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.

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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: Why do I Write?

I write…

…to find my stories that fill the gap between memory and truth, to discover the lost moments before they fall into a wasteland of broken parts and disappear in the heap.

I write to know emotion-names do little justice. A name is only a name, a cloud that vanishes. Add my version of sadness or thrill or elation and the emotion becomes mine. The cloud takes form. I name it. No one else sees the same cloud as me.

I extract the universal. Writing is gutting a fish-I peel away the skin, slice through the flesh, and pluck out brittle bones. The story is there, beneath the pink and fleshy and ripe. My hunger is sated when I strip the spine and imprints are fossils with stories to tell.

I write to hear the dance of words in my head. No! That wasn’t right. Start the dance again. This time without the blunt kick of the “k”. Try the soft step of the “p” instead. Yes, much better.

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Creative Writing: Barrettes

Today, the inspiration to write about barrettes came to mind. I’ve been exploring creative non-fiction, a beautiful genre of artistry and words. Here’s a little canvas about belligerent plastic hair clips. Enjoy!

Barrettes 

Barrettes. Little plastic devils. Strawberry flowers. Blue dogs. Bows of lemon meringue. 

A clip. Tufts of hair, wispy and soft, secured. Restlessness.

A nap.

A terrier, slipped down the locks. The scalp, a teepee of awareness.

A hand, tender and soft, pulls silken threads. Tears.

A mother’s hand, slender and strong, opens the clasp, bends a white fold in the plastic. 

A hug. Tears left to fall. Rosy cheeks. Swollen eyes. Barrettes. 

Words: The Scar on My Face

A one inch scar sweeps out from my lower lip. It is a solitary line of residue from a mountain bike wreck, a scurry to the E.R., a thick, deep pain, a bag of frozen peas pressed to my face. It is a permanent mark of one failed attempt, a dash from one moment to the next, a crash course in physics, an alteration.

One year passed before the wound tempered without a peppered assault of tingling nerves. One year of sag-stitched smiles before necessary muscles regained proper composure. One year for the trench to deepen. One year for a repaired version of myself.

To me, the scar is not a reminder of what occurred, rather it is evidence of what didn’t: a minor concussion-not brain injury, a temporary setback-not debilitation, a chance- not closure.

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Life is a series of dashes, failed attempts, and alterations. Deep, meaningful lines carve into our blood, bones, and soul. Temporary numbness masks the compositions we are ill prepared to see, and time, our fairest friend, reveals everything we are meant to be.