Words: On Trump, but Mostly My Dad

Politics are not my thing, but a little nagging voice inspired me to write about Trump’s disparaging comments about women. Saturday night, with my laptop on my lap and a glass of wine (from France, of course), I sat down and let my fingers type their way through the messiness to find meaning in the words.

What Trump said out loud wasn’t shocking to me. Nor had I placed him on a pedestal high enough to induce feverish anger. To me, the news was as blasé as hot dogs for dinner.

But I was unhinged about something. The words poured out Helter Skelter crazy with no sensibility to them. The slant finally began to drift toward my father.

Ah yes, my father.

He had been in town last week. Knowledge of his proximity had rendered me into a weak-kneed, vulnerable scaredy cat. My heart raced at the first phone call. I did not answer.

My dad, father to three girls, was known for the opposite of exquisite praise. Fed up with bickering, he would say, “Good God I wish I had boys. One punch and it’s over.” Then he’d shove a triple decker of Saltines with cheese in his mouth.

His method of parenting: insult. He swallowed food. I swallowed anger. As I grew, the words inside me built from Shut up to I hate you! Of course, I never said any of these out loud. Well, maybe I did. Yes, I did. But nothing answered the eternal burn of his influence: What’s wrong with me?CircleRocks

As it is, I love my father. I recognize the gap left by unmet needs that made him violent and explosive, drunk and unpredictable. Still, in his presence I waver between the woman who deserves respect and the daughter who yearns to make her father proud.

I have no say in the latter. I never did. Growing up, my sisters and I were present and vulnerable to his needs—the needs we should never have had to shore up with our innocence. His words diced us into shards just as a fist punches. The pain wasn’t visible, but the scars will last a lifetime.

My father’s words speak of the culture that raised him. He had no say over it. It is forgivable.

But I couldn’t summon the strength to answer the phone the second time he called. I was afraid he would avoid the conversation I need with him. I was afraid I would cave in to his needs and avoid it too. My love for my father is courageous and raw, wild and stray. I no longer want to feed it, but I can let it run.

I know this hurts him. People are wild, we hurt each other. But we can stop hurting with words.

Words make all the difference.

Words: Coffee Talk*

If we were having a cup of coffee right now I would tell you my husband is cooking Chicken Parmesan for dinner tonight. I’d say I love it when he cooks because I’m not much into cooking and it sometimes turns me stale.

If we were having coffee right now I would tell you how my book is progressing. I’d say I had a major meltdown at 3 a.m. one night and tore apart the book Writing and Selling Your Memoir because I hated that it made me feel incapable of the task. I’d share the following snippet of writing I have since come up with.

Mom told me the first time she laid eyes on Dad, he was the most macho guy she had ever seen. He dazzled her with his black hair and green eyes. And that mustache! She knew at once he would be the man she would marry. When I asked how she could be so certain, she said, “I just knew.”

Mom and Dad were married in a friend’s living room in January, 1970. Mom wore a short gray dress with long sleeves. Their wedding photo revealed a terrifying, joyous occasion. Mom’s broad smile and stylish cropped hair, so typical of brides, clashed with Daddy’s restricted grin. A clock on the mantel behind them evoked a curious omen. Doomed or eternal? Mom and Dad’s marriage was both. They wore the prospects on their fingers-Mom with a gold band, Daddy with none.

Six months later, my big sister was born.

If we were having coffee right now, I would look in your eyes, hopeful I can write this book.

IMG_0493.jpg
Drum Coffee is great.

If we were having coffee, I would ask how your world is going.

*Response to Day Eleven of Everyday Inspiration

 

 

 

Words: On Childhood*

I should have written a diary. Forgive me for fearing my sisters might find it, which is not to say I had little ability at hiding keepsakes of my inner world. Rather, it is that I excelled at disguising my world. This tactic evolved gracefully, slowly. By adulthood, infused in a concealed version of life, my secrets remained hidden, especially from myself. For this, I must ask my own forgiveness.

It is easy to look back at childhood and see the triumphant casualties of my family, memories emblazoned with red. The pendulum swing through the years leaves me yearning for the moods wedged between childhood’s climactic and sullen moments. How difficult it is to dredge up the gray-timeless hours spent adhering stickers on notebooks, building forts, reading Snoopy, and chasing boys. I want to see the tomcat fumble in the dark. Summer days spread before me like an ocean of time. I rejoiced piecemeal discoveries festooned with tinsel and dust. I want to feel her smallness, expand into the world with thin arms, listen to footsteps with greater importance than my own.

There, I might find recourse in laughter, or perhaps on the duct-taped seat of a bicycle I pedaled nowhere and home again. I would smell anew the lilacs of spring. Time diffuses spirit. Diaries capture it. Maybe, just maybe, mine will visit once again in the walls of my written story.IMG_3465

 

*In response to Day 3 of the 20 Day Challenge One word prompt: Secret

Hello Sunshine

Hi friends,

Just a quick note because I’ve been somewhat absent. (Though I am present somewhere in this world.) I hope this post finds you happy, healthy, and living your dreams.

Some cool things going on with me:

  • My book (memoir) is progressing-slowly. I am still working on the beginning, but I have finally found a voice/style that is conducive to my creative longings. It will definitely be an unconventional memoir. I love it!
  •  I went to France in October by myself for a restorative adventure. I am writing an essay on my experience for Missoula public library’s writing contest. I will share it with you later…stay tuned.
  • I’ve been reading memoirs and writing books galore, aaand neglecting bookclub books. (One of my favorite memoirs to date: Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn)
  • My family took a California vacation to make sure sunshine still exists. It does!

Let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments. Any good reading lately?

IMG_6339
Crystal Cove State Park, California

Joyeux Noël!

Christmas is here! Let me drink, let me sing. The ring of Joyeux Noël elicits a smile to my face. The simple beauty of the word joie sends a fleet of champagne bubbles to my head, while Noël sings along to my unique and badly rendered version of dreams and miracles.

It is a holiday for celebration, a season of grace, a time to sing.

I, myself, am not a singer. My voice falls flat, like the fat opera singer in a red sequined dress who has tripped over her gown and landed on big old bosoms.

That’s me. Flat and graceless. Applause?

One year ago, my fall came from PTSD. The experience and trauma of childhood emotional abuse was triggered in full regalia. Without pulling apart the dress sequin by sequin, let me just say I was afraid-afraid of the audience, afraid of my past, afraid of my identity, and afraid of the future.

Over the course of this year, I worked to pick up the shards of self and put them together, to face my demons and shove them over the cliff. It has been a clumsy act, but…

Courage is a gift. I used it.

Hope is a gift. I used it.

Voice is a freedom. I used it.

Understanding is effort. I worked at it.

Compassion is a gift. I allowed it.

Forgiveness is a gift. I gave it.

Mercy is a grace. I’m really, really trying.

Love is abundant. I’ll take it. (Thank you.)

…Christmas lasted all year.

Today, I am grateful. Grateful to have the delivery of gifts when I needed them. Grateful to have a heart who still laughs and loves. Grateful for the people who were on my side and by my side throughout the torment. Grateful to move forward with confidence. Grateful I am me.

And I am grateful for you, my lovely audience.

I hope this Christmas season brightens you with peace, nourishes you with love, and inspires you to sing. The best gifts in life are free, like you, my friends. I raise a glass to each and every one of you. Joyeux Noël!

images.jpg