was still a newcomer, having been *yoinked* away from my weird-ass mother in Florida (and the baby brother everyone pretended didn't exist) and *plunked* down in the middle of a shit-ton of sisters I never knew I had, a father I never knew I had, a step-mother...  I guess I was probably still reeling a bit but who knows - I was already weird, I was already outside the middle.  I NEVER cried for my mother, I was honestly (surprisingly) very sanguine about the whole thing. 

So dad had decided to rent a motor home and take the 4 youngest, with NM, on a camping trip up to Banff, Canada, near Lake Louise.  I guess they must have discussed it, I remember going to the Army/Navy store in Orange and getting two footlockers we girls would share for suitcases.  I remember the day the thing was parked outside waiting for us to pack it up.  But, being very little and outside the middle I blocked out or just didn't know any more than that.

So, here is a picture of me and my sister Leslie, headed to the bathroom.  Groovy motor home.  (we were not allowed to use the bathroom inside the motor home.  I think dad didn't know how to drain the tanks or didn't want to spend the money it would cost or whatever)
We were carrying our towels.  It was early morning.  I had ALREADY gotten in huge trouble at the beginning of the trip, for not packing the necessary clothes for myself.  I don't know if I got spanked, but I got WAY yelled at and then talked about in loud voices.  So by this point, I was already triggered and gut-sick.  In the above picture, I was wearing a raincoat and summery cotton jammers with shorts - Leslie has on a sweatshirt over her PJ top and pajama pants.  I hadn't brought the right PJs or the correct bathrobe.  Let me show you a close-up:
(Even back then my hair was completely fucked up all the time.)

I was 6 fucking years old.  Look how little I was.  I DIDN'T PACK THE RIGHT CLOTHES.  What mother, in her right mind, (or father for that matter, but this was the 60's) does that.  I wouldn't let my kid go to his dad's for the fucking weekend without checking what was in his backpack, up to the time he was like 12.  I was FREEZING in this picture.  Um, even though it was August, it was Canada.  I didn't know what the word 'Canada' was any more than I knew what a 'transmission' was.  I probably packed a book and a barbie and obviously a raincoat...  It had been 80 or 90 degrees back in Orange, CA.

So there I was.  Little.  In a NEW family with parents who palpably hated me.  <--I have asked my NM wtf about the hate, she admited dad hated me on sight.  ON SIGHT.  SO - new family, 6-yrs old.  Already sidelined, already outside.  Just another weird place for my body to be, in the already long journey of my weird ass life.  Not connecting with the sisters, they are busy being older sisters and getting to know each other anyway - step-family dynamics not yet ironed out and they were new to dad also - it was an emotional cluster-fuck.

One night, probably like the other nights before, (new campsite every night or two) dad gave one of us a flashlight and we all 4 trooped to the bathroom to brush our teeth and get ready for bed.  I found a picture of a Banff campground, but this is not the specific place:
It was dark, and woodsy and naturey, the way that only a campground in 1967 can be dark.  Back home, we live in the city, on a busy street next to train tracks.  We don't know nature.  We have one flashlight between us.  And of course, one of the older sisters had control of it (even in a normal family, siblings are shits :) la la on a dirt path, probably not far, really, from the camper.  We are probably having fun, shining the light into the trees and being creeped out.  We get to the restroom, I think it probably looked a lot like this:
Generic campground cinderblock restroom.  Steel door (keeps out bears and closes on its own).  Absolutely no lights inside, so it is even darker in there than outside.  We are fucking around, flashlight beam waving around, going pee, brushing teeth, trying to see, arguing, nudging each other out from in front of the sink - normal sister crap.  I am taking too long.  Of course, I couldn't get to the sink until they let me, and then I was probably being a pain in the ass little sister (and I probably didn't want to really go back to the camper yet).  I had to juggle toothbrush and towel and underpants and I just took too long.  They thought it would be funny and they - they left.

[I AM NOT MAD AT THEM - they had no idea how to be sisters, we had all just met.  We were strangers thrown together the prior summer - Leslie and Georgia had been living with their mom and then with Dad and more girls and jesus.  What a fucking disaster.  They weren't MAD at me, they were huffy and irritated and all OLDER and they were thoughtless in the way that kids can be and they didn't really KNOW me and if you aren't taught to be kind, how do you know??  All they knew was that I was a fuck-up and dad hated me and sidelined me, so they sidelined me too.]

That door.  THAT DOOR.  It slammed with the loudest *BANG*.  A big steel door, in a steel frame, on a cinder block building with a cement floor.  It was the biggest noise.  And then, it was dark.  so fucking dark and freezing cold the cement was ice cold i couldn't see it was black and my eyes were huge and i have never.  ever.  been so terrified again in my life.  My hands were wet and I dropped my stuff and since it was a doorknob (not like the handles we have now) I couldn't turn it and I couldn't have pulled that heavy thing open anyway and I was calling out and yelling "WAIT" and then I just SCREAMED.  It was a HOWL (this is horrible to remember) and I just kept SCREAMING I was on the ground I couldn't see my hand in front of my face I wasn't screaming for attention or to get anyone to come to me, I was screaming my terror I couldn't STOP screaming oh my god you guys. I was so little and I was so fucking scared.  And the sound of my scream echoed in the bathroom and that scream was so loud (I cannot imagine how loud it was across the campground - you know how sound carries on a cold night in the open)

I think they thought I COULD open the door, that I would be left behind but trailing. It must have been pretty close to the campsite, and they took off running (probably giggling) and by the time they got back to the campsite I was already in hysterics.

THEN.  The door slammed back open and I was grabbed by the arm and yanked and my legs were SLAPPED and SLAPPED AGAIN and the hissing whisper *be quiet you little shit stop screaming shut up* and his hands were YANKING me and dragging me back to the campsite and...  scene.

I don't remember the rest of the night.  My mind kind of shut off at that point I think.  I'm sure I was shoved into the motorhome and yelled at and it was quell horrible, the end.  I'm ALSO sure that the other sisters were traumatized too.  They caused it, sure, but they didn't mean for me to get BEATEN and they certainly didn't anticipate my screaming.  I do NOT know for sure, but I wonder if they got lectured about leaving me behind.  I don't think their behavior was condoned in any way.  And I know they were probably horrified at the results.

I think, honestly, that I thought they wouldn't come back.  That they wouldn't notice I was gone (distinct possibility in my little brain).  I was SO outside the middle by this time already that I knew I was invisible and meaningless ("we can get a donkey to do what you do around here!" [direct quote from many lectures over the years]) I just knew they weren't coming back and I would be in that place forever.  It was just such a NORMAL thing, to be forgotten.

I'm sure he and NM were sitting by the campfire, enjoying a martini or 12 and enjoying the 10 minutes of silence with no kids and I'm sure I startled him and probably embarassed him.  Hateful fucking bastard.  I am SO glad you're dead.  I hope that last heart attack HURT like a mother fucker.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I’m odd.  I get it.  I’ve been odd since I don’t remember when.  Since birth, I’d bet. 

When you are told every second that your response to every-day events is wrong – that you are WRONG (stop crying!  I was just kidding!  You’re fine, get up!) you become convinced of your wrongness.  When you are sidelined from the family from birth, you become an edge dweller.  And your oddness becomes exactly who you are.  When you are forced to live mentally and emotionally outside of the center – you find yourself stretching and shrinking and folding and contorting to fit in the leftover spaces.  The cracks behind, the spaces next to, the leftover areas that are pinchy and uncomfortable.  Just to have someplace to live and breathe.  You become a Gollum.

When you are forced to be odd in social settings (wearing the wrong clothes to school, bringing the wrong lunches.  Never having a lunch.  Being late to school every day and falling asleep in class) plus you were never taught to rely on your internal barometer of what is normal behavior, what behavior to emulate, what to avoid - you end up being ostracized and the oddness becomes infinitely more permanent.  You find a way to get to be ok with being ALONE and odd, or you would go nuts.  Or you do both.  You never can figure out what is normal social behavior so you manufacture your own.

You don’t get invited to sleep-overs very often, except with the friends who have sympathetic parents and who know a kid doesn’t get to be so weird without HELP.

Soon (if you are me) you start to HATE anything normal, you love the odd.  You wouldn’t take Davey Jones on a bet, but Michael Nesmith was YOUR Monkey.  Danny Kaye and Dwight Yokum and Lyle Lovett become your champions – they are wonderful and weird and smart and have been forced to the fringe, just like ME.  At first, it is anything different just for the sake of it.  But then you realize that those people – they grew up with the same burdens you did and they are so much more YOU than any main-stream people.  And it translates over to furnishings and collectibles and style. 

 Stuck in a 50's time warp - I love my living room

But you always feel how ODD you are.  How very fucking different you are from every other person on the planet.  And yeah – I feel a little superior sometimes too.  Because I see things that people do not see.  I am SO AWARE and it’s like they are all asleep and what in the hell are they good for??  I cannot be in a social setting with a bunch of people without NOTICING that they are so fucking stupid with their idiot conversations and their stupid romantic entanglements.  They have no logic, no depth.  They all like the same things, the same teams, the same books.  They are all lemmings.  How many times have I heard “you are SO weird!” from people.  And ‘weird’ equates to ‘wrong’ every time.  Nobody expects 'funny', they only want to hear the regular bullshit they hear every day.  Next time someone asks you 'how are you?' in passing, instead of saying 'fine, answer 'hunky dory!' or 'Jim Dandy!' and watch how fast you take them out of their comfort zone.  They (most people) actually hate it.  HATE DIFFERENT.  And they let you know.

It becomes a huge burden, being odd.  It’s heavy and awkward and YOU are awkward everywhere and it always shows, like a streamer of toilet paper stuck to your personality, and sometimes you just wish you could be normal.  Normal and boring and NOT DIFFERENT.  But you’ve been odd for so long.  A lifetime.  And how can you UN-see?  Different is now a way of life, a BADGE OF HONOR.  But, maybe one day you decide you’ve had enough of being so left out all the time and you want to make an effort to change, to fit it.  THERE IS NO FIT IN, btw, but you figure it should be relatively easy to pretend to fit in.  After all, you did it in fits and starts your whole life.  Every job started out great, you were NORMAL!  But then, eventually, your oddness started creeping in and you can’t hold the act together for long so then you quit before you get fired (hopefully) and move on to another job/boyfriend…  But so, you figure you will try, another time, here at 51-years old in this new place – you will try and see how it goes.

I was invited to a Bunco party about a month ago.  This is where this all sort of started.  It was a group of women from my apartment complex, getting together for some sort of dice game and food and chatting.  FINE.  Jeff looked askance!  I bit down on every instinct I have and I went.  It was hell.

These women – what in the fuck?  They talktalktalk and chatter schmattah blah blah about NOTHING.  But it comes out fast and furious.  The woman in charge, you KNOW HER she is in charge of everything all the time.  Short and trim and efficient.  She has one of EVERYTHING you might need and she takes charge as if this Bunco game was important.  There is lots of food everywhere and lots of LOUD TALKING and a frenetic dice game where people yell BUNCO! randomly and a timer *dings* and once in a while everyone gets up and moves tables like a Chinese fire drill ßthis was exactly the wrong kind of game for ME, I get that.  But the people.  They were idiots and creepy and weird and then once I talked to a woman who sounded really interesting but I realized she was having a lot of really big fun! at this thing and if she could talk to these people all night and like it then she wouldn’t be able to talk to me for 5 minutes.

Yes, I judged.  I judged and they came up lacking and I was so upset because WHY can’t I just be happy and be normal and just let stuff go?  Why do I have to BE SO ODD.  I went home and CRIED because I must be a horrible human being, I can’t stand these perfectly normal people or their stupid dice game but THEY all can stand each other!  Nobody else in that whole room looked fring-y.  It was me, only me, lonely me.  Poor poor pitiful ME.  And, yes – they noticed I was weird and I hadn’t even DONE anything weird, I am marked for life.

My only point, I guess, is that – it really is a burden being so odd.  Being so weird and KNOWING I am so different.  I see regular folks doing regular things but I can’t join in really, because – why? Tell me – why can’t I just be regular.  I DO have friends who get me.  I DO.  My friend France back in San Diego, she GETS ME and that was so surprising, so WOW because she is so quiet and demure and she saw me.  Really SAW me.

Jeff – the saint.  He is odd also, he knows it, we know it.  His parents will never win any good parenting award, to put it in a nutshell (ha ha nutshell).  He says we are eccentric.  I say we don’t have enough money to be called eccentric.  We hang out together a lot alone because we think the same things are funny and I never have to explain my brain to him.  My son I raised in my own image, har, so he has no choice but to get me.  But I know he feels odd too, since he was raised to think that sort of thing is comfortable and normal.  He will have to fight that his whole life too.  My eldest sister, surprise surprise, is one of us also.

Alexis and I in St. Michaels

 I know you have all written about this – what I call our Super Powers.  Hyper vigilance, hyper awareness.  That we think dark humor is the ONLY humor.  So now, through you all, I have realized that childhood abuse creates this.  ALL childhood abuse - and there IS some comfort in knowing I am not the only one.  But, we are all acquainted from the comfort of our own homes – we aren’t actually HANGING OUT – I don’t think we could even take EACH OTHER for very long.  I am a hermit.  Are all of you hermits too?  It is the only way for me to survive, I am very serious here.  I require quite a bit of alone-time.  I need to NOT be around people.  They do not understand me, and I am SO tired of trying to explain myself or to fit in.